By now you have probably read the news from yesterday’s UK Basketball Media Day. Actually I take that back, as there was really no news from Media Day. John Calipari told his normal set of stories (did you know that a 95 year old woman at a nursing home told him his team needed to learn to shoot free throws?….did you know we are crazy?), the players gave relatively normal answers (outside of Jorts, who we will get to in a minute) and in general it was kind of a ho-hum affair. The good thing about the 365 news cycle that Kentucky basketball has become is that we have news to fill the blog with all summer. The bad news is that it makes formerly special events like Media Days a little less exciting. But that doesnt mean that there arent secondary stories that need reporting…such as:
— The best moment of the day actually occurred after I left. Josh Harrellson and Jon Hood reenacted the Billy Gillispie-Alan Cutler chase scene for the few media that remained at the end of the hour long session. Jorts apparently played Cutler and Hood played Gillispie. It apparently was quite a scene and included Hood (who must have taken a break from the “UK basketball is not a punchline” position) doing the “respect me, I am on the phone” line from Clyde’s gallop. If video of this exists, it would be priceless, but unfortunately it looks to not be in the work. Good for both guys for making the day fun.
— For me, there are a few highlights of Media Day. One is of course watching the Media members eating the free meal provided by UK. You have never seen a group of people happier to have Chicken Parmesan than the assorted sportswriters around the state. They attack it like a herd of wild buffalo and I always marvel at their ability to finish so much, so quickly. I do however really like the chance to see all the small-town newspapers make the trip to Lexington to cover the event. They are always genuinely excited to be there and dont take the “been there, done that” attitude of the grumpy old sportswriter contingent at most UK events. Their questions can be a little different (people asked Calipari four questions about the new rule concerning swinging elbows over your head and how it would have an effect on his team), but with the change in media access, they are the last real reason to come to Media Day.
— What I dont like about Media Day is simple…the condescending attitude by some of the mainstream UK media force to the outsiders. At UK, there are so many media credentials requested that most have to be denied. That means that the media that used to be able to attend games, small town newspapers, radio, tv, etc, now dont have the ability to go to very many, if any, regular season contests. Some (although not all…and on this, I give credit to Jerry Tipton and John Clay, who I have never seen act like this in five years) who cover the team regularly thus make snide remarks about these individuals and every year, there is little that grates on me more. This year I tweeted out that listening to them made me want to throw a couple of haymakers and I suggested that “any person who has fewer Twitter followers than Drew Franklin should not make fun of anyone for being ‘small town’.” Since that basically includes all UK writers not named Clay or Dawson, my hope is that one day a reporter from a small outlet in the Mountains hears one of these fan site/side reporters say something and pops them directly in the face. I will be there cheering them on.
— Calipari addressed the great Doctor Jerry Tipton during the press conference and said that he doesnt pay attention to the media or what they write. “I have no problem with Jerry, because I dont read anything he writes.” That caused laughter in the room and to Jerry’s credit, he came back with a funny line by saying to Calipari, “but I do read what you write.” Could Jerry be coming around his old age, excited because Pete Thamel and Pat Forde have taken the the heat off him? Maybe so…..
— Calipari did say that expectations for this team should be low. When reminded that he said the same thing last year, Calipari said “well this year, I really mean it.”
— Calipari talked a lot about the guys who departed last year. He mentioned how fast Wall is (although he said he wasnt sure if he was faster than Brandon Knight), he said that Patterson showed true team sacrifice in coming back last year and taking a lesser role (he also mentioned the Rockets love P-Pat) and he waxed poetic about Demarcus Cousins. Calipari said Cousins was a beast of a rebounder and had improved as much as anyone during the season, both on and off the court. He then said that “Demarcus was 14 when he got here and 16 when he left”, but he still considered him like a son. Similar to all of the Big Blue Nation, it is clear that Calipari is a Boogie fan.
— Couple of player notes:
HOOD: Calipari mentioned how much Jon Hood had improved and how he was more confident. But he also said that confidence must continue to grow. He said Jon was the type of player who missed a shot and thought about it for five minutes…something that had to change for him to reach his potential.
KNIGHT: Brandon said that he has been told since he got here just how important the Louisville game is to the fans. He said that the fans told him he needed to know two things…to say “I Hate Louisville” and never wear red. It has been written a lot, but there is nothing more impressive than watching Knight with the media…he is as articulate a player as UK has seen since I have been doing this. He reminds me a lot of Shane Battier, and I hope the media nationally appreciates that during his career.
LIGGINS: Deandre gave me one of my favorite quotes in a while…it is not quite Demarcus saying he and Eric Bledsoe were “from the same dirt”, but its close. I asked Deandre if he thought he would start this year and he said he didnt know, but it didnt matter. “When I get in, I’m gonna make my print.” Words for us all to live by and the view that BTI has taken since we gave him a daily blog post.
— Finally, the star of Media Day for me was once again Jorts. He told me that he was trying to get the UK staff to allow the team to wear the denim jerseys on Senior Day in honor of Jorts, a movement I told him that I wholeheartedly supported. He also was in a reflective mood about the Billy Gillispie years, doing an impersonation of Deandre Liggins after the Ole Miss loss in Oxford. Clyde apparently told the team that “we would have won if someone didnt go 3-16” and Liggins was in the back and said, “dont put that on me Coach”….Harrellson sounded just like Liggins while doing it and deserves to have that on a radio show somewhere. He also said that the famous “Bathroom” story at Vanderbilt was true and that now he can laugh about it. Jorts is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet and is GREAT with the fans…I hope he has the Senior year he deserves, because he is one of my favorite personalities to play at UK.
So there you go…the stories behind the stories. Another Media Day is over…Laodu is back!!!, giving China its UK coverage…and Midnight Madness is tonight. You cant beat it.