Posted on: December 10, 2009 8:11 pm
Here's Thursday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: Wow, what a game between Kentucky and Connecticut! Great intensity with an even better crowd. I wish every game could be played at such a high level. I look forward to the rematch at the Final Four. There is no doubt that both teams will be playing in April.
I agree and disagree, John.
What we can agree on is that the game was exciting with great intensity. You can't have much more fun watching college basketball in December, or anytime really, than I had watching basketball Wednesday night. Lots of great athletes running up and down the court, bigtime players (like Kemba Walker and John Wall) making bigtime plays, and a crowd so hyped there were multiple fights in the stands.
Again, just a blast.
But, let's be honest, the game wasn't really played "at such a high level." A fast pace produced only 125 total points, there were more turnovers (32) than assists (20), neither team shot the ball well (combined 4-of-18 effort from 3-point range), so on and so forth. So it wasn't basketball at its finest. But still, damn fun.
As for UK and UConn meeting in the Final Four, sure, it's posible. But I wouldn't say there's "no doubt" about it. To do that is to concede half of the Final Four to UK and UConn despite many other viable teams (Kansas, Texas, Villanova, West Virginia, Syracuse, Michigan State, Purdue, Duke, North Carolina, etc.) having similar if not better chances. Truth be told, I'll almost certainly pick Kentucky to be there when it comes time to pick such things, but I'm not sure UConn is even one of the top three teams in the Big East. So I'd rather take a wait-and-see approach with the Huskies, see how the addition of Ater Majok (eligible Dec. 20) affects them, and watch the Big East season unfold. After that, there's a chance I'd pick UK and UConn to both make the Final Four. But right now, I don't believe that's how my bracket would look.
Posted on: December 5, 2009 3:57 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2009 4:12 pm
John Wall can make free throws with leg cramps.
This, we learned Saturday.
Because the freshman point guard sank a pair of free throws with four seconds remaining to secure Kentucky's 68-66 victory over North Carolina. It was the second time in three games Wall has made clutch free throws. So if John Calipari ends up in a situation where he needs single points to secure, say, a national championship, I suspect he'll be fine this time around. In the meantime, Calipari better get as many fluids as possible into Wall's body, because Wall was limited greatly by cramps in the second half against UNC, and the Wildcats are nowhere close to as explosive without Wall as they are with him.
This, we also learned Saturday.
But before Wall started cramping, he was his usual sensational self, so much so that he became a "Trending Tropic " on Twitter, which garnered respect even from those at rival schools. "Yo...John Wall is a trending topic," Tweeted Tennessee sophomore Renaldo Woolridge . "Gotta give props when they r due...thats league ." Wall finished with 16 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
Another thing about Wall: When he gets an outlet pass on the run, I noticed, he looks like a tailback taking a pitch from a quarterback, like Reggie Bush in a USC uniform flying around and past everybody. Sometimes Wall loses control (that's partly why he finished with seven turnovers), and he'll have to figure that out as he progresses. But watching him run the break might be the most exciting thing you can watch any college basketball player do this season. So I'd advise you to do it whenever possible, and I can't wait to see Wall do it live at Madison Square Garden against Connecticut on Wednesday night.
Hopefully, he'll down plenty of fluids between now and then.
Posted on: November 19, 2009 6:22 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2009 6:30 pm
Tobias Harris, as expected, committed to Tennessee on Thursday.
"I really have a great relationship with Coach [Bruce] Pearl and his assistant coach [Tony] Jones," Harris said. "It's just a family atmosphere down there. I got along with the players real well, and it's just a great opportunity and fit for me."
MaxPreps.com ranks Harris No. 21 in the Class of 2010. The 6-foot-8 forward joins Trae Golden (No. 59) and Jordan McRae (No. 87) to comprise a three-player class that should be among the Top 15 classes nationally when team recruiting rankings are finalized.
Harris is from New York.
He also had offers from Syracuse, Kentucky, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Louisville and West Virginia.
Posted on: November 16, 2009 11:44 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2009 12:52 am
Charlie Coles' Miami University RedHawks led Kentucky much of Monday night but lost 72-70 when John Wall buried a jumper in the final second. I've blogged about it already. It was a hell of a game, a tremendous effort. And it led to a hilarious exchange when a Kentucky radio host named Dick Gabriel asked Coles the following question: "How did this one get away from you?"
