Whitesburg KY

Calipari gives 8 teams shot at winning



Sports in Kentucky

Kentucky basketball got more media attention last weekend than ISIS, Ferguson, Rick Pitino scolding a reporter, and America’s Favorite Has-Been Mayor Rudy Giuliani all rolled into one.

Betting boards – To finish 40-0, UK is even money. Kansas coach Bill Self believes those odds are conservative.

KENTUCKY. Midwest Region, plays at Yum Center. Louisville in East Regional heads to Seattle. Go figure.

Big Blue Nation watching its team on teevee this week deserve best-of-the-best, Vern Lundquist on CBS, after suffering worstof the-worst last weekend, Dick Vitale on ESPN.

LOUISVILLE. Pitino’s Louisville team, a four seed, plays UC Irvine at 4:10 p.m. Friday (TBS). Likely match for Sunday is a dandy: Louisville and 5 seed Northern Iowa.

MURRAY STATE. Latest heartbreaker story, the Racers are in the NIT. In the NCAAs, Steve Prohm’s team could be playing Virginia this week.

WESTERN KENTUCKY. High praise for Director of Athletics Todd Stewart who explained declining invitations to CBI or CIT tournaments to the Bowling Green Daily News: “… one possible benefit (accepting a bid) is getting young players experience, (but) you have to weigh that versus missing a lot more classes.”

Not missing classes? America, I love this place.

Nine student-athletes are eligible to return to Ray Harper’s team next season.

BELLARMINE. Best kept secret in Kentucky? The Knights (29-3), rank third nationally, are in Division II Sweet 16.


John Calipari’s first reactions to the Field of 68 put emphasis on clear-eyed logic and the number eight.

Logic: Kentucky has the best team, best players, best depth and most momentum. “Does that mean we’ll win? No, it doesn’t,” he said.

“Wisconsin is playing good. … Arizona is playing out of their minds right now. Villanova is playing great. Virginia, they’re a little bit beat up, but they’re still (good).

“I mean, you’ve got eight teams,” Calipari continued. “From that eight, in my opinion, someone’s going to win the thing. After that there are some teams that have a chance to advance and do some stuff, but those eight teams are really good.

“From those eight – and it’s not just us. Let me tell you, it’s a one-game shot. Foul trouble, struggle, injury, have a bad game, someone else play(s) out of their minds, which we have seen happen with us.”


Those who believed Kentucky would do itself a favor losing a game before the NCAAs, raise your hands. Nobody?

“Totally, totally absurd, just off the wall,” Dr. Jack J. Lesyk, director of the Ohio Center for Sports Psychology, said last week.

“People can’t accept the uncertainty of a game that’s yet to be played. That’s what makes sports interesting. Talking about it, predicting it, then analyzing it after. … It’s only after the fact, when you have had failure, and the only thing you can do is extract benefit from that and turn it into a learning example (that a loss helps). When (a loss) does happen, you certainly want to extract the lesson.”

JUST WONDERING DEPT. v A good game spoiled (almost). When ESPN assigned Dick Vitale to the SEC title game it meant fans had to endure another spasm of high-pitched, frequently inaudible sandpaper screech as the man’s redundant shtick, i.e. “Did you see that?! Ohhhhhhhh!” v Travis Ford. Madisonville native, UK star and Oklahoma State coach has his Cowboys (18-13) in the Big Dance third year in a row, fifth time in the last seven. Old UK teammates Sean Woods (Morehead) and John Pelphrey (Florida) will be out recruiting, Richie Farmer won’t be. v Have Murray State officials begun putting together a new package for Steve Prohm? Alabama officials, who hired Mark Gottfried away from Murray in 1998, has a coach vacancy again after firing Anthony Grant. v Rick Pitino did what? Louisville’s coach upbraided a young reporter at a presser last week for “asking a silly question.” There are no silly questions for a ball coach, only belligerent answers. We will see if UofL’s coach does the man-up thing, and apologizes publicly.


ESPN aired ‘I Hate Christian Laettner’ Sunday evening. Fair piece of journalism, I thought. Interviews pro and con about the Duke All-American. While I’m puzzled about devoting 90 minutes to defining why folks hate someone, the piece provided an informative look into Duke hoops, intra-team conflicts and how they were handled, along with substantive looks into bullying and racism.

For Kentuckians who didn’t know, got to see what preceded Laettner’s stomach stomp on Aminu Timberlake in the 1992 NCAA regional. On the previous play under UK’s basketball Laettner was clearly pushed into the goal mount. Not by Timberlake. Culprit was Richie Farmer.

‘I Hate Christian Laettner’ will air again. See it.

PARTING SHOTS (Twitter Dept.)

• Reactions from Arkansas fans to Ashley Judd’s tweet “the Hogs play dirty,” affirmed anew how Twitter too easily brings out the worst in hits and is too easy for cowards.

• Before the SEC Tournament finale, Arkansas’s Bobby Portis tweeted “I got my wish,” (to play UK again). No word from the SEC Player of the Year (stop laughing) after Portis was overwhelmed — got off just seven shots in 30 minutes, made three, had three rebounds and three turnovers.

Lesson? Be careful what you wish for … out loud on Twitter.

And so it goes.

You can reach me at bob.Watkins24@aol.com

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