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by Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations
Coinciding with the revealing of its new slogan for the 2011 season, “Rise,” the Kentucky football team unveiled new uniforms on Thursday at the Lyric Theater in Lexington.
The Nike Pro Combat uniforms use Nike’s latest technology and most fashionable look, giving what the UK football team hopes are its best chance to win and its best look as it tries to rise in 2011.
“Nike has been consistently improving their product, and I just thought that with the new technology and the new designs that they have come up with, I thought the time was right to create this new look,” head coach Joker Phillips said. “The design, we thought, was very eye-catching for recruits. The uniforms also incorporate a Kentucky tradition.”
The uniforms feature cutting-edge technology, which Nike Director of Licensing Dee Scott pointed out to the crowd at Lyric Theater.
Among the uniforms’ many features:
- - Flywire: Neck band stabilization, high strength, low weight and bulk
- - Zoned ventilation: Mesh in high-sweat areas where there are no pads to interfere with ventilation
- - Zoned stretch: Lightweight stretch woven fabrics in areas of low impact and low strength requirements
- - Built-in padding: Additional impact protecting built into key areas of the knee and illiac crest
- - Baselayer integration: Integrated with Nike Pro Combat baselayer
- - Tailored: Tailored hems and cuffs for less bulk, more comfort and mobility
The new uniforms are also 30 percent lighter than UK?s previous uniforms, a key component in arguably the nation?s fastest conference, the Southeastern Conference.
“The Nike Pro Combat is built from the inside out and is all about speed,” said Scott, who, along with Nike colleague Kara Hegwood, made the cross-country trip from Oregon for Thursday’s presentation. “We know that football has changed dramatically. Athletes are bigger, stronger and faster, so what we are trying to achieve is all about speed – speed of the game and speed at the end of the game so that you can still have mobility in this system of dress. This is our newest, latest and greatest, and we are pretty pleased with it.”
Anthony Mosley, one of two players at Thursday’s presentation who modeled the new uniforms, said one of his favorite features of the new uniforms is their breathe-ability.
“When we’re drinking water, it kind of drips down and can weigh you down, even sweat from other players,” Mosley said. “It really becomes almost a hindrance. You can feel heavy. It can bring extra weight on you. Now I can definitely tell a difference. It’s also water repellent as well, so if it starts raining, you won’t get bogged down by the water.”
Of course, uniforms in today?s modern sports world are as much about looks as they are about performance. In designing the uniforms, Nike set out with a motto of “Flash Forward, The Future of Speed.”
With that in mind, Nike designed the uniforms to represent the strength and stamina of Kentucky symbols like legendary head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, the 1950 national championship team and superhorse Secretariat to give it a “classic” look.
As a tribute to Secretariat’s silks, a checkered pattern dons the area near the shoulder pads and along the side of the pants. Nike has also brought back UK’s white helmets for the first time since the 2002 season, a push that wide receiver Brian Adams, the other model at Thursday’s presentation, said he and Randall Cobb pushed for.
The look and attractiveness of a uniform has become a huge tool in the recruiting process, Phillips said. Players are taking notice of uniforms more than ever, and Phillips even admitted to losing a player “way back when” on the color of a uniform.
“We’ve come a long way,” Phillips said. “We’ve gotten to a point to that’s where we are. You’ve got to understand it and go with it. Hopefully this uniform gives us an edge.”
When Phillips was a player in the 1980s, he played in a plain uniform with just a couple of stripes. Now, there a lot of factors that goes into making a uniform.
“The first thing you have to have is safety,” Phillips said. “Being light and being able to absorb hits helps also. Just being able to create a new look is an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.”
Mosley admitted to being one of those players that took uniforms into consideration in the recruiting process.
“When I was recruited, I knew I wanted to come to a Nike school,” Mosley said. “I knew that I wanted to come to a school that had some pretty good uniforms. When you go out and in front of 70,000 fans and in front of the millions that watch SEC games, you want to look good in front of everybody and play good in front of everybody.”
Phillips, who will have the final say on uniform selections for each game, said UK’s new uniforms will feature more looks than the two modeled at Thursday’s presentation. Kentucky’s uniforms won’t change features every single game like Oregon, but there will be subtle changes from time to time.
Phillips gave credit to Oregon, which was in the national title game last season, for starting the new uniform craze.
