If John Calipari has anything other than grey hair on his head by March I’ll be surprised, which also means he nor his wife Ellen will want to revisit this season once it’s over.
Which brings me to the ultimate question for any charter member of the BBN: Would you rather see this UK team continue in their struggles and barely make the NCAA tournament field, then embarrassingly lose out in the 1st round, or would you rather see them not make the NCAA field but play in the NIT, and maybe see a few games in historic Memorial Coliseum because Rupp Arena is occupied the first week of the NIT with the 1st round of the NCAA?
That’s a tough one for us longtime UK basketball junkies, but this season is definitely heading in that direction, and at an increasingly faster rate than any of us expected. Doesn’t matter, though, that scenario is going to play out to its own course no matter what we all wish for.
Personally, I will keep a keen eye out myself as we drift through those final games in late February and early March on the facial expressions and body mannerisms of UK’s one-and-done NBA prospects. That can usually tell you a lot if you can read body language in an athlete, especially a basketball player.
Here is the oddity in this season: Even with all of the Cats’ struggles they are presently tied for third place in the SEC with plenty of time and opportunities to make a hard charge at second place and still in excellent shape to get one of the four first round byes for the conference tournament. That would mean they would not have to play but two games to get to the SEC tournament finals, which would probably put them in the NCAA tournament whatever their record is at that point.
That’s a lot of that old “if” game, as Coach Jerry Claiborne used to say, but as they said in the movie Dumb & Dumber, we’ve got a chance.
UK plays at Ole Miss Tuesday, then have a return match with Texas A&M Saturday. The Aggies gave the Cats their first home SEC defeat in the John Calipari era back on Jan. 12.
UK football update
As we all know, the American teenager changes his or her mind when the sun comes up every morning, then changes it again many times before the sun goes down in the evening. These high profile college football recruits coming out of high school are no different than the normal teenager.
In this particular football recruiting season it may be a godsend to new UK football coach Mark Stoops that today’s male teenager is struggling mightily in his decision making process, because Stoops’ personality and enthusiasm for turning UK football back into the Rich Brooks bowl winning attitude has been electric out on the recruiting trail.
Listed below is several of the key recruits UK and Stoops are in a fight for with some of the leading NCAA Div. I football programs across the USA:
Ryan Timmons - Four Star WR/Athlete/Franklin County, Ky. - (Reportedly was close to committing to UK until Ohio State and Florida finally offered scholarships last week)
Jason Hatcher - Four Star DE/LB/Lou. Trinity, Ky. - (Decommitted from Southern California and made visit to UK recently and is also looking at Louisville)
Marcus McWilson - Four Star Safety/Youngstown, Ohio (Decommitted from Nebraska and made visit to UK recently and is reportedly close to hooking up with Cats)
James Hearns - Four Star LB/Tallahassee, Fla. (Decommitted from Florida and made official visit to UK last weekend)
Stoops has 17 known football recruits who have either signed and enrolled for spring classes or verbally committed to sign on Feb. 6. Stoops and several of Joker Phillips’ original commitments have parted ways, and all of those players were two-star rated players. The 17 players at the present time committed or already signed to a UK/SEC grant in aid are broken down into the following ratings categories by most of the veteran and well respected recruiting services: 1 four star recruit , 14 three-star recruits, and 2 two-star recruits which places UK around the 45th to 50th rated class in Div. I football.
If Stoops can bring on board three or four four-star rated recruits on signing day it could bump the overall class rating up into the top 30.
Make no mistake, these recruiting service player evaluations and/or ratings don’t always pan out once the players have played a couple years on the college level, but they are right many more times than they are wrong. The myth about football recruiting classes that no one ever considers is that the individual classes each year never compete against one another at any time during their college careers. They are always thrown into the mix each year with the returning underclassmen of freshmen, sophomores, and juniors in each program.
However, at the end of the day it’s well-known across UK football circles that a couple new special talents, especially at the skill positions in this recruiting class, could really jump start and fast forward last year’s young players back into bowl bid possibilities earlier than most had originally expected for Stoops’ troops.