When it comes to college basketball, it's hard to find a school with more tradition and fan intensity (ask Tubby Smith) than Kentucky. With the annual Hogs-Wildcats battle looming, we figured this was a good time to check in with one of our favorite SEC bloggers, Truzenzuzex from A Sea of Blue. He was kind enough to give us his informative and entertaining thoughts on a variety of topics, including the Billy Gillispie hire, the most irritating 90s-era Hog to play against, and why Razorback fans maybe shouldn't get too used to having John Pelphrey around. And when you're done reading Tru's take, head on over to his site to read our answers to his questions about the Hogs. Big thanks to Tru for his time...read on for the full scoop:
1. The Wildcats' overall record is a very un-Kentucky-like 14-10. However, the team is 8-3 in the conference, has won seven out of its last eight games, and has wins over then-No. 13 Vandy and then-No. 3 Tennessee. Considering all of that, what's the overall mood of Wildcat fans and what's your impression of Billy Gillispie so far?
The fanbase, in general, is happy with Gillispie, particularly those who wanted Smith gone so passionately. But I would say that Gillispie has widespread support among the Big Blue Nation, and I am pleased to count myself included. There have been a few missteps and some questionable decision making, but given the difficulty we have had with injuries and the defection of Alex Legion, I think things have gone reasonably well, particularly since the SEC season began and we finally began playing decent basketball. In sum, I would say the State of the Big Blue Nation is satisfied pending future improvement. Essentially, he gets a pass for this season. The radicals can always blame Tubby Smith.
2. Give us a quick scouting report of UK: What are the team's strengths and weaknesses?
3. What are the keys to a Kentucky win on Saturday, and what is your prediction for the game?
Prediction? I think the Cats have a good chance to win if they play well.
4. With John Pelphrey returning to Rupp, Saturday's game will obviously be a special day for both him and Kentucky fans. Describe what Pelphrey the player was like and give us a sense of what he and the rest of The Unforgettables mean to UK basketball.
Pel was the guy that got the most out of the talent he had. He was slow afoot, jumped poorly, and struggled with quicker players. But he knew this, and used superior positioning and his great shooting ability to nullify them. Pelphrey was intensely competitive and hated to lose, and at Kentucky, he didn't have to suffer many losses.
The Unforgettables, to us, represent the oasis in the desert after having wandered aimlessly amidst desolation to the point of expiration. They were the restorers of hope, the guardians of tradition, the returners of honor and the most determined, unselfish team ever to don a Kentucky uniform in my memory. They are legend. Their jerseys deservedly grace the most hallowed rafters in all of college basketball, and we are all very proud of their accomplishments.
Melodramatic enough for ya?
5. Gut feeling: Will Pelphrey one day be the coach of the Wildcats?