“They have definitely set the tone for new uniforms with the way they have mixed and matched the numerous uniforms that they’ve had,” Phillips said. “It’s been helpful for them. Who would have thought 10 years ago that Oregon would be playing for a national championship? I think the new uniforms definitely had to have something to do with that. They’ve been able to get into different uniforms just because you and I are talking about it.”
The new uniforms are the latest addition to a UK football program that continues to try and make waves in the SEC.
“Over the past several years, we’ve witnessed as Kentucky football has begun its rise,” said Jason Schlafer, UK Athletics’ associate athletics director for marketing and licensing. “We’ve witnessed a rising fan support, once unknown players rise up from the depth chart to become household names in (Wesley) Woodyard, (Jacob) Tamme, (Derrick) Locke and (Randall) Cobb, and it’s critical that we continue our rise.”
Not losing sight of the bigger goal and circling around this year’s theme, Phillips pointed out what the addition of the new uniforms is all about.
“The most important thing is win games,” Phillips said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Former Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson admits his first year as a student assistant coach with the UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†program has been a bit of an adjustment for him.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was definitely different. Obviously it has been a transition going from the playing field to the sideline coaching,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Woodson. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I love it, though. I still get the itch to get out there and compete sometimes, so I have to guard against that since IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†am coaching and trying to help the quarterbacks, not compete with them.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I want to help them understand their checks they can get in and out of and get them on the same page with coaches like (quarterback) coach (Randy) Sanders did for me and try to make them better players. It is a totally different role for me, but I truly do love it and think it is a calling for me and something I will continue to pursue. I want to be a coach.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Woodson, who is completing his degree work, cannot work with the players during the summer months. They are off limits to him just like they are other UK coaches. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am not allowed to mess with them. IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†have the same rules to follow as the other coaches,Ã¢â‚¬Â Woodson said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I would love to work as much as possible with them and really get those guys mechanically prepared for the upcoming season, but IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†understand the guidelines I have to operate under.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: Are you the good guy on the coaching staff or are you young enough to get away with really being hard on the players?
Woodson: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I try to do both. I try to be a good guy and pat them on the back. I try to relate on them. With me and coach Sanders playing the same position, we can relate to quarterbacks and know what they are seeing and what is going through their minds. I try to be the guy to calm them down. I want them to tell me what they are seeing and let me help them get on the same page. If they make a dumb mistake, I get after them. But I try more to be the guy to pat them on the back and relate to them and build them up.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: Do you think junior Morgan Newton views you more as a coach or as a former Kentucky starting quarterback?
Woodson: Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is hard to tell what he thinks. Just think that I came out (of Kentucky) a year before he came in. My name is still pretty fresh with his age group. I have not been gone that long. It is hard for me to tell if he is listening to me as a former quarterback or understands I am coaching now. He is listening to me. He is doing a great job doing all I ask or letting me mess around with his mechanics and his balance. He is always willing to just listen to the coaching we are giving him. IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†have not seen be a difference of him not showing respect to me just like he does coach Sanders. I would expect him to listen to coach sanders more, but I expect him to allow me to coach him as well and he has been great doing that.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: What are your impressions of freshman quarterback Maxwell Smith, who enrolled at UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†in January after not playing during the 2010 season?
Woodson: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Max has one of those special gifts. His passes literally go wherever he wants them to go. He can put the ball on the right shoulder. He leads receivers properly. He has something we canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t coach and that is accuracy. He has to continue to learn the playbook. He has been in the film room a lot. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been in my office a lot. He comes about every day for an hour and watches film on his own. He challenges himself.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think highly of him. I think he has a lot of ability. I am excited to see what he turns into. You can build an offense with him if we get him to learn the playbook. Once things slow down for him, he could be really good. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s very surprising he was not recruited by big schools his senior year in high school. He jumped around a couple of schools and was never in one system a long time to get recognized. Fortunately for us, it worked out well for Kentucky. We got a lead on him, took a look and the coaches were really impressed and were able to get him up here. We are all very excited to have him in our program.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: Can he legitimately pressure Newton for the starting job in August?
Woodson: Ã¢â‚¬Å“It will be very difficult, but at the same time he is really doing a great job. He is kind of similar to me. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s really calm about everything he does. He does not let anything frustrate him or get to him. He is always pushing himself because he understands what it takes to be a great quarterback. He will not let anything rattle him. He stays calm and it shows in the huddle as well as off the field. Playing that position can be overwhelming and difficult. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why the position is not for everybody. I think highly of him. He has tons of ability and this spring he showed a lot of what he can do, but not everything. We have to continue to build on that to get him better and keep him right there ready to play if needed.Ã¢â‚¬Â
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky senior point guard Amber Smith says she’s “feeling pretty good” after missing last season with a knee injury.
