Sports in Kentucky by Bob Watkins

Posted February 6, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Glass half full.

In aftermath of an NFL season made tiresome by a media herd enthralled with Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and latest bulletin on Michael Vick’s knee, fans got a Super Bowl worth the price of a television commercial (almost).

But more, the MVP headed to Disney World owns a name straight out of casting for Godfather IV. Flacco, Joseph Vincent.

From Audubon, New Jersey, Flacco broke quarterback records for the Fighting Blue Hens at University of Delaware. Then he paid his earn-your-spurs dues in the NFL for a decade.

All grown up and gritty, Joe Flacco is symbol for Kentucky fans who believe in “hey, the glass is half full!”

Example why Kentucky football fans ought take heart again as verbal commits become another freshmen class of hopefuls in Lexington this week. Not that long ago experts said Joe Flacco was a three-star high school prospect. Not the nation’s 39th best prospect, but 39th on the best quarterbacks list.

When Kentucky football fanaticals sit down to examine backgrounds of UK’s commits this week and see that 13 are three-star types, remember Flacco.

With coaching and patience and good work in class, any or all can rise to become another Joe Flacco.

America, I love this place.


First, while the no-NCAA-for-Kentucky-this-year doom-sayers clutch their RPI Ratings sheets as evidence, John Calipari’s team turned a road trip into a pair of sparking wins last week.

As we turned to February, if Kentucky pushes to 17-6 by the weekend, fans need only ask themselves a question “are there really 65 teams in college hoops better than ours?”

Kentucky wobbled at times last week, but two wins at home this week would move the Wildcats within three (with eight to go) of the school’s 23rd 20-win seasons in last 24 years.

Last week was a demonstration of what Kentucky fans adore, a team becoming one, becoming educated too, and improving.

The Wildcats’ win at Ole Miss was pass-the-hostile-crowd poise test, and more. Fans got to see step-up-time.

The win at Texas A&M gave coaches another teaching video – This one on how to NOT play last five minutes of a game when an opponent down eight points, does not surrender.

More …

• To say Nerlens Noel was dominant would be to waste words. UK’s very long freshman can’t shoot like his predecessor from floor or foul line, but he is starting to hang around for longer spans of time in the Anthony Davis orbit.

• Kyle Wiltjer was stereo-typed as lead-foot stand-and-pop shooter. Wrong. I see dramatic add-on his game, Dan Issel qualities. Rebounds tougher, passes clever, does lovely post work using his feet, and shows leadership signs.

• Julius Mays. Whoever convinced the Wright State senior to sign on at Kentucky should take a bow and get a bonus. All expenses paid trip to Disney World?

• Ryan Harrow. Still a shaky decision-maker. When teevee talking heads gushed too frequently over Calipari’s Point Guard Inc. these days, sentences with Derrick Rose, John Wall and Brandon Knight don’t include Harrow.

Irony? It will surprise nobody if Harrow is sitting next to Jon Hood next season.

• Alex Poythress needs to get more shots, Jimmy Dykes stammered as the freshman forward took three at Texas A&M. A more concise analysis would be: Poythress needs to create and earn more shots.

• Ominous sign: A team forced to send its best player to the bench at free throw shooting crunch time.


When we look for definition of fickle sports fan here in Kentucky we need look no further than Bowling Green. Amazing, how quickly a (vocal few?) Hilltopper fans have turned on coach Ray Harper.

Has WKU faithful become Topper Fickle? Harper not only took over a fractured team last mid-season and got it to believe play on toes instead of heels, his team won a Sun Belt title and played two games in the NCAA Tournament.

One can reasonably conclude, maybe the prime reason football coach Willie Taggart left his alma mater was WKU’s Faithful gone Fickle.


Kentucky coach John Calipari sent some of us to the dictionary last week when he dropped the term “beer muscles” into conversation.

Beer muscles: noun, false bravado; Dutch courage; the powers one imagines one has after one has consumed 19 pints of beer.

Dutch courage? Alcohol induced self-confidence.

Example: “To line up at quarterback and look across the line and see Ray Lewis, I need some Dutch Courage.”


Jon Hood plays seldom at Kentucky, but the kid from Madisonville is quite an analytical observer. Comparing ex-teammate Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel, Hood told the Lexington Herald-Leader, “Anthony would just run in the lane with you and jump with you and hang there.

“Nerlens gives you a window and makes you think there’s a shot there. Because you think you have a shot at it and then here comes the flat top.”

And so it goes.