With the Cats upcoming visit to Portland (and hopefully Drew’s if he can get someone to cover his shifts at work…come on people at Malone’s…the Big Blue Nation needs this trip from Drew), I couldnt help but think about my favorite player who never plays, Greg Oden. I became a Greg Oden fan early on. There was something about his dry sense of humor combined with his 50 year old face, that was beyond entertaining. Even during high school, hearing Greg Oden talk made me laugh and his ability to have a goofy smile while he showcased quick wit, set him apart from most of the AAU ballers. When he got to the NBA, he quickly found that he would have a cursed life, picked before future Hall of Famer Kevin Durant, plagued by the “Portland big man knee problems” and forever linked to cell phone pictures of his dong that will live with him for eternity. Still I cant help but like the guy because ultimately he makes me laugh…something that will lead me to forgive quite a bit. When the Cats go to Portland on Friday, I hope Oden makes an appearance at the game, and in the process, teaches our big men some toughness. While he will likely forever be labeled an NBA bust, as with UK’s own Sam Bowie, he was a force in college that might always make us wonder what might have been.
We have a number of short notes, so lets get to it:
— The story of the day was the Mitch Barnhart-Kansas saga that gobbled up the internet. By the end of the day, Mitch released a statement that was notable for what it didnt say, mainly that he would not interview with Kansas. He noted that he had spoken to some around Kansas about the open AD job, but added that there had been no “formal” contact from the University (usually the last step in the process anyway). Kansas sources are now saying that Mitch isnt high on the Jayhawk wish list, and if that is true, then the entire story may be for naught. But what is clear is that Mitch is potentially looking at other options outside of UK…and with President Todd leaving at the end of the school year, we shouldnt be shocked if Barnhart is far behind.
— I have been asked a few times about comments made on the radio concerning the Barnhart-Calipari relationship. I have said for some time and continue to say now, that the relationship isnt great. The two see things differently on a number of issues, most notably the right of Calipari to market himself apart from the IMG/Kentucky relationship. Mitch gave up day to day operations of the Basketball program and the relationship is now cordial, but by no means close. It isnt so bad as to push Mitch out of UK, but it certainly is a factor.
— What may also be a factor is the continued issue of football facilities. Mitch announced on the radio on Saturday that the IMG deal was basically dead and that renovations for Commonwealth Stadium were back to square one. A source close to UK tells me that the idea of any renovation at all to the stadium may also be dead as there is a growing belief that the entire stadium has a small shelf life anyway and may simply need to be replaced. The reality is that for UK to raise revenue, there must be an increase in luxury box sales at a football stadium. Commonwealth is not really set up for that and thus a new stadium could be inevitable. This football quandry without question will factor into any future decision by Mitch.
— The future of the AD is not the only story in UK land. The Cats’ future opponents took the floor this evening to mixed results. Portland is UK’s next game and the Pilots have started out 3-0, winning over Florida Atlantic in their most recent contest. Portland is picked second in the West Coast Conference, better known for having Gonzaga as its perpetual winner. The Pilots are exactly the type of team Calipari schedules…good in a weaker conference and capable of making the Tournament. As one person around the program told me, “Portland can play with UK…especially there. This could be the biggest game they have ever hosted.” Add to that the fact that UK might be looking toward Maui..and well, it might be closer than we hope.
— As for UK’s first opponent in Maui, Oklahoma nearly lost at home…to North Carolina Central. This isnt the Blake Griffin Oklahoma team and on the road trip to the West Coast, one could argue that Oklahoma is the easiest game they will play.
— John Calipari said today that Jon Hood looked like Rex Chapman in practice. He said that after one of many great plays by Hood, he got the team to look at him and say, “Do it in the game!”, something they used to say last year to Deandre Liggins. Jon Hood as Rex Chapman…Calipari is something else.
— The UK football team will have a scrimmage with the lesser used players on Thursday that will begin a little after 8 am. It will be for all the guys that are redshirted and the players that arent used a great deal on the regular team this season. It should be a great chance to see what some of the younger guys can do and I wish that I could attend. We will have a KSRer there however and will give you a report Thursday afternoon.
— Disappointed in the news that Martavius Neloms wont play in the first half. UK needs all the help on defense they can get and the secondary as much any unit has to play well to get the win in Knoxville. Neloms has been great so far this year and the decision to throw the punch lets down his teammates when they do need him the most.
— Tayshaun Prince got into a confrontation with his Coach tonight in Golden State during a blowout of Prince’s Pistons. Tayshaun, who has had nothing but a sterling reputation during his time at Kentucky and in his early years with the Pistons/the Olympic Team, has had some criticize him this year for being a bit of a malcontent. This is not his first issue, although it was the most public. We might see him moved in the very near future.
— You have to at least watch a bit of the 24 hours of College Hoops Marathon. At a different point in my life, I would have watched all 24 hours…now I will simply watch the 4 am showing of Central Michigan vs Hawaii and call it a night.
— Finally, the AAU coach of Jalen Kendrick says that Kentucky has contacted the former Memphis player and will be a player in his recruitment. I will have more on this tomorrow, but it will be very interesting to see how this plays out. It would be VERY interesting if Calipari goes after, and gets, a former Memphis player that was seen as too much trouble to play for Calipari’s former team.
More all day…we find out for sure if Drew is going to Portland and Mike Pratt is in studio all day on KSR from 10 am-noon. Check it out….