Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bluegrass Madness

So I guess all you guys already heard the big news. That’s right, Ron Artest pled not guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence charges. In other news, Orlando “Tubby” Smith dissed the Cats and packed his bags for the beautiful beaches of Minnesota. I’ll pretend like I’m not astounded by this development, but let’s be honest, nobody saw this coming. But there are some reasons that this makes sense. First, Tubby is made for Big Ten basketball. If there was a way to score basketball by defense and rebounding, Tubby would be much happier with his profession. Second, a lot of people are asking why he didn’t go to Michigan. Bear in mind that Michigan was only paying Amaker $175K a year, which is about what Minnesota will be paying Tubby next month. I think the lower expectations benefit Tubby, and he’ll be happier to do things his way instead of worrying about an omniscient fan base that is all too eager to offer its insight. Third, I think Tubby is a man of great pride that wanted to go out his way. He didn’t want to wait for a jack-ass AD to show him the door. I respect Tubby and I wish him well.

I think this change was necessary. Don’t listen to the talking heads saying that UK fans are a bunch of ingrates. There is a different standard at UK than there is at almost every other school (Duke, UNC, UCLA, Kansas, and Indiana are the others). Dick Vitale still doesn’t get it. He finally compared UK to the Yankees, and then made an apologist’s argument about how Joe Torre does an outstanding job. Nobody cares. It’s a different standard, and Tubby knew that coming in, and you can be damn sure the next coach will understand the situation. Tubby is going to do great for Minnesota, but I’ll guarantee you that no UK fan would accept whatever success the Gophers have during the next five years as adequate for UK. The excitement and prestige has slowly trickled away from the program and both sides needed a change. Bear in mind UK is going to be able to get pretty much any coach they want. I don’t think UK needs to make a big splash with a coach that has national recognition. When you become the coach at UK you are immediately one of the biggest names in coaching, so whoever they get IS the big name in coaching.

I’ve stated my case before, the guy is John Pelphrey. It sounds like people are already saying that he is a great candidate, but he’s a little too green. Ten years ago, that was the same reasoning that UK didn’t hire Billy Donovan. Let’s not let history repeat itself. I’m going to go ahead and tell you my dream situation. Get Pitino to make an illustrious return, amongst much pomp and circumstance, and bring in Pelphrey as an Associate Head Coach. Pitino can agree to do a three-year contract and then ride off into the sunset on a white horse and leave a loaded program to my boy John P. The radio hosts in Louisville are already saying that Pitino would probably leave UofL and go to UK if Louisville AD, Tom Jurich allowed UK to communicate with Pitino. Word is that Jurich would not allow that. Please send me your silly recommendations and I will explain to you why you are right or wrong. If you don’t take advantage of my knowledge on this subject you are only cheating yourselves. By the way, who is most excited about this situation? The answer my friends is a certain Mr. Tony LaRussa. He’s laughing it up over a dry martini right now. Stay off the roads, faithful readers, Tony is on the prowl.


Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio probably had the best quote about Tubby leaving when he said, "The Tubby supporters out there are the same people that put on seven pounds and instead of working out, they buy bigger pants."

Sam Bowie came in a close second when he expressed concern that Tubby was forced out and the lip service offered by the administration may be "People talking out of both sides of their necks." I don't think Sam should be alone in his trepidiation if Mitch Barnhart and Lee Todd do actually have mouths on the sides of their necks.

Pat Forde wrote the most accurate piece about Tubby leaving...ironic, considering he's the only national media guy who lives in Kentucky and actually had UK Basketball as his beat.

For the flip side, check out William Reed's article. It makes some valid points, but it loses credibility with a nice little no-reason Kentucky-is-a-racist-rant in the middle.


Blogger Thelonius Monk said...

First all, the St. Louis news has been flooded with the reactions to Tony LaRussa during their exhibition game today. Reporters noted that all the players showed great support for LaRussa by "patting him on the back in passing" in the locker room. In sports when players pat each other, slap hands, or touch hand to butt, it is an obvious sign of "hey, even though you were passed out at a green light in drive with your foot on the break, you are still ok with me".

Tubby is gone and we must move on. I feel similar to Runs about wishing him well. It was a great pick up for Minnesota and Big Ten basketball. I am glad he will still be coaching in a major conference. But both parties needed a change.

I have also been an advocate of John Pelphrey, rather than Travis Ford. My only note is that I feel we would be able to bring Pelphrey in whenver we wanted, and it doesn't hurt us to wait on him at all. On the other side, I feel it is much more admirable of a program to bring in home talent and let him flourish, rather than stealing a coach who has made national news at a good program, a la Thad Matta, Bruce Pearl, even Billy Donovan.

However, Donovan has to be at the top of Kentucky's list, with Pitino a close second. A lot of mention has been made of Mark Few, Tom Crean, John Calipari, Rick Barnes, Billy Gillispie, Jay Wright and Mike Brey. I despise Mark Few, really don't like Mike Brey, Rick Barnes recruits well but can't coach, I'm not a fan of Calapari, Gillispie hasn't won me over, and Wright hasn't shown me much either. Tom Crean would be my choice of these seven but I would put him behind Donovan, Pitino, and even Pelphrey at this point.

Most importantly, UK needs to bring in a great coach and do it quickly. We have to keep assure our recruits we are bringing in someone special and allow him to develop relationships with the recruits and players.

March 22, 2007 at 7:29 PM  
Blogger Haystacks Calhoun said...

Runs, I would like to throw out a "what if". Now this is a major "what if" but I feel like this is a prime opportunity for fans of the UK to dream big dreams....The same kind of dreams where we picture T-Mac and Dirk in the blue and white, Kentucky with athletic 6'10's rather than clumsy 7 footers, or Kentucky with Lofton, Wright, Hansboro, Young, and the many other talented players that slipped away. My friend, this is our time to dream and my dream is Mike D'Antoni. Is this a legitimate what if...? Probably not, but rumor has it that he has recently visited Lexington. Before we end up with Brey, Few, or Barnes, we can dream... what if?

March 22, 2007 at 11:11 PM  
Blogger Runs With Two Horses said...

Haystacks, your words are so beautiful they made me weep. There is no reason to settle for Few, Brey, or Barnes. Each has defined limitations, and this is no time to settle. D'Antoni allegedly has mentioned returning to college, and this would be similar to when CM Newton snatched Pitino from the Knicks. That little trip was a piece of history worth repeating. If we could shorten the game to 30 minutes, I would take Bruce Pearl by a landslide, but I worry about those last ten minutes with that lovable psycho.

March 22, 2007 at 11:53 PM  
Blogger Natty Bumpo said...

I've never really thought about it, but you're right. Bruce Pearl would be the ultimate coach if the game was shortened to 30 minutes. However, I will say that he's a hell of a coach for a full 40, too.

March 23, 2007 at 12:46 AM  
Blogger Thelonius Monk said...

Patterson and Lucas have both mentioned that they want to see who Kentucky will bring in as a coach before the eliminate us from a possibility. If we could bring in D'Antoni I feel we could lock both of these recruits down. I also think if Donovan were to come here we would get Patterson.

On a side note, I have been impressed with Pearl teams, and while he is not high on my list. I think he could be one of the most dangerous coaches in the country. He is unconventional, energetic, and would bring a lot of excitement to the program.

March 23, 2007 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger the butler said...

I'm surprised Kentucky fans would want Pitino back. Of course he's a great coach, and I can understand wishing he had never left, but aren't those wounds still hurting just a little from when he sold y'all out?

That's mighty forgiving of you, which is a good quality, I guess.

March 23, 2007 at 12:23 PM  

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