The season’s over. To stay apprised and educated, follow me on Twitter @NotJerryTipton. Here’s the weekly notebook:
*Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.): Last Monday, Kentucky won the NCAA Championship. This does not bode well for John Calipari. UK fans are notoriously demanding, and this will only serve to increase their already lofty expectations. Case in point: Tubby Smith won a national championship at Kentucky, and when he failed to replicate the feat, he was immediately run out of town 9 years later. I interviewed several Kentucky fans, and the general consensus is that nothing less than several more championships will satisfy the Big Blue masses. When I asked Kylie Timmons, a 5th grader from Versailles, whether she enjoyed watching this year’s UK team and hoped to watch similar UK teams in the future, she was adamant that nothing less than an undefeated season next year would make her happy: “OMG! Yes! Go Cats!!!” Likewise, 84 year old Owen Grubb, a tobacco farmer from Bourbon County, wouldn’t even contemplate the notion of not winning another title in 2013: “Them boys was fun to watch. Can’t wait til next season. Git ‘er done.” There you have it. Though he probably thought it was a good thing that he was able to field a team that won a national championship in dominating fashion, John Calipari will soon find out what a grave mistake he made.
*Without You: On Wednesday, the #2 player in the class of 2012 (according to some), Nerlens Noel, committed to Kentucky. This does not bode well for John Calipari. The reason for this is that the top player in the class of 2012 (according to some), Shabazz Muhammad, spurned UK and committed to UCLA. The end result of this development is that Kentucky could conceivably end up with the #2 recruiting class this year (assuming every unsigned top 50 player also goes to UCLA). This clearly signals that Calipari’s run of picking and choosing what players he wants has come to an unceremonious end. Not only did he whiff on this superstar, but he only has one commitment in the class of 2013. Even more ominous is that he has ZERO commitments from the classes of 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. (In fairness, it’s probably a little too early to criticize him for having received no commitments from the class of 2018 yet.) For all the heat he received when he was in Lexington, you have to credit Billy Gillispie for getting commitments from players who weren’t even in high school yet. At least with Billy Clyde, Kentucky fans knew what the future held.
*Dr. Feelgood: UK got a commitment from one of the top two players in the class of 2012 this week. This does not bode well for John Calipari. When he missed out on Shabazz Mohammad, UK fans were irate. Though there wasn’t much evidence of this on Twitter or the internet in general, this had to have been the case because national writers everywhere commented on how mad the “crazy Kentucky fans” were that UK missed on a recruit. Compare this negative attitude to the positivity being displayed by the folks at the University of Louisville, who are actually having a parade to celebrate the Cards’ season. Yes, even though they lost double digit games, and even though they lost to a woeful Providence team by 31 points, and even though they lost twice to Kentucky (with neither game ever really being in doubt) and even though their season ended at the hands of their most hated rival, Louisville is throwing a party. And it’s hard not to compare this sunny approach to all the doom and gloom in Lexington that many national writers see. Because even though UK fans like to consider themselves the greatest fans in college basketball, would Kentucky throw a party had it lost to Louisville in the national semifinals? Of course not. And that, at the end of the day, is the difference between the two programs.
* On this date: On this date in 1998, Kentucky’s Wayne Turner was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The photo depicted Turner getting his shot blocked by a Utah player.