Just be Cuz.


Sometimes life imitates art. A scowl had turned across the big dude’s expressive face as he entered the tunnel. Looking around for a hater/heckler, he eventually spotted someone he knew, walked over and gave them a non-nonchalant high five. Slowly, as he chatted a wide grin spread across his face and replaced the mean “I’ll […]

Madness Paradox wrapped in March Enigma


And, yes, I know Duke is 27-8. And, yes, I know no school has ever received a No. 1 seed with eight losses. But only two of those eight losses are sub-50 RPI losses — and those two sub-50 RPI losses came by a total of six points. Kansas, by the way, also has two sub-50 RPI losses. So does North Carolina.”

by CBB blogspert Gary Parrish, CBSSPORTS

Ode to Kansas


KPtfaNz Front

Ode to Kansas

O’ worthy foe from days of yore
Tradition proud as ours is lore
Your crops grow tall, tho’ harvests wait
From whence you sewed, so did ours grow great
To leave you wanton, at heaven’s gate.

The fiery chant, your minions stoke
The rhyming stomp to wrest our yoke
From town to village, from field to stalk
Now is the time to Walk the Walk
A Nation waits… to Rock your Chalk.

Your blood flows Red, so ours does Blue
The mighty sword to change its hue?
We’ve vanquished Devils, you’ve given toe to Heel
While B’ruins rust on memory’s feel
A round legend grows thru’ times spinning wheel…

So… it’s down to you or us, but it’s ours to steal.

-30-

wildcats8back

Carolina (still) on My Mind


With the recent passing of basketball coaching legend Dean Smith, memories of being a KENTUCKY/Louisville fan in the heart of Tobacco Road flood my memory. To me, Dean was the best basketball coach I’ve ever had the joy of watching, but then…

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I remember the moment I became an ABC’er (Anybody But Carolina) as clear as if it were yesterday, although it happened almost 37 years ago.

It was March 3rd, 1978…

Having grown up in Louisville, Kentucky and ripe with a BA from J-school at Morehead State University, I had three days earlier piled everything I owned into my 1973 Chevy Impala, weathered 30″ inches of fresh Kentucky snow through the craggy West Virginia coal country, zagged Southerly down Interstate-77, and finally zigged over the foggy Southern Virginia Appalachian mountains.

In a lush green North Carolina valley I finally unloaded my gear to begin my new life, and new job in Greensboro, NC. Though I’d only been there briefly in the month before (for my job interview), it had then seemed to me to be a friendly, habitable place. You know, well lit.

This was my first day in my new position as Sales Trainee for a small fast growing real estate publisher. It was around 4:30 p.m. as I sat in my sparsely furnished office, shuffling papers around wondering what I might pretend to be doing for the next hour or so.

After an eager tap on my door, a toothy well-dressed man slid in, smiling and shaking hands.  “Hi I’m Geoff Wolfe, the VP here. I hear you’re from Kentucky? Me? I graduated from Chapel Hill, that’s as in No..r..th Ca..ro..li..na. Basketball,” he offers and grins Cheshire cat-ishly.

“Pleased to meet you, and yes I’m from Louisville, went to Morehead State University. Uh, that’s as in Kentucky… as in Big Blue Bas..ket…ball,” I chided, eager to see that I’m talking to a basketball fan from another great traditional power. (At that time in March 1978 Kentucky was ranked number 1 in the country, with Twin Towers so big that airplanes could never bring them down).

“Well…”, he frowned then looked serious for once. “You know… Kentucky couldn’t play in the ACC”, he says matter-of-factly. “They’re number 1 right now only because they play in such a weak conference. They could never play our schedule.”

Then he shot a few ‘air-free throws’ looking away, he had tuned me out before I could offer rebuttal. He propped his shoes up on my desk. He shoots from deep.”Ford, from Franklin Street. “Yeesss”.

I gulped. I stuttered. My face flushed and I suddenly could smell my underarms overpowering my deodorant. I was stunned as he played his semi-silent game of air-shoot-ball, complete with the “hRaaahh” of crowd approval after each made shot. He made ’em all.

Looking somewhere in the distance, out the window I imagined being back over the NC mountains in the friendly confines of Kentucky. I sat silently while my brain lurched for clever, nervously ‘doing the math’ on what to say, on what could I say to this 4-corner Neanderthal. And, one whom it seemed, owned me…

Finally…”Uh, well… Uh Mr. Geo… uh Smith, that’s bullshit about how we can’t play in the ACC. Really, I mean that’s kinda…. stu…pid. No really, that’s f**&king stupid,” I muttered very low and gravely, but mainly to myself.

“Yeah… well, welcome to ACC country”, laughed Smith with his stupid smirk, still grabbing rebounds and making cheering putbacks. Then just as quickly, he’s up and out my door, his arrogance forever starting a fire in my heart known only to a true ABC’er.

————-

One month later I celebrated both Kentucky’s fifth Natty against a formidable Duke team, and the recent news of Geoff Smith’s firing… by yelling and hooting it up at the then-and-now famous “Four Corners” bar, in downtown Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 

“Hey everybody”, I squealed to an uninterested few with both job and basketball safe from the idiocy

“I hear that Kentucky couldn’t play in the ACC! Well, looks like we just did!”

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I lived in North Carolina for most of the next 24 years, enduring the basketball I.Q. equivalents of some 17th Century cultists, sometimes arguing college basketball religion along the way. Though I made many friends in NC, I’ve hated the Baby Blue with a fervent passion since that first Geoff Smith swish.

I worked with Duke University and the University of North Carolina during many of those years, but rarely talking Kentucky basketball with the infidels. I had a press pass at Cameron Indoor for many games/years and witnessed some thrilling Duke-UNC tilts there. The truth is, just as we Kentucky and Louisville fans have and understand, they both have much basketball tradition to be proud of.

Though I was always careful not to root for Duke, and always against the Tarheels, I admit to a little Dean Smith envy during much of that time. No one could get more out of the last 30 seconds of a game than The Dean.

But in all that time I loved the Cats and Cards and Kentucky basketball, traveling to see them play wherever and whenever I could, and partying years with the rest of Big Blue Nation.

Having lived in North Carolina for so long, I came to know every argument for/against Duke, Wake, NC State and UNC upside down and backwards. Though it got to be a tougher argument through the years, there’s one thing I can say from true life experience, and from having lived in and being around both basketball crazed states… Kentucky and North Carolina. At the end of the day…

“THERE’S NOTHING LIKE KENTUCKY BASKETBALL.”

Rise of the Naked Sportsblog King


According to my read-test, most Sportsbloggers (aka: Blogsquirt-asorus) apparently know a good bit less about the sport in which they have type-spouted their esteemed opines than they do of basic Journalism101, which itself appears not to be a qualifier of their education, talent, and/or experience of either endeavor. IMHO, today’s internet media Sportswriting hard-scrabble of blog buddies, well… […]

Russ not-so-diculous Smith… Man of The Year


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I’ve been a Louisville fan since growing up in the South End there in the late 1960’s. In those days Wes Unseld held down the post while Junior Bridgeman (oops wrong year… it was Butch Beard) drilled bombs that would now-a-days be NBA threes. I was also a Kentucky fan back then, as my limited scope at 11 only suggested that both teams were from my home State; and for me… that was good enough. I cried after the 1966 Finals when Kentucky lost to Texas Western. It was the first televised game I had ever seen (if you call a 13 inch B/W TV using rabbit ears at Rough River with fuzzy reception actually “watching”). I remember Louie Dampier and Pat Riley playing well, but Texas Western was loaded with quick athletic jumpers who cleaned nearly all of the glass. No matter how hard we played T-W was relentless and refused to reliquish an early lead. They shot 38 free throws and made 24, while were 11 for 13, because we could not stop (Calipari’s Don Haskins Dribble-Drive).

