Let’s get caught up on hoops, shall we?
Over-Rated: Those of us who watched U of L’s disheartening double overtime loss to Notre Dame on Saturday know the team has problems, mainly with its offense. The Cards can’t score. And that makes it really hard to watch them. 50 points in regulation? It is not even an average free-throw shooting team. No one that this bunch deserved that #4 ranking a few weeks back, and this week’s #15 seems to be a little generous.
Race to the Top: Undefeated Murray State, quickly becoming the talk of college hoops, passed the Cards at #14. ESPN is speculating that the Racers could end up 31-0. Kentucky, with only weak SEC opponents on its slate, is ready to move into the top spot as soon as Syracuse drops a game in the Big East.
Breaking Up is Hard: Of course I’m talking basketball. Western’s bizarre weekend began when it lost a double-overtime game on its home floor, with only 2,100 people in the stands, when no one noticed that Louisiana Lafayette had six players on the floor. That wasn’t the only reason, of course, that WKU fired coach Ken McDonald, who was taking the team down the tubes, fast, and should have been replaced before the season started.
After the firing, the Toppers almost won against Troy at home Saturday, and attendance was up over 5,000.
But McDonald had personal issues. He was going through a divorce and rumors about his dating choices were rampant. A.D. Russ Bjork told ESPN this about that: “Unfortunately, what [the rumors] did was damage the confidence level of him running the program. We tried to address that. He’s divorced. He can have a life and if he wants to have a girlfriend, that’s his prerogative. He’s not married. If you have a girlfriend, then bring her out in public. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
Uh huh. It’s not like he was having sex with a woman in a restaurant or anything, but McDonald’s acts took place in a small town. Where his record was 5-11. And game attendance was atrocious. Of course, a winning record and McDonald’s personal issues aren’t a factor.
Now the fun begins, as WKU finishes the season under interim Ray Harper while searching for someone to resurrect things. Last week, Ric Bozich threw out some interesting names as possibilities — U of L assistant Richard Pitino, Kentucky’s Orlando Antigua, ex-Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey, Bellarmine’s Scott Davenport, former Pitino aide Vince Taylor and my favorite, ex-WKU star Kurtis Townsend, who played for the Toppers while I was a student.
College basketball experts agree that WKU is a great job — and the school has seen its share of coaches move on to bigger jobs — Gene Keady, Clem Haskins, and more recently Dennis Felton and Darrin Horn. expect WKU to wait until the season’s over, when there’s more coaching movement and a bigger, better name becomes available.