BOZICH | Monday Muse: What Calipari forgot about fired Gottfried; Bringing Pelicans to Louisville
What John Calipari overlooked about the Mark Gottfried firing. Shouldn't the Pelicans move from New Orleans to Louisville. A weekend of basket-brawls. The Monday Muse.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Coach firings. Coach rants. Player brawls. Blockbuster trades. Tracing family trees. Lamenting what might have been. Crystal balls.
Let’s take a break from Bracketology and get directly to the Monday Muse.
1. What John Calipari Overlooked in His Saturday Rant
Locally, the story from John Calipari’s press conference after Kentucky won at Georgia Saturday was Kentucky made plays down the stretch and beat the Bulldogs, even though there was reason to wonder about the beauty of a five-point win over a 15-11 team that lost its best inside player to injury less than two minutes into the game.
Nationally, that was not the story.
Nationally, the story was Calipari’s mid-press conference rant about the unfairness of firing coaches (like Mark Gottfried of North Carolina State) with about three weeks left in the season. Calipari even used the S-word -- and I'm not talking about Southeastern Conference.
Calipari also defended Georgia coach Mark Fox, who is expected to return for a ninth season in Athens even though he’s never done anything truly memorable at Dominique Wilkins University.
Defending Fox, I get. You say nice things about a coach when you just beat a team in his building.
Why would Calipari care about Gottfried, a coach who doesn’t work in his league?
I’ll take a guess. As a Hall of Famer, Calipari wants to position himself as a sage who has the back of other coaches who have not been as successful or fortunate as he has been.
Do a solid for coach out of a job. Be loyal to the brotherhood, the way doctors speak up for doctors, teachers defend teachers and sports writers protect sports writers.
I get it. Pay it forward.
But what Calipari forgot or overlooked is the percentage of American workers who make the kind of money that Gottfried made with the contractual protection that Gottfried had is about the same as the percentage of recruits who are the next Anthony Davis -- about 0.0000000001 percent.
You want job security and the chance to ride out a 14-14 season? Stay at Murray State. Coach in Division III or a high school team.
As legendary coach Hyman Roth once told a young pup named Michael Corleone, “This is the business we have chosen.”
North Carolina State aspires to win in a league with four Hall of Fame coaches. Gottfried was not the guy who was going to make the Wolfpack a force in the ACC.
His team lost to North Carolina by 51, Wake Forest by 30, Florida State by 24 and Illinois by 14 this season. Sorry. Not good enough.
Tony LaRussa and Rick Pitino got fired (in the pros) in the middle of the season. Les Miles didn’t make it to the middle of the 2016 college football season. Steve Jobs and Mark Cuban have gotten the ziggy, too.
It was time for a change in Raleigh – and nobody will have to pass the hat for Mark Gottfried.
2. Bring the Pelicans to Louisville
NBA All-Star Weekend is over so it’s OK to chuckle at the idea that New Orleans is a big-time basketball city. It isn’t.
Fantastic restaurants. World-class Jazz festival. Amazing passion for the Saints and Louisiana State football. Absolutely.
But the NBA?
It’s just another town, in the conversation with Denver, Atlanta and Milwaukee. The Pelicans rank 24th in NBA attendance this season, filling about 93 percent of the seats in the Smoothie King Center, which seats less than 18,000 and will never be compared to the KFC Yum! Center.
There should be a burst of excitement the next two months now that the Pelicans have acquired DeMarcus Cousins to pair with Anthony Davis and (for now) Terrence Jones on the New Orleans Pelicans’ front line.
But am I the only one who wondered what the reaction would be in this town if a local NBA team started two forwards and a center with connections to UK?
Stand-in-line for tickets excited.
The Pelicans were one of the franchises that flirted with making Louisville their home. Happened in 2002. Like the Rockets (who stayed in Houston) and the Grizzlies (who moved from Vancouver to Memphis), the Pelicans looked here after miserable ownership forced the team out of Charlotte.
3. John Wall Has Had Enough Lonzo Ball Lunacy
I don’t remember John Wooden making a peep about his greatness while leading UCLA to 10 NCAA championships. Maybe he did. But I don’t remember it.
That’s not the way things work in Westwood these days. UCLA has an outside shot at winning the school’s 12th NCAA title because the Bruins have Lonzo Ball, one of the best point guards in the game.
Don’t take my word for it. Ball’s father, LaVar, has enjoyed a direct line to TMZ all season, enabling Dad to declare Son the greatest thing to hit college basketball since the three-point shot. In fact, Dad said that Son could move into Stephen Curry’s spot with Golden State and lead the Warriors to an NBA title.