I could not then, nor do I now understand the hatred that exists between the fans of these two highly vaunted programs at (UK and UL).

Since those formative years I’ve remained a spectator and college basketball fan, eventually forsaking football, baseball, and other sports to concentrate on basketball, and found new love… in playing soccer. After college graduation one generally finds that career and other diversions tend to implore us not to spend so much discretionary time on sports. Somewhere along the way we should also gain a certain “adult” perspective that allows wins and losses to affect us only in “momentary” situations, without changing our personalities or affecting our priorities. I can remember once thinking (as a Cleveland Browns fan), “what if they win the Super Bowl this year?”

My internal answer came back solemnly… “well… you’ll have a hangover at work the next day. And then, it will all be over as quickly as it unfolded.” Of course, I never got to test my theory on Cleveland.

But, I’ve always known that the special UL/UK hate was limited to the fans, but not the players. The players, for the most part all respect one another and truly wish them well when not in direct opposition with one another. This last week, I was incensed after reading a Louisville fan blog, where a number of (so-called) humanoids berated Russ Smith’s game against their hated rival Kentucky. It is the epitome of classless, spineless, little man complex to even suggest that Russ Smith ISN’T the epitome of college basketball. I mean, holy sh&t, without Russ Smith, Louisville wouldn’t be on the map this year?

If I could have traveled through cyberspace I might have strangled someone. I wonder how much sweat these slugs must have lost watching Russ make a mistake or two? The nerve! And I hate to report that this kind of attitude is more commonplace than one could reasonably imagine. I witnessed Kentucky fans dropping  wholesale after every disappointment this year, creating more Calipari is crazy conspiracies than David Icke does aliens are living next door. Now they’ve had to order a new fleet of “bandwagons” to accommodate the repentant.

Of course, as we advance both in age and financially we become further removed from the “good ole days”, as our lives settle down we find time for watching sports again; if only to harass our friends over drinks, use travel games as party excuses, and/or make idiotic blog posts about our two-time First team All-American’s deficiencies. Albeit, we do all this with the same passion and nasty vigor of our youth, unless by then we’ve learned anything about real life. But then, sports chatter using facts and figures can also be fun, even when all you want to do is watch from the couch with family and friends and berate the commentator (I mean homer/hater Doug Gottfried).

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The last few years though, I have experienced a gnawing ache, which seems to grow as I follow my favorite teams on the internet on TV and in the news and through internet blogs. Admittedly, (and duly embarrassed) a couple of years ago I began to engage my acute sense of wit (my description of course), knowledge of the game and its history, and uniquely blatant in-your-face writing style to have some fun tormenting those brain-farts whom I felt were less informed about the game I love, or were just plain trolling ignoramus’ who apparently make a life out of denigrating other teams and their fans.

 I can honestly (no self-efficacy here, huh?) say that when it came to words-a-cuffing, I was/am/can be the Mohammed Ali of heavyweight lightning factoid-icule. For awhile I got a kick out of out belittling (some unknown to me poster) with a twisted sarcasm that only I seemed to be able to produce in imaginative volume. For awhile, I admit it was fun…

Yet, it was internally hollow, and I soon tired of out-lambasting some teenager or sock-puppet who could barely spout, “my team is better than yours”, or wax philosophical about some ridiculous straw man argument, whom I quickly leveled with a few light jabs and then an overhand hay-word-insult-maker, landing him on his back not even attempting to answer the keyboard beep.

I particularly loved sparring with more intelligent fans (unarmed with my modestly? over-the-top imaginative hater vocabulary); unfortunately they too sometimes lacked the Ali-dance-cleverword-shuffle or even the hack-a-fact, and I found myself mocking them before finally throwing a swift combination Ali would have marveled at. Canvas. 1-10. Boom. K.O. Next…

It was easy especially if you’d ever read Darrell Huff’s book, “How to Lie With Statistics”, the most widely read book on quantitative analysis ever written. And if you’ve happened to have read his sequel, “How to Tell if Someone is Cheating With Statistics”. then…BOOM! Tysonian.

Thankfully, those days are done-skeey and I lament remembering some of the verbal beatings I gave. Almost…

Occasionally I can and do get drawn into a minor word wrestle with a formidable foe (likely because they have said egregious ignorant things with uncommon pride and arrogance instead of understated objectivity) whom I sense cannot go the whole fifteen rounds… even though I recognize my latent memory is beginning to escape me .

I’ll set ’em up with some obscure factoid, wait for the bell of my chosen round… then simply wind-up-round-house them before they can type, “Google”. Trust me, I had to learn a plethora of one punch put-down lines in Louisville’s South End growing up and I remember most of them.

But, I swear it’s ONLY because I hate the hater…

 …and so I dose ’em with a dash of high-test-hate-o-line (then an throw uppercut to the super-ego with a lit match thrown in for good measure). BA-BOOM!

True is dat. But this a confession, even if it sounds arrogant, because I’m sorry… especially after what Louisville’s Russ Smith has recently taught me.

The following statement by arguably the best player in the nation over the last two years exemplifies the notion of

CHAMPION

 better than I or anyone could ever express with any brand of kindness or venom.

THIS IS WHAT EVERY COLLEGE FAN SHOULD LEARN TO RECITE.

 Russ-not-so-diculous is, as of now my ALL-TIME favorite college basketball player:

Can anyone find something NOT to love about this guy? I don't think so...
Can anyone find something NOT to love about this guy? I don’t think so…

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Those who play the game (just like MOST OF US likely remember when playing sports), respect one another; it’s the fans who are LAME. Stop it you friggin’ idiots! It is a game. You have to work tomorrow either way, so STFU… (I know, I know… sure… its the refs fault).

Because in the end sports are about sportsmanship (learning how to win, and how to lose), not winning… and especially not whining like your 7-year old. It’s about enjoying true athletic skill which the common man can only appreciate with a certain awe. It’s about competitive fight, 100% effort, and all without cheating; and learning to LOSE well as well as WIN well. Well?

That trait alone makes one Russ Smith a true hero, and a real man. Those who play the game respect one another; it’s us fans whose ignorance is more than made up for by our lack of intelligence.

I mean, it’s a shame that stupidity isn’t painful…

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Stop the hate, fans of whom-ever-in-the-rat-fk.

It is ONLY a game that you ONLY participate in vicariously. Your kids will still have to go to the Dentist tomorrow, so please STFU with the crybaby stuff.

And… unfortunately it is the fans of my beloved State of Kentucky (equally offensive UL and UK fans) who are among the worst offenders. Some of these Neanderthals have professional jobs and careers. I mean, I love Kentucky though I’ve lived in North Carolina just as long, and now Florida nearly as long.

