John Clay: Basketball season is here just in time

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistNovember 8, 2012 

Kentucky Coach John Calipari, center, said of his young team's goal early in the season: "It's just about winning and learning. It can't be about winning and losing." Calipari expects Maryland's big men to test his Wildcats' post defense. "I'd imagine the first five (or) six times down the court, the ball's getting posted," Calipari said.


It is time to dance the happy dance.

It is November 9 and college basketball is here.

Just in the nick of time.

College basketball is here just in time for the Bluegrass State where the Big Blue Nation has been subjected to a joyless eight straight losses, to a winless conference season, to a 40-point shutout defeat at the hands of Vanderbilt (yikes), to a bad ending for a good man, fired from his alma mater.

Football, ugh.

We need a much-deserved break from all that.

College basketball is here just in time for a fan base still floating on the high of winning the school's eighth national championship last year, but anxious to see what this new crop (again) of young, heralded talent can do, how quickly it will mesh, and ultimately how far it can go in the post-season.

Here at the start of the regular season, we all know the narrative leads to the post-season.

College basketball is here just in the time for John Calipari, the Kentucky basketball coach who if left unattended without a team to coach might spontaneously combust from all the frenetic energy he expels on those trophy tours or telethons or whatever he might come up with next.

Cal says every off-season he's going to take it easy and then, of course, he never takes it easy.

It is especially here just in time for Kentuckiana, which could be on the cusp of its greatest college basketball season in a triangle known for great college basketball.

Indiana is No. 1 in the AP pre-season poll. Louisville is No. 2. Kentucky is No. 3.

Those are three schools within three hours of each other, whose fan bases don't particularly care for the sights and sounds of the others.

And yet all three savor the exact same sights and sounds — the squeaking of sneakers, the rip of the nylon net.

College basketball is even here just in time for the Big Apple.

Kentucky is opening its season not in Lexington but in Brooklyn, in a brand-spanking new arena during a time when Gotham and the surrounding tri-state area needs a bit of entertainment given the meteorological mayhem it has seen of late.

When you get right down to it, college basketball is here just in time for, well, America, which surely needs something new to think about after all these months of super PACs and ad-nauseam ads and town-hall debates.

The 47 percent we college basketball fans care about has to do with shooting percentages.

The "Forward" we think of is not the campaign slogan, but the question of whether Alex Poythress is a small forward or a power forward? Or can Willie Cauley-Stein play forward with Nerlens Noel at center?

Now those are issues that matter.

It makes sense then that several of this weekend's curtain-lifting contests are being played outdoors on various aircraft carriers by teams wearing camouflage uniforms.

It makes for an All-American start to the college basketball season, indeed.

And what did President Obama do to pass the time on Election Day Tuesday as the all-important votes were being cast and counted?

He played some pickup basketball at Chicago's Attack Athletics, where he just happened to have this fellow named Scottie Pippen on his team.

If you're POTUS and about to be elected to your second term, you are allowed to have a ringer.

The President's team won by 20 points that afternoon; that night he won the popular vote by two points.

Wonder which victory he enjoyed more.

Yes, college basketball is here.

Just in time.

John Clay: 859-231-3226.Email: jclay@herald-leader.comBlog: Twitter: @johnclayiv.

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