After a week in which they pasted two traditional SEC football powers, the Cats now head to Tuscaloosa for a battle with another program whose hardwood and gridiron success makes them the bizarro version of themselves. The disparity in the programs for each respective school again reiterates the reason that they've all been brought together as conference partners - dollar signs. So, with that sorry segue in place, it's only fitting that we salute a man this morning who popularized the phrase "Everybody's got a price", "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase
. DiBiase celebrates birthday number 57 Tuesday, as well as the 17th anniversary of his retirement from professional wrestling and does so as a traveling minister and part-time WWE contributor. But, while his run in the ring is surely worthy of honoring, it's his brilliant gimmick and hustle that deserves the most praise. As "The Million Dollar Man", DiBiase was fortunate to receive spending money and limosines from his bosses with the strict instructions of treating every city he traveled to like he was Matt Jones on Bardstown Road and taking his fat wallet from place to place, winning the hearts of all the locals. It's that type of brilliant business mentality that makes him the worthy of celebrating by anyone who has ever had to tape their little receipts to an expense report and hope it doesn't get denied. As "Hobo" Ted DiBiase, he's just another wrestler. As "The Million Dollar Man", he gets a KSR shoutout.
Now onto a few UK notes...
- The nation's hottest cheerleading rivalry will step aside on Tuesday and let the men's basketball teams fight their battles as the Cats head to Tuscaloosa to face an Alabama team
that isn't necessarily all that good overall, but could present problems in some of the same familiar areas that have given the Cats trouble so far this season. Everything the Tide does offensively goes through forwards Tony Mitchell and JaMychal Green and they have super-athletic Senario Hillman and freshman guard Trevor Releford, who has had his bumps, but whose highs are very high, adding solid balance on the perimeter. Alabama presents the next rung in the ladder of mediocrity of the SEC West. Auburn was cake. LSU had a little more to offer. Alabama is next. Kentucky is clearly the better team, much as they were against both Tigers teams, but there's always something scary about playing in that gym that looks like half the lights are burnt out and it smells like mold and dirty socks.
- In his standard meeting with the media prior to the game, the attention for Coach Cal was again on Terrence Jones, who he had singled out earlier in the week as a player who he is continuing to push to be the player he proved he can be earlier in the season. On Monday, Coach Cal turned his attention to Jones' passing
, or rather the lack thereof, and said that he's been getting after the freshman forward to focus more on keeping the ball moving on offense, which is the part of his game Calipari said he fell in love with while recruiting him. According to his coach, Jones' passing is an "unbelievable passer", but he's killing the ball movement when he's on the floor. Cal said that he might continue to bring Jones off the bench, but he needs to be more worried about finding the happy medium between scoring the ball and keeping it moving on offense to help his teammates get looks. It's a feel for the game that Calipari compared to what Brandon Knight had to develop earlier this season. Against an Alabama defense that will use athleticism and length to get in their faces, Jones' ability to make the extra pass could make all the difference. Forced shots can lead to blocks and fast break points, which is not what you want to give to a team that struggles so much offensively.
- The other big story of the day was the differing reports of whether or not former Ballard and Mississippi State guard Twany Beckham
is primed to become a Cat. Jeff Goodman said his sources said it was a done deal, while Matt said he's hearing that's still a bit premature. But, Beckham did take in Kentucky's practice Monday and there seems to be significant momentum gathering for him making it official fairly soon. Beckham would fill a back-up point guard position for a team that will be heavy on five-star talent next season and would join the team as a walk-on. The move could turn out to be fruitful for the Cats as Beckh....shoooooooooooooooootttttttttt!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Another Monday came and brought fairly dismal results for the SEC as UK found itself as the only team from the conference ranked in either poll. We're fast approaching the point of the season where the talk of conference representation in the NCAA Tournament
will begin finding its way into the national conversation and, while the SEC coaches are playing up the "eight teams are 2-1" point, the conference's RPI ranks seventhin the nation and there are major flaws and resume holes from top to bottom. For what it's worth, the top-five teams in RPI are all from the SEC East (UK at 12, Florida at 16, Vandy at 22, Tennessee at 24 and Georgia at 38), while the West's top representative is Ole Miss at 85. The Cats, Gators and Commodores are likely to make it to The Dance as of now. If Tennessee can avoid disaster with Bruce Pearl suspended, they probably have enough quality wins to get in, but they have to prove they're at least somewhat close to the team that beat Pitt and Villanova early in the season. Georgia, meanwhile, might have their fate determined in the next four games which are home against Tennessee, MSU and Florida and on the road in Lexington.
- After a weekend of recruits and commitments visiting, there seems to be a feeling that a lot of decisions should be made soon for a number of UK's football targets
. The father of Jon Davis told Chris Fisher of 247Sports that his son still remains committed to the Cats despite visits scheduled and Lamar Dawson is still planning to make his visits before deciding on signing day. But, those big names aside, we could be entering a period of commitment news for Joker's staff leading up to signing day February 2.
- On a non-UK note, I just thought it was worth noting that the next Super Bowl-winning quarterback
will either be a guy who was started the season on suspension(Roethlisberger), the NFL's 27th-rated passer (Sanchez), a guy who is "in love" with Kristen from The Hills
(Cutler) or Aaron Rodgers.
That's it for now. Stick around throughout the day for some stuff about Kentucky, Alabama and a likely fundraiser to bail Drew Franklin out of jail. We'll need you, so make sure you're here. See you in a few...