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LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Texas Tech men’s basketball coach Billy Gillispie has been hospitalized for an undisclosed medical issue. Athletic department spokesman Blayne Beal said the 52-year-old coach was admitted to University Medical Center early Friday. He declined to provide further details.
Hospital spokesman Eric Finley said Gillispie was initially listed in satisfactory condition before his status was changed to “security patient.” That means no more updates on his condition can be released.
Gillispie was hospitalized on the same day that Beal issued a statement saying the university is looking into “concerns within the leadership of our men’s basketball program.”
Gillispie is entering his second year at Texas Tech. His first team finished 8-23. He previously was the head coach at Kentucky, Texas A&M and UTEP.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Here are thoughts former Kentucky Fran Curcis shared on a variety of other subjects:
— Playing Louisville.
“I always wanted to play Louisville. I tried to play Louisville. (Kentucky athletics director) Cliff Hagan didn’t want to do that. He said if we play in football, we will have to play them in basketball. I said, ‘So what?’ My proposal was, and it would have happened, I wanted to play them every year in Lexington and we get all the money, maybe give them a little bit, and we would get the win. That’s the way I felt about it. They didn’t want any part of that, but things have changed. Back then, that’s the way everybody felt.”
— Advice for UK coach Joker Phillips.
“Just keep doing what you are doing. All he can do is try to get the best players you can. One of the things I always wished I could do was on offense have a set style. I had to change every year to what I had. I never really had an offense to say this is my offense. I think Joker is in that position right now trying to plug guys into his offense and you better hope they are the guys who can do that.”
— On Phillips winning at Kentucky.
“I don’t know if you can whether it is Joker or anybody. You have to be able to go out and get players. Here is what happens. As a coach you come in, and I think we won more SEC games in first year than other guy (John Ray) had won in four years. Everybody got a little excited and our recruiting method was to tell players they could help us build a program and you will be a lot more famous for it than by going to somewhere that is a power. We got some really good players to buy into that. I think Joker has done a pretty good job with players, but does he have enough fast enough and does he have enough to sustain in this league. I don’t know.
“The SEC is so dominant and now wants to open its own TV network. They are going to keep getting the best kids in the SEC. You are in that league and if you are in that league, you better get the same players everybody else is getting. That is where Kentucky really has to pick it up. I don’t know. It is just hard to play in that league.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Senior cornerback Martavius Neloms knows Sunday’s game at Louisville will be “a rivalry game in a hostile, intense environment” that the Wildcats need to win to start their season with needed momentum.
However, he also knows there’s a huge chance the game could be played with heavy rain and strong wind.
“You have to play no matter the conditions. If it is raining, it will be more of a ground and pound type of game. We will just have to stop the run or whatever their plan is. If they want to pound the ball (running), we just have to pound back,” said Neloms. “We have to stop the run any way, especially being a SEC team and playing teams that love to run. Being in the secondary you have to be able to help come up and stop the run.”
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said he didn’t care about the conditions or where the game was played, suggesting the Cats would play “at the A&P parking lot.”
Neloms admitted he “wasn’t sure” what the A&P even was, but agreed with his coach.
“Wherever we strap them up, we can try and compete and win. We don’t care,” Neloms said.
He doesn’t mind having Kentucky as a 14-point underdog, either.
“We don’t want to seem cocky or anything like that, but we know what we have to do to try and win Sunday. We are just going to let our play do our talking. We’re very confident we can win,” Neloms, who moved to safety last year and started before moving back to cornerback this season, said.
He’s not worried about having three true freshmen as the main backups in the secondary, either, since he also played as a true freshman.
‘I don’t think it is impossible to play as a freshman at all. You have to play whenever your number is called, so you always have to be ready,” Neloms said. “They come out every day to prepare just like we do to be ready for the fire if they are thrown in there. I feel like we try to make sure they get the learning curve. They will be ready. I am not worried about them.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
He had over 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns his senior season at Wilkinson High School in Irwintown, Ga., one reason the thought he could be a playmaking tight end at Kentucky. However, he also had 62 tackles and 10 sacks that season, the reason the move to linebacker at UK has not been that difficult for him.
