Congratulations to the United States Men’s National Team, who qualified for the 2014 World Cup on Tuesday night with a 2-0 win over Mexico. Team USA’s goals came from Eddie Johnson and Landon Donovan, who is actually only 31, but seems a hell of a whole lot older for some reason (maybe the receding hairline?). The Americans clinched a spot in the World Cup with some help from Honduras, who tied Panama. RIO, BABY!!!
Back to Donovan. Did you know he once did a commercial for the Mexican lottery?
Me neither. How random is that? Thanks, Landon. Who’s coming to Rio with me next summer?
U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
News and Views! News and Views! News and Views!
Is good news coming?
There was a bunch of recruiting news on Tuesday, so let’s break it down by player:
Tyler Ulis: Ulis has now visited all of his top three schools, and his father told the Herald-Leader’s Ben Jones that he had a “great time” at Kentucky for the Alumni Game. How could he not? Ulis, Booker and Okafor got to see first hand what their futures may look like Monday night. Many fans say Ulis is too short to play at Kentucky (he is really short, for a long time this weekend I thought he was someone’s younger brother when I saw him walking around), but Calipari’s opinion is the one that matters, and he thinks enough of him to give him an offer. Cal asked Ulis this weekend if he could handle being “on the pedestal” at Kentucky. Ulis’ father says his son “welcomes that” challenge, and that a decision is coming very soon, possibly late this week or early next week.
Devin Booker: Booker also enjoyed his visit to Lexington, and his father told the Cats Pause’s Chris Fisher that Cal said “when he’s ready, there’s no better place to come to play basketball.” Booker and his dad were very impressed by the turnout for the game as well: “To see Big Blue Nation come out and support was really cool. Twenty thousand people for an alumni game, that’s really exciting. I can only imagine what a big regular season game is like.” (It’s awesome.) Booker and Ulis have talked often of playing together at the next level, but don’t expect a joint announcement. Booker’s dad says they’ll still take a visit to Florida and afterwards, “stack it up and go from there.”
Jahlil Okafor: Okafor is a little harder to read than Booker and Ulis, mainly because there’s been so much talk about him wanting to attend the same school as Tyus Jones, who many perceive as a heavy Duke lean. Okafor is considered the number one player in 2014, and because of his size, was easy to recognize during his visit. His visit to Lexington is the only official one he’ll take without Jones (whom Cal visited Tuesday), and from what we heard, he enjoyed his time on campus. Did he enjoy it so much that Cal decided to visit Jones on Tuesday to make one last effort to steal them away from Duke? Only time will tell.
Tyus Jones: As mentioned above, Calipari paid Tyus Jones a visit on Tuesday. Jones is scheduled to take an official visit to Lexington on September 27th. Most analysts believe Jones and Okafor are Duke’s to lose, but after a night of seeing the Kentucky Effect in person in front of 20,000 fans in Rupp Arena, maybe Okafor has his buddy thinking a different shade of blue. Or, maybe not. Jones also hosted Duke on Monday and Minnesota on Tuesday, and Kansas and Baylor are scheduled to visit later this week.
Myles Turner: Cal will travel from Minnesota to Texas on Wednesday to see Myles Turner, one of the top centers in the 2014 class. Texas’ Rick Barnes will also see Turner on Wednesday, and Coach K will come by in his stretch limo on Thursday. He’s got three official visits set up so far: Kansas on October 4, Ohio State on October 19, and Texas on October 26. Will a visit from Cal convince the 7-footer to take a trip to Lexington this fall as well?
Hitting the recruiting trail the day after hosting a fantasy camp and alumni game? Cal is truly #TeamNoSleep. He posted this on Twitter Tuesday evening:
“Alright, #BBN, I’m getting on the first plane ride of a big road trip. I’m going to be absolutely grinding the next six days recruiting. I need to get myself in the right frame mind. While I’m in the air, should I watch the 2012 national title game or the 2012 semifinal game?”
Semifinal, Coach. It’s Louisville week.
Nothing to lose
After basking in the Alumni Game afterglow for a day, it’s time to turn out thoughts to football and the upcoming Louisville game. The loss to Western and the fact that Louisville is good at everything this year makes the lead-up to the Governor’s Cup a little more subdued this season, but the Cards are still UK’s biggest rival and their fans are still annoying, so we’re still going to hate hate hate. So far, we’ve seen two polar opposite performances from the Cats: a fall-on-their-face fit of nerves in Nashville an absolute Air Raid rout of Miami. Saturday’s game may give us a better idea of what this team can really do. Louisville is a great football team; there’s no denying it. Teddy Bridgewater is a monster, and for Kentucky to have a shot, they’re going to have to come out of the gates firing. The Maxwell Smith/Jalen Whitlow combo worked well against Miami, but how will it hold up against a real defense? With a big win under their belts, I expect Stoops and the staff to throw the kitchen sink against the Cards. On Tuesday, we found out the much-maligned secondary will have some help: DJ Eliot announced that sophomore cornerback Cody Quinn has practiced well this week and “seems to be right back on track” after a high-ankle sprain. Against a pass-happy QB like Bridgewater, having Quinn back will be crucial.
We’ll get into game prep more as the week goes on, but here are my “must-do’s” to upset the Cards:
1) Score early — Would anything get Commonwealth rocking more than a touchdown on the opening drive?
2) Get pressure on Bridgewater — Teddy’s good, and for the Cats to have a chance, they’re going to need to make his job as difficult as possible.
3) Keep Louisville guessing — One of the upsides of a two QB system is it keeps the other team on its toes. Combine that with Neal Brown’s up-tempo offense and the Cats may be able to catch Louisville off-guard for some big gains
4) Score early and often — While our defense was much improved against Miami, Teddy Bridgewater is going to score. The Cats will have to retaliate with points of their own to have a shooter’s chance.
5) Play like you’ve got nothing to lose — One of the biggest keys to an upset may be the team’s mindset going in. The Cats fell flat against Western in Nashville because of nerves, and DJ Eliot said that the staff is focusing on “making sure the game isn’t played during the week” to prevent that from happening again. As I said on the radio show on Monday, Kentucky has absolutely nothing to lose against Louisville. Hopefully that attitude translates on the field.
— Finally, congrats to the UK volleyball team, who beat Louisville three sets to two Tuesday night in Lexington. A fitting sign of things to come? Nice job, ladies.
On that note, let visions of dead Cardinals dance in your heads. See you in the morning.