TNT Show Loosely Based on the Career of Kentucky Basketball’s John Calipari to Debut in November by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

Creative dramatic programming is what TNT is known for, and what they plan for a November debut certainly qualifies. An hour-long weekly drama starring Andy Garcia as a character simply known as “Cal”, who takes a different job each episode, achieves a modicum of success, and then is forced to forfeit the gains of his work.

“The Vacator” is the brainchild of renown producer Rossalini von Riddle, known for breakthrough hits like “Wolverine”, the award-winning made-for-TV movie starring William H. Macy of a towel wearing card-counter from Vegas who dreams of hitting the big time, only to be fired immediately before his company wins big.

This highly-anticipated offering is part “Quantum Leap” and part “Undercover Boss”, sending Cal into a different company each week, fostering a win at all costs environment, and then moving on to another position after his employees learn that there is no winning when the means of the victory are within an acceptable moral parameter.

von Riddle sees “Cal” as his finest work, “Not only is this show a natural for a talent like Andy Garcia, but the show is such a positive allegory for kids. In a society that has evolved into a win-or-else gold rush, the relentlessness of Cal’s penalties reinforce a great message for kids,” Von Riddle told the media yesterday at the American Satellite and Cable Distributor’s Dedicated to Excellence in Programming Convention in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Garcia was also elated that he has been given this opportunity to perform and teach, “While this character can be seen as loathsome, I prefer to portray Cal as stalwart and resolute in his need to win despite the almost constant din from the moralists who question both his means and craving for victory at all cost.”

Viewers will get a weekly dose of truth or consequence as Cal makes the choice to abandon the high road in search of a short term gain, and the end of each episode shows Cal learning of the penalty for his decisions to subvert, twist, and distort the rules in order to gain what in his mind is a greater good.

As the dilemma of each episode is exposed and investigated, Garcia says he tries to play it straight, “you look at the decisions the guy makes, and sometimes you wince, but more often than not no one is hurt, and those he touches are sometimes better for it. Do the ends justify the means? Sometimes they do, or at least that’s the way I look at it. Put it this way, he’ll have his fans.”

von Riddle has another show due in the spring that has him equally revved up. The sitcom is called “Sampson & Delilah”, and stars Michael Balducci and Leah Remini as a couple constantly at odds over cell phone usage. Sampson is constantly on the phone and runs over his allotment of minutes each month, and the couple is forced to take odd jobs and occasionally steal in order to pay those bills.


Kentucky Basketball and Eric Bledsoe’s Grades – Fraud, Greed, and Stupidity in Birmingham by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

A story by John Solomon and Marie Leach in today’s Birmingham News with some hilariously forthcoming no-comment type language from area school officials who look to be worse liars and cheats shows serious irregularities in former Kentucky Wildcats point guard Eric Bledsoe’s grades.

Bledsoe took Algebra 2 and 3 out of sequence, and got an A in both after never receiving better than a C in any high school math course.  While the transcript shows an A for both classes, the grade report from those classes shows that he earned a low C and a low B.

In order to be eligible to play as a freshman at UK, Bledsoe needed an A in both.  Had he received anything but an A in Algebra 3, he would have fallen short of the 2.475 needed for freshman eligibility because of low ACT scores.\

Here are some quotes from the article:

From Bledsoe’s Algebra 3 teacher Larry Webster to a reporter from the News, “You’ve got the wrong grade. There are two of those printout sheets. I already talked to the (school) board attorney.” He said he wouldn’t comment further and hung up.

Reginald McDaniel – attorney for former Parker High School coach Maurice Ford, “Maurice is not an instructor so that would not involve Maurice Ford in any way, shape or form,” McDaniel said. “He’s just the basketball coach. I know Maurice doesn’t have the power or authority to change grades.”

Parker H.S. guidance counselor Susan Parks, who should be glad she is not an English teacher, on why two documents showed different Algebra 3 grades for Bledsoe, “I can’t answer that intelligently, because I’m not looking at the transcript and anything on the transcript is supposed to be confidential information,” Parks said. “I don’t feel well discussing that with you.” She didn’t elaborate on whether she had the flu or a case of the uh-ohs.

