How long will Digger’s love affair last?
What a week to be a sports fan. Muhammad Ali turned 65, Texas and Oklahoma St. gave us the game of the year in college basketball thus far, Kentucky beat South Carolina worse than Florida beat South Carolina, and Michael Vick tried to blow up a plane with reefer. Here’s some of my thoughts from the workweek, and what to look forward to this weekend besides more Matt Jones lies and atrocities.
Kevin Durant–I’ll have to admit, before this week I was growing weary of the ‘media fellatio’ being administered to Texas super-frosh Kevin Durant. Sure, I knew he was a superior talent, but it’s just so annoying when freshman are perched on a towering pedestal of greatness before they’ve proven anything. Well, Durant not only proved his worth Tuesday night in the epic Ok. St. game, he showed that he is indeed, the best player in the nation right now. It’s a fair assumption that Durant and Greg Oden will be the first two players chosen in the next NBA Draft, but which one will be first is the new debate. While a dominant 7-footer will always be en vogue, Durant is the prototype for the neo-NBA star. Long, quick, tough, unlimited range and athleticism–Durant, if he keeps up this breakneck pace, will be the taken over Oden, and will prove why quickly.
Joe Crawford–The oft-maligned Crawford has compellingly made his presence felt thus far in the SEC with gaudy offensive numbers and a velvety all-around game. Looking past the offensive onslaught for a second, another intangible has emerged in Crawford that makes me a believer in this here team, unselfishness. If you’ll think back to a season ago, Kentucky was a team composed of Veruca Salt’s (“I want a basket Tubby, and I want one now!”). Consequently, their play suffered. Fast forward to Tuesday night in Columbia; Crawford could have easily hung 30+ on the Cocks, but instead used his bulls-eye status to open things up for his teammates. “With people concentrating on me, it made the game a lot easier when I passed it,” said Crawford after the game. Selfishness can bring down the most talented of teams, that’s been proven all too many times in the past. Conversely, magnanimity makes any team drastically better.
Digger Phelps–I think it’s safe to say that only Billy Packer generates more ire among UK fans than Digger. The old curmudgeon, with his matching highlighter/necktie gimmick that walks a fine line between liking women or men, has made it a practice over the years to be a storm cloud over Kentucky’s parade. I can’t remember a March where Digger hasn’t admonished UK for being “overrated” or “simply getting the most out of their lagging talent.” This year, however, ol’ Digger has changed his tune; he’s now taking every chance to extol our Cats with cries of “underrated” and “potentially dangerous tournament team.” Of course he has, because UK hasn’t even been rated most of the season. I see what you’re up to Digs: it’s easy to call UK underrated at #25, but you know that if/when Kentucky climbs into top 10 territory who will be the first to beget the cries of “overrated”? That’s right, this guy. I’m telling you, just wait and see.
The SEC–Wow, what a week in the SEC; but don’t take my word for it, here’s ESPN “colleague” Stuart Scott to give you the rundown: “Ridunkulous. That’s the only word anyone could use to describe the week that was in the SEC. The Volunteers of Tennessee needed a win like Earth, Wind and Fire needed a second Greatest Hits album. Coming off back to back losses to Vanderbilt and Ohio St., a date with Auburn figured to be the perfect medicine. But Auburn was all like, “hold up y’all, we can play too.” The smart kids at Vandy got all STUPID on Alabama. They trounced the Tide by 21, giving the Tide two conference losses by a combined 47 points. Y’all, that aint even right. Down in Fayetteville, Georgia proved that they aren’t a cupcake anymore, by sinking Arkansas on a fade-away 25 footer by Steve Newman. Dude had like 3 treys in the closing 2 minutes. Yo, the SEC is just plain off-the-hook this year. Tell your uncle Pookie, cousin Ray-Ray, aunt…” Thanks Stewart, profound as ever. Here’s my question: Is this “ridunkulous” parity in the SEC an indication that the conference is weaker than previously thought, or just that good from top to bottom? It will be interesting to see how many the SEC sends to the Dance; UK, with their #4 RPI ranking, is safe barring a total February collapse, Florida is obvious, but after that there are a lot of teams with work to be done.
D.A.W. (dumbass of the week): Michael Vick
Wow. That’s really all you can say about this one. While it lacks the gumption and overall charm of Vikings RB Onterrio Smith getting nabbed at the airport with a prosthetic Johnson meant to cheat drug tests, it’s awfully pitiful indeed. As you all know by now, Vick was caught attempting to, get this: take a water bottle on a plane. Yeah, I know, who does this guy think he is? Oh, and the whole weed in a secret compartment thing, that’s going to be a bitch. Seriously, can someone please get a picture of this? What do they mean “compartment”? It’s a freakin water bottle, how can you possibly manipulate it into a stash drawer? Now the obvious question: Does Petrino want this guy running his team? Obviously, he’s a once in a lifetime talent, but his inconsistencies as an NFL passer, as well as his questionable character, and his VD, have left many wondering if he’ll ever be ‘quarterbacky’ enough to win a Super Bowl. Well, from the looks of things, Vick would rather hit the bowl than win it.
Vanderbilt @ Kentucky Sat, 3:00
New Orleans @ Chicago Sun, 3:00
Patriots @ Colts Sun, 6:30
The Last King of Scotland–Show me a finer actor than Forrest Whitaker, and I’ll show you a fraud. A ridunkulous fraud.