The 2012-13 season is mercifully over, and despite having the #1 ranked recruiting class in the country, Kentucky failed to make the NCAA Tournament, and were unceremoniously dispatched in the First Round of the NIT by Robert Morris. Hard to see things being any different in 2013-14. To stay apprised and educated, follow me on Twitter @NotJerryTipton. Here’s the weekly notebook:
*It Ain’t Nothin’: Over the past few weeks, as recruits have announced their plans to visit UK this season, it has become clear that the school is relying on the upcoming Alumni game — scheduled for September 9 at Rupp Arena — as a recruiting tool. It is not clear, however, how wise this is on the part of John Calipari and Kentucky. For starters, the players participating in the game don’t even play for Kentucky. In fact, each and every one of them chose to leave the school of their own volition. Is it smart to attempt to sell kids on a school by showcasing a bunch of players who didn’t even want to stay there? Second of all, the players participating in the game have spent the majority of their careers playing for coaches other than Calipari. Yes, it is impressive that Anthony Davis can dunk the ball and that John Wall is fast. But did they learn these skills in Lexington? They most assuredly did not. Lastly, as stated in this space previously, the players on the floor aren’t even from the state of Kentucky, not including the ones who are. As such, watching Michael Kidd-Gilchrist showcase his talents probably says more about Rutgers (which is closer to where he learned to play the game than Lexington) than it does UK. Again, it is not clear at all what Coach Cal hopes to gain by having a bunch of multi-millionaires play a pick-up game in front of several wide-eyed teenagers. No wonder Tom Crean has opted not to do this at Indiana.
*Somebody’s Doin’ Me Right: It was revealed this week that Kentucky will not play at Tennessee this season. Once again, UK catches a break. Just like with the football team, who doesn’t even play half of the AP top 10 this year, the scheduling gods smile on the Big Blue. Knoxville has not been kind to UK over the years, to put it mildly. Not only did the Vols whip the Cats by 30 there last season, but UT also bested UK in Thompson Boling in a bunch of other years. And in 2009, of course, it took a career-best 54 points from Jodie Meeks for the Cats to squeak by the Vols, 90-72. And those superstitious members of Big Blue Nation will of course note that no player on UK’s current roster (with the exception of Jon Hood, Jarrod Polson and others) has ever won a game on Tennessee’s home floor. So in the unlikely event that the Cats cut down the nets next April in Dallas, they will have the SEC schedulers to thank.
*’Til A Tear Becomes A Rose: Earlier this week, Kentucky’s complete schedule was announced, along with respective television airings. Once again, UK is on national TV almost every game, and once again, they will start the season highly ranked. This does not bode well for Kentucky. The last time a UK team started the season in the top 10, and was scheduled to play on TV frequently, they wound up in the NIT. In fact, to find the last Kentucky team with the same profile as the current squad (talented freshmen, preseason top 2, on TV a lot, etc.) you have to go all the way back to the autumn of 2011. At that time, Joker Phillips was the Kentucky football coach, the pop charts were dominated by a musical group named “LMFAO” and a young Vin Diesel lit up the silver screen in “Fast Five.” It was a simpler time. So to think that UK will break months of tradition by rolling out a basketball to a gaggle of 5 star recruits and win the national title seems like mere folly. But hey, stranger things have happened.
* On this date: On this date in 1990, Kentucky was on probation for cheating.