Happy Humpday ladies and gentleman! We’re now halfway through another long, drawn-out, basketball-less week and I’m really struggling with this dead time. Not only are we struggling around here for relevant content, **cough** Britney Spears/Michael Porter post **cough**, but the only thing we have waiting for us when the good game returns is a showdown with the Appalachian State Mountaineers. Yeah, trust me, you’re not alone with that unbridled excitment.
But, this showdown does present Kentucky fans with an interesting opportunity yet again: the chance to paint Louisville blue. As someone who went to high school in Louisville (over/under on being told South Oldham isn’t Louisville: 19 1/2), this time of year makes me extra happy as our beloved Cats go strolling into their rivals’ town and do what the Filthy Cards struggled to do so often late in the Crum era: pack the place with passionate fans. I remember attending numerous Cards’ home games during my junior and senior year of high school with my friend who was unfortunately a Louisville fan. The highlight of the C-USA crapfests were watching him stand up and scream “Give your tickets to a real fan!” as frown-faced Cards fans made their way toward the exits during a home loss to Saint Louis or Charlotte. Moments like that make this weekend even sweeter.
As Matt mentioned yesterday, Coach Clyde is hosting an open practice Friday at Freedom Hall, which will serve as the kickoff for this weekend I’ll be calling “The Big Blue Takeover”. The intensity of Gillispie’s practices have gained almost a cult-like status on the internet and have even caught a little blame for some of the losses to lesser teams, which may or may not be fair. But, regardless, Gillispie is giving the fans a chance to check it out for themselves for free the night before the game with the Mountaineers – something that UK used to do prior to every game with Louisville all the way into the 80s. It’s a free event and it starts at 5:30. I’d expect it to be packed and absolutely nothing like Big Blue Madness. I’d say “intensity” might be the word of the day.
But, if you aren’t able to get down to practice on Friday, you still have your chance to make your Big Blue presence known in the River City prior to the game Saturday with the UK Pep Rally at the Kentucky Expo Center. The Greater Louisville UK Alumni Club is hosting the party from 10-noon and, in typical pep rally fashion, will be joined by Scratch, the UK pep band, the cheerleaders and the dance team. Oh yeah, they also have a bar. You know, with booze. The tickets are $5 and they are expecting a couple thousand people to be in attendance, with the first 2,000 receiving flashing “Go Cats” buttons.
The main course, obviously, will be at noon against 4-3 Appalachian State. I don’t want to go too far into it right now because we’ll get a KYE and a Cinco de Starters-O later this week, but the pre-season #116 Mountaineers shouldn’t really be much of a challenge for the Cats. Appalachian State lost their two best players from last year to graduation and has almost no experience or depth in the front court (they have 300 pound Ike Butts though), but they are predicted by some to contend for the Southern Conference title. One thing they typically do pretty well is get out in transition on offense and pressure the ball on defense. Also, they have a couple of very good three-point shooters, which always makes you sweat with this team. In the end, though, I don’t expect much of a threat for a well-rested UK team and the talent differential should win out rather easily – which makes for a solid cherry on top of the Big Blue Takeover Sundae.
Ok, that really went on longer than I expected. A couple of notes:
– With all of this down time comes a lot of time to argue and complain about where the team is. I’m still amazed that after the last two wins (both of them blowouts) there was an amazing amount of criticism of the team and the coach. I’m far from being sold on this being a good team, but the signs are there and the progress is being made. Let’s not forget that on December 17, 2007, this was a 4-4 team with wins over Cenral Arkansas, Liberty, Texas Southern and Stony Brook. That team was definitely underachieving, but 7-3 with your losses to the consensus #1, a pre-season top 10 team and another team that I can’t remember of ever speak of again isn’t too bad. Not great. But not what a lot of you are making it out to be.
– Whoever came up with the idea for the Big East-SEC challenge should be put down. Seriously. The Big East-SEC Challenge = Must Miss TV. I’ll admit that the Tennessee and Marquette game hasn’t been completely awful, but when it follows USF and Vandy, it’s enough to make you sick to your stomach. Where is UK? Where is Florida? Where is Georgetown? UConn? Even Syracuse? I mean, if you’re taking two undeserving teams like Cincinnati and Ole Miss, you could at least let them play each other for the Andy Kennedy Cup or something. This is awful. Make it stop. We get it. The Big East is good and the SEC isn’t. This is a ridiculous matchup. It’s like a football matchup of…well…the Big East and the SEC. I hate it.
– If you’re heading to Louisville for the game (or already there), you’re in for a high school basketball treat as well as The King of the Bluegrass kicks off this weekend at Fairdale. We’ll take a more in depth look at it later this week, but UK commit Jon Hood will be leading his Maroons into the tournament and a potential matchup with U of L commit Peyton Siva, who declared on Sports Night (R.I.P.) that they would “crush” Hood’s team.
– UK punter Tim Masthay was named Honorable Mention All-American by Sports Illustrated. Surprisingly, Trevard Lindley did not make an appearance on the list.
– While you were getting all flustered over the smoking hot pics of Jennifer Aniston, you might have missed that Rajon Rondo was shirtless and a part of the GQ Men of the Year section. Ok, so that’s old and not even in the same issue. Big deal. I just had to mention those Aniston pics. They’re awesome.
– Also, Gillispie will be making his rounds at The Worldwide Leader today. Here is his schedule of appearances:
10:50-11:05 – ESPN First Take (live on ESPN2)
11:40-11:55 am – ESPN Radio The Herd with Colin Cowherd (live ESPN Radio/ESPNU)
1:15-1:45 pm – ESPN.com Chat
2:10-2:25 pm – ESPN Radio Tirico & Van Pelt (live ESPN Radio)
3:20-3:35 pm – ESPNEWS Interview (live on ESPNEWS)
Ok, that’s it for a rambling and generally pretty awful news and views. See, that’s what a dead week does to me. It makes me crazy and confused. Stay tuned throughout the day as we get back on track with all the UK goodness the internet gods see fit to bring us including the lost papparazzi photos of 2008 and a promised shoutout to blogger contest winner Hunter Campbell by Kige Ramsey. And, some other stuff too. See you in a few…