LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — I don’t have any information on Kevin Durant. I'm not ready to make my picks for the College World Series. I’m still processing the first batch of odds for the 2019 college football season.
But I am ready to roll with the Monday Muse.
1. Can Kentucky vs. Indiana Basketball Series Be Saved?
I've always believed in the Kentucky-Indiana all-star series. But I realize I’m the outlier.
I grew up on the game. I remember when George McGinnis hung 53 points on Kentucky. I remember when the game was written about in the pages of Sports Illustrated.
I remember when winning the Mr. Basketball jersey was the greatest honor a high school player in either state could imagine.
The culture has shifted. Players have other goals and interests. Fans are more obsessed with AAU basketball, recruiting rankings and a million other things.
In the boys' game, Kentucky simply is not competitive.
Indiana won by 33 Friday night at Bellarmine University and then cruised to a 46-point victory the next night in Indianapolis. The combined attendance for the games was roughly half what the games once drew in one night at Freedom Hall or Market Square Arena.
Indiana has won 30 of the last 34 boys' games.
Should the series continue?
The floor is open. Has been for several years.
"To be honest with you, I didn't know they played last weekend until my brother called to ask me if I saw the scores," said Robbie Valentine, who played for the Kentucky all-stars in 1982 before his University of Louisville career.
"It's time to end it," said Jerry Eaves, another former Card who played for the Kentucky stars in 1978. "It's just not competitive and there isn't enough interest. They could have used the Mercy Rule Friday or Saturday."
It might not be The End. But it's certainly time for new thinking and an assortment of tweaks, in one final attempt to give the series some juice.
2. Donovan Mitchell Comes Home
It's the off season for former U of L star Donovan Mitchell, but there are two dates worth noting on his calendar.
Mitchell is one of 18 NBA guys invited to try out for the 12-man roster Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will direct for Team USA at the FIBA World Cup in China.
Tryout camp opens in August. The FIBA event is booked for September. Mitchell reports for Season Three with the Utah Jazz not long after that, if he makes the team. That's an awfully on, off-season.
But first … Mitchell will return to Louisville this weekend.
Dr. Mark Lynn of Vision Works has recruited Mitchell for a free, one-hour autograph session Friday from 3-to-4 p.m. at the store's location at 100 W. Market St. Photos will also be supplied.
3. Valentine Endorses Chris Mack
Put Valentine down as a former U of L player who is a strong believer in Cards' coach Chris Mack.
As the senior director of sales at the KFC Yum! Center, Valentine has a different relationship with Mack than many former Cards. Valentine has seen the work and creativity Mack and his staff put into recruiting players when they bring prospects to the arena.
"Let’s just say this," Valentine said. "I always thought Rick Pitino touched all the bases and was the best recruiter. Mack and his staff take it to a whole different level with the videos and the tour and their presentation.
"You can just see it on the faces of the recruits and their parents when they walk in or out of the building. They’re impressed."
4. Rajon Rondo Unplugged
As I've written before, Rajon Rondo, 33, has aspirations to coach in the NBA after his playing career ends. He's a fascinating guy, thoughtful, intelligent, provocative and sometimes famously difficult.
It would be delightful to watch Rajon Rondo, the coach, try to handle Rajon Rondo, the player, especially the player who battled with Tubby Smith at Kentucky.
Rondo appears serious about pursuing the coaching dream. Former ESPN guy Ric Bucher must be one of Rondo's favorite reporters because he opened up to Bucher in this conversation.
5. No PJ, No Romeo, No Herro?
The first invitation list for the prime real estate in the Green Room at the NBA Draft has been leaked to Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Looking at the local angle, it's notable Givony did not list Kentucky's PJ Washington, Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson on his invite tab. Nor did he include Indiana's Romeo Langford.
More space for Zion Williamson and his ESPN entourage to spread out.
But the list is likely to expand. It always does.
6. A Vote For PJ, Romeo and Herro
Not everybody is bearish on the local NBA Draft prospects. Brett Knight of forbes.com delivered his 2019 mock draft and put Washington, Langford and Herro in the first 15 picks.
The only guy who took a hit was Kentucky freshman Keldon Johnson, who did not make Knight's first round.
The story at Forbes has Washington going ninth to Washington, a franchise stuck with bad contracts and heading in the wrong direction. Langford is their choice at No. 13 in Miami, which needs to replace Dwyane Wade.
Herro is slotted at 15 to the Detroit Pistons, where he would compete with former Duke guard Luke Kennard for playing time.
7. Boogie Back to Bourbon Street?
The NBA playoffs have not been kind to DeMarcus Cousins, the former Kentucky star. After working his way back from a torn Achilles’ tendon in January, Cousins suffered a significant quad injury during the Warriors’ first-round series against the Clippers.
Cousins missed the remainder of the first three rounds, returning for the Finals agains Toronto, hoping to replace some of the missing production from Kevin Durant.
Hasn’t happened. Cousins is not Cousins. He has averaged 5.8 points and 4.7 rebounds while making less than 31 percent of his attempts. Down 3 games to 1, the Warriors face elimination Monday night in Toronto.
Cousins looks slow, immobile and injured.
It's not a good look for Cousins, who might have to sign another one-year contract before he can convince a management group to pay him the major dollars he seemed to be in line to earn during the during his first eight seasons.
Or maybe Cousins will return to New Orleans to replace Anthony Davis, who has asked the Pelicans to trade him out of town.
8. Urban Meyer: Super Troll
Urban Meyer is not coaching this season. He will analyze college football on Fox Sports — and be the prime candidate whose name will be whispered for the top openings in college football, starting with USC.
Meyer has another thing on his plate: He is lending his name to a restaurant that will open in the Columbus area. Never say Urban cannot troll. The glitziest spot in his establishment will be a private meeting space named, "Urban's 7-0 Room," which happens to reflect his record against Michigan.
Who wants to help Jim Harbaugh book a table? (The link.)
9. Baseball Top Five
1. Dodgers — When in doubt, go with the 45-win team that had a strong local connection until they sent catcher Will Smith back to Class AAA Thursday after he slugged two home runs in 21 at bats during his 10-day call-up.
2. Twins — After hitting 166 home runs last season, Minnesota has cranked 125 in 64 games this season. Nothing strange about that.
3. Astros — Still the best blend of pitching, hitting and defense.
4. Yankees — They've won 40 games without half their top players.
5. Rays — They've won 40 games without promoting Brendan McKay.
10. Rick Pitino Tweet of the Week
Great seeing Adrian Griffin on Toronto’s bench. Not only one of the best guys I’ve coached but also one of the smartest. Only a matter of time before he’s a head coach.— Rick Pitino (@RealPitino) June 3, 2019
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