The season’s over. To stay apprised and educated, follow me on Twitter @NotJerryTipton. Here’s the weekly notebook:
*Sure Shot: In his third season at UK, John Calipari won the national championship. This does not bode well for Kentucky. By winning a title, he has guaranteed he will not be able to duplicate the feats of his predecessors at UK, who (almost) all improved in their fourth seasons at the helm. Tubby Smith’s 3rd UK team, for example, was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the 2nd Round, while his 4th team advanced all the way to the Sweet 16. Rick Pitino also moved up in his 4th season, going from the Elite 8 in 1992 to the Final Four in 1993. Adolph Rupp improved from 21-3 in season number three to 16-1 the following year. What did all of those coaches have in common? They all won national championships at Kentucky, something that John Calipari definitely (probably) will not do next year (maybe). And unfortunately for him, even if he does, there is no way he will do what Rupp, Pitino and Smith were all able to do, which was improve from year three to year four. The best Calipari can hope for, sadly, is to maintain the status quo.
*Sabotage: On Tuesday, Indiana and Louisville temporarily agreed to play each other. This does not bode well for Kentucky. Though the series never got off the ground due to financial and logistical considerations, the fact that Rick Pitino and Tom Crean were able to reach a (temporary) meeting of the minds and (almost) give the fans what they want really casts John Calipari and UK, who just backed out of a deal with IU, in a negative light. If not for the fact that monetary and practical concerns prevented the IU/UofL series from becoming a reality, it would have made Kentucky look really bad next year when the Hoosiers and Cards played, which they won’t. And even though they won’t actually meet up on the court, that is irrelevant. The fact that they wanted to play (even though they couldn’t because of some really good reasons) is proof that at least a couple of programs are willing to give the fans what they want, even though they weren’t exactly on the same page. Take notes, Big Blue.
*Get It Together*: On Tuesday night, The New York Times reported that the N.C.A.A. is investigating UK signee Nerlens Noel. This does not bode well for Kentucky. Seriously. While UK fans predictably trotted out watered-down defenses of their program (such as “this has nothing to do with Kentucky,” or “Calipari isn’t even involved in this,” or “this is commonplace among high profile recruits” or “Pete Thamel is creepily obsessed with John Calipari and probably applies lipstick while staring at a picture of Calipari a la Steve Buscemi in ‘Billy Madison'”), the writing is on the wall. The question, of course, is whether or not this investigation relates in any way to Kentucky or John Calipari. The answer, of course, is yes. In order to get unbiased opinions as to what bearing this investigation has on Calipari and the UK program, several people were asked whether this investigation is concrete proof that John Calipari cheats. 100% of Indiana-based respondents answered that question in the affirmative. Likewise, 100% of Louisville-based respondents agreed. (Note: UK fans were not allowed to answer the query, as it is presumed that they would be incapable of being objective.) So there you have it. Literally every single person in the world thinks that the Noel investigation proves that Kentucky and Calipari are dirty. The actual facts are irrelevant, because of the truism that “perception is reality.” Also, Calipari’s questionable past calls to mind another old adage: “Past is prologue.” In other words, UK and Cal are guilty until proven guilty.
* On this date: On this date in 1992, Kentucky was not on probation. (But they were the year before.)