Pierson’s Potency

Pierson VanGorp

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With another week gone by in 2021 came another legitimate week in the social world and sports world. One of the best poems by a young woman in Amanda Gorman was given at the inauguration and the impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump headlines a few enormous events that happened this week. The sports world continues to get bigger as the Super Bowl matchup has been set up and most college basketball teams get into the meat of their schedules. In this week’s addition of Pierson’s Potency, we’ll discuss the struggle of a few bluebloods in college basketball and the sloppy return of UFC’s biggest star. 

Some of the biggest programs are off to a sloppy start

Going into the 2020-21 NCAA men’s basketball season, some of the bluebloods were either favorites to win their conference or compete for their conference, but that has not happened for Kentucky or Duke. Both schools have had huge struggles for most of the season and, as they dive into the middle of their conference schedules, it will not get easier. The schedule will not get any easier, so these teams have to buckle down and start winning big games, or they could miss march madness. The question most sports fans are asking is: why are these two teams struggling so bad? First, we have to get to know these teams and what they are made of.

The blueblood that has struggled the most is the Kentucky Wildcats. They currently have a 5-10 record after losing a tough one to rank nine Alabama. Kentucky basically got their whole team through the 2020 recruiting cycle. Whether it was the actual 2020 class or the transfer portal, most players on the squad were new to the program. Players new to the program: Oliver Sarr, Davion Mintz, Brandon Boston Jr, and Isaiah Jackson. The Wildcats have struggled scoring the ball, scoring in the 60’s in most of their games. They had a tough out of conference schedule facing Kansas, Louisville, and North Carolina. Kentucky is not the only struggling blueblood, though—there is one more.

The other struggling blueblood in college basketball this season is Duke. Duke has racked up a 6-5 record and 7th in the ACC. Like Kentucky, Duke had a huge 2020 recruiting cycle which led to a large amount of preseason hype. They landed four 5 stars including studs like Jalen Johnson and DJ Steward. One aspect different about this Duke team compared to Kentucky is they returned a few key players. Duke returned Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore. They have struggled to an extent but have seen more success than Kentucky. Duke has also had a tough out of conference schedule playing Illinois and Michigan State. Losses to Wake Forest and Pittsburgh should be unbearable for this program. Duke recently lost to a sneaky Louisville team and beat Georgia Tech but looks to establish a winning streak versus Clemson on Saturday. So, what is the problem with these teams?

A huge reason why these two teams have seen limited success is because of their recruiting style. Kentucky and Duke both land top prospects every year then send them to the NBA draft after a year. Calapari is one of the originators of this tactic. For example, Kentucky has landed 23 total 5 stars since 2015 while Duke has landed 21 (according to 247sports). The way these coaches recruit is they tell recruits that they will be developed into good NBA prospects and if winning comes on the way then that is an addition. These two programs have not had much success in March since 2015 and it is due to the recruiting style. Back in the 90’s, recruits would stay for 2-4 years and try to win a national championship before thinking about the NBA. Players like Christian Laettner and Chris Weber dominated in college for years. Now, that method is totally gone and it is all about the money from the NBA. That’s why programs like Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan, and Iowa are so well rounded right now. It is because they have convinced their players to stay for a few years and become committed to the program. We will see if this style of recruiting is adapted from the big time programs in years to come.

Connor McGregor gets dominated in his return 

After a domination of a win versus Donald “cowboy” Cerrone, McGregor took a little break from the octagon. He announced his retirement in 2020, but still continued to trash talk other fighters in his weight class. He turned up the chatter on fighters like Khabib and Poirier saying he would smack them in the octagon. A few months into retirement, McGregor decided he missed the sport and the money aspect of the UFC. He would accept a fight to take on Dustin Poirier.

Going into the fight, it seemed like a fair fight. McGregor was coming off a year break while Poirier had been ready for the fight for months; however, McGregor still had the higher skill level out of the two. McGregor had also won the first fight between the two back in 2014. The fight started and the two dug their feet in and got comfortable in the ring. Poirer landed a few blows but McGregor came back with strong hooks. After round one, no one held a lead and it was anyone’s fight. The second round is where it turned upside down for the former Irish champ. They both came out swinging and it proved to be the downfall for Conner McGregor. Poirer took advantage, and before you could blink, McGregor was on the ground and out. Poirer took out McGregor in the 2nd round with 2:32 left by TKO. McGregor now falls to 22-5 in the UFC. The question every UFC fan is wondering is: What will Conner McGregor do now?

Like Dana White said, Conner has two choices. He can either retire for good or pick up another big fight but train the hardest he’s ever done. If he fights again, he should fight either Poirer or Khabib. This would generate a large revenue for the fighters, and McGregor would have something to fight for.