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-

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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


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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

I Ain’t done with “One-and-Done”


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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.

Homers n’ Haters n’ (da)Mastur (de)Baters


dickwadtheory

Historical data with facts and reasons to back em?

All courteous discourse be damned

Intelligence lost in a deep dark sphincter band

Trotting out opinions like… everybody has one

Experts who follow ex-purps, Blogsquirts who can’t write a lead or a lick

Internet Sports Websites; a vast and barren mind-field of Virtual (dick)weed-oligists.

Me? One time follower of Dean Oliver (Mi Deano que Numberino)

Now everybody’s got one,  a statistical guru with matchin’ number-crunchin’credo

The eye test is done-skee, Now its the drumbeat-of-repeato, conceited Eggo, a waffler with a bigger Ego

But, I’ll tell you what you can cram  up your USAs BEST Speedo…

A large wad of green ONE-and-DONE-o, shove that up your Uncle Sam Taxedo, dumb-a- dido

The NCAA. Straight laced but two-faced, laughing all-the-way to the… Johnny Cashed (not burned)

Dressed all in Folsom black, ring-of-fired up monied Coaches, BIG money not shared but stashed.

Call your raise little Homer-boy, and go up another notch just to see you show your red-faced gash

Mindless Babel, no pecking order, a Tower of  Trash talking knee-walking Monkey see-do commentators

Imagined a smarter retort?

Instead I’m reading between lines of the yellow teethed keys you gnashed.

Feel insulted? I can only hope.

Oh yeah, you-da Homers N’ Haters N’ The Mastur(de)Baters…

(All alone) on/under your keyboard, a Johnny-Cum-Later with everything and nothing to say.

Brainless Brainfarts spewing ignorant insult jism, eventually we all need knee-waders

Not the self-deluded Fanboy who incessantly yells “cheaters and one-and-doners”.

No, these… the loser “haters”who bury their hearts and their heads bad-mouthing everything,  even their own mashed potaters

Please, tell me who can discuss Sports intelligently anymore…besides the Cabbies and the Waiters?

YOU ignorant fans without rational rhyme or reason to believe, just wearing.school colors makes you feel smart looking lame. You got NO game.

and remember, you can’t lose if in the bigger picture it doesn’t really matter… so, until it does… I think I’ll read ya later.

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Get a life if all you have to look forward to is vicarious victories by your faved team, son.
Get a life if all you have to look forward to is vicarious victories by your faved team, son.

Kevin%20Ware%20injury_Reuters

THE HATE ON

Oh yeah… it has become Madness alright.

The twitter buzz lit up only minutes after University of Louisville reserve guard Kevin Ware landed poorly on his right leg in the Sunday (April) 2013 NCAA Tourney Final Four matchup between the University of Louisville and Duke University. But, as Ware was writhing on the floor and sending an entire nation watching to the bathroom sickly holding onto their dinner, a Syracuse fan tweeted to the world about Ware’s “wild background story”, then further hinting that it was Ware who had been responsible for the University of Central Florida’s NCAA probation issues.

Though Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated (and NY Times) later attempted to minimize his tweet as only “providing background” to Ware’s story, most college basketball fans who know Thamel’s sensational yellow-coated writing style were left to speculate as to his real intentions. His timing couldn’t have been worse. Even Thamel was smart enough to retract and retreat, and explain away in re-tweet after re-tweet.

All Too Sweet, Pete.

Thamel, a Syracuse graduate and fan, and personal friends of both Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski has made a living denigrating college basketball programs (outside of Gaudy Orange and Deep Blue Sea Devil) that don’t exactly meet with his personal “holier than thou” biases. If some heads-up Louisville fans and other intelligent sports fans hadn’t caught the ill-advised tweet, he likely would not have felt the urgent need to diareah-ically (my word not Websters) apologize for the Ware tweet. Thamel makes his living digging up dirt in Sports on players, coaches, and teams he also happens to dislike (read: they are better than his faves). He gets dirty too, sometimes.

By contrast, following the Cuse-Indiana Elite Eight game in a video interview with Syracuse’s Michael Carter Williams, fans were shown how the team’s players feel about one another (see NCAA video). Williams calmly and warmly spoke of his team’s biggest rival this year, Louisville, and showed the real side of competitive student athletes, rather than the one “so-called” media experts, haters, homers, trolls, and irresponsible fans-from-hell would rather have us believe. MCW is the rule, not the exception, and it has always been this way. Off court and on, competitors respect their adversaries to the point of rooting for them when they are not immediately diametrically opposed.

Sorry haters… the players just don’t feel the way you do about their rivals. Instead, they like them and wish them well. I repeat, there’s no HATE between College Basketball teams’ players…or any other sport for that matter; it exists only in the heads of their idiotic fans.

STOP THE HATE. IT’s way out of hand and way out of DATE. But, is it too late?

Seriously, what has happened to sports fandom today? The gloves have come off when one of the most respected newspaper’s (NY Times) own Sportwriter(s) fails to show good sportmanship in our virtually twisted-tweet world of Twitter-by-instant messaging? I mean really, does it make one a “cockroach  and a bandwagoneer” (as I was recently dubbed on a UL fansite by some nit-wit troll posing as a human and a Cardinal fan) if he/she is lucky enough to root for two teams from his home state ALL-his-life (in my case its called “Kentucky”), and only if their names happen to be “Kentucky” and “Louisville”?

Must I really choose between these two teams as several (anti-UK) UL fans demanded?

And hey… does it really hurt slime turtle, since it’s only megahertz… U foo-bean!

Well… uh, I graduated from Morehead State University. Must I be their fan, and that of no other team in this solar system? Ouch! Oh really now shit-for-brains, because which little Bimbo-boy says it must be so? You? He-he. HA!

But hey, I usually don’t go on my favorite teams’ Fan-site to argue ifs, ands, and maybes with brain-numbing stupidity, or to spout in-your-face electro-insults to moronic retardos like you, but instead (as in UL’s case) to simply celebrate our “RedBirds-of-a-Featherness” if only for but a brief, albeit passing moment.

Can U Dig it mumbo-gumbo? This better be good if you want to hold my attention little man!

Though, admittedly it can cause me to type ever more venomous and poisonous thoughts of my own hate-stew, word-wrestling with me can be an exercise in futility for the typical dyed-in-the-wool Hater. I admit to knowing that lame-brain banter makes me eventually start to yawn and becomes tedium, and so I normally lose interest in the verbal one-upmanship after one or two touché….zzzzzzzz

But, to say you win? Never.

When the Louisville-Duke game ended on that Sunday, Guards Quinn Cook and Rasheed Souliman both of Duke, quickly embraced their Louisville counterparts as if to say, “Congratulations guys on a great game, go on and win this thing”. And love him or hate him, Coach K was his usual class actin’ self-debasing-self in a loss, and when describing his respect for the players and the game his team had just endured. Was NO one taking notes?

Such is the State of Hate in Sports, and in Sports Journalism today. And I for one…HATE it.

And who really cares what Pete Thamel thinks? He’s a Cockroach.Screen-shot-2013-02-07-at-10_18_18-PM

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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.