Some thoughts as we move towards Indy….
— I am more confident than others seem to be about this game on Saturday night. Of course Kentucky can lose, as Wisconsin is a great team and probably the best matchup against the Cats of any in the Tournament. But I like where UK is, think they got the worst game of the tournament out of the way and feel better about the matchups than I have before. The Notre Dame game exploited what is Kentucky’s real weakness on defense…guards who can beat you off the bounce and penetrate to the rim. Jerian Grant was a defensive problem for the Cats and their success on the offensive end stemmed from his play. I am not as worried about the Wisconsin guards…they can shoot but I don’t see the game-changing playmaking abilities that Grant was able to give the Irish. The key for me is Karl Towns playing Kaminsky well without getting into foul trouble and controlling Dekker as much as possible. Wisconsin isn’t really deep and if UK plays well offensively, they can’t guard the Cats. I expect a very good game but still think UK is a solid favorite if they do what they are capable of on both ends of the floor.
— I was really surprised by the TeamCast broadcast lineup. I like Dave Baker, Rex Chapman and Michael Eaves all quite a bit. They are all friends of mine and I think they are all very talented. Baker makes total sense for play-by-play and Eaves, while not known by everyone in the state, will do a good job on the sidelines after doing it for the Clippers for a number of years. But using Rex after his problems and the issue with the fans following the Tweet last year surprised me. As readers here know, I like Rex a lot and think this is a good chance for him. But it wasn’t met well by fans and showcases how little television executives really know about what a fanbase wants. My hope is that Rex can use this to rebuild some bridges, and I know the product will be good with these three guys. But what is also likely is that some fans who would have otherwise watched, are now less likely to.
— I have no idea what is wrong with Chris Webber. His argument about Willie today was silly and the one thing it will do is motivate WCS to play well this weekend. To act like Willie is not a NBA starter because he only averages 9 a game is ludicrous. Deandre Jordan (who Webber said Willie isn’t nearly as good as) averaged 7 a game in college and Nerlens Noel (who is the same age as Willie) only average 10 while playing eight more minutes a game. Success in the NBA isn’t guaranteed for Willie and I am not sure how great he can become…but he can play NBA level defense on a high plane immediately…that means he will see the Court from Day One and I don’t know how anyone can project that he won’t be able to eventually be a starter.
— Willie today became the 25th Consensus All-American in UK history. That is an amazing accomplishment for the young man and also showcases his place in history. To only have 25 since this program began, and have a player who was an afterthought in his recruiting class become one of them, is truly impressive for the kid and John Calipari. He is the first consensus All American ever to average less than 10 points a game, a distinction that should be a badge of honor. What makes it even more amazing is that I think Willie now will have a real case to have his jersey retired at Kentucky…think about it…one of only 25 consensus First Team All Americans in school history and potentially the MVP of the first team in school history to go 40-0. If that happens, Willie has a case, something I don’t think any of us thought was possible even one year ago…a great kid who has become a great player.
— Pat Forde is the worst. I know we all know this but he reminds me of it often. I ignore him when I can, but sometimes his awfulness needs the occasional acknowledgement. I did that on Twitter today with five tweets that illustrate my biggest gripes with him. Check them out if you so choose…and while doing it, follow me on Snapchat (kysportsradio) for behind-the-scenes video from the Final Four…plus our radio presence in Indy should be huge, including a potential special live show during the UK open practice. Should be much fun.
— I can’t wait for Indianapolis. Not only do we have the excitement of the 40-0 chase, but we also have one of the best Final Four fields ever and the close site means there will be UK fans EVERYWHERE. Saturday will be a circus, and the basketball is now being joined by the political issue in Indiana to mean that we may have one of the wilder scenes in a NCAA Tournament ever. The key for Kentucky is to do what they have done all season…avoid distractions. If they do that, they will be fine. This group has not gotten off track all year and I see no reason why it would happen now. What I do know is that I will be a nervous wreck, and like many of you, will feel like I have played 10 games by the time the Semifinal ends late Saturday night.
— I am giving away FINAL FOUR TICKETS from Guyonthecornertickets.comover the next three days on the morning radio show. Listen to win and get a trip to see all the shenanigans on Saturday.
With that, my picture of March (I hate April Fool’s Day):