Can’t Touch The Cats

UofL and UK basketball fans awaited Rick Pitino’s response to the 69-61 loss that John Calipari’s Wildcats put on Pitino’s Cardinals Saturday in the NCAA Regional semifinal at New Orleans.

Shortly after the shock wore off and his natural color returned to his face, a metamorphism took place. He was gracious toward the UK coach, John Calipari, a man he supposedly does not like or respect. And Pitino had nice things to say about the Wildcats.

And no doubt to the surprise of fans on both sides, the U of L coach said that he would pull for the Wildcats to bring the national championship back to Kentucky!

Wow! And a double wow! Yes, the hot-tempered Pitino showed class and was far more gracious than anyone could have expected.

A Pitino comeback?

UofL is just two or three top recruits from rejoining the elite of Division 1 college basketball.

Three of the best Cardinals – Peyton Siva, Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan—will be back. That’s 27 points right there. Both Dieng and Behanan really came on strong near the end of the season. Dieng should be a force both in rebounding and defense. The more he learns and the more he plays, he should be a real all-around force. Russ Smith returns with his 11.5-point average.

No Pitino friend

Mike Lupica, a columnist for The New York Daily News, was Pitino’s harshest critic when he coached the New York Knicks.

On Sunday’s ESPN Sports Reporters, he had no sympathy for Rick, saying that leaving UK was a “dumb-headed move.”

To Pitino’s credit, he always has said that leaving UK was the biggest mistake of his life.

Lexington disgrace

How can anyone approve of the unacceptable conduct of some UK fans students after their basketball team beat UofL? Couches set afire. Cars turned over and damaged.

The owner of one car recognized it from seeing it on TV and rushed home. It was heavily damaged. He explained why his car was turned upside down : “It was red.” (U of L’s colors.)

Broken beer bottles littered lawns and streets. Real class.

Meet Jerry Tipton

If you look in the first press row just behind the TV announcers you will see The Lexington Herald-Leader’s indomitableUK basketball beat reporter, Jerry Tipton. If a Wildcat bounces a ball anywhere in the world, Jerry will be there to tell you how many bounces the ball took.

Jerry has covered 1,000 games from the Caribbean to Alaska, from New York City’s Madison Square Garden to Hawaii and points in between. And don’t forget the Olympic Games no matter on which continent.

No one has ever done it better, no matter which college you pick. He does his job so well that he has been honored with a spot in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

He doesn’t forger the Wildcats when they leave UK. His Sunday column, which takes about an entire page in The Herald-Leader, even lists the birthdays of Wildcats.

It’s funny but some UK coaches and officials don’t appreciate some things that Tipton writes. UK thinks he snoops too much. If a news source tries to hide something from Tipton, that just encourages him.

The New York Times devoted two columns of news space in Sunday’s paper to a story and photo of Tipton at work. I hope you got to see it.

Dangerous NCAA

NCAA officials think of everything except the safety of its basketball players. The five feet or so of the NCAA Tournament floors above ground level in the Final Four were dangerous. One who was lucky not to be hurt when he had to jump down off the court was UK’s Anthony Davis.

NCAA heads should roll.

Borel on rail

Calvin Borel guided Take Charge Indy to victory in the Florida Derby and you know the route he took. Yes, on the rail.

Good to be the Sheik

The world’s richest horse race, the $10,000,000 Dubai World Cup, was won by Monterosso, owned by Dubai’s ruler, Sheik Mohammed bin Fashid al-Maktoum.

Earlier, the $1 million Dubai Gold Cup was halted after one of the sheik’s horses tumbled to the track and later was euthanized.

The race was rerun and won by Opinion Poll, also from the sheik’s Godolphin Stables.

The sheik’s horses are prominent in races at both Churchill Downs and Keeneland, and in the Keeneland Sales.