So what did you guys think of that snooze fest last night, full of bad basketball and cheating fans? Oh you mean you actually enjoyed it?! Well apparently our very own little ray of sunshine, Jerry Tipton, doesn’t share in your enthusiasm for last night’s festivities. He describes the same players. He claims to be at the same Rupp Arena. However, he came away with a very different view of how things went down. Here’s how he describes the action on the court last night:
The ensuing scrimmage showed the need for patience. And it immediately revealed that some UK fans will struggle to exercise that quality.
When the first possession in the 20-minute scrimmage began with a series of passes, a fan could be heard saying, “Looks like Tubby ball.”
As expected, the Cats struggled with perimeter shooting. During the first eight minutes, there were only two baskets other than dunks or layups: a pull-up 10-footer by heralded freshman John Wall and a 15-footer by freshman Daniel Orton.
Josh Harrellson stood out. He made four three-point shots.
But there also were three-point airballs by Patrick Patterson, DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Liggins. Plus, Eric Bledsoe and Patterson missed badly on other three-point attempts.
There were crowd-pleasing plays, too. Twice Wall drove to thunderous dunks, on the first freeing himself with a nifty behind-the-back dribble.
But overall, the scrimmage seemed to leak a bit of enthusiasm out of the crowd.
During a break in the action, Calipari took a microphone and said, “Folks, are you enjoying it?”
Then he added, “But do you see how far we have to go? Just so everybody understands it.”
Brett Dawson of the Courier-Journal watched the same events but put it this way:
For now, the Cats are a work in progress. Their scrimmage was sloppy, as the Madness scrimmage often is, but it showcased UK’s improved size and athleticism.
What it lacked in cohesion, though, it made up for in highlight-reel plays. Freshman point guard John Wall, the nation’s No.1 incoming recruit, displayed the kind of high-flying dunks that made him a YouTube legend in high school, and there were nifty drives and spectacular finishes by freshman guard Eric Bledsoe and junior forward Patrick Patterson.
“I hope you’re enjoying this,” Calipari told the crowd during a timeout. “But do you see how far we have to go?”
Maybe it’s just me but I feel like Dawson’s attempt captures the moment much better. Normally I don’t mind Tipton’s obvious attempts to try to find the negative story within the story. I understand that he is trying to find controversy and ultimately sell papers. But there is no controversy here. This was a young team, with a new coach and a new system, coming together with their fans and attempting to share in each others ridiculous levels of enthusiasm for the upcoming season. That’s the story.
But Ole’ Jer wasn’t done there. He also made it a point to unmask the fans for the classless cheaters that they really are:
[Calipari] talked about a program “rooted in integrity” and always “run with class.”
One hopes the possible secondary NCAA rules violations committed by the crowd when it chanted prospects’ names were a misstep to be written off to runaway zeal. That happened four times, each an apparent violation of NCAA rule 13.11.4 which forbids the chanting of prospects’ names at an event open to the public.
I just can’t seem to feel any other way about his attempts to suck every bit of positive energy out of what was a great night for UK basketball other than disgusted. I’m shocked at how blatantly obvious his negativity has become. During Gillispie’s tenure it was somewhat passable, but now it’s just time to give it up. Crack a smile Jerry. Enjoy your job and write about the positive energy that is surrounding this program right now. With the amount of joy in the hearts of all UK fans right now…they might just be willing to forgive you for your past sins and take you back.
Here’s a few other, more positive, reads from last night’s Madness:
– Dana O’Neill “Calipari thrills Wildcat faithful”
– Picture slideshow and “Fans celebrate at Big Blue Madness” from the Kentucky Kernel
– Larry Vaught writes that “Madness only adds to Big Blue Expectations”