Sunday was the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. I have always been fascinated by the Titanic, mainly because of my odd fascination of what the moments on the gigantic ship had to be like, once it was clear that it was going down, but with some still having the opportunity to potentially be saved. Unfortunately for those of us interested in the actual story of the Titanic, the entire sequence has become forever wrapped up in the Leonardo Dicaprio movie, which while entertaining, trivialized the entire ordeal into a love story that is best remembered for him standing on the edge like a fool yelling about he was the King of the World. Thus if you say (as I did this past week) that you are interested in The Titanic, most assume you are simply a girly man who cries at the end of sappy movies. That is not me…the idea that an unsinkable boat, the likes of which had previously never before been seen in the world, could go down with some of the leading pseudo-celebrities of the day on board, is fascinating. It would be as if today a luxury rocket was created, the likes of which had never before been seen, that was built to take people into space, and a group including Warren Buffet, Donald Trump, Jay Z and Tim Tebow (a great group if you think about it) were to go up on the rocket and then we watched as it disappeared out of earth’s orbit forever. It would shock the world, just like The Titanic, and unfortunately all our great-grandkids would ever know about it would probably be based on a 2105 film starring some offspring of a Kardashian. It is just a bummer.
On that happy note, a reflection on a couple of news bits from the weekend:
— Because I have been on the road, I haven’t really weighed in on the biggest news of the Spring, the decision of Nerlens Noel to bring his flat top to Kentucky. (yes I know it is not really a flat top, but a “High Top Fade Feller” is not catchy…we have to go with what sticks and “Flat Top Feller” sticks). The decision was huge for the future of Kentucky basketball and ensures that UK will once again be in contention in the 2012-2013 season. Noel will inevitably be compared to Anthony Davis, and like Brandon Knight to John Wall, that will cause some people to at the beginning to inevitably over-criticize him when he faces his (inevitable) college struggles. But make no mistake, Noel is a difference maker in college basketball. He is not the polished offensive product that Anthony Davis was…in fact, my guess is that he will only be the third or fourth leading scorer on next year’s team. But defensively, he has the potential to be as good as Davis. I know this is crazy to say, but it is true. Noel was a better high school shot blocker than Davis…now that DOES NOT mean he is certain to be better in college. That will depend on his work level, ability to grasp the college game and desire to improve, all things that Davis had in abundance. But he comes in as a singular difference maker that immediately makes UK a Final Four contender next year. Never has a haircut been so important.
— Now of course the other thing we found out this weekend is that Alex Oriakhi picked Missouri before making his visit to Kentucky. I know on some of the message boards, know-it-all types have used this news as a “see, I told you so…KSR and the rest don’t know anything” type of moment and we are used to that. Whenever you are trying to guess about the plans of college kids, you are playing a fool’s game. I never thought Oriakhi was a lock to UK, far from it…but I, like those around the program, thought UK had a very good shot. He surprised everyone around Lexington when he made his decision before a visit that had been especially set up for him, with Nerlens Noel (a player who was on the same AAU team as Oriakhi) on campus at the same time. Some close to Oriakhi suggest that he was always going to Missouri, and that may very well be. But that message wasn’t received on the UK end and thus the decision did surprise many.
— So what is next? Well the next domino to fall will of course be Anthony Bennett. It isn’t clear what Bennett will do, or when he will do it, but I am sure the heat will be amped up on him following the Oriakhi decision. I have been operating under the assumption that Bennett has been a Florida lean, and I think that is probably the safe view today. However the process is (potentially) far from over and a UK vs Florida war for the player is likely to begin taking place in earnest today. Kentucky has as of now, a five man group that is complete with 5 future NBA players in Harrow, Goodwin, Poythress, Wiltjer and Noel. I think they need at least one more very good player as a 6th component and then hope that someone else, be it Cauley, Hood, Beckham or some mystery name, joins the fray to give Calipari his seven. For the most part, Calipari believes that if he has six, he is good. The Cats have five that are there now (I still think Cauley is a year away from being consistent), and it is important that a sixth…or potentially a seventh, joins the group over the next month or so. Whether that is Bennett remains to be seen.
— If you haven’t yet seen it today, Salon.com has a “behind the scenes” Final Four piece today, that includes a lot on KSR. The writer spent some time in New Orleans and basically interviewed everyone under the sun about the change in media from newspaper to digital and what that means in press rooms across sports. When he asked to talk to me, I thought I would be a small footnote in the story, but he ended up using my status as “the chief media villain of the Final Four” as a theme throughout the piece. Other than a couple of minor quibbles (I am actually 33 and nto sure about how I feel about “cherubic”), I thought the piece was fair and very well done. There is a lot in there about KSR, Forde, Thamel, our good friend Gregg Doyel and an interview with Seth Davis that includes a couple of tidbits that he can’t like being out there (“hey there gorgeous, times two” officially becomes a KSR catchphrase now). It is worth a read if you like the “inside baseball” type media stuff and to be fair, it does explore why most mainstream media hate us, specifically me. And that is always fun.
Make sure and GET READY FOR THE 2nd ANNUAL KSTV CASTING CALL. It is going to be a great event once again and my guess is it is going to be even bigger than last year. It begins next week in Northern Kentucky (maybe I can bring the trophy with me) and I hope you will try to come to one of the tryouts. I will have a three-part CALIPARI TROPHY TOUR RUNNING DIARY on the site this week, with installments throughout. Most is done (we are going to try and avoid the Drew “I have yet to finish Part Two of the Taco Bell Diary” Franklin syndrome this week) and it has a ton of behind the scenes tidbits I know you will like.
We will talk extensively about the Trophy Tour stories on radio show Monday morning and Darius Miller is on KSTV Monday night…until then, have a big Monday…