Summer ball buzz in Bluegrass

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By Bob Watkins

July through August in Kentucky is keep-the-pot-boiling time for basketball fans.
Around Louisville, Cardinal buzz – Russ Smith has signed an NBA contract. .... And, college basketball’s premier coach, Mike Krzyzewski weighed in. “Louisville brings the ACC a great brand. This is one that will make headlines in business journals.”
Around Western Kentucky University, football’s Jeff Brohm is revving up the Hilltopper fan base with emphasis on recruiting in-staters. What to watch: Brohm lands a quarterback the caliber and quality to match that of his coach.
Around University of Kentucky ... 75 student-athletes made the SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll for 2014. The list included Dominique Hawkins and Dakari Johnson, communications and Derek Willis and Marcus Lee, undergraduate studies. These are based on grades from summer and fall 2013 and 2014 spring terms.
Summer ball in Big Blue Nation? Projections, debate, argument, (diplomatic of course) and comparisons for season 2014-15.
A non-partisan measure of how special Kentucky’s team could be: Willie Cauley Stein, Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee will come off the bench.
Summer ball. UK fans on Internet sites have forgotten the eat-crow of the 40-and-oh rant a summer ago, The new buzz: Will our McDonald’s All-American-decorated Wildcats this season be best in UK history?
A 30-something age limit can dim a look into history. The comparison-makers here settled on the 1996 NCAA championship winner.
A better question for summer ball would be: In its glorious history, which is Kentucky’s best basketball team ever?
Trip wire word here is “team”. An NCAA title banner is not necessary.
Best Team(s) ever from here: 1. Rupp’s Runts (1965-66), 2. Fabulous Five (1948-49), and the first team to play in Memorial Coliseum, the 1950-51 Wildcats finished 32-2.
Stars of those teams? Look ‘em up.
Around the planet this week, Germans are in rejoice mode, waving the homeland flag.
On behalf of the not-so-soccer-educated observers among us, congratulations to Germany for its newest World Cup title to go with wins in 1954, 1970 and 1990.
With all due respect to soccer fans, an e-mail received Monday reflects the emotion of most Americans, I think.
“I’m sorry. I tried to watch the World Cup Championship (Sunday). I watched and watched and watched and nobody scored. I finally gave up. I saw later that Germany scored in the 113th minute to win. Good.
“I just cannot watch it. Boorrrrinnng!”

Kentucky’s football team will win five-and-a-half games this season, says ESPN.
Tennessee-Martin, Ohio, Vanderbilt and Louisiana-Monroe. The half? Seems to be first two quarters in Knoxville on Nov. 15.
“... next-best (UK) win possibility,” the writer said, “is 37.9 percent at Tennessee.”
The worth-repeating assessment here is no. five. Coming off back-to-back 2-10 seasons, five wins, four at Commonwealth Stadium in the season’s first half, should keep attendance numbers up for visiting Mississippi State and Georgia in the second half.
Still, Vanderbilt and Louisiana-Monroe present an interesting dynamic each.
The Commodores have crushed Kentucky the last two seasons.
La-Monroe returns 17 starters, nine on defense, from a 6-6 season.

Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari put forth 20 questions he believes a high school prospect should ask his prospective college coach.
Most are typically self-serving, but these are worth repeating.
• How many players have graduated from your program over the past four to five years?
• How many of your players were insured through the disability program last season? If none were, why not?
• Where does your Academic Progress Rate retention rank among other schools?

Kentucky football all-stater Damian Harris attends at Madison Southern, not Madison Central mentioned in this space last week.

Friday, July 11, marked the 54th anniversary of the release of “To Kill A Mockingbird.” A novel, by Harper Lee published in 1960 is, according to a literary poll done five years ago, the best novel of all time. To date, “Mockingbird” has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. This week, July 15, a new book – “The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee,” is on the market. Written by Marja Mills, the book, as is the original “To Kill A Mockingbird,” is available in e-book form.
Harper Lee’s words not touched my heart.
“I never expected any sort of success with Mockingbird,” she wrote. “I sort of hoped someone would like it enough to give me encouragement.”