What a day! No, forget what a day..What a week!
First we learned on Friday that Billy Clyde Gillespie is gone from Lexington. Most people anticipated it, and most embraced it.
Some were confused by it, but to those few who were confused, I can’t help but think that you are now excited.
On that same Friday, Louisville absolutely rolled an Arizona team that played so little defense that it is very possible that they do not allow big giant “D” signs or “fence” signs into the McKale Center ever again.
Still, the Cardinals rolled and looked destined for a trip to the Final Four.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats were busy getting snubbed, again by Rick Pitino’s mentor Billy Donovan.
Some panicked, but UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart didn’t.
Then, on Sunday afternoon, Tom Izzo continued his domination of Kentucky schools in the Elite Eight. Remember, in 1999 and 2005 when he halted UK’s bid for a Final Four?. He did the same to Louisville.
Izzo’s Spartans made Louisville look like a one-on-one team.
In frustration, for the first time all season, Terrence Williams was looking to shoot first instead of distributing to his teammates.
The Louisville defense also allowed Goran Suton to chill in the middle of the 2-3 match-up zone. In the first half he killed them by knocking down shots, and in the second half, when they collapsed on him, he found open shooters.
Louisville was stunned and fell short of the Final Four that everyone expected.
Later that afternoon, the Calipari Facebook page was found on the Internet, and it was reported that he was to meet with Kentucky officials, and finally, mutual interest between the two parties was evident.
When we reported the news on mutual interest, there were 50 people hitting our site every four seconds. We are not a huge site, (not yet anyway), but it proves the passion that Kentucky fans have about their basketball program.
There was smoke, but, the UK athletic department and the Kentucky fan base were not sure if there was fire.
For the next day and a half, the rumors continued to swirl, and every indication that Calipari was to be the next UK head coach was quickly refuted.
Last night, the Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Dan Wolken reported that it was a done deal live on ESPN. It was the first time that ESPN had reported it to be official.
Minutes later, Dick Vitale appeared on SportsCenter and discussed the scary proposition of Calipari at Kentucky.
And it is a scary proposition.
And then today, Calipari appeared at his press conference wearing Kentucky blue, proclaiming that this was his "dream job," and that coming to Kentucky was "easy"”.
But, what makes the decision difficult is leaving something that you love behind. In the end, he couldn’t pass up the lure of Kentucky basketball.
The most telling story, to me, in Calipari’s press conference was the fact that he appeared to immediately embrace the history of the UK program. He is aware that there is history there.
It is obvious to me that he wants to become more knowledgeable about that history, and he also wants everyone who has ever been a part of the program to feel as if they are a part of it again.
He mentioned many times how this whole thing is not about him. It is about everyone. The players, former players, the administration, the staff, the educators, the fans—Everyone.
When UK puts up that next National Championship banner, and they will soon enough, he said that 10,000 people will feel responsible.
Kentucky got their coach. The swagger is back.
It is Final Four week and all of the talk on the national scene has been about UK’s head coaching search. The sports nation needs to get used to it. Kentucky is once again a national story. Right there with North Carolina, Duke and UCLA.
And it isn’t going to take a couple of years for this Kentucky program to get back on the National stage. They will be competitive next year.
In fact, they could be really, really good.
After two years of never really getting over the mutual separation of Tubby Smith and the Kentucky Wildcats, I am excited about Kentucky basketball once again. After two years of trying my hardest to embrace Gillispie, I now get to embrace John Calipari.
I am excited. The state of Kentucky is excited.
Heck, even Dirk Nowitzki is excited.
Dallas, TX- Nobody was more excited that John Calipari signed on to be the University of Kentucky basketball coach than Mavericks’ basketball-communications manager Scott Tomlin.
A proud Wildcat alum from 2002, Tomlin was bouncing off the walls after news leaked out of Calipari’s signing.
Actually, there may have been one Maverick who was more excited: Dirk Nowitzki.
“We’re back baby,” Nowitzki yelled in the locker room before the game against Minnesota. “Kentucky is back on the map.”
Kentucky, of course, was where Nowitzki was going to attend college had he not bypassed college to go straight from Germany to the NBA.
Of course, the best line came from a Maverick who shall remain unnamed, who said: “Dirk was only at Kentucky long enough to pick up the envelope with the payment inside.”
Courtesy of the Dallas Morning News
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