One principal was removed, according to the story, when an audit revealed money was missing from the school, and he wasn’t there when the grade might have been changed.  The replacement say he wasn’t at Parker in time to make the change.

The principal who was removed, Joseph Martin, issued one of the all-time great denials in journalism history when he told a News reporter that taking Algebra 2 and 3 out of sequence is uncommon, “It isn’t normal for a person to do that or be allowed to do that. Had I looked at his transcript, I wouldn’t have allowed him to do that. By the time he got to us, I guess what we had to do …”  Martin paused before continuing: “Well, I ain’t even going there with that. I’m going to my grave with that.”

There is more about bogus online BYU classes that were allowed to replace core course grades from high schools until recently, and odd comments from several school officials about Bledsoe’s work at Parker and his eligibility at his previous school, but nothing more entertaining or damning than the above.

Kentucky fans will point to this as a Birmingham schools problem, and that Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari should be held blameless for Bledsoe’s academic irregularities, just as was the case when someone not Derrick Rose took Rose’s SAT and retroactively cost the University of Memphis a trip to the 2008 NCAA Finals and 38 wins.

Calipari didn’t take the SAT, so how can he be held accountable?  Cal didn’t tell anyone in Birmingham to fudge transcripts, so how can he be held accountable?  Bad luck seems to follow Cal around like filth followed Pigpen in the old Peanuts comic strips.

Hell, you know, Bledsoe might not really be guilty of anything himself.  Maybe this was all hatched up among the adults, and the kid was elated when he got his report card, thinking he earned those grades.

Either way, the NCAA has their meat hooks deep into this, and given the contradictory and cartoonish way the Parker High School officials are talking to the media, someone is going to spill everything, and UK stands to lose a season that ended disappointingly anyway.

Too bad UK didn’t make it to the Final Four last year, so Cal could extend his record of DQs to three at three different schools.  That would be a record for the ages – untouchable as Cal Ripken’s consecutive game streak.  Bledsoe got what he wanted, and so did the “adults” working behind the scenes at Parker.  Cal did too.  The losers?  Naive fans who believe that student-athletes are indeed just that.

L.A. Clippers fans have no worries.  In the NBA, the players are plain old athletes.

Until the NBA does something about its unconscionable one-and-done rule, we can look forward to more of this madness.  Where would Bledsoe be if not for the supposed doctoring of those transcripts?  At a junior college trying to gain eligibility so he can showcase his talents during his one year of ball at a major school?  On the street?

Kentucky Fans – Here’s a Deal for You! by kentsterling
September 8, 2010, 7:22 pm
Filed under: Kentucky Basketball | Tags: , ,

Boy, are Kentucky fans sensitive.

I write a little post about how the NCAA rulebook is antiquated and wrongheaded, and Blue Nation goes bananas.  Kentucky likely did nothing wrong in this whole Enes Kanter recruiting business, and I say so.  People south of the Ohio wear their forefingers out hunting and pecking unpleasantries the rest of the day.

Granted, there were a few allusions to the rumored potential for UK and John Calipari being less than in total compliance with either the letter or spirit of the NCAA rules.  So the UK fans believe I’m jealous without having read a half-dozen posts that I wrote extolling the play of their team last week, all saying how much fun they were to watch.

Just because the kids might have been gathered in Lexington through means that are suspicious, that doesn’t mean that the kids are to blame or shouldn’t be enjoyed for their basketball prowess.

This is what I’m proposing to UK fans everywhere – if the Wildcats have not been sanctioned by the NCAA on or before December 31, 2011, I will drive to Rupp Arena for the game following that date to shake hands and apologize to everyone wearing blue as they exit.  I will also paint my house the closest thing to Kentucky blue the neighborhood association allows, and stop writing about Kentucky in any way for the full 2012 year.

