No matter how you look at life or sports, when you’ve been a lifelong resident of the Commonwealth as I have it’s a great week when you can spend one evening at Rupp Arena and one afternoon at Commonwealth Stadium within the same week.
With that being said, I’m going to try and be as positive as possible as we head out of the late fall and into the early winter, even if it means dodging comments occasionally on the gridiron sport.
One of my favorite times each year of the sports calendar is the month of November because we get a good dose of UK football and basketball on a daily basis, even if one of them leaves a little bit of a sour taste in our mouth when the sun comes up each morning. This week Coach Cal and his Cats unofficially begin to start defending their 2012 NCAA championship with the first of two preseason exhibition games against Longwood University out of Florida, which by the way is coached by one of the most likeable personalities of the NCAA Italian coaching fraternity, Rollie Massimino, who won the 1985 NCAA championship at Rupp Arena by guiding his Villanova Wildcats over the mighty Georgetown Hoyas led by Patrick Ewing and their bigger-than-life coach George Thompson. Thursday’s game is televised live from Rupp Arena on Fox Sports South and the UK IMG Network with tip off slated for 7 p.m.
This time Rollie won’t enjoy the atmosphere or experience near as much as he did in 1985.
This Saturday will provide Joker Phillips and his hard luck Wildcats with another opportunity at an SEC win when they entertain a very beatable Vanderbilt team. Yes, I said beatable even with all of UK’s injuries. The Cats will have a realistic shot at their first SEC win because they are getting a few players back from the injury list, and they do now have two fairly healthy quarterbacks who are young and talented even if they don’t play like it at times. They both do seem to play with much more confidence at home. Add all that together and don’t ever underestimate the fact that Vanderbilt is still Vanderbilt when on the road. Plus, in recent home games UK has shown flashes of a fairly consistent running game with juniors Raymond Sanders and Jonathan George pulling most of the , and freshman Dyshawn Mobley getting a couple touches each half.
If lightning strikes and the Cats somehow pull out their first SEC win and follow it up with a win against Samford, will it save Joker Phillips’ job on decision day? I highly doubt it.
But that’s just an educated guess on my part.
Blue - White Scrimmage Feedback
Here are a few observations from our staff here at Tri State Sports Media Service and our website www.combsbrothersonkysports.com on last week’s Blue-White scrimmage.
1 - Kyle Wiltjer showed the experience gained from last year was very beneficial in his development when his first two field goals were off drives to the basket.
2 - Julius Mays is small at 6’ 1” but he is strong with the ball and has a nice touch from the perimeter. Mays and Wiltjer may cause opponents to think twice about zone defenses.
3 - Archie Goodwin is so athletic and quick and explosive. He could very well be considered a 6’ 5” version of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist that can shoot more consistently from the perimeter.
4 - Can’t believe Willie Cauley-Stein was rated as far down the top 100 list as he was last year by the recruiting gurus.
5 - Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson are better — a lot better — and don’t be surprised if they both get more than mop-up minutes this year, especially if starters develop foul problems.
6 - Coach Cal was on the floor giving instructions during time outs and dead ball situations with the ESPN All Access cameras right on his back. I’m betting we’ll get a few shots of that this week during part three of ESPN All Access Kentucky Wildcats.
Tidbits from last weekend’s nationally televised SEC games
1 - In his remarks Saturday on the Bama/State game, Lew Fowler of ESPN Game Day referred to Starkville, Mississippi as a metropolitan area when making reference to all the “We Believe” signs displayed all week leading up to Saturday’s game in Tuscaloosa. Obviously, Fowler has never been to Starkville because it is anything but a metropolitan area.
2 - At halftime of the Texas A&M massacre of Auburn, the ESPN in studio crew brought out a stat that caught my eye and I’m sure a few other Kentuckians. Apparently there have been three other games in the history of SEC football where a team has been down 42 points at halftime and yes, in all of the other games the bottom side team was the Kentucky Wildcats.
3 - Billy Donovan’s remarks at the SEC basketball media days of ESPN and their promotion of UK basketball through the new ESPN All Access Kentucky Wildcats series evidently fell on deaf ears, because ESPN promoted this coming Wednesdays part three all day long Saturday during various different football games and especially during SEC, plus Saturday night during the Notre Dame vs.Oklahoma game ABC promoted Wednesday’s final part three of the series at least once each quarter, with one of the game announcers chiming in and plugging Wildcat basketball with a comment or two of their own.
4 - Raise your hand if you thought Auburn/Tennessee/UK would be a combined 1-21 heading into November.
5 - UK and Auburn are now both officially out of the bowl bid picture. Arkansas is 3-5 with games left at South Carolina and Mississippi State plus a season ending date with LSU. Vanderbilt and Missouri both set at 4-4 with each having three games left on the road. Tennessee is the best 3-5 team that has the best chance on paper of gaining bowl eligibility, but everybody in Knoxville is rooting against their embattled coach Derek Dooley so they can force him out of town, except of course Mama Dooley, but she is a strong willed southern fire cracker when it comes to her and Vince’s baby.
What does all this mean? Since Bama, LSU, and Florida are all likely headed to BCS Bowls, it’s beginning to look highly doubtful that the SEC will be able to fill its eight bowl bids.