I’m still a UK and UL fan to the bone… because…

There’s nothing like basketball in KENTUCKY. I just hope it stays that way without us making fools of ourselves any more than we have already… well, all of us but those young inexperienced players on our teams… Bye Russ! I’ll miss your style, your smile, and your helter-skelter…

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moneyball- the-rabbit-hole-continued


moneyball

It’s been three years now since Greensboro Attorney Vance Kinlaw, a friend and ardent supporter of his alma-mater, UNC-Law told me that he had sold his season tickets which had held forever, disavowed his relationship with the sports programs, alumni association and the university, and does not follow UNC sports anymore. PERIOD. Vance explained that his growing difficulty with supporting the Tarheels because of the blurring lines of amateur sports finally reached its zenith at a home game when he noticed that the press row tables had suddenly become advertising space during games. He was disappointed to find little support among the UNC Board of Governors, who were adamant that the signs were not infringing on the idea of amateur athletics and were necessary to insure financial success of the program.
Vance Kinlaw, having his undergrad as a Phi-Beta-Kappa Dartmouth, is a man of principal who sees college athletics from a pure and ethical moral perspective. He threw in the towel, disavowed his association and financial contributions to the school altogether. Hmmm? Are there others? Will enough follow?
 

EDITORIAL opinion / MONEYBALL

Someday, when the doin’s done someone may look back at the 2014 NCAA basketball tournament and identify it as the time when the big ship’s hull was breached and the rushing water could no longer be kept from flooding the “unsinkable” NCAA organization. For now, the band is still playing but there have been some reports of icebergs, and the captain hasn’t fully disclosed these troubling issues to the passengers. It’s full speed ahead.

If one needs some blatant signal to consider if the NCAA has stooped to cashing in on every angle this year one has to look no further than ticket prices. This year over last, prices are up 33%. Did anyone announce a basketball shortage? The NCAA has finally caved to the idea that it’s all about MONEY and is only barely trying to hide it.

They are acting like a deposed dictator who is scooping up as much as he can carry to make a last second smash-and-grab before the inevitable flight to asylum.

ncaachart

Of course, everyone knows that there are serious cracks which Ed O’Bannon’s class action suit has exposed, and the lengthy legal proceedings have limits to the amount of time they can be forestalled. O’Bannon’s legal team is nothing else if not persistent, matching the NCAA’s legal stable motion for motion answer for answer for several years. Some expect that a hearing looms low on the horizon. Several legal experts also feel O’Bannon has the upper hand. If so, many think it could be the organization’s fatal blow.

Could this year’s tourney be a sign that there’s blood in that rushing water too?

NCAA-money

If not, then the NCAA has blatantly announced that they are in TOTAL control of the situation by offending the fans, their constituents, the media, and even many of those who earn their over-the-top salaries under their sponsorship with the obvious unfair manipulation of the tournament brackets, seedings, and (both immediate and possible) matchups.

This year, they have run out of excuses that could mitigate the vitriol spewing forth from the public. Of course, hurting one team always helps someone else so they have their supporters too. But, this year they have defied ALL LOGIC despite what happens in the tourney (we all remember VCU in 2011 reaching the Final Four from the play-in game, although many argued that they hadn’t done enough in season to qualify). And though while that may have been true, Shaka Smart may have unwittingly given the NCAA a future license to steal.

ncaa-tournament-statistics

The “selection committee” meets for hours behind closed doors in strict confidence, allowing no one to witness the “incredibly tough” job they are thanked for doing each year. And, I know that it must be a tough job even if they’ve already pretty much got the framework together by Selection Sunday. I mean, Athletic Directors are supposed to be paying attention all season long, right? This isn’t exactly Talent Search, where there is no historical reference point for each contestant. No, they ALREADY  know and have alluded to as much by suggesting the Sunday games really can’t change anything except perhaps a swap of seeds with two teams in the same conference.

Last year, as always, NCAA scapegoats justified unfortunate seedings to disgruntled fans and experts by pointing out the obvious cases where their mistakes made them look good (as is inevitable as the Sun rising no matter who does the seeding), adding for the still skeptical that beginning 2014 they would finally de-emphasize (the old RPI algorithm) in favor of more advanced metrics used by many teams both  professional and college; The  likes of Ken Pomeroy, John Gasaway, and Dean Oliver to make these “important” decisions. Why not eliminate the RPI altogether since comparatively it was written on papyrus? Of course, because this simply gives the unfortunate bearer of bad news (the committee head) another potential excuse to use when all others fail, though time and time again the RPI has been shown to be an unreliable predictive measurement tool.

Instead, they ignored all of these expert’s statistical tools, even dissing the ESPN BPI metric (a highly sophisticated product which takes into account many subtle metrics that have been used by professional gamblers for years to gain a slight “edge”.

If you’re a betting man, pay close attention; Can you say, opportunity?

dome

This year committee chair Ron Wellman (Wake Forest) confidently answered detractors by using double talk and blatantly lying to the public stating that “of course we used the eye test when considering Louisville’s 4 seed”. But….(cue excuse metric). What had Ron failed to disclose? That he was blind? No, and not ignorant… but stupid seems to fit fairly well.

First, that the committee doesn’t really review much basketball in their 4-6 hour closed meeting finalizing the pairings. They do work hard though, sifting through piles of financial data, seating charts, driving distances, expected fan base participation in ticket sales, community resource income opportunities, popcorn sales, etc. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. But the biggest job is uncovering the “storylines” and potential storylines if certain matchups occur. While one may not consider this as important or useful, remember that the NCAA is paid an astronomical amount in dollars (see above chart) by the media organizations, who all  expect to make profits by sponsoring the extravaganza on TV, radio, internet, print and cable. The media makes money on viewer and readership, by converting numbers to advertisng dollars. The NCAA gets a percentage bonus against a fixed income.

Every dollar counts as reader/viewers/ attendees/ hits, even if it is insignificant enough to pit the defending champ against a team coached by an ex-ball boy for Louisville coach Rick Pitino, ex-player, and ex-assistant coach against his mentor. What a story if Steve Maseillo who coaches Manhattan with a 13 seed can defeat his mentor the defending Champ? Since Maseillo learned everything he knows about the game from Louisville and Pitino and carbon copies EVERYTHING they do, who stands a better chance of an upset? Not many teams in the entire field. Big stories mean big money.

Sorry ‘bout that Rick.

Wellman didn’t fully explain why he inserted NC State in the tourney over SMU, a move no one expected but subtlety understood after Coach Krzyzewski of Duke went public to whine about his conference deserving more teams. Viola, Wake Forest man delivers, keeping the ACC family safe and K on his good side. Of course, there’s no way K would have had to play his ex-players like Harvard and ex-Dookie stars Tommy Amaker’s team, or Johnny Dawkins team from Stanford. Like the legendary Dean Smith before him, Special K and the ACC is Golden with the NCAA (see infractions committed but not sanctioned), and K is King and gets his way at the NCAA. Doesn’t hurt when the Head man is a Duke grad himself, huh?

