Today’s is the 79th birthday of the man with the birthmark to end all birthmarks, Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorby for you kids out there (see we are an educational site as well) was the last true leader of the Soviet Union and is often credited for bringing about the end of communism around the world with his policies of glasnost and parastroika (sidenote….when I was a kid I would occasionally sing “parastroika parastroika….dor me vou dor me vou…..that was how you showed you were cool in Middlesboro). Actually Gorby really had no choice as he was leading a nation whose economy simply could no longer sustain itself and a dying worldview whose inevitable end he correctly foresaw. Neverthless, Gorby’s leadership prevented what most feared…..a cataclysmic world war ignited by a declining empire’s attempt to hold onto world glory. In that way Gorby was a peacemaker and thus is fondly remembered…..well at least in the West. We wish him a Happy Birthday.
Now after that lesson in Russian Politics, we move to the news…..
(1) After the feel-good win of yesterday, word from around the UK camp is that the mood around the team is amazingly positive. For those who saw the Senior Day ceremonies, you could see the team unity that exists with this group as the departing players were given royal treatment by their younger teammates. The team really believes in itself going into the Florida game and the postseason and a true feeling exists that they believe they can win any given game. Some would say this view is naive or irrational, but it beats the defeatism that clouded the team last season. I honestly have no idea what will happen the next few weeks…..nothing would surprise me as this team has showcased an ability to win the games it should but also lose all the games it should….they are Vegas to the max. But I do feel this team is confident…..and that at least accounts for something.
(2) Today was the end of Stephon Pettigrew’s high school career as his team went down in the District Semifinals. Pettigrew now faces the most important few weeks of his basketball career as his college options shake themselves out. Stephon has been lost a bit on the recruiting scene in recent weeks, but his options with UK still remain the same. UK has essentially told him that they will work it out for him to UK and asked that he just hold off for a few weeks to see how. All indications are that he will and it is very likely that Stephon will be a Wildcat next season. As I have stated before, I think Pettigrew will be a good pickup for the Cats if he is the fifth member of a class that includes Patterson and Lucas. That is UK’s hope and in the next few weeks, we will find if it becomes reality.
(3) The rumors of the commitment of Kenny Frease to the Cats are a bit premature. Frease loves UK and those around him suggest he may even now be a UK lean. However he plans on waiting and making the decision in May, right before the summer season gets in high gear. UK has to love the position they are in at this point, co-leaders with Xavier with very few other schools in sight. I think you will see Frease likely take another visit in April and then make up his final mind. IF Frease comes and is joined by Day Day, you have two ingredients to a great class, with only one (possibly two) left for Darius Miller or a power forward along the lines of Yancey Gates, Ed Davis, Kevin Jones, Drew Gordon, Malcolm White, etc.
(4) I think we really have to give a big hand out to the fans that were in Rupp Arena last night. Wednesday could have been an ugly scene. The furor around the program hit a fever pitch early in the week and the resentment was really rising among the most vocal Tubby critics. Some posters on websites said they planned to “make a statement” at the game and I worried that a bad performance could turn UK into the gutter on Senior Day….which would have been truly sad for the program and the player’s families. There was some tension around the arena leading up to the Senior Day festivities, likely for that very reason. But the fans were respectful of the Seniors and gave them all the ovations they deserved. When Tubby was announced, there were some random boos, but I have been given multiple reports of incidents were such boos were either overpowered with cheers or in one case, shouted down. Regardless of your feeling on the Tubby situation, Senior night is special and for the players, past, present and (maybe) future (like Lucas), the fans really stepped up on Wednesday.
(5) Along those lines, I was on two radio shows today, one in Raleigh and one in Alberquerqe, on the topic of Tubby Smith and the UK fans’ reaction to him. The general reaction around the country seems to be that people understand the criticism and agree that UK has underachieved in the last couple of years, but are surprised that there is serious talk of getting rid of Smith. Without rehashing the debate below (which no one wants…..believe me), it is clear that is a high topic on the mainstream media’s national radar. Everyone from Dicky V, to Seth Davis to PTI has weighed in…..and I expect more to come as the weeks go by.
(6) Its Conference Tournament week now on ESPN….you know how I know? Tonight I watched VMI upset High Point in the Big South Semifinals….and you know what else? I really enjoyed it. I am sick.
Finally, this is of course our big day as the Sports Mob with Matt and Rob begins on 1570 AM in Louisville and 1600 AM around Frankfort/Louisville at 3-7 pm today. We have a lot planned, including visits from our old friends Doyel, Bomani and Bilas, a special recruiting interview and Chris Tomlin communicating with a psychic about the postseason opportunities of the Cats and Cards. We hope you will tune in and listen up. Even if you cant, if you are a fan of the show or the site, call in during the 3-7 time frame and just say hello. You can call, hear what we are talking about and chime in on the conversation. Soon this whole gimmick will be online, but for now we want to hear from those of you who helped make this happen……so chime in at 1-800-510-ESPN if you can. We would appreciate it.
And if not, expect more Russian politics on here going forward…..