The time has come for the Cats’ annual tilt with the program formerly known as Indiana, the third of those matchups with the Hoosiers being led by one Thomas Aaron Crean. While it is not an overstatement to say that Kelvin Sampson left the once proud program in a state of emergency, it’s beginning to become a legitimate question as to whether Indiana will ever be even a shadow of what it once was. Hoosier fans have clung to glimmers of hope since Crean got to Bloomington, but the reality says that they are 6-41 against major teams in his tenure and must contend with one of the deepest conferences in America starting in January, likely cementing another awful record and whiff on the postseason.
Indiana fans seem to believe that the symbol of their resurgence is on the way in the form of [ed.] Luke Cody Zeller, youngest of the seemingly neverending Zeller clan. I can understand where it would encourage them to be inking highly-rated and homegrown talent for the program, but it seems to this humble fan that the fact they believe a Zeller will be the one to lead them back where they want to be, is really more of an indication that they’ll never get there. Indiana is royalty in college basketball and the sport is better when they’re good, just like it’s better when there’s reason for Kentucky fans to hate them like rivals. Unfortunately, it may be a long while until we can say that any of that is the case, so for now we’ll just have to settle for going into the game as 14-point favorites. Oh, well.
Onto a few notes…
–Obviously the big news of the day was the arrest of Mike Hartline. The facts came out over the course of the day, in the form of police reports and the ridiculous WLEX chase video, all of which you can read about or see below if you haven’t already. It’s unclear so far how this will affect Hartline’s status for his final college game in Birmingham but once it all gets sorted out that will certainly be the topic of discussion. Obviously I’d pretty much be the last person to offer some type of commentary on this, but I will say that the situation has definitely taught us a couple of things. One is that sometimes people drink a little too much and the police get involved, and the other is that if you work a crummy night job, you might be the only one up and get to blog about it.
–Lexington will be graced by several visitors this weekend, the most notable of which will be visiting the basketball team for the possibly purpose of playing for them in the future. The Cats host five-star forward DeAndre Daniels this weekend, with 2012 point guard LJ Rose visiting unofficially as well. Daniels seems to have had one of the strangest recruitments in recent memory, as he decommitted from Texas, considered reclassifying for 2010 before remaining a 2011, and now possibly could enroll in college in the upcoming spring to start practicing a semester early, according to Adam Zagoria. This would point to a fairly quick resolution if Daniels does indeed choose to enroll early, and while in town he is expected to meet the team, see campus and compete in a traditional biathalon against DeAndre Liggins for the right to be the one and only ‘DeAndre’ on the team.
–You can catch a few pregame press conference notes from Cal if you scroll down a bit, and if for some reason you’re interested in seeing what Tom Crean had to say about Kentucky, you can find that behind this link. He was effusive in his praise for the Cats and the environment at Rupp Arena, and said that his squad is excited for the opportunity playing Kentucky presents. I’m guessing that will wear off pretty quickly tomorrow.
–One thing to watch against Indiana will be the way Stacey Poole is used in the game. Cal said he’ll be taking Jon Hood’s spot in the rotation starting with tomorrow’s game and it will be interesting to see how he performs when he gets a chance to be more of a regular. He may only get to play 6-8 minutes a game, but they’ll likely be times when the Cats are battling foul trouble or simply need a break or a boost. That makes the time he is on the floor very important and if Poole proves that he can be a solid contributor in spurts, he might make his minor spot in the rotation a permanent one.
–Love hearing that Patrick Patterson is getting called up. Hopefully he plays like the star he’s capable of being and sticks from here on out.
–The newest edition of Bracketology is out with the Cats making an appearance as a #4 seed, which seems fair enough. If you want to see the new bracket or just want to see the first changes ESPN has made to the look of the Bracketology site since 1987, you can check it out here.
–On Monday, 2011 Kentucky signee Anthony Davis, Jr. and his high school team will be featured on ESPNU against Whitney Young at 5 p.m. I generally try to avoid ESPNU programming like the plague, but it’s worth an exception to see one of the future Cats light it up. Make sure and tune in.
–And finally, here’s a video of an eleven-year old kid dunking a basketball. I have an eleven-year old niece. She can’t do that.
That’s it for now. BTI will be your Grinch tomorrow, so stop by early and often before and after the Cats stomp a mudhole in Indiana. Until then…