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Kentucky Player Previews: Joe Crawford

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We continue our 2007-2008 player previews with the man, the myth, the beard, Joe Crawford. Joe C (as his friends like to call him) has been at UK for four years now and has had a career that has had its ups and downs. He came in with all the hype imaginable as a McDonalds All American and part of a group of players that were widely considered one of the best recruiting classes in UK history. But his initial time at UK was bumpy…..he found himself sitting behind Kelenna Azubuike….he got very frustrated….and one day just decided to leave the team. After regaining his composure and talking to Tom Izzo (what all people who temporarily freak out should do), he returned to the team and finished out his somewhat disappointing freshman season.

For the last two years, we have seen Joe Crawford the starter, to somewhat mixed results. At times he has shown what he is, possibly the most talented player on the team and a go-to scorer who can do tremendous things with the basketball. However at times he has been Joe the “pound the ball into the ground” Crawford and has spent most of his time at the top of the key dribbling furiously, hoping that someone can get open so he cannot pass it to them. Joe’s physical appearance has followed his game as he has added and subtracted weight like a Freshman girl in college with a coupon book to Mad Mushroom. However this season has found him in his self-described “best shape of my life” and ready to turn things around for his final year.

Ultimately the question for Joe C is what he wants his senior year to be. There is no doubt that he is oozing with talent and that this team can ride on his broad shoulders. In his last season, he is now coached by a man and a system that is likely more suitable to his game and he has the potential to finish his UK career with a bang and a strong leadership role. But Joe has to want it and showcase his desire night in and night out. Behind him on the bench sits a number of hungry players, including Freshman Alex Legion, who would love to come in and showcase his sweet shooting stroke at any instant. Kentucky can be good this season no matter what…..but to have any chance to be GREAT, it needs great performances from Joe C. Will he do it? Only Joe knows…..but here’s hoping that the man from Detroit leaves it all on the floor and becomes the player we all know he can be.

Below is Joe C giving a tour of the new practice facility:

And Crawford’s finest hour….his Sophomore year against Louisville and a heck of a dunk:

Now here are the takes from the fellow Kentucky Sports Radio contributors (and let me commend them….because they are VERY GOOD):

TOMLIN:

If you feel an almost preternatural attachment to Joseph Reshard Crawford II, it’s okay. You should. You’ve been through a lot together. You were there when he ached over choosing a school. You were there when he was down in the dumps, finding little playing time behind Sparks and Bradley. You felt his pain when he lit out of Wildcat Lodge in the dead of night, heading home. You were also there when he made his triumphant return to Rupp. You were there when he hit his career high 29 points against Georgia. And you’ll be there when he beats his high score in Madden ’08, when he worries that maybe he was too chatty on that one date, and when he decides he’s more in the mood for Taco Bell than Arby’s. Because you and Joe are tight like that. Truly, we’ve seen a young, nervous Joe grow into his role at UK over the past few years. But like the Detroit Renaissance High School mascot the phoenix, and how you interpret said mascot, he’s either maintained a “dry heat” or risen from the ashes to rebuild himself into a guy we can all get behind. If UK’s 2007 line- up is NBC’s 2007 fall television line-up, Crawford is a lot less Scrubs and a lot more Journeyman these days, and by the time his tenure ends with the wildcats he may well be one of the Heroes. For these are the Days of Our Lives with him, and this senior year is his Last Call with Carson Daly. Last year’s cliffhanger saw him averaging 18 points in the SEC Tourney and we’ve had to wait all summer to see what comes next for Lil’ Joe. But if Crawdaddy (feel free to start calling him that) continues to climb the ladder, we’re all gonna be proud of him come Senior Day. Not since Bobby Perry has the Wildcat Nation been so attached to a style of facial hair, and when Perry’s era of the pencil thin moustache left, Crawford’s era goatee was left to pick up the load. And you’ll be there. Because you and Joe Crawford, you’re tight..

TURKEY HUNTER:

Joe Crawford sort of reminds me of the girl you meet on Myspace and try to form a relationship with. For identification purposes only, lets call this fictional girl KSR model. Before we me ever him in person, Joe was all kinds of hyped. Much like when you look at the 6 best photographs that KSR model has posted for viewing in her shared pictures, you only see the good. She has done the UK dance team move and surrounded herself with vastly inferior talent and allows her good qualities to attract much more attention than they ordinarily would. While Joe may have faced off against some prospects occasionally in high school, expectations may have been a little overstated even though there was plenty of raw ability to springboard on.

