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'Cats vs. Cards More Than Just A Game
It's Kentucky versus Louisville.
Which means there will be more talk off the court than on the court.
For years, all the talk was about the non-series and how the issues should be settled on the court. Yet, three games into the four-year set and the fourth just around the corner, talk of the future monopolizes the sports pages.
It would be nice if the game could be played first, then the future cussed and discussed after the game.
But that won't happen in Kentucky, so we might as well throw in our two cents worth.
There are several interesting topics for discussion this week, and in one way or another they touch either the University of Kentucky, or the University of Louisville or one of the two communities in which the two schools are located.
* The Game.
* The future of The Game.
* A Louisville Courier-Journal poll on several UK-UL issues in that newspaper this past Sunday.
* Billy Reed leaving No. 1 for No. 2.
* John McGill Jr. is not gone.
First things first, though.
Changes in the sporting world have been numerous in recent weeks, but we at TCP think we have landed the biggest catch of all with Kentucky's best-known sports columnist. Earl Cox.
Cox announced last week he will join our weekly state-wide radio call-in show as a regular co-host.
Without question. Cox is TOE authority on sports around the Commonwealth of Kentucky. No one knows more Kentucky sports figures, has a better knowledge of the games and more contacts than the man who has been the top fixture at the Louisville Courier-Journal for the past three decades.
Earl Cox took over as sports editor at the Louisville newspaper when Earl Ruby retired in January of 1969. It was during the days of Ruby and Cox that the newspaper earned its reputation as the nation's top newspaper in sports. And in those days, the C-J was required reading for every sports fan in Kentucky.
Cox, who will be retiring from the Louisville newspaper next month, is also doing television commentary at WHAS-TV in Louisville and plans are to expand his broadcasting package around the state within the next few weeks.
Our Cats' Pause Sports Hotline has been an enormous success around the state as we continually add stations each month. This one-hour each Monday evening from 7 p.m. til 8 p.m. EST apparently is what radio listeners have been itching for, a chance to hear the latest on Kentucky sports and then participate in a lively discussion.
For all our radio listeners around the state, there will be no show on Monday, Dec. 29 because of the Christmas holidays, but our show will return on Monday, Jan. 5 and continue each Monday evening through the NCAA Final Four in April.
Tune us in and Earl and I promise not to tune you out.
The four-game series between Kentucky and Louisville will stage its last contest this Saturday at Freedom Hall and while it should be a competitive one. look for the Cardinals to hold off the gamely but outmanned Wildcats.
At first glance, one might be tempted to favor the Wildcats in this one because of Louisville's slow start and the fact that UL has to prepare for both Indiana and UK in the same week.
That could have a draining effect on UL, but the Cardinal squad is extremely deep and the two games will certainly eliminate any possibilities of the Cardinals getting fat on Christmas feasts or the like.
Kentucky, meanwhile, has a week off after winning its own invitational tournament. UK's biggest headache will be keeping the 'Cats from eating themselves fat during the holidays.
UK coach Eddie Sutton gave the 'Cats a
two-day leave for the holidays, but they were scheduled to return to the Lexington campus on Tuesday. Sutton should have control of the players' diet, even on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Other than those outside factors, it should be a heckuva game.
Louisville's outside game versus Kentucky's inside game.
No, you're not reading an error.
Sure, the experts are calling it the other way around. Louisville's inside game versus Kentucky's outside game. But folks, we already know about the Cards' great inside work and the 'Cats' fine guard play. What we don't know is whether UK's inside people will play better than UL's guards. That's what will decide this game.
For Kentucky, big Rob Lock has to stay out of foul trouble and the 'Cats will have to get a superb performance from both Richard Madison and Irv Thomas. If those three don't perform, get the kitty wagon ready because there will be a lot of blue blood splashed on the Freedom Hall floor.
And Louisville? Well, the Cards certainly cannot afford 20 or more turnovers and still expect to maul the 'Cats. Keith Williams had all the credentials coming out of high school, not to mention the Ail-American status of Kevin Walls. Mike Abrams has talent and Craig Hawley is one of the most underrated players in the country. They're going to explode against someone. Will it be Saturday?
What most fans have not realized is that UK's only chance of an upset rests in Kentucky's ability to create turnovers against the Louisville guards?
Fine. But to create turnovers you have to play hard and aggressive. That's the negative side for Kentucky. To play hard and aggressive you have to number one, have depth to spell starters, and number two, stay out of foul trouble if you don't have depth.
