Tonight I get to watch my first live UK Game of the Cal Era

I almost missed it.  For some reason, thought the game was tomorrow night.

But I get to watch it.   I’ve got to stay up damn near all night to do so.  It’s worth every second of lost sleep, though.

Can’t wait to see Wall and Patterson in action…with the outcome unknown.  Although, I am pretty certain that UGa is a gimme this year.   Mark Fox and Company are outmatched from top to bottom and there’s no Coach Gillispie to choke the drive and will to win out of the talented kids who take the floor for UK this year.

GO BIG BLUE!!!

I wish Meeks was here to experience this year with the Cats.  Without Meeks, this UK team is incredible.  With Meeks, they’d be a juggernaut.  Unstoppable!

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Billy Gillispie has been fired! Huh?

That’s the word I’m hearing from some pretty solid sources.

Actually, I was hearing that Gillispie will not be fired.  If G leaves, it’s going to be more of a split due to irreconcilable differences.  A mutual decision to part ways.  I’m sure there will be a buy out involved.

UK is jumping into the abyss.

I’ve also been told the following:

The player mutiny is nonsense rumor mill tripe.  Certainly, there are a couple of players who dislike Gillispie.  Meeks and Patterson are NOT those couple of players.  Meeks and Patterson are not considering the jump to the League because of Coach G.  They support G and are declaring or not declaring based upon their draft status.  They will decide based upon real world criteria and not the fantasies of internet rumor mongers and the media.  The players who won’t be coming back are guys who shouldn’t be coming back.  The Carruth wannabees.  Think AJ and Deandre.  Team Cancers.  From what I’ve been told AJ doesn’t see the purpose or value of an education.  He hasn’t lived in his dorm for most of the season.  Krebs has been all by his lonesome.  Liggins is another problem child.  Think that Vegas trip was his only refusal to go in a game.  Think again.  He’s supposedly done it throughout SEC play as well.  Deandre is playing the game right now.  The only way that he’ll be back is if he continues his change of attitude.  If he doesn’t convince G [or the next coach], he’ll not be returning.  Supposedly, he’s been a real challenge this season and I have a hard time understanding why G has put up with it.  Don’t be surprised if both AJ and Deandre are sitting on some other bench next year.

Folks who are concerned about the contract and why BCG hasn’t signed it.  Some think it’s the clause that sets down the criteria for BCG to be fired.  Some think it has to do with charitable contributions and foundations that is the sticking point.  Others are saying that it has to do with a “personal life” clause.  I’m hearing that such is not the case.  Word on the wind is that it’s the same clause that kept Billy D away.  Apparently, Mitch wants final say on recruiting offers.  He wants final word or veto power concerning recruits.  BCG [and most other Coaches who are worth a damn] will not agree to this.  Coaches should have final say in recruiting.  As long as the guy meets NCAA guidelines, BCG and almost any other coach should have the final say in recruiting.  Not the AD.  This isn’t the NBA and the AD is not the General Manager.  Apparently, Mitch thinks that everyone is as inept a recruiter as TLT.  There seems to be more than this but that’s all I got.

Last thing, the media is brewing this storm because of their personal distaste for BCG.  My opinion on that is screw the media.  Not everyone needs to be at their beck and call and on bended knee.  The media does ask stupid questions that are a waste of time.  And the media picks it’s heros and it’s villains based upon who kisses up to them.  Sycophants like Coach K get all the good press.  Any coach who doesn’t kiss their collective asses gets bad press.  Wooden was a God.  Despite his teams being bought and paid for by a booster.  USC gets a free pass in Football.  UNLV and UK get burned because Rupp and the towel biter didn’t play their game.  Apparently, Matt Jones has a hard on for BCG because Matty was not treated with kid gloves by BCG at an early press conference.  If so, Matt has a pretty large ego.  He’s a freakin’ blogger.  He’s not a real media figure.  He’s lucky he gets a media pass.  That’s funny, though.  Matt Jones was the biggest Tubby Homer on the planet.  Almost as big a homer as the guy who runs A Sea of Blue.

