Thank you NCAA for taking the last 3 1/2 months to make sure Enes Kanter or, excuse me Papa Kanter, hasn't exploited your coveted rules that you so consistently apply across college sports. It's opened the door for a very deserving young man to make a solid contribution to UK basketball and just maybe throw them right into the thick of another deep run into March Madness.
A very special thank you to Billy Gillispie, arguably one of your most mysterious recruits Josh Harrellson just contributed in a mighty way toward providing Big Blue Nation with another special win in the Battle of the Bluegrass series and is actually slowly turning into UK's missing link in the post area.
The official count now stands at 28 W's for UK and 14 W's for U of L. That's twice as many L's for Little Brother and the majority have come since the original Dream Game in 1983.
John Calipari has to be thinking isn't it great when a plan starts coming together when so many odds are against you not to mention a few important people behind the scenes in Indianapolis and across the college coaching fraternity. With the annual Dream Game in the win column for Calipari for the second year in a row and his team gaining confidence as the sun rises each morning one could create an early argument for Calipari as a strong candidate for some Coach of the Year awards across college basketball.
You absolutely can't question his vast coaching abilities in taking two consecutive teams with two completely different personalities and rosters and milking them both for every win possible. No way in my wildest dreams did I think UK would be basically one possession away from having only one loss as we enter SEC play. It sounds crazy to say with UK's tradition and exposure but Cal's job on the bench to date has went under the radar nationally in my eyes. Only reason I can think of is the constant talk about Enes Kanter's situation with the NCAA.
Hall & Crum vs. Pitino & Calipari
The more I follow Joe B. Hall and Denny Crum's post retirement years the more I respect them and what they continue to do as ambassadors for the team they coached and universities they worked for. The Joe B. and Denny Radio Talk Show not only reveals their vast knowledge of all sports and their everyday common lifestyles but their dialect and interaction with the callers is a constant reminder of two individuals that have no ego-driven missions in their life. Joe B. Hall is a born and raised and life-long Kentuckian while Crum moved to Kentucky in the early 70's and has been long since adopted as a solid Kentucky citizen. Having known Coach Hall for over 30 years and having met and talked to Coach Crum on a few occasions, I can sincerely say they are both humble men who are very appreciative of having had the opportunity to have coached at UK and UofL.
On the other hand, John Calipari and Rick Pitino today’s UK and UofL coaches seem to be ego driven by their own personal coaching careers instead of the institutions and franchises they have worked for. While both have been humbled and unsuccessful in their careers as professional coaches they still seem to be self oriented. But then again you could say they are a step ahead of others in the modern day college coaching fraternity by making the right move up the ladder with the right school at the right time (except for Pitino leaving UK). However, you have to give even Pitino credit for crawling back up the ladder to the national lime light at Louisville.
While Calipari and Pitino have had their many battles over the last 15-20 years (did you notice the after game hand shake Friday? It was quick and soft without eye contact, not long and firm with short conversation) yet their battles in recent years pale in comparison on or off court with what Joe B. and Denny went through in the 70's and 80's.
Bottom line is while having a conversation in the Rupp Arena press room with one of my favorite professional journalist in the Lexington Herald-Leader’s Mark Story I ask him the following question:
“Do you envision Coach Cal and Coach Pitino having the friendship 20 years from now that Joe B. and Denny have today possibly hosting a talk show or in business together?”
Story's response, "No, absolutely not. Neither will even be in the state." I concur Mark.
I have great respect for both men’s abilities and accomplishments as college coaches and consider them to be two of the top 10 coaches in today’s game, you could make an argument for top 20 status all time for both.
I just don't see the state of Kentucky providing either with enough room for their egos or lifestyles in their retirement years like Hall and Crum.
As the old saying goes you can't put a square peg in a round hole, they're just not one of us nor do they desire to be in my opinion.
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