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Team Handball’s Monday News and Views

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UPDATE: I wrote this too soon in the night. The 4X100 swimming relay was amazing….I found myself leaping up in the air at the end at an amazing finish to a crazy race. And to win, they beat the Frenchies at the wall, the same guys who said before the race that they would “smash” the Americans. Best moment of the Olympics so far…..

As my weekend of non-stop Olympic watching as come to a close, one thing is clear…..I need to play some team handball. For those of you who havent seen the sport, and you arent alone, it looks like a game that anyone could play if they had both (a) a hand and (b) a ball. Both teams simply run up and down the court and throw a ball into a net…..think soccer, but with your hands. The game is extremely physical (I saw two people end up with bloody faces) and the talent level needed looks to be small (right down my alley). I havent seen the American team play, so it looks to me as if this game is a speciality of countries like Zimbabwe, Paraguay and Vietnam. But nevertheless, it is random enough to get my attention and looks to be a sport that we all could play if cornhole never gets past the IOC committee into the Games. While Sunday at the Olympics for me meant more Michael Phelps, some Bulgarian volleyball, a Czech guy skeet shooting, the USA beating China, more Bob Costas than I prefer, an inordinate amount of rowing and arguments about whether the Chinese gymnasts are actually 16 years old, team handball stands out as the true revelation of Sunday. And since I couldnt choose between Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes to honor (RIP to both), it is the focus of today’s post.

To the various news tidbits, which we break down to football and basketball:

FOOTBALL:

— Two big tidbits of the weekend, the first obviously being the commitment of Texas QB Ryan Mossakowski. We spoke with him this weekend in preparation for his interview tonight on Sportsnight and he said a couple of interesting things. First, his recruitment was primarily handled by the RB coach at UK and his main offensive contact was Randy Sanders. His interest in UK really sparked when the Cats beat LSU as it was when he first saw that “we could win big there.” In addition, he had offers from Tennessee, Clemson and Oregon, in addition to his final four of Auburn, Alabama and Texas A&M. Finally, he told me that he was going to visit campus the week of the Western Kentucky game and he “couldnt wait to see what Lexington is about.” One of the bigger UK commitments from out of state that I can remember and a significant turning point potentially for the program.

— The other big story from the football field is that you better get ready to see a lot of Randall Cobb this year. In a move that has been whispered since the demise of Curtis Pulley, Rich Brooks announced that the backup job to Michael Hartline is wide open between Cobb and Fidler….an interesting piece of news. Behind closed doors, the staff has never been completely confident in Fidler and now Cobb is being looked at as the first backup, getting 90% of his snaps in practice at the backup QB position. And in a move that likely is not happening with ANY OTHER backup QB in America, it was also announced today that Cobb could be the team’s punt returner this year. If indeed Cobb is backup QB, it is quite a risk to move him back there….but it shows just how much the staff likes him at this time.

— Look for Randall Burden, the Redshirt freshman CB who did the “Soulja Boy” to challenge David Jones and Shomari Moore for the second CB job this year.

— Hearing good stuff about Freshman David Trevathan, who may see some snaps this year at LB.

— Rich Brooks told Matt May of TCP today that he was disappointed in some of the younger Offensive Line guys. That is big for depth issues on what can be a strong point for the offense.

— Backup center Jake Lanefski broke his hand in frustration this weekend….which led the UK staff to switch Freshman Matt Smith to the center position. He could end up challenging for the backup job on opening day.

BASKETBALL

— The big news of the weekend was another great comment on the Cats by Daniel Orton. Orton told Rivals.com that Kentucky was once again the leader, marking yet another neutral source that Orton has given that news to in the past couple of months. Orton has all along said that he wants to make a decision early (except when he has said he wants to decide late….the kid says both) and the Cats seem to be in the driver’s seat. However, if you are a Kentucky fan, you want that decision soon….the 2009 class could use it and it would make a big strike before the Fall Signing period.

— A good weekend for GJ Vilarino who played at the Adidas Nations tournament and had a relatively good showing. He played a few games and depending on the game, he looked both very strong and fairly weak. However when he played well, he opened some eyes, with one scout saying he was the “surprise of the tournament.” One has to wonder about GJ as his inconsistency is baffling. I have seen him a couple of times look uninspired, but there have also been games where he makes people turn their heads. Jeff Goodman has called him a “point guard for Morehead State”, but then there are times that he makes plays that look impressive. I pull hard for the kid as he is a nice guy…..I trust Gillispie’s view of him BUT it also concerns me that Gillispie is actively recruiting over him. We shall see, but the GJ watch will be with us all year.

We will have more all day, including some more on Ryan Mossakowski building up to our interview with him tonight. In addition, we will be talking to Tony Barnhart, formerly of the Atlanta Constitution and soon of ESPN, who will let us know about where Kentucky stands in the SEC this year. I dont know about you, but I am ready for football…..

Article written by Matt Jones