Most Recent Posts
- Cats Return To Rupp To Find Their Determination To Win; numbers favor UK by 10
- Coach on Booker: “He is the Peyton Manning of basketball” and he’s no “butt-hole”
- UK coach John Calipari talks life, bullying, Louisville, NBA and UK with Rafferty Monday at 7:30 on FOX Sports
- Calipari on Cats: “We start looking for excuses and heads down.”
- 6-10 Thomas Bryant says he hears “some from Kentucky”
- Baylor coach Scott Drew on key to win: “I think we play a lot of guys and they stick together”
- Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown on QB play: “It’s a deal where we gotta get better”
- Lyles, Booker both put on show for Calipari, UK assistants, UK fans
By LARRY VAUGHT
For almost three years, Tim Bates and three friends worked to get over 200 hours of footage from interviews to fan celebrations to crowd reaction about the University of Kentucky basketball program. The narrowed that down to a 90-minute documentary, “The Sixth Man: A Krazy Love Story.”
“We knew we wanted to do something around UK basketball because we are all UK fans, but we did not want to do what we had seen done 1,000 times,” said Bates. “My younger sister suggested we do one on the UK fan base. She was right. The Big Blue Nation is so vast that you can tell the story a 1,000 ways by turning the camera on Big Blue fans, so that’s what we did.”
What they got certainly resonated with the audience at The Grand Theater in Lancaster last week during a special showing of the movie before it is available in retail outlets and online starting Nov. 19. The movie not only had fans cheering and laughing, but it also had moments where fans were moved to tears by the stories.
The movie featured stars like Laura Bell Bundy, Eddie Montgomery, Josh Hopkins, The Backstreet Boys and Josh Hutcherson, numerous former UK players and coaches, and media members. Duke’s Christian Laettner was even a big part of the movie.
“If I were to grade the movie, based on its genre as a sports flick focusing on fans, I’d give it an A,” said Danville’s Herb Brock, a former Advocate columnist who watched the movie in Lancaster. “Whether they are UK fans, fans of other schools or only the most casual observers of college sports, I believe anyone watching the movie gets a really comprehensive look at UK fans, from their zealotry to their zaniness to their loyalty to UK and their love of the program and most of the players who have worn the blue and white.
“These traits were well illustrated through such scenes as the ones showing the two elderly people who have UK houses, inside and out; the nutty people who paint their faces and do crazy dances; the mob of people camping out for Big Blue Madness; the thousands of UK fans who will travel all over the country to root for their team even though most of them aren’t wealthy and are hard pressed to find the money for these road trips; the “live and die” emotions of UK fans with every minute of every game, who not only identify with the team but feel like they are on the team, as they nervously watch games in Rupp Arena or in sports bars or in their dens at home.”
Brock admits the movies “touching” moments inspired him.
“Stories involving two UK fans suffering both serious illness and, in one case, grieving the loss of a brother, underscored the mutual love and loyalty of these very special fans toward UK and UK towards these fans,” Brock said.
Brock, a UK season ticket holder, enjoyed the “overall” humor and wit of the movie.
“Fans of most other schools, including hated rivals U of L, Duke, Indiana and North Carolina, and most of the mainstream media, have always bashed UK fans for taking the game too seriously while they, on the other hand, allegedly keep it in perspective. Hogwash. I would agree UK fans probably do take the game more seriously than most other fans but only by degrees,” Brock said. “The movie shows that UK fans, as well as the players they love and the coaches they respect, can poke fun at themselves and aren’t all a bunch mind-numbed, UK-loving robots.
“There are lots of examples of humor, but a few that come to mind are the story of the two dialysis patients who get into a fight, the confessional scenes, Dr. Granacher trying to get inside the brain — believe it or, most UK fans have one — and into the psychology of UK fans, and the many comments from Jay Bilas, Joe Hall and John Calipari and other speakers on the lunacy as well as love UK fans demonstrate.”
Brock liked that the movie made it clear it was not about “the strengths and weaknesses or Xs and Os of each coach” at Kentucky.
“It is about the fans who root for the Cats, through thick and thin, and it does an excellent job of portraying a people from a poor state who found something positive in their hardscrabble lives, something that was a winner from one decade to the next, and embraced it as a legacy that must be continued, a torch that must be passed on, from one generation to the next,” Brock said.
