Those who love the written word saw a difficult week just pass with the deaths of Christopher Hitchens and Czech poet/playwright Vaclav Havel. Havel was likely the most famous modern figure of the area formerly known as Czechoslovakia. While under communist rule, Havel became known as its most famous dissident, writing poems and plays that struck at the heart of communism and criticized its tyrannical rule. During the Spring of 1968, he became the unofficial leader of the eight months known as the “Prague Spring”, a time when it seemed that the country would break way from the Soviet Union’s stranglehold on the nation and move towards a more democratic state. But the USSR invaded in the summer and Havel went back to his role as the official thorn in the communists’ side. In 1989, as communism began to crumble across Eastern Europe, he led hundreds of thousands of protesters in the “Velvet Revolution”, a peaceful movement that displaced communism and led to Czech elections for the first time in the 20th century. Havel was elected the nation’s first President, a nearly unheard-of feat considering his role as primarily a literary figure. His time as Czechoslovakia President was not a great success and he resigned in 1992, finishing his life as a world spokesman for peace. In America, Havel may be best known for taking Bill Clinton to play saxophone in a Prague jazz club during a visit, a recording of which is below. He passed away this weekend at the age of 75.
To the news…
— The only big news to come from the weekend is the victory over UT Chattanooga on Saturday night in which UK’s Freshmen played well. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was once again a beast, flirting with a triple-double. I am not sure that I have ever seen a player get such universal respect from UK’s fanbase so quickly as Gilchrist, who is quickly becoming the superstar of the team. Everything he does is based on hustle, but he combines it with unbelievable talent and an ability to make plays. He might be slowly becoming UK’s most important player. Anthony Davis had an absurd 18 rebound night and finally showcased how dominant he can be on the glass. Earlier this season, he was allowing rebounds to come to him, and occasionally got them taken away by athletic opponents. Not now. Now we see him skying for every rebound and taking them above the rim. That subtle change makes him an unstoppable force. Add an 8 assist-1 turnover game from Marquis Teague and some threes finally falling for Kyle Wiltjer and John Calipari has to be happy with the performance of all his young players.
— What has to continue to concern the UK coaches is the status/play of Terrence Jones. One can’t be too critical of Jones on Saturday, as the picture of the ghastly injury to his finger showcases that he must have been in a great deal of pain. But Jones’s medical status and lackadaisical play is the biggest concern going forward. UK lists Jones as day-to-day with his finger and with the next major game 12 days away against Louisville, one would think there will not be a rush to get him back on the court. But the injury is to his shooting hand and if looks were a diagnosis, one would have to think it will take some time to heal. I had hoped to see Jones bounce back in a big way Saturday night and it was clear that the Rupp crowd was hoping beyond hope for him to play well. Now we have to wait and see when he will get a chance for redemption before the big UL battle on New Year’s Eve.
— The 2012 UK recruiting class has four members, Alex Poythress, Archie Goodwin, Ryan Harrow and Willie Cauley. I still expect UK to add Shabazz (we hope) and at least one other big man, but one player who will not be in the class is Pitt transfer Khem Birch. A good source told me on Saturday that UK will not be a destination for Birch, due primarily to the lack of an available scholarship at the semester break. Bitch wants to transfer now and UK simply cannot accommodate him.
— On the football side of things, the UK coaches have spent the past two weeks traveling all around the South recruiting. Tee Martin and Joker Phillips specifically have been everywhere and have been able to visit current commits and establish relationships with some players who have risen in the Senior class. Our friends at BleedBlueKentucky.com have been keeping track of names, but as one football source told me recently, the difference this year as opposed to past years is the luxury to take some fliers. Because UK has their class close to full already, making sure all current commits stay on board and focusing on trying to steal some late stars can now occur. In addition, the last game win against Tennessee has been huge. “I can’t tell you how much of a difference it makes. That streak hung over this program’s heads for years, including with potential recruits. Now we don’t have to worry about it again.”
— The UK Hoops team dropped its first game today against #3 ranked Notre Dame in South Bend. The Cats played well and had a late lead, but their star Adi’a Mathes fouled out with 7 minutes to go and they simply ran out of offensive firepower to win on the road. I watched the entire game and I must say the UK Hoops team is really fun to watch. I have never been a huge fan of women’s basketball as a viewer, but this team plays at such a tremendous speed and with constant energy, making the game frenetic and fun to watch. They don’t have a ton of size and often seem on the verge of being completely out of control. But it does make it extremely entertaining and leads me to want to check them out more than any women’s team I have seen ever.
— Finally, the pictures of the new Rupp Arena made their way around the internet on Saturday night. It is important to note that these pictures are of the design that now has been approved by the absurdly large 47 member committee. The city still has to make final approval, but chances are, if a new arena gets built, it will look like the picture below (complete with wild horse running the streets). How the building gets financed and if/when it gets done is the next question. Lexington Mayor Jim Grey is schedule to come on my radio show on Tuesday to discuss these issues and answer questions about the seemingly developing gap between the city and UK on the issue. It will be worth a listen.
We get our Christmas week started in the morning at 10 on radio and here on the site with a KSR College post. IF you are interested in being a part of the KSR College site that will launch in January, watch this week for information on how to apply. More later….