If UK has been dinged by the NCAA, all you knuckleheads have to figure out an embarrassing way to admit that I was right, and someone should at least invite me as their guest to a game and buy me a good steak.

It’s the least you can do.

More Smoke Coming from Kentucky Basketball by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

Again and again, the NCAA takes a look at something going on in John Calipari’s basketball program.  This time, they are trying to figure out whether prize recruit Enes Kanter received more money than he needed for living expenses while playing for a professional team in Turkey prior to enrolling at UK.  This isn’t what the NCAA is looking at, and no one is asserting that UK did this, but what better way to funnel money to a recruit than through a pro team in Turkey with odd accounting practices?

The Turkish team has delivered banking records to the NCAA.  Kanter has played for the team since turning 14, so the $100,000 the New York Times is reporting changed hands isn’t quite the large amount it might seem to be at first glance.

Still, it’s troubling to see over and over that the Wildcats are being named in conjunction with irregularities requiring the attention of NCAA investigators.  There are rumors that come from informed sources that the NCAA is ready to bring down the hammer on the Wildcats, and is in the process of making

Enes Kanter

sure the report is airtight, but those who are not fans of corruption in collegiate athletics are waiting for the fire to accompany the smoke pouring from Rupp Arena.

One thing that was learned by Indiana University as its basketball program was eviscerated is that the NCAA does not like it when schools hire a coach who has either violated NCAA rules or presided over programs as violations occurred.  The NCAA warned Indiana that Sampson had issues at Oklahoma, and when Indiana went ahead with the hire, investigators sharpened their pencils and readied for battle.

While Calipari has never been sanctioned for the violations at UMass and Memphis involving Marcus Camby and Derrick Rose, the constant successes Calipari has enjoyed in recruiting certainly piques the interest of everyone in college hoops, including the NCAA.

There are so many nearly impossible ways to influence the choice of a recruit that proving wrongdoing is only possible when someone talks.  Because the NCAA can’t issue subpoenas that compel someone to talk, that happens very rarely.

Anyone who believes that the Reggie Bush episode was an isolated incident is delusional.  Agents funnel money to kids regularly, and there is little anyone can do to stop it.  If they don’t hand the money directly to the kids, it runs through high school/summer coaches, cousins, or boosters.

While Kentucky, Kansas, and other programs rumored to be more brazen than most in this total licentiousness, the problem is caused by the manner the NCAA manages and enforces its rules.  This high-minded operation continues to behave as though consequences are unnecessary to preserve obedience and order.  The recommendation in favor of a rule banning early offers and commitments is a perfect example.

ESPN college basketball analyst Dan Dakich has some ideas in how to clean up college basketball:

The morons proposing the rule admit that enforcing it is impossible.  How can the NCAA stop coaches from making an offer or a kid from accepting, and what good would it do anyway?  Of course, in most cases it’s nutty for a coach to offer a ninth grader, and even nuttier for the kid to accept, but who can stop either?

The NCAA needs to decide what kind of rule book it wants – a pious and toothless tome outlining appropriate behaviors, or a list of enforceable do’s and don’ts.

People continue to dig into the Kentucky program’s behavior, and given the massive corruption in college basketball, it’s almost inevitable that abuses are uncovered.

The correct path, though, is not to punish Kentucky.  A complete re-organization of the rule book should be undertaken to make sure the kids, coaches, and institutions are served well in a real-world way.  The NCAA needs to decide once and for all whether big school college basketball is a minor league for the NBA, or whether it is part of a bona fide college education.

Until they do, the NCAA needs to make an example of somebody, and UK is a great place to start.

