I’m a sucker for a good sob story. Give me Bob Costas’ voice over a soaring rendition of the Gladiator or Rudy theme and slow-mo video and I’ll root for pretty much anyone. On Tuesday, it was Liu Xiang, the Chinese track and field star who was favored to win the gold medal in the 110M hurdles. Xiang burst off the blocks and smacked his left foot into the first hurdle, re-injuring his Achilles that forced him to pull up in Beijing four years ago. He crumpled to the ground as the pain and devastating deja vu set in, but instead of accepting defeat, he got to his feet, and hopped on his one good leg toward the finish line. Once he reached the final hurdle, Xiang bent down and kissed it, a bittersweet goodbye to his gold medal dreams. After he crossed the finish line to a rousing ovation from over 80,000 spectators, Xiang’s competitors helped him hobble off the track.
Liu Xiang may not have gotten a medal, or even the royal NBC sob story treatment, but on Tuesday, he won the respect of the world. And in an Olympics that seems to be more about tape delays, endorsements, and for some reason Ryan Seacrest, that may mean more than anything.
Okay, enough sap. Let’s go over the news of the day:
— Kentucky football just can’t catch a break, can it? Tuesday morning, the University of Louisville sent out a press release saying that Kentucky was returning 2,060 of its 5,500 allotted tickets for the Governor’s Cup. Starting Wednesday morning, Louisville season ticket holders can buy the tickets, which UK was required to sell at $78 a piece, for $50. My question: why did UK return them with over three weeks left ’til kickoff? I understand not being able to cover the cost of the tickets that aren’t sold (currently that would rack up to be $156,000 if you take away UK’s fees), but why not at least attempt to sell them along with the single-game tickets, which just went on Ticketmaster Tuesday? All in all, it just goes to show that most people would choose to watch a rivalry game from the comfort of their own home than the concrete Jersey Shore-esque jungle that is Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
— Still want to buy tickets to a football game? You’re in luck. As previously mentioned, UK has single game tickets on sale for every home game, along with the Missouri road trip ($46 for SEC games, $41 for non-conference), along with the season ticket mini-packs. Also, oddly enough, 200 of the tickets that Kentucky returned to Louisville remain on sale through the UK ticket office for $78 a piece. I’m confused, too.
— As far as the team itself, Joker said that Tuesday was a “beautiful day” with better tempo than prior workouts, but still “not even close to where we need it to be.” Although he seemed happy to wax poetic about the weather, Joker remained tight-lipped about the QB competition. The team focused on special teams in Tuesday’s practice, and sophomore DeMarco Robinson impressed with kick returns, showing improved confidence catching the ball compared to last season. Freshman punter Landon Foster has lived up to the hype, with Joker calling him the “fastest” punter Kentucky’s had. The Cats strap on the pads Wednesday for the first time and two-a-days begin on Thursday.
— FYI: So far, all of the football players seem to be abiding by the Twitter ban. Tweet Beat could not be reached for comment.
— Congrats to Marquis Teague, who finally signed his contract with the Bulls on Tuesday. In his first year, Teague will make $857,000, or 100% of his slotted salary, which is less than the standard 120% first rounders make, but the Bulls had to make it work after signing Kirk Hinrich and Marco Belinelli. Teague’s salary will return to 120% after his first year.
— Scout.com updated its 2013 recruiting rankings, and not surprisingly, the top ten looks pretty familiar:
1. Jabari Parker
2. Andrew Harrison
3. Aaron Harrison
4. Julius Randle
5. Aaron Gordon
6. Kasey Hill
7. Chris Walker
8. James Young
9. Anthony Barber
10. Rondae Jefferson
Evan Daniels calls the top eight of the 2013 class “the best top group of prospects since the 2007 class,” and yes, six of those eight are considering the Cats (Kasey Hill and Chris Walker have already committed to Florida). Drool.
— The only way the 2013 class could be more impressive is if Andrew Wiggins reclassified. On Tuesday, Wiggins’ coach Rob Fulford said that he could decide as early as next week whether or not he’ll make the jump. Regardless, Fulford also said that Huntington Prep will play two games in Lexington and Louisville next season (possibly November), which gives you plenty of time to come up with a clever chant that will persuade both Wiggins and BFF Xavier Rathan-Mayes to commit to the Cats.
— One last time in case you didn’t catch it earlier: University of Central Florida forward Keith Clanton is exploring his options after his team received a post-season ban from the NCAA last week, and UCF beat writer Greg Auman reports that he may be considering a transfer to either Kentucky or Florida State. Clanton, a 6’9″ 245 lb. senior, averaged 14.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season, and along with Julius Mayes, would bring immediate experience and depth to next season’s young squad. Seem unlikely? With Cal, we’ve learned to never say never.
— What are you doing on November 29th? Watching the Cats play Notre Dame at 7 p.m. on ESPN2? Thought so.
— More trouble at the Yum! Center: after falling deeper into debt, arena officials have been forced to raid the arena renovation fund, which is reserved to make major repairs and improvements to the facility. The fund, which held a balance of over $3 million in April, has shrunk to less than $4,000 as the arena authority struggles to keep up with their debt payments. Now, US Bank, the bond trustee, signed off on the transfer since the arena hasn’t required any repairs or improvements over the past year, but it’s another troubling sign in what has spiraled into a financial crisis for the city. Don’t look for UofL to help either. When asked for a comment, Kenny Klein, U of L’s sports information director said “It’s basically their operation, and we’re just a tenant.”
That’ll do for now. The boys will be live from Hudson Toyota Chrysler in Madisonville, the hometown of Drew Franklin, in the morning, which hopefully means they’ll get to pass around Travis Ford’s freakishly small jersey. See you then.