He made the move just before the Cats’ opening game last season and had 21 tackles while playing in all 12 games. He had 2.5 sacks last season, broke up two passes and had one fumble recovery. Now he’s being counted on to anchor UK’s linebackers — all new starters — going into Sunday’s game at Louisville.
“I am not worried about it because I know they trained hard, they are ready to go and whatever happens, it will not be because they didn’t want to win or they didn’t want to go 110 percent or didn’t want to give it all they’ve got. They have my complete confidence and Bud’s ability is a big reason for that,” said linebacker coach Chuck Smith.
Here is what Dupree has to say about the start of the season and his play.
Question: How excited are you for the season finally to almost be here?
Dupree: “Real excited. We worked hard all spring and summer and now the first game is really here and everybody is excited.”
Question: Do you think much about that a year ago you expected to be a playmaking tight end when the season opened and now you are being counted on as a playmaking linebacker?
Dupree: “I had to grow up pretty fast. Things I had planned on offense, I just try to roll them over to defense. Be a bigger impact in a different way.”
Question: Since you are an emotional guy, is it hard to control those emotions during games and not let that influence your play or does that emotion help you?
Dupree: “I just go out and play football. I have fun and do a lot of things that people dream about doing. I just play to my fullest ability to try and do great things.”
Question: What do you think about coach Joker Phillips saying he would like you to play with more swagger?
Dupree: “I think it is a compliment because he is telling me I can have more fun. When I make a tackle, I try to stay calm. He wants me to get hyped. I may get hyped after a big play. I don’t want to be a person that is real hyped all the time so people look at me like he is trying to be a big shot and not a team guy. I am just trying to be not too flashy, but I will be flashy at times.”
Question: But doesn’t the defense need a flashy playmaker?
Dupree: “We do need that, so I will be there when it is time for it. But we have other players, too, like Avery Williamson that can flash a little bit, too.”
Question: How much better prepared are you to play now than at the end of last season after you were moved to linebacker early in your freshman year?
Dupree: “I think I am a lot better. Being a linebacker for the first time and then getting to train all spring and then in the summer conditioning and camp, I got better. I am much more prepared than I was last year when I was just thrown into the fight. Things should be a lot better.”
Question: Do you like people having big expectations for you?
Dupree: “It don’t bother me much. I am just going to play and play my heart out the best I can. I am going to do all my assignments, so the expectations don’t bother me. I try to be a good leader. Me and Avery try to help the defense out and make it the best it can be.”
Question: What will be the key to stopping Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater?
Dupree: “Really, just go out and do our assignments. Everybody not try to do stuff you know you can’t do. Do things that you know you can do and not go off. Teddy is real elusive. He is quick, speedy. He can throw also. We have to contain him and keep him from getting outside the pocket. We can’t let him make big plays. We have to make sure we hit him and contain him.”
Question: Since their offensive line gave up 41 quarterback sacks last year and will have three sophomores starting, does that excite you about Sunday’s game?
Dupree: “We should be the strength. We have a lot of stars coming back and we have been working hard the whole offseason. I just want to go out there and just rush me. Just do like I have been doing all summer.”
Question: What do you feel is at stake in this game?
Dupree: “We have to set the tone in the state for how people think about us with the first game. How other SEC teams are looking at us and are going to judge us. How people are going to judge us. We just have to go out and prove a point.”
Question: Could this game change the perception of Kentucky football this year?
Dupree: “This game we change a lot of people’s mind. We are just going to go out there and do things to show people wrong and make everybody think we can be a contender instead of a pretender like everybody says we are. We are going to be the best we can be.”
By Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo
No matter how much you prepare on a practice field or how hard you go in practice on either side of the ball unless there is execution of that plan when it matters. People don’t remember practices they remember games and scoreboards at the end of the game. There are a lot of obstacles facing this Cats team that is a fact.
