Frost is on the pumpkin, wool sweaters are out of storage … and an extra blanket, too. High autumn in Kentucky — clock hands turn back, sugar maples are wearing red, yellows and brown.
This week, a few reasons why November in Kentucky is like no place else. Overlap.
1. High school football players have decals splashed across their helmets and state title on their minds. College dudes are wearing whiskers and heavy tapped ankles. That crescendo in the distance … bouncing basketballs.
2. Up next, football traditionals, Army-Navy, Alabama-Auburn, Kentucky-Louisville. Oops, the Governor’s Cup is summer classic. Played when ESPN and Louisville media say so.
Note to BCS people. Penn State-Alabama or Texas-Southern Cal are good matches, but undercard games. Give us Florida-Texas Tech.
3. To clog up recruiting and stir mind games, speculation will begin that Rich Brooks will retire at Kentucky. The coach will be offered a contract extension.
Whatever happened to Mike Minix, Paintsville, and Derek Homer, Fort Knox?
4. Coffee shop conversation becomes name-drop for all-conference, all-state, All-American, Mr. Football and Heisman Trophy.
5. College basketball polls begin with North Carolina, but preseason rankings mean nothing. Yet, for argument-sake, they mean everything. Louisville is too high at No. 3 and Kentucky ranked nowhere is ridiculous.
6. Top 25. Northern Kentucky is No. 3, Kentucky Wesleyan is 22nd. Also ranked Georgetown, Cumberlands and Campbellsville.
Anybody remember Sue Bennett College?
7. Rick Pitino will tell reporters in February, “All things considered, this is the best team I’ve ever had.” For now, the Cards are a bunch of guys learning to spell names on their backs and how to play for name on the front.
8. Heading to November 14, Billy Clyde Gillispie will talk VMI, but his mind will be on the Tar Heels four nights later.
9. We will see how long until boo-bird fans and knee-jerk media find a kick-around candidate to replace Billy Packer.
10. Kids from Johnson to Kenton Counties and beyond who cheer for Kentucky, have new hope and new heroes this week. Landon Slone and Mark Krebs live their dream wearing blue and white uniforms.
11. We will see how Madisonville-North’s Jon Hood handles praise, physical play and pressure as a future Wildcat and Mr. Basketball favorite.
Can Billy Hicks’ Scott County team run the table?
12. By Christmas the NCAA will report 3-point shot attempts are as abundant as ever at new distance. We will wonder how long before Pitino and brethren want to tinker with the game again.
13. Darth Vadar (Kelvin Sampson) has left the building. Indiana new media darling, Tom Crean is more billboard recognizable than Evan Bayh or Richard Lugar combined.
14. Buy new batteries for your television remote. The mute button better be ready for another work-out when Dick Vitale shows up.
Whatever happened to Walt Allen, Mr. Basketball 2005?
15. UK fans will buzz about Tyler Hansbrough’s return from injury list; keep an eye on Bruce Pearl’s team; anticipate December 13 with the Hoosiers.
16. UofL fans will keep a wary eye on No. 2 ranked UConn. Cards look schedule-lite until Jan. 4 and won’t host the Huskies until February 2.
17. We salute NBA title ring owner Rajon Rondo for his personal goal this season. “… isn’t to be named an All-Star for the first time. Rather, to be the first Celtics guard since the late Dennis Johnson 21 years ago to make the All-Defensive first team.” – Boston Glove.
Whatever happened to Walter Gee, Hopkinsville Attucks and Ray Mills, Clay County?
18. Best name in college hoops is Sun Belt Conference women’s preseason player of the year, Western Kentucky’s Dominique Duck.
19. Half dozen times this winter CBS will use Ty Rogers’ game winning shot for the Hilltoppers last spring as self promotion.
20. Tayshaun Prince will make a cameo at a game in Rupp Arena and receive a standing ovation to rival one given the man for whom the place was dedicated in December, 1976, Adolph Rupp.
Whatever happened to Jerome Hoosier, Transylvania, and Joe Dan Gold, Paducah?
21. North Carolina and Kentucky play at Chapel Hill Nov. 18. Beforehand, you will hear much about the closing gap between college basketball’s winningest programs. Top five to date: Kentucky – 1,966 wins, North Carolina – 1,950, Kansas – 1,943, Duke -1,846, and Syracuse -1,725.
22. By New Year’s, UK fans will be hand-wringing … will Patrick Patterson turn pro? UofL fans will do likewise fretting about $amardo $amuels.
23. Like no season since our Young Turks became D-I college coaches, we will follow career paths of John Pelphrey and Darren Horn in the SEC, Travis Ford in the Big 12 and Kevin Willard at Iona.
Whatever happened to Autumn Damron (Virgie)?
24. I am occasionally accused of being a UK or UofL ‘fan,’ and asked, “so, which IS your favorite team?
Answer: Vanderbilt, Purdue and whoever plays North Carolina.
Autumn and overlap, best season of the year.
And so it goes.
Have an idea, a question or point-of-view to share? Write Bob Watkins at SprtsinKy@aol.com