The 2013-14 season is quickly approaching, and Big Blue Nation holds its collective breath. John Calipari’s Kentucky team will go to war this year relying only on what a few “experts” are calling “the greatest recruiting class ever assembled,” a couple of sophomores, and a few older guys. Is this a recipe for success? We shall see. But probably not. Unfortunately for Kentucky, only one team has ever won the national championship using this formula, and this happened way back in 2012. To stay apprised and educated, follow me on Twitter @NotJerryTipton. Here’s the weekly notebook:
*Dweller On The Threshold: On Monday at Rupp Arena, UK hosted its annual Alumni game, bringing in several former Wildcats, many of whom are currently in the NBA, to play an exhibition. Ostensibly, this was for charity. (And yes, technically, over $1,000,000 was raised and disbursed to various charities across the Bluegrass.) But critics aver that the real reason for the event was much more sinister. The real reason for the event, they say, was for recruiting purposes. Several high profile prep stars just so happened to be in attendance at the game. Is this simply a coincidence? Or is John Calipari blurring the lines between what is legal and what is illegal by putting together this dog and pony show? People will ultimately decide for themselves. However, ask yourself this: If it were a perfectly ethical and moral endeavor, then why is no other program arranging an exhibition of its former players featuring eleven NBA picks, nine 1st rounders, six top 10 picks, four top 5 picks and two overall #1 picks, to be played in front of a gaggle of starry-eyed five star recruits?
*Wild Night: Other takeaways from the Kentucky Alumni game:
- Asked after the game what possessed him to score 40 points, John Wall said it was because former teammate (and former friend) Eric Bledsoe told him he couldn’t. Wow. Guess maybe UK players aren’t “their brother’s keeper” like Calipari says after all, huh?
- Not only did Wall post a triple double with 40 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, but other players put up gaudy numbers as well: DeAndre Liggins had 20, Patrick Patterson had 20, Brandon Knight had 30, Terrence Jones had 22 and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 26. What do all these performances have in common? They were all well above what each player averaged while playing at UK. Calipari probably wasn’t planning on this game revealing to the world just how much he holds his players back, I bet.
- Surprisingly, attendance at the game was 19,255. Rupp Arena’s capacity is 23,500. In other words, there were over 4,000 empty seats. Four thousand. Maybe it’s not such a great idea to invite recruits to these games after all.
- It was repeatedly announced (on Twitter, in the newspapers, on television, etc.) with great fanfare that the event raised over $1,000,000 for charity. Call me old-fashioned, but this “look at me” attitude seems a little self-serving. How about some humility, UK?
*Here Comes The Night: On Tuesday, The Sporting News released its preseason poll. This does not bode well for Kentucky. Louisville was ranked #3 in the poll. It was hoped by many Kentucky fans after the Cardinals won their 3rd national championship (in just 34 years) last spring, that they would take a step back this year. No such luck, it seems. There are over 300 teams in Division I basketball, which means that UofL finds itself in the top 1% of all of college basketball. And while it’s easy to dismiss preseason polls as being premature, speculative, the product of mere guesswork and conjecture, etc., the folks at TSN know what they’re doing. They have actually undertaken research, they have spoken to people, read articles, etc. They’re not just picking names out of a hat here. So despite having to endure “The Year of the Cardinal” last year, it seems UK fans might have to live through the sequel this year. Of course, to be fair, polls aren’t infallible, and just because a publication like TSN ranks a team at a certain spot doesn’t necessarily mean said team will end the year there. For example, they have Kentucky ranked #1.
* On this date: On this date in 2013, the Louisville football team is attempting to achieve something that the Kentucky football team achieved 63 years ago: Win a national championship.