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Season Never Ends Wednesday News and Views

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The Kentucky Basketball 2011 Calendar is here, brought to you by Season Never Ends. Our all-new third edition is filled with your favorite UK basketball memories on the days they actually happened — old memories and brand new ones, like over 35 from the 2009-2010 season. Legendary players, games and moments drawn from over 100 years of the nation’s #1 basketball program.

Available online from seasonneverends.com for just $14.99. Use the coupon code KSR and take $3 off shipping.

You can also find it at the following stores: Allsports (Fayette Mall), Alumni Hall (Fayette Mall, St. Matthews Mall, Greenwood Mall), Kennedy’s Book Store, Kentucky Korner (Fayette Mall, Shops at Lexington Center, Jefferson Mall & others), Joseph-Beth (Lexington Green), Gift Shops at Elk Creek Vineyards (8 locations), Beckers (2 Louisville locations), Fan Outfitters (Lexington & Louisville), Transfer Station Sportswear in Newport and that’s not all — there are nearly 30 locations around the state, visit our site to find a store convenient to you.

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Now that we’ve made sure we can pay for Bryan The Intern’s Highlights magazine subscription, let’s get moving on the news of the day….

(1) It wasn’t the official start of basketball season (that was last week and came with much less fanfare), but Tuesday was the annual ESPN 24-hour dog and pony show that officially puts the world on notice that college basketball season has arrived.  This year’s version featured a number of mid-major schools dueling through your working hours before Kansas State and Virginia Tech fought on the undercard to the primetime unveiling of the KFC Yum! Center.  Nothing against a faceless U of L team and a Butler squad without Gordon Hayward, but the star of the show was the $238 million facility under the direction of Tim Sypher.  In its regular season debut, it did not disappoint either.  The arena appeared to be as immaculate as it was hyped up to be and the crowd seemed to give the team life as they dismantled the 18th-ranked team in the country.  From the tip, everyone in the stands not named Denny Crum appeared to be full of life and gave the game the feel of a tournament game.  If that type of energy is sustained throughout the season, as crazy as it might sound, it could mean an extra 2 or 3 wins for a young team that’s a little shorter on talent than it has in recent years.  That’s a long way of saying that it’s your move, UK.

(2)  However, that’s not to say that everyone was impressed with the opening of the Great American Chicken Bucket.  Patrick Patterson Tweeted out “KFC Yum Center.. It’s nice. Ain’t gonna hate on it.. But ain’t no Rupp Arena.”, to which Keenan Burton responded “and the Pizza Box ain’t Commonwealth stadium!”  Look for them both in the next ESPN “Never Graduate” commercial. 

(3) Louisville’s first regular season game being on ESPN didn’t just mean that the Yum! Center was making its debut in front of the whole world, it also meant that it was the first appearance by a post-Sypher trial Rick Pitino.  The ESPN crew didn’t make too much of the Louisville coach’s summer besides Vitale awkwardly mentioning it while the whole world wondered why Brad Stevens got T’d up, but it doesn’t mean the whole world didn’t enjoy it.  Twitter was hit with a number of #PitinoDoubleEntendres tweets, including these gems:  

– Pitino just threw a towel. It’s expected to marry Tim Sypher by halftime
– Louisville looks good tonight, but I expect their season to end when they visit Cincinnati in a few weeks.
– The crowd cheers loudly for Justice. Pitino says, “Not in this town they don’t!”
– This has been one hell of a half by Louisville but we can assume that Pitino doesn’t have this wrapped up.
– Bulldogs chasing loose balls
– Butler’s defense appears to be napping on the floor
– Butler couldn’t buy a basket for $3000
– Pitino runs a version of Calipari’s offense called the Dribble-Drive Down My Leg
– Pitino has loaded the table when preparing for this season
– Cards may be petering out early

Though it had nothing to do with Pitino, my favorite Tweet of the night was “Preston Knowles has to be pissed that Butler runs a weave.”  Boom.  Roasted.

(4)  One of the other ESPN games featured another Kentucky rival and one that is projected by most to to them in the SEC East.  But, Florida didn’t really play the part of possible Final Four team in playing soft and getting thrashed at home by Ohio State.  It’s not often that you can out-rebound a team, shoot 62% from the field and 43% from three and still get thrashed, but Florida found a way to do it.  The Gators turned the ball over 18 times, including 7 by point guard Erving Walker, which isn’t exactly a recipe for long-term success.  Billy Donovan has seemed to have no trouble fielding a team that can shoot the ball well, but has spent the post-Joakim Noah and Al Horford years trying to find a way to stop teams on the other end.  Against OSU, he tried zone, a press and straight man-to-man and none of them were effective.  There are definitely things to work on in Gainesville.

(5)  If you were fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it) enough to catch the basketball matinee on Tuesday, you saw former KSR blog star Hunter McClintock running point for Oral Roberts.  He scored 5 points.  One day, UK is going to get this recruiting thing right.

(6)  In actual UK news, the school launched Kentucky Athletics Interactive – a site designed to help attract potential recruits and educate those prospective future Cats on all things NCAA and UK.  So, if you’re looking to land a D-1 scholarship, check it out. 

(7)  Word also broke on Tuesday that UK would not be an option for Jelan Kendrick, the McDonald’s All-American booted from the Memphis basketball team last week.  You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thought that he would be, given John Calipari’s ability to be selective in who he recruits into the program, but the news, which came from Dan Wolken of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, provided clarity to fans who wondered if there was another star recruit in UK’s future.  Steve Jones of the Cats Pause said that Kendrick’s AAU coach said he was contacted by Kenny Payne after his release, but that’s not really a sign of interest on UK’s part.  It’s just another lesson in the importance of developing and maintaining relationships on the recruiting trail.

(8)  In football news, the bye week brought some publicity for the program as Randall Cobb was named as a semifinalits for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top receiver.  Cobb was one of 10 semifinalists for the award, which unfortunately does not take into account how pretty his eyes are.  Only his prowess as a receiver.  Here is the full list of semifinalists.

(9)  In other award news, Brandon Knight was named to the Naismith watch list.  He was one of six freshmen on the list of potential winners, which will be trimmed to 30 in February and then a final four in March.  Because of you people, he  will likely win the fan voting portion, which accounts for 25% of the vote.

(10)  In potentially great news, it was announced on Tuesday that Charles Barkley will do NCAA games for TNT in the spring.  This cannot in any way, shape or form be interpreted as turrrrrible.

(11)  This just in:  Tennessee squeaked by Belmont, 85-76.  The Vols get another shot at mighty Belmont December 23.  I have to imagine it’s a good time to be Bruce Pearl.

That’s it for now.  Stay tuned throughout the day as Drew Franklin tries to find his way to Portland somehow and we spend our hours with you, talking all things UK.  Make sure you stick around.  See you in a few…

Article written by Thomas Beisner