BOZICH | Monday Muse: Here comes Jeff Brohm (and the NBA)
By Rick Bozich
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The University of Kentucky football team rested last weekend. The University of Louisville football team has this weekend to rest. Fans at Auburn, Georgia, West Virginia and Penn State have asked if their favorite teams took unscheduled time away on Saturday.
The Monday Muse tries not to indulge in off weeks. Not with college football raging, the baseball playoffs tightening, the NBA tipping off and college basketball preparing to launch.
Three, two, one …
1. The Amazing Mr. Brohm
Here comes Jeff Brohm.
Relax. Not really coming here. He’s not looking for property or anything.
He’s not visiting the sports studio at WDRB again this week. At least I don’t believe so, although Jeff, Greg, Brian, Oscar and Donna are always welcome. They make a fun visit every summer. They're media friendly that way.
But here comes Jeff Brohm leading Purdue back into the discussion about which team will win the Big Ten West. At 2-1 in league play, the Boilermakers are tied with Iowa and Wisconsin, only a half-game behind Northwestern. And the Boilermakers will be in the national spotlight at home Saturday night.
The temptation was to dismiss the Boilermakers after they opened the season with back-to-back-to-back defeats. But if you looked closely, you knew Purdue lost to Northwestern, Eastern Michigan and Missouri by a combined 7 points. Two losses came on last-second field goals.
Check back in West Lafayette. The Boilermakers have evened their record at 3-3, beating Boston College, Nebraska and Illinois by an average margin of 23.3 points.
Purdue ranks 12th in the nation — first in the Big Ten — with an average yards per play of 7.05. Fun offense. The Boilermakers have scored 30 or more in their last four games.
Can they keep it up?
Four of Purdue’s next five games, including the next three, are against Top 25 opponents. Ohio State visits Columbus Saturday night. The Buckeyes are favored, but only by 13 1/2.
“Come game day (my players) have just got to cut it loose and let the pieces fall where they may,” Brohm said during his weekly press conference Monday. “It’s an exciting time for our team to play this opponent.”
2. Love for The Brow, Vic, KAT
The 2018 NBA season ended last Wednesday, LeBron James signed with the Lakers Friday, Jimmy Butler asked out of Minnesota Sunday and the new season begins with a pair of games Tuesday night.
Now get this: The Washington Post has ranked the Top 100 players in the league, a perfect time to check how many local college players made the cut.
Would you believe 13?
Anthony Davis, the guy who brought John Calipari his 2012 national title at Kentucky, sits third, trailing only LeBron and Kevin Durant.
Other ranked former UK players were Karl-Anthony Towns (20); John Wall (25); Devin Booker (32); Jamal Murray (40); DeMarcus Cousins (46), Julius Randle (80) and Eric Bledsoe (80).
Two former Louisville Cardinals made the cut — Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz is ranked 31st, while Terry Rozier is 78th.
Three former Indiana stars are recognized — Victor Oladipo (Pacers, 18th); Eric Gordon (Rockets, 47th) and OG Anunoby (Raptors, 83rd).
It’s a fun read.
3. NBA Odds
What Las Vegas thinks and what the Washington Post thinks are not in complete alignment.
According to OddsShark, Mitchell is tied for 11th (with his good friend Ben Simmons of the Sixers) in pre-season wagering for the 2019 NBA MVP.
His odds are shorter than Towns, Wall or Oladipo.
4. NBA Goodbyes
As the rookies arrive, the veterans depart. Here are some players from prominent NCAA Tournament runs who have been placed on waivers in the the last week to make room for the next group of young players:
Thomas Robinson, the star of the Kansas team that lost to Kentucky in the 2012 NCAA final.
Derrick Walton, who led Michigan to the 2017 Big Ten Tournament title.
Deyonta Davis, a foolish one-and-done in 2016 at Michigan State.
Tyler Ulis, the former Kentucky point guard who has (temporarily) found a home in Chicago after whiffing in Phoenix and Sacramento.
And, Shabazz Muhammad, the nation’s alleged No. 1 recruit, who had everybody hyperventilating when he picked UCLA over Kentucky in 2012.
Consider this my semi-annual warning before you obsess over the recruiting rankings.
5. Terry Rozier ’s Dilemma
Terry Rozier did big things for the Boston Celtics last season, especially after he moved into the lineup and produced after Kyrie Irving was injured.
Without Irving and Gordon Heyward, the Celtics took a three games to two lead in the Eastern Conference finals before LeBron did what LeBron does and led the Cavaliers to a seven-game victory.
According to HoopsHype, Rozier is scheduled to make more than $3 million this season with the number climbing to $4.2 million next season.
But if you have seen the numbers bouncing around the NBA, you know that Rozier will be in line to earn more than that. Much more. But probably not in Boston.
According to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, Rozier is seeking two things in his next deal: a starting position as well as an annual salary of about $20 million.
That’s unlikely to happen with the Celtics so the big discussion remains:
Will Celtics president Danny Ainge trade Rozier before he becomes a restricted free agent next summer?
I vote, "Yes."
6. DeVante Parker on the Trading Block?
Another former U of L athlete could also be on the move: wide receiver DeVante Parker.
The Dolphins beat the Bears in overtime Sunday. Parker played four snaps.
Credit Parker with two receptions this season, which isn’t the total NFL insiders projected when the Dolphins took Parker with their first pick in the 2015 Draft.
Dolphins coach Adam Gase said the issue has been Parker’s health. The former Ballard star is dealing with a bad quadriceps.
But a change would do Parker good. It’s never really happened the way it was supposed to happen for Parker in Miami.
7. Imagine if Mullen and Mason Weren’t Friends
Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason and Florida coach Dan Mullen claim they are besties. Talk on the phone a bunch. Understand the grind of trying to make it as a head coach in the Southeastern Conference. Enjoying hanging out. They get each other.
It didn’t look that way Saturday in Nashville.
It looked as if it Mason and Mullen were ready to go, go, go after an altercation on the sidelines during a game the Gators rallied to win.
All it took was a little encouragement from Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and the bile was overflowing. Grantham, the former U of L defensive coordinator, has never been shy on the sidelines.
Imagine if those two guys didn’t like each other.
8. Beware Tennessee
Kentucky appears to be the only local team that will earn bowl eligibility this season. After a week off, the Wildcats will engage with Mason’s 3-4 Commodores Saturday night at Kroger Field.
A look at Kentucky’s remaining schedule shows the Wildcats are booked against one more team that currently flashes a winning record.
That team is Georgia, which laid a mammoth egg at Louisiana State Saturday. As I’m sure you’ve heard, Kentucky beat Florida, which beat LSU, which beat Georgia.
But the UK game that looks a bit trickier today than it did last week is Kentucky’s visit to Tennessee Nov. 10. The Vols went to Auburn Saturday and put Gus Malzahn on the hottest seat in the SEC by leaving with a 30-24 victory.
The UK-Tennessee game is booked for Knoxville, the Saturday after UK plays Georgia and Tennessee plays Charlotte.
Don’t consider it a gimme, although ESPN’s Football Power Index still lists Kentucky’s win probability at better than 65 percent.
9. Latest Forecasts
What are the latest forecasts from the ESPN FPI?
Kentucky is ranked 26th, projected to finish 9-3.
Indiana is ranked 62th, projected to miss bowl eligibility with 5.3 victories.
Louisville is ranked 90th, likely to win only one more games.
And Western Kentucky has plunged to No. 117, with a revised season forecast of 3.2-8.8.
10. Rick Pitino Tweet of the Week
I'm certain Rick Pitino would rather be game-planning for Duke or Syracuse, but it appears his weekend was not terrible.
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