The 2012-13 season is about halfway through, and just like in 1989 and 2009, the Kentucky Wildcats will struggle to make the NCAA Tournament. To stay apprised and educated, follow me on Twitter @NotJerryTipton. Here’s the weekly notebook:
*Down With the King: Last Saturday, Louisville lost at home to Syracuse. Incredibly, this was the first time Louisville had ever lost a home game as the #1 team in the country. This is quite an amazing accomplishment, to be sure. Kentucky, for example, likes to call itself “the greatest tradition in the history of college basketball,” and it first lost a home game as the #1 team in the country way back in 1955. And if that weren’t enough, they duplicated the feat in 1988. In other words, big, bad Kentucky has lost twice as many home games while ranked #1 as “Little Brother” Louisville has! Wow. Something tells me UK won’t be making a t-shirt to commemorate that achievement.
*It’s Like That: During the telecast of the Kentucky/Auburn game last week, former Auburn star Charles Barkley said that none of Kentucky’s freshmen were ready for the NBA. While he didn’t clarify whether he was saying that the players were untalented or that John Calipari is doing a terrible job preparing them for the NBA, one must assume the latter. In other words, despite being self-proclaimed “friends” with the Kentucky coach, Charles Barkley told a national television audience that John Calipari sucks. While many would scoff at this notion, Sir Charles does have some evidence to support his claim. If not for some incredibly good fortune, Coach Cal would have never made it to a Final Four. In 1996, the only reason he got there was because Marcus Camby happened to have been born about 20 years earlier. What were the odds of that? And in 2008, his Memphis squad doesn’t make it if Derrick Rose’s parents had never met. I’m not clear on the circumstances surrounding their union, but I bet it was pretty unlikely. And then in 2011, he doesn’t make it if Brandon Knight doesn’t save his bacon with a last second shot against Princeton in the 1st Round. What if the opponent had been UConn (who beat UK twice that year) instead of an Ivy League team? And finally in 2012, there’s no Final Four berth for Calipari if all of UK’s talented players decide to play elsewhere. Just an amazing run of good fortune, really. Kudos to Barkley for having the guts to insinuate as much on national TV.
*You Talk Too Much: Heading into the disaster at Alabama, UK had started to play better, thanks to a less vocal John Calipari. This does not bode well for Kentucky. Coach Cal has publicly stated that he is going to do less yelling, and simply let his players play. What is the import of this, exactly? Well, less yelling means less talking. And less talking means less coaching. And less coaching means less Coach Cal. In other words, this team is at its best when John Calipari isn’t even involved. It sounds odd, but numbers don’t lie. Of the last 71 national champions, 70 of them were able to win it all with absolutely no help from one John Calipari. Can these Cats make it 71 of 72? Only if their coach gets out of the way.
* On this date: On this date in 1948, Kentucky was on the way to its first national championship. As UK’s critics are quick to point out, however, the title really doesn’t count because the SEC is a football conference.