Five For Friday: Damien Harris, Marvin Lewis, Reds, NKU, K-Mart

damien-harris1.  Madison Southern Running Back, Damien Harris is set to announce where he will be playing football next season.  The announcement will take place at 1:15 pm from his high school.  I don’t normally get interested in where a teenager decides to go to school; but this has been a spectacle that only central Kentucky could produce.

I think he is going to choose UK; but either way, expectations should be tempered for any kid coming off a knee injury who wants to play running back in the SEC.  The 5’11, 200 pound Harris seems to be without mentorship and has been outspoken at times.  He has never won a high school playoff game in an era with the most football classes and with the most teams going to the playoffs.  He has some really great numbers but he plays running back.  The position of running back has been devalued greatly as the trickle down effects of the NFL have influenced the college game. There hasn’t been a running back taken in the first round of the NFL draft since 2012.  That streak likely ends in 2015.

The top 5 Kentucky high school running backs I have ever seen in person probably all played at Boone County between 1986 and 1994 when the school finished state runners-up 4 times during that span.  But here is a top list to consider:  1. Shawn Alexander, Boone Co./Alabama, 2. Brandon Black, Boone Co./drafted by the Mets, 3. John Ransdell, Boone Co., 4. Justin Frisk, Highlands,/JUCO, 5. Bryan Sheperd, Campbell Co./Cincinnati

headshot_606652.  The Reds made a savvy move after spending most of the winter pissing down their leg, when they acquired Keyvius Sampson off of waivers from the Padres.  Sampson filled the remaining open spot on the Reds 40 man roster.  Sampson also may fill the void left by Alfredo Simon.  It is not everyday a team can pick up a 24 year old major league ready starting right hander who can touch 99 MPH.  The Padres have gone mad. This is the kind of low risk/high reward chance the Reds should be taking on hitters.  The miss on Nelson Cruz still stings.  The Reds get a pass while the Bengals get raked over the coals for losing in the playoffs.

3.  Marvin Lewis is going to be the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals until it is no longer profitable for the Bengals to have him at head coach.  That is how the Bengals do business.  Mike Brown looks at the head coaching position as the CEO of a company.  Lewis fits that mold perfectly.  In a league where there is very little difference between the teams that make the playoffs and the teams that do not, making the playoffs four straight years (6 of 10) is beating the market. Lewis has the trust of the front office and the players.  I think they are to a point that the reason they get beat can be identified as something more than coaching.  The Bengals played a physically and mentally demanding schedule where 8 of 16 games were against really good playoff teams.  They never get an off week and to play at the level they have to play to carry the shortcomings of their quarterback is a tough road to navigate.  If Dalton never gets better, they never will play in a Super Bowl; it doesn’t matter who is coaching.  I’d like to see some better offensive coordinating; but really, winning 10 games after losing Zimmer tells me they are doing something right.  Over the last two years the Bengals have hung losses on all of the darlings of the NFL: Brady, Rogers, and Manning. This upcoming draft is an important one.

nku basketball4., the Cincinnati Enquirer’s website still does not have a tab for NKU on their sports page which amounts to professional malpractice.  One day soon NKU is going to win the Atlantic Sun and make their very predictable mid-major run in the tournament.  Madness  will ensue.  I lived in southwest Florida when FGCU made their run and now there are billboards on I75 down there that still say, “Welcome to Dunk City”.  The Enquirer will be behind the curve when it happens here.  I appreciate what Xavier basketball is all about but I’m not sure how many more big east basketball stories I can stomach.  It should be a crime to even call that conference the “Big East”.  Jimmy Burke and Henry Hill are turning over in their graves.

5.  Kenyon Martin is back.  The man who embodies post championship Cincinnati sports has tweeted that he will be playing for the Bucks:

The 37 year old Martin has already put together a lengthy NBA career.  He was drafted 1st overall by the New Jersey Nets in 2000.  He didn’t ever live up to his first pick status but he has made over $112 million dollars while averaging a little over 12 points per game, across 14 seasons.  

In his last year at Cincinnati, Martin won college basketball’s three most prestigious awards:

1999-00 NCAA AP Player of the Year
1999-00 NCAA John R. Wooden Award
1999-00 NCAA Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year Award

But he will most be remembered in these parts for the broken leg he suffered three minutes into the Bearcats’ first game of the Conference USA Tournament, keeping him out of the NCAA Tournament that year. The team finished with a record of 29-4.  Many thought the Martin would lead the Bob Huggins coached Bearcats to a National Championship but the injury was too much for the team to overcome on the eve of the NCAA.

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