Shanoff's W.U.C.: Calipari, Kentucky a Match

Today's Calls: John Calipari vs. Rick Pitino, Kentucky vs. Memphis, DeJuan Blair vs. Jayne Appel, Louisville women vs. Louisville men, Dice-K vs. Jason Motte, Dwight Howard vs. Wilt and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Kentucky is back. That is, if they do what everyone expects them to do and they land John Calipari. ↵

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↵It is a perfect match: ↵

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↵Kentucky gets the A-list coach with the relentless self-promotion skills of a Web micro-celebrity and the best recruiting skills in the country. If he could get top players to come to a D-list league, what can he do at one of the Top 5 brands in college hoops? ↵

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↵And Calipari would get the validation of being in charge of one of the most storied programs in the country. He has always seemed to resent the small-time of Memphis, particularly at tournament time. His protests to the contrary only make him seem more desperate to be at a big-name school. ↵

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↵Coach Cal will almost surely take his top-tier Memphis recruits, Xavier Henry and DeMarcus Cousins, with him to Lexington (along with the subtle support of hoops impresario William "Wordwide Wes" Wesley?) and he will start winning — immediately and substantially. ↵

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↵I said this yesterday, but it is worth repeating: ↵

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↵Take a coach with an inferiority complex and a fan base with a superiority complex, and it is a match made in (blue) heaven. ↵

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↵Final Four: DeCourcy picks ... UNC. See how his picks play out here, and watch for my own (jinxed!) Final Four predictions on Friday. ↵

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↵AP All-America team: Why do they bother playing the regular season if the preseason A-A team becomes the postseason team? Blake Griffin, Tyler Hansbrough, James Harden, Stephen Curry. The only pleasant surprise — not on the preseason team — was DeJuan Blair. (Snubbed: Jonny Flynn didn't make any of the first THREE teams?) ↵

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↵Women's Tournament: Louisville's women's team did what the men's team couldn't — make it to the Final Four. Maybe the men would have been better off as the underdog, like 3-seed L'ville was against regional top-seed Maryland. It is Louisville's first women's Final Four trip. ↵

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↵Speaking of college hoops recruits, Lance Stephenson — arguably the best high school player in the country — is going to make his college choice known today. Kansas is expected to be the pick. (KU seems too high-brow for a "one-and-done" player like Stephenson, but it's Bill Self's choice.) Also on the short list is Maryland (perhaps with the promise of a fat Under Armour shoe deal once he turns pro?) and St. John's (stay home, Lance!) ↵

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↵UPDATE: Stephenson has postponed his decision. ↵

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↵NFL Playoffs: If they play the conference-title games at neutral sites, what is the point of "home-field advantage" in the playoffs? So a team can get a first-round bye then have one playoff game at home? ↵

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↵NFL Draft: Biggest bust of the past 20 years? That leads Mile Florio's 10-Pack this week. ↵

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↵CBB Coaching Carousel: Tony Bennett to Virginia. At Washington State, Bennett had become one of the hottest young coaches in the country. Virginia has had trouble keeping up in the ACC and needs a gimmick — Bennett's extreme defense and super-slow pace on offense qualifies. ↵

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↵NBA Draft Early Entry: Nick Calathes. I watch a lot of Florida basketball and I am a huge Gators fan ... and I think Calathes is bafflingly overrated* as a pro prospect. He isn't quick. He can't play D. It takes him a while to get his awkward-looking shot off. ↵

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↵I'm glad he isn't signing with an agent, because I think he will get signals from the NBA that he won't be a first-round pick. The question: Will another year of college make him any better of a prospect? If the answer is no, then he should turn pro, regardless of draft position. ↵

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↵(* — Then again, I thought the soft Marreese Speights was going to be a lousy pro, too, and he turned out to be one of the Top 10 rookies in the league — playing for the 76ers — this year.) ↵

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↵NBA Instant History: Dwight Howard is better than Wilt Chamberlain! (Well, at least Howard got to 5,000 career rebounds faster than Wilt did. Anytime you do anything in NBA history better than Wilt, you have done something right.) ↵

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↵LeBron Watch: Would Jason Kidd take a massive pay cut as a free agent and sit on the bench in Cleveland just to play with LeBron and have a chance at a ring? It would be more valuable for LeBron if Dirk Nowitzki said that. (Why does LeBron need a pass-first PG on his team? HE is the PG on his team.) ↵

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↵MLB Spring Training: I know a lot of folks think Dice-K won't match last season's statistics this season. I actually think he will be just as good. He made his first spring start for the Red Sox since the WBC and things seemed to go well. ↵

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↵Fantasy Baseball Update: Remember how yesterday I reminded you the long-standing theory was not to waste your early (or even mid-) round picks on closers? Here is another example: Chris Perez, who LOOKED like the Cards’ closer, is out; Jason Motte is in — for now. He won't last all season, though. ↵

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↵Ryan Moats, Cont'd: The player graciously accepted the cop's apology to him. I'm not sure I would have. (Would you?) ↵

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↵The Last Word: Jayne Appel. The Stanford star scored 46 points — the third-highest scoring binge in women's NCAA Tournament history — to lead Stanford into the Final Four. The 16 rebounds were just a bonus. ↵

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↵When the two teams met earlier in the season, Iowa State tried focusing on Appel and she burned them by kicking the ball out to wide-open teammates, who hit a barrage of 3s in a blowout. This time, ISU tried to single-cover Appel and dare her to beat them. Oh, did she ever. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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