John Calipari has lucked out! Has he ever!
There are reasons why his Kentucky Wildcats are the nation’s No. 1 team.
First, he is lucky to have excellent players who get along, don’t gripe about playing time and don’t want to fight either foes or teammates. Those two things are important and help the cohesion of the team-first Wildcats.
If any Wildcat ever had reason to complain, it’s Darius Miller (a senior!). He would deserve to start on any other team in America, but he doesn’t complain and has saved the Wildcats in several games. He deserves the biggest applause of any senior to whom Cat fans have ever said goodbye.
Remember this, Miller could be the most valuable Wildcat in the NCAA Tournament.
Anthony Davis is simply amazing. He has the prettiest hook shot of any Wildcat since Cliff Hagan.
Davis can put the ball on the floor and dribble to the basket with the dexterity of a guard, which he was some of his high school years.
Davis and the late Bill Spivey are the two best defensive centers Kentucky has ever had.
And the same thing could be said about the offensive talent of both big guys.
Peach Basket History
It’s true that when Dr. Naismith invented basketball, the Canadian physical education professor at Springfield College in Massachusetts really did nail a peach basket to the wall with a bottom in the basket.
He didn’t think there would be many athletes who would be so adept at shooting the ball in the basket. He was right for a time, but finally some sharpshooters developed.
That meant that Dr. Naismith had to do away with his ladder that he climbed each time to extract the ball.
Finally someone suggested that the basket should have its bottom removed.
And now we have shooters who can make at least one out of three shots no matter how far away from the basket they are.
It has become a shooters’ game.
How important are shooting skills?
I heard a conversation at the State Tournament one year between two of our greatest high school coaches, Letcher Norton of Clark County and Ralph Carlisle of Lafayette.
They were talking about a team that they knew was destined to win the state championship.
Said Carlisle, “Letch, you and I know more basketball than that other coach will ever know but when his players were born, God made sure that they would be good shooters and that’s why that team is so good?”
I thought about that conversation last week when I watched Louisville’s most adept shooter, Kyle Kuric, suffer through a miserable game at Cincinnati in which he connected on zero shots in 12 tries!
A few days earlier in Chicago, Kuric couldn’t miss. But against the Bearcats, he couldn’t hit a single field goal. He played 37 minutes, more than any other Cardinal, and finished with just four free throws!
It’s a funny game, this basketball.
But it also is fun, so let’s switch to some happy stories.
A Different Coach
You would like for your son to play for Chris O’Bryan at East Jessamine High School near Nicholasville, just south of Lexington.
Mike Fields, whose Lexington Herald-Leader columns are a must for high school fans, passes along this story:
At each Senior Night at East Jessamine, O’Bryan lets his team manager suit up for a game.
This year it was manager Kevin Courtney. The coach says it’s a reward for all the hard work managers do.
When the coach put Courtney in, the manager got to shoot a free throw—and he made it to loud cheering!
“Brings a tear to the eye every time,” the coach said.
I’ve known a lot of teams whose managers could out-shoot any of the players because the managers get a lot of time to shoot.
Varsity Fish Catchers
Notice that I didn’t say fisherMEN, because both boys and girls will be able to be members of varsity teams when the Kentucky High School Athletic Association starts bass fishing as a varsity sport for both boys and girls.
I think that’s great, and I thought about calling my buddy, Commissioner Julian Tackett, and ask what’s next, tiddly-winks or pinball?
Tiny Schools Live!
Buckhorn, a small Perry County school, knocked out much bigger Perry County Central from tournament play.