Exciting Starts and Ends to Seasons

Tony Vanetti: Alright Matt, it’s a little early in the season for Calipari to be chastising the fans after the game, like he did the other day, about just supporting the team and avoiding crazy behavior on the internet. It’s a little early for that, isn’t it?

Matt Jones: I don’t know what was going on with that. That was a really strange thing. Somebody must have gotten to Cal between the end of the game and when he went to his radio interview and angered him. I really would be interested to know who that was. His point is a good one: Kentucky fans need to chill out. They worry about every game too much. The reality is for Kentucky this season, as long as they’re good, and I assume they will be, no given game really matters until March. So, if they lose, chill out. But for Calipari, I don’t think he wants to hear day-to-day griping over who he plays.

Vanetti: Tell me about the line he had in the post-game where he said, “If you want all that you can bring Rick back.” What was that about?

Jones: I don’t know, I think he just likes to throw Rick in there. I love the fact that they hate each other; I wish they hated each other even more than they do, because I think they hate each other a lot. I think he was just thinking about a former coach, but it is funny how Rick Pitino comes up. The reality is, what’s great about him and what can be frustrating, is that Calipari always has to have an enemy. Because he plays better with an enemy. So now his enemy is people who say he can’t platoon.

Vanetti: Okay, what about the rumors that have been going around about the sort of “Kumbaya” this summer between those two?

Jones: Of course not, are you kidding me? There’s no “Kumbaya.” I will tell you, I did hear that towards the end of last season, things were potentially a little better. But they’re still taking shots at each other; they still don’t like each other. I refuse to believe they’re any “Kumbaya.” In my view, they both dislike what the other one stands for. So, it’s not just personal, it’s also symbolic. And that makes it very hard for them to get over it.

Vanetti: Alright, let’s move on to your football team. Man, if anybody needs to sit around a fire and play guitar and sing “Kumbaya,” it’s the Kentucky football team. What has gone wrong there?

Jones: That was really disappointing, they played rally poorly against a team that’s not very good. I thought that they were going to be better, I thought they would be competitive. I didn’t think they were going to win that game, but I thought they’d be competitive. So I think what’s going to happen, they need to play well against Louisville win or lose. I think they will play well. But if they happen to go and get drilled again, it’s going to be a long offseason for Stoops, because everybody has been so positive, and then basically five straight weeks it’s been bad games.

Vanetti: So the season does sort of hinge on the Louisville-Kentucky game?

Jones: I mean, they can lose. I don’t think they have to win. I just think they can’t get blown out. And for Louisville, you guys go to Notre Dame. I know you’re excited to go up there. It’s the first time a real historic powerhouse has ever allowed your team in there. So, it should be very exciting for you.

Vanetti: Oh, that’s so nice. Yes, everyone I’ve talked to is making the road trip, bad weather or not. Their quarterback is healthy, he’s going to play. They lost their best defensive lineman. I think they’ve had like 139 points scored on Notre Dame’s defense in the last three games. And Louisville scored close to 100 points themselves, so I think it’s going to be a great game. I think it will come down to the last possession. Who knows if the freshman Bonnafon can perform, on the road, at Notre Dame. It’s going to be a tall task.

Jones: Well, I thought Notre Dame was good. But then they lost at home to Northwestern. So, now I don’t know if they’re good or not. Louisville can win, certainly. I hope they don’t. Because I think it’s always more fun when Louisville loses. But I do think as regards to Reggie Bonnafon, ultimately UofL need to pick a quarterback and they’ll go with him. But Gardner was playing well, so it’s unfortunate for those guys. You know, the good thing for Kentucky setting up for that football game is, it couldn’t be a better set up. Kentucky will be on a bye week; Louisville is coming off of a difficult, road game. So you hope you can come in and steal something. Although, I’m not really confident that they will. Now your basketball team, I have to say, I’m going to give a rare compliment. They looked better in their first two games than I thought they would this year. Rick’s always kind of a slow starter, and this year, he’s really not. They look really good. Now, Jacksonville State is not very great competition. But Montrezl Harrell is really great; he’s probably one of the three or five best players in the country. I still don’t know if they’re good enough to make a Final Four type run, but he’s going to have, once again, a good team.

Vanetti: Is Terry Rozier as good or better than either one of the twins?

Jones: I don’t know. It depends on what you mean by better. The twins are underrated for how much of an impact they have on the game. Aaron is kind of a knock down shooter, now he wasn’t against Buffalo. But Andrew really can get to the basket at will. Is Rozier a better offensive player? Maybe. But I’d still rather have the twins because I think they can do more stuff. But regardless, the problem is Kentucky has ten guys and Louisville kind of has three. There’s such a huge drop off after those top three for Louisville. That I kind of think that’s where they really struggle.

Vanetti: Well, I tell you, I’d rather take a loss up in Notre Dame this weekend and trade off just a flat-out beat down of your Wildcats in a week and a half. That would be really sweet to send you all home without a bowl game.

Jones: That could happen. And let me just also say, in the classic once a week fashion, Rick Pitino says something to make me groan. This time it was, Pitino saying “I really wish I didn’t have to play my son in this first game.” He didn’t have to! They scheduled the game. I’m so tired of him; he does that all the time. He schedules one of his former assistants or he schedules his son and then says “Aw, I hate that I have to play them.” You didn’t have to schedule it. If you didn’t want to play, why in the world did you schedule the game?

Vanetti: I feel the same every time we do lunch. I’m like I scheduled lunch with Matt, but I don’t want to have lunch with Matt.

Jones: Well that’s a little different because I’m more of a joy to be around than Richard Pitino, who is sort of the Billy Carter of that family. But I have to tell you, that makes me laugh. If they had to play in the NCAA tournament, I get it. But I am so tired of the fact that they intentionally scheduled a game between the Pitinos to start the season and then he says “Oh, why are we playing this game?”

Vanetti: He just wanted to match the whininess from Calipari from earlier in the week. He just has to one-up Cal on everything.

Jones: I’ll tell you what, it’s a great start to the season, it’s going to be a fun year. Louisville’s been better in football, Kentucky’s going to be better in basketball, but it should be another fun season. And Rick is going to make me nauseous throughout, I can tell.

Photos by VICTORIA GRAFF | Contributing Photographer and CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune