LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Quiet time is over. Back to the blocking sleds. And the MacBook.
After a week on the sidelines (and watching too much bad baseball), it’s back to the Monday Muse.
1. Who’s No. 1?
Who do you think is Number One?
Texas Tech? Virginia? Michigan State? Purdue?
Oops. Wrong sport.
Virginia won the national title last season in basketball but nobody will project the Cavaliers as the team to beat again this season. It’s not the way it works in college hoops -- and Virginia isn’t one of those one-and-done, connecting flight to the NBA programs.
But in college football, the initial Associated Press Top 25 will be released Aug. 19. You don’t have to have the password to Dabo Swinney’s e-mail account to know who’s No. 1.
It will be Clemson.
Followed by Alabama.
Followed by Georgia.
Followed by Oklahoma.
Followed by Michigan or Ohio State.
This will be the fourth consecutive season either Alabama or Clemson kicked off at No. 1, and the third time in four seasons they’ve held the top two spots.
Credit Nick Saban, more than Swinney.
The Crimson Tide program is the only one to begin the last 10 seasons ranked in the AP pre-season Top 5. Actually, Bama has started the season ranked in the top three nine consecutive seasons.
There’s your measuring stick, Coach Swinney.
2. The Pre-Season Top 25
I’ve got three weeks to work on my Top 25 but others lack my legendary patience. Wayne Staats filed his pre-season Top 25 at NCAA.com.
Guess his top 5?
I tried to help you.
Clemson followed by Alabama followed by Ohio State followed by Georgia followed by Oklahoma.
If I can do it, it’s not tricky.
For the record, no local squads cracked the list. (The link.)
3. Basketball Future Bets
Rob Dauster of NBC Sports writes about college basketball as consistently and insightfully as anybody on the national scene.
He is not afraid to dive into the numbers — and I’m talking about the numbers from odds makers, not analytics.
Dauster studied the future book odds for the 2019-20 season and delivered his thoughts on the best bets as well as how Kentucky and Louisville are priced.
I took a long look at college basketball futures this week. My favorite values: Maryland, Seton Hall, Kansas, Florida and Louisville.The easiest fades: Virginia, Memphis, Arizona, Texas. https://t.co/isGopUCjf2— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) July 26, 2019
If you’re a Louisville fan, you’ll enjoy what Dauster wrote about the Cardinals, a team that he explained is undervalued at 20-1.
4. The Class of 2022
In case you did not receive the memo, college basketball (with the necessary blessing of the NBA) will be switching from the One-and-Done model to the None-and-Done model in 2022.
Like the way things were in the days of Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James — and Ronnie Fields, Korleone Young and Kwame Brown.
Some great. Some greatly forgettable.
That said, wherever basketball people gathered this summer, everybody was saying the NBA 2022 Draft will be a monster because (obviously) it will be packed with the nation’s top freshmen as well as the best high school seniors.
Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports has the story.
An expected rules change has the 2022 NBA Draft shaping up to be historic, a "tsunami" of talent. Why the combination of a generational talent (Emoni Bates) and the unique "Double Draft" set up have NBA franchises positioning themselves. https://t.co/hdnpIHUEzP— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) July 28, 2019
5. Media Daze
College football jumps off the pre-season magazine covers onto the practice fields this week. Expect a flurry of coverage because Western Kentucky (Wednesday), Indiana (Thursday) and Kentucky (Friday) have scheduled their annual media days.
The Hilltoppers will be asked how Tyson Helton can fix the offense that disappeared with Jeff Brohm.
The Hoosiers will be asked what they have to do to navigate their way to six wins.
The Wildcats will be asked (again and again) why everybody is convinced Missouri, South Carolina and Tennessee have overtaken Kentucky in the SEC East.
At Louisville, players report Saturday and practice Sunday. But the Cards have delayed their Media Day gathering until Saturday August 10 after they have practiced with new coach Scott Satterfield for a week.
6. Damion Lee For Klay Thompson
It’s been a remarkable journey for Damion Lee. It might have book potential.
Mid-level high school recruit from Baltimore finds his mid-level spot in college basketball for Bruiser Flint at Drexel. Excels.
Decides he wants one run on the big stage, the Atlantic Coast Conference. Transfers to Louisville. Excels. But does not get to the big stage because of circumstances out of his control.
Begins the long grind into professional basketball with reasonable people telling him a long-term career in the NBA is out of the question. Prepare to play overseas, young man.
Excels. Does what he is asked to do. Works his way from Atlanta to Golden State.
Three years later, with the Warriors’ roster in turmoil because of free agency and injuries, Damion Lee will have his opportunity to be a genuine contributing piece next to his brother-in-law, Steph Curry, on the Warriors. Folks around the league have noticed that he can make the three-point shot. That is valuable currency in today’s NBA.
Go after it young man. (ClutchPoints has the story.)
7. Willie Cauley Stein for DeMarcus Cousins
The Warriors will be one of those NBA teams represented by Louisville AND Kentucky products. No Kevin Durant. No DeMarcus Cousins.
With no sure thing in the middle of the lineup, the Warriors’ brain trust pursued former Kentucky post player Willie Cauley-Stein. WCS played four functional seasons for Sacramento, averaging 10.1 points and 6.4 rebounds over his career.
He needs to improve his free-throw shooting (an ugly 55 percent last season) and blocked shots (less than one per game) but Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he can work with Cauley-Stein during this transitional season as the Warriors relocate from Oakland to San Francisco without their usual four all-stars.
Go after it, young man. (The link.)
8. Will Smith For October
He is not the first Will Smith whose name rolls to the top of the screen during a Google search but he has always been The Will Smith that matters to the Monday Muse.
Smith is the former Kentucky Country Day/University of Louisville catcher who has pounded his way into the big leagues, sailing past Mickey Moniak, Riley Pint, Corey Ray, Zach Collins and nearly all of the 31 guys drafted ahead of him in baseball’s 2016 draft.
Lost in the hype of Smith’s six-RBI game for the Dodgers over the weekend is this more critical nugget:
Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said that Smith is the guy who will do the primary catching for a team that expects to win the National League and the World Series.
Will Smith rejoined the Dodgers today and will be the team's primary catcher moving forward.https://t.co/rtP9LMWf4D— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) July 27, 2019
In other words, he’s Rick Dempsey, Mike Scioscia or John Roseboro, a guy expected to be the catcher for a World Series winner.
The guy who will catch Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. The guy who will stop opposing running games. The guy hitting seventh in the batting order.
Should be a fun October for Mr. Smith.
Go after it, young man.
9. Baseball Power Five
1. Houston — The numbers say the Dodgers have the best record in baseball but the Astros are coming like a freight train.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers — Will Smith just puts more thunder in the lineup.
3. New York Yankees — Who will they turn to now that Marcus Stroman is on the other side of town?
4. Minnesota Twins — I know it was only the White Sox, but Rocco Baldelli’s team just won three games of four games in Chicago by the combined score of 28-11.
5. Atlanta Braves — Congratulations to Adam Duvall on his return to The Show — and the pennant race.
10. Tweet of the Week
Say this about LeBron James: He loves his son and is always there to celebrate with him. Great to see.
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