“I am just trying to get back to where I was before IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†got hurt, but I will be 100 percent before the season gets ready to go.Ã¢â‚¬Ë†I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be cautious and think about it or thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a chance it will happen again,” said Smith. ” I am just working hard and trying to do what IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†did before to get stronger. I try not to be cautious because that is not me. Obviously, IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†think about it, but I try not to let that hold me back. I wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be the player I am if I was cautious and didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take chances.Ã¢â‚¬Â
She also wouldn’t be a basketball fan if she did not enjoy watching the UK men’s team play as well and she offered these thoughts on John Calipari’s team.
Question: What do you think of John Calipari?
Smith: Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is a great coach. He is always supporting us. I see him at our games supporting us. He is a good guy and definitely a great coach because that shows.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: Do you have, or have you had, much contact with any of CalipariÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s players the last two years or so?
Smith: Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†am pretty cool with Darius Miller. He is a good player. Brandon Knight, John Wall. They are good guys. IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†have not had classes with them, but they come to watch us play pickup games and we come to watch them play pickup games. We see them around the gym and will interact.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Their success is good for us. It puts the name Kentucky out there. I think now when you say Kentucky basketball, men and women will come to your mind. It helps us and sure doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hurt us to have them so successful.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: How much did you enjoy watching Wall and Knight play?
Smith: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Their change of speed is phenomenal. They were different players. Brandon was a better shooter, but John did things well. With Brandon, I have definitely stole some of his ballhandling workouts. I would watch him work out and see what I needed to do. I definitely learned a lot just watching them both and going to the games and practice. To see great point guards help and IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†paid attention to the little things they did.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I thought about what they did to get where they are. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†want to do and why I do the drills they were doing. I just want to be good like them.Ã¢â‚¬Â
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Ã¢â‚¬â€ Minutes before walking into his introductory news conference, Orlando Magic guard DeAndre Liggins received some advice about being a second-round pick from his new teammate, Gilbert Arenas.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Gilbert just told me in the locker room … that he was a second round pick,Ã¢â‚¬Â Liggins said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He said, Ã¢â‚¬ËœEverybodyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s got to play on the same court, so it really donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t matter.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬Â
Liggins says he was surprised that he lasted until pick No. 53 in this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s NBA Draft. But heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s planning on using that as motivation as he prepares for his rookie season.
So does forward Justin Harper, who was selected No. 32 by Cleveland and traded to the Magic on draft night for a pair of future second-round picks.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you look at a lot of past drafts, a lot of great players get overlooked,Ã¢â‚¬Â Harper said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They fall into the second round. I just kind of use that as motivation.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Unfortunately for both players, the NBA careers of the two players may be put on hold. Owners are expected to lock out players unless agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement can be reached before midnight Thursday.
The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Harper improved his draft stock tremendously with a senior season at the University of Richmond in which he averaged 17.9 points and 6.9 rebounds. His 179 3-pointers rank fifth in school history. The 6-foot-6, 209-pound Liggins comes from Kentucky with a reputation of being a lockdown perimeter defender who will bring the kind of toughness the Magic are looking for.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve both played in great programs for great coaches,Ã¢â‚¬Â Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“These guys have been taught and theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re fundamentally sound. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got a leg up. These arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t raw guys. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re as ready as guys coming out of college can be from what IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen.Ã¢â‚¬Â
General manager Otis Smith said he was surprised both players fell as far as they did in the draft and that the Magic were Ã¢â‚¬Å“luckyÃ¢â‚¬Â to add them to the franchise.
By LARRY VAUGHT
It’s obvious the Kentucky women’s team willÃ‚Â miss Victoria Dunlap, a two-time Southeastern Conference Player of the Year who led UK to near the top of the SEC the last two years.
However, I wasn’t quite prepared for just how much Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell was going to miss his superstar until I asked him recently.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I loved Victoria as a person. She and I became very close. (My wife) Jenna and I are naming our child, Saylor Rose, and the Rose is VictoriaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s middle name. We just want to remember how important she was to us. She was just like a family member,” Mitchell said.
