LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- The 'Book was pushed back a bit this week by some big football doings in Lexington, but there's still plenty to get to. Tipping it off now . . .
This TV gig is still a new venture for us formerly ink-stained 'Book guys, but we're learning.
Wednesday night at 10:30, WDRB will air "3 For The Road," a half-hour college basketball preview special built around the unprecedented occurrence of IU, U of L and UK being ranked 1-2-3 to start the season.
The program features one-on-one interviews with Indiana coach Tom Crean (by Rick Bozich), U of L coach Rick Pitino (by me) and UK coach John Calipari (by Tom Lane).
On-set segments were shot in the KFC Yum! Center. One feature of the show -- WDRB surveyed 41 journalists, local and national, to determine two things: An All-Kentuckiana team made up of five players from the three teams, and which coach each voter would choose to quote the squad. The five will be revealed on the show, and the coach, with comments from the media voters.
Please watch! Now, on with the 'Book
MATHIANG DENIED FINAL APPEAL BY NCAA
University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino gave Jody Demling of Cardinal Authority the news late Monday that 6'10" freshman Mangok Mathiang has been denied his final NCAA eligibility appeal and will have to sit out the entire season.
Mathiang will, however, be allowed to practice with the team and will have four years of eligibility once he begins playing.
"He's a great kid, and he's working really hard," Pitino said. "I could've recruited him for three years, he's that good. And we got him when we had hardly recruited him at all. I'm really excited about him."
Mathiang, a native of the Sudan, played for a time in Australia, which is believed to have been one of his eligibility hang-ups. U of L has not released specifics of his case.
Mathiang originally was a member of the high school class of 2013, but decided over the summer to enroll at U of L instead, leaving IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Mathiang was cleared to play academically, but could not clear other eligibility issues.
WARE A GO, BEHANAN 50-50 FOR OPENER
Pitino said Kevin Ware will not face additional games of suspension after being benched for U of L's season-opening exhibition against Pikeville.
"It's funny, I'm not a big suspension guy," Pitino said. "I'd much rather run them to death. But our rules are cut and dry. If you break one of them that says you get suspended, you're going to sit a game. The guys suspend themselves if they do those things."
Pitino said Behanan has a 50-50 chance of working his way back onto the team for its opener against Manhattan.
UK SPUTTERS, THEN ROLLS OVER TRANSYLVANIA
The University of Kentucky led NCAA Division III Transylvania just 18-17 late in the first half of their final exhibition tuneup at Rupp Arena on Monday night, then scored 55 of the game's next 66 points to roll to a 74-28 victory.
The 28 points given up by the basketball team, by the way, would've been the third-best defensive effort of the season by the Wildcats' embattled football team.
"What day is it? Nov. 5th?" UK coach John Calipari asked afterward. "Well, we're a Nov. 5th team. . . . Look, it's just going to be a process. That's the best thing I can tell you. It's going to be a process. I'm still trying to figure out, like, we spread the court and went pick‑and‑roll in the second half just to see, because I'm trying to learn. I like the two bigs in together. We've just got to figure out if ‑‑ we've got seven guys we're playing, Jon Hood, eight. That's who we're playing. So who starts out of that seven? The others will come off the bench and we'll just play it from there. Someone is playing better than someone else, they'll play more minutes. Still turning the ball over. Like at the end I liked that we had 14 turnovers because in November to have 14 turnovers as fast as we play and as much as we attack that basket is a good thing. But we had 10 at halftime."
Senior Julius Mays went down with a knee injury and left the game late, going to the locker room with trainers. He later returned and was laughing on the bench, however. Calipari said he suffered no serious injury, just knocked knees with an opponent.
LANE GOODWIN'S FATHER SITS ON UK BENCH
George Goodwin, the father of 13-year-old Lane Goodwin, whose upbeat attitude while losing his three-battle with cancer inspired people around the nation, was a special assistant to Calipari for the Transy game, and sat on the bench with the team.
The seat actually came from an anonymous donor, who had bought the privilege in a charity auction, then decided to give the seat to Goodwin.
"That was neat," Calipari said. "We took a picture and said a prayer with him after. We gave him a picture of all the players, and George had his thumb up. We all were like that, and it's a hard deal. He lost his son. But I think this was fun for him. Probably wasn't fun in the first half. He had to sit there near me. May have been fun for him after. But nice man. He was at practice today, at our shoot‑around. He was there with us. I think he went to the pregame meal. So he spent the day with us."
UK TELETHON FOR NORTHEAST IS WEDNESDAY NIGHT
Calipari and UK's players will hold a telethon to raise money for victims of Hurricane Sandy on Wednesday night on WKYT TV in Lexington. The show will run from 7 to 9 p.m. and will be streamed online at WKYT.com.
Phone banks will be open from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. In the Lexington area, the telethon can be seen live on WKYT from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Coverage will then switch over to CWKYT from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Members of the UK men's basketball team will take phone calls and donations from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. People wanting to make a donation in the Lexington area can call 859.299.5455 and those outside the Lexington area can call toll free 855.257.2700.
During non-telethon hours, people can call the Red Cross at 859.253.1331 or 800.RED.CROSS. Additionally, monetary donations can also be taken to any Central Bank location in Lexington. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the American Red Cross to benefit the victims of the catastrophic storm.
Calipari spoke to reporters about the event Monday night:
Let me say this: I really need all of you to help get the word out about the telethon on Wednesday. We've got some money together for matching funds kind of like we did with Hoops for Haiti. We're trying to make it more for the players, the guys in the NBA, we're reaching out, those guys are all helping us. We're doing some stuff. We won the national title, and even at the time I told my wife, I wonder how do we use this opportunity we've been given to reach out, and we did the tour and all that, and that was nice. It made a lot of people smile. But you think about it, we're able now to come back and use that, and I'll tell you how, to help the people of this hurricane. We won the national title. We're going to auction off some of the floor. We're doing different things to‑‑ that are all geared toward this championship to say we're going to use all this stuff that we've been given through this championship season last year, now we figure out how we can use what's been done for us.