Most people outside of SMU yawned, notably Larry Brown who knows EXACTLY how it works with the NCAA. It is better to stay silent lest you end up an 8-seed, or 4-seed while qualifying as a 4 or a 1. But Larry and others miss the point. As in any political arena the losers attitudes ARE always more than offset by the winners perspectives when they conform to the accepted media narrative, insuring that “right or wrong” is not just an uncertainty, it’s practically irrelevant (well… by Monday). Then somehow an upset or two will make the media gush over the committee genius, without mention that there are STILL some walking around feeling as if a long stiff object has been lodged in the wrong place… Onward, we march into madness… Truth is, the DISS usually backfires into a determined rage by the most offended.

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Ron Wellman, Wake Forest Athletic and Director (of the ACC) explains how the

seedings were “the most accurate in his five years on the committee.”

What is it about the four teams listed on the eraser board?

Call me crazy but it appears that eventual Mid-West Region 8-seed/Kentucky is listed with an eventual 4-seed, Louisville… and then eventual 5-seed St. Louis.
Above these teams is listed an eventual 1-seed Virginia, who was apparently later “replaced with 1-seed Wichita State. Why?
Question: Why would these teams (1,4,8,5) be listed BEFORE THE SEEDING PROCESS without any other participants?
And, whatever happened to the idea that a 5-seed doesn’t get to play a “home” game?

Here’s my take on a fictional conversation (which could… but would never happen, since it is silently understood by both) between Wellman and Rick Pitino, who was upset about being paired with 16-seed Manhattan whose Coach Steve Masiello was his old ball boy, player, and assistant coach. Maseillo “carbon copies” Pitino’s system at Manhattan.

“Nothing personal Rick but the first round lacks stories and CBS can spin this into a million website hits on a bad day this time of year. If nothing else it makes a nice headline, and with hypertext it might turn lead into gold. New York to Orlando flights are on-sale so we expect to fill the allotments there. Of course, you get first dibbs after they return the unsolds. Plus Rick, we like the potential Calipari-Pitino angle… but you know we’d rather not have it in the final four. With both of your passionate fans bases there’s still only 12 million viewers which is small potatoes since they are practically all from the State of Kentucky. But we know they would fill up that cavernous Dome in Indy, and no other two fan bases could come close.

We need big market dramas/story-lines for the FF. Thanks for being a team player. You’re a solid pro and we all like you here and at CBS. They will ask you to do color in some games if you go out early, a nice consolation prize. I know, it’s not winning but it’s compensation (for playing ball, you know… with us). CBS promises you’ll be happy with the coverage they’ve allotted you for special interest stories about the great job you’re doing. Remember, they have faithfully not mentioned your little scandal in three years Rick, out of respect for you and the great job you do. How about some love? You know Rick, if it weren’t for this tourney, your 5 million a year would likely be like 1.5.

Thanks for your understanding and not letting too much of this cat out of the bag. Don’t make us an enemy, instead consider us partners. Steve’s a great kid and we know how you feel about him, that’s such a great story to tell. Even in losing, the publicity is a win for him and I know you love seeing him succeed.

And, of course Kentucky may not get that shot at you, so we like the potential undefeated vs. the defending champ angle if W-S wins that one. And BTW, Kentucky-Wichita State ain’t so bad either but hey, you’ll have the “revenge” factor and “chip-on-shoulder” factor going for you.

Sliding Kentucky into an eight hole can be explained, even if strong rational discourse would annihilate any attempt at justification. There’s a lot of hate for Kentucky right now, so we could have left them out completely and no one would care but BBN. But BBN is where the money’s at, as you already know Rick.

Surely you agree that Calipari needs to be knocked down a notch or two by foiling our last three attempts at bringing him to his knees, and then mocking us on national TV? We’re still seething about 2011 when they lucked through our gauntlet of number 1 Ohio State and then #2 UNC-Chapel Hill. Roy is still peeved. If anybody, you’re the man with the team to do it. It would make your season Rick. Problems are opportunities. Look at the positives. And, of course, if per chance they advance past Louisville?

No worry, we have Michigan and Duke waiting to take care of them, and we both know you beat both last year and have as good a chance of doing it again.

Besides, Kentucky and Louisville have the two best traveling fandom. We need to insure one of you two play in that Dome if we’re to get close to a sell it out. One more thing before you shut the door behind you Rick. Kentucky won 2012, Louisville in 2013. If one of you two wins this year, we’re seriously worried the game itself might suffer. This isn’t John Wooden’s America. Hope to see you doing some TV by the end of the tourney. If not we’d love a Donovan-Pitino story again. That one was BIG last time. Hey, you’re already in the Hall and I’ll bet that extra money and TV time could come in handy. Louisville fans worship the ground you walk on as it should be. Good luck Rick.”

And, my imaginary instructions from Wellman to Committee before/during the seeding on Wichita State:

“But… what about the undefeated returning Final Four team, uh… Wichita State? Great story. Huh? Everyone will tune in. Make ‘em run the table, and the story expands exponentially after every win. But please folks… be sure they don’t waltz into another FF with what a terrible TV market that dreadful town will be. With Michigan and Duke added for seasoning we have guaranteed high-dollar value storylines from day one in the Midwest. And we all know that media/fan bucks are always the highest in the Midwest, IF we get some good markets in play there. But IF W-S makes the finals it will be huge after beating ALL those teams and still being undefeated. Bob Knight will shit bricks! He’s such an ass, I’d love to see his face on national TV if W-S goes undefeated, but I’d still rather ESPN keep him out of the CBS studio.

I won’t bore you with the other regions but they have their built-in stories too, albeit not quite as many. Maybe someone suggests Cincy-Harvard is dubbed “Neanderthal vs. Humanoid”? on their bulletin board and in their storyline notes? Jus’ Kidding… but you see what i’m saying. I personally wouldn’t be surprised if this year the Big Brother-Little Brother theme wins the day again with so many more of those possibilities… and folks love David vs. Goliath, especially in their local markets. There are several more possibilities you should…”

Though the above conversations are fiction, do you believe in the plethora of random chance storylines? Uh, right. With the intertextuality and over-the-top typology inserted into this years tourney, there’s enough “story” to rival the Septuagint-New Testament typology (I mean prophesies).

Of course, Wellman attempted to confidently explain the issues that MOST EVERYONE immediately denounced with double-talk, contradiction, false statements, and inconsistency. It is if he studied the famous book on quantitative statistics by Darrell Huff, “How to Lie With Statistics”, but forgot to read his sequel, “How to spot Cheaters using Statistics.”

The secret revealed? This secular “church”, who is protector and supporter of the student-athlete and proponent/supporter of “One-and-Done” being all about the Benjamin? No. Why? In any large organization today it’s grow or die, and so MONEY becomes its God. The NCAA sanctions the bracket manipulation and the publicly vilified O-&-D because they both mean more money. Publicly though they decry both so as not to alienate too many fans (I mean readers/viewers/hits/etc). What are fans anyway if not a means to an end?

Hypocrisy at it’s finest and highest level thrives at our most hallowed institutions.