And Kentucky certainly doesn't have depth when you have Winston Bennett, Cedric Jenkins and Paul Andrews all on the sidelines
Only seven scholarship players will be ready to give maximum performance for Eddie Sutton. An eighth, Jenkins, will be in uniform and likely will see some action, but it will be shocking if he goes more than two or three minutes. His two brief 30-second appearances last weekend was more to fire up the home crowd than anything else.
There certainly won't be a Kentucky crowd in Freedom Hall to fire up this Saturday.
Another reason why Kentucky won't be able to attack the Louisville guards as much as Sutton would like to is because Sutton cannot afford to run its offense without either Ed Davender and Rex Chapman. If those two get in foul trouble, the game could turn into Custer's last stand, or worse yet, no stand at all.
If Louisville is able to get the ball down low, look for Crum to take the ball inside to his "monsters of the midway'Pervis Ellison and Felton Spencer.
Isn't it strange. Here we have Denny Crum taking on the look of a Joe B. Hall inside power game and Kentucky going with speed and quickness.
My. how times have changed.
It wouldn't be the biggest shock of the year if the 'Cats pulled an upset, but Kentucky has no business being on the same floor with this collection of Louisville talent.
Louisville by seven.
Already, the action is hot and heavy.. Charges and counter-charges are flying about the problems of renewing the contract.
Sutton says he wants to continue the series if a situation can be worked out where UK doesn't have to play at both Louisville and Indiana in the same season. At the same time, he refuses to play UL at Freedom Hall two years in a row before the home crowd.
I've got a great solution for that and I'll mention it later.
On the other hand. Crum has expressed dissatisfaction with the current contract. He doesn't want to play two years in a row at Rupp Arena and he doesn't want to play early, as in December. Crum prefers, like his boss Bill Olson, a circus-like atmosphere complete with special ticket pricing and doing away with the season ticket holders.
It sorta sounds to me like neither coach wants this game very much. In fact, both were quoted in newspaper stories recently as saying the death of the series wouldn't be the end of the world.
When all is said and done the game likely will be renewed because the media will demand such.
Perhaps the best way to settle the problem would be to sign a new two-year or four-year series with the first game being played in Louisville next season and then rotating year about.
Like that Denny?
Figure you would, but there's a catch.
Let's really spice this thing up. When the game is played in Louisville, all the tickets go to the University of Kentucky and when the game is played in Lexington, all the tickets go to the University of Louisville.
Such an arrangement would give UL fans an opportunity to feel the atmosphere of Rupp Arena and vice-versa for the Wildcat fans. It would add to the economy of both communities since each town would be full of visitors.
Each school would be able to re-distribute its tickets (like Denny and Bill want to) and each school could put their fans right down on the front rows.
The switch would also reduce the homecourt advantage and give us a more competitive game.
But there's always a hitch in every good suggestion.
The Wildcats would be trading 23,000 Rupp Arena seats for 19,000 Freedom Hall seats, a difference of 4,000 fans. Of course UL could give Cliff Hagan 2,000 of the Rupp seats but the Cardinals would then want 2,000 of its Freedom Hall seats.
Then, the domino effect would take over and we'd be back to playing UK home games in Rupp and UL home contests in Louisville. Pretty soon we're back spitting at each other and before you know it the Dream Game once again literally earns its name.
A poll which was published in the Louisville Courier-Journal & Times Sunday, indicated there is massive public support for the game. But I think the numbers would be less if one considers only basketball fans in the state. The same poll indicated that all but eight percent of the people polled would like to see a Kentucky-Louisville football game. Basketball rivalry, perhaps, but football? I gotta question that one.
Secondly, it would have been interesting if the poll had included a couple more questions such as should Eastern Kentucky and Louisville play each other in basketball and should Kentucky play Western Kentucky in basketball. If all but eight percent want UK to play UL in football, I gotta believe the numbers would be just as large for an Eastern-UL football clash and a UK-WKU battle.
The poll said 61 percent of the people contacted outside of Jefferson County are fans of the University of Kentucky while only 4 percent said the University of Louisville is their favorite school. In Jefferson County, 54 percent said Louisville and 18 percent contacted said UK according to the poll.
The poll also indicated Louisville is the favorite in this week's game by almost a 2-1 margin.
Almost 8,000 prep high school fens got their money's worth in the Coca-Cola Thoroughbred Classic last Saturday when three of the four Lexington schools sent their opposition home with defeats.
The biggest upset of the day came when Donnie Harville's Lafayette Generals stunned Marion, Ind.the nation's No. 1 ranked high school, 78-74.
Followers of Marion, which many experts felt could be the best all-time team in the
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