The college basketball season gets under way today with a Rhode Island vs Pittsburgh/Navy vs Texas Doubleheader on ESPNU tonight. Yes it is that time of year, so lets look at a couple of notes for the afternoon:
— Joker Phillips announced today that Derrick Locke is still medically cleared to play over the next few weeks, but that it is yet to be determined as to whether he can actually go. A source at UK tells me that Locke is still dealing with some pain and numbness issues and that has been the reason we have not seen him over the past two weeks. Raymond Sanders is ready to go on Saturday and if Locke cant play, he will platoon with Donald Russell and Coshick Williams at Running Back.
— Folks shouldnt overlook the potential for a real game on Friday when Kentucky plays East Tennessee State. You may remember that ETSU was UK’s opponent in the NCAA Tournament last year and they return most of their players from that team. It will be a veteran group and an athletic bunch, meaning they will have a much better chance to guard the UK players than a number of other lower level teams. ETSU fits the Calipari philosophy of “schedule the teams who can win the lower conferences”, both for RPI and NCAA prep purposes. It was the philosophy of Tubby Smith as well and can provide some harrowing close games early in the year for a young team. Dont be surprised if Friday is one of those games.
— The story of the weekend may be the amazing play of Eric Bledsoe with the Clippers. With the injuries to Randy Foye and Baron Davis, Eric Bledsoe was forced into starting duty in the last two games and played tremendously. In both games he had double-digit assists and against the Nuggets on Friday night, Hubie Brown praised Bledsoe from start to finish. He continues to show the fearless streak that we saw at Kentucky and his ability to get to the basket, even in the NBA is quite impressive. We all knew that Wall would be great and Cousins had potential, but Eric Bledsoe hitting another gear has been an unexpected treat this early in the year.
— A very interesting article here by Dave Telep on ESPN, on the various storylines in recruiting for 2011. Part of what he writes about is “The Calipari Effect”, which he defines as the step up in recruiting by all teams in the SEC in order to keep up with John Calipari and what he has done. Eight of the top 25 recruits in America are going to SEC schools according to Telep, something that he attributes to Calipari. That should make basketball in the SEC much better on a year in, year out basis.
— Finally, if you havent seen this story about Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, you might want to check it out. While the USA may have some political scandals, we have nothing on the Italian leader’s “bunga-bunga” parties…a stranger story for the President of a country you will never read.
Below is today’s radio show, which included a hilarious interview with Gregg Doyel, as he gives his initial thoughts on the Top 25 teams in America. That interview and a recap of the games on the weekend, make up today’s show. Check it out and stay tuned for more later tonight: