Saturday’s game was boring. But after watching Duke lose to Florida State, Ohio State struggle with Penn State, Kansas escape Nebraska and Florida lose to South Carolina, sometimes boring is good. Seeing as how it is Sunday night, it makes for a good time to wrap up the weekend and look towards the next week in UK land. A few thoughts on four topics:
BIG WEEK ON THE ROAD IN THE SEC: I wasn’t shocked that UK lost to Georgia. As showcased by the Bulldogs shellacking of Ole Miss this weekend, Georgia is good and Mark Fox is the best coach in America that no one ever talks about. The two wins this weekend at home are fairly worthless, as Auburn and LSU combine to be the worst SEC duo since Dennis Felton and Joey Waldrop held down the court in Athens. But this is the week that we see what UK is made of going into the rest of conference play. Why do I say that? Well road games at Alabama and South Carolina are both games that a team with March ambitions should win. It is acceptable to drop a game on the road against Florida, Vandy, Tennessee, Georgia or even the talented Mississippi State. But Alabama and South Carolina are mediocre and if your team has the talent to make a March run, you have to win games like this on the road. Both teams will have a good crowd and Columbia specifically has been a place where UK has seen its share of troubles. But, this Kentucky team is substantially better than both the Tide and the Gamecocks, and neither has a Devon Downey type figure who can take over a game. Very good to great teams win these games. The Cats should finish 2-0 and tell us that we can begin getting our hopes up for March.
UK BASKETBALL RECRUITING: After nearly nine months of little to no news on the recruiting front, we will begin to see a lot of movement on the Calipari front. First and foremost is the saga of Mississippi State transfer Twany Beckham. On Saturday, a source told KSR that UK is considering adding Beckham as either a walk-on or scholarship player (to be determined) and that we will likely know whether he will join the team this week. Beckham would not be eligible until next Christmas and would be brought on to provide point guard depth. If you dont remember Beckham, he was once recruited by Billy Clyde and is from Louisville, having played at Ballard. I think UK is interested in Beckham because they believe that he will give experience at a position that UK could (if Brandon Knight were to leave) not have a great deal of depth in next year. Whether the transfer works out remains to be seen, but is an interesting move to me and one I didnt see coming.
As for the 2012 class, I was again told by a source this week that UK has a list of 8 players that are its major targets at this point. Archie Goodwin, Perry Ellis, Shabazz Muhammad, Andre Drummond, Alex Murphy, Dejuan Coleman, LJ Rose and Kaleb Tarczewski represent the eight players that I am told have UK offers and are the primary targets for the class. Of course new players may arise and I am not certain this is the exhaustive list of offers (in fact, I would guess it isnt), but it is the group that will get the primary focus. I believe UK feels very good about Goodwin, confident about Ellis, Coleman and Muhammad, loves the project of Tarczewski and feels like work needs to be done to get Drummond, Murphy or Rose. But as the days go along these next 2-3 weeks, I think you may see some movement with these guys and potentially the first trigger pull for UK (at least that would be the hope).
UK FOOTBALL: It has been an odd momentum week for Joker Phillips, with the awful football game last Saturday followed by a so-so press conference performance and the loss of a recruit to Notre Dame. But then a switched commitment from Purdue to UK turned a bit of momentum and we learned today that Lamar Dawson will pick a school on Signing Day at a press conference in Boyle County…which we hope Larry Vaught tells us about on his new Verizon Droid. I only add UK football to say this. I see lots of comments everywhere and many calls come to my show suggesting that I am down on Joker or dont like him for the job. That isnt true. I think Joker can do well at UK and I hope that he does. I do think some major changes need to be made in the coming months and I hope they happen before next season. But I will add this. I spoke with Randall Cobb at the game on Saturday and interviewed him for KSTV and he told me that he believes Joker will have the program where it needs to be. He said, the difference is players and there will be even more better ones coming this year. If Randall is confident, then I will be too.
JERRY TIPTON: I wont link Jerry’s column, because at this point it isnt worth it. But I do find it hilarious that Tipton tried to explain his absurd decision last Sunday to print a North Carolina college student’s list of the programs he felt were the dirtiest. In explaining his decision to include said list (which I am CONFIDENT Jerry thought was from a real writer and he didnt know was from a random college kid until Beisner pointed it out on this website), he said it was important to let fans know that not everyone thought UK was a great program. Thanks Jerry…none of us could have known that Kentucky didnt have 100% national support. In my conversations with the Herald Leader folks, they always express bewilderment as to how anyone could think Jerry is negative (I promise, they really do). For a writer who has NEVER mentioned KSR in his column (or any other pro-UK site that I am aware of), to randomly take the writings of a UNC college student on a blog and make it a feature in not one, but TWO weekly columns, well that tells us something. Jerry can write what he wants…and he is very good at what he does. But OF COURSE he is negative, and the last two weeks have prove that…if you want the local paper to have a beat writer who looks for blog posts negative about the local program, so be it. But then dont be surprised when your readers go to other outlets, such as the KSRs of the world for their UK coverage.
I also want to commend all the writers here on the site. Beisner and the crew are doing amazing and as the KSR owner, I am very happy with how things are going in the first month of the new regime. The site’s numbers stayed strong and the transition was very smooth due to everyone’s hard work. I want KSR to be a brand covering UK sports for as long as they play those sports, and this transition was a key step in making that happen.
If you can, please subscribe to the radio show podcast here as it is the one way to get the show as soon as it comes out via iTunes. Thanks to all of you who have read and commented on my stuff at CBS. I cant thank you enough. And get ready because KSR has a crazy couple of months of plans coming up that I think you will like…and if you dont, then I will just blame BTI anyway.