As the 2016-17 season approaches, Kentucky fans everywhere are asking the same question: how did the Wildcats lose to Indiana in the 2nd round last year? In order to placate UK’s notoriously demanding fans, John Calipari’s Kiddie Cats will need to defy all odds and win a national championship, despite the fact that no player on the roster has ever even played in an NCAA Tournament game (other than Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins, Isaiah Briscoe and three others). Anything less than a championship would infuriate literally every single Kentucky fan ever, probably. (And if not, it should.) To stay apprised and educated, follow me on Twitter @NotJerryTipton. Here’s the weekly notebook:
*Are The Good Times Really Over?: As we enter the new season, Kentucky finds itself in the unique and unfamiliar position of not being the best team in its own state. That particular distinction belongs to the Louisville Cardinals. Though every single preseason poll has UK ranked higher than UofL, the facts do not support these rankings. Consider: FACT: Before last season, UofL head coach Rick Pitino stated his 2015-2016 Cards had “seven or eight guys who will play in the NBA someday.” FACT: Only one of those “seven or eight guys” was selected in the 2016 NBA Draft, leaving six or seven future pros on the roster. FACT: The Cards added 5 star swingman V.J. King to the roster, and given Hall of Famer Rick Pitino’s knack for getting elite talent drafted, you can add him to the list as well. FACT: This brings Pitino’s stable of eventual NBA’ers back up to eight. FACT: Kentucky only has four players listed in most 2017 NBA Mock Drafts. FACT: Eight is twice as much as four. In other words, despite the Big Blue Hype Machine working overtime to suggest that UK might actually be more talented than UofL this year, the data shows that not only will the Cards be better than the Cats, but they’ll be twice as good. And if this weren’t depressing enough, BBN, remember this: Louisville has not lost a postseason game in two years. Remind me again. Who’s the little brother?
*Workin’ Man Blues: Kentucky will host Big Blue Madness tonight. Under UK head man John Calipari, BBM has become known for its style rather than its substance. In fact, despite the program’s incessant (and some would say annoying) promoting of the event, it has yet to be shown to have any real impact on recruiting. Sure, elite prospects flock to the practice like ants to an Arbor Day picnic, but to date, no Kentucky player — past, present or future — has ever said that the only reason he chose UK was because of this particular dog and pony show. Rather, these players tend to cite factors like UK fans, or Calipari’s penchant for getting players drafted, or the chance to be on television more often than a Kardashian. With that in mind, it could reasonably be argued that the $300,000 it costs to produce the event would be better utilized elsewhere. Anywhere, really. Anonymously donated to a homeless shelter, for instance. Or maybe given to an orphanage. How about investing it in a sensible, low-cost mutual fund? Or if Calipari insists on keeping the money on campus, perhaps it would be better spent on academic research. Or giving long-overdue raises to long overworked professors. Other UK sports programs would greatly appreciate such largesse. For example, when a reporter placed an anonymous phone call to Henrietta Coogler, the coach of UK’s women’s billiards team, and asked her if she would like $300,000, she was quick to reply: “Umm, yes?” Wow. I’m guessing this developing controversy will not be announced to the throngs of delirious blue-clad basketball bennies who fill Rupp Arena tonight.
*Turnin’ Off a Memory: As Kentucky backers all over the Commonwealth are aware, John Calipari’s son Brad is on the roster this year. If history is any indication, and it usually is, this will be a complete and unmitigated disaster. Observant spectators may recall that the last two times a Kentucky coach placed his son on the team — pardon my French — all heck broke loose. In the 1980’s, UK head man Eddie Sutton had his son Sean calling the shots at point guard. The result? The Cats ended up on probation. In the 1990’s, Tubby Smith famously opted to give the reins to his middle child, Saul. This too was a nightmare, as the Cats would go on to miss the Final Four for 12 consecutive years — after somehow backing into a national title in 1998 — and would miss the NCAA Tournament altogether twice (in 2009 and 2013). Why would Calipari think that this current experiment will turn out any differently? In order to gauge the mood of the Big Blue Populace, a reporter asked 100 UK fans the following question: “Will Kentucky definitely win a national championship if John Calipari decides to play his son 40 minutes a game at point guard, which may just happen, you don’t know.” The results were not surprising. 53% of respondents said “No.” 32% of respondents said “I don’t know.” 10% of respondents said “Probably.” And the remaining 5% said “Please get off my front porch, sir.” Does this sound like an optimistic fan base?
*Kentucky Gambler: As mentioned above, most NBA Mock Drafts have four Kentucky players getting selected in next summer’s draft. De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Wenyen Gabriel and Edrice “Bam” Adebayo could all be drafted in the first round. This does not bode well for Kentucky. It has been two years since a player who won a national championship was taken in the draft that same year. Moreover, only 7 players who won it all have been taken in the last 4 drafts that same year. In other words, since 2013, less than 3% of all NBA draftees won a national title. Not only that, you have to go all the way back to 2012 to find a national champion that had more than 3 players drafted. That year’s titlist (who edged out Kansas in the final after the Jayhawks ran out of time) had 6 players drafted. It says here that John Calipari cannot possibly like those odds.
* On this date: On this date in 2012, there’s a good chance that a recruit got lucky in Minardi Hall.