Indiana Basketball Procures Another Building Block for the Future…Way in the Future by wesreynolds

by Wes Reynolds

The Hoosiers didn’t just earn a victory on the football field at Memorial Stadium on Thursday night, they also earned a victory on the basketball recruiting trail. Indiana Basketball received its third verbal commitment within a calendar month when Class of 2014 combo guard James Blackmon Jr decided to play basketball for the Hoosiers. Blackmon is a 6-2, 170-lb freshman at Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne and played for the Spiece Indy Ice AAU 14 and under team this past summer. Blackmon and Tech High School 6-8 forward Trey Lyles, both members of the 2014 class were offered scholarships this summer. Very few recruiting services have rankings for the Class of 2014, but ESPN ranks him as the #1 point guard in the country for said class and the #5 prospect overall.

Blackmon has visited the IU campus on multiple occasions this summer with his father James Blackmon Sr, who also serves as the head basketball coach for Bishop Luers and has won two Class 2A state title teams, which included incoming Ohio State freshman and 2010 Mr. Basketball Deshaun Thomas. If the James Blackmon name rings a bell, it should since the elder was once a star basketball player in his own right at Marion (IN) High School. Blackmon played four years at the University of Kentucky from 1983-1987 with players including Melvin Turpin, Sam Bowie, Winston Bennett, Kenny Walker, Roger Harden and Rex Chapman. Blackmon was also a McDonald’s and Parade All-American. In fact, Blackmon finished second in the voting for Indiana’s Mr. Basketball award in 1982 behind a high school rival from New Castle Chrysler. That rival was, you guessed it, Steve Alford.

Blackmon was not the only recruit in attendance for the Hoosiers 51-17 season-opening victory over Towson. Arguably two of the biggest targets for IU in both the 2011 and 2012 classes were in Memorial Stadium on Thursday night. 2011 target Cody Zeller attended the game with his parents. Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, 2012 point guard prospect and Zeller’s AAU teammate with Indiana Elite, was also in attendance. As we’ve discussed extensively on this site, the Zellers are very private people and you won’t see a Twitter account for Cody Zeller because he doesn’t have one. The same cannot be said for the fun-loving and joking Ferrell. These were his tweets tonight discussing his trip:

Hahaha people are chanting my name, funny stuff lol. I haven’t done anything yet.

Just got done talkin with coach Crean….. It went really well. Now I’m on my way home and I still have hw to do :/

The dominoes continue to fall for Indiana Basketball recruiting wise and young Blackmon may end up being the most talented prospect of the three commitments this summer. However, like Yogi Ferrell said above, Tom Crean and his staff still have work to do.

Future Potential Hoosiers on Display Tonight at adidas Nations by wesreynolds

by Wes Reynolds

Many of the names that IU fans have read about on forums, chats and blogs will be participating in the adidas Nations event tonight in Chicago. CBS College Sports Network will broadcast tonight’s 3rd place game between Africa and Latin America and the championship game between Team USA 2011 versus Team USA 2012. At 6:00 PM EST will be the two-part preview special. The third place game will begin at 7:00 PM EST followed by the championship game at 8:45 PM EST. CBS College Sports Network can be found at channel 613 on DirecTV, 152 on the Dish Network and 1643 on U-Verse.

Topic A of conversation coming into this event is that IU will likely receive its first commitment for the class of 2012 when Peter Jurkin makes his official announcement on live television. Jurkin, a 7-footer originally from Sudan, plays for United Faith Christian Academy in Charlotte, NC. He also is part of the A-HOPE (African Hoop Opportunities Providing an Education) Foundation founded by Mark Adams of Bloomington, IN in 2004. A-HOPE’s mission is to provide deserving student athletes a seamless process of obtaining a student visa, transportation to the United States, making sure they are acclimated to their new environment and providing them with an opportunity to receive an outstanding education. Adams is also the head coach for the Indiana Elite AAU 17 and 16 and under teams. Jurkin plays on the Indiana Elite-Team Indiana 16 and under team with other IU targets Hanner Perea, Obij Aget and North Central HS standout D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera.

Jurkin is expected to choose Indiana over Texas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Clemson.

Jurkin’s Africa team will face off with his good friend, AAU teammate and fellow IU 2012 target Hanner Perea and his South America team in the opening game.

