Its New Years Day, which used to mean wall-to-wall football all day. Now it means a lot of football and a cool shot of guys playing hockey outside. Not the same, but we will take it. A few notes:
— Of course all that could be on anyone’s mind right now in the Commonwealth is tomorrow’s battle with the Dirty Cards. While I understand that some are getting nervous, it still is the case that anything but a strong UK win would be a big upset. The Cats are likely stronger at every position on the floor. Wall is an upgrade over Sosa, Cousins over Samuels, Patterson over Jennings (or whoever they match him up with), Miller over whatever retread plays the 3 and Bledsoe against Smith is probably a push with maybe a slight advantage to Smith because of his senority. The bench is even a bigger advantage for UK as Louisville brings almost no weapons to the table after the starting five. Add to it a home crowd ripe for a beatdown and things look great for the Cats. I still think the game remains close for a good part due to the natural intensity of the rivalry. In the end however, the Cats win by 14.
— The other question on people’s minds is how will the fans react to Pitino. I tend to take a middle ground on this one. I dont agree with my friend Lachlan McClain, who believes there will be 3,000 blond wigs in the stands. But I also cant imagine that there arent a few chants at some point during the festivities. As I have said for some time, this is a rivalry game…it is supposed to be brutal. I wouldnt want to see anything vulgar or nasty…but Pitino should be given a hard time and I think the students will make sure it happens. If there happens to be a Kar-en Sy-pher chant…well so be it.
— By the way, what about the new battle of chain restaurants for the hearts of UK basketball? Calipari tweeted out last night that the team wanted to go eat at Red Lobster as a group, which officially means that the UK basketball players have something in common with my parents when they leave Middlesboro to go to Lexington or Knoxville. Red Lobster said they didnt have room for them and thus they went to Bella Note instead. You could tell Calipari wasnt happy about Red Lobster having no room in the Inn for the hungry Cats and noted they may have missed their one chance. This has to hurt the Red Lobster folks, who surely dont want their only customers to be those that like to eat before 6 pm for the early bird special. The restaurant now has to find a way to make it up…potentially by hosting a KSR podcast? As for Bella Note, nice play…that kind of free advertising hasnt come since Jared Carter made O Charleys his home away from home.
— I find it interesting that we havent heard yet from Rich Brooks either way. I was certain we would have an announcement by yesterday, so that Rich could say goodbye and still not get in the way of the Louisville game. The fact that it hasnt come makes me wonder if he might be having second thoughts. I am told that members of the team have been virtually begging Rich to say and that he has felt a tremendous amount of support from his players in the last few days. UK basketball doesnt play again until next Saturday after the UL game. It makes sense to make an announcement during that week, but every day that goes by makes me wonder if Rich could try to make one last return. One thing is clear, if he knew for sure he wanted to go, we would already know.
More all day….UL’s time is coming