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A cursory look at UCLA’s Alumni position on hiring Steve Alford over moral/ethical conflicts reveals the fact that ethics DO matter to many… win or lose. Many important supporters of UCLA could care less if UCLA wins another Natty, that is if it is done under new Coach Steve Alford. Yes, greed is rampant, but perhaps not totally pervasive at a school with the tradition of pride and excellence John Wooden instilled among their faithful followers during his career span. UCLA supporters don’t count NCAA banners unless they are achieved with a Coach who can emulate the character of Wooden the man, not the Coach.

For Vance Kinlaw and his issue with alma mater UNC, I say… go UCLA fans! And, I venomously hate losing to both those teams.

The NCAA is a proud organization who isn’t accustomed to answering to its detractors and smugly refuses to grant concessions, even when there is little support of their stance from the outside. They are defiant, and  the notion of their being greed driven is scoffed at and discounted as “heresy” by their better-than well-paid executives.

money_god

Reminds me of the Catholic Church, venerable yes… powerful still… but, beginning to struggle with new paradigms that insist on Priests, Bishops, and Cardinals practicing what they preach, and punishing those who don’t or attempt to hide the truth. For too long these problems have been swept under the rug in a veil of silence. Large organizations can and do fail when they resist the notion of transparency, integrity, and fairness or react too slowly to overwhelming disillusionment among their faithful (read: the fans who buy tickets, or the Alumni who donate to Universities).

If I were running the NCAA today, I’d be worried instead of defiant, and honest instead of elusive. Instead of gouging fans of college sports at every opportunity without the  extreme expense of paying players like their Professional counterparts must, or manipulating bracketing and seeding with lame-ass excuses to pacify the media outlets who agreed to the ridiculous contract dollars they demand… I’d take the humble road (never) travelled. I’d have public discussion with college presidents and athletic directors instead of the many back room deals worked out between power players in exclusion. Just ask Rick Pitino about he and Rollie Massimino back in the early days of the Big East. This is high stakes poker.

But their smug, nattily dressed Captain, like his Titanic counterpart is staying the course at full speed ahead. And we all know how that worked out…  I can already feel the drip of water…and hear the muffled sound of rivets popping loose… and too… there’s not enough lifeboats.

This may no longer be John Wooden’s America, but it should be.

the rabbit hole


basketballAn email sent to a friend (Vance Kinlaw) who is a very smart man… a graduate of UNC-Law School and Dartmouth University. Our relationship through the years had centered around both our passions for college basketball where we argued the merits of our respective favorite teams. He recently told me that he had withdrawn his support for UNC and sold his season tickets due to an ethical conflict of interest regarding the University and their selling out to the god of money. I was shocked that this long time ardent supporter had taken such a drastic stance, and at the time a bit flummoxed. Now… I too get it.

Vance,
Once again I must admit that I am squarely behind both the eight ball and the Kinlaw in my pursuit of truth.
I once almost (emphasis on almost) derided your decision to quit the “college game” because of your ethical stance regarding UNC’s Board of Governors and their apparent thirst for squeezing every dollar out of the sports programs without regard to the alumni and their ethics and ideals.
I mean, “it’s just a few advertisements” I remember thinking when you described the billboards along the Dean Dome’s press row, the straw that finally sent you packing and giving up your cherished season tix. I really just didn’t get it fully, although I knew/know MONEY is god everywhere in our culture.
I just didn’t go far enough down that rabbit hole…
Now, after the NCAA Tournament brackets for 2014 have been made public, the rabbit has bitten me on the ass and drawn blood. What a scam! Every seed, every game or chance game has been manipulated by the committee this year for ONE PURPOSE only: Revenue. Period. Ticket prices have gone up 33% since last year!
Of course, it’s probably due to the Attorney fees in the Ed O’Bannon case (lol).
At any rate, I stand corrected, and as always… in a certain awe of your scope…

T.

thom

I Ain’t done with “One-and-Done”


basketball

A comment/letter to John Gasaway, ESPN Columnist

John,

Great work you do for the game and helping folks put in perspective what matters statistically and otherwise in a game played on hardwood, but much better understood on paper. I’ve read you and other number-crunchers for a long time and (mostly) agree on your take. For a betting man, it’s the only way to fly.

As a Catbird (my word for a Kentucky and Louisville fan), and a fan of the college game I grow more and more disgusted with the ignorance, hate, venom, hypocrisy, and irresponsible chest-thumping spewing forth from folks who ought to know better as it relates to issues like “one-and-done”, or whether or not certain coaches are ruining the game (guess who?) by recruiting the nations top talent.

I mean, I was once a “student-athlete” and graduated from a fine University, later became employed, worked my way up from the bottom over the years, and eventually earned the experience and respect to become one of the top individuals in my industry. Somehow all that was factored into my choice of going to college versus working in the sheet metal factory which had held many of my summer vacations captive.

I loved college and everything it was about, especially sports, pot/beer and pussy. But, my ultimate goal from the git-go was that piece of paper (my degree) which admiringly adorns my closet today. I was convinced it was a ticket out of the blue collar world of which I had grown accustomed, and that it would someday pay its promised dividends in cold hard cash. I guess you could say I was about the dash, the grass, the crash, and the gash… but mainly the cash.

And although I won’t go into how I really feel about the “state of the union” and it’s proclivity of injustice for all, I do remember what I thought I knew about a country that espoused freedom, capitalism, equality, and the ability for each individual to choose their own destiny, and then try to make it happen.

Now, how is it that so many seemingly intelligent so-called Americans who grew up on the same diet of (propaganda) as myself feel comfortable assessing the decisions of one-and-done college players as somehow being “their” problem? I mean, if for example Eric Bledsoe doesn’t read as well as you or I, is it his problem or ours? If he tests free agency at year’s end and signs for $12 million a year, was it his opportunity, hard work, and talent that earned it, or ours? Is it his problem, or the Phoenix front office, or the fans who screamed to no avail to get him on contract before the deadline? Of course it’s his, and with his lunch pail in hand he goes to work ALONE every night, and likely has just earned a huge raise for an outstanding job. Now who’s got the problem Phoenix?

You know Eric, how true that problems can be seen as opportunities, huh?

Haters Gonna Hate

So, if a kid and his coach agree that his (and likely his family’s) best financial interest would be better served by leaving the team and going professional, even if after only one year of (that almighty holy grail) of higher education… who am I, or you, or anyone else to feel the need to weigh in NEGATIVELY on his own personal decision that he made based on the information available at the time?

In review, remember that I went to college to ultimately earn more money with my job being the caretaker of that goal. Don’t we all? How many of us degreed princes make $12 million a year? Not many, and damn sure not me.

And what about that scoundrel of a coach who let him get only one year of schooling before shooing him off to future riches and fame? But then, why wouldn’t that scoundrel want to keep him around for another year or two? If I’m a scoundrel, I damn sure would.

Hmmm…?

I realize that fans can be viciously jealous and many times jump on ANY opportunity to spin a situation to their liking. But folks like you (but not you) and the plethora of other so-called “experts” who blindly bandwagon without logic, reason, or considering another perspective are simply irresponsible mouth pieces who feed the delusional masses their daily dose of “what they want to hear”. They sicken me with all their Doug Gottfried arrogance, who all of the sudden knows everything, but can’t seem to ever pick a winner? Oh yeah… good for TV, right.

