Whitesburg KY

Will platoon work?

Bob Watkins

Bob Watkins

Space this week is dedicated to Bopper, Hobo and Tom Sawyer- like Patrick McSweeney.

Kentucky 121, Georgetown 52. To conclude Georgetown College coach Chris Briggs is impressed with Kentucky after Sunday’s flogging is like believing Mitch McConnell is impressed with being elected kingmaker of Congress. Yes, but.

“ How to defend Kentucky?’ Briggs was asked.

“You better recruit better first,” he gushed. “It’s going to take an extremely off night and an extremely great night out of somebody who has big-time NBA talent as well to get those guys.

“I knew they were good coming into this game, but sitting out there watching it … honestly, I don’t see how they’re going to get beat this year. I don’t like to say that, because I know people have off nights and things can happen and this-and-that, and injuries, but if they play like they did tonight, they’re an NBA playoff team.”

What do we know about the Wildcats so far?

We can be awestruck by portions of the UK-Georgetown box score. A plausible model for a workable two platoon experiment – double digit minutes for 11 players, double-figure scoring for seven players, and 32 assists dealt by 14 players.

However, since Kansas won’t be Georgetown College and breathing heavy five minutes into the second half, I think it’s a mirage. Platoon works as a military formation, but when combat gets hot and winning is the only option, the best of the best are sent to the front while “you other boys ain’t finishers, so take a seat.”

Aaron Harrison’s assessment may have revealed a bit too much: “… at the beginning you’re questioning the new type of play. You just wonder about it, but I think we’re starting to settle in and improve and it has worked so far.”

Facial expressions along a bench of McDonalds All- Americans accustomed to 30-plus minutes a night, makes ‘so far’ sound not far enough.

Platoon at UK? Because it means the many get to play instead of the few, I hope the platoon idea is more than another gollygosh gadget to impress Big Blue Nation by the man dedicated to ingratiating himself, Elmer Gantry.


Pikeville … Georgetown … and Patrick McSweeney by way of Bellarmine coach Scotty Davenport.

McSweeney. Wonderful Irish name isn’t it, for a curly haired, starry-eyed 15-yearold straight off a page of Adventures of Tom Sawyer? In this case, McSweeney is a cancer survivor Louisville native who, as Rick Pitino said once, “embrace the precious present.” Kid rolled in a two-pointer against the Top 10 Cardinals. Priceless with a postscript – Player of the Game.

As for Pikeville … Georgetown … and Bellarmine … fodder to- be-sure for Boardwalk titans Kentucky and Louisville, but all three are national champions at their own levels.

Entertaining then to watch earnest and feisty underdogs battle basketball’s big boys last week.

In Lexington, the Wildcats toyed with UPike then Georgetown, but the entertainment was seeing Chris Briggs – grad assistant to Tubby Smith at UK – take a bow, wave to family and friends, then send out the likes of Bopper Stenzel (Winchester), Corey Washburn (Mt. Washington) and Tony Kimbro (Louisville) to compete against America’s No. 1 on America’s largest stage in front of 21,490 fans.

Only one to have it better than Bopper, Hobo McCoy (Pikeville) and the rest, was Patrick McSweeney at Yum Center Sunday.


Its record is solid at 7-3, but Louisville’s team is still finding out who it is ( at quarterback and running back), as a big run to the finish line looms. Reward? A top tier bowl bid awaits.

This week Notre Dame hosts Northwestern while UofL coaches watch then package a game film with good win at Boston College to rev up for the (overrated?) Irish on Saturday before Thanksgiving.


No surprise most preseason college basketball polls put Kentucky atop is rankings, but an item to stir curiosity comes from a Sports Illustrated projection – UK will lose three games in Southeastern Conference play.

Given its unprecedented depth and skill quality, I wonder how Kentucky can lose three games period.

And so it goes.

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