Fast-break points to ease your college hoops withdrawal:
21. Jodie Meeks: Declaring for the NBA Draft — without retaining an agent, meaning the option is open to return to Kentucky — is smart. What does it hurt to find out where you stand?
20. The verdict on Jodie Meeks: What I expect UK's star guard to hear from The League, however, is that his ballhandling skills and ability to create off the dribble are not NBA-ready.
19. John Calipari's cash: Thought the new Kentucky basketball coach handled himself well when being questioned Saturday about his (almost) $32 million contract on the Final Four preview show on CBS.
18. More John Calipari's cash: By any reasonable standard, (almost) $32 million is a bit out of whack to pay a college basketball coach. But the people who should be answering for that are the administrators who agree to pay that kind of money, not those who accept the salary.
17. Even more John Calipari's cash: I was shocked — shocked I tell you — that another college basketball coach like Tubby Smith defended skyrocketing salaries for college basketball coaches like John Calipari.
16. The all-time victory count: For those who obsess over such things, Kentucky (1,988 total wins) will enter the next men's basketball season with a four-game lead over North Carolina (1,984) and an 18-game edge over Kansas (1,970).
15. Roy Williams: With four Final Four trips (two at Kansas and two at UNC) and two NCAA titles between 2000 and 2009, Cryin' Roy has secured the Coach of the Decade mantle for the first 10 years of the 21st Century.
14. More Roy Williams: I'm sure ol' Roy will sleep better at night now that he's proved he can win a championship without Matt Doherty's players.
13. Ty Lawson: Wayne Ellington was great, but Lawson and his electric play at point guard should have captured the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player award.
12. Tyler Hansbrough: Has there ever been a college basketball mega-star who was less fun to watch play?
11. Ripping Big Ten basketball: Everyone (myself included) bangs on the bland brand of ball they play in the land of broad shoulders — it is all but unwatchable.
10. The Big Ten's rebuttal: No one can criticize this: With five teams in NCAA championship games in this decade, the Big Ten tied the ACC for most slots in the national finals during the 2000s.
9. Draymond Green: Thought the former UK commitment (who hooked on with Michigan State after Tubby Smith moved North) was impressive during the Spartans' NCAA run.
8. Anthony Grant: I think Alabama made a really good coaching hire.
7. Mark Fox: Conversely, I didn't understand Georgia's move. Fox did a good job at Nevada, but what recruiting ties or name identification does he have in the South?
6. Sean Miller: I believe Arizona will end up being really glad that Tim Floyd said no.
5. Billy Gillispie: On Jan. 27th, Kentucky was 16-4, 5-0 in the SEC — and who would have believed everything was about to implode. It is stunning how quickly Billy G.'s UK regime collapsed.
4. More Billy Gillispie. There's no question he created many (all?) of his own problems, but I can't help but feel a little sorry for the now ex-UK coach.
3. Rick Pitino: Difference between Rick Pitino at Kentucky and Rick Pitino at Louisville? At UK, Ricky P. went 3-2 in Elite Eight games; he is 1-2 so far at U of L.
2. Angel McCoughtry: As you read this, there are 267 days left in 2009, so this is subject to change. But right now, the Louisville women's basketball star has my vote for Kentucky Sportsman of the Year.
1. Louisville Cardinals athletics: In the last five years, U of L has: Gone to a men's basketball Final Four (2005); won a BCS bowl (the 2007 Orange Bowl); made baseball's College World Series (2007); and, Tuesday night, played in the 2009 women's basketball national championship game.
That, folks, is what a well-rounded athletics department looks like.
Reach Mark Story at (859) 231-3230, 1-800-950-6397, ext. 3230, or at email@example.com.