After taking in a full day of US Open tennis in Queens on Sunday, Matt and I decided to take the 7-train the opposite direction from our hotel in Manhattan, all the way out to the last stop on the track, Flushing-Main Street. What we found was something so bizarre I can’t put it into words, but I’m going to try because you need to know it exists.
Looking back, we should’ve had a general idea of what was ahead when the entire train was full of Asians. Imagine Duke basketball’s student section on wheels. It was kind of like that. Still, we were oblivious to it and expected Flushing-Main Street to look like everywhere else in Queens. It did not. It looked like another part of the world, far, far away from the U.S. of A. When we emerged from beneath the sidewalk to the city’s main street, I honestly thought we had fallen through the Earth and landed in Shanghai. The people, the restaurants, the signage, the businesses, the billboards, the street vendors — everything Chinese with no warning it was coming. We just walked up the stairs from the subway and there it was. We were fascinated. It was incredible. I have been around Chinatown in Manhattan several times, but it doesn’t compare. It’s like we closed our eyes and woke up in China.
Now keep in mind Matt and I are both about 6-foot-3 so we stuck out like sore thumbs, and the where-the-hell-are-we looks on our faces didn’t help, either. It wasn’t quite like Jorts when he was in China this summer, but we were the minority on the sidewalks, which were PACKED, by the way. We walked up and down the downtown streets, browsing through the collection of frogs and snickering at the elderly white men walking out of the many massage parlors, before we landed at a restaurant called “Spicy and Tasty,” Matt’s pick for dinner. If you ever get the chance to eat there, I recommend not ordering the bamboo and hot sauce appetizer. I caused a scene after my first and only bite.
Once our shock and astonishment wore off, and my taste buds recovered from the bamboo, we headed back to the city and spent the rest of the night looking up facts and stories on Flushing Chinatown. I encourage you to do a little reading up on it yourself because it’s pretty interesting how it came to be. And if you’re ever in New York City, don’t hesitate to hop on the 7-train and head out to Flushing to see it. It’s a safe ride and you really won’t believe your eyes when you pop up on Main Street. Again, words don’t do it justice.
So check it out and buy a frog from a frog vendor when you go. I don’t know what to do with it once you buy it, but buy one. Just avoid the bamboo and hot sauce. The massage parlors? That’s up to you.
Time for some News and Views, live from the 2013 US Open!
Max Smith is your starting quarterback, at least through the first few possessions of the Miami game. Most of you learned the news the same way Max found out, through Twitter Monday morning. “I guess Twitter let me know,” he told reporters after Wednesday’s practice when asked how he received the word. Neal Brown called him shortly after it hit the internet to confirm.
The decision wasn’t easy for the coaching staff, though. Stoops reiterated what he said yesterday, that both quarterbacks did some things really well and other things poorly. Max just happened to move the ball, and that’s the name of the game.
“Like I said all along, it has a lot to do with the other players around him,” Stoops said of the quarterback. “When you move the football or don’t move the football. It’s not at all ever on the quarterback. But [Smith] made less mistakes and he did some of the basic things that we’re looking for correctly and distributed the ball where we needed to. So that was the big thing with helping us move the football.”
Moving the ball shouldn’t be a problem for Kentucky on Saturday, regardless of who takes the snaps. If it is, UK has bigger problems than we realize. Miami gave up almost 600 total yards to Marshall, including over 300 yards on the ground and five touchdowns through the air. Starting against Miami instead of Western could prove to be advantageous for Smith in the quarterback competition, considering it’ll take some serious mistakes to lose the job in this one. Whitlow had the first game jitters in the season opener against a better defense.
Though Miami struggled defensively in its opener, Smith isn’t writing the RedHawks off. He expects Miami to have a chip on its shoulder, just as Kentucky wears one of its own. “I think it’s all about us getting better, not really about what they’re doing, but what we’ve got to do,” he said.
Of the many problems we saw from Kentucky in Nashville, getting the wide receivers to block is one of the issues they’re focused on most this week. Stoops complimented how well Neal Brown and Tommy Mainord’s receivers blocked at Texas Tech — he said they had “tough” and “physical” receivers — and they’re working on it here at Kentucky. The problem is several of the receivers are fresh out of high school, where they didn’t have to block. Now it’s a process to get them doing it here and it takes game situations to really get it through to them.
Several Kentucky football fans, myself included, were hoping for a little more Air Raid than what we saw against Western. Neal Brown hears us, he knows we want it, but he’s going to do whatever it is he thinks puts Kentucky in the best position to win. Brown addressed the Air Raid demands Wednesday, saying, “We’re going to do what we need to do to win. That’s what we’re going to do. And here’s the deal… We’re young at wideout. We’ve got some guys, we’re getting better, but we’re young at wideout. And we’ve got some new starters up front. So I think you go in and you do what you’ve gotta do to win the game. And we felt like early in the game, what we did on Saturday gave us our best chance. And it did.”
But we still get the Air Raid sirens this Saturday, right? RIGHT????
Switching over to basketball, holy sh** that new video is awesome. Be honest, how many times did you watch it? No one is judging anyone here. I’m at the US Open and I found a way to watch it at least seven or eight times. Here, let’s watch it again.
Dear Lord, please forgive them for what they are about to do to college basketball. Amen. And go Cats.
Looking ahead to the 2014-15 college basketball season, because that’s what we do, Kentucky has a huge weekend for recruiting coming up when several top targets make their way to Lexington for the alumni game. Among the visitors will be Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker, who have had as many as 10 conversations about playing together in college, according to Booker. He wrote on his blog for USA Today that he and Ulis aren’t a package deal, but there is potential that they’ll end up on the same squad at the next level.
Ulis trimmed his list to three schools — Kentucky, Michigan State and Iowa — on Wednesday. Booker is high on the Wildcats and Spartans, so it’ll be one of those two if they end up playing together. It’ll be interesting to hear what they have to say after visiting Lexington together in a few days.
Six UK football commits made the Parade All-American Watch List. Drew Barker, Thaddeus Snodgrass, Nick Richardson, Denzel Ware, Darius West and Boom Williams are among the 250 high school footballers selected for the class of 2014. Congrats, fellas. You can see the entire list here.
John Wall’s house makes me wonder if blogging was the right career choice. I should’ve been better at dunking. And dribbling. And passing. And shooting. And defending. And not being fat and slow. Anyone else feel the same way? Good. Glad it’s not just me.
Don’t forget, Kentucky Sports Radio radio will be coming to you live from 30 Red Sports Saloon in Louisville on Friday. Matt, Ryan and Jared Lorenzen will give you two hours of radio gold leading up to the first home football game, so be sure to stop by in the area. Tomorrow will be our last show from WOR in New York. Sad face.