That superlative will always belong to Muhammad Ali, but on Tuesday, Michael Phelps earned the right to borrow it for the day. At the age of 27, Phelps became the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, breaking Larisa Latynina’s record of 18 overall medals with a gold in the Men’s 4×200 Freestyle Relay.
Phelps tied the record earlier in the day with a silver in the Men’s 200 Butterfly, but you wouldn’t know it from his reaction. True to form, Phelps was disgusted that he didn’t get his third straight gold in the event, which would have been a record on its own, and could barely summon a smile on the medal podium. An hour later, in the most appropriate fashion, Phelps anchored the freestyle relay to bring home the gold and cement his place in history.
You could almost feel the relief wash over Phelps as he hit the wall. This is his fourth and last Olympics, and like any aging legend, he has a pack of young pups nipping at his heels. He’s made as many headlines in London for his “failures” as he has his victories. A fourth place finish to Ryan Lochte’s gold in the 400 IM had the sport (and this gal) ready to anoint Lochte its new king, but Phelps wasn’t quite ready to hand over the crown just yet. He’s made no secret that he’s retiring after this Olympics. A natural athlete, Phelps has spent his life in the pool; decades later, it’s not surprising that his fingers, along with his drive, are starting to prune.
Phelps has three chances left to medal and pad that record: the 100M Butterfly, the 4x100M IM Relay, and the 200 IM. After seeing that smile in the pool today, who could possibly cheer against him?
Let’s keep that Olympic fever going with some notes from the day:
— Davis shines in Team USA dunkfest
Team USA rolled by Tunisia on Tuesday, 110-63. The game was so lopsided it might have been boring if not for Anthony Davis’ stellar second half. Davis scored 12 points off 5-5
shooting dunking from the field and two free throws, and pulled down three rebounds in what was his most impressive performance so far. All of Davis’ field goals were dunks off lobs, and it seems that Team USA has finally figured out what we knew so well last season: when in doubt, lob it up. Sure, Tunisia is the only team in the Olympics without an NBA player, but that doesn’t mean that Davis’ minutes weren’t valuable. As Fran Fraschilla put it, Davis’ time on the Olympic Team is the rookie’s version of “Grad School” before starting his rookie season, and so far, he’s acing every test. Fraschilla echoed comments from over the weekend that the team has taken Davis under their wing and that the 19-year-old is doing everything right, keeping his mouth shut and ears open.
Hilariously enough, it seems like Davis had a brother from another on the Tunisia bench in Youssef Gaddour:
After the game, Kevin Durant said it best when he said Anthony “just finds a way to get to the basket, just goes hard. He’s so athletic and it’s easy for us to just lob it up there and he’ll go get it. I’m happy for him.” And don’t think for a second that the experience is lost on Davis: “It was fun. I’ve had a fun time out here playing today. These guys have a lot of confidence in me, and so does Coach K. (He) put me in the right time and I was just having a ball.” Go get ’em, AD.
— DeAngelo Yancey commits, more on the way?
UK football got some good news and some bad news on Tuesday. First, the good news. DeAngelo Yancey, a 3-star WR from Georgia, gave the Cats a verbal commitment, becoming the 12th member of UK’s recruiting class. Yancey is 6’2″, 200 lbs, and caught 28 passes for 561 yards and seven touchdowns in his junior season. He is the first of what UK feels will be an onslaught of commitments this week, with fellow Georgia WR Rashard Fant expected to follow shortly. In fact, it was Fant who broke the news of Yancey’s commitment via Twitter. Now the bad news. Many thought Florida safety Austin Logan would also commit, but Logan committed to Purdue on Tuesday. Nevertheless, Kentucky’s promising recruiting class is growing, with 11 of 13 commitments ranked as three-star prospects or higher (247sports.com). The class currently ranks 53rd in the country, which doesn’t sound too bad until you realize that’s only 13th best in the SEC, ahead of Arkansas. Woo Pig Sooie!
— Rumor has it the (basketball) 2013 recruiting class will be epic
247Sports released their new 2013 Basketball Rankings on Tuesday, and let’s just say, Kentucky’s doing pretty well with at least half of them:
1. Julius Randle
2. Aaron Harrison
3. Andrew Harrison
4. Jabari Parker
5. Kasey Hill (Florida)
6. Aaron Gordon
7. Chris Walker (Florida)
8. Marcus Lee
9. James Young
10. Isaiah Hicks (UNC)
Kentucky is considered to be the Harrison twins’ favorite, with Adam Zagoria telling Larry Vaught he’s heard that the two have already decided on the Cats and are just waiting to announce until September. Even better? Rivals’ Corey Albertson wrote that at the AAU National Championships in Orlando, there were whispers around the gym was that Julius Randle and the Harrison twins may commit to Kentucky together in the coming months. Most analysts feel that Jabari Parker is leaning heavily towards Duke, which may explain the staff’s recent interest in Aaron Gordon, who just listed Kentucky among his top schools. Marcus Lee has received interest from the Cats in recent weeks and even though the Cats may have backed off James Young after a lackluster performance at the Peach Jam, he’s still on the radar and could move up if one of the above decides to go elsewhere. And don’t forget Xavier Rathan-Mayes, who will narrow his list of schools to ten on Wednesday, which may not seem like a big move until you consider that he currently has almost thirty schools on his list. Expect the Cats to be near the top.
Even if Cal only rakes in the top three, it will be an epic class. Again, I ask: has there been a better time to be a Kentucky fan?
— Sweet Sixteen Final moves to Sunday
Heads up for you high school basketball fans out there: next year, the Boys Sweet 16 Championship Game will be played on a Sunday, not Saturday night. The semi-finals will take place Saturday night. This will mark the first time in over 50 years that the semifinals and the finals will not be played on the same day. The opening and quarterfinal rounds will remain on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as in previous years. Why the change? KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said that UK requested the change in the event that they’ll play at home on Saturday, March 9th. Just another casualty of the SEC scheduling issues happening in Birmingham.
— Cal: Goodwin and Poythress the only sure starters, Harrow off the bench
daily chat with Cal 3-point shot column on Tuesday included a tidbit from Cal about next year’s starting lineup, which he says only contains freshmen Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress at this point. That’s right: Cal said that point guard Ryan Harrow, who spent a year learning Cal’s system during practice, may come off the bench, along with senior transfer Julius Mays. Now, that could be “Calspeak” for “Work harder, Ryan Harrow,” or maybe Cal’s just having a lot of fun tinkering with his lineup, which Katz mentioned may include both Willie Cauley-Stein and Nerlens Noel at the same time. Don’t strain yourself analyzing his comments too much, Andy Katz will probably post something else about it tomorrow.
That’ll do for now. The boys will be LIVE from Farm Boy Restaurant in Morgantown in the morning. See you then.