“Every UK fan believes he or she is the UK’s biggest fan. I think I am. I always tell people that I have been a UK fan from the time I was knee high to my Dad’s old radio. My fandom dates back to the early 1950s when my dad, a UK grad, started to turn on the radio in Atlanta when I was a little kid and tuned in WHAS so we could listen to his alma mater play. No matter where we lived, and we lived in cities in the South and the Midwest, we followed UK as closely as possible, and would drive around at night trying to get the WHAS signal no matter what the weather.
“But as special as I think my UK fandom is, it is not at all unique and pretty mundane compared to the compelling, funny, touching stories of other UK fans, many of which were told in the movie.”
Bates said that “overwhelming” type response to the work he did along with his brother, Steve Bates, Lee Cruse and Jason Epperson has been the norm.
“It’s so satisfying and gratifying for us,” Bates said. “We were looking to be lean and not drag the movie out. We watched the film so many times together that we lost our sense of objectivity. So the audience reaction has been overwhelming to us. But it’s so crazy how consistent this fan base is that the whole year is dictated by the UK basketball schedule. Not just one or two people are like that. All the fans are.”
Brock even found pleasure in having Duke’s Christian Laettner — he hit the game-winning shot in the historic win over UK in 1992 and also was the one who stomped on Aminu Timberlake — in the movie.
“This may seem counterintuitive fro a UK fan to say this, but it was a great move to have Christian Laettner in the movie,” Brock said. “As much as UK fans despise him, he actually has been pretty effective in his charm offensive aimed at BBN that included that visit a year or so ago and kind of was on display in the movie. The directors/producers handled it in a great way, kind of forcing UK fans to have to relive ‘The Shot’ but softening the blow with great humor.
“The movie had to show what was, at least to me, one of the most significant moments in UK basketball history, that 1992 regional championship in Philly. It was the very definition of bittersweet as UK fans were able to see their beloved program once again reach national prominence under (Rick) Pitino’s tremendous rebuilding program but had to suffer a last second defeat that hurt but only temporarily derailed the rebuilding effort which ended in 1996 win a title and was punctuated big time when UK beat Duke in the 1998 regional championship game.
“The bittersweet moment also was made even more bitter and sweeter because it was the last game broadcast by the legendary Cawood Ledford. It was a sad farewell but one softened by Coach K.’s stopping by Cawood’s table to pay honor to UK’s effort and tribute to the great voice in college basketball. As an out of state UK fan, he was UK to me, even more than Rupp or his players.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
BIRMINGHAM — Former Kentucky athletics director C.M. Newton still does consulting work and was at the Southeastern Conference Media Days. Newton, who coached at Alabama and Vanderbilt, hired Rick Pitino at UK and also knows current Kentucky coach John Calipari because his son, Martin, worked for Calipari at UK before leaving to become athletics director at Samford.
Newton shared his thoughts on Calipari and Pitino.
Question: Is it good or bad for basketball in Kentucky to have Louisville and UK both so good at the same time with coaches as dynamic as they both have?
Newton: “I think it is good. It just separates Kentucky as a state from the rest of the world. To have both of them in the state, is a tremendous bonus for the state. Cal is perfect for UK. He is the perfect coach. He understands the landscape. I think Rick is the perfect guy at this time for Louisville. I wouldn’t have thought so when Rick first came to us at Kentucky, but I think now he is the perfect guy at Louisville.”
Question: Do they recharge each other?
Newton: “Sure. I think they keep each other … honest is the wrong word … but they keep each other really involved in basketball. Rick needs a challenge and so does John. Their challenge is provided in their own state.”
Question: Have they put all the national spotlight back on basketball in Kentucky?
Newton: “Yes. I don’t think there is any question about that. Then take what has been done in the women’s programs at both universities as well as the men. Louisville goes to the Final Four and Kentucky almost did last year. It’s amazing to me the kind of run that Kentucky has had in the two sports.”
Question: When you hired Pitino over 20 years ago, did you think he would still be coaching?
Newton: “No. A matter of fact, I tried to talk him out of going to Louisville at one point. I wanted Rick to take either the Indiana or Michigan job or some job in another league. I didn’t want him in the same state because to me he is the best coach I have ever been around period, and I have been around a lot of great ones. You can name them off. But Rick to me is the consummate coach. He is smart as heck.
“Now Cal is the perfect basketball coach in the modern era as I see it with this one-and-done business. I am not sure anybody else short of him … I am willing to say no one short of him could pull this off. Particularly with the academic restrictions on there. He is a master coach, master teacher. I think the state is just very fortunate to have both of them.”
Question: From an administrative standpoint, how do you view all Calipari does from telethons to trophy tours to alumni games to fantasy camps and more?
