2015-04-15 / Sports

Fans still angry over tourney loss

Fans across the Commonwealth are still incredulous, angry, blame-game mindset and (some) have gone hateful. Kentucky didn’t win the NCAA championship and (arrrrggh!) the Dookies did.

UK LAST SUPPER?

Officially, the Kentucky Wildcats’ last supper-like gathering in Joe Craft gym last week was less than it could have been.

Athletic department troops missed a chance to be creative, soften the specter of show-methe money defections for ESPN, put emphasis “thanks fellas,” then celebrate those staying.

Two tables side by side, seven chairs for each.

TABLE 1. Seats for the Goodbye guys. Seven underclassmen ambled in, sat down, stood up, then sat again, and took turns mumbling “... time for me to chase my dream” ... “what he said” ... what he said,” and so on.

See ya.

Then, another gaffe by athletic department spin people. Nobody reminded the twins and pals to thank the “greatest fans in college basketball” for showing up 39 times, rain-snow-iceexpense, (plus Bahamas trip). A face-up thanks into ESPN cameras to Big Blue Nation for invested hearts and minds, and buying stuff — tee-shirts, (overpriced) jerseys, body paint, costumes and tattoos. Cha-ching!

TABLE 2. Seats for Wait’ll next year! returnees. Celebrate Marcus Lee, Tyler Ulis, Alex Poythress, Dominque Hawkins, Derek Willis, and EJ Floreal. And, a chair to represent the next number one recruiting class in America.

And, nobody mentioned the elephant in the room. Lee, Ulis, Poythress, Hawkins and Willis, have been, are being recruited over.

Postscript. The event was a mammoth recruiting advantage (NCAA rules violation?), free airtime from ESPN.

JOHN CALIPARI

Microphone in hand, here came disclaimer man. Letting himself off the showme the-money hook, the coach washed his hands (figuratively).

“ I’m not convincing them to stay and I’m not pushing anybody out the door. This is their choice. It’s about each individual up here making a decision not based on what’s right for this university, not based on what’s right for me and our staff, (but) what’s right for them and their families.”

Decisions not based on a university employee (ball coach) who blatantly offers not a hint of lip service to student-athlete, as the words retreat more and more a joke punch line.

In fact, this, all of it, is exactly about the tail (Calipari) that wags this dog (UK).

“I did tell a couple of the kids that it (NBA) is a man’s league,” he said. “It’s not a child’s league. If you’re not ready for a man’s league, you need to come back.”

So, no new banner to hang in Rupp Arena commemorating a glistening 38-1 season, but Calipari wins a league title in 2015 that he cares most — best team in the NBA Developmental League.

ONE AND DONE VIEWS v According to Washington Post statistician Neil Greenberg, a one-and-done player drafted in the top five is almost twice as effective at the NBA level than those picked in the bottom half of the top 10 and beyond.

“... the drop-off from the first five picks to the next five is much more severe than their peers.

“The absolutely magical talents can find their way (Anthony Davis, Karl Anthony Towns), because they’re given more (playing) time to get there,” the Post article said. “The rest become, well, the rest — Trey Lyles, Devin Booker, the Harrison twins and certainly Dakari Johnson.”

NBA mock draft projections as of April 13: Towns (1) and Willie Cauley-Stein (6). Lyles (13) and Booker (14), if they make a roster, face limited chances to establish themselves. Same for Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell (24) and Murray State’s Cameron Payne (29).

Nowhere in this mock draft’s first round: Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Dakari Johnson and UofL’s Terry Rozier.

What next? Unless they get opportunity to improve dramatically early on, come real world possibility — DLeague ... playing in Europe, South America or Asia.

Or, looking for jobs with a resume that says under education, ‘high school diploma.’

PARTING SHOT

Bob Knight and Lou Holtz got the axe last week at ESPN. No contract renewal. Both were interesting and enjoyable to listen to ... for awhile. But time for both to move on had come. In colorful language a Sports In Kentucky reader made the same suggestion to me last week.

And so it goes.

You can reach me at bob. Watkins24@aol.com.

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