Some people have had enough of Dad’s bluster. One of those people is former Kentucky guard John Wall.
Apparently Wall has a TMZ hookup, too. He advised LaVar that if the crazy talk continues his son’s introduction to The Association won’t be a warm and fuzzy moment. (The link.)
4. Take Me Out to the Brawl Game
Am I the only one who holds his breath when college basketball players go down in loose ball scrambles, the way that Kentucky’s Isaiah Briscoe and Pape Diatta of Georgia went down while chasing a rebound at Georgia?
Didn’t think so.
It seems we’re one lunge or obscenity away from chaos. Here is why:
Saturday night in Nashua, N.H., the Associated Press reported that as many as 25 police officers were required to stop a brawl at a game involving Southern Vermont and Daniel Webster colleges.
Three people were arrested – two players and one spectator. Here is the link.
For a Division III game.
5. Take Me Out to the Brawl Game, Part II
Did I mention that I was concerned about fighting at basketball games?
I’d better say it again. I am concerned that we’re edging toward a truly ugly moment involving players and fans.
Here is more evidence. There was also a nasty dust-up Friday night at the Tates Creek-Henry Clay girl’s basketball game in Lexington. Video of the punch-out percolated on Twitter Friday night (link).
Can’t we all just get along?
6. College Football 2017
I’m not ready to pick the winner of the 2017 NCAA basketball tournament. I plan to cut my list of serious contenders to less than 10 teams by the end of the week.
The computer gurus at ESPN have no fear of making a call. They’re already prepared to make their selections for the 2017 college football season.
ESPN’s FPI (Football Power Index) numbers for 2017 are available for discussion. TheSpun.com shared ESPN’s top two teams for the Power Five leagues.
No locals made the cut, not even Louisville.
Clemson (second place) and Florida State (first) earned the love in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Sorry, Jim Harbaugh, but Penn State will finish second to Ohio State in the Big Ten.
In the SEC, let me guess before I look at the results: Alabama first, Florida second is my prediction.
Ooops. I missed. The answer is Alabama followed by Auburn.
We’ll see about that. You can check all the numbers at this link.
7. Turn on The Lamp
Who will be the first college football players with local ties to be selected in the 2017 NFL Draft?
If you trust the mock drafts (always risky), it will not be a player from Louisville, Kentucky or Indiana.
The local prospect showing up in the first round of the most mock drafts played offensive tackle for Western Kentucky the last three seasons.
It’s Forrest Lamp, who is projected to have the size and footwork to play tackle or guard in the NFL. FoxSports made Lamp the 26th overall pick to Seattle in its latest mock. That would be an interesting spot for Lamp, considering the Seahawks have another offensive lineman (George Fant) with WKU connections. (The link.)
8. Remember the Name, Part I
Kyle Schwarber was the gold standard for Indiana baseball players before he made his remarkable comeback from knee surgery and won a World Series ring with the Cubs last fall. Schwarber caught and mashed for the Indiana team that advanced to the 2013 NCAA College World Series and won the Big Ten title.
IU coach Chris Lemonis may never find another Schwarber. But Lemonis is trying.
The Hoosiers have won two of their first three games this season while starting a true freshman behind the plate. The kid has played like he’s been around big-time baseball because he has been around big-time baseball.
Jacob Matheny. He is the son of St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, a former big-league catcher.
In seven at bats, Matheny has delivered two home runs, a double and five runs batted in while throwing out a pair of baserunners. On Monday, Matheny was rewarded for his performance by earning Big Ten freshman of the week.
9. Remember the Name, Part II
Organizers for the Kentucky Derby Festival announced the names of eight Louisville, Kentucky and Indiana recruits who have accepted invitations to play in the Derby Classic April 15 at Freedom Hall.
Here is the name of another player that I’d like to see added to the rosters – Jacob Epperson.
He is a 6-foot-11 center for plays for La Lumiere High School in LaPorte, Ind., not far from Notre Dame. Scout ranks him the 57th best prospect in the class as well as one of the top uncommitted front-court prospects.
What is the big deal?
Bloodlines. He is the son for former Butler High School star Kenny Epperson, who went on to star at Toledo and then played professionally in Australia. That is where Jacob grew up before joining the La Lumiere program this season.
Toledo and Creighton appear to be the leaders in his recruiting. (The link.)
10. Poll Results
Did Louisville basketball players Mangok Mathiang and Deng Adel have a responsibility to apologize to U of L fans for breaking curfew and getting suspended for the Cards’ game with Virginia?
Yes – 57. 3 percent.
No – 42.7 percent.
Copyright 2017 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.