However, whatever we choose to feel at this time on either side of the spectrum won’t be solidified till we see just how this team operates and executes in a real game situation. As I have said time and time again we can gage from what has happened in the past for the Cats football program, but that fate has already been written in the books and solidified. This is another season and another team in which we head into a season not really sure what to expect. That is where I think a lot of the doubt and fear stems from. That fear of not seeing something tangible and having to go with the sole institute of faith that this Cats team has a little something more to give that will surprise a lot of individuals.
Eleanor Roosevelt was on point in saying, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”
Freshman Cornerback Cartier Rice is ready to execute on Sunday and he knows the Cats are focused at what is ahead of them going into Louisville and beyond. Here are his thoughts on game week practices and what to expect from the Cats on Sunday.
How do you feel about the mental and physical state of the defense during this game week practice series?
Rice: We feel good and we’re excited. You know we are still focused on preparation this week and getting ready to execute on Sunday.
As far as execution, the Louisville offense has a strong QB in Teddy Bridgewater they like to spread the field and run the ball. What is the defensive focused on to be able to contain that?
Rice: Really you know we just worry about ourselves and we just try to make sure we execute what we are doing on this side of the ball and their going to do their own. But we worry about what we’re doing in our alignments and executing what we have over here.
How do you feel about the strength of the depth of the defense right now going into Louisville especially with a lot of younger players?
Rice: Just like us all they are competing but both sides just have to work as team in defensive, offense and special teams there hear competing like everyone else.
Do you think that this competition that has been created on all sides of the ball has really just strengthened the team as a whole?
Rice: You know what at this level there not just here for any reason everyone is here to play and compete. It’s really just another day we’re out here to better ourselves and better this team. Overall everyone is here competing.
What do you do personally to get into “game mode” heading into Sunday?
Rice: No superstitious just preparations and get ready to focus to win the game.
In the words of Hannibal ,”Aut viam inveniam aut faciam; We will either find a way, or make one.” This is what this team has to do is find ways or create ways to use their strengths and ploy on the weakness of Louisville. It’s not always easy to unmask your opponents weakness but there is always a way.
Tickets for the Sept. 15, UK basketball Alumni Charity Game at Rupp Arena go on sale Friday, beginning at 10:00 a.m. ET.
Prior to the alumni game, members of the 1996 UK National Championship team will be playing an all-star team from the John Calipari Fantasy Experience at Rupp Arena. Derek Anderson, Anthony Epps, Walter McCarty, Jared Prickett, Jeff Sheppard, Wayne Turner and Antoine Walker are already confirmed to participate. Doors to Rupp Arena will open at 11 a.m. so that fans can see both the 1996 team as well as the alumni charity game set to tip off at 2 p.m. ET.
All seats are reserved and priced at $100 (premium lower level), $40 (lower level) and $20 (upper level). Tickets can be purchased only at the Rupp Arena box office, online at Ticketmaster.com, at any Ticketmaster Outlet or by phone at 1-800-745-3000. There is a four-ticket limit per person. Online orders and phone orders will have additional fees attached. All proceeds from the game will go to charity. You must be 16 or older to purchase tickets and children under 2 get in for free with a paying adult.
Audio: Blue Zoom Radio Show for Aug. 30, host Larry Vaught, co-host David Hopewell and guest Derek Abney.
UK Athletics will host Heroes’ Day on Sept. 8 when the UK football team faces off against Kent State at 7:30 p.m. ET inside Commonwealth Stadium. The event is designed to honor all active, reserve and veteran members of the armed forces along with police, firefighters and first responders.
UK Athletics invites all active, reserve and veteran members of the armed forces along with police, firefighters and first responders to attend the game. Interested group members who fit the description will be seated together as ticket quantities allow. Each member of the organization with a personal ID reflective of their service will receive a ticket for themselves and a guest, as well as a gift. Tickets will be picked up on game day at a special will-call area after presenting service ID or badge.
