BOZICH | Monday Muse: Time for Pitino to flip Calipari UK-U of L script? Why no Vitale?
John Calipari has lost multiple games to Vanderbilt, Texas A&M and others, but not to Louisville at UK. Rick Pitino has handled Duke, Syracuse and UConn, but not UK. What's up?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — I can’t help you with last-minute shopping, frozen pipes or bridge tolls. But I can distract you with a quick dance through 10 sports topics that deserve your consideration
If you’re a holiday visitor and new to this rundown, I call it The Monday Muse. Grab a glass of boiled custard and enjoy. Then share it (the column, not the custard) on Facebook — and consider yourself thanked in advance.
1. Calipari Holds (Nearly) All the Cards
John Calipari has lost 48 games in less than eight full seasons as the University of Kentucky basketball coach.
This is the list of programs that have beaten Calipari more than once at Kentucky:
Florida (5 times), Vanderbilt (4), Arkansas (4), Tennessee (3),Connecticut (3), South Carolina (2), Georgia (2), Alabama (2), Texas A&M (2), Louisiana State (2), North Carolina (2), Baylor (2), Indiana (2) and UCLA (2).
Rick Pitino has won 33 games against ranked opponents since Calipari arrived in Lexington for the 2009-10 season.
This is the list of ranked programs that Pitino has beaten more than once during that period:
Syracuse (4 times), Notre Dame (4), UConn (3), Duke (2) and North Carolina (2).
One name missing from Calipari’s list? Louisville
One name missing from Pitino’s list? Kentucky.
Calipari 8, Pitino 1 will be the most analyzed statistic prior to the game the programs will play Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the KFC Yum! Center.
How to explain it?
Calipari’s had better players — and more of them. You know all the names. You remember the games.
But an 8-to-1 edge seems more complicated than that because Pitino has made a career of beating opponents with more talent.
Make no mistake. Kentucky has more talent this season, too, Kentucky earned the No. 6 ranking in the latest Associated Press poll.
Pitino has toppled No. 2 Syracuse, No. 1 Syracuse, No. 5 UConn, No. 4 Pittsburgh, No. 4 Notre Dame, No. 5 Michigan State, No. 6 Duke, No. 2 Virginia and No. 2 North Carolina in the last seven seasons,
That is nine teams ranked sixth or higher. Pitino seems primed — and overdue — to bump that number to 10.
2. No Vitale for UK vs. U of L? ESPN Airball
There are some college basketball games that require the authoritative and enthusiastic presence of Dick Vitale.
Duke vs. North Carolina is one.
Kentucky vs. Louisville is another, especially with the game taking an unusual Wednesday night spot on the ESPN calendar.
Dan Shulman, the most versatile play-by-play guy in the business, has the call. So does Jay Bilas. As an analyst, Bilas brings wit, strategy and opinion. He’ll teach everybody something about both teams.
But ESPN should have added another microphone for a three-man crew to include Vitale, who remains Mr. College Basketball.
Even at 77, Vitale still brings it on every assignment — as he showed Saturday during the Purdue-Notre Dame games as well as North Carolina’s visit to Indiana three weeks ago.
Nobody in the announcing world knows Calipari and Pitino like Vitale. Nobody. The telecast will miss his injection of adrenaline and the arena will miss his interaction with the fans.
3. Add Painter To The Brohm Squad
Matt Painter knows the tradition of Purdue football. The bowl games. The great quarterbacks. The large crowds at Ross-Ade Stadium. The big wins over Notre Dame and Ohio State. Purdue’s hammerlock on the Old Oaken Bucket.
Put Painter, the Purdue basketball coach, in the camp that believes the Boilermakers scored a slam dunk by hiring Jeff Brohm as their new basketball coach.
“He’s exactly what we need,” Painter said Saturday after his team beat Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic. “He’s a confident and aggressive coach.”
Brohm, the former Western Kentucky coach and University of Louisville player, has officially made one hire to his Purdue staff, adding JaMarcus Shephard. He arrives from Washington State but worked with Brohm at WKU as the receivers coach for two seasons.
I’d expect several current WKU assistants to join Brohm in West Lafayette, starting with his brothers Greg and Brian.
4. Allen Taking Control at Indiana
Tom Allen fixed Indiana’s defense this season. But even with Kevin Wilson around to call plays, the Hoosiers wobbled on offense in 2016. Scoring and total offense were down. Interceptions were up.
