CRAWFORD | SportsPage Live show prep: Notes from all over
LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. on WDRB.com, Rick Bozich and I spend a half hour talking live with readers and viewers on our Sports Page live webcast. I usually, the night before, try to do at least a little preparation by looking up a few stats and reviewing a few things before the next day's show.
Given that people these days are interested in both sides of the camera, I figure if I'm going to put a few cheat-notes together for myself, I might as well give them to you, too. I trust there's no need for a Spoiler Alert.
These are just a few notes and nuggets that I figure might come up in the discussion. (NOTE: The discussion isn't limited to these, but this is just some stuff I might include. Also, don't expect deathless prose. These are just loose items.)
WHERE WILL U OF L START NEXT SEASON IN THE FOOTBALL RANKINGS?
U of L finished No. 13 in both major football polls, which is a good baseline from which to begin. You figure with all they have coming back, they'll be no lower than that. Athlon Sports' publisher Mitchell Light told Rick Bozich earlier this week that it has U of L penciled in from No. 9 to No. 13. Mark Schlabach of ESPN has U of L at No. 8 in his early look-ahead.
It might be useful to look at the teams immediately ahead of U of L in the final poll and see who might be falling back. (These are from the final AP poll):
No. 12 Kansas State: Without star QB Collin Klein, the Wildcats look to be dropping out of most preseason Top 25 projections. Strange fact: If U of L were in the Big 12, it likely would be the league's highest-ranked team heading into next season.
No. 11 Clemson: As long as Tajh Boyd stays at QB, the Tigers are going nowhere but up, from a rankings standpoint. They don't lose much on offense or defense, and figure to be a safe preseason top 10 bet.
No. 10 Florida State: Kentucky may have given the Cards a bit of an assist here. Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops is just one of a handful of important pieces gone from the Seminole landscape. Quarterback E.J. Manuel is the most important. FSU loses six defensive starters. They'll be young, but talented, and perhaps won't start next season as highly as they finished this one.
No. 9 Florida: The Gators finished ahead of U of L in the final poll of the 2012 season based on what they accomplished overall. They may not start ahead of U of L in the preseason poll, however, based on what U of L did against them, and on what they lost. Replacing talent is never a problem for the Florida schools, but the Gators do have to replace the likes of Sharrif Floyd, Jelani Jenkins, Matt Elam, Jon Bostic and Omar Hunter on defense, plus running back Mike Gillislee on offense. Plus, the team still clearly has offensive issues.
Bottom line: Of the four teams immediately ahead of U of L, three are teams that could fall behind them based on losses (without looking at recruiting) heading into next season. I don't think a Top 10 preseason rank is out of the question, based on that, especially considering that no one behind them seems poised to jump over them.
WHEN WILL UK BASKETBALL GET RANKED?
It's a little silly that UK isn't ranked right now. I know, the Baylor loss was not a good loss. And they've been sluggish against lesser competition at times. But they're still one of the 25 best teams in the nation. They played Duke (No. 1) close in their second game of the season, without their starting point guard. After falling down 17, they had a hence to win at U of L (No. 3). Notre Dame is a Top 20 Pomeroy team and is 11-0 at home, with only Evansville in the season-opener coming within single digits of the Irish in the Joyce Center.
Ken Pomeroy has UK ranked No. 9 in his ratings. I think that's a bit high. But if UK beats Vanderbilt on Thursday, it should stick its head back into the Top 25.
U of L HOOPS: LOSING BEHANAN AND ITS IMPACT
Chane Behanan has been pretty big over the last six games for U of L, averaging 16 points per game and shooting 57 percent from the field. Without him, U of L doesn't beat Memphis (23 points) or Kentucky (20 points).
Rick Pitino says he'll be out a week to 10 days with a moderate high ankle sprain. If that holds, he'll miss the Cards' game at Seton Hall, at home against South Florida, at UConn and back home against Syracuse.
The first two might not be such a big deal. The second two? A very big deal. Behanan is one of only three players on U of L's team used on at least 20 percent of the team's offensive possessions, and he is the ONLY front court player used that much.
In a best-case scenario, three things would now happen for U of L.
1). Montrezl Harrell will continue to step forward, as he did in Gorgui Dieng's absence.
2). Dieng will begin to take the active role on both ends that he had at the beginning of the season.
3). Wayne Blackshear and Kevin Ware not only will keep progressing, but will become more active on the boards to make up for the loss of Behanan.
HEY, LOOK AT TUBBY!
For some reason, UK fans rarely seemed satisfied with Tubby Smith's offense, even though the Wildcats regularly topped 80 points per game. Smith's Top 10-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers this year rank 11th nationally in offensive efficiency, according to Ken Pomeroy, and should give IU a game in Assembly Hall at noon on Sunday.
The only warning sign with this bunch is a blowout loss to Duke (18 points) in the Bahamas. They're also turning it over a bit too much and are one of the lowest-ranked teams in the country when it comes to steals, and they haven't been effective from 3-point range, but they haven't really needed it, because they have been good at getting to the free-throw line.
IU is going to have its hands full with Trevor Mbakwe, who is one of the best rebounders in the nation -- especially on the offensive end. In fact, Minnesota is the top offensive rebounding team in the nation. Smith has a little of everything, good senior experience with Mbakwe and 6-7 Rodney Williams, and strong guard play from Andre and Austin Hollins and Joe Coleman.
RUSS SMITH PLAYER OF THE YEAR?
It's no joke. Look at the Ken Pomeroy Player of the Year ratings through Monday's games:
1 Russ Smith, Louisville 2.473
2 Mason Plumlee, Duke 2.417
3 Trey Burke, Michigan 2.127
4 Cody Zeller, Indiana 1.998
5 Doug McDermott, Creighton 1.895
6 Mike Muscala, Bucknell 1.871
7 Deshaun Thomas, Ohio St. 1.700
8 Jeff Withey, Kansas 1.654
9 Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse 1.624
10 Jamaal Franklin, San Diego St. 1.578
MUSBURGER AND THE ESPN APOLOGY
This is the most ridiculous story of the year -- even if the year did just start. In a blowout game, ESPN keeps panning to A.J. McCarron's girlfriend. Here's some breaking news -- the Alabama quarterback has a knockout girlfriend. What? You're kidding. She's some kind of Miss Alabama? I might be misremembering my Wiki here, but I wouldn't be surprised if Miss Alabama didn't have to agree to date the Crimson Tide QB just to get the crown.
I could be wrong.
Anyway, Musburger comments on the young lady's attractiveness, but wasn't lewd or tasteless about it. And today ESPN apologized for his comments, but I haven't seen anything directly from him for apologizing.
I'll tell you what he ought to be apologizing for -- getting Teddy Bridgewater's name wrong.
As for the other stuff? You put Musburger on there to describe the telecast, don't get all bent out of shape when he describes the telecast, especially in a beatdown.
I'll tell you what was more off-putting than Musburger's comments -- Notre Dame's tackling.
THE RG3 INJURY
How can this be anything other than a lack of common sense by both parties?
If you're a professional football player, you're the one, ultimately, making the call on whether you play. And if you're a coach, well, everyone watching on television could tell that Griffin was struggling on his knee in last weekend's playoff game. Mike Shanahan knew it. I don't think he should be fired, but absolutely, he bears some responsibility.
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