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:
*Sympathy For The Devil: Rick Pitino recently announced that there was a good possibility that Louisville point guard Peyton Siva would leave for the NBA after his upcoming junior season. In making this announcement, Pitino took a not-so-thinly-veiled shot at UK coach John Calipari when he said that when it comes to determining who will declare early for the draft, he’s learned not to think like himself, but rather like the players he’s coaching. In other words, Calipari — who’s considered to be somewhat of an expert on offering advice to players contemplating turning pro — is immature and bases his decisions on his ego and libido, rather than common sense, like Pitino. (Calipari, who generally isn’t one to back down from a verbal spat, has surprisingly yet to respond to Pitino’s potshot, which suggests he likely concedes the point.) If Siva does declare for the NBA Draft, he will probably go unselected, thereby following the paths of former Louisville players Samardo Samuels (2010) and Terrence Jennings (2011). If this happens, it will reinforce the widely-held belief that Pitino is the master of developing irrational confidence in his players, as evidenced by the fact that he somehow keeps convincing them that they have a shot in hell of playing in the NBA.
*Paint It Black: UK has just released its non-conference schedule for the 2011-12 season, and Little Debbie would be impressed with the number of cupcakes it features. The first two games that John Calipari’s squad of allegedly talented freshman (along with the upperclassmen who weren’t quite good enough to go to the NBA) will play are against Transylvania and Morehouse, who aren’t even Division I teams. Good luck getting anybody to show up for those snoozefests. After that, the schedule is as follows: Marist (this would be impressive if Rik Smits hadn’t graduated in 1988), Kansas (last seen getting blown out by VCU, an obscure squad that barely even made the NCAA Tournament), Penn State (luckily for the Big Blue, the Crispin brothers don’t live there anymore), Old Dominion/USF (doesn’t matter which one they play, as they’re both awful), Radford (never heard of it), Portland (Calipari conveniently waited until Luke Sikma graduated to invite the Pilots to Rupp), St. John’s (is it 1985?. No? Then yawn.), North Carolina (UK caught a huge break with the injury to Leslie McDonald, though this will likely do away with any national interest in the game), Indiana (good thing Bobby Knight’s not alive to see what’s become of his former team), UT-Chattanooga (more like UT-Suckanooga), Samford (seriously, the Cardinal are probably seeking some revenge for that 1998 Final Four game), Loyola (the one in Chicago would probably beat UK, but the one in Maryland is flat terrible), Lamar (Lamar Latrell from Revenge of the Nerds would have a better chance of winning) and Louisville (a wide-open Josh Harrellson just dunked again). At the very least, we now know why UK is ranked so highly in the preseason polls, as they likely won’t face any legitimate competition until league play rolls around.
*Shattered: On Tuesday, it was announced that junior Jon Hood tore his ACL, and will undergo surgery. Obviously, the person many fans are likely to blame for this is John Calipari. Since taking over at UK, Calipari has signed loads of elite talent, which has left unheralded players like Hood busting their tails to keep up. In fact, this isn’t the first time that an “ordinary” player such as Hood has gotten hurt. Examples: Former Cat Ramon Harris always seemed to suffer random injuries during his time at UK, DeAndre Liggins twisted his ankle in the SEC Tournament last year, and Josh Harrellson required stitches above his eye in an NCAA Tournament game. What do all these injuries have in common? They were sustained by players who were not recruited to UK by Cal, and who weren’t decorated McDonald’s All-Americans. Could it be that these young men felt pressured by the waves of blue-chip talent that has paraded through Lexington in the past two years, and as a result, pushed their bodies beyond the limits of human endurance in an honorable attempt to simply keep up? Consider: In the 18 years before Calipari was hired at UK, Hood never suffered a torn ACL. Then, all of a sudden, a mere 27 months after Cal gets hired, down goes Hood. It’s hard to consider that a coincidence.
* On this date: On this date in 2008, Billy Gillispie was coaching at UK without a signed contract.