We’re still a couple of 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:
*I Need Love: On Tuesday, the Miami Heat’s LeBron James was in Lexington to scrimmage with current and past UK players. The amount of attention this got has to be troubling to sophisticated Kentucky fans, who are none too fond of the program’s image as a rest stop for “one and done” players whose sole objective is to get to the NBA, college be damned. As if the “one and done” stigma isn’t bad enough, now UK will have to contend with the idea that “none and done” players like LeBron consider themselves honorary Wildcats. This negative attention was on full display Tuesday night when James tweeted that he was in town playing against the Cats. Immediately, high school stars and basketball fans all across the country re-tweeted LBJ, which suggests they disapprove of his cavorting around with a team of college players, who are ostensibly in school for the sole purpose of obtaining an education. Moreover, when James says he would have played at UK had he gone to college upon graduating from high school in 2003, what he’s basically saying is “I desperately wanted to play for Tubby Smith, and had no desire to suit up for John Calipari.” I believe most Cat fans would agree that LeBron’s association with the current Cats can do absolutely nothing to help the Kentucky program or John Calipari, particularly in the eyes of elite high school basketball players.
*I’m Bad: Earlier this week, Louisville got a commitment from Terry Rozier, a 6’1″ point guard from Ohio. Rozier is yet another stud hauled in by UofL coach Rick Pitino, who is making a habit of scaring away other recruiters. In fact, Pitino’s recruiting prowess is such that when it became known that he was after Rozier, every other BCS school in the country decided not to even show any interest in the unranked 3* player. On the other hand, UK and John Calipari have yet to get even one commitment from the class of 2012. In an act of desperation, Calipari has invited practically every uncommitted top 20 player to UK Big Blue Madness this year. Like the old saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers.
*I Need A Beat: This Saturday, the Kentucky football team hosts Louisville in Commonwealth Stadium. The Cards, led by arguably the best sub-5’4″ Jewish quarterback in the country, are looking for a road win before they begin their annual trek through the gauntlet that is the Big East. This is the 18th consecutive year the two teams have met on the gridiron, with the Cards winning the vast majority (9) of the previous 17 contests. Only one time (not including the last 2 years) since the football rivalry was renewed in 1994 has the school that won the football game in the Fall gone on to the win the basketball game in the Winter, a feat that was accomplished by UofL in the 2003-04 academic year. With that in mind, it will be interesting to see who John Calipari is rooting for Saturday night. In what was perhaps a signal of which way he will be leaning, Coach Cal wore a red shirt when coaching the Dominican Republic national team in a game last week. (They lost.) Tellingly, he has been silent on the issue thus far, and he even went so far as to leave Lexington this week, apparently to avoid being questioned on the matter.
* On this date: On this date in 2004, Brandan Wright was enrolled at North Carolina. He chose UNC over Kentucky, even though he grew up a Cat fan.