As the early season unfolded, it became apparent that sensational freshman point guard, Rajon Rondo, was not to be denied a starting spot.
Rondo, who was rated as a top 25 player and McDonald's All-American, was actually billed to be a third string point guard by many who were "in the know," including myself. He was simply the unproven one of the group among Sparks, Bradley, and him. They were expected to man the point guard position early, but it was a given that the shooting guard spot was going to be Crawford's.
Rondo was too much to deny a starting spot. Sliding to the 2 was #22, Patrick Sparks. Crawford would then become the 6th minute getter on the team. The Wildcat nation quickly learned that 6th man would not be good enough for now. The Crawford's showed thorough disappointment by moving Joe back to Detroit this week, making plans to transfer his services to Michigan State.
To do this, Joe must pay quite a price. He would not be able to play until he was considered to be in the second semester of his junior season (would only sit out one year, but would be considered a junion, not a sophomore, upon his return). Kentucky was asked by the Crawford's to release him from his LOI, but UK would not allow it.
And why would they? This was an issue voted upon by everyone, and you can't let everyone out just for the sake of being unhappy. I have to give Doyel serious props for what he said in Sports Illustrated. I can't expound any further or better than he did. It was truly a great article, at least to those who agree with him.
Obviously, Kentucky fans were angry. Much has been said this past week up until news leaked that Joe may be making a return to Lexington yesterday after discussing the situation with Tubby Smith and his family. Even then, many are calling for Joe to stay in Detroit. But, why be so angry? Have any of us ever been eighteen years old? Do we not understand that Tubby Smith has been involved in this situation and has evaluated careful what decisions to make? The bottom line is that many of us don't trust Joe Crawford or Tubby Smith right now.
I think that's a mistake.
Right now, the important thing is that we do what the players do, who are "winning this one for Joe" down in Athens on Saturday. Joe needs our support, and we have to not worry about his transfer from Kentucky at the end of the season. We don't know if he will or won't, but I'm sure it's something Coach Smith has discussed with the Crawford's at length. Now is the time that we must trust a decision has been made that doesn't hurt anyone. That decision must be for Joe to return to Kentucky and give it another shot with explicit instruction as to what he needs to do in order to earn his playing time on the court.
We need to cheer him for manning up and doing that. He will be second guessed, but it's time we get behind a Wildcat who needs support. It's time we put our trust in a man who brought this recruiting class to Kentucky in the first place. With all that has happened in the past few weeks, behind the scenes, Tubby Smith has done a great job of putting things together. It's time for us to trust Tubby, and it's time for us to support the players...all of them, including Joe Crawford.
Joe is a Wildcat again. Best of luck, Joe. We are behind you.