On a day where the Cats were playing in Gainesville, a guy named Funk was leading Creighton to a big victory and Tyler Hansborough was bleeding at the hands of the guy I picked as the MVP of last year’s Derby Classic….I was most entertained by a guy from Colombia driving a stock car in Mexico City. Yes Thomas Freidman, the World is Flat. Proving the power of ESPN, the Total Sports Network made a formerly minor Busch race in Mexico the feature of its day of programming and had me glued for a road course in the world’s most polluted city. The winner was Juan Pablo Montoya who showed that he knows how to do a little rubbin, by knocking Scott Pruett out of the way with eight laps to go and winning his first stock car race. Montoya of course left the luxury of F1 to go slummin in Nascar, and in the process became the first major Hispanic driver in the sports’ history. Watching him win today was exciting, as he showcased what it is like to see a major talent drive a good old American ride. The only thing the race was missing was Gus Johnson (who should call every event) and Bill Raftery…..then it would be perfect.
To the news….
(1) Today’s game with the Gators left folks all in a tizzy, as the Cats lost to an SEC team for the sixth consecutive time, for the first time in the history of the program. The Gators looked like the Florida of old, moving the ball on offense and utilizing their advantage, on the inside, to perfection. At the game of course was uber-recruit Patrick Patterson who may have made the most famous acknowledgement to a student body ever as he did the “Gator Chomp” when his name was being chanted by the fans. Much has been made today of this action and what its meaning may be to the overall decision. I read very little into the action as Patterson has kept everything close to the vest for a long time and will announce his decision when he damn well pleases. I generally laugh at every statement from people who claim to have heard Patrick or his family saying where he will go, as I think they are all too smart for that game. Long ago Patrick said he would announce today who his final three were. We hope to have that announcement for you today, if it happens. I still believe the same as I have believed since September…..I think the Gators lead in the hearts of Pat and the Cats lead in the hearts of the parents. What will happen, no one knows….all though we may find out fairly soon.
In other news, interesting quotes from the Tubster and Smooth after the game….
Asked what he could do to prevent his players from being outworked, Smith laughed ruefully. “There’s nothing you can do except maybe go out and get bigger, stronger players,” he said. “It’s frustrating.”
“I feel like we should have some tougher guys,” Bradley said. “Everybody should be able to step up.”
(2) Tubby Smith spent Friday night watching Kenny Frease play in Canton, Ohio. Frease as you may remember is the big man out of Ohio who at this point has a top two of Kentucky and Xavier. While some had reported that Frease may have committed to the Cats, this is not true. Kenny is waiting until the end of the Spring to make a choice….and it is looking more and more like it will be one of these final Two. I love Kenny’s game and see him as the EXACT type of big man recruit this team needs. Kenny is not just a big man who might score….he is a scorer who happens to be big. I love his game, his low post moves and his toughness. While he is not as developed at Tyler Hansborough at the same stage, he is that type of player, and you want that on your team. A commitment from him could make the 08 class solid before the summer begins…..something UK hasnt had in a long, long time.
(3)Jai Lucas did not make the rumored trip to Iowa and has announced that the time for visits is now over. He plans on making a decision in a few weeks and finally ending the long recruitment that has dominated so much talk around these parts. He said he loved the visit he took Wednesday to Georgia and that it was “everything he thought and more.” His interest in the Cats has not wavered, nor has his belief that his top 4 of UK, Maryland, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma remain the same. People ask me all the time what I think about UK and Lucas. I honestly think Jai is waiting to see Tubby’s status here. I am not ready to say with certainty that if Tubby is here, Jai is here. But every recruiting analyst I have spoken with, including those following the rival schools, believe Kentucky is the school to beat on this one and has been all along. At this point, I have no reason to dispute that conclusion.
(4) What about Stephon Pettigrew you say? Well there have been some reports that Louisville has now contacted Pettigrew and has tried to get involved on his recruitment. In addition, Pettigrew’s father has said that his decision may come sooner, rather than later as Stephon figures out his final path. I love Pettigrew as a high school player and a scorer. He is fun to watch and has really stepped up his game. I would like to see him at Kentucky…..but I dont forsee a scenario where UK can cut ties with Lucas or Patterson to get him now. IF UK knew that Randolph Morris was leaving, they could offer Stephon….they havent….which suggests to me that maybe folks arent as sure as they once were. But either way, people need to be calm on Pettigrew. The only difference between Stephon and the numerous recruits that UK turns down or is panned for recruiting is that many here have seen him play. He is a quality player….but he is not a certain college star. Kentucky would be glad to have him and I hope with his Kentucky ties that he ends up here. But Patterson and Lucas are what makes this clase great or mediocre….Pettigrew is gravy either way.
(5) Our first show in Louisville saw some fireworks as we had John Henderson of the Denver Post come on to defend his article where he said that “racism was an important part” of the current difficulties that Tubby is undergoing. Whether one agrees with that conclusion or not, Henderson’s comments on the radio show would have likely made you upset. He said that he got this conclusion based upon “talking to some people who grew up there” and his belief that “there are racist people in the south and thus that must be why folks dislike Tubby.” I blasted him on the show for making such statements without support (he admitted that he hasnt been to Kentucky in some time) and painting with such a wide brush. I thought Henderson came off like a shoddy reporter and irresponsible in his actions….while I often disagree with some of Tubby’s critics, calling Kentucky fans as a whole racist infuriates me….especially when done by a columnist sitting in Denver, Colorado.
Henderson went on to say that a “source” told him that Kentucky boosters will buyout Tubby Smith at the end of the year…..thanks to a poster (my man jburton again) sending me the link, we found out that Professor Richard Cheeks (he of the movement to buy the newspaper ads last year and part of the “Dynasty Defender” website) showcased emails on the Dynasty Defender website that showed him to be the source of that information. That is all well and good and Cheeks certainly has the right to express his opinion. But I find it highly entertaining that the ultimate source for the buyout rumor in Henderson’s expose, an expose in which he also called Kentucky fans racists, was one of Tubby’s largest critics….who has (correctly) complained that criticism of Tubby is not, in and of itself, racist.
Regardless of what one thinks about Tubby and his job here, this is one of those occasions where both sides of the issue should unite against negative perception of the fans and the state. While there are no doubt some fans who have never gotten over the racial issue, I loathe the idea that will be promulgated in the national media that Kentucky is filled with racist hicks who should be mocked. Fans who seek to make their points, either for or against Tubby, should remember that this perception is waiting to be unleashed. I am going to do my part in the coming weeks to showcase, as with Henderson, how such comments are nothing but general stereotypes which reporters use so as to discount having to do actual work. I hope you folks will do the same.
Or you can just watch American Idol…..I respect either choice. 😉 Tune in today as Mike Decoursey will be on….should be good.