John Clay: Sorry, Dick Vitale, I still think 1996 Cats better than upcoming team

July 8, 2014 

Random notes:

■ Dick Vitale wrote for ESPN that the 2014-15 team will be the most talented Kentucky has ever put on the basketball floor.

Can't agree. Not yet anyway. I'll stick with UK's 1996 national champs. Remember that the backups on that title team included Jeff Sheppard, MVP of the 1998 title team, and Wayne Turner, point guard on that '98 team.

And I don't see an Anthony Davis on the upcoming Cats, either.

■ Even knowing how seriously Brazilians take soccer, it was jarring to see fans sobbing in the stands as Germany trounced Brazil in ridiculous fashion in the first half of Tuesday's World Cup semifinal.

■ Would Kentucky basketball fans be seen crying in the stands under similar circumstances?

■ Tuesday's match made the U.S. 1-0 loss to Germany look much, much better.

■ And the story of this World Cup for the United States was not the team, which lost in the same round it lost in four years ago, but the number of Americans who have watched, cheered and paid passionate attention to this World Cup.

More will follow.

■ Some say the LeBron decision (again) will all come down to Pat Riley, who coached champions with the Lakers, built an NBA finalist with the Knicks and built three-time champs with the Heat. It confirms that Riley has had more impact than any other ex-UK player on the history of basketball.

■ While the media is focused on LeBron and Carmelo Anthony, the Spurs are quietly re-signing all of their important players. That's the World Champion San Antonio Spurs.

■ Spurs won the title. LeBron is winning the summer. Think the Spurs are happy with the title.

■ One person above all deserves credit for UK's record 11th-place finish in the Directors Cup standings for all-around college sports programs. That's Mitch Barnhart.

■ To hear some Reds' fans tell it, the team's front office ignored Joey Votto's injury before finally putting the first baseman on the disabled list. Think the hope was rest would improve Votto's sore leg. It didn't.

■ And for critics of Walt Jocketty, the Reds have won two division titles and been to the playoffs three times in the last four years. Before Jocketty, the Reds had one division title since winning the World Series in 1990.

■ Jay Bruce playing first base in Votto's absence brings back memories of Sparky Anderson.

The former Reds manager never shied from putting players at different positions. He played Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench 24 games in the outfield in 1970.

Anderson thought it helped keep players sharp by breaking up the monotony of the long season.

■ Wisconsin hasn't forgotten its 74-73 loss to Kentucky in the Final Four this past April.

Badgers center Frank Kaminsky told the Chicago Sun-Times recently, "I still believe we were the better team in that game."

■ Saw where John Calipari made a list of questions he thinks recruits should ask college basketball coaches during visits.

Wouldn't you love to be in the room when a recruit says to Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, "I've got some questions here for you that Coach Cal thinks I should ask."

■ Major props to Cal for UK's killer non-conference schedule this season. We habitual critics of the Cats' non-conference slate have nothing to complain about.

■ Did you see where Alabama is sending recruits personalized cards with the players dressed in Crimson Tide uniforms? What will they think of next?

■ The post-match speeches given by winner Novak Djokovic and runner-up Roger Federer after their thrilling five-set Wimbledon final on Sunday is what sports is supposed to be all about.

John Clay: 859-231-3226.E-mail: jclay@herald-leader.com. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com.Twitter: @johnclayiv.

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