On the recruiting front.  If BCG is fired, UK better hit a GRAND SLAM on the coaching hire or Daniel Orton is gone.  Larry Orton was being polite when he stated that Daniel Orton would reconsider his options if BCG was fired.  I’m told that there is no chance that Daniel comes to UK if BCG is not the coach.  “Zero. Actually, less than zero.”  Is what I’m told.

There is also the tale being told that the UKAA canvassed the players.  Asking if they’d return if BCG was fired.  I guess they are weighing their options.  Fire Billy and these guys leave/stay.  Don’t fire Billy and these guys leave/stay.  Jockeying for leverage in contract negotiations?  Trying to gauge how hard the program will be hit with a BCG firing.  UKAA has to know that they will hurt the program by firing BCG this year.  Allowing the pressure to build, though, allows them to have maximum leverage in contract negotiations.  Playing hardball, I reckon.   Mitch not making a statement of support allows the pressure to build.  He apparently thinks this will aid him in the negotiations after the season and will allow them to get the concessions they desire.  Will Gillispie give that much control over recruiting to the AD.  I don’t think any coach would do that.  I think Billy G will allow some contract concessions such as making the hand shake circuit and being nicer to the media.  But ceding recruiting decisions to the AD, I don’t think it will happen.  BCG and any coach that UK will want will walk away from that deal.

The last thing that I’ve heard is that it’s all over.  The “that’s not in my job description” statement was the straw that broke Billy’s back.  Billy has supposedly been told that he will not be returning next season.  The players are said to know as well.  But they supposedly “demanded” that he be allowed to coach them through the NIT.  The word is that there is an anointed individual in the wings and he’s still in the Tournament now.  Calipari?  Pitino?  Wright?  Dixon?  I don’t know.

So that’s the latest that I’ve heard.  Could all of that be true?  If it is, this program is a mess.  Perhaps, it’s time to part ways with Mitch unless he has some magic up his sleeve that puts UK in the Final Four in 2010 or 2011.  This whole mess is inexcusable.  From the TLT departure catching him off guard to the Billy D fiasco to this mess with Billy G.  Does Barnhart have a clue?  I’m beginning to think that he does not.

Just things I’ve heard around the water cooler.  I’m no one to whom anyone should pay any heed.  After Kentucky plays the last game of the season, somethings going to happen.  I don’t even think G and Mitch knows for certain what that might be.  No one else knows for sure either.  That’s simply my opinion.

Kentucky and the 2009 SEC Tournament.

Kentucky takes out Ole Miss in the first round.  The team played energetically and seemed to be running on all cylinders.  Darius Miller makes a statement and shows his potential for good things in the 2010 season.  Meeks gets his 25.  Patterson gets his after announcing that he’ll be back in 2010.  

I’ll take it.  

On Patterson, if he still is staying come the NBA Draft…I’ll believe it.  The kid has to take into account his draft status and such before making a definitive statement.  But it sounds like he has no problem with the coaching staff.  

This has been a strange year at UK Basketball.  Hope Pat and Jodie stick around and make next year phenomenal.  Next year is a pivotal year in the Billy Saga.  Let’s hope the tournaments of 2009 are harbingers of good things to come.

The Big Blue Nation is tired of losing.  

Meeks and Patterson lead UK over Ole Miss.

 

Next Up:  LSU

After a thrilling comeback win over Kentucky gave LSU the SEC title, the Tigers suffered a letdown to close the regular season, losing their last two games.

Six days off could end up refreshing the 20th-ranked Tigers, who begin their push for their first SEC tournament title in 19 seasons with a Friday rematch with the Wildcats in the quarterfinals.

The Tigers (25-6) have been one of college basketball’s surprise teams under first-year coach Trent Johnson, riding a 13-game win streak in conference play to their first regular-season league title since 2005-06. LSU clinched the championship with a 73-70 victory at Kentucky on Feb. 28, rallying from 12 down before hanging on for the win.

LSU played like a team that was mentally and physically tired after that game, falling 75-67 at home to Vanderbilt on March 4 and 69-53 at Auburn on Saturday.

The Tigers shot a season-low 32.1 percent against Auburn and scored their fewest points since a 47-45 loss to Tennessee last season.

