Wow that was some weekend. There has been a ton of news and a number of stories that will have long-term effects on our favorite sports teams. However for me, two events of the weekend are substantially more significant than the others. First, we must acknowledge the tragedy of the death of UK football commitment John Keye in a car accident. There can be nothing sadder than the taking of a life of a young man right before he enters his best years and unfortunately for the university, this is the third major sports recruit to pass at this time in the last decade. There are no words to express the enormity of such a loss and I am sure, as they have done in the past, the university will acknowledge it appropriately. Our hearts and prayers go out to the family in what must be a most difficult time.
In addition, today is my mother’s 53rd birthday (sorry for letting the age out of the bag) ;). She is an avid reader of this blog and was a fan when the only fans we had were people who we forced to read it through interminable nagging and random crazy drifters. My mother is my hero and I love her very much.
Now onto the much more trivial sports news…..
(1) The Cats had a tough weekend and the loss to Vanderbilt is one that could have important ramifications. Watching the game on Saturday from a sports bar in Champaign, Illinois, I had a dreaded feeling about the whole affair. First of all, the line was ridiculous (giving the Cats 11 at home was a gift for keen gamblers) and the Dores were suited to beat the Cats. They shoot the ball well and while they dont have athletes at every position, they have them at the ball handling positions…..and those two traits are the best chance of success against UK. The Cats stubbornly refused to get out of their zone and man-to-man trapping defenses (my biggest critique of Tubby’s coaching is his tendency to not adjust to teams that are hitting the three point shot by calling off the double teams) and thus Vandy kept control of the game for most of the way. The most disappointing part of the game to me was not that Vandy led through most of the proceedings….that happens. But UK came back and led with two minutes to go….at home….against a jump shooting team…..and couldnt pull out the victory. That was VERY disappointing. So what does it mean? Well maybe a lot or maybe nothing, we shall see. I will have a column tomorrow about what the next 11 games mean for the future of UK, but the short of it is that this team (and for that matter program) can go in two diametrically opposed directions. The next eleven games will go along way to deciding what the path will be. For now, the Cats see at Georgia, Tennessee and at Arkansas before playing Florida at home on ESPN. If the Cats go 3-0, this loss means nothing…..2-1 and things are still ok…..worse, and the wheels may be coming off our train….it should be interesting. (And in the comments section, feel free to debate what will happen in the next few games, debates about whether Tubby should be coach or not will, once again, be deleted for being (a) annoying and pointless and (b) about as boring as anything I can think of.)
(2) Another disappointing bit of news seeped out when it was confirmed what had long been rumored, mainly that Curtis Pulley has left UK. This actually happened some time ago and many of our readers had written me asking if it were true, but out of respect for Pulley, we left the issue untouched. Coach Brooks believes that Pulley will return, and most of the word out of Hopkinsville is that he will ultimately be back. While I certainly hope that is the case, I would understand if Pulley chooses to look elsewhere. The quarterback “controversy” no longer exists and UK had a hard time this season figuring out how to get Curtis on the field. I want to see him a Cat if being a Cat is what is best for him…..at this point I think that may be up in the air.
(3) The picture you see above is of Joseph Katuka, who is the newest UK recruit out of Monteverde, Florida. Katuka is 6’10”, a long rangy international big man that is most likened to Jules Camara. While Jules is often criticized, it is important to remember that Jules was a Top 30 recruit, but Katuka is much more raw, and has less offensive development. Schools such as Auburn and SMU have offered (who has Matt Doherty, who for all his faults, has a good eye for talent) and others like Illinois, California and Vanderbilt are beginning to recruit him. UK visited last week and apparently has been eyeing him for some time (this is the guy that was “off the radar” that I was told about a few weeks ago). No offer has been made at this juncture.
So what do I think? Well, my views are decidedly mixed at this point. While I dont that is necessarily bad that he is a “late bloomer” (the scouts on the major recruiting services quit paying attention after the junior AAU season so lots of guys slip through), count me very skeptical. IF Katuka is being brought in instead of Marshall Moses (more on him later), then I think this is a TERRIBLE decision. Moses is the real deal and that needs to be recognized. If he is simply a backup plan for Patterson, then I am ok with that….although still a bit skeptical. If Patterson goes elsewhere and we get Lucas and Moses, then there is one scholarship left….I want that to go to Pettigrew, but I understand the notion of looking at Katuka. But UK needs another big man project like they do a hole in the head, so my views are still mixed.
(4) Speaking of our man Stephon Pettigrew, I know I sound like a broken record, but the kid is making a name for himself. I talked to a guy from ESPN this weekend who said that Pettigrew was, in his view, having “one of the best seasons of any player in America.” Pettigrew continues to hear from more schools and I am told that two Big 10 schools began contacting him last week. I have made my feelings known….but UK has truly messed this situation up. Hopefully they wont mess up the recruitment of Marshall Moses any more. Moses visited Oklahoma State this weekend, in a move that I hope the powers at be at UK are following. Moses, who has always been UK first and everyone else fifth, is doing what he should do, and exploring his other options. UK has concerns about his grades and likely doesnt want him to visit and commit if they dont know if he will be qualified…..fine and dandy so long as he doesnt end up somewhere else…..if he does, for WHATEVER reason, and suits up next year, it will be one of UK biggest recruiting mishandlings I have seen. But I will leave that blow up for a time (which hopefully doesnt) come in the future.
(5) Finally, I spent the weekend doing what I truly love, which is going to a college basketball arena that I have never been to before. This weekend, Mosley and I went to Peoria, Illinois for Bradley and Wichita State. The game was great (these MVC teams are tough….even the bad ones…..Wichita State’s coach Mark Turgeon (who is great) told me after the game that he thinks that some of the teams in conference are better than the ones he beat out of conference like LSU, Syracuse and George Mason……and after watching Bradley up close, I might agree). The atmosphere was out of this world, with the students on the court, the crowd decked out in red and the arena vibrant. I have been to a lot of college arenas…..likely every big one in America besides UCLA and Kansas. Rupp Arena, both its fans and the university running it, have a lot to learn…..schools that make the students the priority and have fans who are there for dedication and not money make a homecourt a homecourt. Rupp simply isnt that in 9 out of 10 games, period. And as for the MVC, I will be going to their conference tournament this year as it may be some of the more exciting basketball that I have seen.
So there you have it. My Bears are going to the Super Bowl, which is absolutely awesome. We have a big announcement coming this week on the future of our show which we are pumped about. Look for that in the next two days, as we take this whole production to the next level. We are excited about the changes to come and we look forward going forward. Rob Gidel is about to blow up these next couple of weeks leading into Signing Day and this site will include Rob’s written and audio updates. So stay tuned throughout the week…..