IU athletic director Fred Glass fired Wilson after the Hoosiers beat Purdue in their season finale.
How will Allen fix the issues?
The Oxford (Miss.) Eagle has reported that one of Allen’s first steps will be adding Ole Miss receivers coach Grant Heard.
Why would a former Ole Miss player leave his alma mater to coach at Indiana?
Heard and Allen are friends from multiple coaching stops along their career paths, including Ole Miss.
There’s grumbling in Mississippi following a losing season and visits by NCAA investigators. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze is already a Hot Seat candidate in 2017. At Indiana, Heard figures to get his shot to energize the passing game.
What about former Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, who has been upgraded from quality control assistant to quarterbacks coach for the Hoosiers’ bowl game with Utah?
Word is that it is too soon to say if Watson will be part of Allen’s staff for 2017.
5. The Mumme Files
Hal Mumme will turn 65 next spring but the former University of Kentucky football coach is still grinding in the world of college football.
I do mean grinding.
Mumme just finished a 2-8 season, his fourth with the Belhaven Blazers in the American Southwest Conference. That’s NAIA football. You have to love the game.
But that’s not what the Mumme Family is celebrating during the holidays: Mumme’s son, Matt, a former back-up quarterback at UK, will reportedly be the offensive coordinator at Nevada, according to Football Scoop.
Like his dad, Matt is a pass, pass, pass guy. Like his Dad, Matt’s ability to score points doesn’t always translate to a winning record. Mumme’s team won 12 of 32 games as head coach at LaGrange College.
6. Noel On Next Flight Out of Philly?
When the Philadelphia 76er backed their draft selection of former Kentucky star Nerlens Noel by selecting Joel Embiid of Kansas and Jahlil Okafor of Duke, the next question was obvious:
That’s three players scrambling for two frontcourt spots. Who’ll be the first one to howl for a trade?
We have a winner.
It’s Noel. (The link.)
After playing only eight minutes Friday against the Lakers, Noel sounded off on his situation, saying it was time for the Sixers to figure this stuff out. Or something like that.
Somebody needs to make Philadelphia an offer.
7. What Would Wilt Chamberlain say?
I don’t have to ask NBA veterans about the good old days of travel. I remember seeing the notes on the grease boards inside the locker rooms at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis:
Wake up call: 4 a.m.
Bus to Airport: 4:30 a.m.
Flight: 6 a.m.
Destination? I don’t remember that. Could have been anywhere — Boston, Philly, Atlanta, Denver.
What I do remember is that guys were up and out early because the league demanded teams took the first commercial flight out to the location of the next game. Yes, those teams played on back-to-back nights.
No more commercial flights. Every team has a plane. No connecting flights. They leave town that night.
Better travel plus better training and better nutrition does not appear to be translating to tougher players. According to this story in the New York Times, one of the next pushes by the Players Association will be to cut back on back-to-back games. The travel is just too tough.
What would Wilt Chamberlain say about that, especially from his 6 a.m. flight in coach seating?
8. Carrot Cake, Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will never be described as Mr. Warmth with the media — and I say that as a fellow Serb as well as a fellow graduate of Merrillville (Ind.) High School.
But Pop can put words together as well as anybody when he’s motivated. Pop was motivated Sunday night when the Spurs retired the number of Tim Duncan, the guy who helped Pop win five NBA titles.
If you have not seen the video of Pop’s speech, you should click this link and enjoy it, especially when Popovich talks about his tradition of finding Duncan a piece of carrot cake on the road and leaving it outside his hotel room.
Gold, Pop. Gold.
9. TMZ & Bob Baffert: Tabloid Heaven
Unlike Popovich, Bob Baffert does like to talk, especially when the subject is American Pharoah, the horse he trained to the 2015 Triple Crown.
Those pesky TMZ cameras usually loom on Celebrity Alert at airports in the Los Angeles area. They found Baffert the other day with a question about genetic makeup of Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady vs. American Pharoah (who remains on stud duty in the Bluegrass).
As usual, Baffert was prepared.
Gisele Bundchun, Brady’s wife, will disagree but judge for yourself by clicking this link.
10. Poll Results
How interested would you be in a Rick Bozich/Eric Crawford podcast?
I’d check it out 32.8 percent
I don’t podcast 32.6 percent
Can’t wait 20.6 percent
No, no, no 14.1 percent
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