“Their focus was not lacking, but there were some guys who were tired and banged up and all those kinds of things,” Johnson said. “Days off at this time of the year would benefit any team. … I’ve been in situations where you had a bunch of guys with a day off, and we came out at struggled.

 

…and they lost.

Question is will that be Billy Gillispies last game in the SEC?  Will UK slide into the backdoor of the NCAAs or are they NIT bound?  If they do go to the NIT, what happens then?

I’m not very excited about an NIT bid.  If I was home, I’d watch anyway.  Here, in Afghanistan, Ii won’t get the chance to watch.  AFN pretty much ignores the NIT in favor of the NCAA.  Which is the way it should be with the programming/air time as tight as it is.

Whatever happens.  GO CATS!!!

Jodie Meeks as Team Cancer? Agent Provocateur?

Jodie Meeks scream

Kentucky’s leading scorer, Jodie Meeks, surprised Florida freshman Ray Shipman with a comment early in the second half here Saturday.

“We (were) at the free-throw line and Meeks was like, ‘My coach just told me not to shoot the ball anymore,’ ” Shipman told The Miami Herald after the game. “I was like, ‘Your coach told you not to shoot anymore?’ “

UK Coach Billy Gillispie had reason to holster his team’s leading gun. The Cats were getting great mileage out of big man Patrick Patterson attacking Florida’s less-than-imposing front line.

We’ve all been wondering what the problem has been with this years edition of Team Kentucky–”the undecipherables.”  Perhaps, the problem is the Star.  If Jodie will sabotage a game like this, maybe he’s been doing it all along.  It’s no secret that this team has a dearth of scorers.  So when your team’s Star tells the opponent that he has been given a REDLIGHT on scoring/shooting.  That allows the opponent all the room it need to crash down on the only other scoring option left.   That would be Patrick Patterson.  And Patterson was getting hammered in this game.  Doubleteams left and right.

I don’t know about you.  But if I were Patrick Patterson and I found out that my team mate gave away key information like that, I’d have a problem.

That leaves the question:  Why would Jodie do such a thing?

Was it frustration?  Vindictiveness against Coach G?  Arrogance?  Awkward Strategy?  Was it subterfuge?

Maybe he didn’t say it or maybe Jerry Tipton is simply trying to brew more controversy within the fan base.

The more likely possibility:

Jodie was trash talking with Shipman and the Gators to try to get open.  The Gators believe him and crash down on Patterson leaving Jodie and the guys open.

Whatever it was.  It didn’t work.  Jodie didn’t get open a whole lot more.

UK lost.  The Gators won.

And UK is NIT bound barring a miracle run to the SEC Championship down in Tampa.

What do you think?

Jodie Meeks blasts the Hogs for 45 points!

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Jodie Meeks scored 45 points, setting a Bud Walton Arena record and leading short-handed Kentucky to an easy 79-63 win over Arkansas on Saturday.

Meeks scored 22 points in the first half and 23 in the second, capping his spectacular performance with a two-handed dunk with just over a minute to play. He helped the Wildcats (18-7, 7-3 Southeastern Conference) withstand the absence of center Patrick Patterson, who sprained an ankle in Tuesday night’s win over Florida.

The rebuilding Razorbacks (13-10, 1-9) were without suspended point guard Courtney Fortson. Michael Washington and Stefan Welsh scored 14 points each for Arkansas.

Meeks, a junior, went 17-of-24 from the field and 7-of-12 from 3-point range, breaking the 40-point mark for the third time this season.

Associated Press

Meeks gets 45 in 79-63 Win over Arkansas and John Pelphrey

Gillispie talks about Galloway and Patterson.

Next victim:  Vanderbilt!

Rolling through a Bracket near you…

Kentucky Express

Which team outside of the Top 25 can make a March Run?

At the College Basketball Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the coverage staff for his opinion about a current topic in the sport.

This week’s question: Which team currently outside the top 25 has the best chance to make a long run in the NCAA tournament?