It isn’t the one-and-done ruination of CBB… it’s the dumbass bloggers, announcers, and writers who are spinning this game into the stupidity garbage dump of hate. And, all because they’re too ignorant or chicken shit to speak the truth. It is the height of hypocrisy and the bane of our existence that we are spoon fed our beliefs without more careful analysis (much like what you, Ken, and Dean have championed over the last 5-10 years). I salute you in the name of OBJECTIVITY, Howard Roark.

Sure, there are ratings and networks and back room deals that suggest that a narrative of disagreement is good for the level of fan interest, thus network stock prices, and thus the NCAA bank vault.

But, WTF?

Can no one with an audience and a pair of balls ever stand up and tell it like it really is? Are we to listen to endless moronic red-faced Bobby Knight diatribes about situations of which he has no knowledge or experience with just because ESPN thinks he’s good television? I can almost hear the ESPN back room snickers from my couch when he starts into his the-way-it-is-ramble-mania.

This talk of “ruining the game” is so ridiculously far-fetched that I have fits of lalochezia just hearing the CBS theme song, but then I mostly revert to a couch burning “tacenda”. Smoldering…

John, I realize numbers are your game and this comment defies strapping it to a chart, and mapping it for visual appeal and understanding. Big data it ain’t. But please, weigh in on this subject with all your objective intelligence so that the common fan can “get a grip” on this thing we commonly agree on as reality.

If you or anyone else happens to disagree with my position, so be it. I am happy to publicly debate the matter anywhere, anytime. But, be fore warned… I’ll come loaded for bear.

I love me some Demarcus Cousins!


I recently wrote a piece when DC was drafted, about how “lucky” The Kings were to land such a gifted, yet unrealized potential in one Demarcus Cousins. I posited that they were treating him like an indentured slave on their team, in their press, in their whiny-ass homes. I mean, I can read.

My post was met with derision, ridicule, hatred, and venom since I was apparently not one of the in-the-knows about all things Sactown. Even later, as the dice had spun and landed squarely on the Yo, few (none) of Sactown’s readers were apt to acknowledge that it was not me; it was they who had been wrong about the Big ole Boogie Man.

The Titanic took on water, but the man played on… Demarcus Cousins: Raw yes, unrefined for sure… but with a body and a basketball awareness that eventually only Dwight Howard will match. Yet, DC is arguably better than Dwight because he can run and pass, dribble and shoot, and forget it…rebound like a man possessed. Oh, and Dwight, yes he can and will DUNK at the slightest notion. Face.

He has used his supposed immaturity in such a mature manner. He proved to his detractors that it is they who are wrong and will continue to be wrong about his CHARACTER. The young man is NO THUG. He is as home-spun as the Alabama roots from which he came.

He is an All-Star anywhere but in the politicized public relations arena known as the NBA chatter-box. He doesn’t fit their Shane Battier mold. I’ve met Shane, and yeah he’s nice kid too. But, I like me some Demarcus Cousins. Think it… say it. Don’t pause, post. Sacramento? A smog-fest side show wih a Napolean complex.

Yet, they make the same money for playing the game of NBA basketball. Battier, a nice compliment to most any team is from Duke, that almighty drunk-fest in North Carolina. But Demarcus Cousins he is not! Some whiny poster lambasted me for posting “Demarcus…GTF out of Sactown” He reasoned DC is on a Rookie salary cap.

WTF? Are you serious little boy? You think I don’t understand that, you obvious retard? Sacramento is over the salary cap, BTW. The rules change bimbo! DC needs to ask, NO… DEMAND a trade to a town that not only understands the game, but understands what card they are holding with the ACE OF SPADES in Demarcus Cousins. Where the N word has been abolished.

After three well thought out, intelligently written posts on Sacramento’s little puny web-blog site, and being villified in much the same manner as they treat their real star player, I fired back with some witty observations about their fanbase that was less than kind. I was banned from the site. OH MY! Their Editor, showing his lack of understanding in all things Journalism, refused to explain the ban to me (as if I gave a rat fu*k). He just said we don’t need any assholes in our little “community”.

My response?

“Well….I didn’t call anybody an asshole, YOU ASSHOLE!”

Demarcus is his own man, and being that is not bound by the straightjacket imposed by the marketing genius/idiots currently employed by the league. I wonder, are there any free-thinkers left in Sacramento?
DC makes 9 times less than Kobe Bryant, 6 times less than Zack Randolph, 3 times less than Emika Okafor, just to name a scant few. My GOD, he makes almost 7 times less than a player in Orlando that does not start! So, if that’s gonna be the case, why not play where bigotry is not the order of the day?

If the Kings are smart, and only god knows why that should that change anytime soon… they will begin to show some love for the man who can bring them home a ring in the not-so-distant future, and show him the appreciation he only wants and loves, and needs from the rest of humanity’s ill-advised, headline only reading public.

Cousins isn’t the problem, he’s the solution. Give him some LOVE soon or Sactown basketball will be like Sacramento after the California Gold Rush. Empty and without future prospects.

-30-

Why Kentucky is better than UNC again in 2011-12


While it’s typically bad form to pronounce one’s favorite team as being better than a team in which the consensus crowd has already crowned “the odds-on favorite to win it all” (a team that one irrationally exhuberent blogspert suggested could be UNC’S “best” ever), I also understand that so-called experts, most conventional wisdom, and especially the gasified pundits of each are almost always wrong.

That fact is based on a number of recent studies and books detailing such startling results.

And so, I have always thought to call it like I see it after taking in all the information available to me, despite a chorus of boos, nay-sayers, bombastic homer-screamers, and even the kind gentle  under-the-table nudge from friends, that say, “I understand how you might see it that way, but it’s better to take a wait and see.”

So, all homer-ism aside, and with honest almost-certainty, I believe Kentucky will be better than North Carolina again this year, and most particular by season’s end (in College Basketball of course).

TAKE SPECIAL NOTE that I am not so arrogant to say “Kentucky will beat UNC this year”. God only knows, but we all agree that the best TEAM does not always win it all (as my mind drifts to counting out Benjamins after the 1995 NCAA Cats vs.UNC loss).When these titans lock horns, both team’s fans KNOW that they are CAPABLE of winning, or losing it all (as my mind drifts to a bar in Hilton-Head, SC in 1984 counting out Benjamins after an unusual “lid over our basket” in the NCAA UK-Georgetown tilt).

But, here I am talking about which team is/will be better this year.

Just for fun, pretend you’re the Captain in a pickup game vs. Roy Williams, with all of the 2011-12 Carolina and Kentucky rosters standing, waiting to be chosen for some 5-on-5.

Roy picks first: Harrison Barnes, and you counter with Anthony Davis. Roy grabs Tyler Zeller so you give a nod to Terence Jones. OK, Ole’ Roy quickly says he’ll take John Henson…

Hmmm… but with some hesitation you decide on Michael-Gilcrest next, leaving Darius Miller and Doron Lamb on the table with Teague and Wiltjer, along with Marshal and, uh…Strickland, Mcadoo, Bullock and P.J.Hairston.

Who does Roy take next? In my mind he has to take either Miller or Lamb, as they appear to be the two best players left on the table. He tabs Lamb and you gladly grab Darius, leaving Marshal for Roy and you “stuck” with Marquis Teague. Stuck with Marquis Teague? Wow, what a game huh?