“Her play on the court was a catalyst to lead the program to places we hoped we could go but there were not guarantees. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†think of her. Really close to her. IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†will miss her personality. She was a lot of fun to be around and we had a lot of good times over the four years. She would come in the office and we would talk about stuff that did not relate to basketball. I will miss that.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Then on the court, she was just so steady. Not a lot of players, and IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†am talking about making a huge difference, in all phases. Over the course of four years she went and got rebounds you didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know how she got. She would make defensive plays you wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know how she made them. She would make big shots at big times. She had a great sense for the moment. She was not a great 3-point shooter, but IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†can remember last season she made a big 3 at Vanderbilt that we needed. She could do things like that that not a lot of people can do.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are going to have to see if we have somebody that can do that or we are going to have to be sharper because we wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have that player that can just bail you out with unbelievable athletic feats like she could. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a big loss.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Both on and off the court.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Laura McKeeman covers the Southeast for Scout.com and specializes in college football recruiting coverage. She was hired by FOX Sports last summer and has attended Southeastern Conference Football Media Days for three years and covered numerous SEC football and basketball games.Ã‚Â She says she loves Ã¢â‚¬Å“producing a mixture of content either written, on the radio or on televisionÃ¢â‚¬Â as part of her job covering recruiting.
McKeeman, who will be at the SEC Media Days in July in Hoover, Ala., shared some insights on University of Kentucky football:
Question: What do you think would be the biggest negative/worry recruits might sense about Kentucky?
McKeeman: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I’m having a hard time thinking of a big worry but I do think racking up wins is something kids are very concerned with.Ã‚Â Players naturally want to win and Kentucky has shown more and more victories as of late, so I think that will continue to make an impression on high school prospects.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Furthermore, I have actually heard a few players express worry about the basketball program.Ã‚Â Apparently it’s very important for some kids to go to a school where football is the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœmost lovedÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ sport and a few guys have told me they feel like basketball will always be paramount at Kentucky. Honestly, I think that is a pretty immature way to look at one’s future but that’s just one girl’s opinion!Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: Do you think it is realistic for Kentucky fans to expect UK to compete for a SEC East title?
McKeeman: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Competition is ugly in the SEC East.Ã‚Â I don’t think it’s realistic for UK fans to expect to compete for an SEC East title this season.Ã‚Â I think you’ve got to worry about a Georgia team with a very good quarterback in Aaron Murray and you can’t discount South Carolina if they can get it together at the signal-caller position.Ã‚Â Florida could be a dark horse as well if Muschamp can get his troops in order.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Still, I expect Kentucky to finish in fourth place in the East over both Tennessee and Vanderbilt. UK will continue to build as recruiting picks up steam.Ã‚Â The Wildcats have already cemented themselves as a force to reckon with and they will become more and more formidable as time progresses.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: Can Kentucky ever successfully go head-to-head with Florida, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, etc, for the best players in the South, or will Kentucky have to continue to project players such as Randall Cobb, Danny Trevathan, Jeremy Jarmon, Wesley Woodyard and develop three-star recruits into five-star players?
McKeeman: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I do see a future in the SEC where Kentucky is a recruiting powerhouse.Ã‚Â I think the Wildcats have all the tools to get there: opportunity for playing time, great coaches, great facilities and great fans.Ã‚Â In the meantime, however, I am a huge fan of using great coaches to develop Ã¢â‚¬ËœaverageÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ high school players into big-time college athletes.Ã‚Â That’s what it’s all about.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That’s one of the things I love about college football.Ã‚Â It’s not nearly as much fun to watch if a kid comes in already at his full potential.Ã‚Â I want to see improvements.Ã‚Â I want to see a player exceed all expectations and become a better player as a result of both good coaching and hard work.Ã‚Â Ultimately, winning is most important and you certainly don’t need a squad full of five-star players to come out on top.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Vaught’s note: Our own Linda Sinclair summed up perfectly how many, many University of Kentucky basketball fans felt after the season ended with this tongue-in-cheek article I think will hit home for many of you.
By LINDA SINCLAIR
I returned to work a month ago and still not much has changed in my life other then the fact I have to get up before the sunrise now and go to bed at the ungodly hour of 10:00 pm.Ã‚Â Why canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t I work 10-2 and get paid for a full week of work?Ã‚Â It makes sense to me.Ã‚Â It makes about as much sense as the things that booby knightmare, fairy flipton and botox mark and his band of merry men say on almost a daily basis.
There is still no tooth fairy, no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, if I could find the end of the rainbow. There is no clear proof that Big Foot or the Loch Nest Monster exist, however, Area 51 is beginning to show some promise.Ã‚Â I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know what to believe or not.