So if you get a chance to write about it, talk about it, get people -- we are going for two hours. One hour will be the state‑wide television, the second hour will be on the computer and on CW. So we'll go two hours. We're going to auction off, one of the things will be one of the blocks of the championship floor signed by myself and Anthony and Michael, the No.1 and 2 picks. I don't even know why I'm signing it but I'll sign it. There's only going to be 30 of them, and that's it. There's 30 of them. And those three blocks will be 12 by 18.
We'll let them auction them off. The highest bid gets the one and then the 30th bid gets the 30th one. We're also going to cut up some of the floor in different ways that we can use it for that. We also have some different things we're going to do to try to help and deliver a check when we go up there Friday. So if you can help us with that, we'd appreciate it.
UCLA BANKING ON NORTH CAROLINA REJECTS
UCLA has won more NCAA basketball championships (11) than any program in the country. The Bruins made back-to-back-to-back trips to the Final Four from 2006-08. The guys from Westwood consider themselves big-time.
But the UCLA program has been sagging lately. The Bruins have missed the NCAA Tournament in two of the last three seasons, and there is talk that coach Ben Howland deserves a spot on those Hot Seat lists as this season begins.
But here is another sign that UCLA is struggling. For the second consecutive year, UCLA is counting on transfers who washed out at North Carolina to lift their program. Last season it was the twin forwards – Travis and David Wear. They didn't do much.
This season it is Larry Drew, the fifth-year point guard who quit on North Carolina when he left the team in conference play during the 2010-11 season. The way The ‘Book remembers it, the Tar Heels got better, a lot better, when Kendall Marshall took over from Drew full time.
Howland doesn't mind. He told Baxter Holmes of the Los Angeles Times that he envisions using Drew, who is 6 feet 2, and Kyle Anderson, a 6-9 freshman, at the same time in his backcourt.
"I've always loved having two points guards on the floor," Howland said at the Pac-12 Conference's men's basketball media day.
Howland said that he doubled-down on the point guard concept when Jordan Farmar, Darren Collison, Jrue Holiday and Russell Westbrook played for UCLA.
"They're both really good decision makers; they're both dynamic in their own way," David Wear said. "We have two guys out there with great vision. That's going to benefit us."
VOLS OVER CARDS? MERCEDES RUSSELL EXPLAINS
The University of Louisville women's basketball team made it into the final two with Mercedes Russell, a 6-6 center considered the best women's prospect in the country.
But that's as good as it got for coach Jeff Walz. Russell picked Tennessee over Louisville last week after visiting both schools.
Take a look at all those NCAA championship banners the Vols have hung at Thompson-Boling Arena. Tennessee's winning tradition and track record of producing all-American players was more than Louisville could overcome – even with Holly Warlick in her first season replacing Pat Summitt as the Vols' coach.
"Tennessee has always been my dream school, and overall I felt like I fit better in Tennessee," Russell told Steve Mims of her hometown paper, the Eugene (Ore.) Register-Guard. "The fan support all around, everybody loves Lady Vols basketball."
"Either school would have been great for Mercedes, but at the end of the day I think she felt a little more comfortable at Tennessee and felt it was the best fit," said Bill Wagner, Russell's high school coach. "Obviously, their track record with players of her ability and post players is proven. She felt they were the best fit for her to take her talents to the next level."
It's on to the next one for Walz.
HORNETS' COACH WITH HIGH PRAISE FOR DAVIS
Anthony Davis missed his homecoming when the New Orleans Hornets visited the Chicago Bulls last week after suffering a concussion at Utah. But that didn't stop Monty Williams from telling the Chicago Tribune that Davis' hometown should be proud of the NBA rookie.
"This city should be proud of who he is not just as a player but as a person," Williams said. "… He's a coach's dream. He does everything that we tell him to do and some. And he still has a competitive edge that we love."
Davis is averaging 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds, even though he didn't play in the second half of the Hornet's second game against Utah.
THE NEXT GREAT COLLEGE BASKETBALL ANALYST
The ‘Book is always looking for the game's next great college basketball analyst. Dick Vitale, Bill Raftery, Digger Phelps and Bob Knight can't go forever.
Enter Stan Van Gundy – former head coach of the Orlando Magic.
Word is that NBA commissioner David Stern strongly encouraged ESPN not to add Van Gundy to its NBA telecasts. So the ambitious folks at the NBC Sports Network have recruited him to work college games.
In fact, he will start Friday night by working the Georgetown-Florida game, which will be played on the deck on the aircraft carrier, USS Bataan, in Jacksonville.
Here's the downside: The NBC Sports Network doesn't have a dazzling string of games to carry once conference play arrives. It has deals with the Atlantic 10 (Xavier, Butler, Dayton), Colonial and Ivy Leagues. Not much reason to watch that.
But stay tuned. The Big East contract for the 2013-14 is still up for grabs
Zach Bell of the site www.slipperstillfits.com has done The ‘Book a tremendous service. He's taken the results of the pre-season polls by the coaches (USA Today), writers (Associated Press), Ken Pomeroy and Dan Hanner and compiled a set of composite ratings for this college basketball season.
1. Indiana – three firsts and a third by Pomeroy. 2. Kentucky – the Wildcats are the pick in the Pomeroy ratings. 3. Ohio State 4. Louisville – the humans love the Cards, but they're 8th in Pomeroy and 10th in Hanner's analytics. 5. Kansas 6. Duke 7. UCLA 8. Syracuse 9. Florida, Michigan State (tie)