The 2012-13 season is winding down, and just like in 1989 and 2009, the Kentucky Wildcats will struggle to not make the NCAA Tournament. To stay apprised and educated, follow me on Twitter @NotJerryTipton. Here’s the weekly notebook:
*Jesus Walks: A national newspaper recently published an article in which Kentucky coach John Calipari and Louisville coach Rick Pitino discussed the one and done rule and why they choose to take (or in Pitino’s case, not take) advantage of it. Pitino’s reasoning is that he doesn’t feel he can build a relationship with another person in just 7 short months, and that he needs much longer before he can really get to know someone. Calipari says this is just an excuse, and that hints that Pitino simply can’t land the elite recruits that only need one year of college. Whatever the merits of each coach’s argument, one thing is not debatable: Rick Pitino has had a great deal more success with his approach than Calipari has had with his. Louisville is a top 5 team headed for a possible #1 seed, whereas Kentucky is unranked and on the bubble. Not convinced that this settles the argument? OK, how about this: 80-77. I could cite additional statistics and facts, but that would only serve to belabor the point. Say what you will about each man, but their different approaches to recruiting and coaching have led to widely different outcomes, especially in the recent past.
*Monster: Last Sunday, Indiana clinched its first Big 10 regular season title in 20 years. Kentucky, meanwhile, has won 9 SEC regular season titles in the last 20 years. The reason for the stark difference? Simple: The Big 10 is hard. As IU fans on Twitter are quick to point out, the only thing that prevented a Kentucky-like run for the Hoosiers through the B1G the last 2 decades is the difficulty of the conference. While this sounds disingenuous, statistics tend to support that claim: In the last 20 years, the Big 10 has won one national championship. The SEC, meanwhile, has won 6. This speaks to just how tough the Big 10 is, as it reflects the reality of the situation, which is that by the time the NCAA Tournament rolls around, teams from the Big 10 are just too darn tired to make a deep run. Example: Indiana had a great shot to win it in 2012, but by the time they got to the Sweet 16, they were exhausted, probably from butting heads with Northwestern and Penn State earlier that season. Legends? Yes. Leaders? You betcha.
*All Falls Down: UK beat Florida last Saturday 61-57, thanks to an 11-0 run by the Cats to finish the game. This does not bode well for Kentucky. Going into this weekend’s SEC Tournament, the Cats are probably flush with confidence, thanks to upsetting the #11 Gators. However, what happens when they play a team that doesn’t miss all its shots in the last 7:36 of a game? What will UK do when their opponent doesn’t throw the ball away, or fail to get crucial defensive stops, which is what Florida did last Saturday? And to make matters worse, before Saturday’s tilt with Florida, John Calipari had to beg Cat fans to stand during the last 8 minutes of the game, which is when UK went on their run. What if Coach Cal doesn’t do that for the next game, or what if he forgets to get on the Twitter? Kentucky loses, that’s what. You heard it here first.
* On this date: On this date in 2049, Indiana will still be celebrating a December 2011 win over Kentucky.