Going against the pros

Dec 3, 2014 at 8:36 pm

“Kentucky has 10 potential NBA players. Well, the 76ers have 15 current NBA players. They would be the top-ranked team in college basketball. Although the 76ers are an awful NBA team, their flaws are magnified because they are playing against the best in the world. And over the past week, UK’s strengths have been magnified because they’ve played against NAIA competition. Still, basketball is a fickle game, and upsets happen. If Kentucky and the 76ers played today, I think Philadelphia would win by 15 points. But if they played 10 times, I think the Wildcats would grab one win.”

 — Adam Himmelsbach, Courier-Journal, “Could Kentucky basketball beat an NBA team?” 

Now, let’s take a look at how some of UK’s other students might fare against professionals. 

Kate Honeythunder, a sophomore English major, is one of the strongest poets in recent UK undergraduate memory. A solid essayist and fiction writer, she is always a threat to dominate in any prose category but her poetry ranks among the best in the Southeastern Conference, especially her verses of accentual-syllabic meter that somehow retain a streetwise authenticity. But how would she stack up against a Nick Flynn, say, or a Taylor Swift? Look no further than her poem “Paul,” which masterfully skewers St. Paul’s homophobia in his Letter to the Romans but ultimately stumbles with the jejune rumination, “ How to say/’methinks he doth protest too much’/in Latin?” If Kate Honeythunder entered a poetry slam against Flynn or Swift, I think either would blow her out of the coffee house. Still, poetry is a fickle game and some coffee house fans have a taste for the middlebrow.  If they squared off 10 times, I think Honeythunder would grab one win. 

By any yardstick, Tyler Fingerlopper, a freshman pre-med student from Monkey’s Coccyx, is a whiz at the sciences. His recent Functional Anatomy midterm score outpaced his peers across the university and showed an uncommon insight into human anatomy ranging from the thorax to the perineum. He is equally comfortable with both urethra and epithelial exfoliation, but would you want him to perform laparoscopic surgery on your cancerous cyst if UK Medical Center’s Dr. Sidney Gonadcupper were available? Although Dr. Gonadcupper is currently besieged by a half dozen malpractice suits and is probably going to lose his license to practice medicine, most patients would probably still choose him over the talented but neophyte frosh phenom. If Tyler Fingerlopper went toe to toe in the surgical theater against Dr. Gonadcupper, I think he’d lose by 20 incisions. Still, surgery is a fickle game and sometimes sponges get left behind. If they squared off 10 times, I think Fingerlopper would grab one win. 

Those who’ve had the good fortune to witness freshman sensation Jason Strugglebus play his euphonium with the University of Kentucky Wildcat Marching Band have witnessed a rare talent. His horn work is pitch perfect; his footwork is a joy to behold. And he can be reliably counted on to represent The New Madrid Bend – that weird little oxbow bump in the southwestern corner of the map when the marching band lines up to form the shape of Kentucky week in and week out. But how would Jason Strugglebus fare in a sousaphone battle with The Roots’ Tuba Gooding, Jr? He would probably grow a row of seven pimples on his chin and curl up in the fetal position. But brass instruments are both art and science. If they squared off 10 times, I think Strugglebus would rally and grab one victory. 

Early in the fall semester, Caitlyn Jaegerschott began to make her presence felt in astrophysics circles on UK’s campus. The freshman physics major was recruited feverishly as a high-school trigonometry whiz out of Porkchop Lick High School in rural Possumview County and with good reason. The hundred-dollar handshakes from boosters paid off handsomely in September when the wunderkind singlehandedly discovered four exoplanets and traveled back in time to block Christian Laettner’s shot in the 1992 NCAAs. But how would Caitlyn Jaegerschott fare in a supercollider bee against Neil deGrasse Tyson or Stephen Hawking? On the quantum level, she would be solidly trounced, both particle and wave. Still, astrophysics is a fickle game and black holes happen, from which nothing – not even Tyson or Hawking – can escape. If they squared off a million-billion times, I think Jaegerschott would grab one win.