2012-04-11 / Sports

It’s time for ‘what’s next?’

Bob Watkins
Sports in Kentucky

While we wait for embattled Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino’s lips to move again, these things...

For Hoops fans in Kentucky, today is a Bill Murray Groundhog Day ... and tomorrow, and day after that.

A national championship for Big Blue Nation; two state schools reached a Final Four, four locals made the Big Dance, and next season looks bright for all.

College basketball season 2011- 12 in Kentucky was the grandest of grand statewide parties, bigger than the Barnstable Twins Derby bash and bigger than a Richie Farmer ballyhoo for No. 32.

But, like all good things, hoops season in Kentucky comes to an end, right? Wrong.

Every day is Groundhog Day in the Bluegrass. Fans are ready for “what’s next?”

• First, don’t worry, shipments of University of Kentucky memorabilia – shirts, shorts, socks, booties, figurines, pennants, Colonel Sanders in blue, and cheerleader outfits for infants, and whatever else can bear a Big Blue label – are on the shelves with more to come.

Cha-ching!

This week, a note to the oneand doners at UK, a quiet and appreciative thank you and “see ya!”

Turn the page. High school signing days began this week and the NCAA mandated date for college underclassmen to withdraw their names from the NBA draft was Wednesday.

By last Monday, 24 college underclassmen had declared for the NBA’s June draft. None was named Anthony Davis, Michael-Kidd Gilchrist or Peyton Siva.

However the Ugly List, another way of saying NBA Draft Tracker Top 100, lists Davis and Kidd- Gilchrist first and second with Terrence Jones 10th.

Meanwhile, the University of Kentucky’s eighth national title made for punch lines and clever re-inventions:

• The state’s bird, the (red) cardinal, was cast in all blue with No. 23 on its chest feathers.

• For UPS and its Christian Laettner/The Shot TV commercial, an enterprising photo-shop creator air-brushed Laettner’s shot of 20 years ago being blocked by Anthony Davis.

• April 10, prime high school stars not already committed could pick a college. By evening same day, the buzz was clear. In barbershops, beauty shops, local diners, gas stations, Sunday School classrooms, pubs and sports bars across the Commonwealth, inthe know local experts were holding court, projecting 2012-13.

• Amid the buzz, a windfall possibility for John Calipari. If 6-9, 240-pound UConn transfer Alex Oriakhi moves to Kentucky, Cal will have his very own Festus Ezeli brand next season.

• Next Groundhog Day(s) happen in Princeton, New Jersey, Indianapolis and Louisville. Buzz from AAU teams and phenomproducing all-star summer camps fill whatever void remains.

• Groundhog Day after that? Summer and fall pick-up game reports from Seaton Center at UK, Cardinal Gym UofL as well as Murray and Western Kentucky.

• October – camp-outs in Lexington for Big Blue Madness.

UK’s Joyless Celebration?

Kentucky fans celebrating in Lexington streets last week forgot to read and/or New York Times writers Pete Thamel and Greg Bishop didn’t see the uh, joyless celebration.

“The confetti inside the Louisiana Superdome ... also fell with a certain joylessness on a college sport many believe has been cynically compromised,” Thamel and Bishop opined.

To affirm their case, the writers added, “John Calipari is doing what the system allows him to do,” David Ridpath, an assistant professor of sport administration at Ohio University said. “I guess in that sense, congratulations.”

Richie Farmer

Media scrutiny devoted to ex- Kentucky Wildcat Richie Farmer by the state’s major newspapers has reached a point of making the ex-Commissioner of Agriculture a martyr.

Newspaper revelations, if true, of Farmer’s lavish spending while in state office and candidate for lieutenant governor while budget belt-tightening was going on everywhere else is a stunner.

Yet, Farmer deserves a large A-plus for audacity. To believe he could replenish his department’s transportation fleet, put a girlfriend on the payroll, roll taxpayer dollars into a pool of cash donated by companies doing business with Kentucky for conventions and parties and nobody would take notice is amazing.

A Richie Farmer re-invention — a comeback to elected state office — would be comparable to a Christian Laettner shot being blocked by No. 32.

Worth Repeating Dept.

From The New York Times: Mark Emmert, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, had already expressed regret that the NBA’s so-called one-and-done rule allows universities to recruit athletes who show little interest in getting an education. That said, Emmert was not going to be forfeiting any of the tens of millions of dollars his organization made as a result of the tournament the Kentucky team was so spectacular in winning.

Questions/Answers

Q. Was University of Kentucky 2011-12 best in school history? Yes .

A. 38-2 record and national title speak for themselves, but best evidence is answer to this question – did media, analysts or fans use the term Go-To-Guy through the season? Basketball as team sport produced an NCAA title.

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