Huzzah for the shopkeep! Three cheers for Smirkenstein! Kuloo, Kuleh sayeth Bellweather Ray! All of these phrases of adulation are directed toward one Billingham X. Gillispie and his Merry Minstrels of Mirth following their triumphant performance against the untoward and surly Volunteers led by U.S. Sweatmaster General, Bwuce Puhl (sorry, I bit my tongue before typing that). The Cats are now well-placed to win their next four games and get this gigantic transport vessel turned around before season’s end. And lo and behold, I predicted it all from the start! Well, everything except the losses…and the injuries…and that one kid transferring…and Mr. Keightley covering Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield” (strange) at Chinoe Pub for karaoke last Saturday. Either way, I have no problem taking credit for things, especially when I’m the one dishing out said credit–it keeps me humble.
Next up for the Ferocious Felines From Frankfort (I would have had to forego the alliteration if I would have used Lexington and your life wouldn’t have been richer for the experience) are the South Carolina Fighting Roosters with everyone’s favorite physics professor deftly steering the ship (I’ve used a boat as a metaphor 2x now!). Dave Odom guided the program at Wake Forest for many moons and has the distinction of having coached Tim Duncan collegiately. Odom’s selling abilities became evident when he somehow convinced Duncan to come back for his senior season, leading some to recall shades of Burt Reynolds’ negotiating skill in a restaurant full of smokers wearing mom jeans (I’m not even sure I get that joke). Anyway, Odom is a lame duck gamecock (good in orange sauce) as he has already announced he is “retiring” at season’s end. That’s just another way of saying he is sick of losing to Kentucky, would like to take a year off, then return at another school. Now Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeee’s Know Your Enemy!
The University of South Carolina is located in the state capital of Columbia–one of only 2 state capitals appearing on the SEC schedule, which I find strangely interesting. The University itself is more than 200 years old, and actually ceased operations during the Civil War due to a lack of students. In the 30 years or so since the War, South Carolina has tried mightily to regain its former position of being the “flagship” university of the state. That’s not an especially difficult task as its only competition is from Clemson University, which I have learned must be pronounced with a “p” in the middle by all natives for some reason (CLEMPSON). The oldest building and center of campus appears to be The Horseshoe although this would seem more appropriate on UK’s campus than USC’s. The nickname “Gamecocks” has always struck me as odd as it doesn’t just name an animal, but an illegal activity in which said animal is involved. The University’s explanation goes like this: “A gamecock, of course, is a fighting rooster known for its spirit and courage.” Those are strange words to describe a chicken who is made to fight another chicken by its owner. Spirit and courage? Really? “That’s perverse”–Frank Costanza.
Aside from such political luminaries as Andy Card, Lindsey Graham, and Renaldo Balkman, Carolina’s most famous alum would appear to be none other than Leeza Gibbons. You remember Leeza as being the perky co-host of Entertainment Tonight through much of the nineties as she would attempt to have interesting interviews with ambivalent celebrities. Each of these resulted in failure. She then went on to host a talk show that proved to be just as interesting and popular as “The Tony Danza Show”, “The Tempest Bledsoe Show”, and the “Larry Hagman Show” (later renamed “Dallas”). Leeza most recently appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” where she was one of the few “celebrities” that an average person would have a chance at recognizing as a celebrity. Once again folks, this is the best that our competition can do in terms of graduates. Pity them. And now let’s go to Mary Hart who caught up with Christian Slater to discuss his reaction to the Cheerleader Scouting Report.
Cheerleader Scouting Report
For the second week in a row, we struggle to find a team picture. I found one, but it’s informal and one cheerleader is even wearing a hat–frustrating indeed. However, I have gone the extra mile and have inspected the individual head shots of the USC cheerleaders to better prepare you for today’s game. All in all, a pretty good collection of ladies, although the stars appear to be Jenna Desavino and Claire Fox. Expect ESPN to focus on these two 8-9 times each as we return from timeouts. Poor Katie Kelly is rockin’ bangs, so there are some weak points in the lineup.
The Gamecock basketball program began in 1907 (now celebrating 100 years) and in less than 70 years, had built the program into a consistent NCAA Tournament Team. It was a heck of a long-range plan, but it ultimately worked and it’s hard to argue with results. The ‘Cocks first made an appearance in the Tournament in 1971 by beating North Carolina in the ACC Tournament Final. They then decided to pull a George Costanza and “leave on a high note” by withdrawing from the ACC the following year. However, the success of ’71 would be the first of four consecutive South Carolina teams to make the tournament all under the watchful eye of hall-of-famer Frank McGuire. South Carolina would return to the tournament in 1989, 1997, 1998, and 2004 meaning that they have reached the tournament a grand total of 8 times. The University of Kentucky has also been to the NCAA Tournament eight times…in the last eight years. Not only are we better than South Carolina at basketball, but we’re also their social betters. Mind you, we’re not better people (that would be arrogant), but we are certainly better socially.
South Carolina boasts a formidable threesome in the guise of Melvin Watson, Larry Davis, and BJ McKie and they have given the Cats fits for what seems like ages. Gillispie will have to reach deep into his bag of tricks in order to formulate a plan to stop this trio. Fine, they’re not playing anymore, but BJ McKie was at South Carolina long enough to get a Ph.D in Mustacheology. Lucky for Kentucky (That Rhymes!), word has it that Tre Kelly finally graduated and with a scoring average against Kentucky of just less than 70 points/game. The Cocks are led on offense by Devan Downey and Zam Frederick, master of the pan flute, who are averaging 19 and 16 points, respectively. If the Cats can keep them in check, expect a Kentucky victory.
This one will be closer than anticipated with the Cats scraping by with a 104-27 victory. Patrick ends up with an absurd amount of points and rebounds (ho-hum), and Ramel decides that his 20 point streak was good, but not great, and begins a 40 point streak. Joe will still have a little soreness in the ankle, but will play and take 3 ibuprofren prior to the game. This will help slightly, but he will still feel some discomfort and will request cubed (not crushed) ice following the game. The team will also eat at the Outback following the game and Matt Scherbanske will make everyone laugh by telling a rather “blue” joke at the dinner table. Coach Gillispie will order a bloomin’ onion and a 16 oz ribeye and will polish off both like a pro. Finally, Ramel will trade his salad for some of A.J. Stewart’s cheese fries. I predict it will be a good meal.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect big victories against top 15 opponents from this team even before the season started, but the wins against UT and VU have delivered more satisfaction to me than any win(s) in quite some time. The effort that this team gives is enough to make you root for their success and the guys who have heard “lack of Kentucky talent” and “worst team in UK history” certainly deserve some success before their playing days are through. Let’s hope the Cats can pick up their first SEC road win on Saturday and can continue the inspired play that led them to knock off the #3 team in the land this past week. “Ok, guys. We’ve won two games in a row. If we win tonight, its called a winning streak. IT HAS HAPPENED BEFORE.”–Lou Brown. Name the movie. Go Cats.