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Sports in Kentucky

Trying times



Terrible losses by the Kentucky Wildcats, Louisville Cardinals, and Western Kentucky Hilltoppers bring to mind a twist on a Thomas Paine refrain, “These are the times that try men’s soles.”

Pummeled by Florida, and Utah and Navy respectively, will the Wildcats, Cards and Hilltoppers pack up their cleats and beat a hasty retreat to the rear?

Could be.

Kentucky embarrassed itself. But lets see if Rich Brooks’s team offers more than tepid dispute to ESPN analyst Bob Davie’s assessment, “Kentucky has taken a major step back.”

No time to whine for UK. Instead, new opportunity to retrieve respect. Here comes No. 3 Alabama — less finesse than No. 1 Florida, but more Sherman Tank. And, unlike Urban Meyer, Nick Saban will give no quarter.

Louisville. Have the Cardinals quit on their coach three games in? Fans quit on their team because of the coach? Pittsburgh at Papa John Friday night may provide the answers.

Western. The Hilltoppers need a step-back and review and get one. Open date.

These are times that try men’s souls, Paine wrote.

This week, we will see about souls and soles of the state’s three D-I football affiliates.

Slone & Poole

Landon Slone and Stacey Poole reminded fans last week what is grand and what is business about Kentucky basketball.

Slone re-enrolled at UK and wants to be a walk-on again no matter what it takes. “I have a certain love for Kentucky (basketball),” the Paintsville native told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “It’s hard when you love it as much as I do.”

Too often UK coaches have ignored the strategic, if not skill value of having a native son who puts love and Kentucky basketball into the same sentence instead of “get me to the next level.”

A UK hoops historian could remind John Calipari that jerseys hanging in Rupp Arena belong to a trio of former Wildcats Eddie Sutton was coerced into signing, and Rick Pitino didn’t want. Yet, because John Pelphrey, Deron Feldhaus and Richie Farmer put “love for Kentucky basketball” ahead of all else, they became Unforgettables.

Meanwhile, Florida prep star Poole committed to play at Kentucky. Coaches did the recruiting leg work, but fan love delivered the verbal commitment.

Poole’s goal is to play in the NBA. For now he is the next Alex Legion. A 6-5 kid with a dream. Being rated the country’s No. 56 best high schooler means nothing. How he handles transition shock to college means everything.

Readers (Right) Write

About Kentucky’s men’s basketball coach …

JL, E’town: “Correct me if I am wrong, but it does seem you take every opportunity to take a shot at John Calipari.”

COMMENT. Wrong. Too many Kentucky fans fell in love too soon with Billy Clyde Gillispie, Rick Pitino and Eddie Sutton. Calipari has enjoyed his honeymoon and must now earn his way. To date, the two most successful seasons in his career have been erased from NCAA records. Fans ought to wait and see how Calipari handles …

The Humble Factor with a nine game win streak which should be the case when North Carolina arrives in Rupp Arena December 5.

Representing Kentucky on the sidelines when a game is not going well.

A radio show call-in audience after UK loses two in a row.

Answering second-guess questions from reporters in postgame.

News & Views

NEWS. Bruce Pearl. Tennessee’s second best basketball coach got a little full of himself at the podium last week and had a Don Imus moment. Speaking at a charity fund raiser in northeast Tennessee, Pearl told Tennessee Valley Authority employees, “I’ve got a tough job. I’ve got to put these guys from different worlds together, right? I’ve got guys from Chicago, Detroit … I’m talking about the ‘hood! And I’ve got guys from Grainger County, where they wear the hood.'”

VIEW. Oops. Soon as Pearl gets his boot out of his mouth, this could get him the kind of attention he got as whistle blower at Iowa 15 years ago. Little wonder why racial tension is rising again in America.

You may reach Bob Watkins at sprtsinky@aol.com.

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