Now, the offseason. And while there may not be any more games to played, there is always excitement surrounding the Kentucky basketball program, whether it’s which freshmen (or juniors) will declare for the NBA before they’re ready, which player will be implicated in a New York Times story, or which NBA job John Calipari will actively seek this summer. To stay apprised and educated, follow me on Twitter @NotJerryTipton. Here’s the weekly notebook:
*Don’t Cry Tony: It appears evident now that Wake Forest transfer Tony Woods is heading to Texas to play for Rick Barnes and the Longhorns. It also appears that he really wanted to play for Kentucky. While the specific chain of events that led to this result isn’t known, one thing is patently obvious: John Calipari has no tolerance for kids or second chances. The young man was alleged to have made a mistake, but nobody who wasn’t present on the occasion in question is in a position to pass judgment on him. Opponents of the decision to recruit Woods will claim that given the fishbowl nature of UK basketball, Woods would have had no margin for error, and opposing fans would have been relentless in their taunting of him. Well, apparently I have more faith in mankind than those people, but then again, I’ve always been an optimist. And I may not know much, but I do know this: If Woods happens to slip up next year, and get in even more trouble, this will be solely because he wasn’t allowed to attend UK. So what then? What if that happens, and Woods runs afoul of the law next season? Well, John Calipari’s going to feel pretty silly.
*Fifteen Years Ago: At a recent Cardinal Caravan outing, Louisville coach Rick Pitino brought the tens of UofL fans in attendance to their feet by proclaiming that the SEC is a “second rate conference.” Before UK fans criticize him for this, they should first look at the numbers, as they seem to back him up. When he was at UK, he had infinitely more success in the NCAA Tournament than he’s had at Louisville. The reason, obviously, is because his Louisville teams are so worn down by the gauntlet that is the Big East, that by the time the NCAA Tournament rolls around, they’re out of gas. In 10 years at Louisville, he’s only gotten past the first weekend of the Tournament once. Why? Because the Big East is so daunting. (As was Conference USA when Louisville played in that league, apparently, because he didn’t have much NCAA success then, either.) This also explains why Pitino sent his son Richard to the SEC to be an assistant at Florida, so he could cut his teeth at a lower level before stepping up to the big leagues. I mean, it’s not like he decided to just ship his son out of town in order to spare him from the embarrassing spectacle of a public trial involving tales of adultery, abortion and premature ejaculation.
*It’s Only Make Believe: In February, Kentucky celebrated what they claimed to be John Calipari’s 500th career win after a victory over Florida. Of course, it was not his 500th career win. From 1996 to 2008, Calipari coached 9 college basketball teams: One at UMass and eight at Memphis. Those 9 teams had a total of 42 wins vacated, which is an average of almost 5 wins per season. UK apparently thought they could pull one over on the NCAA by having a raucous celebration following the win in February, but as usual, the NCAA is too smart to be duped. It was reported earlier that a “fan of a rival program” complained to the NCAA initially, which ultitmately led to this whole controversy. After some investigating, this reporter was able to locate the “fan” in question. When reached for comment, the fan (who did not want to be identified) had this to say: “That celebration Kentucky had was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. It’s not surprising, though, because UK fans are the most irrational fans I’ve ever seen, and John Calipari is the biggest attention hog I’ve ever seen. He’s also the most ungrateful individual that I’ve ever gotten a job as head coach at UMass. I’m surprised it took this long for this story to come out, to be honest. I sent my good buddy Pat Forde a copy of my email to the NCAA, but he told me he wasn’t allowed to write about Kentucky. That’s ridiculous, because Pat is the greatest writer I’ve ever seen. OK, I have to go cheat on my wife in public.” Maybe this mystery fan will never get his 15 seconds of fame, but his impact will last forever.
* On This Date: On this date in 1995, North Carolina was the winningest college basketball program of all time.