Pitino right person to message Kentucky basketball fans

Rick Pitino may or may not have shown the middle finger to some fans in Lexington following the Louisville vs. Kentucky basketball game. The quality of the cell phone video is bad, making it impossible to verify anything.

The only thing for certain is that many UK fans want to believe it happened. So many of them have been obsessing about it on the radio talk shows the past couple of days. If that’s what they believe, there’s no changing their minds. They believe a lot of incredulous things about their program.

Rick Pitino knows UK fans well.
Rick Pitino knows UK fans well.

A spur of the moment impulse whatever it was, following a bitter defeat to a hated arch rival. Who knows what abuse some UK fan(s) may have directed toward Pitino as he headed for the locker room. There’s obviously still a lot of hate for the former Kentucky coach in Lexington.

Pitino was someone they admired, respected and idolized.  As effective as John Calipari has been at UK, one does not sense the same high levels of adoration or affection. The distinct impression is that he’s more of a hired gun than a beloved figure, with all the winking and nodding when his name is mentioned.

Many UK fans have never forgiven Pitino for leaving to take a job in the NBA. They hate him much more for taking the University of Louisville job. Doesn’t matter that John Calipari took UK’s recruiting to another level, they consider themselves the jilted lovers, the ones he left behind.

They trash him regularly, every chance they get, justified or otherwise, making up stuff if they have to, their collective attitude epitomized by Matt Jones of the Kentucky Sports Radio. Jones was quick to capitalize on the grainy video, tweeting about it within a couple of hours after the game. His followers unashamedly lap it up.

Some UofL fans are also hoping that Pitino actually did make an obscene gesture to the UK fan base. If so, the action would reflect the collective wish of many University of Louisville fans. Not that such a gesture would be a great display of civility or sportsmanship, but if any individual were justified in sending UK fans a message it would be Rick Pitino.

If some Kentucky fans want so badly to believe the worst, they may want to heed the message and follow it to their desired conclusion.

Duke is making inroads

If it’s not going to be UofL, let it be Duke.

What a nice ending to the 2015 NCAA basketball tournament, with a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference winning it all. Four days ago the outlook for a satisfactory was somewhat bleak.

Hard to pull against Wisconsin, featuring a seven-foot Roger Burkman look-alike, but the Badgers left their mark on the tournament by putting Kentucky on the sidelines. Representing the best in college amateurism, they quickly became beloved in Louisville, .

Despite the mixed feelings, UofL fans had to be pulling for Duke — the still new conference brother and bitterly hated by a rival fan base — making the tournament outcome that much sweeter.

Don’t look now UK fans, but someone is creeping up on you. Kentucky, with many fans already counting their ninth title before the 2015 tournament began, still has eight. Duke now has five.

All’s well that ends well.

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The UofL baseball team shut out Virginia 4-0 Monday, the fourth series sweep in a row over ACC teams. The Cardinals are on top of the Atlantic Division with a 13-1 conference mark and are 24-7 overall. They travel to Duke this weekend for a three-game series.

First, however, comes a rivalry game against Kentucky on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. The rivalry games are usually packed so arrive early.

Happy Easter, and Kentucky is done

A beautiful Easter Sunday.

What a weekend in Louisville with the enormous fire at Appliance Park and all the flooding, the road closures and other damage throughout the community. It almost hit home Friday, Barbara shrieking from the basement about “flooding.”I had just tested the carpet with my feet a few minutes earlier and found nothing. Oh, no, as I go running down the steps.

Turns out to be a broken CVC connection, located above the sump pump, leading ground water into the basement on a non-carpeted area. Thankfully a slow trickle, the water emptying outside the sump pump basin. Quick trip to Lowe’s for a new elbow and some plumber’s putty, and the water is going back to the sump pump.

The area is completely dry a few hours later. Some do-it-yourself projects are actually easier than others. But there was still another concern.

The biggest sigh of relief would come the next day at around 11 p.m. after Wisconsin has eliminated Kentucky in the NCAA basketball tournament, immediately squelching all talk about pursuing perfection and a ninth national championship.

The UK fans were subdued, almost difficult to find in church Sunday morning. No UK flags on cars in the parking lot. The only trace of UK apparel to be found on a youngster about 7 years old. The guy sitting next to us wearing a Wisconsin sweatshirt, enjoying new levels of popularity with University of Louisville fans in the congregation.

No smug looks, or mentions of perfect seasons. Happy Easter weekend, indeed.

New chapter for Louisville and Duke

Welcome to Louisville, Duke. This is one town in Kentucky that has the utmost respect for your basketball program.

Never mind the Univeristy of Kentucky hate-mongers in our midst. They’re still feeling the pain from the Christian Laetner shot in 1992 that felled their idols in the closing seconds for the East Regional championship. 10987654321

What a relief that was for Louisville fans, watching a team coming off two years of probation get sent back to Lexington. That was Rick Pitino’s first season as UK coach, proving he could compete at the highest levels with an assemblage of perceived leftovers and wannabes.

Duke has long been considered by UofL fans to be a premier program, not only in terms of NCAA championships and number of wins, but in the way the program has been managed. Appearing in 15 final fours, 10 national championship games, winning four national titles, most of them during Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s tenure. A clean program, devoid of NCAA probations during Coach K’s 35 seasons.

Duke owns 5-4 edge in meetings between the basketball programs, but Louisville has won four of the last five games — including a 72-69 win in the 1986 championship and an 85-63 regional bracket win en route to a third NCAA championship in 2013.

Great to see two great programs finally coming together, beginning a new chapter in the ACC.

Louisville women cough up another one to Kentucky

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Kentucky women’s basketball coach spent almost as much time addressing the officials as he did his players in a game against the University of Louisville Sunday in front of a crowd of 14,862 fans at the KFC Yum! Center. The tactic was successful, with his UK team upsetting UofL 77-68.

Louisville was clearly the better team with superior players but couldn’t find the basket or value possessions in the second half against a familiar UK press that has hampered UofL the past four seasons.

Jeff Walz without answers.
Jeff Walz without answers for Kentucky’s press.

UofL jumped out to a 16-point lead and led 42-29 at the end of the first half, dominating the Wildcats in all phases of the game in the first 20 minutes. Things went south in the second half with the Cardinals making only seven of 29 field attempts while committing 15 turnovers.

Louisville would wind up with 28 turnovers for the game, including six by Bria Smith, five by Myisha Hines-Allen, four by Jude Schimmel, three each for Sara Hammond and Mariya Moore.

The Cardinals appeared afraid to shoot in the second half. When they did, there were far too many misses beneath the basket, UofL rushing shots or tossing the ball straight up in the air, expecting it to somehow find its way to the basket.

Jude Schimmel, who has played in four losses against UK in four years, will not have one decent memory of the rivalry, closing it out by missing all six of her shots Sunday.

Sara Hammond, a McDonald’s All American from the Bluegrass state, would score her 1,000th point on a free throw. Not much of a presence otherwise, managing 11 points and five rebounds, as she continues to play nice, exhibiting those ups and downs in her senior year.

Prior to the game, Hammond had discussed the importance of winning a game in the rivalry, the bragging rights and all. She also admitted, “We kind of gave it away the last couple years.”

Sunday’s outcome had a very familiar feeling.