Greg Antony’s answer:

I’m going with Kentucky. The Wildcats started slow last season, but really came on under Billy Gillispie in the second half of the season despite losing Patrick Patterson late. This season, they’re younger, but I think they’re better defensively. And with Jodie Meeks emerging as one of the best players in the nation, they are explosive offensively. Perry Stevenson anchors the defense, and getting Ramon Harris back in the rotation gives them some experience in the frontcourt. Two things have to happen for the Wildcats to really be dangerous. First, they have to cut down on their turnovers. They can extend their pressure defensively and force teams to try and play in the half court, where their quickness and athleticism can be more of a factor. Second, some of their younger players have to become more consistent because depth always is important in the tournament. This is a team that features two players capable of carrying them offensively. The ‘Cats may be back!

Jason King’s answer:
Kentucky may not be one of the best teams in the country, but the Wildcats have two of the nation’s best players – and maybe its best coach. Well on his way to SEC Coach of the Year honors for the second consecutive season, Billy Gillispie is someone opponents hope to stay away from in March. Along with being one of the best Xs and Os guys in college basketball, Gillispie’s teams always are disciplined. They play hard and they play smart. The favorite to win the SEC title, Kentucky should enter this season’s NCAA tournament high on momentum. The Wildcats may not be able match most of their opponents’ depth, but not many schools have two future first-round NBA picks in their starting lineup. Guard Jodie Meeks, who has eclipsed the 30-point barrier six times, is a national player of the year candidate. Forward Patrick Patterson is one of the most skilled big men in the country, and wing Perry Stevenson is no slouch. Still, the biggest difference-maker for Kentucky wears a suit and tie and stands on the sideline. With Gillispie, the Wildcats always have a chance.

Steve Megargee’s answer:
Conventional wisdom suggests you can’t go far in the NCAA tournament without an elite point guard, but it’s tough to ignore Kentucky’s dynamic duo of power forward Patrick Patterson and shooting guard Jodie Meeks. Kentucky’s 90-72 victory at Tennessee established the Wildcats as the class of the SEC this season, even though they haven’t cracked the national rankings. Since dropping their first two games of the season, against VMI and North Carolina, the Wildcats have lost just twice all season (at home to Miami and at Louisville). Kentucky enters the week with 11 wins in its past 12 games. And the one loss was a down-to-the-wire game on the road against a Louisville team playing as well as anyone in the nation. While the players on this roster have never advanced beyond the second round of the tournament, Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie reached the Sweet 16 two years ago in his final season at Texas A&M. Don’t be surprised if he’s back in the regional semifinals this season.

Another Jodie Meeks video (in HD)

Jay Bilas has an opinion and I like it.

Jodie Meeks, Kentucky: If anyone can claim to have improved more than Teague, it might be Meeks, but some forget that he was a very good player in his freshman season under Tubby Smith but spent his sophomore year injured. While nobody could have predicted the numbers he is putting up now, a healthy Meeks caused many to put UK in the preseason top 25. Meeks is a scoring machine with a Terminator build. He is averaging an SEC-leading 25.9 points to go along with 3.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.5 steals. Meeks is shooting 48 percent from the floor, 44 percent from 3 and a remarkable 91 percent from the line.

and

Patrick Patterson, Kentucky: Patterson is one of the toughest players in the country, and he probably doesn’t get the ball enough. He is averaging 18.4 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2 blocks while shooting 69 percent from the floor and 78 percent from the line. Patterson faces double-teams constantly in the post and never complains. He is the best low post player in the SEC, and one of the top five low post players in the country.

Jodie Meeks making History

Making History

Making History

Jodie Meeks of Kentucky made 14 of 21 shots, including 9 of 14 3-pointers, and scored a career-high 46 points in the Wildcats’ 93-69 victory over Appalachian State on Saturday.

Said Meeks: “It is a good feeling to get 46 points. I give credit to my teammates for finding me. I didn’t know how many points I had until I made a free throw and had 38 points.”

His 46 points are the most by a Kentucky player since 1971.

I knew Jodie Meeks was going to be special at UK when I met his father right before they committed to Tubby Smith.   Jodie was on no one’s radar to be a Collegiate SuperStar.  If he keeps going at this level, he’ll be in rare air.  Up there with the Kentucky Greats.  Issel, Walker and the like.  The first star of the Gillispie era.

Congrats to the young man on a stellar game and keeping his head on straight all the while.

Mr. and Mrs. Meeks are rightfully proud.  What an excellent young man.

Rock on Wildcats!