The sun still comes up every morning, except if you live in Kentucky.Ã‚Â In the winter you can go weeks without the sun, everything is the same dull boring grey.Ã‚Â The skies grey with fluffs of other shades of grey to signal another cloud passing over and under other clouds. Washed out grey sidewalks and grey buildings that all blend into the same dull lifeless grey streets.Ã‚Â I hate the color grey; it is almost as useless as the color beige.Ã‚Â Give me life and vibrancy; donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t give me boredom, please!Ã‚Â My vibrancy is gone and it has been sucked from my inner depths.
This spring we had the monsoons followed by the tropical heat wave that descended upon us with such force I was worrying about the possibility of 120-degree temps in August.Ã‚Â Luckily the sun has made presentable appearances for a few days without the extreme heat but the storms from Wednesday night only intensified the fear of dread that still lingers in the air.
I feel so empty and bored, no sparkle, no reason to or to be. I know something is missing but canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t put my finger on it.Ã‚Â It is so difficult to put into words how I am feeling.Ã‚Â Empty just isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the right word.Ã‚Â I just seem to be going through the motions.Ã‚Â IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m like a flowerpot with no flowers.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m a clown without a laugh.
I have tried to find a reason for my state of mind. There seems to be no anticipation or excitement to look forward to in recent months. What happened? Where is the fire and satisfaction that I felt just a few months ago? Am I getting older and just letting time pass by and not relishing in life? What has changed in my life to cause this state of mediocrity?
I search the Internet trying to find a remedy for my state of mind. I have talked to friends, professionals and family and they cannot seem to find a reason for my melancholy and lack of enthusiasm.Ã‚Â There seems to be no miracle pill in a bottle, no remedy or quick fix solution.
Everyone says the same thing; the spark is gone from my baby blue eyes. There is no glint of happiness. My eyes are dulled from whatever life has taken from me. Is there hope from this misery? Is there a tomorrow?Ã‚Â Is there something to put the fire back into my life and give me something to look forward to, something to be excited about again?Ã‚Â Where is my passion?
This my friends, is the life of a True Blue Fan, a life long member of the BBN, died in the wool Kentucky Wildcat Basketball fan after the season has ended.Ã‚Â Go Cats!
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) Ã¢â‚¬â€ Joe Dumars prides himself on building hardworking, unselfish teams.
After a season where more than half the roster was suspended for disciplinary reasons Ã¢â‚¬â€ and several players missed a shootaround in Philadelphia Ã¢â‚¬â€ Dumars didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t try to hide his intentions regarding his three draft picks.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“These are all very high-character young men,Ã¢â‚¬Â Dumars said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Obviously, we had some slippage in that department last year, and we mean to fix that immediately.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The PistonsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ team president said the picks were a blend of talent and character.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We felt like this was a great draft for our organization,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Brandon Knight wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t supposed to be there at No. 8, we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect Kyle Singler to get out of the first round, and Vernon Macklin was expected to be gone long before No. 53.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Knight only played one season at Kentucky Ã¢â‚¬â€ leading the Wildcats to the Final Four Ã¢â‚¬â€ but isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a typical one-and-done player. He said he was more proud of his high school grade-point average than his scoring average.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think a lot of kids worry more about their numbers on the court, but thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not how I was raised,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“My parents would take me aside if I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t doing something at my full potential, so I got in the habit of doing everything at 110 percent.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Knight considered attending an Ivy League school and visited Yale, but eventually decided that he couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t pass up the chance to play at Kentucky.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Playing for Coach Calipari, with the way he has developed point guards, was an opportunity I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to miss,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You can see from his record that he knows how to teach the position.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Knight was quick to assure Pistons fans that his frustration on draft night was about falling to No. 8, not about going to Detroit.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was happy about being drafted by the Pistons, because I got such a great vibe from Joe and his team when I met with them in Chicago,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Then I was amazed at how much love and support I got from the fans when we went to the Tigers game last night. I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t wait to play here, with all this history.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Knight had originally announced he was going to wear No. 0, but his family convinced him to change to No. 7 Ã¢â‚¬â€ the number of teams that passed on him. That number became available, because Ben Gordon is switching to No. 8 this season.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Doron Lamb toyed with the idea of leaving Kentucky after UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Final Four loss to Connecticut in his freshman season before deciding to stay in college.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It helps a lot having him back. He was a big part of the run last year and we know he will come back and do the same thing or even more. We are happy to have him and T (Terrence) Jones back and know they will do a lot for us,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Kentucky senior Darius Miller. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t find many shooters like Doron.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Lamb averaged 12.3 points per game last year and shot 48.6 percent (68-for-140) from 3-point range and 79 percent (79-for-100) at the foul line. He also had 75 rebounds, 62 assists and 22 steals.