Newton: “He is a promoter and Cal promotes UK. Yet I am an old-school AD (athletics director), so I would probably have a problem with some of that. I know with Rick I told him there would be times he would have to take no as an answer. I never will forget when Pitino came to me after we renovated Memorial Coliseum and the locker room, and it had been the same I had as a player in the last 40’s and 50’s. Then he said he needed some exercise bikes to keep from pounding legs in practice late in the season so I can get the ready for the tournament. I thought that makes sense. But the kind of exercise bike he wanted cost $4,000 to $5,000 each. They had televisions and all that stuff. Then I thought that I wished I had been smart enough to do that when I coached, and I wasn’t. That’s why I say he is in a league by himself. He is very innovative, but he was willing to take no for an answer. I have never worked with Cal, so I don’t know if he would take no for an answer or not.”
Question: Is Pitino a better coach now than 20 years ago?
Newton: “Yeah. He has gotten better. I think the Celtic experience really humbled Rick in a good way. He came back (to Louisville) and he really wanted to coach basketball. He has done a great job there.”
Question: Could last year’s NIT season do the same for Calipari?
Newton: “I think so. If you look at Kentucky last year, until Nerlens Noel got hurt, they were on track to get in the NCAA. They were a shoo-in. When he got hurt, it went down the drain. Then losing to Robert Morris hurt not only Kentucky, but it hurt the whole league. That was unfortunate, but I am sure that got Cal really going again.”
Question: Who wins the Kentucky-Louisville game this year?
Newton: “I have no idea. The one with the best players. Players win games, not coaches. But they both have really good players and coaches.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Once a year Howard Garfinkel likes to gather some of the best instructors he can for the Clinic To End All Clinics in New York. He’ll have his seventh clinic Sept. 28 and for the second time, Kentucky coach John Calipari will be there. So will college basketball analysts Seth Greenberg (ESPN), Pete Gillen (CBS) and Mike Fratello (NBA) at Fordham Prep.
Garfinkel started the legendary 5-Star Camp in 1966, a camp Calipari attended as a player and then worked as a coach. Louisville’s Rick Pitino worked there. So did Dick Vitale, Roy Williams, Hubie Brown, Bobby Knight, Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan, Larry Brown and many, many others. Players such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Isiah Thomas, Moses Malone, Kevin Durant, Grant Hill and John Wall played there.
Garfinkel, 83, says he has “four superstars” coming to his clinic this year. He helps them pick their topics and Calipari will speak on coaching, teaching and organizing today’s player.
“I don’t think there’s anybody better to do that than him, either,” said Garfinkel. “I want to have something they are comfortable with, but also something different. This is easy for John.
“He has done this before. He was at my second clinic and did a great job just like I am sure he will this year. We go way back together. I started my camp in 1966 and he was a camper for three years. He won the best playmaker award as a camper. He was a decent high school player and okay as a college player.”
Garfinkel thought Calipari would be a “good coach,” but never envisioned him become the master recruiter that he has.
“He has always been very gracious to me and always been a great competitor,” Garfinkel said. “He was a super coach in our camp. The first year he coached in what we called the developmental league, an invited league for the best rising sophomores in the country. He won the league and he refused to let me move him up to coach all the great superstars in future years. He just wanted to coach the developmental league and teach kids.
“I thought he would be a good recruiter due to his diligence and personality, but not to the extent he has done it. It has been a shock. It’s really a huge surprise anybody could do what he has done, and do it legitimately and without any scandal. It’s been an amazing recruiting job.”
That includes bringing six McDonald’s All-Americans to Kentucky this year, the most any school has ever signed in one season. But Garfinkel doesn’t believe this team can be as good as UK’s 2012 national championship team led by Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
“That team may not be surpassed,” Garfinkel said. “I said then, age for age, that was the greatest team in college basketball history. They started three freshmen, two sophomores. I don’t want to put the whammy on John and say this team can be better. When they roll the balls out, we’ll see. But that team two years ago was really special.”
Garfinkel jokes that he calls “Calipari a lot, he calls me back a little bit” before adding that when it is “urgent” he can always reach the Kentucky coach.
“Did you know who his best friends are today? His high school camp and college buddies. He has not changed,” Garfinkel said. “Those are still his best friends. He has stayed the same guy. It is a fact. No one writes about that. It’s amazing he hasn’t changed.”
Garfinkel hopes to have at least 80 coaches — he had 68 in 2012 and 110 in 2011 — for his clinic. If he doesn’t get 80, then this might be his last one.
