If UK had beaten Arkansas last Saturday, the Cats would more than likely have built up enough renewed confidence to have finished off a weaker Georgia team this Thursday, which would have built up enough confidence points with the NCAA selection committee that the season-ending Florida game probably wouldn’t have been as difficult to swallow no matter the point spread.
But that’s the old “if” game, as Jerry Claiborne used to say in analyzing his teams that ended just under the bowl invitation radar, much like this UK basketball team is sitting in with the NCAA selection committee.
Now the three game home stand sweep that UK just came off of is almost wiped out, or at least in the afterthought with the NCAA selection committee. Another a two steps forward and three steps backward situation that UK has put themselves into, and if they weren’t already, they’re definitely squarely back on the bubble as they enter the last week of the regular season.
Make no mistake, the Georgia game this Thursday in Athens is the biggest game of the year on the Cats’ schedule. It’s doubtful, in my eyes anyway, the Cats could recover from a Georgia loss even if they upset Florida on Saturday at senior day.
UK simply has to focus hard the first three days in practice at the Joe Craft Center this week on the Bulldogs, but Georgia is one of the few teams in the SEC that UK can beat on the road with a respectable effort. That means a game with fewer than 10 turnovers and an advantage in rebounds by six to eight with a reasonable shooting night in the 45 to 50 percent range. Nothing out of the realm of possibility, even for this UK team.
Then they can set their sights on another Missouri-like game to close the regular season out with the Gators on senior day. I picked the brains of several of my friends in the media who cover UK last Friday, and as strange as this may sound they all agreed that the Cats stood as good a chance of beating Florida at Rupp as they did of winning either game on the road at Arkansas or Georgia.
We will see come this Sunday where the Cats’ fortunes lay, but their NCAA invitation could be sealed with a sweep this week or the bubble everybody has them on could be busted with no chance of a recovery short of an SEC tourney championship.
Coach Cal’s UK father-son summer camps set
Once again, Coach Cal is opening up the Joe Craft Center and legendary Memorial Coliseum for fun and games of hoops this summer for any father and son combo across the USA, and especially from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, that want to spend some quality bonding time that he so values with his own son, Brad. Actually, this unique format of summer basketball camp was introduced to Big Blue Nation late in the Rick Pitino era, and has really caught on in recent years with all the hoop success that Cal has brought back to the Bluegrass.
This summer’s John Calipari Father & Son camp dates and pertinent info are as follows:
Session No. 1 is June 7 and 8, then the following weekend (Father’s Day Weekend) June 14 and 15 will be session No. 2. A limited number of spots are available for all camps on a first-come, first-serve basis with online registration at www.ukathetics.com/camps recommended as the fastest and most efficient form of registering.
This camp is open to all fathers and any son in the age group of 6 to 17, regardless of previous basketball experience. The skill work Coach Cal and his staff have designed will be taught to each father and son, so they can take it home with them and continue to work on and improve the son’s game as he goes through his student-athlete experience at his respective elementary, middle, or high school.
All of the camps listed were sold out the last two summers, so early registration is encouraged to secure a spot.
BBN and true commonwealth sports fan in for a treat
Regardless if you’re a true member of the BBN or a true multiple sports personality, the place to be this week is Lexington, Ky., and hopefully you already have your hotel/motel reservations because I seriously doubt there is a room available in between the areas of Winchester, Frankfort, Richmond, and Georgetown at this late of a date.
Beginning this Wednesday, the high school basketball fans of the Commonwealth will be treated to their earliest ever rendition of this season’s boys KHSAA Sweet 16 basketball tournament held annually at Rupp Arena. Tickets are still available and surprisingly a few of them in the lower level. You can go online to www.ticketmaster.com or just wait and buy them at the Rupp Arena ticket office each day as teams are eliminated each session and fans go home, plus many tickets become available outside the corridors of the Civic Center along High Street. The tweak in this year’s Sweet 16 tournament format is that the longtime setting of a double header semifinal on Saturday morning and a championship game at 8 p.m. on Saturday night is not in play this year with the UK-Florida game set for Noon Saturday on CBS.
The Sweet 16 semifinal games will be played at 7:30 and 9 p.m. on Saturday night this year, and the championship game will tip off at 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.
If the weather breaks around mid-week, I recommend a visit to Cliff Hagan Stadium located right across Cooper Drive from Commonwealth Stadium, where the UK baseball team is off to another strong start. The Bat Cats are presently ranked No. 8 in NCAA baseball rankings and play home games on Tuesday and Wednesday, and end the week with a weekend series with Michigan State.
But the plum of the sports activity around Lexington this week could very well be the Cats and Gators match up Saturday at noon, especially if UK can find a way to win Thursday night at Georgia.
The UK-Florida game Saturday could seal an NCAA bid with a Cats upset, or bust their NCAA bubble into a win the SEC tourney scenario or fall into the dreaded NIT field.
If none of the above suits your fancy and you’re a fan of the female sports agenda, you can visit the UK women’s fast pitch softball complex Wednesday at 5 p.m. for the UK vs. Marshall tilt, or plan a weekend visit for the UK vs. Ole Miss weekend softball series. The UK women’s softball team is presently ranked No. 17 in NCAA softball and on an eight-game winning streak, having won their previous two weekend tournaments.
The UK women’s basketball team will be out of town this coming weekend playing in the SEC women’s basketball tournament as the No. 2 seed.