Keep in mind, John Calipari's Wildcats are a popular pick to make the Final Four.
Meantime, the RedHawks were picked fourth in the preseason MAC East Division Preseason Media Poll.
Now enjoy the quote.
"I can't believe you asked that question; I really can't believe it," Coles said. "Let me see here. Kentucky Wildcats. No. 4 in the country. I'm hearing four first-round draft choices. And you're asking me how that got away from me ? Why don't you ask John why it was so close?"
"They're the Big Blue. You ought to know that," Coles continued. "I'm not mad at you. But where have you been? And where are you from, sir?"
Gabriel then told Coles he's from Lexington.
"You're from Lexington?" Coles said. "Oh, my Lord. How did it get away from me ?"
(Here's a link to the audio. The classic exchange is the third question.)
Posted on: November 16, 2009 10:43 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2009 10:53 pm
There is plenty of time to discuss how Kentucky fell behind by 18, why it failed to get back on defense early, and whether DeMarcus Cousins will ever start a game without picking up senseless fouls. Important issues, all of them. I'll address them at some point.
But first things first: How does John Calipari not foul Kenny Hayes?
(Stop me if you've heard this one before.)
Calipari's team was ahead by three points late, but rather than foul and send Miami (Ohio) to the line -- which is generally accepted as the proper way to handle the situation -- Calipari opted to let the players play, and the result was a Hayes 3-pointer that tied the score with six seconds remaining. It was the latest version of Chalmers for the tie ... Got it! -- the same sequence that cost Calipari the 2008 national title when Mario Chalmers hit a 3-pointer, forced overtime and helped Kansas to an eventual 75-68 victory.
The only difference this time: John Wall.
Man, what a clutch shot.
The freshman point guard and likely top pick in the 2010 NBA Draft struggled early, forced things and committed five turnovers. But when it was time to do it, he did it. The CBSSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year took the ball length of the court and sank a jumper with 0.5 second remaining. Final score: UK 72, Miami (Ohio) 70.
Far as debuts go, it was impressive.
Wall got 19 points (on nine field goal attempts), five assists and three steals.
More important, he made the non-foul not matter.
For that, Kentucky is fortunate.
Posted on: November 11, 2009 11:48 am
Edited on: November 11, 2009 11:49 am
Those who enjoy shaking their heads at inexplicable inconsistencies in how the NCAA enforces punishments ought to look at Kyle Veazey's blog at The Clarion-Ledger today. He notes that Mississippi State has been informed there will be no change in the nine-game suspension of John Riek for amateurism issues despite Rick Stansbury holding the freshman out of an exhibition against Oklahoma City.
The NCAA told MSU the exhibition will not count as a game.
So Riek was basically held out for nothing.
And that would make sense if not for the fact that missing an exhibition is helping fulfill Kentucky freshman John Wall's two-game suspension for amateurism issues. In other words, the NCAA ruled that an exhibition can count toward Wall's suspension but not toward Riek's suspension, and if you think the governing body had a good explanation, man, you must be crazy.
Of course there wasn't a good explanation.
Because there is no good explanation, that's why.
Honestly, I don't care either way. The NCAA can count an exhibition as one game of a suspension or not count an exhibition as one game of a suspension; doesn't matter to me. All I wish is that the exhibitions would be treated the same everywhere. Nothing more, nothing less.
Posted on: November 9, 2009 5:17 pm
Bodog.com likes Kansas and Kentucky just as much as I like Kansas and Kentucky .
I visited the gambling site not because I'm a gambler, but because I wanted see the championship odds for certain schools. What I found is that Kansas (4-to-1) is the favorite followed by Kentucky (5-to-1). North Carolina (15-to-2) is third. Then it's Duke (10-to-1), Michigan State (12-to-1), Louisville (12-to-1), Texas (12-to-1), and Villanova (12-to-1).
Click this link (and scroll down) to check it out.
Posted on: October 30, 2009 8:20 pm
John Wall's two-game suspension means the Kentucky freshman will debut Nov. 16 against Miami University.
He'll miss the exhibition against Cambellsville and the opener against Morehead State.
But that's it.