Three quick things before you go out and do your thing:
1. I am amazed at the lack of controversy over the Mitch Barnhart extension. Nothing against Mitch or his time at UK. I think he has done very well. But for an outgoing President to essentially give an Athletic Director three extra years on his way out the door…well that is surprising to me. Barnhart is now locked up for EIGHT years at the University, ensuring that he will be at UK for a long time to come. That may very well be the best decision for UK (it probably is) but I would think it is also the decision that should be made by the new President. The new President will now have to work with Barnhart regardless and it will not be his (or her) decision as to whether the partnership is a fruitful one. I am not saying that I wouldn’t have done it, but I would have expected much more controversy in the Big Blue Nation. Alas, it passed by without much notice at all.
2. Tomorrow is a big game in Nashville, not so much for the season as a whole, but because it can help get a significant winning streak going to end the season. Win in Nashville and then you have two rather easy games at home, followed by a road game at Arkansas and then Florida/Vandy in Lexington. There is no reason you can’t win all of those games, setting up your season finale in Knoxville. Win or lose that game, and you still only have five conference losses, you will have a bye in the SEC Tournament and likely a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. I think that is a great path to making some noise in March. Lose against Vanderbilt and you will still be ok….likely headed to a 10-6 conference record and a 4/5 seed in March…but it isn’t nearly as good as it could or should be. The Cats have found a way to lose in every way imaginable this year on the road. Tomorrow is the day they need to find a way to win.
3. Speaking of Nashville, I went to the Vandy-Alabama game and it is no exaggeration to suggest that the Vandy gym could be the most bizarre arena in America. Everyone focuses on the court setup, with the benches on the end and that is odd. But stranger to me is the entire feel of the place, as it is almost designed as an opera house. The seats go high into the air, but the corners are walled off and the endzones are very tight. It is a strange setup that makes one feel like he is watching a play rather than a basketball game. I would assume it is odd for opposing players as well and could explain why Vandy has traditionally had such a powerful homecourt advantage.
4. When he came to Lexington, John Wall had that aura around him. Last year when Lebron was in the house, I noted that he just had a different feel as a person around him, making the game more exciting just because he was there. The same is true of Wall, who helped create a real buzz in the building. He couldn’t have been more courteous to all of us who spoke with him and I think he genuinely had a great time in his return. For those who complained because he didn’t sign autographs, understand that if he did, he would have been swamped and unable to watch the game. Similarly, for those mad that he didnt smile enough, get over yourselves. That is just Wall’s personality and means absolutely nothing. The kid was happy to be there and flew after an afternoon practice to Lexington to support his former team before flying back for a morning practice the next day. I call that impressive.
5. I am pulling hard for the NBA team in Louisville. First, it would be great for the state economically and finally make this a pro state again. Second, it will help Louisville get rid of its title of “largest market without a professional team” and help it reach the status it needs as a city. And third, with Pitino so obviously against it and UL trying to play a role in stopping it, the team can once again pave the way for UK and Calipari to slip right on in as the ambassador to pro sports in the region. It is still a long shot to happen, but count me up as a big time supporter.
Big day tomorrow….LIVE BLOG at 12:30 pm….lets get it on….