“Clinics are getting old-fashioned or something,” he said. “This year might be my last. I wanted to do eight because eight is my lucky number. Hopefully having Calipari here helps attendance.”
He will see Kentucky play Providence in Brooklyn. He also plans to be in Chicago for the UK-Michigan State and Duke-Kansas games. He also annually makes a trip to Kentucky to see UK and Louisville — he’s remained friends with Pitino, too — play a game.
“I try to see Calipari as often as I can without killing myself because even after all these years, it’s still fun to spend time with him and he treats me great,” Garfinkel said.
For the second straight year, Athlonsports.com has ranked Michigan State’s Tom Izzo as the nation’s top basketball coach. “Simply put, he excels in all areas as a college basketball coach: NCAA Tournament success, regular- season consistency, recruiting, player development in addition to being a standout ambassador for the sport,” wrote David Fox of athlonsports.com. “Consider that no senior who has started with Izzo has finished his four years without reaching the Final Four.”
Here is the rest of Athlonsports.com’s top five.
2. Rick Pitino, Louisville
Record at Louisville: 310-111 overall (.736), 137-67 Conference USA/Big East (.672)
NCAA Tournament: 48-16, seven Final Fours, two national championships
Pitino further added his name to the record book by becoming the first coach to win an NCAA title at two different schools. He’ll have a chance to add a third title to the mantle as the Cardinals enter 2013-14 as a top-three team. In the AAC, he has no peer has an Tournament coach. His 48 NCAA wins are 15 more than the other nine coaches in the league combined. His teams are generally among the best defensive squads in the country with their ability to force turnovers. Pitino also is an excellent in-game tactician. But the legendary coach also has softened his demeanor in recent years. Just ask Peyton Siva and Russ Smith.
3. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke
Record at Duke: 884-238 overall (.788), 350-153 ACC (.696)
NCAA Tournament: 82-25, 11 Final Fours, four national championships
Since 2007, Duke has lost in the NCAA Tournament to an 11th-seeded VCU, seventh-seeded West Virginia and 15th-seeded Lehigh. In that span, Mike Krzyzewski still managed his fourth national title and four 30-win seasons. Krzyzewski has passed Bob Knight on the all-time wins list and now chases Pat Summitt’s 1,098 wins in NCAA basketball. With a preseason top-five team on his hands in 2013-14, Krzyzewski remains at the top of his game.
4. John Calipari, Kentucky
Record at Kentucky: 123-26 overall (.826), 52-14 SEC (.788)
NCAA Tournament: 38-13, four Final Fours, one national championship
Calipari had his worst season since 2004-05 at Memphis as Kentucky went 21-12 and lost to Robert Morris in the NIT. True, this was not a typical Calipari team, but the Wildcats were on the verge of the NCAA Tournament before star Nerlens Noel went down with a leg injury. But Calipari should rebound in a way only he can. While his 2012-13 team plodded through an unimpressive SEC, Calipari was assembling one of the best recruiting classes of all time. Calipari could turn an NIT embarrassment into another Final Four appearance or more in 2013-14.
5. Bill Self, Kansas
Record at Kansas: 300-59 overall (.836), 137-27 Big 12 (.835)
NCAA Tournament: 35-14, two Final Fours, one national championship
Self has won at least 30 games in four consecutive seasons and reached the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in six of the last seven seasons. Even when the Jayhawks looked vulnerable for 2013-14 after losing all five starters, they signed the presumptive No. 1 draft pick, Andrew Wiggins, and landed transfer Tarik Black from Memphis. The new faces, including a signing class that ranked only second to Kentucky, will present a challenge for Self. He’s had the luxury of developing players like Cole Aldrich and Thomas Robinson from role players to All-America-type stars. Perry Ellis fits that mold for KU, but he’s one of the few players with experience in the Big 12.
Rounding out the top 10 were Jim Boeheim, Syracuse; Roy Williams, North Carolina; Billy Donovan, Florida; Thad Matta, Ohio State; and John Beilein, Michigan.
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — Rick Pitino remembers the training meals at the pizza place where his Boston University teams ate more than 30 years ago. Even Hall of Famers have to start somewhere.
That obscure beginning provided a foundation for a coaching career that took him to two NBA teams and three other colleges, all reaching the Final Four and two winning NCAA championships.
“Coaches don’t get in the Hall of Fame,” Pitino said Sunday at his induction. “Players put them in the Hall of Fame and I’ve had a great journey along the way.”
