Good morning, my friends, we’re back together again for one final weekday fling with each other before letting the weekend steer us wherever it may. So far, this week has been about underdogs defying expectations. Drew Franklin at the NCAA, Matt Jones in the blogger contest and, sadly, the Alabama Crimson Tide all left their mark this week in way we didn’t expect, so it seems appropriate that we round things off with a little salute to Wisconsin’s Ginger of the Gym, Mike Bruesewitz. The fiery forward and his Badger teammates held off the “we’re this close to being back” Indiana Hoosiers on ESPN Thursday night, giving America their first taste of basketball without pigmentation. Though Bruesewitz looks like the kid on your youth league team that showed up in jean shorts and Airwalks every practice and was there only because his parents forced him, he’s actually contributing nicely for Bo “Mr. Woodcock” Ryan this season as the team’s fifth-leading scorer and top chest-bumper. Offense is sexy, but freckles win championships. Here’s to you, Mike Bruesewitz, and every other underdog out there. Let’s get you a Tebow commercial.
Now onto a few UK notes…
– When the Cats look to Bounce Back (that’ll be $1.50, Coach) on Saturday, they’ll have to do so against a foe that is as statistically peculiar as any they’ve faced this season. South Carolina, the widespread pick to finish dead last in the SEC East, is currently in first place thanks to an overtime victory over Vandy and a road win in Gainesville, but they also lost to Furman. Their leading scorer is a 5-9 freshman averaging 15 per game and whose Rivals picture has him in shoulder pads, but he put up 22 per game against Michigan State, Vandy and Florida. They’re ranked 247th in the nation in field goal percentage, but they’re 20th in rebounding. In fact, nothing about this team is particularly sexy or seems to be all that consistent besides finding a way to win games they shouldn’t. Darrin Horn has them fighting every game and you can expect the same again in what will be another hostile environment for a young UK squad. Kentucky clearly has the talent advantage and the Gamecocks lack a lot of what has given the Cats fits this season, but as has been the case for the majority of the season, they better be ready to play. As Tom Leach said earlier this week, they have to “respect their opponent”. On paper, failing to do so seems to be the only way they could lose.
– Given the lack of a major interior presence, it will be interesting to see how UK’s big men performafter a game that saw one cursed-out by the coach and two banished to the bench. The situation with Terrence Jones has been talked about long before he and Calipari made national headlines in Tuscaloosa and despite all of the languish, he still remains fairly consistent in his production. Meanwhile, Josh Harrellson clearly had his worst game of the season and was left sitting down as the Cats climbed back behind a small lineup in the second half against Alabama. It will be interesting to see if Calipari goes back to having him in the starting lineup and how Harrellson can respond to what is essentially the first adversity he’s encountered since finding his groove. It’s a somewhat similar story for Eloy Vargas, who has yet to find success at any point this season, but clearly hit rock bottom Tuesday. South Carolina’s personnel and the potential for UK to come out firing early could mean another opportunity to build a little confidence. It won’t take much of anything to constitute an improvement. You just have to wonder if he’ll get that shot.
– In the world of football, Eastern’s Jon Davis continues to be the center of the state’s recruiting chatteras the Kentucky commit gets set to for a visit – weather will dictate if it’s Louisville or Illinois – this weekend. The Cards side seems to think he’ll flip his verbal this weekend, while those on UK’s end continue to believe he’ll end up in blue. Davis’ father, Reggie, spoke with Chip Cosby Thursday night and had some interesting things to say. The elder Davis stated that “Someone will have to derail him from Kentucky”, but noted that the recent commitment of Alvin Dupree has his son wondering how he would fit in with a team that “all of a sudden has eight tight ends”. Davis’ preference is to play on offense and most believe that Dupree will line up on defense, but it appears that the family of the Eastern star might need a little convincing that his role at UK would be exactly as he wants. I say we just get Larry Vaught to start wearing his jersey.
– In more positive news, there seems to be some traction growing around the belief that Lamar Dawson will sign with the Catson Signing Day. The four-star All-American has been pretty tight-lipped about his recruitment, but fellow All-American and UK commitment Glenn Faulkner told BigBlue247 that he believes Dawson is leaning toward joining Operation: Win. Also, Paducah Tilghman’s Josh Forrest, who visited UCF with Dawson this week, re-committed to Joker this week and will sign with the Cats on Signing Day. They’re little nuggets that are from from any concrete evidence that he’ll end up in blue, but they do provide a little hope as to validating what seems to be whispering privately.
– In case you missed it, and for your sake I hope you did, Auburn took Florida to the wire in one of the worst basketball games I’ve ever seenbefore falling 45-40. The Tigers, possibly destined to be the first team to go winless in the SEC since Georgia Tech in 1953-54, held the lead over the preseason pick to win the SEC with two minutes left in the game before the Gators scored 17% of their total points in the closing minutes to close out the win. For perspective, Auburn’s football team scored over 45 in seven games this season. Yes, the SEC is struggling.
– On a non-sports note, it was another great night of television on NBC as TV’s best foursome of Community, The Office, Parks and Recreation and Thirty Rock returned. The evening was highlighted by a cameo from Malcom Jamal Warner decked out in a Cosby sweater, who said, “My dad gave it to me.” Yes, I thought that was great. And, yes, I am lame.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned throughout the day as we get you all set for the Gamecocks in the sexiest vacation spot in the South and the second round of Drew’s interview with the NCAA. We might even debut a new writer too. As usual, the fun gets going with Matt and Zach at 10am on Talk Radio 1080. In the meantime, try to figure out why Mitch Barnhart looks like Forrest Gump in mom jeans.
See you in a few…