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Early hoops publications give UK little respect



Are you ready for some basketball?

Of course you are. You’re a Kentuckian, aren’t you?

The preseason polls are much kinder to Louisville’s Cardinals than they are to Kentucky’s Wildcats.

U of L is ranked anywhere from the top five to 15th. UK will be lucky to finish in the top 25.

While Athlon’s College Basketball Magazine has an Elite 8 berth for U of L, the magazine predicts UK’s ouster from the Big Dance during the first round!

Don’t let that ruin your day, Wildcat fans. The preseason basketball ratings may not be any better than the football predictions, which assured us that Southern Cal was absolutely a sure-fire thing for a Bowl Championship Series national championship. The Trojan horse should make it out of the stall for some bowl game, but not for the title game.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of basketball:

North Carolina and UCLA will clash for the national championship, according to Athlon.

The Tar Heels and Bruins will eliminate Georgetown and Memphis in the Final Four.

The Elite 8 will consist of the teams mentioned above plus Louisville, Oregon, Kansas and – surprise! – Tennessee. That means that the pride of Mason County, sweet-shooting Chris Lofton of Tennessee, will give UK fans one more case of heartache.

Lofton is awarded a firstteam All-America berth by Athlon along with North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough, Georgetown’s Roy Hibbert, Michigan State’s Drew Nitzel and UCLA’s Darren Collison. Hansbrough and Collison are juniors, the other three seniors.

No UK and U of L players are mentioned on any of the top three All-America teams or even among 25 Honorable Mentions.

O.J. Mayo, from you pick the high school and state, is listed among the top six freshmen. He’s at Southern Cal.

I was a little bit excited when I read that Allan Houston was coming out of retirement to give it another go with the New York Knicks in the National Basketball Association.

Heck, if Allan can do it, why not Richie Farmer? After all, they are the same age, 36.

Some Ballard fans thought Richie was that old when he played in his fifth straight Sweet Sixteen against Allan in the State Tournament final in 1988. Allan won that battle in Freedom Hall after Richie had won in Lexington.

Not many things would tear Howard Schnellenberger away from his Florida Atlantic football team during the season. But the former U of L coach came to town Oct. 9 to deliver a eulogy for his close friend Ron Steiner.

They were together at Miami, the United States Football League, U of L and Oklahoma.

“Ron was the best possible communicator, and he had the capacity to believe in the dream (of U of L becoming a national power in the new stadium).”

The two old friends got to talk the week before Ron’s death following a heart transplant at the Cleveland Clinic.

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