This is a big week around the UK world. The basketball team gets the season going with an exhibition game against the dreaded marauders from Pikeville College. The football boys seek to try and get healthy during their week off and find a way to regroup after a very disappointing loss And we here at Kentucky Sports Radio will continue our preview of the UK players and do our “Recruiting Overview” which will give those of you who only follow recruiting on the side a notion of where UK is and where we believe they are going. But since it is late and we dont have a lot of time, here are a few notes to get the week started…..
(1) With the football loss and the upcoming game with Pikeville, there is a distinct smell of basketball in the air in the Bluegrass. Along those lines, I spoke on Saturday with a former UK basketball player who has been around the team a bit in the last few weeks to ask what he thought of the group this year and the beginning of the Billy Clyde era. He said a number of things, but three stood out to me. First, he said that this is the tightest he has seen the UK bunch in some time. They are being worked hard and some of them often get frustrated, but this former player said that the attitude is much better amongst the players and that they seem to lift each other up when things are difficult.
Second, this player thinks the story to watch this year will be the Joe Crawford situation and how Alex Legion is utilized. As we have heard from other sources as well, this player is concerned with how Joe is taking to the new staff and what his role is going to be. He believes that Joe may not start all the time and that Crawford will have to accept his role in order to succeed. Similarly, the player said that Alex Legion is a star in the making and the most likely recipient of time lost by Crawford…..this dynamic is one that could go any direction and may be the most interesting subplot of the year.
Finally, the player said we are going to see marked improvement from a couple of players. Specifically he raved on Razor Ramon, Jodie Meeks and the Coury Flurry. The player said Meeks will be “the best scorer that UK has had from that position since Delk.” He loves Meeks’ basketball IQ and his underrated athleticism. He said Ramon Harris is going to get lots of time and that while he still is not always in the right place on the floor, he plays very good defense and hustles throughout the game. And this player, confirming what we continue to hear, said that Mark Coury will play. “Coach Gillispie loves the kid and he sure seems to be doing well.” Interesting points all from a player that is pumped about the new administration and team.
(2) On the football side of things, Coach Brooks talked today about the disappointment of Saturday but seemed determined that the team would regroup and move forward. All of the team’s goals can still be accomplished and there are three difficult games remaining, which they must focus on and finish strong. The two week time period should allow virtually all the major players to get healthy, with the possible exception of Rafeal Little, whose injury continues to linger. The Cats now could finish anywhere from 9-3 to 6-6 and it will be a statement as to the character of this team as to where they finish on that continuum…..with the faith I have in this senior class, I think the former is much more likely than the latter.
(3) This could be a big couple of weeks for basketball recruiting. Chris Singleton may very well make his choice during that time and from there the dominoes drop. If he goes to FSU, then Garrett Stutz likely gets an offer and comes to Kentucky. I talked with a recruiting friend of mine who is more familiar with Stutz than I and he said this: “Matt, you and I disagree on Stutz. While it may be an open question as to whether he is good for Kentucky’s current roster situation, the kid can play. He keeps getting better, works hard and can shoot. He will be a good college player. Now Kentucky may or may not need him, but whereever he goes, he will play.” Lets just say I hope he is right. Also watch for the potential of a 2009 commitment before the month is over. I am told the staff thinks that there are two distinct possibilities this month and that whichever comes first may be the only one they take until the summer.
As you can see, we now require registration to post. If you are having trouble, email me at [email protected] and I will help you with any problems. More tomorrow as we get our Jodie Meeks preview, some more on Stutz and a look at the beginning of the NBA season…..