Friday, March 30, 2012
Friday, March 23, 2012
Today I had the pleasure of speaking to one of my all time favorite Wildcats Derek Anderson on the phone. First let me say, you will not find a nicer more respectful person to deal with, he was AWESOME! The above picture is one he tweeted out earlier today in response to the media constantly showing the last second three by Indiana. And was one of the nastiest dunks I have ever seen. Below is my conversation with Derek, it's interesting.
Q: What is it like knowing that you were part of a team that is ranked in the top ten college basketball teams of all time. (I said ranked 8th, but he was quick to point out they were ranked 2nd)?
A: It's awesome. We are all still like brothers and it's been what, 16 years and we are still communicating. And that's very rare today. Having that type of legacy, and camaraderie is unbeatable. You can't compare that to anything. Kareem Abdul Jabbar doesn't even talk to any of his UCLA teammates except one or two.
Q: You guys won the National Championship in '96 and that was really exciting for you and the fans. But in '97, you guys had a chance to have what would have been a three peat. Do you feel that if you had played against Arizona, you all would have won two in a row ?
A: Oh absolutely. You take a player who averages 20ppg off any team in college, and that team doesn't get as far as we got. If I would've played in overtime I would've got at least 15 points (laughs). I was the best defensive player and top scorer on the team. That's like taking Michael Jordan off of the Bulls. Everytime I talk to Mike Bibby he always like, man if you would've played I don't know (laughs). It's the truth and I think they understand that.
Q: Were you medically cleared to play against Arizona? Was it a coaches decision to sit you.
A: I was cleared to play because the ligament was from a cadaver and it healed. That's why I practiced, I was cleared to play. Coach Pitino knew my career was more important, he knew if I hurt myself again I wouldn't have a chance in hell of making it to the NBA. He made a decision it cost him another championship, so hats off to him, I still appreciate what he did. Although, I would have rather played (laughs). Most coaches would have been like, if you're cleared, you're playing, my job is on the line. But like I said, he set that aside and I appreciate that.
Q: It's tournament time, and I'm pretty sure your paying attention to it some what. But, from a player perspective, how do you approach a tournament game knowing its one and done, and not letting nerves get the best of you?
A: You just gotta stay focused. You don't get caught up in all the individual things like who your playing and things like that. You just wanna keep playing and go as far as you can. But I love the tournament, I always pay attention to it and watch it. This is great.
Q: I think the "one and done" rule is why we don't see teams like the ones you were on while at Kentucky. Do you agree with the "one and done" rule?
A: I think they should stay until their sophomore year. Some guys are ready to go to the next level. But the two years you gain by staying, you don't get in the NBA. The NBA is a job, it's a man going home to his family. These guys don't take classes, and walk to practice with you, you gotta find your own way. But if you do something your sophomore year in college, you become a better player because your not a freshman. You've learned from your mistakes, you see hey, I've got another chance. Therefore, if you do decide to leave you would have been a junior, you're 20 some years old now. These kids that go to the NBA after their freshman year are 19 years old. What am I going to do with a 19 year old, when I'm 32 in the NBA? There's no similarities. And a lot of these guys try to hang with grown men, and they get caught up and get in trouble, and learn bad habits. You have to realize, these are kids man. But I don't wanna take his dream, because, if when I was a sophomore and I could've left I would have. Because financially I wanted to be taken care of. But everyone's situation is different. But I think the rule should be at least be, stay until your sophomore year. At least give these guys a chance to mature mentally and physically. The NBA isn't going anywhere. If your good enough you'll make it. And I don't buy the whole leave before an injury thing. I got injured, and I got picked 13th.
Q: John Calipari doesn't like the "one and done" rule either. The media bashes Calipari for capitalizing on it. His theory is, that's the rule so I'm going to get the best players possible. What do you think of Calipari producing so many "one and done" players? Do you think it's hurting the program?
A: If it's hurting us, then we're doing pretty good because we are number one every year. I don't know why people are complaining. I guess because players aren't staying, people don't get to know them, and see them for 2 or 3 years. Kentucky is used to being around family, and to see these young guys come in for one year then leave, you don't get to really know them. There's ups and downs with that. But you gotta go get the best players for the best program.
We're not gonna go get 3 or 4 tier players Just because they will be around for 4 years. That's not what we do. We've never done that. We go get the best players who want to work hard and be a part of the program, that's it.
Q: you won an NBA championship in 2006 with the Miami Heat. Which one meant more to you personally, NBA or college?
A: I tell everybody, college was the best. You get one opportunity and you can lose any game. In seven games in he NBA, hell, anything can happen. I enjoyed it, we all enjoyed it. Ask all of those guys, they will be like man, it was fun in college. That was your first taste of a national stage to win something. NBA was like putting icing on a cake. But to finally get your cake and have it in front of you, man there is no comparison to that. I don't care what anyone says in the NBA.
Q: Speaking of your NBA career. After you were done playing, you had a lot of success off the court as well, owning several business's and foundations. What would you say to a college player today who wants that kind of success after basketball?
A: He had to sacrifice the party life. I partied with my family and friends in the summer. But during the season, I dedicated myself to basketball and business. Also, realize I got help from school teachers, basketball coaches and I wanna give back in the same way. I don't just send money to places, I go and do things. The biggest difference between me and these young guys is, they just get caught up in watching TV. They'll see someone dressed a certain way, then they'll dress that way. It's like, come on man, be yourself. These guys follow too many people. It's one thing if I gave you good advice, and you put it in our own terms like I do with everyone. But when you start to follow, and mimic the same people who are showing negativity and your pants are sagging, your wearing glasses when you don't even need them. It's like, come on man, get your own identity. Some of these guys don't have that. They'll just look at someone's outfit, and go buy the exact same outfit. It dumbfounds me.
Q: I was looking at your stats today. Your first season at Kentucky, you played 36 games and scored 337 points. Your second season, you played just 19 games due to injury, but scored the same amount of points. Excuse my language, but how the hell is that possible?
A: (laughs). It's called GODs will. Those numbers were meant to be that way. Everything that happened to me was that way. You think about it, the number 3. We could have won 3 championships, I got drafted 13th (laughs). There's just so many similarities. Things happen and I let GOD do his will. These situations happen and they were meant to happen that way. Like right now, the biggest question we have is, if I would have played, would we have won three championships? Dick Vitale said it the other day. "If Anderson would have played that year, I guarantee you we would be talking about a three peat for the University of Kentucky". It wasn't just Kentucky fans, the world knew that. The world was waiting to see if I got in the game. Do you know how awesome that is, and how depressing that is at the same time? (laughs).
Q: Do you know John Calipari? If so, what do you think of him as a person, and a coach?
A: I like him. I love the way he got the family of the university to come back and everything. I'm excited he does that. A lot of coaches won't let you come back. I won't mention any names, but some coaches would complain about us coming back and working out. You feel like, we're a part of a family, we built this with you. He allows everyone to come back to open arms. I didn't know he was that cool of a guy, but he's super cool. That's just from what I know.
Q: What did you think of Kentucky hiring Billy Gillispie?
A: I think he did well at Texas A&M, but he just wasn't ready for our program. And that's the same situation for some players. They come to Kentucky talented, but just aren't ready for our program. They gotta realize, this is what we do. We don't settle for mediocrity, we don't settle for jerks ya know, we settle for us.
Q: Final question, Kentucky, Indiana in the sweet sixteen tonight. Who you got?
A: UK by 15
Once again, I can't explain how awesome it was to talk to a player that I loved watching play the game. A player, who while they lay at mid court holding his knee, made they entire state of Kentucky hold their breath. A player that everyone in the entire state loved. He is one of, if not THE best people I have ever had the pleasure of talking to.
Thanks again Derek!
