One of the greatest pictures in the history of sports highlights one of the newest members of the Kentucky State Athletic Hall of Fame, Secretariat. This picture, taken at the 1973 Belmont Stakes, shows the super horse in route to a 29 length victory, one of the most impressive performances in the history of modern sport. The picture captured the image perfectly, as it showcased the massive thoroughbred with its rider looking into the faded distance to see just how impressive a run his stallion was undertaking. This is of course the Friday before the Kentucky Derby, my first Derby week ever in the town known as the Ville. This city truly embraces the event and there is an energy around these parts that truly is palpable. While it is easy to make fun of some parts of the Derby experience (such as the ubiquitous “celebrity” parties that you find behind every door), I cant help but love what is a truly unique event to the Commonwealth. When the horses are walking to the gate and the band plays “My Old Kentucky Home”, it gets me every time…..just as it will on Saturday. If you love this state, as I do, it is a great day that is something for us all to be proud of and I look forward to it once again, this time with the Kentucky Sports Radio crew. My pick? How about Hubby, being ridden by the Turkey Hunter, by three lengths.
Onto the news, which today is much more about “views”……
(1) As the Neverending Jai-Pat saga continues, it bears remembering just how far the Billy Clyde regime has come in just a few weeks. While the question of 07 is still in the air, the issue of 08 and beyond looks more than secure. Gillispie can look at the 08 class and legitimately believe he can (and possibly will) land Willie Warren, Darius Miller, Romero Osby, etc. He can seek potential great gets in Brandon Jennings, Chris Singleton and even Greg Monroe. Looking at 09, GJ Vilarino is already committed and Shawn Williams looks like a very likely candidate for another future steal. And then once we get to ’10 and beyond, Billy Clyde will be recruiting a class solely for Kentucky for the first time….and who knows what that will accomplish. People often ask me what the biggest difference between Tubby and Billy Clyde is, and there are lots. But the biggest from my end is that recruiting and the recruiting landscape has massively changed. Kentucky will very soon be a school that doesnt go after players, but PICKS players……that is a huge change from the last ten years. I often say that there are only two schools that really pick players, UNC and Duke….every other school fights for them. Well under Billy Clyde, I sincerely believe UK has a chance to join that group…..and that is very exciting to watch.
(2) I have had a bunch of you write me to clear up my various statements about Jai Lucas and what his decision might be. I have felt all along that I have had a good handle on the Lucas situation, his feelings about the schools and where he might go. Watching the situation has been fascinating and I will get more into that after he makes a decision. I think things have been tough for Jai in the last few weeks as he has become torn since Tubby left. But I do believe he knows where he wants to be now and I am a bit at a loss as to why he continues to wait. As he continues to drift longer into the process, he becomes closer and closer to a Patterson announcement…..which lends creedence to the possibility they could end up at the same place. I admit to having NO clue anymore as to Patterson….he is a master at keeping things close to the vest. However both have played the recruiting game well and now are known all around college basketball. I am done guessing when they will decide, but I do know this. UK will never again be in this position of constant wait under Billy Clyde.
(3) Shagari entered the draft. Tell me thats not great. I love Shagari and I hated to see him go, but he had no choice at the time. The combination of his subpar play and poor academic performance made him a needed loss, and led to his departure. But there have been some great Shagari moments. Remember the Indiana game in Freedom Hall where he dunked approximately 55 times on unknowing Hoosier players? How about the Bogut game against Utah when he made the future #1 pick shake his head in disbelief? But for me, Shagari always represented one thing….the sight of some player driving the lane and taking a shot, truly believing it will go in, only to have Shagari come and throw it like it was a 6 year old on a Nerf goal. Lets face it….Shagari wasnt good…..but he made me laugh, and for that, I hope he catches on somewhere.
(4) “Dumpster Diving” has become the newest sport of kings for Kentucky students as the search for random bits of Memorial Coliseum continued today. After taking up the floor and saving certain parts, UK decided to throw the splintered or damaged parts in a dumpster, causing a stir in the Memorial garbage area not seen in quite some time. People lined up last night and all day today to search through the wood, digging for some piece that had paint on it. I talked a bit about it today on the show and got emails from non-UK fans who asked me just how crazy the people were who were doing it. My answer….not crazy at all. In some ways it represents the best of fandom…..go do something that seems absurd, for no reason except because you love the team. I salute everyone who went and got pieces of wood…..and if you have an extra one, hit me up.
(5) Folks you are going to like Beas Hamga……not as much as you like Chris Tomlin, but a lot. He is EXACTLY what UK needs in terms of athleticism, height and ability to run the floor. Pull him off for 07 and UK fans should dance a jitterbug of joy (did I actually use the phrase “jitterbug”?)
On Friday, look for news as it breaks, Marc Maggard will be on the Sports Mob…..we will be streaming interviews, including (hopefully) Cincinnati Bengal TJ Houshmanzadeh……remember that Woo picked “Curlin” in the Derby (bet it all) and that Derby coverage on ESPN means more Kenny Mayne…..it is a good weekend. (Take Mayweather over De La Hoya by decision)…..