“You really gotta ask yourself, what’s the point in being a superpower anymore.” Technically Josiah Bartlet, but who’s counting?
Happy birthday to RamÃ³n Gerardo Antonio EstÃ©vez – or as you likely know him, Martin Sheen – as he turns 71 today. Martin has had an illustrious career as an actor including stints on television, film, radio, documentaries and even voicing a few video games (from the Mass Effect trilogy.) On top of that, he has fathered four children that have all gone on to become actors, most notably Emilio Esteves (coach Gordon Bombay to the mighty ducks,) and of course Charlie Sheen who is out somewhere trying to water into Tiger Blood. Still, Martin Sheen will always be President Josiah Bartlet to me, the fictitious politician from the West Wing. He was the kind of President that could inspire a nation with a speech, challenge the country to find the best part of themselves, and manage to live through crisis after scandal after crisis, all the while quipping witty and intellectual quotes. In other words, the kind of politician you can only find on TV. Still, Bartlet would routinely pull off scenes like this, and because of that I’m wishing RamÃ³n Gerardo Antonio EstÃ©vez a happy birthday.
And onto a surprising number of News and Views for the start of August. Must be the Kentucky Effect.
— Of course, the big news today once again centers around basketball. It’s not surprising that Kentucky fans want to talk about basketball year round, but it is surprising the way Calipari fuels the fire. Two years ago it was the John Wall and Demarcus Cousins show around Lexington, last year it was the Canada trip, this year it’s the UK Legends games. Wait – did I just say games? As in plural? I think I did. While the details are not yet set in stone it looks like a second exhibition game is in the works between the UK Pros and the Dominican Republic. The game is tentatively scheduled for August 16th, the day after the first one, and in theory the tickets will go on sale this Friday. While the details are still being set, it also looks as though Josh Harrellson, Brandon Knight and Deandre Liggins may switch out with some of the UK Legends for the second game. Here is the link to the ticket master info as it currently stands. Which brings us to…
— The fact that this game is tentatively scheduled to go down in the KFC Yum! center arena in Louisville. Firstly, this is a great move to extend to the UK fans that are stuck in Louisville. As both games are scheduled to be on weekdays, it makes commuting difficult for those that don’t live close to the arena. We all know that while Louisville has plenty of UofL fans, there are just as many UK fans in the area (as evidenced by the success of the KSR radio show.) It’ll be a great opportunity for big blue fans all around. But add to it the fact that Denny Crum may be an honorary coach, and the digs at UofL become even more rich. Not only will there be more talent in the UofL arena than there likely ever will be again, nearly all of them have UK ties, and the Louisville programs greatest coach could publicly support the event by coaching in it. Try and tell me you wouldn’t be upset if the situation were reversed, and then relish in the possibility. Kaboom.
— Meanwhile, the team that is getting the most from all of this is the Dominican Republic national squad. I can’t imagine that the powers that be knew exactly what they were getting when they hired Calipari to coach the national team, but it’s clear they hit the ball out of the park. What was once a squad that would have had no real publicity is now potentially getting two of the most intriguing match ups this off season, during a time when the NBA is locked out and the talking heads are starved for basketball. We haven’t seen the game (or potential series,) get too much publicity yet, but it’s still two weeks off. You can bet as we get closer to tip off, the story will hit all the major networks. If not for a lack of anything else cool to talk about.
— This, of course, brings us to Eloy Vargas’ role in this whole thing. Cal and the Dominican Republic team had a chance to meet with the media today, and he stressed that he felt this could be a good building experience for Vargas. Cal has already challenged him to ‘play like an NBA player,’ and hopes that he will find a similar path to success as we all watched Josh Harrellson take last year. He stressed that Eloy would need to be in the top 8 or 9 guys on the team to go on the trip, and with so many talented players it could be tough for him to find a spot. Still, if Eloy can use this experience to get just a little better, he could end up being the bruiser down low that next years team may be missing.
— Last point on the Dominican Republic team. Earlier today when being interviewed by the media, Charlie Villaneuva said, of the UK facilities “This is like an NBA facility. Everything you need is right here. I feel like I’m back in Michigan.” Just like Kentucky is like an NBA team, Charlie.
— If it is possible for the 2012 recruiting picture to shift without really changing at all, we have certainly seen that over the past few days. Mostly thanks to Jeff Goodman. Two days ago Goodman projected that Archie Goodwin would be the first 2012 recruit to commit to Kentucky – music to the ears of BBN. There’s still not much of a time table for Goodwin, but the longer things seem to go on, the more people are putting him in Kentucky’s camp. Not sure if that’s on feel from talking with the kid or Calipari’s reputation, but either way it’s a good sign. Then, yesterday, Goodman squashed the rumors that Kaleb Tarczewski would be declaring sometime on Tuesday or Wednesday. This is also great news for Kentucky, as it was unlikely Kaleb would commit to UK without taking a visit – especially when he’s considered a Kansas lean right now. The cats have made huge gains on Kaleb’s list according to most reporters, so the key right now for Calipari is to get him on campus.
— And then you have former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl who was rumored all day to be set to become an NBA D-League team head coach. I mean, I know the guys gotta do something to afford all that body paint, but D-League just seems sad. Still, the rumors that it was a done deal proved not to be true (or at least were denied by Pearl.) I would add more, but Gregg Doyel summed it up perfectly…
— Despite all the excitement building around the basketball program, the football program had a thing or four to say yesterday, too. Joker pulled four commitments yesterday in Tyrone Pearson (DL,) Daniel Ross (DL,) TJ Jones (OL,) and Landon Foster (K/P.) The momentum around Kentucky’s program continues to – yes – Rise, and Joker is seeing the benefit of the hard work put in by his coaching staff. Meanwhile there is rumor that Langston Newton is close to a decision, and being a brother of Morgan Newton certainly doesn’t hurt. It is clear that Joker has outlined the type of players he is searching for, has managed to get in on them early and get his recruiting classes in shape. They may not all be dsmithfivestar four star recruits, but football recruiting isn’t nearly as cut and dry as basketball, and if Joker has the guys he wants, I’m sold. After all, Randall Cobb was a 3 star…
— Which brings us to this topic, individual Football tickets go on sale today. You can buy them online at ukathletics.com, by going into the Joe Craft Center Ticket Office or by calling 1-800-928-2287. The choice is yours and yours alone. Get your tickets while you can, you already know we’re going to beat Louisville – and who wants to miss out on the year we break the streak? Not you, that’s who.
So that’s it for tonight. More all day as Matt breaks down the benefit of playing at the Yum! center on the radio and Joker pulls off another 19 commitments before lunch.