Monday, March 19, 2012
Sunday, March 18, 2012
The Big Blue Nation made the Yum Center their home away from home over the weekend. And for good reason. How often does Kentucky play their first two NCAA tournament games in Kentucky. When the final buzzer sounded Saturday night, Kentucky knew who they would meet in the round of sixteen in Atlanta. Indiana, and being one of two teams to hand the Cats a loss this year, they will be confident going into the game. But in years past when Kentucky plays in Atlanta, BBN has often taken over the town. Lest hope Kentucky fans show why they have dubbed the capital of Georgia "CATlanta" and paints the town BLUE!!!
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
News broke today that Knicks headcoach Mike D'Antoni has resigned from his post in New York. This is a job that many believe that Calipari would take if he wanted to leave Kentucky for another chance in the NBA.
As soon as twitter started to pick up the story, Cal addressed the situation with two short tweets of his own:
@UKCoachCalipari: as I've said before, I have the greatest job in basketball at any level. Why would I be interested in another job?
@UKCoachCalipari: I love being the coach of the commonwealth's team. To the #BBN & all the recruits that are coming or want to come, I will be at Kentucky.
You have to give him credit for stomping out this rumor before it becomes a distraction to his team. Now sure some may say "that is just coach speak" but it sure sounds as if he means what he says. One thing is for sure in my opinion, if Calipari doesn't leave this year for the league, then he retires at Kentucky. Again, just my opinion.
Our man Anthony Davis is on the cover of SI, and well deserved. With his record setting year at Kentucky, and his room full of awards with no doubt more to come, Was there any doubt as to who SI would put on the cover of their March Maddness edition?
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
If your a college basketball fan, or just a sports fan in general, you gotta love this time of year. MLB getting ready to start up, NBA is getting closer to playoff time, and of course it's March Madness. March Madness slows productivity in the work place, and ups the amount of time spent in front of the television. It's like Christmas the whole month of March for a sports fan, and I for one can't wait to get it started.
I disappear from the blog for a few days and all hell breaks loose. Kentucky loses to a very good Vandy team in the SEC championship game, and Syracuse along with Jim Boeheim just can't seem to do anything right. It was announced earlier today that Cuse big man Fab Melo has been ruled ineligible for the NCAA tournament. This will surely have some affect on the Oranges' chance of making a Final Four run. I find it a bit odd that the officials at Syracuse just so happened to find this out after being awarded a #1 seed in the big dance. No way (sarcasm) they knew about it before the field for the tournament was set. Rumor has it that he is being ruled ineligible for the same reason he sat out a few games earlier in the year. If that's the case, they could be looking at some vacated games. Time will tell.
Now let's get to the Vandy loss. Kentucky played the worst three games I have seen from them in a while during the SEC tournament. Before the tournament started, I was in the camp of "Kentucky needs a loss" before heading into the NCAA tournament. After watching their below average performance in the SEC tournament, I may have been right. Sure it was hard watching Jeffery Taylor, John Jenkins, and Kevin Stallings acting like they just won the National Championship, but it may have been a blessing. In all three games Kentucky looked uninspired, and uninterested, that's something this team hadn't had a problem with all season long. John Calipari kept repeating his thoughts of "I don't mind swagger, I like it. I just don't want it to turn to arrogance. I don't want them to think that they can just show up and win." He must have seen something in their practice effort or their body language that led him to this assumption. Now that "the streak" is out of the way, and the team has been brought back down to earth, may Calipari has their attention for a deep run in the tourney.
Speaking of the tourney, after taking a while to look at Kentucky's region, it's not as bad as I first thought. Assuming we win the first round, we stand a potential second round matchup with UCONN. Some folks think we got "screwed" with the 8/9 seed match up, but if Kentucky really is the #1 overall seed in this thing, then a game against UCONN or Iowa ST. shouldn't matter. Not to mention it will be a virtual home game for the Cats. I'm not saying that Kentucky couldn't lose to either of those teams or even in the first round, because they could. But if your the best team in the country, sometimes you gotta prove it.
So Thursday night, could be the start of a tournament to remember. But one things for certain. No matter how the season ends, we were witness to one of the more fun and special seasons in a long time.
If your not watching the Western Kentucky comeback over Mississippi Valley State, then your missing a good one. Hopefully the winner will be worn out for their matchup against Kentucky on Thursday.