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Image 3 of The Cats' Pause, 15-Dec-84

Part of The Cats' Pause

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T>etmt6vi15J9X4 fate.' T^au^e It's Just Not In The Cards For UK It was to be a "Dream Game." But here we are, saddled with a combined 4-4 won-loss mark and the television people who put this particular package together must be taking a bath. Sure, we're talking about Kentucky-Louisville, but outside the Commonwealth of Kentucky, fans could care less? Louisville, which zoomed high into the top ten a couple of weeks ago, came tumbling down with an exhibition loss to the Athletes In Action and were upset by Louisiana Tech in the Wendy's Classic. Those weren't the big losses for Coach Denny Crum, however. His chief loss was Milt Wagner being sidelined for six to eight weeks with a bad foot. Still worse could be an entire year without Wagner. And then there is Joe B. Hall. For the first time in his career at the University of Kentucky, a Joe Hall-coached team could be hit with a four-game losing streak. If Louisville wins Saturday, Hall has such a problem. Kentucky has been hit with all kinds of injuries. Winston Bennett, Richard Madison, Kenny Walker, James Blackmon and even Leroy Byrd have all had the injury bug at one time or another since practice started October 15. And the Wildcats are playing like they have some kind of a bug. If it's not one problem it's another. There have been some encouraging signs from time to time, but just when Hall believed the Cats were ready to play a full forty minutes, a breakdown would develop, either, injuries to key inside people, lack of defense, lack of rebounding, or lack of offensive execution. After UK's 13-point thrashing at the hands of IU last Saturday, Hall and his charges are back to the basics before they go before the most hostile crowd of the season. If the young Cats think Purdue or IU fans were tough, well, they haven't seen anything yet. It's been said that IU coach Bobby Knight would trade three Big 10 wins for just a single victory over Kentucky. Louisville fans would trade an entire month of wins for a victory over the Wildcats. And, perhaps, vice-versa. But, outside the state, who cares? That, in effect, is what CBS-TV analyst Billy Packer told reporters in Bowling Green last weekend. Asked to pick the outcome of the shootout, Packer responded, "it's impossible to predict and it doesn't mean anything. Now, if it was late January or February, that would be something else. It's just a nice regional game, but outside of Kentucky, who cares?" Billy, try selling that to the 19,000 or so Big Red fans in Freedom Hall Saturday night, or try marketing that across the air waves to the thousands of UK fans who will be glued to a television set. In Kentucky, it just ain't so. When the two hit the floor, the outcome could very well depend on the play of the two teams' guards. Ironically, last year's two matches boiled down to a similar challenge. In the first game, Kentucky's Jim Master, Roger Harden, James Blackmon and Dicky Beal outclassed the trio of Lancaster Gordon, Milt Wagner and Jeff Hall. In the second confrontation, UL's guards won the battle, but in both instances, the Wildcats came out winners. A lot has changed in a few short months. Beal and Master are no longer around, just as Gordon has departed the Louisville scene and Wagner is out with an injury. Kentucky would appear to have an edge, at least on paper. But Ken- tucky's guards have been a very, very major disappointment for the Big Blue this season. And their worst play of the young season came in Bloomington where the Hoosiers exposed the Cats' weakness. Yet, the Cardinals have not exactly been world-beaters from a position which has been so valuable to past Louisville teams, teams which stress quickness out front and the ability to press teams, defensively. With the sudden loss of Wagner, Crum has frantically been testing all kinds of new schemes to compensate for the loss of his star guard. He even tried forward Billy Thompson out front and "that really didn't work too well" Crum said earlier this week. Yet, Crum isn't writing the game off as just another practice session. "It ought to be an interesting game," observed Crum, "we both (UL and UK) have had early season problems. Kentucky is getting back from its injuries and ours have just started." Crum said his biggest challenge is The Media Picks Dave Koerner, The Louisville Times.......................Louisville Mike Sullivan, The Courier-Journal.......................Kentucky Cawood Ledford, UK Radio.................................Louisville Ralph Hacker, UK Radio...................................Louisville Rob Bromley, UK Television Network, WKYT-TV..............Louisville Jerry Tipton, Lexington Herald-Leader....................Kentucky D. G. Fitzmaurice, Lexington Herald-Leader...............Kentucky Larry Vaught, Danville Advocate..........................Louisville Dan Weber, The Kentucky Post.............................Kentucky Oscar Combs, The Cats' Pause.............................Louisville Russ Brown, The Courier-Journal..........................Louisville Nick Nicholas, The Cats' Pause...........................Louisville Billy Reed, The Courier-Journal..........................Louisville Bob Domine, WAVE-TV, Louisville..........................Louisville Jock Sutherland, UL Radio................................Louisville Van Vance, UL Radio, WHAS, Louisville....................Louisville Earl Cox, The Courier-Journal............................Louisville Dave Conrad, WHAS-TV, Louisville.........................Louisville Kenny Rice, WTVQ-TV, Lexington...........................Louisville Mark Sok, WLEX-TV, Lexington.............................Louisville Bob Watkins, E 1 i zabeth town News..........................Louisville John Crawley, ScoreCard, Louisville......................Louisville Garry Jones, ScoreCard, Louisville.......................Louisville Jim Kurk, Somerset Commonwealth Journal..................Louisville J. C. Dumas, The Cats' Pause.............................Louisville Todd Hallum, The Cats' Pause.............................Louisville Don Coffey, The Cats' Pause..............................Louisville 5 3 3 5 k 8 5 12 1 10 2 1 1 1 5 5 5 8 3 7 5 5 3 3 8 15 k 10 creating new identities and roles for players as a result of Wagner's loss. "We've not really had any time to adjust (to Wagner's loss) because of games last week," said Crum, "but we'll see what we can do this week. We just have to go out and play with what we've got." Hall is also playing with what he's got, but he's not been impressed with his club's execution. Attitude? Yes, but not execution. One of Hall's big problems has been adjusting his line-up because of key injuries to Bennett, Blackmon and to lesser degrees, Walker and Madison. Bennett is believed to be at about sixty percent after missing several weeks of practice after knee surgery. In the two most recent games, Bennett appeared to be trying to hard to make up for lost time. Madison wasn't expected to be a key contributor early because of his freshman status, but he was one of the few bright spots at Indiana and could be on the verge of acquiring a great deal more playing time. Kentucky's inside game of Kenny Walker, Bret Bearup, Winston Bennett, Richard Madison and Robert Lock could have a slight edge over Billy Thompson, Manuel Forest, Mark McSwain and Barry Sumpter. The difference could be at the guard. IF Louisville had Milt Wagner in the line-up, this game could have had the looks for a blow-out of major league proportions, perhaps 20 to 25 points. But Wagner is not in the line-up and for that reason, the game will be more of a game. Were the game played in Rupp Arena, Kentucky would stand a shot at playing a close game. But it isn't. After all those decades of trying, Louisville finally has Kentucky where the Cards and their fans want them - in their own backyard at Freedom Hall. Never mind that UK usually plays well at Freedom Hall. The Cats aren't playing Digger Phelps and Notre Dame this weekend. It'll be Louisville by 10 or so. + If predictions by the media are any indication, Louisville is the overwhelming favorite, but not by a huge margin. For instance, writers who regularly cover the two schools voted by better than a 3-1 margin in favor of UL. Of the state's largest newspaper, there are split decisions. Louisville Courier-Journal sports editor Billy Reed says Louisville will win by a single point. Mike Sullivan who has [Continued On Page 34]