We continue our march to find our newest blogger with the Semifinals. Below are 3 of the 6 Semifinalists….read their entries and determine who you like the best. The vote is on the right and your vote will combine with the judges below to determine which of these 3 is out. To the contestants. The topic is a PREVIEW OF THE VMI GAME:
As any of you with the ability to read knows by now (sorry, louisvillefancraig, I’m sure you can find someone to read it for you), our beloved UK Wildcats/Fighting Billy Clydes FINALLY kick off one of the most anticipated seasons in recent memory this weekend against the VMI Keydets/Kangaroos, from Lexington, Virginia. This ridiculous nickname comes from the southern pronunciation of the word “cadet”, although I don’t know where in the hell they came up with the kangaroo as a mascot. I was looking at some other things on the VMI website to prepare for this particular contest entry, and found some interesting tidbits that I want to pass on to you. I guess you could call this a “Did You Know?” of sorts.
In 1976, the basketball team actually reached the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament, before eventually falling to Rutgers, and in 1977 went 26-4, a school record, and reached the Sweet Sixteen. In other words, they’ve had as much relevance in the Big Dance as Tennessee has. Also, they have a former basketball coach named Weenie Miller (I wonder if he is related to Dick Pole) who is one of ten former VMI coaches enshrined in the Virginia Hall of Fame. Another funny-named former coach is Joe Muha, who’s got you all in check.
As for this year’s edition of the team, I found a few interesting things on the roster. For starters, freshman Michael Sparks went to Tates Creek High School, where he broke Darrin Horn’s school scoring record. I couldn’t find anything saying whether or not he broke Darrin’s record for vanquished poon, but if he didn’t have a denim jacket and a bitchin’ Camaro with T-tops, then I seriously doubt it. Also on the team is Willie Bell, who everyone thought had a cool papa. Bell is from Newport News, hometown of PETA superstar Mike Vick. That information isn’t really relevant, but neither is Mike Vick these days. There are a couple of potential porn star names on the roster as well. Can we forget about Hunter Houston (who may or may not be kin to Alexis Texas)? What about Wayne Whiting? After this you have the guys whose names sound cool either way, such as Keith Gabriel, Carl Josey (who is from England), and Austin Kenon. Next up are the Holmes boys, twins Chavis and Travis, who would fall into the porn stars category if one of them wasn’t named Chavis. Last but not least is the big 7-footer (Why do people feel inclined to say this? Is there such thing as a small 7-footer?) Stephen “The Captain” Sargent. Regardless of who plays, look for our Boys in Blue to win a high scoring game, as Perry Stevenson flirts with a triple double, only to be chastised by Coach Gillispie for not double-knotting his shoelaces. Also, in a freakish showcase of strength, Patrick Patterson does push-ups (a la Scratch) each time Kentucky scores.
Virginia Military Academy is housed in Lexington, in the northwest corner of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It was briefly the home of fellow Glasgow High School graduate, Angelia Pickett, who was a member of the first class of female cadets to enter the school. (It’s true. She even got the buzz-cut.) Angelia later transferred to UK because the basketball team is better. The VMI mascot is the Keydet, which is, apparently, a kangaroo named Moe, a species native to Virginia. I have full confidence that in a mascot war the Wildcat can take him. During the 1976-1977 season, the Keydets advanced to the NCAA Regional Finals, a fact that gives them much school pride, as it is advertised on the first page of their media guide. (Hey, it’s the Sweet Sixteen. They’re right there with Tennessee.) Kentucky beat VMI in that game, their last foray into the postseason. I hope they aren’t still bitter.
