BLUE RIBBON ANALYSISThirteen voters placed Kentucky somewhere in the top 25 in the latest preaseason poll.
Year two of the Billy Gillispie era can't be any more difficult than year one. If the injury bug has departed, the returning players can continue to learn what Gillispie expects and the newcomers, particularly Liggins and Galloway, can blend in quickly, this team will once again be on track to play in the NCAA Tournament.
Times are different in the SEC East. Old nemesis Florida isn't the only team to worry about anymore. First place in the division might be asking a bit much, but the Wildcats should win enough games to keep alive an NCAA streak that last season, despite all that went down, stretched to 17 years.
Thirteen voters placed UK on their ballots in The Associated Press pre-season poll announced on Friday.Mark Story had an interesting take on the election and sports.
Of the 13 voters, none held the Cats in higher regard than Roger Clarkson, who covers Georgia for the Athens Banner-Herald. He placed Kentucky at No. 10 on his ballot.
Clarkson explained the lofty position by noting he shared the home state of Texas with UK Coach Billy Gillispie. Growing up in Waco and later working for the newspaper in Amarillo, he kept an eye on basketball in Texas. He was especially impressed with Gillispie making Texas A&M's program rise from the dead.
"They weren't just bad; they were awful," he said. "Not only was it a bad team, the fan base didn't care that they were a bad team. To make the fan base care about basketball was just amazing."
If Gillispie could make Texas A&M relevant, Clarkson figures he'll do wonders for Kentucky.
"It's hard for me to believe the cupboard is completely bare at Kentucky," he said. "There's got to be a lot more to work with at Kentucky."
Clarkson acknowledged that the No. 10 spot might be overly optimistic.
"I might have over-voted them," he said. "Once you get past four or five teams, it's really a crapshoot. ... I think they have to be in the top 15 or so.
Of the 13 voters placing the Cats on their ballot, six work in SEC states: Clarkson, Gentry Estes of The Mobile (Ala.) Press-Register, Ryan Malashock of The Morning News (Ark.), Israel Gutierrez of The Miami Herald, Mike Griffith of the Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel and yours truly.
ESPN commentator Dick Vitale, one of two at-large voters, also put Kentucky on his ballot.
Brooks vs. KragthorpeIn their first game of the season, Kentucky beat Missouri-St. Louis with a final score of 111-53. Josh Harrellson had 21 points with 12 rebounds.
What you'll see: A dejected Brooks after Kentucky lost to Ohio University at home in 2004. (Cut to) Andre Woodson's 2007 game-winning pass to Steve Johnson against Louisville. (Cut to) Braxton Kelley's 2007 game-winning tackle in the third overtime against LSU. (Cut to) A smiling Brooks with Wesley Woodyard holding the 2007 Music City Bowl trophy. (Cut to) The Papa John's Cardinal Stadium scoreboard in 2008 showing "Kentucky 27, Louisville 2."
What you'll hear: In uncertain times, you need an experienced leader. Rich Brooks is making old school cool. In 2003, he inherited NCAA probation. In 2008, Kentucky is bowl eligible for a third straight year. Rich Brooks. Kentucky's glass is now half-full.
Campaign Theme Song: (Don't) Rock the Boat (Hues Corporation)[...]
Billy G. vs. Ricky P.
What you'll see: Shot of Bruce Pearl, sweating through that gray suit. (Cut to) Billy Donovan clipping the nets after winning the NCAA title. (Cut to) Billy Gillispie furiously sending text messages while watching middle schoolers play basketball. (Cut to) Dejected Rick Pitino shaking hands with Billy G. in Rupp Arena after Louisville lost to Texas A&M in the 2007 NCAA Tournament.
What you'll hear: Kentuckians are tired of the status quo. Tired of seeing the winningest basketball program of all time outworked. Tired of seeing less-deserving basketball schools cutting down nets. Billy Gillispie has a bold, new plan to get Kentucky back on track. Billy G.: He's putting the gray (area) back in (Big) Blue.
Campaign Theme Song: Amarillo By Morning (George Strait)[...]
Barnhart vs. Jurich
What you'll see: Quick shot of scoreboard that says 'Syracuse 38, Louisville 35.' (Cut to) Rich Brooks accepting Music City Bowl championship trophy. (Cut to) Tom Leach and Mike Pratt broadcasting a UK basketball game. (Cut to) Mitch Barnhart in the stands at UK women's volleyball match. (Cut to) Scoreboard that says 'Syracuse 28, Louisville 21.'
What you'll hear: Mitch Barnhart stayed with Rich Brooks when it was not popular. Now Kentucky goes to bowls. No one thought it was possible to get priority status on WHAS radio for Kentucky games. Mitch Barnhart found a way. Before, women's sports at UK were an afterthought. Now, Mitch Barnhart is the best friend women's athletics at UK has ever had. Mitch Barnhart. He didn't hire Kragthorpe.
Campaign Theme Song: Hip To Be Square (Huey Lewis and The News)
The Farrelly brothers are bringing the Three Stooges back to the big screen. Sadly, it's not a biopic.
"It’s not a biopic. It takes place in present day, and they look, dress and sound exactly like the Stooges," Peter Farrelly told Daily Variety. "When the economy started turning, we felt like the world could use a Stooges slapfest. Bobby and I haven’t done a real physical comedy in a while, and it’s the most exciting thing we could think of now, to have people go to the movie, see some great slapstick fun family humor."
Farrelly said that an "American Idol"-like search will be conducted to find Curly, the most physically gifted member of the trio. Auditions will be held in three or four cities and a finalist will be chosen in Los Angeles. The film will be structured similarly to the shorts, as a feature storyline plays out over three installments that run between 25 and 30 minutes each. A second contest will be held to find several comedy shorts that will precede the film. The goal is to create the feeling that audiences got when they watched the original Stooges shorts as part of a diversified film program.
"We know this is extremely difficult to pull off; we realize some Stooges fans will be upset no matter what we do," Farrelly said. "We love the Stooges and honor their memory, and we don’t want them to disappear. We hope that next Thanksgiving, dads will introduce their kids to the Stooges and create a new generation of knuckleheads."