We’re still a few months from the start of the season, but there is always something going on with the Kentucky basketball program. Whether it’s meaningless exhibitions, trying to figure out how to replace one group of freshmen with another group of freshmen, or Coach John Calipari walking away from his job in order to be the coach of a national team of a country he’s not even from, something is always going on. To stay apprised and educated, you’d be well-advised to follow me on Twitter @NotJerryTipton. Here’s the weekly notebook:
*Rock Bottom: Kentucky coach John Calipari recently sent shockwaves across the Commonwealth when he called sophomore Doron Lamb “the best player” on the team. This is undoubtedly not what UK fans, who had previously been optimistic about the prospects of the 2011-12 season, wanted to hear. Clearly, any team whose “best player” averaged less than 2 rebounds and 2 assists per game will find glory elusive. Especially when said player has missed the majority of his field goal attempts and 3 point shots over the course of his career. Though you have to give Calipari credit for admitting he will be unable to develop any of the incoming freshmen, you also have to wonder what exactly does it say about a team whose best player wasn’t even good enough to go pro?
*Careful What You Wish For: The University of Louisville recently announced that Rick Pitino has received an extension and a raise that will pay him $3.9M a year through 2017. This move was more than a little overdue, frankly. He’s the only head coach in the state with a national championship on his resume, and with the kind of run he’s currently on (5 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, one Final Four appearance in 10 seasons at UofL, one shot away from upending OVC runners-up Morehead State in the NCAA Tourney in 2011, etc.), one can argue that he’s actually underpaid. The guess here is that most Kentucky fans would admit that when Louisville hired Pitino, they never envisioned he would have this kind of career at UofL.
*Going Through Changes: Though Kentucky basketball fans like to refer to the program as “The Greatest Tradition in the History of Basketball,” could it be true that the program is losing appeal? ESPN certainly seems to think so. On Thursday, the Worldwide Leader released its GameDay schedule for the upcoming basketball season. Take a look. Notice anything missing? That’s right. For the second consecutive season, ESPN has made a conscious decision to steer clear of Lexington. Meanwhile, they will be paying visits to places like Florida State, Pittsburgh, Missouri, Vanderbilt, etc. And it’s not just the national media who’s lost interest in Cal’s Cats, either. A quick review of newspapers around the state reveals that in the last few weeks, more articles have actually been written about UK’s football program than the basketball program. And if that weren’t enough, it seems like Calipari himself can read the writing on the wall, as he has suddenly decided that he will spend the next few weeks coaching a team of Dominicans, as opposed to the self-proclaimed “Greatest Tradition in the History of Basketball.”
* On this date: On this date in 1996, you probably could have gotten pretty good odds on a “in 15 years, UK fans will like Denny Crum A LOT more than they like Rick Pitino” bet.