It started for him as a head coach in 1978 just 90 miles east of Springfield Symphony Hall, where the ceremony was held for him and 11 other honorees. He had to “learn the trade from the bottom” at Boston University, Pitino said. There were those “training meals,” he said, and the time when champagne was served at Midnight Madness.
“Nine drunks showed up,” he said, “and no one else.”
He spent five years with the Terriers, then two as an assistant with the New York Knicks before spending the next two as head coach at Providence, leading the Friars to a surprising berth in the Final Four. He kept moving — two years as head coach with the Knicks, eight with Kentucky, four with the Boston Celtics and the past 12 with Louisville.
Just five months ago, he led the Cardinals to the championship.
“At BU, you learn how to build the right way. At Providence, I learned how to dream. I always thought anything is possible after coaching that team,” Pitino said during his 20-minute speech, the last of the day. “At Kentucky, I learned all about pressure every single day. It was unbelievable pressure and it was very difficult and that pressure brought out the best in everybody.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
WDRB.com’s Eric Crawford noted today that Louisville coach Rick Pitino said Friday during a speech to the Louisville Advertising Federation that he has dynasty on his mind for his team that made the 2011 Final Four and won the 2012 national title.
“It’s been two unbelievable years. Back-to-back Final Fours, which is extremely difficult, and in arguably one of the toughest conferences in all of basketball — the Big East — winning two championships, the last of which was won at Madison Square Garden in the last one of its kind to be played there with all these tremendous teams. One more, and you’ve now created a dynasty. Anytime you have three years at the championship level, you’ve created a dynasty. And that’s going to be our goal,” Pitino said.
Now Pitino did note that Louisville may not have the best team this year.
“We know there are teams like Michigan State, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, and Michigan that certainly are every bit as good as our basketball team, if not better. But I like our basketball team,” Pitino said.
So if Calipari can dream about 40-0, guess Pitino has to counter with dynasty to keep the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry lively.
Vaught’s note: This is a response that “David” made to a post I had applauding UK’s decision to put former coach Tubby Smith into the UK Hall of Fame. He makes points I am sure not everyone will agree with, but wanted to make sure you had a chance to see it.
This is from vaughtsviews.com reader David:
“There is a strong argument to be made for UK to honor Tubby in this fashion. This is of course the first step in the process for Tubby to have jersey retired in his name. While I am not sure that the entire body of work warrants that distinction, Tubby most likely will have a banner in Rupp.
“While you can point to the 1998 title or the uninterupted trips to the NCAA Tournament, I believe Tubby’s greatest contribution is the manner in which he left UK. Tubby could have ripped the school — despite Smith being the one to resign — and burned bridges. As an African-American he could have said that the expectations and criticism were more a product of racism than failing to return to the Final Four.
“I don’t believe race was an issue in Tubby leaving, although ignorance and prejudice are a part of all communities in America — north, south, east or west. Tubby could have used that issue to his advantage.
“Tubby Smith, though, was better than that. Smith demonstrated class by taking the high road and moving on before the heat or pressure grew worse. If Rick Pitino can keep his banner (a different conversation for a different time) then Tubby Smith should join the ranks of the proud in the near future as well.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — He was a five-year player at Kentucky under coaches Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith, and Jeff Sheppard was part of two national championship teams and another team that lost in the national title game.
He believes junior to be Kyle Wiltjer has made a mistake by transferring from UK to Gonzaga over a lack of anticipated playing time this season because of coach John Calipari’s recruiting class that includes six McDonald’s All-Americans.
“I hate it. I actually think it is a mistake for Kyle to do it but each one has to make his own decisions,” said Sheppard, who spoke at the Ohio UK Convention here Saturday. “I was really hoping that he would stay and that he would even consider redshirting.”
That’s what Sheppard did in UK’s 1995-96 national championship season. It was his junior year but Pitino knew with UK’s talented roster of future NBA players that an extra year of eligibility could help both UK and the player — kind of like one might argue that a redshirt year at UK could have gone for Wiltjer.
“It is just a great ride at Kentucky,” Sheppard said. “I don’t think his NBA status is going to be helped playing 30 minutes for Gonzaga versus playing 10 minutes for Kentucky.”
Sheppard thinks UK will miss Wiltjer’s experience. He played on UK’s 2012 national championship team and was the Southeastern Conference sixth man of the year last season.
“We really, really need his experience. The experience that we had on the team minus Jarrod Polson is now gone. I just think it is a huge key for NCAA Tournament success is to have experience,” Sheppard said.
