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:
*Gouge Away: In John Calipari’s 4th season at Kentucky, one thing is crystal clear: Rick Pitino got off to a better start at UK than Cal has. 18 games into Pitino’s 4th season (1992-93), Kentucky was 17-1. Meanwhile, 18 games into Cal’s 4th season, the Cats were a mediocre 12-6. And at the end of the 1993 season, the Cats found themselves in the Final 4. Will these Cats follow suit? Anything is possible, but no. They will not. Contrarians will point out that in their respective first 3 seasons at UK, Calipari won more games than Pitino (102-65), but those numbers are misleading, as they play a lot more games now than they did back then. Also, Calipari had the advantage of inheriting Billy Gillispie’s loaded roster, featuring multiple eventual national champions such as Darius Miller, etc., and so forth. So while UK fans and Calipari supporters may not like to admit it, one thing is certain: John Calipari is no Rick Pitino.
*Monkey Gone to Heaven: After the “win” over LSU last weekend, Kentucky stood 4-2 in conference play. However, this may be short lived. A reporter has petitioned the SEC, the NCAA and the White House to strike 2 wins from UK’s record, and change them into losses. In the Cats’ SEC opener, they edged Vandy thanks solely to the refs failing to call a shot clock violation on UK and Nerlens Noel. Then against LSU, the only reason Kentucky came out on top was because the officials failed to see that the Cats had 6 men on the floor during a crucial sequence late in the game. If the zebras get those calls right, then the Cats start 2-4 in the league rather than 4-2, and the season is pretty much over. The reporter who has initiated these protests has yet to get a response. But I’ll let you know when I hear something.
*Wave of Mutilation: UK and John Calipari announced Monday that the Cats will be renewing their series against North Carolina next season. This does not bode well for Kentucky. Clearly emboldened by the Heels’ lackluster performance against N.C. State two days earlier, Cal quickly moved to add North Carolina to the schedule, which can only mean one thing: He is scared of Indiana. When the news came out Monday, Hoosier fans were indignant that Kentucky and Coach Cal were ducking Indiana, and as usual, they were right. Indiana supporters are undoubtedly aware of the fact that Kentucky has won 15 of the last 19 against IU, which means the boys in the candy-striped britches are due to go on a long winning streak against UK. Also, the fact that IU will probably lose its two best players (Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo) while Kentucky brings in arguably the greatest recruiting class in the history of college basketball means that Calipari simply couldn’t handle the embarrassment if the Hoosiers came away victorious. You have to give Cal credit, though. He may not have any courage, but he is very shrewd when it comes to protecting his legacy.
* On this date: On this date in 1997, Louisville’s future coach beat Kentucky’s future coach by 25 points. In Rupp Arena, no less.