CRAWFORD | Weekend rewind: Mitchell and Allen, Justin Thomas rolls, Summers returns, UK strolls
Justin Thomas is on a record roll on the PGA Tour, plus the aftermath of Grayson Allen's trip to the KFC Yum! Center, an (old) new name for Louisville football and Kentucky continues its SEC march.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Saturday was one of those sports days in this city that had a lot of moving parts. Before we press on with today, it might be good to look back over some of them.
1). JUSTIN THOMAS IS ON A ROLL. A great many people have been predicting that the Goshen, Ky., golfer who played at St. X and the University of Alabama was ready to make his move on the PGA Tour for several years. Instead, we’ve seen other younger golfers emerge, while he has seen success in fits and starts.
It may now be safe to say, Thomas’ time has come. When Thomas won a week ago in Maui, 2015 Masters and U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth said it may have “opened the floodgates” for Thomas.
Right now, it looks like he was right. Through three rounds of the Sony Open in Hawaii he has matched the PGA Tour record for 54 holes, 188 (22 under par). His lead going into today’s final round is seven strokes. A win will move him into the Top 10 in the world golf rankings.
No player has ever lost a lead that large heading into the final round of a PGA Tour event. Thomas said he’s not thinking about that. What is he thinking about?
“Trying to get it done,” he said. “Just staying in the moment. Staying in the process and just taking each hole, each shot at a time, one shot at a time and just focusing on where we're at in that golf course and not looking ahead or looking at anything else. Just focusing on what we're doing.”
Gearing up for his second straight victory on tour, Thomas said he’s not tired. In fact, his routine hasn’t wavered.
“I've been able to train all nights this week, and I've been getting my butt handed to me at gin every night,” he said. “That's about the only difference from this week to last week. No, same thing: Getting dinner, getting rest and waking up at 7:00 A.M., getting room service and watching TV till it's time to leave.”
2). MITCHELL AND ALLEN TANGLE, CARDS TAKE UP FOR DUKE PLAYER. Every time Duke’s Grayson Allen touched the ball in Saturday’s loss to Louisville, he was booed. Loudly. Every time he came even remotely close to a tangling with an opponent, the crowd jeered.
Louisville sophomore Donovan Mitchell, who got tangled up with Allen and inadvertently struck his face during a loose-ball situation, said he admired how the Duke standout played (Allen finished with a game-high 23 points), especially given the crowd’s reaction to him.
“It was a little bit much, in my opinion,” Mitchell said. “At the end of the day, he’s a kid. And I kind of feel for that. I don’t think any parents want to see their kid chanted against like that. But, it’s in the heat of the game. . . . He didn’t let any of that get to his head. I have a lot of respect for him.”
Louisville coach Rick Pitino echoed those sentiments.
“I happen to think he’s a terrific young man,” Pitino said. “I think it (Grayson’s tripping opponents) is a reflex action, like somebody throwing an elbow. Because he’s a highly, highly intelligent young man, so why would you do it? I think he’s a terrific young man who made a mistake. Made three of them. But I think it’s a reflex action.”
3). ACC CLEARS MITCHELL. ESPN inquired of the ACC whether it would take action against Mitchell for his apparent slap of Allen during the game. ACC officials told the network that it had reviewed the play and determined that Mitchell’s contact was inadvertent.
4). SUMMERS TIME IN JANUARY. Big news for Louisville football came just after tipoff of the basketball game on Saturday — Mike Summers is returning to town to coach the Cardinals’ offensive line and serve as co-offensive coordinator.
Summers had a successful stint in Louisville coaching the line during Petrino’s first run here, and has coached with Petrino both in Atlanta with the NFL’s Falcons and at Arkansas.
Summers is known for being an excellent teacher of technique on the line, and has had success at every stop.
“I'm excited to welcome back Mike Summers to our staff as our new co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said in a statement. “Coach Summers brings 37 years of coaching experience to the table and he fits the philosophy and direction of where this offense is headed. Mike and I have spent seven years working together and have had great success along the way, including our time at UofL. I'm excited to get him back with the Cardinals. At this time, coach Chris Klenkais will remain on staff and coach our tight ends. In continuing with the re-organization of our staff, Tony Grantham will no longer be a part of the program. I would like to thank Tony for his hard work and dedication in helping the growth of this program and I would like to wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Summers spent the past three seasons at Florida, but is no stranger to the Bluegrass state. He's married to the daughter of former Kentucky basketball coach Joe B. Hall.
“Kathy and I are so excited to re-join the Cardinal family,” Summers said. “I'm so excited to be back in the state of Kentucky and be re-united with Coach Petrino. “I think he is the best football coach in the country and I'm excited to be part of something special at Louisville.”
5). KENTUCKY STAYS ON SEC ROLL. The Wildcats didn’t bury the Auburn basketball team the way many of us expected them too. Instead, they played around with the Tigers before pulling away for a 20-point win in Rupp Arena, 92-72.
The danger for Kentucky is that it will keep playing that way, staying a step ahead of the competition in the SEC, while other top programs will be going through battles in tougher leagues, forced to get better by facing better teams.
It’s a concern for UK coach John Calipari, who is preaching the importance of discipline. But it’s tough to learn that lesson when you can win without it. The Wildcats will get a good home-court test when Kansas visits, but beyond that, the real threats to their SEC superiority will be few and far between.
“At the end of the day, if we’re going to be anything, it will be because we’re a terrific defensive team,” Calipari said. “We’re not there yet. We’re just not. But like I said, it’s a great win. These kids are trying. I love the chatter in the locker room. They were talking and you know, when kids are excited, they chatter. So you had just everybody in there talking and it was – then they talk louder and I’m in my office and I can hear them in there. That’s what I want to hear. I want to hear that at dinner. You know, it means they care about one another. They like each other. There’s some emotion between them. . . . I’ve just got to get them to where they are more disciplined and where they are more empowered so I can kind of coach a game relaxed. Like I was literally fighting them on and having to call the plays and stop them and come on. I just want to sit there and enjoy the game like everybody else.”
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