Happy Monday, sweet readers. El Capitan Jones is again on the road spreading high quality lawyer-dom all over the state, so I’ll be here doing my best to get your week started off right. Since Matt isn’t in the building, we won’t be celebrating the birthday of Bobby Bonilla or Dakota Fanning or even honoring Defender of the Fatherland Day (sorry Moscow fans). In fact, I am not even going to talk about Heath Ledger winning an Oscarbecause you can find that pretty much everywhere else on the internet and I’ve spent so much time picking up Matt’s dry-cleaning and taking all of the green hat marshmallows out of his Lucky Charms that I haven’t seen a movie not on FUSE or TNT since I started blogging here. Yes, I’m a little sour over it. Anyway, on to the UK sports because, after all, this is a sports site, isn’t it? If we start talking about Oscars and Obama and Tracy Lawrence, I’ll have to either never visit again or just stop reading my own posts.
Now, onto some UK stuff…
Last weekend, we took a look at what was sure to be a wild race to the finish in the SEC East with, at the time, Tennessee, Kentucky and South Carolina tied for first and Florida just a game back. Now, a week later, it seems that little has been resolved in the East and a three-way tie remains. Like the Cats, the fake USC went 1-1, but they could have easily been 0-2 after struggling to get a 4-point victory against Arkansas at home. Florida grabbed a couple of easy victories and stepped back into first and Tennessee looked to be pretty much done in getting thumped by both UK and Ole Miss. But, the Vols still remain just one game back, which shows how wacky this conference season has been. Here is what each team has left as we enter the home stretch and try to determine seeding for the conference tournament:
@ Vanderbilt L
@ South Carolina
@ Mississippi State L
@ Ole Miss L
@ Kentucky L
@ South Carolina
@ Mississippi State
At my company, we have a Senior Vice President who begins and ends every quarter with a rah-rah meeting where you can count on him saying at least four or five times that “this is the most important week in this company’s history”. If he was a Kentucky fan, he’d say that this is the most important week in this team’s season – and he’d be absolutely right. Perhaps the most important game of the season comes on Wednesday night in Columbia when UK plays a veteran South Carolina club that is 15-1 at home and stole one from the Cats in Rupp. From there, they return to Lexington for a showdown with an LSU team that is 23-4 and already clinched the SEC West. But, on Tuesday, Kentucky fans should all be using words that end in “-eaux” and rooting for the Tigers because if they can beat Florida in Baton Rouge, where they are 18-1 this season, the Cats and Gamecocks could be playing for sole possession of first place on Wednesday. Whew, got all that?
For the Gillispie and his boys, the remaining schedule is paved with difficulty, but it also gives them the opportunity to “control their own destiny”, which I’m pretty sure is a phrase that is rarely used in sports. Based on an elaborate system of mathematical formulas and guessing, I’d say it’s going to take at least a 3-1 record down the stretch to ensure a first round bye in the tournament, but because of South Carolina’s remaining schedule, anything less than 4-0 will likely leave them without a #1 seed.
From what we’ve seen from this group, I don’t think that winning out is impossible by any stretch of the imagination because when they are playing smart and being the aggressor, there isn’t a team in the conference that can play with them. However, one thing we know about this maddening team is that their consistency hasn’t been, well, very consistent and the team that crushed Tennessee in front of the 4th-biggest crowd in the history of Rupp isn’t always the one that comes to play. Basically, what it comes down to, is that only one thing is for certain: It’s going to be wild down the stretch as we get set for what could be the most wide open SEC Tournament in the history of the event.
A couple of other quick notes:
– Along the same lines of what I wrote above, Mark Schlabach at ESPN.com has Kentucky as one of the “Bubble Watch” teams and says that a 10-6 final mark in the SEC and one win in the conference tournament will probably get them in. He has LSU as the only lock.
– Jody Demling caught up with 2011 commit Vinny Zollo to check in on how he’s improving in his first year of playing ball in the Bluegrass.
– You might have seen earlier that I broke the story that Rajon Rondo and the Celtics were playing the Suns on ABC (I believe other outlets picked it up later). Well, Rajon did not disappoint on his 23rd birthday, leading Boston to a blowout of the red-hot Suns, 128-108, and putting up a very adult-like line of 32 points (career high), 6 rebounds, 10 assists and 3 steals. He’s not a bad player.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned today as it will be the typically information-filled Monday with the polls being released, the new Bracketology, the SEC coaches teleconference and the return of the KSR Playe Haters Ball. In the meantime, indulge in Rajon’s birthday a little more…