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Derby wraps up big week for star Davis





 

 

“Life is painting a picture, not creating a sum (of money).” — Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

A bit of Holmes wisdom sets a rhythm for a post-Derby week, right?

First, college graduation. Photo from Lexington. Darius Miller and Eloy Vargas in cap and gown. Young men prepared to paint the next grid on Life’s picture. We are especially hopeful for Miller. Man’s knack for making good impressions and good decisions and right place, right time, look promising.

From Miami, Florida, another photograph.Larger than life as we know it, arguably the ultimate image of a role model. A hero. In cap and gown, Dr. Shaquille O’Neal, Ph.D. Yes, Shaq of LSU and NBA lore, is painting the next segment of his life picture too.

Three reasons Shaq has a new title: Promised his parents he would earn a college degree; Wanted to continue his education; and “I wanted to challenge myself,” he said.

BIG WEEK FOR DAVIS, TEAMMATES — President Barack Obama accepted a ring on May 4 from forward Anthony Davis, right, as he held a basketball and jersey given to him by the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team in the East Room of the White House during a ceremony to celebrate their 2012 NCAA Championship. (AP Photo)

BIG WEEK FOR DAVIS, TEAMMATES — President Barack Obama accepted a ring on May 4 from forward Anthony Davis, right, as he held a basketball and jersey given to him by the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team in the East Room of the White House during a ceremony to celebrate their 2012 NCAA Championship. (AP Photo)

Endearing, too, is Dr. O’Neal’s thesis – “The Value of Humor in Leadership.”

Next stop for Shaq? Law school.

Anthony Davis’s Star Trek

Anthony Davis’s trek across basketball’s universe continues. Maybe the super moon last week was a sign.

When Davis pens an autobiography one day, the joys of his late teens will have to read like fanciful and exaggerated fiction. A reader will be bound to conclude, “That many dreams-come-true in a year’s time? C’mon, man! No way!”

Last week the ex-Kentucky star, who a year ago was a skinny kid in Chicago, visited the White House with the rest of his teammates and Coach John Calipari to meet President Obama on Friday and was at Churchill Downs as special guest at the 138th Kentucky Derby on Saturday. A little before the super moon rose, he draped the blanket of roses onto winning horse I’ll Have Another.

President Barack Obama, right, accepted a jersey from Kentucky guard Darius Miller at the White House during a ceremony celebrating the 2012 NCAA Championship for the men’s college basketball team. (AP Photo)

President Barack Obama, right, accepted a jersey from Kentucky guard Darius Miller at the White House during a ceremony celebrating the 2012 NCAA Championship for the men’s college basketball team. (AP Photo)

Also last week, Davis was told he is one of 18 candidates invited to try out for the U.S. Olympics Team for the London Games in August.

Indiana-Kentucky

Coach Tom Crean’s Indiana Hoosiers won’t be playing in Rupp Arena next season. The popular border rivalry was suspended because Kentucky’s John Calipari demanded it not be played on IU’s campus.

Views from here …

• We live in a peculiar time. A college coach informs his director of athletics the basketball team will not play at another school’s campus and the AD does as he’s told.

• In new era college hoops, traditions, rivalries, fan favorite series have given way to big money, big egos and win at whatever it costs. Calipari doesn’t like the SEC Tournament; he won’t take his team to Bloomington, a series with North Carolina won’t be renewed.

Taking a couple of shots across Calipari’s bow last week, one national writer said Cal was afraid of losing at Rupp Arena next winter to presumed No. 1 ranked Indiana, ending his three year unbeaten run at Rupp. Another said, “Calipari doesn’t care what you care about.”

• A fan poll by the Evansville Courier on UK-IU said 63 percent agreed with Crean, the game should be played on campus.

• A more revealing number for me was the seven percent of fans who voted “let the series go. If UK and IU are good enough, they’ll meet in the NCAA Tournament.”

• Proving when one door closes, another opens, an Indiana-Louisville game or series is a natural and could have as much or more star power to attract CBS Sports. Crean’s team and Rick Pitino’s are experienced and preseason rated in the top three.

• What happens to Kentucky’s vacated December date with Indiana? With North Carolina going off the schedule also, season ticket holders can probably expect some combination of visits from Fairleigh Dickinson, Southern Utah, Delaware, Presbyterian or another lightweight to sell out Rupp Arena.

Barnhart-IU

Statement issued by Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart on the UK-IU stoppage last week was typical spin.

“We were contacted by Indiana … (they said they) were moving on for the 2012-13 season and would revisit continuing the series at a later date. Our desire to play the series at a neutral site was due mainly to the success of the series from 1992-2006. It allowed the fans of both schools to enjoy the experience of one of the greatest rivalries every year.”

Peculiar, Barnhart had to search back six seasons to make his point?

Bottom line: Heading to 2012-13, neither soaring Kentucky nor revivalist Indiana needs the other.

Replacement-for-now candidates for both are promising. For Kentucky, SEC newcomer Missouri and a talked-about series with Kansas. For Indiana, Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals.

Worth Repeating Dept.

Kentucky signee Willie Cauley on choosing UK over Kansas State, Alabama and Florida: “They have everything. My thing was, do I have the confidence, right now, to be successful there? Standing up to the hype is the hardest thing about Kentucky.”

Listed as a 6-10, 215-pound center, Cauley will have time to grow his game, practicing every day against shot blocker Nerlens Noel and grow up to handle pressures of playing in Rupp Arena. He looks destined for an Eloy Vargas role. Game relief for Noel.

Parting Shot(s)

• Reader wrote: “Is John Calipari a legitimate candidate for the basketball Hall of Fame? He answered his own question: “… the only national pundit I hear talking about Cal being a potential HOF coach is (Dick) Vitale.”

• Reader wrote: “If Kentucky fans had a single personality they most love to hate, who would it be? My vote would be Rick Pitino with Christian Laettner right behind. What say you?”

Answer: Bob Knight is Kentucky’s longest running antagonist. Hall of Fame coach and competent national basketball analyst, he still has a pulpit. ESPN.

Knight’s well-documented resentment toward Kentucky keeps it interesting. But, it doesn’t make him unique.

And so it goes.


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