Before I get started this week, I must say that I thought the trio of game officials Tony Greene, Jamie Luckie, and Michael Stephens covered were about as good a job as you could do considering the circumstances, and I had a courtside view at the end line opposite UK’s team bench which is about as good as you can get. If you’ve been a loyal reader of this column like I hope you have, you’re well aware of my history of criticism toward college basketball officials.
It wasn’t pretty by any means, but when you’re limited in your abilities offensively like Louisville is, you do what you have to do to compete and stay in games. Then hopefully late down the stretch you find a way to pull out a win. Rick Pitino’s teams are well known for this type of play, especially in recent years at Louisville, and whether you like the guy or not you have to respect his abilities as a coach to squeeze out whatever talent is there on his roster.
Personally, I think the guy is doing his best job in years (maybe ever) with this particular roster of players. However, it must be said that his schedule making abilities are as much a part of this team’s success as his coaching expertise.
But with that being said, when you have a team as physically talented as John Calipari does, yet you shoot 29 percent and commit 21 turnovers against a top 10 team but come out unscathed with a win you take your win and move on. On the other hand, if you’re Rick Pitino and enter this particular battle with an obvious disadvantage in raw basketball talent as well as the ugly intangible of playing on the road in an extremely intimidating environment and you come out with only a seven-point loss, you’re energized inwardly but rarely show it outwardly.
Both Calipari and Pitino are two of the uniquely talented coaches in the college coaching fraternity at keeping the media guessing on their true feelings after the battle. Saturday’s most recent Battle of the Bluegrass was one that both coaches dreaded playing for different reasons, but today I’m betting that both are very satisfied that it ended the way it did with all the different games within the game that made it play to the final horn.
Eddie Sutton, on special occasions, made a point during his long and successful coaching career to remind those who thought they were astute in their knowledge of basketball that “there are many different ways to make it to the throne room.” This particular year, Calipari and UK, as well as Pitino and Louisville, are classic examples of Coach Sutton’s wisdom, and I for one wouldn’t be at all surprised to see both go deep into March. Besides, any experienced and educated person of NCAA tournament play knows that once you get by the first weekend of the tournament, you’re one bad shooting night or a couple bad officiating breaks away from elimination anyway.
2012 UK and SEC Football Schedule Released
The SEC conference office has released the much anticipated 2012 SEC football schedules for its member schools, including the two new additions of Texas A&M and Missouri. According to sources within the UK media relations department, this will be a one-year scheduling format with a new plan for the SEC long term scheduling purposes decided at the spring meetings in Destin, Florida this coming May. Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the walls of that conference center?
UK fans will get a taste of the “Show Me State” in its maiden voyage through the new SEC when it travels to Missouri on Oct. 27, which is basically a tradeoff for UK which was scheduled for a game at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Don’t know about you, but in my eyes that’s kind of like trading a date with Roseanne Barr in for a date with Moms Mabley.
One change on the positive side for the Cats is that they will get to play Mississippi State in the friendly confines of Commonwealth Stadium for two years in a row.
It is nice for trip planning purposes for those diehard UK fans to know how to prepare for the 2012 season away games, but at the end of the day it’s hard for me to get to excited about a UK football team that just went 5-7 with a schedule that included home games with Louisville, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and the worst Tennessee team of the last 30 years, not to mention losing 38-8 to of all people Vanderbilt.
Once again, as with many college football teams, UK’s fortunes this fall will more than likely depend on what type of performance they get out of the quarterback position because they don’t nor will they probably ever have a roster dotted with four and five star recruits. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed and live at the foot of the cross in the meantime.
It very well could be one of those years where UK is noticeably better at several positions, but still shows no improvement in the final record.
But as we all know I have been devoted to following and now covering UK football since 1963, and I will continue when the fall of 2012 rolls around.