We are now in the midst of John Calipari’s 3rd season as the coach of the University of Kentucky. Over the next few months, we’ll see whether he will finally be able to do what he’s being paid to do: Win an NCAA Championship. The stakes are high, but so are the pressure and expectations. Will the team flame out of the 2012 NCAA Tournament the way it did the prior two years? Will it suffer (almost) double-digit losses like it did last year? Will Coach Cal once again produce fewer NCAA Championships than first round draft picks? (h/t: Rick Bozich.) Stay tuned. In the meantime, to stay apprised and educated, follow me on Twitter @NotJerryTipton. Here’s the weekly notebook:
*Is This The End: On Wednesday, in a game that was not sold out, Kentucky won at Auburn. This may very well spell doom for the Cats. Lost in all the hullabaloo surrounding their #2 ranking and the wins over UNC and Louisville earlier in the season is an incredible stat that doesn’t seem to be getting much attention in these parts: UK’s win over the Tigers was the first time the Cats had won a road game this season. It seems hard to believe, but it’s true. In fact, the Cats hadn’t won a game away from Rupp Arena (not including neutral site games in the SEC Tournament, NCAA Tournament, the Champions Classic, the Tip-Off Tournament and at Freedom Hall) in an astounding 311 days. In the first road game UK played this season, a slow start doomed the Cats to a halftime deficit, and in the last away game they played before heading to Auburn (who isn’t very good), they allowed themselves to be defeated on a last second shot. Lest we forget, the NCAA Tournament isn’t being played at Rupp Arena this season. If Kentucky hopes to fulfill the unreasonably lofty expectations of their overly demanding fanbase, the Kiddie Cats will have to figure out a way to win away from home at some point.
*Cool It Now: In Kentucky’s SEC opener against South Carolina, Terrence Jones (who has been accused by John Calipari of using his injured finger as a crutch) broke out of his slump to score 20 points. This may very well spell doom for the Cats. Before the game, Calipari emphasized how important it is that Jones focus on rebounding rather than scoring, but in an attempt to publicly embarrass his coach, Jones proceeded to lead UK in scoring against the Gamecocks. To make matters worse, Kentucky has several scoring options, and the guess here is that those guys would like the chance to shoot the ball as well. For Jones to take it upon himself to score more points than any of his teammates is a sign that chemistry problems may doom this team before all is said and done. If Kentucky hopes to fulfill the unreasonably lofty expectations of their overly demanding fanbase, the Kiddie Cats will have to figure out a way to get Terrence Jones less involved at some point.
*Can You Stand The Rain: Marquis Teague’s brother recently bought the freshman point guard a pair of shoes. This may very well spell doom for the Cats. Marquis’s brother is Jeff Teague, who plays for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, and he apparently was not impressed with his younger sibling’s choice of footwear. As such, he bought him a fresh pair of kicks. Aside from the issue of whether or not this constitutes an improper benefit under NCAA rules (NCAA president Mark Emmert has failed to respond to numerous emails, phone calls, faxes, letters, texts, and a carrier pigeon), there is also the issue of what kind of distraction this will be for the Cats. As can been seen in this video, Teague is surrounded by reporters who are bombarding him with questions about his footwear. The clip reveals that when Teague answered the question about the shoes, he lowered his head. In a telephone conversation with body language expert Tina Sue Greenblatt, a reporter asked her whether this gesture signified guilt and/or shame. Her response is sure to send shockwaves all over the Bluegrass: “I have no idea. Please stop calling me, sir.” Wow. Her refusal to clear the Teague brothers of any wrongdoing is quite telling. If Kentucky hopes to fulfill the unreasonably lofty expectations of their overly demanding fanbase, the Kiddie Cats will have to figure out a way to overcome this scandal at some point.
* On this date: On this date in 2004, Kentucky beat Mississippi State 67-66 on a lucky shot by Erik Daniels that probably shouldn’t have counted.