UK’s history with VMI began rather sadly with two consecutive losses in 1914 and Basil Hayden’s 1922 squad. As we Kentuckians do not take kindly to losing, we have avenged those losses with five straight wins. Maybe after we win this year, Billy will drink some Basil Hayden with me at the football game on Saturday in our first All-American’s honor. (I know. I know. It’s not going to happen. Let a girl dream.) VMI utilizes a back-court of twins named Chavis and Travis Holmes. I guess it made things easy when their mom taught them to spell. Chavis and Travis are fourth on the NCAA Division I Twins Scoring Leaders chart. (Who knew? Are the Lopez twins #1?) I am ready for Mr. Meeks to manhandle them all by himself. The tallest Keydets are 6’7″ except for a 7 foot redshirt freshman who can be welcomed to the SEC by our own Jared Carter. I think this is what Billy was referring to when he mentioned putting Jared in a position to be successful. The Keydets apparently averaged something like 250 points per game for the past two years, although they did not play much defense. I don’t think our coaching staff will go for that game plan. After the Cats’ victory you can watch the VMI press conference on, I struggle to type this with a straight face, ‘ROO TUBE.
In short, this should be a good weekend. Friday brings the first basketball victory of the season. We’ll get a big win on Saturday over the quarterback with the silliest name in football. (Mackenzi? Really? Needs to be a cheerleader.) And our New Year’s plans will be in the works. Can’t be topped.
Now that basketball season is here for real, it’s time to start breaking down the Wildcats’ first opponent, the Keydets of Virginia Military Institute. Lo, I am just a humble contest semi-finalist (or maybe quarter-finalist, I don’t know what round this is. Is this Survivor?), wholly incapable of getting our troops the intel they need alone. That’s why I’ve called in one of the foremost minds on military strategery, Major Benson Winifred Payne, to help our guys get prepared. He’s going to tell you a few things everyone needs to know about VMI and I’m going to explain it for you, since Major Payne speaks only in adapted gibberish from his own film. I know it’s weird. I expected him to talk like the rest of us, too.
We know running hasn’t been a problem for the Cats as Coach Gillispie’s boot camp assures us of peak conditioning. Too bad our opponents went through actual boot camp. The Keydets led the country in scoring last year, largely because they run, and run, and run, and…you get it. The Cats have the depth to survive this up-and-down game, but mere survival is not exactly the goal. Our transition game has been unimpressive, especially against the Fightin’ Baptists, and to beat VMI we have to be efficient in all phases of the fast break. Playing the Keydets even in fast break points should push the game in our favor because we carry several other advantages, including being much bigger than the other guys. <—(Shameless appeal for Beisner’s vote.)
In this case, the engine is VMI. And we’re going to try to make sure they’re the Little Engine that got discouraged after a while and then lost. It’s always the story, and we saw it last season with the likes of San Diego. Smaller, less talented teams have to be put in their place early, and the Cats have to control the pace of the game. VMI led the nation in 3’s per game last year, but Kentucky sports a serious size advantage, as the Keydets have only one player over 6’7″, pictured here. That means we should get a healthy dose of PP&J (Pat, Perry, and Jorts). That trio should live at the line if we can find them down low. Inside dominance will slow the game down and limit whatever kind of small-school guerrilla warfare they may be trying to use on the ‘Cats.
Sometimes, you gotta call on your backups to do the job. That’s why DeAndre Liggins may be the most important player on the court Friday. His skill in transition will be integral to our offensive success. Michael Porter, while a solid halfcourt point, is not really suited for a full-court game. It’s the same way Will Ferrell is funny, but not in Bewitched. Our team, with Liggins’ and others’ length defensively, should be on their men like white on rice in a glass of milk on a paper plate in a snowstorm. Getting into passing lanes and forcing turnovers will be key (VMI averaged 16 turnovers/game last season) and converting those into points on the break will be one of Liggins’ biggest responsibilities.
So there you have it, straight from a military man so full of basketball knowledge it’s almost like some of it was made up. Hopefully with this scouting Major Payne believes our boys won’t be made to look like turds, and instead have the potential to be maggots. The hidden bonus is that the matchup will serve as good preparation for North Carolina and their wide open style, which we’ll be seeing before you know it. I’m predicting the Keydets’ success will be on par with that of the Keytar, with Kentucky winning 91-74. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the game, dummy.
Evan: Congrats making it this far.
Minton: Alright, you went with the names approach. Um, I dig it, I think. It’s definitely something we haven’t seen yet. Still, this entry was probably your weakest yet, but it had a couple bright spots. Good work throwing in the name of an obscure pitching coach for the Reds. That’s just good journalism. If you do move on, though, you’ll need to step it up. All three of yesterday’s contestants had a stronger post.
Jennifer: If I may speak for everyone, I’d like to say that the slipper no longer fits. For some reason, this one really didn’t do it for me. I can’t really find anything in particular to be critical about, though. So maybe it’s good. Hell, I don’t know. I still think you’re just below the other two.
Hunter: Now that you’ve moved on, I have to say something. I hated your poem. Sorry, but I did. You know what I like about you though? You’re a redeemer. A survivor; like Beyonce. This post was great. I think everyone probably had the same angle in mind, but you picked a unique slant by using Major Payne. You also were able to drop some actual knowledge and insight, which definitely helps your cause. And your link to the 6’7” guy made me make some sort of weird yelping/laughter noise in class. So, thanks for that.
MATT JONES: Much weaker than the other group…..and by a lot in my view. Chris, I probably liked yours the best…..in large part because I think it is creative and funny….but it wasnt your top work. Hunter, the Major Payne angle was interesting and generally worked for me. Again, I think you can do better but I like the effort. Jennifer, this was your weakest performance so far in my view. I think you have the potential to win this, but this round may be a tough hurdle. I like all of you or you wouldnt have gotten this far, but this wasnt Grade A material, whereas the other three all brought the wood.
Chris: Not overwhelmingly awesome, but I liked it. You took a jab at Tennessee and offered a thought-provoking question when you asked if there has ever been a small 7-footer. Pretty solid work.
Jennifer: Not my favorite post so far. And, it looks like Evan has stopped acting like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, so it appears as if the KSR Women’s Suffrage Movement might take its first blow. You must now dominate the fan vote, I would think.
Hunter Campbell: Major Payne = Major Points. Very creative take on the assignment. I liked it.
Nice to see you guys again, Chris, Jennifer and Hunter. How’ve you been? Good to hear. You guys never call anymore. I beginning to think you’re just using me for second-tier-blog-poster commentary. Fine then.
Chris: I think you really brought it again. Nice stuff. I also see, based on this round, that VMI has a more-than-healthy smattering of “fun facts” available to the general public, and I’m willing to bet this is maybe the most those facts have been cribbed in the VMI website’s history. I think your voice is one of the couple in this competition that’s closest to the general voice of this site, which is nice and makes you seem like a seamless fit to step into a finalist spot. It’s consistent, funny, and (especially close to my heart) makes fun of funny names, which is always a winner in my book. You’ve got a lot of fans here, so I think you’re a strong contender at this point. Plus you dropped one of the best references I’ve seen on this site in a long, long time — and if you don’t believe it you should question your belief, Keith.
Jennifer: I like your voice a lot, you have a really nice style to your writing. The Catch-22 for me is that while you’re consistent with said nice voice and style, I feel like it’s created a set of three so far that seems a bit homogenized. I don’t really feel like I’ve seen yet from you a hook that really jumps out at me — not to say that a hook’s always needed, but sometimes it might help differentiate you from the crowd, and this would have been a good round to jump outside the box a little. If you move forward, I’d like to see you try a different tact just once, that’s a little different from your posts so far, to help you stand out a little more. We’ve got your voice and humor and style down now, I’d like to see you use those assets to take us somewhere a tad different next time. But I think you stand a fine chance of moving on.
Hunter: You were my choice from the first round and although I think your poem received a lot of headscratching, I thought it was creative and I’m glad it got you into this round. You also have likely now brought the “viewings of Major Payne videos” on YouTube to a whopping 2. I thought it was sharp, and especially loved the line “the little engine that got discouraged after a while and then lost.” I thought this was a tight, solid entry and fun to read, and I think you stand a very good chance with this. You have a knack for finding interesting frameworks for your writing, which is I think a real asset on this site. I’d like to see another from you, I think you’re gonna gain a lot of poetry-haters back. Make me proud.
Good round, everyone. That’s why they call this competition “The Big Dance.” What? They don’t call it that? Oh yeah? Well screw you for judging me.