Chris Dortch is editor of Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook as well as the Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook. He has covered the Southeastern Conference as a newspaper reporter as well, and now writes for several internet basketball sites.
He shares his views on the SEC’s new 18-game conference basketball schedule, the new conference football alignment, Kentucky football coach Joker Phillips and the upcoming NBA draft:
Question: What did you think of the proposed SEC basketball 18-game schedule, and what are the pros and cons of two more league games for Kentucky?
Dortch: “I like the 18-game schedule. There really weren’t too many other options, because a true round-robin format is impossible given the number of schools now in the league (14).
“Some might suggest that it prevents Kentucky from playing marquee non-con games, but with the Indiana series down the tubes, this actually gives the Cats not just one, but two more opportunities to get a decent RPI game.
“And besides, after North Carolina or Duke, maybe Kansas and Louisville, how many more backbreakers would (John) Calipari want to play in a given season? A couple of additional league games won’t be the worst thing, because they aren’t as brutal as UNC/Duke/Kansas/Louisville, but they’re worth more in RPI points than some cupcake.”
Question: Was it just a coincidence that Kentucky-Florida were made permanent rivals on the basketball schedule, or did potential TV matchups play into that?
Dortch: “Those schools have three national championships between them in the last six years. That rivalry has become the Duke-North Carolina of the SEC. It made sense on a lot of levels to pair them together, and I’m sure TV was a huge factor.”
Question: Did Kentucky help itself with the new SEC football alignment by retaining Mississippi State as a permanent foe, with the addition of Missouri as an annual rival in the Eastern Division and by not having to play Auburn, Arkansas, Alabama or LSU as often?
Dortch: “No question. Clearly, the balance of power in the SEC lies in the West. I don’t see that changing.”
Question: What has been your perception of Phillips' job status going into this season after consecutive losing seasons?
Dortch: “I’m not privy to anything being said about his job status. In my dealings with him, he seemed sharp and perceptive. I would think he can keep things going up there. What people have to realize is that Kentucky plays in the SEC, the best football conference ever. It’s a tough neighborhood.”
Question: What have you thought of the fallout from the discontinuation of the Kentucky-Indiana basketball series?
Dortch: “I hate that the two teams couldn’t have worked things out. And I know fans from both schools are disappointed. From a practical sense, though, the Cats lose Indiana but gain two more conference games. There won’t be any RPI fallout. It’s just tradition that’s lost. And that’s never a good thing.
Question: Finally, how many UK players will go in the first round of the NBA draft later this month?
Dortch: “Four (Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague) for now, but I still think Darius Miller has a chance. When teams see him up close and personal, see how big he is for his position, see how good a shooter he is, learn how much a team guy, et cetera, et cetera, I think his stock will rise.”