One Commonwealth team left standing. Flagship U. Again. Things to make it juicy … v Kentucky is playing, as Adolph Rupp would say with elegance, “beeee-uuuuti-fully.” Tyler Ulis has no peer and an overtime three against A&M by who? Derek Willis IS symbol of March Madness! v State University of New York at Stony Brook. First time to The Show, the Seawolves get 15 minutes of fame against most frequent flyer and winningest program. Should take Kentucky 15 minutes to solve 6-8, 260-pound Jameel Warney and the Seawolves. v Next, Kentucky-Chattanooga. Just kidding. Natural rival Indiana playing Kentucky in Des Moines, Iowa reminds me of UK-Louisville meeting in the NCAAs in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1983. v Possibility of UK-North Carolina region semifinal would feature teams playing at their peak. Moreover, Carolina-Kentucky always has undercurrents. This time, once holier-than-thou Carolina Blue under a cloud of NCAA investigation instead.
LOUISVILLE & SCANDAL
Incessantly last weekend, ESPN rolled its bottom-of-screen report – three would-be recruits confirmed Louisville’s sex scandal to the NCAA.
An anonymous source told the sports network, “There’s no question this stuff happened (at UofL). There’s no question the people at the University of Louisville know this happened.”
Hard truth wait-a-minute lessons here? v A source asking for anonymity is a coward. v ESPN’s 30-for-30 excellent special on a sex scandal involving Duke’s lacrosse team in 2006 is sobering reminder for these things … v Until the last anonymous source goes public, the last lawyer has left the last courtroom after speaking at the last press conference, until then we know nothing. The Duke saga confirms that early reports and speculative commentary from all media invites hysteria, manipulation, then apologies and lawsuits as happened in Durham.
For Louisville, the incendiary part is the second sentence attributed to ESPN’s anonymous source which begs the questions: “Did a UofL booster slip Andre McGee $10,000 to buy party girls to dance for and give favors to recruit prospects? And, did Pitino know?”
I believe Pitino did not know, but is still responsible. Since lack of institutional control is on the NCAA books, Pitino’s idea of paying a (heavy) fine, along with AD Tom Jurich and the university, was the best alternative to cancelling the team’s post-season.
When Louisville’s sex scandal investigation concludes, who will remember how or if it parallels the tragedy that befell Duke’s lacrosse program?
Texas A&M stole two from Kentucky this season. Overtime win at College Station and a three-seed in the NCAAs to UK’s four. But fans at the SEC Tournament were winners — 45-minutes of back-and-forth hoops delight. SEC Tournament title champion, Kentucky, 29th time.
Game was a classic in spite of a bald-headed guy with a microphone who never, ever shuts up.
SOLUTION TO LAME NCAA BRACKETING?
Overall top-seed Kansas dispatched to the South Region; while Virginia was bracketed in the Midwest. How to improve the NCAA selection process? Send clubby VIP committee home and give bracket work to Joe Lunardi and Best-Lipin the-Game Jay Bilas and leave them to it.
KENTUCKIANA BALL COACHES
Tubby Smith. College coach of the year (Sporting News) does what he’s always done well, recruit unheralded prospects, make a team of teammates and win. Texas Tech is back in The Show.
Travis Ford. Eight seasons at Oklahoma State, 46-year-old Madisonville native and ex-UK Wildcat, had a 155-111 record in Stillwater.
“Travis Ford,” a local writer opined, “could potentially have a great career as a spokesperson for the tobacco industry, Volkswagen, or even the corrupt financial industry that Bernie Sanders talks about in his campaign speeches. It is the quintessential George Costanza approach of ‘It’s not me, it’s you.’ combined with the rapport of the character Nick Naylor in Thank you for Smoking. Not quite as smooth but it gets the job done.”
Steve Alford. No NCAA Tourney for UCLA, but Alford’s contract dictates he be paid $10.6 million if he’s fired before April 30. Imagine, the alternative means walking away with six-plus million after taxes.
John Calipari’s rant about UK’s NCAA seed was fresh meat for media and fire-’em-up psychology for his team. But, the best/ worst part was ESPN giving him air time to do it.
Image slick Calipari ought take counsel however: “When you complain, you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation, change the situation, or accept it. All else is madness.” – Eckhart Tolle
And so it goes.