Having a player that made 90 3-pointers the last two seasons might have helped UK this year, too. Freshman James Young is a solid outside shooter and twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison both have 3-point range. But none is considered the pure 3-point shooter that Wiltjer has been.
“It changes the team without him and his shooting,” Sheppard said.
Sheppard, the 1998 Final Four MVP, admitted that Wiltjer is a “player kind of like me” in many ways.
“He doesn’t need to be the best player on the court. Last year we tried to make him the best player on the court and tried to make the offense go through him and that didn’t work,” Sheppard said. “The year before when he wasn’t the best player on the court and he could stretch the defense, he gave people fits. That’s what I wonder. Is he going to go to Gonzaga and be a featured guy? I don’t think his game is to be a featured guy.”
Instead, Sheppard thinks Wiltjer would be better suited to look at what another former UK player — Scott Padgett — did to reshape his career. Remember, Padgett was an academic casualty under Pitino and had to return home to Louisville for a semester and was a five-year player. He was also a key to UK’s 1998 national championship.
“Scott was a great shooter but he was gritty and strong and would fight you all the time. He did all the little things and then Scott had a long NBA career and is going to be a great coach one day. He found his niche and then worked to make himself even better,” Sheppard said.
So why does he think Wiltjer, who said he came to UK because of the competition he would face daily, left?
“Part of it is just going through tough times. These kids don’t want to go through tough times any more,” Sheppard said. “They leave (for the NBA) too early. They quit too early. They think it is always brighter on the other side. There are so many life lessons to learn going through adversity, going through the tough times. It is just a different game. We’ll see how it plays out, but I really think he is making a mistake and really hate it for him.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Dick Weiss is unique not because of the storied career he’s had covering college basketball, but because he’s one of the few media members who can call both John Calipari and Rick Pitino friends. Both coaches respect him and he often has unique insights into the coaches and their programs at Kentucky and Louisville.
He was the Nike Peach Jam in South Carolina last week when both Calipari and Pitino were there to watch numerous potential recruits play.
Weiss agrees that Kentucky’s NIT first-round loss coupled with Louisville’s national championship last season one year after the Wildcats won the 2012 national title has “revitalized” Calipari and his passion for winning.
“He didn’t like that team last year. He hated that (Ryan) Harrow wasn’t the point guard he needed. He hated sitting on the sidelines in March. He was a victim of no experienced players,” said Weiss. “No one saw Cal in Lexington when Louisville played NCAA games in Rupp Arena.”
Weiss sees Calipari putting his talented recruiting class through the same kind of summer bonding that the Anthony Davis-Marquis Teague-Michael Kidd-Gilchrist group did two years ago.
“He has them enrolled in summer school and playing with veterans in pick-up games. It was the same way in 2011 when none of those kids played USA Basketball, either, so they could be together,” Weiss said.
Weiss expects Kentucky to be good. Very good. But he feels the same about Louisville.
“Louisville will be better than you think,” Weiss said. “Top three (in the country) in my mind, maybe higher. With Russ Smith staying, Montrezl Harrell and Luke Hancock both playing USA age group this summer and the recruitment of Chris Jones, the best junior college point guard in the country, they will be good.
“The game at Rupp is one I am looking forward to being there for. Could be the two best teams in the country although Duke could be a factor, too.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Who is the best recruiter in college basketball?
Kentucky fans certainly were not surprised that Scott Gleeson of USA Today sports ranked UK’s John Calipari No. 1.
Here’s what he wrote about Calipari: “There’s no question Calipari is the best recruiter in college basketball. Since arriving in Lexington, he’s landed a wide array of five-star recruits including John Wall, Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel. Over the past five years, Calipari and his staff have reeled in a whopping 15 five-star recruits. He affirmed his dominance atop the recruiting world with his 2013 class that could be one of the best freshmen groups since the Fab 5 in the early 1990s. The vaunted incoming class — which boasts top-10 recruits Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson, Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison and James Young — will pin the Wildcats as the top team in the country heading into the season.”
He went with Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Kansas’ Bill Self, North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Arizona’s Sean Miller complete his top five. He gave honorable mentions to Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Thad Matta (Ohio State), Tom Crean (Indiana), Josh Pastner (Memphis), Billy Donovan (Florida), John Beilein (Michigan).
What about Louisville coach Rick Pitino? He was not mentioned by Gleeson, which seemed a bit of a surprise given the success Pitino has had in his career and based on the 2014 recruiting class he’s already assembled.
So how would you rank the nation’s best recruiters? Would Pitino make your top 10?