Next, Joe arrives on class with a heralded group of
freshmen and expectations for the group are
astronomical. This is the equivalent of KSR model
inviting you out for drinks
with a group of her
friends at dimly lit bar and seeing them breaking out
some E. Your only focus is becoming the noodles in the
sexual equivalent of a Gold Star Five-way and you
totally forget to see what these ladies look like
minus the triple shot of Cuervo for courage. You
instantly think success, even if to a lesser extent,
is guaranteed. Ah, so Joe, Rondo, Randy, and
Smooooooove put our hopes on high before we ever got a
chance to truly inspect their talents and chemistry.
Sure, the ingredients were there but the diamonds in
the rough were a little tougher to polish than we
expected.

Fast forward to Joe A.D. 2, we are now vested in Joe.
We are in a relationship with KSR model. Both have put
on some weight and not in a good way. Joe seems a step
slow and KSR model just asked for your debit card to
help a prince move some money from Nigeria. But, both
still have great potential if you can get them on a
nice workout regiment. Both Joe and Model are pressing
too hard. Joe sees a couple of his peers joining the
ranks of the NBA and KSR model just had two friends in
her top 8 get married to Drs. This pressure is not
doing either one any favors.

Last year, you saw Joe transform his physique right
before your eyes. KSR model got a boob job. Both
vastly improved their appearance but the substance
still wasn’t quite what you needed it to be for
something special to develop. This change outward for
the better wasn’t exactly all around positive. Joe
thought occasionally he was 6’8″ and took ill advised
shots that were often as successful as Cavemen, the
series. During this same period, KSR model got an
associates degree in fashion design from the
University of Phoenix and sent off her application to
Wharton. Each lost sight of doing what it was that
initially attracted us to both and tried to do too
much.

After a reasonably successful year for Joe and
another pregnancy free year for KSR model, hope is
high
. Joe comes back in a season that should, by all
accounts, allow him to be his best at a time when
expectations are more conservative. New coach, new
players, and a lack of experienced big men should keep
the Nation’s goals a little more reserved and the
style of Billy G should allow him some more creativity
on the offensive end. However, people are still gonna
demand that Joe, in his senior year, showcase some of
that talent that got us all a buzz four years ago. We
have seen moments from Joe that let us know that he is
not all hat and no cattle. The kid can play, but only
if he does so within himself. As for KSR model, lets
hope that this 6th year at LCC will finally produce
that dental assistant’s degree we’ve all been praying
on. Holla.

DUFRESNE:

Joe Crawford: A Hip Hopera

Straight Into Lex-Vegas from the streets of Motown,
Comes a bearded mamma jamma who don’t mess around.
Got the kinda game make you forget about Tay-Tay,
A runner and a gunner with Pseudofoliculitis Barbae,
He’s a helluva baller, but sports a long frown,
that make Randolph Morris look like Bozo the Clown.
But his dipsy dribbles make you say “Damnation!”,
Pulls more MacGyver Moves than the Phoenix Foundation.
A quick crossover that busts the caps from ya knees,
Which he wears as yamaka’s as he drains killer threes.
Slam it down, Break that glas, CELEBRATE, “Mazeltov!”
Straight Ballet, kind of like an un-gay Barezhnikov.
Dust off the tux and wingtips ’cause there’s a helluva chance,
He’ll blow the doors off the gym and leads us through the “Big Dance”.
Word….

MOSLEY:

And then there was Joseph Alejandro Crawford. Joe actually led the team in scoring last year eclipsing Ramel’s paltry 13.4 ppg with a stellar 14.0 ppg. Despite his scoring ability, Joe C has often drawn the ire of Cat fans due to his “streakiness” and his tendency to dribble really hard while lowering his head. While both points are legitimate concerns, Crawford is one of only a few Wildcats with a natural scorer’s mentality. Combine this will his outstanding athleticism and it’s easy to see why Joe was able to show flashes of brilliance several times for the Catsdown the stretch(Georgia springs to mind). With the introduction of William H. Gillispie (no relation to character actor William H. Macy) into the Wildcat culture, Crawford becomes the biggest question mark. His knee injury notwithstanding, it will be interesting to see the effect that Billy G. has on Crawford. Will Joe adjust to his new coach’s expectations and play within the system, or will he continue to try to bull his way to the basket and takeill-advised threes? If Gillispie is to have a successful first year he has to have Crawford become a consistent scoring threat. An consistently effective Crawford will give the Cats three guards with the ability to put the ball into the orange hole with regularity and should cause match-up problems for the opposition. Prediction: Joe again leads the team in scoring with a 15ppg average (don’t dare look back at my prediction for Ramel–I don’t like being contradicted). Afterwards, he spends a few years inthe D-league and gets a cup of coffee in the leaguebefore meeting a sweet Navajo girl and settling down in Flagstaff. He will be very successful, owning his own Pre-Owned Car Dealership and will appear in cheesy TV commercials for his business often wearing a cowboy hat and offering promotions like, “0% financing for the first 12 months if you can sink a three here at the dealership!” Seriously, it will all go down exactly like this.

Article written by Matt Jones