Saturday, November 15, 2014

Kentucky basketball. No shame

To no one's great surprise, once again the Kentucky Wildcats were the pre-season #1 team. Despite their recent history of "one and dones", head coach John Calipari seems to reload with magnum force every year. Remember the Univ of Michigan's Fab Five from back in the 90's? Though they never won a championship, what Kentucky is doing would be like the Wolverines recruiting a similar class of freshmen for several years in a row.

But there's a downside. Like the cult classic novel and movie "Wild In The Streets", when the new generation takes over, somebody's gotta go to make room. And there's only so many spots on a college basketball roster. Which means, sometimes the geezers, at the ripe old age of 21 or 22, might get eased out to pasture. In the book/movie, anybody over the age of 30 was rounded up and sent to camps, where they would be forever dosed on LSD. It's not quite that extreme with Kentucky basketball, but let's just say surviving the annual purge to become an upper-classman on that team should come with a medal. A worthy feat indeed.

In fact, Calipari has so much young talent that's he's been experimenting with a wholesale "platoon" system. Start the game with five former prep All-Americans, and after several minutes pull them all out for Squad B -- also five former high school sensations. That's a serious amount of shock troops coming at the other team in waves. What the young Wildcats may lack in real-world maturity, they more than make up for in height, talent, and of course, tattoos. The Bluegrass state is one of the toughest in the nation when it comes to enforcing marijuana laws, but evidently they're all in when it comes to body art on their teen-aged basketball players.

Kentucky may or may not go on to win the national championship. We'll find out next spring. But being the consensus all-around #1 team going in, they should be ashamed of themselves for the competition they have scheduled in the early part of this year.

During their summer "exhibition tour" in the Bahamas, the Wildcats twice played the Puerto Rican Reserves and the Champagne Chalons Reims -- who and whatever they are. Sounds French. Do these guys make bubbly wine at their day jobs? Are they old-world kinfolk of country singer LeAnn? Beats me, but this doesn't exactly come across as tough competition for a #1 team to face. At that, Kentucky split two games with the Dominican Republic. Sure, they churn out lots of terrific baseball players, but they've got a hoops team too? Who knew? Of course, if Jamaica could have an Olympic bobsled team that would finish higher than the best USA team -- anything's possible. Idle thought: Where did they practice at?

Before Kentucky gets into conference play, their schedule is even more shameful. Granted, they have to play both Kansas and Texas at neutral sites (heaven forbid they should have to play a true road game before conference action begins), but check out the rest of the teams they have lined up----

Pikeville. Ever hear of it? Not me.
Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon has a team?
Montana State.
UT Arlington.
Eastern Kentucky.

And guess what? If lining up patsy row wasn't bad enough, all these games will be played on Kentucky's home floor at Rupp Arena.

Nothing like stacking the deck to rack up a bunch of easy wins.

For such a proud and storied program, it appears they have no shame either.

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