The sophomore shared these thoughts on various subjects.
Question: How difficult was your decision to stay at Kentucky and not enter the NBA draft?
Lamb: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I wanted to come back because I thought my game was not ready yet (for theÃ¢â‚¬Ë†NBA). I just wanted to work on my game and get ready and try to win a national championship. Me and my parents thought about it for a long time, but we all decided it was best for me to stay.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: What do you think of coach John CalipariÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s desire to have you reshape your body and gain weight and strength?
Lamb: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have been working out since I got back (from break) in the weight room in the morning and running at night on the treadmill. I will keep doing that to get ready for the season.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: Are you working harder now than you did last year?
Lamb: Ã¢â‚¬Å“A lot harder. Last year I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t go that hard really. I was just going through the motions a lot. Right now I am working harder to help us win a national championship.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: Do you hope to work harder, win a national championship and then go to the NBA?
Lamb: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know. I like the sound of that though. I would take it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: Did the potential NBA lockout factor into your decision to come back to UK?
Lamb: Ã¢â‚¬Å“That did a little bit, but the main thing was to get my body ready and my game ready for theÃ¢â‚¬Ë†NBA. I need to work on my ballhandling a little bit and my strength. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s about it.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was tempted to test the waters, but I decided just to chill out and get ready for next year.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: What do you envision your role being next season?
Lamb: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think it will change. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know my role yet. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know how all the new guys play.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: Could you see yourself playing more point guard if needed?
Lamb: Ã¢â‚¬Å“If (freshman Marquis) Teague is not playing good at point guard, maybe. But I think Teague has the role of point guard right now.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: Were you surprised Terrence Jones decided to come back also rather than go to the NBA?
Lamb: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was surprised about that. I thought he would leave, but IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†am glad he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t. I would have if I was going in the lottery (in the draft). But he decided to stay and IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†am glad he did and he will make us better.Ã¢â‚¬Â
By HAL MORRIS
This past April was the first time college coaches were not allowed to evaluate players at spring AAU tournaments.
So SEC coaches were not in favor of having the summer recruiting period eliminated.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There are a lot of positives to be able to mass evaluate several hundred kids at one location,Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ¢â‚¬Ë†Georgia coach Mark Fox said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Just from an economical standpoint, you can evaluate several hundred kids on one location.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Auburn coach Tony Barbee said eliminating summer recruiting will not eliminate the Ã¢â‚¬Å“third-party influencesÃ¢â‚¬Â that Barbee said the NCAAÃ¢â‚¬Ë†is worried about. Limited contact with coaches only enhances the role of those influences, which leads to more transfers because coaches do not have enough time with the player when they first arrive on campus.
Barbee said more contact with a playerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s coach Ã¢â‚¬â€ and more time to properly evaluate players Ã¢â‚¬â€ may eliminate the third-party presence and eliminate transfers.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I just don;t think eliminating July, I just donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think that will benefit anybody,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
Especially coaches, Mississippi State coach Stansbury said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It seems more and more and more, they keep taking opportunities away from coaches who want to work on recruiting,Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ¢â‚¬Ë†Stansbury said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I understand youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to limit it to something, but they have taken away all of April from us. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s when a lot of coaches like going out. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to be able to evaluate players some way. We can cut 10 to 12 days back (in July), but give us a few days back in April.
The loss of recruting chances has led to more transfers because coaches donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get to see enough of players and cannot have enough time to make sound decisions,Ã¢â‚¬Ë†Stansbury said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We coaches are held more accountable, but given less time to recruit and given less time to make decisions, and make the right decisions,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
Of course, if the NCAA is going to take away April, then let the coach have more time in July to spend with the incoming freshmen to help get then acclimated to college, Fox said. He suggested maybe meeting with the players for an hour or so a week.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There has to be a balance there,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
New Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin agreed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you have a new kid on campus and youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not there, he may just think youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not around and he may get homesick,Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ¢â‚¬Ë†he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a way we can be there for July, it will be like babysitting.Ã¢â‚¬Â