A great day of television has ended as we saw the Daytona 500, Duke lose and the NBA All Star Game (which included a spectacular Shaq dancing peformance which I proceeded to imitate all night long). The evening of course concludes with the beginning of a new day, a day that marks the birthday of one tennis king, John McEnroe. Johnny Mac is one of my top 5 favorite athletes of all time (joining Greg Norman, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson and Walter Payton) for one simple reason….he is and was entertaining. On the court, McEnroe was a tennis whiz, utilizing the old wooden racket to play tennis the thinking man’s way. But as with Barkley, McEnroe’s true genius has been found after his playing days as he has become by far the best tennis announcer to ever participate in the sport. He is intelligent and witty, all the while providing analysis that showcases an understanding of the game and what is important to its success. John has gone on to try and do other things (including his terrible television talk show on CNBC that I religiously as long as I could tolerate it), but inevitably he continues to return to the tennis announcer’s booth, which is his true home. Today he turns 50, and we give him a kudos.
To the (all basketball) news…..
(1): It grows old saying this, but it should continue to be repeated….it truly is amazing what Jodie Meeks is doing. Right now Jodie Meeks has 3 of the top 8 scoring performances in ALL OF COLLEGE BASKETBALL this season….by himself. Think about that statistic for a minute….it is mindblowing. In addition, he has put up three of the top 8 scoring performances is UK history….IN ONE YEAR. These sets of performances are vaulting Meeks into the rarified air of a potential NCAA First Team All American and have moved him into consideration for National Player of the Year awards. Add to that the fact that he is taking a team on his back during his cohort Patrick Patterson’s injury and willing them to two consecutive huge wins….and well, it is really and truly amazing what we are witnessing. In today’s sporting world, we are quick to name something the “greatest ever.” But in terms of individual performances in the modern world of parity, video scouting and increased athleticism in college basketball, calling Jodie Meeks’ performances the best individual performances in UK history may not be an overstatement. What a year.
(2): What remains to be seen is how long Jodie will have to do this alone. Patrick Patterson’s ankle is healing well, but his status is still unknown for Tuesday. I have been told that Patterson could likely play on Tuesday if he had to, but there is still a very good chance that he will be rested and then pointed towards the game on Saturday against Tennessee for his return. Both games are contests where Patterson will be needed….to defend Ogilvey in Nashville and the Chism/Smith/Williams pairings in Knoxville. However Vandy does not have the depth at the big man positions that Tennessee does, so missing the Vandy game may be the play. Either way, the healing is going well and the possibility of a long-term absence seems to be diminishing.
(3): Much talk today in UK circles about the continued baffling amount of playing time for Kevin Galloway on Saturday. When asked after the game about Kevin’s playing time, Gillispie said that he wasnt “aggressive” enough during the game and that he looked like a different player than what we saw on Tuesday night. It seems very difficult to make a broad pronouncement about Galloway’s lack of “aggressiveness” when by my count, he was in on five offensive plays….yes, five. But still, it is clear that Gillispie will make the substitution patterns that he wants at the time he wants….even though one would think that a game in which the Cats utilized a small lineup of four guards/small forwards for most of the evening would have been a perfect time to get Kevin more playing time. But alas, it wasnt to be. Who knows what we will see on Tuesday….
(4): With the current state of the bunched up SEC, the amount of wins needed to make the tournament has been altered a bit. The Cats can likely go 4-2 in the final six games and make it in…..go 5-1 and you can lose in the SEC first round and be fine…..go 3-3 and you likely need to take care of some business in Tampa to make it….but go 4-2 and you can be comfortable with your seeding and your place in the Big Dance. If you assume a win at home against Georgia, then the Cats need to take care of business against Tennessee and LSU at home…..likely the two best teams in the league…..and win 1 of the on the road against Vandy, South Carolina and Florida. That is a doable proposition…..but it isnt easy by any means. The path to 4-2 becomes a lot clearer if a win takes place in Nashville. Otherwise, every game will be do or die down the stretch and the Cats can have no room for error.
We have a big day coming today….the announcement of our new live blog guest on Thursday (trust me you will be surprised and like it), an initial look at the dorks from Tennessee and a review of what we can take from Fayetteville. Stay tuned……….