Sunday, December 23, 2007

Reusse Has Egg On His Face For Holidays

I'm going to review the Gophers' eighth win of the year later today, but first I'd like to pass along a little tidbit that surely has made Patrick Reusse's holiday season a little less cheery.

Earlier this week Reusse reported that Patrick Patterson and Jai Lucas had given Tubby Smith a verbal committment, but reneged when Tubby left to coach the Gophers. Eventually, Patterson signed with Billy Gillispie at Kentucky and Lucas signed with Billy Donovan at Florida. Reusse's article was the subject of criticism from various UK blogs, who were rightly upset with Reusse because he A) called UK fans "wackos" and B) was apparently dead wrong when he suggested Lucas and Patterson had given verbals to UK.

Criticism from the blogs is nothing new for sports writers. Hell, I have first hand experience with this. As a former political reporter, the agenda-driven blogs on the left and right enjoy nothing more than taking a reporter to task. But getting smacked down by your own crowd stings. And that's now what has happened as the Louisville Courier-Journal, in their Sunday College Basketball Notebook, bitch slaps Reusse for flat-out being wrong.

In criticizing UK fans for blaming the current team's woes on former coach Tubby Smith, Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse pointed to what he saw as an inconsistency regarding freshman forward Patrick Patterson.

"What's interesting with these Wildcats wackos is that, in their world, Gillispie gets the credit for recruiting Patterson, even though he had made a verbal commitment to Kentucky and started to vacillate only after Smith found a new home in Minneapolis," Reusse wrote last week. "Smith also had a verbal commitment from Jai Lucas, who reneged after Tubby's departure and is now a freshman starter at point guard for Florida."

Told about that passage, Patterson was surprised. "I just started laughing when I heard it," he said.

For the record, Patterson said, he never gave UK a commitment when Smith was the coach.
It's certainly true that Tubby Smith was recruiting both Lucas and Patterson when he was at Kentucky. It was even reported that Tubby reached out to both talented players after he arrived in MInnesota to see if they'd come north. No such look. And we will never know if Tubby would have landed one or both of those players had he stayed at Kentucky.

All we really know here is Patrick Reusse, who I usually defend here, has egg on his face for the Holidays.

If the Star Tribune hasn't run one already, a correction is in order.


FromTheStateThatRanOffTubby said...

There is a grain of truth to what Reusse claims, but he oversimplifies the situation. The rumor was that Patterson and Lucas were going to commit to Kentucky during the McDonald's All-American game in Louisville. Although there is no way to know for certain, there are a number of plausable reasons to believe this was going to happen, and that at least one of the two had given UK a soft verbal. However, Coach Smith left for Minnesotta before that event, and both players re-assessed their options thereafter.

Friend Of Tubby said...

No public verbals but both PP and JL were going to announce for UK the week of the McDonalds A-A game in Louisville (March 2007).

McDonalds PR folks had set up the press conference and notified media of it.

Then Tubby opted for The U. So they cancelled the presser.

PJS said...

What both of you suggest is completely plausible, and I don't doubt what you write.

But if you two are correct, FTSTROT is right on when he wrote Reusse oversimplified the situation.