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Fun is watching Kentucky grow up





Bob Watkins

Bob Watkins

Here’s to watching Kentucky’s team grow up. v Against Auburn: 25 assists. v Trey Lyles came around a low post pick by Karl Anthony Towns with energy and expectation instead of nonchalance … turned into the lane, impeccably timed pass delivered — score and one. v Tyler Ulis’s mid-floor nolook assist to Willie Cauley-Stein against Auburn was freshman-ofthe year-worthy. v Devin Booker’s shot motion. v Marcus Lee hurdles down the lane … put-back slam against Auburn … growing up. v With February wins at Florida, LSU and Tennessee in the books, John Calipari is less hysterical these days, has spent more time inside the coach’s box, and looks more worthy of national coach of the year candidacy. v For MVP fans — kids in Big Blue Nation — reasons for optimism that Ulis, Booker and Lee return next season. v Postscript Just wondering: How would Kentucky be different if Kyle Wiltjer was in Lexington instead of Spokane?

Pearl On Wildcats

Who is more quotable in college hoops than ex-ESPN analyst Bruce Pearl?

“What (Kentucky does) offensively … pounding it inside, there’s nobody in the league who’s even close to that.

“They’re better shooting the ball from the perimeter. They hunt shots. They want them. If anybody goes zone now, their eyes get big, you know?”

Kentucky go unbeaten? “… because of the character and chemistry, I think they certainly can. … The one thing I would be a little concerned about, if (officials) let (UK) play, which I hope they would in a big game, they should have a real good chance. I would just hate if (officials) suddenly started calling it really different in the tournament.”

UofL’s Knucklehead

Amazing how Rick Pitino can explain so much with a single shot. Knucklehead.

That two-year starter and senior Chris Jones — 3.7-a-game assist leader and 13.6 points on a 12th-ranked team that is NCAA tournament-bound team (and NBA draft chance on the line), would risk confrontation with a hall of fame ball coach defines Knucklehead.

Is Jones a major loss for Louisville team? Maybe.

Better spin and story line: Opportunity falls into lap of freshman Quentin Snider. Kentucky Mr. Basketball a year ago who withdrew his commit to UofL because he didn’t feel enough love from Pitino, gets a promotion.

Bracketology

Longest win streaks in college hoops (at this writing) are Kentucky (27) and Murray State (22). When pairings for the NCAA Tournament are posted next month, if Steve Prohm’s Racers win the OVC Tournament, history suggests Kentucky and Murray could be first round foes.

Crank Up the Carousel

College basketball’s other season is on the horizon. The Coach’s Carousel for 2015 is already cranking up and promises to be entertaining.

Prime candidates for movin’- on-up jobs will be UK assistant Kenny Payne and Murray State’s Steve Prohm.

Payne’s résumé built sitting next to John Calipari at Kentucky since 2010 will make his cell phone ring. Won’t be an easy hire however. Payne’s pay grade at UK is already a comfy seven figures.

Prohm’s record at Murray is beyond exemplary. Stability and consistency, four 21-plus wins, three OVC titles in a row. At 40-years-old, he is prime time to be next Murray State coach to job jump.

Only a coincidence, this intriguing link: Anthony Grant at Alabama may be among first coach let go this spring. Prohm is a 1997 Alabama graduate.

Freshmen Ineligible?

In classic Back-to-the-Future, officials at Big Ten and Big 12 offi cials have put forth the (old) idea of making freshmen not eligible for varsity play as it was before 1972.

The idea moved one media type to be first launching into righteous yowl, freshman ineligibility, “… is going back to the dinosaur concept of making kids sit is in service to academics…”

Dinosaur concept seems clever, but “making kids sit is in service to academics,” is somewhere on the Dumb Scale between Stupid and Ridiculous. Accepting a free scholarship education is hardly servitude.

Any rule change that prods college administrators in the direction of its original intent, education, is noble and right. And, strikes a blow at the moneychangers before college sports are totally consumed by no-going-back profiteers.

Damien Harris

Since Madison Southern High football star Damien Harris signed with Alabama, Crimson Tide running backs Tyren Jones was suspended, Altee Tenpenny transferred and senior-to-be T.J. Yeldon filed for the NFL draft.

Barring a red-shirt, Harris can compete with leading rusher Derrick Henry, back-up Kenyan Drake and newcomers Bo Scarbrough and DeSherrius Flowers, both of whom enrolled early.

Parting Shot

Rick Pitino forgot to engage his brain before opening his mouth on the incident in Saturday’s Miami game when Montrezl Harrell slammed a ball off Tonye Jekiri’s face. UofL’s coach asked why “that Miami doctor” would have allowed Jekiri to return if a concussion was suspected?

UofL’s doctor cleared Jekiri to return. Oops.

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


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