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Looking ahead, looking behind

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By Bob Watkins

"Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning, but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” – Hal Borland, writer

Year-ender things.

2010 had high and low lights and a few in between.

Never mind the latter, savor the former.

A few of mine.

• Chance Anthony. A senior receiver-linebacker at Breckinridge County High School, Anthony was hailed by Sports Illustrated for his tenacity and inspiration. Anthony was born without a right arm but became a three-year starter anyway. In the Tigers homecoming game he caught his first touchdown pass, then another. For the season Anthony was the team’s leading receiver.

• Bowl bids for Louisville and Kentucky were notable. Kept Charlie Strong and Joker Phillips in the media limelight for an additional month despite center stage tug from Rick Pitino and John Calipari.

MORE HIGHS...

• Joker Phillips: “We had 30 guys (who) made over 3.0 grade point and seven (who) made 4.0. We had 37 guys 3.0 or better.”

• Randall Cobb and Bobby Rainey, All America.

• University of Louisville men’s soccer team reached the NCAA title match.

• John Wall was here if all too briefly.

• Charles Strong. “I’m no job hopper.”

• DeAndre Liggins and Elisha Justice. True Grit.

• Josh Harrellson. Hey high school kids, are you watching this guy grow up?

• Fort Thomas Highlands football Blue Birds.

• 136th Kentucky Derby. Calvin Borel on Super Saver brilliant, again.

• Calvin Borel going after fellow jockey Javier Castellano in winner’s circle at the Breeder’s Cup. Cost him $5,000 too.

• Baseball’s most dramatic home run ever – 50th anniversary celebration for the only World Series Game 7 walk-off home run. Bill Mazeroski in Pittsburgh.

• And, a Founders Award from Fraternity of Kentucky Mr. Basketball. Thank you, Harry Todd.

PASSINGS

We lost a fair number of celebrities in 2010. Four were personal icons, two with ties to Kentucky.

• John Wooden began his coaching career at Dayton High School. The Wizard left us a Pyramid of Success. A model that applies to then transcends sports.

• Patricia Neal. Oscar winning actress lived in Whitley County for a time, visited Williamsburg upon occasion. Her parting shot to family and friends could be the ultimate epitaph. “I’ve had a lovely time.”

• Bobby Thomson. A 1951 National League playoff home run was cast as “Shot Heard ‘Round the World.” No athlete was more gracious and modest than Thomson who embraced as a life-long friend, Ralph Branca who was crushed after throwing the “Shot”.

• Bud Greenspan. Sports journalism lost a colossal figure when Olympics documentarian Greenspan died last week at 84.
“Bud was a storyteller first and foremost,” friend Nancy Beffa told The Associated Press. “He never lost his sense of wonder and he never wavered in the stories he wanted to tell, nor how he told them.”
Beffa’s remark and a Greenspan statement several years ago on ESPN, struck a personal chord.
“I spend my time on about the 99 percent of what’s good about the Olympics,” he said, “and most people spend 100 percent of their time on the one per cent that’s negative. I’ve been criticized for seeing things through rose-colored glasses, but the percentages are with me.”
True enough. Greenspan’s Olympics specials with Will Lyman narration, was masterful.
Greenspan’s refusal to compromise his beliefs in spite of critics, and that he wondered how fans ignored 99 per cent of his ‘good’ work, choosing instead to clamor about the one per cent they disagreed with, is not unique, but is familiar.
We will miss Greenspan’s work.

LOOKING AHEAD

• Our state’s battle of titans is joined again. In our state’s newest basketball palace perfectly named for fried chicken and reaction to it, Yum (Center) is the place on Saturday. Kentucky at Louisville on national television, appropriately at high noon (EDT). This one has the personalities, talent and trappings to be another epic battle.

• Bellarmine. Coach Scotty Davenport’s Knights should take a 9-0 record and No. 1 ranking into the new year. Highlight? For me its Braydon Hobbs and Jeremy Kendle not only averaging more than 30 points a game, they’ve combined for 80-plus assists.

• Christmas gift? Black and white game tape of Kentucky beating Seattle in the NCAA championship game at Freedom Hall in 1958. Claude Sullivan’s delightful radio broadcast brought it alive. This: Fiddlin’ Fivers Vernon Hatton, Johnny Cox and Ed Beck shot free throws underhanded. Who knew?

2011 WISHES

• An NCAA-NBA players union agreement abolishing the 19-year-old rule giving a green light to high school graduates who prefer to stand for professional basketball’s draft.

• An NBA players strike. Count me with those who hope to see one. The National Basketball Associated is corroded with greed, bad behavior, hero worship from media, and a player collective sense of entitlement and a fans-be-damned attitude. The cash register is fine, but the league badly needs a re-fit.

• Randall Cobb returns to UK football.

• Lamar Dawson. Kentucky’s premier football prospect, 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker at Boyle County, can cherry-pick a college. I hope he stays home.

• An enterprising national columnist makes DeMarcus Cousins and Daniel Orton poster boys for “Hey kid, grow up!” Each is a glaring demonstration why John Calipari’s “get you to the league ASAP” recruiting model not only does not work, but is a brazen sell-out of kids who are barely past making a decision about going to a prom, never mind dealing with an agent. Fans try to explain it away with winning, but they are paying more for less.

• UK fans check out bleacher report and David Solar’s column for Dec. 14 titled “John Calipari and the 16 Scummiest Coaches in College basketball.” Solar’s list includes UConn’s Jim Calhoun at No. 15; Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl, No. 11; Rick Pitino, No. 5; John Calipari No. 4; and Clem Haskins No. 3.

• Somewhere along the line in 2011, Mike Krzyzewski (USA) versus Rick Pitino (Puerto Rico).

PARTING SHOT

“The older I grow the more I listen to people who don’t talk much.” – Germain Glien

And so it goes.

Sports In Kentucky appears in community newspapers across Kentucky. You can reach bob Watkins at Sprtsinky@aol.com