Well, the point is that when it comes down to it, Kentucky is holding the edge in talent, at least through the first five or six players, wouldn’t you agree?

CAVEAT: Blindly patriotic as many fans are, these choices would likely go differently with everyone in Chapel Hill. It’s ALSO at the crux of my argument.

In part ONE,

I mistakenly used statistics to prove that Kentucky was the better team last year as well. I mistakenly assumed “possession basketball” was WELL understood as simply: as long as you have the ball the other team cannot score, and you can. If you turn it over, you no longer have it. If you fail to get a rebound, you no longer have it. It’s ALL about offensive efficiency..

But then, AS we all know… liars figure, and figures lie.

What surprised me most was that even many Kentucky fans were unwilling to buy MY facts, laid out clearly before them, which argued/showed/proved with calm rationale that The Cats were better than the Heels during the last season, AND especially when it counted most: On the court in their final head-to-head game.

My reason was questioned, my arguments mangled, my integrity laid open to serious doubt.Astoundingly, I was also vehemently accused of over-gratuitous self-promotion by one writer whom I know to be an excellent writer himself, and whose mantle is surely safe and secure without an embarrassing lam-basting and undressing of my honest post.

Lemme’ jus’ say that I don’t write about Kentucky basketball to win any awards, or get free tickets, to keep an erection, or even for money or it’s ensuing imaginary PRESTIGE.

For me, the occasional atta-boy when warranted will suffice, yet my “feel good” piece garnered  a barrage of simple-minded questioning and unreasonable ridicule… the likes I haven’t heard since third grade. Ouch! And from BIG BLUE fans to boot! Oh my?

I simply love the Cats and I like to write. I don’t apologize, because I’m not too dumb for either of them. But, I love honest criticism, so it was right that I should not have touted my previous posts. But it wasn’t shameful. It was merely an effort to get some real feedback.

Okay… happily my ego is still WAY more than intact.

This is Part 2, who many readers begged for with seemingly veiled delight.

Perhaps here’s where you can gut me for my outlandish ideas. Why? For a large part my PART TWO reasons are not entirely based on undeniable empirical evidence, but something more insipid. Growing up as I did a gambler, I think I have acquired some knowledge/wisdom through observation-experience-feeling and gut.

Much of it was wrong.

But the numbers, the statistics, also point to Kentucky’s dominance again, in so far as they can be measured this early in the season. And always needless to say, the game is not played on paper.

Some reasons, while rooted in fact are harder to pin-down. I mean, why is it that sometimes late in the game we are happy/unhappy when a certain player is fouled? Especially when evidence would suggest that another would not be a better choice? Gut.

3 PT. SHOOTING-CAROLINA (and) 3 PT. DEFENSE

Where has anyone read or heard that UNC has finally figured out how to shoot the three? Couple that with an opponent that will guard the three better than you have yet seen at Kentucky, there will likely be some clanking on Franklin this year. Roy does not have a reliable 3 pt shooter in his arsenal, unless one of their vaunted Freshman steps up and takes over quickly. OH yeah, Roy Williams loathes to play Freshmen… The Heels do not shoot free throws very well either, as great FT shooting teams go. They better get lots of layups. Uncontested.

3PT. SHOOTING – KENTUCKY (and) 3 PT. DEFENSE

Simply put, our TWO best 3 pt. bombers are back in Lexington. Miller and Lamb (Move over Travis, Lamb may end up as best EVER at Kentucky) are on the all-time list. One year older, wiser, sharper, and more confident. Some other guys can step out and knock it down (Anthony Davis for one), and one did so last year for shits and giggles (Terrence Jones). They say the BIG FRESHMAN can really shoot the three, perhaps better than Lamb… and that it’s also hard to teach six foot ten… as in KYLE WILTJER. UNC has not shown it can stop a good 3 pt. shooting team.

Yet Kentucky is primarily a DEFENSIVE TEAM, mind you. One of the best last year, but quicker a foot this year. Calipari is known for his coaching tenacious defensive intensity. Free Throws are a question, though the guys we kept (Miller, Lamb) were two of our better free throw shooters last year and we shoot it way better than do the Heels. All said, we should shoot Free Throws tad higher percentage-wise this year. Big UK advantage.

DEPTH, TALENT

Carolina is talented big and deep. Kentucky is talented big and deep. How deep must a team go? Ten guys can play at any given moment. True, UNC could field three strong starting lineups. Who cares? It might come in handy sometimes, but not when these two juggernauts meet. Both teams have long talented pine and enough firepower to interchange their parts. Toss-up with UNC a slight edge if Armageddon breaks out.

INSIDE GAME

Last year Carolina held the advantage in the paint. This year, not so much, if any. Carolina loved to rebound and run. Kentucky will love to rebound and run too this year.We’re a tad quicker than Carolina’a front line as long as Zeller holds down the middle and Gilchrist is playing. No more advantage UNC. Advantage Even.

THE POINT?

As in guard. Carolina has had some minor turnover issues but Avery Marshal ought to change that with a year under his belt. He can run, handle the ball, make the correct pass, and… blow the shot. With Marquis Teague, Kentucky will see it’s bigs more involved than ever, as he doesn’t love to shoot unless he’s finishing. But, he CAN shoot.He sees the court well much like Marshal, makes the right pass and finishes well on the break (better than Marshal). His test will be in the half-court D-D… can he run the offense without making unforced errors, over committed dribble-drives, or drill the shot when the defense steps back and begs him to fire? Watch his brother Jeff play and you’ll see how Marquis might progress…. he steadily progressed as a shooter and now he can knock down the shot, play fierce D and will stand toe-to-toe with any NBA Point Guard. By seasons end as a better shooter who sees the court as well and makes great decisions, Marquis will follow Jeff to the league. Even.

SUPERSTARS

Harrison Barnes, no doubt SUPER, but can be erratic. Anthony Davis, for sure is not for sure but is definitely most likely. Mike-Gilchrist, is absolutely positively a player any coach would cherish. Doron Lamb will not be silenced. John Henson, a rebounding muppet show who has gained upper body strength and will be tough to control. Tyler Zeller, the Scarecrow or the Tin Man, but not the Wizard. Terrence Jones, early maturity, high yield, compound interest…bankable. UK holds a slight Super Star advantage.

THE INTANGIBLE FACTOR, THE COACHING EDGE

Coaches. They deny but they lie. Roy Williams was for a long time the guy who couldn’t win the BIG ONE, but he didn’t care. He handled it well, but you know it hurt him to know he had to leave Kansas to finally get it done. Carolina was the FIT for Roy and he knew it. In his element, he got it done, though he claimed it didn’t enter his mind. Now, it’s as if those years didn’t exist. They pencil him in, they ink him in, they expect him to win it all again and again. Is he hungry like he was in 2003? I don’t think so. Listen to him speak. He knows his place is secure, he’s a Hall-of-Famer. He wants to win for his team, not the Carolina faithful. He is sad, but not destroyed when he loses, and he always loses with class. But hungry, he is not.

John Calipari didn’t shine Adoph Rupp’s shoes for 20 years waiting for his day to happen. He’s been making it happen every day for years, and with much longer odds than Roy ever knew existed. He doesn’t care about Championships he says, only his players success. I believe him, but only to a degree. The degree that he wants to win one so bad he can taste it.

