Some actors are best identified by the roles they’ve played (I call them the “Oh that guy”s). Michael McKean is one of them. McKean, whose acting career has spanned over forty years, is probably best known for his role as Lenny Kosnowski on “Laverne & Shirley” as well as his numerous roles in Christopher Guest ensemble films This is Spinal Tap, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. He also put in a season on SNL, earning cred for his impersonations of Bill Clinton, Howard Stern, Robert Evans, and Gary Busey. He’s even won a Grammy for Best Song for “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow” in A Mighty Wind (which he shares with Eugene Levy and Christopher Guest).
McKean made the news for a different reason earlier this year when he was hit by a car while walking in New York City. He suffered a broken leg, but was apparently more upset that he had to miss his curtain call on Broadway that night. Turns out that in forty years, he had never missed a curtain call (talk about an easy understudy role). McKean is fully recovered now, and is partnering with Christopher Guest, Fred Willard, and Ed Begley Jr. once again for the HBO “mock-doc” series “Family Tree,” which will definitely find its way onto my TiVo Season Pass list.
Happy 65th birthday, Michael. Be careful walking around out there.
— First things first: 2013 PF Marcus Lee will announce his college decision at 2:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday. The 15th ranked player in the 2013 class (Rivals) is down to Kentucky and California, but all signs point toward him picking the Cats. Lee was in town for Big Blue Madness and by all accounts (including his own Twitter and Instagram), had a wonderful time. On Monday, Lee’s brother told reporters that Marcus planned to visit Cal this upcoming weekend and then take a week or two to make his decision. I don’t know about you, but Lee canceling his Cal visit and moving up his announcement makes it pretty clear he’ll be putting on a UK hat this afternoon. I’m just glad he isn’t making up sit through another episode of ESPNU Recruiting Nation.
— Remember all the brouhaha a while back about Julius Randle not wanting to play with the Harrison Twins? It’s hogwash, people, hogwash!! Randle addressed the rumors in his latest blog for USA Today’s high school basketball site. He said the rumors were the “craziest thing” he’s ever heard and, in fact, if he played with the Twins at Kentucky, “we would have a legit shot to win a national championship in our first year.” Sounds good to me.
Next up on Randle’s agenda? An official visit to Oklahoma for the Notre Dame game on October 27th.
— Wednesday might as well be Kentucky day at the ESPN headquarters. Not only will UK’s All-Access series debut at 7 p.m., but Cal will be in house going through what the network calls “the car wash” (which sadly, has nothing to do with Rose Royce). Once again, here’s his schedule:
9:15 a.m. – Mike and Mike
10:20 a.m. – SportsCenter
10:50 a.m. – First Take debate
3:15 p.m. – Scott Van Pelt Show (ESPN Radio)
4 p.m. – Numbers Never Lie (ESPN2)
5 p.m. – SportsNation (ESPN2)
To me, Cal’s visit to ESPN and the All-Access series demonstrate a clear shift in ESPN’s attitude towards the Cats. Sure, it may just be the swag that comes along with the National Championship, but there’s no denying that the Worldwide Leader has been a bit more Cat-friendly lately. Not so long ago, Kentucky might as well have been Rodney Dangerfield to ESPN, who waxed poetically about the Dukes and the UNCs of the world before tossing the Cats the leftover scraps. Kentucky’s rise to the top under Cal has not only changed the game of college basketball, it’s changed the media bias as well. On one side, you have ESPN dedicating a weekly series to the Cats and Cal’s stronghold on recruiting, and on the other, you’ve got CBS Sports’ trio of writers (Goodman, Parrish, Norlander) using an anonymous coaches’ survey to accuse Cal of cheating. And don’t forget Mr. Thamel over at Sports Illustrated and Pat Forde at Yahoo. While ESPN’s intentions are without a doubt ratings-based (Nike doesn’t keep making so many UK shirts because they like the color blue), it’s still refreshing. Now, if only they’d get rid of…
— …Bobby Knight. Knight made news Tuesday morning when he announced he was putting his three National Championship rings up for auction, along with other items, in part to pay for his grandchildren’s educations. That’s great. Also, Knight said that he doesn’t put up any memorabilia in his house: “I don’t put anything up in the house. If you came into the house you would think I was a mailman.” Mailmen across the country could not be reached for comment.
— Mike DeCourcy watched the Cats practice on Monday and wrote a lengthy write-up for The Sporting News. From his report, it seems as though everyone in the Craft Center is focused on teaching the freshmen the basics with little over three weeks before the Maryland and Duke games. Ryan Harrow told DeCourcy: “You just have to bear with them. If I’m ahead and they’re behind, it’s not going to work. So if all of us kind of get it together and work together, we’ll all be good and it will all flow. Just like last year’s team.”
Once the Cats (quickly!) establish the basics, it’s all a matter of chemistry. While Cal has preached over the last few weeks that this team isn’t as good as last year’s, he issued a challenge to his squad before practice on Monday:
“We’re different than last year’s team, but I’ll tell you what, you have a chance to be better: They lost two games. You want to be better than them, they lost two games.”
No pressure or anything.
— Another drool-worthy tidbit from DeCourcy’s piece:
“Poythress has genuine star quality with his absurdly powerful arms and hands, one of the few basketball bodies in the past three decades that is reminiscent of former Pitt star Sam Clancy, who was a contemporary of Calipari’s in Western Pennsylvania high school ball.
Clancy eventually made his living as an NFL defensive end.
“I want him to be the best offensive rebounder in the country,” Calipari said.”
— Your favorite BBQ-lovin’ coach and grocery store worker turned ESPN analyst is ready for some basketball! Bruce Pearl shared his thoughts on the upcoming season with Florida basketball beat writer Kevin Brockaway, and he predicts that the Cats will win the SEC, but will lose at home for the first time under Calipari because “they are so young and young guys are not perfect every night.” Well, if anyone would know about losing in Rupp, it would be Pearl. (h/t to NJT for that gem)
— What does Vegas think of Kentucky’s chance to repeat? The odds to win the 2013 NCAA national championship were released on Tuesday and the Cats came in as the second favorite, with 7-to-1 odds. Indiana was first at 6-to-1 and Louisville third, at 8-to-1. Tom Crean likes those odds a lot. A whole lot.
— Want some good news about Saturday’s game against Georgia? The Bulldogs’ star linebacker Jarvis Jones, projected by many to be the #1 pick in the next NFL draft, may not play. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jones is still recovering from an ankle injury and is listed as day-to-day. He has yet to practice this week, but head coach Mark Richt said that if he can go, he will go: “If he’s healthy enough to play, we want him to play. There’s no thought of holding him out this game so that he’s 100 percent next game.” Dangit.
— Two guys who really hope Jones doesn’t play are Jalen Whitlow and Morgan Newton. Randy Sanders told reporters on Tuesday that they plan on using both quarterbacks against Georgia. In the ultimate tease, Patrick Towles dressed for practice but did not play. He is still listed as doubtful.
We’ll have coverage of Marcus Lee’s decision, Cal’s day at ESPN, and the All-Access special throughout the day. See you soon.