I know a lot of people are playing the whole "What should be Kyle Kuric's new nickname be?" on some popular radio shows and blogs this week. I say that question has already been answered. It's "Krazy Kracker". Enough said. The real question should be whether or not that one half against Syracuse proved enough to get the sophomore from Evansville a permanent spot in the starting line-up. I say it's an emphatic yes.
Rehashing to anyone that's been living under a rock or in a coma, Kuric had one of the top 2-3 halves of basketball by a Louisville player in the 20+ years I have been watching them religiously. 22 points, 4-5 threes, 4 dunks and a win over the #1 team in the land at the last game at Freedom Hall. It was the kind of performance movies are made about. The only other second half that compares is Larry O'Bannon's 24 points in the second half and OT against West Virginia in the 2005 Elite 8. Both players' games had extreme significance in the season of their particular team. O'Bannon's got his team in the Final 4 after being down by 1,000 pts at halftime and Kuric's closed out the legendary Freedom Hall in storybook fashion.
However, O'Bannon has started every game that year and played tons of minutes over the 4 previous years. Kuric has only started 2 games his whole career and was averaging a shade over 10 minutes a game before Saturday's explosion. Can Coach Pitino afford to continue playing Kuric the minutes of an 8th, 9th man off the bench when the guy produced like an All-American the game before?
I would be lying if I said I thought Kuric would have a game like that this early in his career. He has shown signs of brilliance the last couple years in limited action, but nothing close to what happened Saturday. Yet when given the opportunity and asked by Pitino to shine, he did just that. In just one half, Kuric proved he can hang with the best of the best, not only in the Big East but the country. It wouldn't be far-fetched to say that one half of basketball solidified him as the most athletic man on the team with his ally-oop dunks that looked more like Dominique Wilkins than Larry Bird.
Kuric has always been an excellent rebounder, prompting Pitino to call him the best "pound-for-pound' rebounder outside of T-Will on last year's team. Pitino is known for his rhetoric, but what has Kuric done to prove him wrong? If Pitino wasn't so loyal to struggling upperclassman, maybe this epiphany would have happened long ago. Reggie Delk, Jerry Smith and Mike Marra are all good college basketball players who have had their moments in the sun. Having said that, none have even come close to putting up as powerful a performance as Kuric did against Boeheim's squad. He is simply the better player at this time and should be rewarded with minutes.
The Krazy Kracker can't be sitting on the bench. It would be like Yankee manager Miller Huggins putting Wally Pipp back in the lineup for Lou Gehrig the day after his streak started or Bill Belicheck benching Tom Brady for a recovering Drew Bledsoe. You just don't mess with fate. And if it fizzles out, Pitino has the fortune of having solid ballplayers like Smith, Marra, and Delk to fall back on. At least we now know he is capable of just completely getting off.
You don't call a girl back the same night you get her number, you don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't talk to a pitcher that has a no-hitter and you don't mess with a shooter with a hot-hand. Therefore, Kyle Kuric should see starters minutes tonight or I'll be convinced that the great Coach P is just screwing with us.