Today would have been the 95th birthday of one of the most important sports figures of all times. Often forgotten in much of the Michael Phelps, “Is he the greatest athlete ever” conversation, Jesse Owens was a revolutionary both on and off the track. In 1936, with Hitler on the rise in Germany and the scent of war drifting in the foreground, Jesse Owens provided the first puncture in the hole of Aryan supremacy that would later be ripped apart via a devastating World War. With the 1936 Olympics in the heart of Berlin, Owens made Adolph Hitler eat his words, when he showed that a poor African-American was not only faster, more athletic and more physically gifted than the best of the German team, but could also act with amazing grace and dignity in the face of racism and hatred. With Hitler watching on, Owens won four gold medals, including the all-important 100 meter dash. Perhaps never in history has an athletic achievement had so much importance on the global political scale. Owens didnt taunt Hitler or do anything but salute his country….but in so doing, he proved that the cloud of invincibility that Hitler projected, could be brought down and crumble before his eyes. Michael Phelps, Carl Lewis, Mark Spitz and others may have claim to the greatest Olympic athlete of all time…but there has not been, and may never be, no more important Olympian than Jesse Owens.
To a (for the first time in a long time) basketball-dominated News and Views…..
(1): The big news of the day comes from the TCP feature on the visit by Billy Gillispie to Daniel Orton. While there is nothing earth shattering about Orton in the article, it does once again confirm that Kentucky is his leader and how much he likes and respects Coach Clyde. In the article, it says that Gillispie visited him on Wednesday and went into detail with him as to how he will be used at Kentucky. As the Clyde recruiting has unfolded, I have been very impressed with this part of his style. Beginning with Patrick Patterson and his “daily planner”, Gillispie does a great job not just of selling the program, but of giving guys an indication of what their time will be like….in detail. Not only does that help the kid figure out what he wants, but it lets the player and his family know that Gillispie means business. And as Coach K said to Mosley and I two years ago about Patrick Patterson (as part of a story that I still need to write on here one day). “Mamas want to know their coach knows what is going on.” Gillispie certainly showcases that every time.
(2): The biggest story coming from the interview was not about Orton himself, but about current Cat Patrick Patterson. In the interview, Orton said (for the first time that I have seen) that Gillispie told him that he expected Patterson to stay three or four years. Now of course that doesnt mean that he will stay that long, but it does contradict some other reports that Clyde was specifically selling Orton on the idea that Patterson would be gone and he could replace him. Often I hear many people, even those in the know, say definitively that Patterson will or will not be gone. I think that is a mistake as I think two things are true: (1) Patterson will have an opportunity to be a lottery pick in the weak 2009 draft and (2) the Patterson family is solid and education matters to them. Thus either decision would not surprise me. But to act like it is made even before the season has begun is incorrect. Generally speaking, if a guy is going to be a Top 10 pick, he leaves. But dont paint arguably the most important UK player since Mashburn, out the door too quickly.
(3): UK commitment Vinny Zollo updated the world through the new art of “Facebook status”, that he will be visiting UK this weekend and attending the football game against MTSU. Zollo has not been on the court recently and has been the topic of a lot of chatter on the recruiting circle. Among the former UK players and the like, everyone always asks about Zollo, in part because they hear positive reports about him and wonder what to expect. Like with Avery, I will hold out much thought on Zollo until he finishes his Sophomore year, because at that point you have a better notion of where a player really projects to be on the college level. But we hope to cover one of his high school basketball games this year on “KSR play by play”, where the KSR crew goes to 4-5 high school games and gives you the insight and silly commentary on their play. We look forward to making Zollo one of them.
(4): On the football end, Thursday’s practice was better. The offense looked better and the defense continued playing well. Rich Brooks told reporters after practice that both QBs would play in the first half Saturday, but that no decision had been made on a starter. Joker Phillips told Jeff Drummond however later that Mike Hartline would be starting. If that is true, it would certainly be a great opportunity for the fans to redeem themselves with a loud ovation when he is announced. We will have more on the game all day.
Lots to look for today….a great “KSR Style” interview between Beisner and Jon Hood, a Know Your Enemy about MTSU and a tidbit from the basketball grapevine. This is a day to keep the Refresh button warm…..and by the way, we promise to send no email updates…..it can be a bit exhausting.