Well, hello. As you might expect, I’m a little emotionally fragile right now, so let’s just jump into all the stuff that brought you to this beautifully designed website this morning. Let’s talk Cats and pretend the Tampa Bay Rays didn’t lose and Carl Crawford didn’t play his last game in The Trop on Tuesday. And it wasn’t against the team that I grew up rooting for in the stands about 40 games a year. None of that happened.
Some UK notes…
– For the second time, Pete Thamel of the New York Times went after Kentucky freshman Enes Kanter, again getting in touch with his foreign pen pal/professional Bela Karolyi look-alike, Turkish GM Nedim Karakas. As was the case with his second Eric Bledsoe piece, Thamel essentially presents no new information to the situation, choosing instead to issue a hit piece on both Kanter and his white whale, John Calipari. If you’re a Kentucky fan, or even a half-way decent human being for that matter, the most infuriating portion of Thamel’s story is that, like with the Bledsoe piece, he pretty much calls Kanter stupid, printing the Turkish GM’s quote that Kanter is “not gifted” academically. Thamel’s justification for printing that quote is, of course, to refute the claims of Kanter’s father that his son wanted to come to America for an education. Not exactly a logical defense, but Thamel has made it pretty obvious that logic isn’t his M.O. It’s chasing that white whale. And, with this story, it’s hard to argue that he has any motive beside that. Instead of summarizing Mike DeCourcy’s interview with Mehmet Kanter and presenting it as his own as he did with the Birmingham News’ Bledsoe story, he completely ignores it not only in the paper, but also on Twitter – a place where he amazingly holds such regard from his media peers. Instead, Thamel contacts the GM and has him refute and discredit Mehmet Kanter’s interview (and John Calipari’s quotes) line by line and quote by quote – most of it with simply “he said, she said” – and publishes it as if it were the final authority on the matter. Pete Thamel, you most certainly have Enes Breath.
– One side note on the Thamel story, of course, was the pre-emptive shoosh (Fake Gimel’s words) that Matt gave the New York Times writer on Twitter Tuesday morning about the article he heard was coming. Matt spoke about it during hour one of the radio show (below) and, having listened to it and then read the article, it makes you wonder if Thamel made any edits to include references to the previously ignored DeCourcy article in order to not seem like he’s completely working off of an agenda. Just mostly. You can listen below.
– In actual basketball news, Coach Cal said on Tuesday that he expects his team to struggle early and lose games early as they try to figure out how they mesh together and what their roles are. A little of that is probably coachspeak, which Cal is an expert on, but there’s probably truth to that. Calipari didn’t say whether or not the Enes Kanter uncertainty plays into it, but he did acknowledge UK’s tough non-conference schedule by saying he “screwed up” in putting so many good teams on the slate early. But, if you give me the option of a couple of early losses in exchange for three more wins at the end of the year than last year’s team, I’m perfectly fine with that.
– Calipari also spoke about what it would take for UK to continue to be at the forefront of basketball for years to come and joked that they’ve “got to take Rupp down”. He quickly added that he was joking, but you can pretty much assume he’s not. There have been rumors for some time of a new basketball arena (I think we had something someone sent us about a year ago on here of a contractor quote or something) and Oscar Combs said on Twitter last week that there is info out there about a new arena. With Rick Pitino’s House of Conspiring opening, you can only expect this debate to become more furious.
– For those of you still going through your Ramon Harris withdrawals, Larry Vaught has a nice story on Alaska’s favorite son and says that Harris is pursuing some D-League possibilities, most notably with the Houston Rockets. Harris worked out with the Rockets earlier this summer (and took BP with the Astros) and is hoping the team gives him a shot to develop his game and showcase his “all-around game”, which he said he didn’t get to present very often at UK.
– Rupp Arena
– On a more positive note (kind of), Joker’s troops went through their Wednesday preparation for South Carolina and it was a practice that Joker called “good”. Joker said the usual things about his team’s focus and their effort on the field, but made sure to give credit to strength coach Rock Oliver for bringing the team back together on Sundays following their loss and getting them focused on the week ahead.
– Despite the difference in records and how each of their seasons have gone so far, Saturday’s game is extremely important for both South Carolina and Kentucky, but for slightly different reasons. Obviously, South Carolina has a chance to keep themselves in the hunt for an SEC East title and keep themselves on target for a BCS bowl for the first time. It was a fact that was not lost on Gamecock coach Steve Spurrier, who called the game the most important in school history. For Kentucky, things have gone much differently thus far and you could argue that this game is more important to their season. Each year, South Carolina is marked on the schedule as one of the “swing” games, giving UK an opportunity to exceed expectations or fall behind where they want to be. Each year, they’ve faltered. This year, the have what might be South Carolina’s best team yet and, with a Georgia team that appears to be much improved and a Mississippi State team that seems to always present problems on the horizon, this game has a feel of desperation to it.
– Having said that, it’s not a game that Kentucky is not capable of winning (Spurrier agreed) and the line would indicate such. The Gamecocks are favored by five at the moment, which seems a little low at first glance. But, given the way these teams have played each other over the years and how good Kentucky looked offensively last week, maybe it’s more accurate than any of us believe. Either way, bet the opposite of whatever Matt does.
– On a football recruiting note, the Cats appear to have gotten a re-commitment from Darien Thomas, a three-star wide receiver from Alabama. Thomas, who had originally commited to UK in May, backed off and gave a verbal to Southern Miss two months ago. Now, according to Chris Fisher, who spoke with UK commitment Riyhad Jones, Thomas is committed again to Kentucky, but hasn’t made it public.
– Looking ahead on the football schedule, the Cats got some potentially helpful news when Georgia running back Caleb King was suspended for two games, meaning he will miss the UK game. King, who is Georgia’s second-leading rusher (by 20 yards), averages over five yards per carry and is the Bulldogs’ big-play threat from the running back position.
– Has anyone seen Shabaka Lands? Anyone? We’re getting worried.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned throughout the day as we collectively hate Pete Thamel and get oursevles mentally prepared for the biggest sports weekend of the year in the Bluegrass. It might be a decent day around here. You never know. See you in a few…