Vindication is one step away, though he expects no matter what he does, the questions will follow him and sour it’s sweet taste. Calipari had a great mentor, safe to say, in Rick Pitino. He followed his every move, he perfected his moves. Most mentors eventually become resented by those who imitate them, and this is no exception. He wants to step out of that man’s shadow once and for all, and he understands how close he is to that bright sunshine.

Calipari has softened through the years, and for the better I think, while Williams has hardened. He’s harder to reach and feels the power of being adored, and the bitter pain of fan betrayal. Being at the top of the heap can make a man feel an invincible power at times. He watches who gets too close and then slams it shut, where he once was an open book with an open door.

Calipari wants to feel that power too, but I think he’ll act the opposite… become kinder and gentler, and more approachable after he finally wins it all.

Who is hungrier, I ask? Who needs it, wants it the most? Who has to have it for his own vindication? Who wants more than anyone on the planet to look his nay-sayers in the eye… with just a wink and a smile? Every cut, every bruise, every unkind and untrue word, every slap will be his to own to relish and remember.

It’s telling how he has played the coaching game with such class, devotion, dedication, and will to succeed. Who else could have weathered John Calipari’s storms? Here’s a man to emulate. He’s made mistakes, and he’s paid heavily their unending price. But he stayed his course with dignity, waiting for the last laugh.

He has slayed the dragon, saved the Princess from ruin, and now he will not trade his white horse for anything that resembles a CHANCE TO FAIL. Rest assured Nation of Blue… your time and his have fatefully met at that crucial moment: when we both needed each other the most. No matter what (and like his mentor Pitino), he has saved Kentucky Basketball and will forever be deified in the hearts of those who understand the thing that is Kentucky Basketball.

Coaching edge to Calipari.

CHEMISTRY. BIOCHEMISTRY. SYNERGY of systems.

Though Carolina has had a year to jell as a team, the sting of their last loss has had time heal. Yes, they do play together well, and get along well. Roy Williams personally likes this team, always a plus. They are committed, not arrogant… just his style. But don’t forget, this UNC bunch is the same team that suffered Carolina’s worst EVER ACC road thumping last year at Georgia Tech, who at the time was a rambling wreck. Many of these guys played in the NIT one year before, leading to real questions of will and talent. Comparing this team to UNC 2009 is an insult to that great team. There is zero, once they suit up and step on the Dome’s golden floor.  Actually, I see Duke as ACC champs in March. Advantage to UK in Chemistry by season’s end with UNC advantage in November..

THE all- BLUE PLAN

Unlike any team before, t

his Kentucky TEAM was built with the word chemistry in mind considering the individual talents involved. These freshmen chose one another (along with Cal) based on each one’s unique ability to provide a major contribution to a Championship team without talent duplicity. This has been in the making for 2-3 years. Each player, selected by hand based on their ability to mesh and provide a single cog in this well-oiled, precision instrument.

Even Doron Lamb, as his special talents became more clear, helped recruit them to play around him. Darius Miller is the anchor., the heart, the foundation (think Chuck Hayes, Pat Patterson).. The recruiting choices, their high school all-star playing decisions, their signing and timing all speak to a grand plan. A plan in a Championship plan book. NOW is it.

Fittingly, in the end it may have been Pitino who demonstrated this lesson to John Calipari back in the 90‘s. Leave NO STONES un-turned. The rest? It will take care of itself.

THIS MAY BE THE ULTIMATE COLLEGE BASKETBALL TEAM.

Nostradamus Lives!


this was posted on SeaofBlue.com BEFORE the NCAA Elite Eight Cats/Carolina slugfest in March 2011 which saw Kentucky outman, outgun, outdefend, (like all get out) a formidable, but very beatable Tar Heel squad…

john-calipari-shocked2

though i usually can’t pick my nose in the ncaa, this time i predicted that only one-1 seed and no two seeds would see the final four this year. the Cats can make that happen today with a win. let’s take a look at some numbers and facts borrowed from kenpom.com:

generally carolina plays faster paced than kentucky, thus scoring more points per game. carolina wants to push the ball looking for open 2pt shots, and i doubt that calipari will mind.

carolina plays its offense primarily through their bigs. they are monster offensive rebounders, while kentucky is slightly better at defensive rebounding. keeping the heels off their offensive glass is crucial.

the teams are fairly equal at offensive shooting % inside the arc. but, carolina scores most of its points inside the arc, as they shoot a few threes, and those are not shot that well (33.2%). kentucky shoots the three very well (39.2%), and relatively more often, though they are not simply a three point shooting team that lives (and dies) by the three. kentucky shoots free throws better (71.7% vs 67%), but carolina does not foul nearly as much as kentucky and relatively little period.

kentucky takes care of the ball much better (makes fewer turnovers), ranked #9 div 1 vs #166 in offensive TO%.

kentucky defends the three about the same as carolina (opponents shoot 33.2% vs 32.5%) but defends inside the arc better (opp shoot 41.7 vs 44.4%). kentuckys opponents shoot fewer three than carolinas. kentucky typically blocks a slightly higher percentage of shots than carolina.

kentucky’s effective field goal % is higher than carolina (52.5 vs 49.2). this factor is calculated combining 2pt and 3pt shooting %. and its adjusted offensive efficiency (all factors combined – shooting %, TO%, OR%, FT%), is better (ranked #7 in division 1 vs #39), although carolina has a better adjusted defensive ratio (same factors only defensively – ranked #5 div 1 vs #20). yet, kentuckys effective defensive field goal % is bit higher than is carolinas (ie guarding 2pt and 3pt shots combined).

this adds up to a game being decided on how well kentucky can shoot the three against a carolina defense that does not guard the three well, and then defend their own basket in the paint against carolina’s bigger frontline, and how well carolina’s somewhat shaky guards take care of the basketball against a formidable defender in kentucky.

 

AS in, Season's ends in...
AS in, Season’s ends in…

also carolina’s free throw shooting may become a factor, since they are likely to be at the line more often.

Based on the games importance, it is likely to be a dogfight through the end with the numbers suggesting (to me) kentucky winning by 2-3 pts, say 76-74.

of course, we all know how the game is not played on paper, but in the hearts and minds of the players, and at the coaching box. for my money, i like kentucky here too, with the 4 seeding being a large factor in the chip they seem to be wearing on their shoulders. to me, the Heels seem satisfied to just have the monkey off their backs from last year’s debacle season, and seem a bit soft. Getting pounded by Duke and Georgia Tech this year shows they are vulnerable to a blowout.

Look for Liggins to possibly step out on Marshal early to test his fortitude, then settle in with defending Barnes.

If kentucky goes cold from the three point line, look for a long afternoon watching carolina rebound and head off to the races, ending in many contested layups, dunks, and foul trouble for the Cats. this will not end pretty for our boys, and we go home to watch on TV.

The play of Terrence Jones and Darius Miller seems important here in how well we can contain the big Carolina frontline. we already know Harrelson, Liggins, Lamb, and Knight will show up ready to play.

(sorry, i just hate to capitalize while huntin and peckin)