It was a great Sunday here at the Kentucky Sports Radio Compound as we had one of the great sporting events of the year, the Daytona 500 won by Ryan “I dont have a neck” Newman. Every year I look forward to Daytona for the pageantry, the racing action and the chance to hear “Boogity Boogity Boogity” one more time to start a new Nascar season. This year’s race had all the makings of a great event. It was the 50th Anniversary of the “Great American Race” and to commemorate the event, NASCAR brought out all the living drivers who had won the event. Since many had died (and a number at Daytona), it was only a few people with Cale Yarborough, AJ Foyt, Richard Petty, etc and then the second tier guys like Derrick Cope and Geoff Bodine who loved finally getting a call that made people remember who they were. The race had a pre-race concert that featured (I am not kidding) Chubby Checker, Michael McDonald and Kool and the Gang. Seriously. Could this be the worst lineup in the history of major sporting event pre-game ever? Is it even possible to put a musical act together that would have been worse? Add to it that Chubby Checker did quite possibly the worst lip synching job in the history of that noble tradition, and the pre-race show was a bit more than I could imagine. AS for the race itself, Kyle Busch (known as “Shrub”) led throughout most of the race….Tony Stewart (known as “Smoke”) led with one lap to go, but was then passed by Ryan Newman (known as “No-Neck”) to win the race and give Roger Penske his first Daytona 500 win. A great day for NASCAR and America….and I am told that the next race pre-game festivities is to include a lineup of Snow, Gary Puckett and Ronnie Milsap, so the hits keep on coming.
To the news….
(1) LSU AFTERMATH: The importance of the win on Saturday cannot be overestimated as we hit the final six game stretch. By winning the game, the Cats moved up to 71 in the RPI and slowly laid claim to emerging as a tournament team from the SEC. With Florida’s loss to Vandy this weekend, the Cats are emerging in a pack of teams with the Gators, Arkansas and Ole Miss as fighting for spots 4-7 in the NCAA pool and the Cats can lay claim to being ahead of all these teams as they play each of them over the next three weeks. The Cats go into a three game homestand, where each game will see them favored and with a home court edge that may be crucial in the final minutes. As for the LSU game itself, the team came home relatively injury free (a huge difference from nearly every other game this year). In addition, the big man Morakinyo Williams (aka “The Member”) was suspended for the game, as potentially was one of the walk-ons as well. More should come about this decision later in the week. As for now however, the core of the team is getting healthy and hopefully has gotten over the debacle in Nashville. Georgia comes in on Tuesday and the Cats have business to take care of.
(2) APPLETON AND JONES: With every game that goes by, the thought of this team needing to replace the duo of Smooth and Joe C becomes more and more apparent. This weekend Tyrone Appleton made his visit to Kansas and the early reports of the visit are not good for the Cats. Appleton told a Kansas website that the visit went great and that he is likely done visiting schools….tough news for the Cats who hoped to get him in town next weekend for the Arkansas game. Appleton said he may have a decision this week, which would likely point to a Jayhawk destination for the JC point guard. The Cats have increased the heat recently with Verdell Jones, the Chicago point guard that is one of the best players left uncommitted at this time. He told the Cats Pause earlier this week that the Cats were near the top of the list and that he hoped to visit again before the end of the season. The folks I talk to around UK are high on Jones and it may be the case that he becomes priority #1 soon if Appleton heads to the Big 12.
(3) INDIANA COACH: With the demise of Kelvin Sampson all but inevitable, talk has been rampant as to who the replacement is likely to be for our friends decked in red to the North. Many have speculated, including me, that Bruce Pearl would be a great hire for the Hoosier nation with his Indiana ties, however I am of the belief that IU has dropped as a program and Tennessee has risen enough as a program that such a move would likely not take place….something unthinkable even five years ago. But now comes word that Scott Skiles, former Bulls coach and NBA player, is the potential replacement and could be announced soon after Sampson is let go. That would be a quick move and somewhat of a strange one, considering that Skiles has no college coaching experience. To me IU is the 6th best job in the country (behind UK, UNC, UCLA, Duke and Kansas), and it seems that a more top flight coach could be procured….but in this day and age of many schools paying big money for their coaches, who knows.
(4) DEANDRE LIGGINS AND KC ROSS-MILLER: Two reasons to be excited about the future of Kentucky basketball. First, DeAndre Liggins played in Louisville this past weekend and looked very good. He is a classic “better player than the numbers suggest”, although his numbers were very good with 10 points, 12 boards and 6 assists. Liggins is very athletic and a classic Gillispie player. He will come in, play great defense and contribute to the team flow of the game. I do however worry whether he and Darius Miller will be able to replace Crawford and Bradley’s scoring. This however will not be a worry about 2010 commitment KC Ross-Miller, who continues to be amazing in his sophomore season. 30 plus point games have been the norm for Miller, who continues to rise in the rankings due to his great high school play. Look for him to be a top 15 player when his class rankings are updated this summer. With he and Dakotah Euton, a good base is set for this long-term recruiting.
More throughout the day today, including an update on a potential new opponent for 2009 against UK basketball…..