Today would have been the 93rd birthday of one of the great American actors of the 20th Century, Gregory Peck. It is likely the case that besides Cuba Gooding’s stunning work as “Radio”, no American actor is more identified for one triumphant part than Peck’s turn as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. The film version of the classic book was released in 1962, in the heart of the Civil Rights Movement and can correctly be placed as one of the most important examples of a society-changing film in history. Peck played Fitch as a dignified attorney staring down the face of racism, all the while doing without sweating nearly as much as Matthew McCoughnhey did in “Time to Kill.” For his work in the film, Peck was later given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Lyndon Johnson and then found himself on Richard Nixon’s Enemies list. Peck was also known for his role in “Cape Fear” and is one of the very few actors to play two different significant roles in a movie and in its remake (can you think of others). Peck died in 2003 at the age of 86, likely the most famous Gregory, who never went by the more casual “Greg”. If you have never seen “To Kill a Mockingbird”, watch it…or better yet read it…or watch “The Life and Times of Tim.” All are worthy.
To the news….
— The big story is tonight’s national championship game, which will give Duke its 4th national title and make the nation’s collective gag reflex go into overdrive. It is the classic “David vs Goliath” story (yes I know you said it first Pat Forde, but its payback for claiming you were the first person to discover Northern Iowa), as the nation hopes to root on Butler and its 14 year old coach to what would be the biggest upset winner in NCAA Tournament history. That excitement aside, it is actually a pretty miserable final. This isnt on of the ten best Duke teams ever, yet it is going to find itself with title #4 and a team that probably has no players that will significant at the next level. And while I love the Butler story, they are probably one of the worst runner-ups in NCAA history (joining 2002 Indiana and 2004 Georgia Tech). Still we have to watch the game to pull for Lexington’s Shelvin Mack, who is bringing Darius Miller to the game as his guest and hopefully will make Bryan Station proud. We will be LIVE BLOGGING the game tonight here and on CBS with Gregg Doyel, Bomani, Beisner, Drew Franklin and they mysterious CM Tomlin, beginning at 9 pm, so check it out.
— The other big story of the weekend was the craziness surrounding Daniel Orton that seemed to change every few minutes. The final story seems to be that Orton has declared for the Draft, left campus and headed to California to train and will make a final decision in a few weeks. He tweeted out that he will finish his classes at UK so that the Cats wont take a hit to their scholarship ranks and that he loved the UK fans and the program. Silliness ensued, with some fans (or potentially rivals’ fans) showing poor judgment and class in making nasty comments to Orton on his fan page, but hopefully that has stopped. We expect to hear decisions from Wall, Cousins and Bledsoe by the end of the week.
— John Calipari spoke about the roster this weekend and told Andy Katz that he had counseled all five players to put their name in the Draft and for Bledsoe, Orton and Patterson to not hire agents initially. The Patterson comment stoked some rumors about his potential decision, but there has been nothing else in that regard to come out. He also said that Darnell Dodson was on the team as of now, but was uncertain whether he would be for sure next year. All in all, Calipari basically affirmed what we already knew and was on tv with Bruce Pearl. A good weekend for him.
— Finally, we got more news from the Commonwealth’s favorite Shelby Valleyian Elisha Justice. His coach said that Justice would only be interested in Kentucky if he was offered a full four-year scholarship, which technically doesnt exist since all scholarships are one year reneweable, but you get his point. The comment seemed to be a bit of a line in the sand, and could raise the stakes on his recruitment. When I spoke with him on Friday, he made reference to hoping for that 4 year scholarship, but did not say it in an ultimatum type way, so I dont think the requirement is as strict as it has been portrayed. Either way, expect Calipari to stil pursue Justice and it will be interesting to see what the kid ends up deciding. If the offers are equal, Louisville probably has the edge, but Calipari has more room to wiggle scholarship wise than Pitino probably does at this time.
We will have more all day as we try to get into recruiting mode and offseason changes. It should be a bit of a moving week as we get ready for next week, when commitments will be coming fast and furious. It is about to get interesting…