Kentucky as pre-season No. 1 is a little optimistic

Morning notes and Big Blue Links:

- Gary Parrish, Jeff Goodman and Andy Katz have all ranked Kentucky No. 1 for next season, but I think it’s a little overly optimistic. The Cats will have a ton of talent next year, but again it will be young talent. If Harrison Barnes is back at North Carolina, with Tyler Zeller and John Henson already returning, then I’d put the Heels as the pre-season No. 1, with Kentucky at No. 2.

- So Kyrie Irving is going pro. Let’s say that Irving had spent his one year — most of it on the bench with a toe injury — at Kentucky instead of Duke. Would the one-and-done perception be different?

- Parrish has Vanderbilt at No. 5 in his pre-season rankings for next year.

- Glad to see Josh Harrellson has his twitter account back.

- Brandon Knight is No. 7 on nbadraft.net’s mock board. Terrence Jones is at No. 14.

- When John Calipari is receiving $325,000 and Mitch Barnhart $50,000 in bonuses for Kentucky making the Final Four, can we really argue that colleges don’t have enough money to pay athletes? Please.

- For some reason, I’m getting a kick out of this Debbie Yow-Gary Williams feud. Yow was once the women’s basketball coach at Kentucky. She’s now athletics director at North Carolina State. The past 16 years, she was AD at Maryland, where Williams was her basketball coach. Word was they did not get along all that well. Now Yow says that Williams sabotaged her coaching search at N.C. State.

The latest twist is that cbssports.com columnist Gregg Doyel called Williams “a coward” for not calling him back for a column on the subject. But Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Bog reports that Doyel ¬†turned down several requests to do radio shows in Washington.

- Before you make too much fun of the N.C. State hire, Mark Gottfried did take Alabama to the NCAA tournament five times in 11 years. He reached the Elite Eight in 2004. And Alabama has never been a basketball power.

- How about those Reds? Cincinnati spotted Houston a 4-0 lead, then proceeded to whip the Astros 12-4. Sort or reminded me of a reunion event for the Big Red Machine I attended at Great American Ball Park. Alex Grammas, who was a coach on Sparky Anderson’s staff, said he remembered some games in which the Reds would fall behind by three or four runs in the first inning, and the team just shrugged it off. The Reds knew they would come back. Not saying this Reds’ edition is as good as that Reds’ edition, but it is scoring at a remarkable clip early in the year.

- Heard Buster Olney say on ESPN radio yesterday that in its first 37 games, Cincinnati has six games against teams with winning records from last year. In other words, get ready for Colin Cowherd to call the Reds “frauds.”

- The Reds play the Astros today at 12:30 p.m.

- It was good hearing Sean Casey on the TV broadcast the past couple of nights, and he made some good points.

- Apparently, someone has been impersonating Mary Brennaman on Facebook, and Marty’s not happy about it.

- The dismissal of UK tight end Alex Smith from the football team for a violation of team rules points out again the problems of recruiting ratings. Smith was the highest-ranked player in UK’s recruiting class in 2011. He didn’t make it on the field last year. Now he’s gone. And where again was Randall Cobb rated? The same Cobb who may actually be climbing into the first round of the upcoming NFL draft?

- Interesting that Joker Phillips keeps saying that at times backup quarterback Maxwell Smith throws the ball as well as anyone he’s been around at UK.

- Larry Vaught says running back Jonathan George is making a move up the depth chart. In my mind, running back is a real area of concern on the offense.

- Did you see where the Derby Trial will be held at night this year? I’m telling you, a prime-time Kentucky Derby is just around the corner.

- My friend Mike says he thinks Butler just scored.

- Mike DeCourcy sees no evidence that playing the Final Four in domes hurts shooting.

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