Perea currently has Indiana and Baylor as his top two schools. He is an absolute freakish athlete that currently ranks as the #12 overall prospect in the class of 2012 by Rivals. Perea has also indicated his intention to transfer into the state of Indiana by enrolling at La Porte LaLumiere this fall. He will not be making his decision tonight according to Adams. Obij Aget is also playing for the Africa team in this event.

In the championship game, Team USA 2011 hopes to exact some revenge on their younger counterparts from the 2012 team. Those two teams met in pool play and the 2012 squad surprised the older group, 102-91, riding a 17-point second half outburst by Indianapolis native Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell from Park Tudor School. Most recruiting experts have Indiana and Michigan as the likely top two for Ferrell as it stands. Many other schools have offered scholarships as well including Butler, Notre Dame, Purdue, Illinois, Ohio State, Virginia and Washington. Wannah Bail of Houston, TX (#15 overall prospect according to Scout) is also playing on the 2012 American team. Bail’s list includes Indiana, Baylor, Kansas, Texas, Arkansas and Houston.

The 2011 team has a plethora of talent including local prospects Cody Zeller (Washington HS, Washington, IN), who narrowed his list of schools down to Butler, Indiana and North Carolina last week, and Michael Chandler (Lawrence North HS, Indianapolis, IN), a former Louisville commitment who opened up his recruitment last year. IU has recently entered the picture with him. It seems like he is holding out for Kentucky, who has shown interest, but his current recruiting picture is not exactly the most clear right now.

This event tonight has some of the best high school talent in the world. Hoosier Nation has felt its fair share of disappointment over the first two seasons of the Tom Crean era in Bloomington. Tonight’s events could prove to be a very good start for IU Basketball’s future.

Kentucky Basketball Should Leave Well Enough Alone by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

The University of Kentucky more seriously threatened legal action against the Chicago Sun-Times after the 166 year old paper published another report yesterday that you read here about the allegations of the father of Anthony Davis, a recruit from Chicago, agreeing to commit to John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats for the princely sum of $200,000.

Here some advice for Kentucky – don’t invite attorneys defending the Sun-Times to start scratching through layers of muck that may or may not surround the recruitment of past, current of future Wildcats.  The NCAA can’t compel anyone to testify, but lawyers involved in a libel/defamation lawsuit can depose people under penalty of perjury.

The statement from UK after the second report in the Sun-Times reads, “The University of Kentucky has put Mr. O’Brien and the Chicago Sun-Times on notice that these published statements are false and defamatory.  The University fully supports any action the student-athlete and his family may take against Mr. O’Brien and the Chicago Sun-Times. The University is also evaluating all available rights and remedies it may have against Mr. O’Brien and the Chicago Sun-Times in responding to these false and defamatory statements.”

This is a can of worms best left unsealed.  It’s clear that the Sun-Times isn’t running scared despite pulling the first story from its online version Wednesday.  Each time they issue a statement, the Sun-Times and now national media like ESPN has a reason to more completely describe the story and their findings.  That’s not good for the Davis family or Kentucky basketball.

This is no longer the a little read online story from a guy most in Chicago don’t know.  The Kentucky responses have done two things – given the story a national profile (I was sent several copies of the Kentucky letter, but never saw the original piece), and sent this up the chain of command at the Sun-Times.  Exonerating the paper is now a priority for the Sun-Times.  This isn’t little Mike O’Brien’s honor on the line, it’s the reputation of the entire paper, and if Kentucky thought people were sniffing too closely to their business before, the real fun is about to start in earnest now that legal action is threatened.

Kentucky better be squeaky clean, and they might be.  The fact that they have signed or gotten commitments from damn near every kid they have targeted is not in and of itself evidence of something irregular in Lexington, but if there is something strange going down, with every tersely worded statement from UK, the odds of an investigative reporter finding it multiply exponentially.

He who shouts loudest of his righteousness has it questioned with the most scrutiny.  Kentucky should tone down the piousness or it will get what it asks for – the truth.