Those interested in attending should contact Nathan Schwake at 859-257-5526 or firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain a group ticket form.
Vaught’s note: Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart discussed a variety of subjects with Guy Ramsey of Cat Scratches for ukathletics.com. Here are some of the highlights I thought you would find interesting.
CS: Moving on to football specifically, expectations on the part of fans and experts are relatively low for this season, while many around the program seem to have a quiet confidence that the team is better and more talented than outsiders think. For the sake of ticket sales, you would obviously prefer that fans would agree, but are there also positives associated with being under the radar?
Barnhart: I think, sometimes, you need to be able to play with a chip on your shoulder a little bit. I think that’s what we’re going to have to do this year. We’re going to have to play with a chip on our shoulder. People aren’t giving us much of an opportunity to compete and I think you’re going to have use that as a rallying cry around your program. You’re going to have to believe in one another. We’re going to have to have some things go our way. We’ve got to stay a little bit injury-free and we’ve got to stay clear of that. And we’ve got to be able to go out and perform.
We’ve got some young people certainly capable of that and I think we’ve got a really good group of coaches. They believe in one another and they believe in our kids. That’s the first step. I’d agree with you. I think there is a gentle confidence about them, but we’ve got to go out and prove that.
CS: Another much-discussed topic is the Alumni Charity Game at Rupp Arena at 2 p.m. on Sept. 15. What kind of thought went into planning that and why do you believe it can be a successful doubleheader with football’s home game at 7 p.m. against Western Kentucky that same day?
MB: You’ve got some restrictions about when you can play the game and do those kinds of games by NBA rules. We’ve got a unique set of alumni – probably a different alumni base than most programs have – an alumni base of over 20 NBA guys, and it’s growing rapidly. To have a unique group of folks that want to come back and be a part of something like that at Kentucky is very different from a lot of places.
I’ve always been a believer in creating multiple things for your fans to be a part of on a weekend and let them enjoy a lot of things. It goes back to what we talked about with the culture here. Just being able to share assets and share ideas and share fan bases and share things that promote Kentucky in total rather than one thing individually I think is really, really important. If we can use the incredible traditions we have in basketball to help augment people wanting to come be a part of an incredible weekend with Hall of Fame Weekend and Alumni Weekend and Western Kentucky, what an opportunity for us to do that.
CS: The Alumni Game is just the latest example of the department reaching out to former student-athletes. Across sports, former Wildcats are joining coaching staffs and being invited to be more involved with the program. Why do you believe that to be so important?
MB: I think that Joker has done a great job of bring guys back in the program and allowing them to work and begin their careers. That fosters that sense of family that we are trying to create. We want people in our program that love Kentucky and understand Kentucky and take great pride in what we do. To have Jeremy Jarmon, Andre’ Woodson, Glenn Holt, Sam Simpson, Braxton Kelley and Tyler Sargent back on your staff in football (as director of player personnel) or to have a Marquis Estill who comes back to get his degree and works on (the basketball) staff and (former student assistant) Wayne Turner now out there in the working world out there representing Kentucky is really good. You’ve got Tony Delk and Scott Padgett out there in basketball (now assistant coaches at New Mexico State and Samford, respectively, after a stint on Calipari’s UK staff).
Most of our coaches are beginning to reach out and pull those folks back. There was a time when there weren’t a whole lot of folks interested in coming back to be a part of this, but that has become more the norm. Our athletes are now wanting to be a part of us differently than they have in the past. I think that’s very helpful to us.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Even though it is Kentucky-Louisville week and the start of the college football season, basketball talk never goes away at Kentucky — at least not since John Calipari came to Kentucky.
So what if it is the end of August, there is always UK basketball recruiting news:
— Power forward Julius Randle, now the top-ranked player by Rivals.com in the 2013 recruiting class, set his in-home visit with UK for Sept. 9, the first day coaches are allowed to visit. He also set his official visit to UK for the Sept. 15 weekend when Calipari will have a slew of NBA players on campus as part of his fantasy camp experience. Don’t think it is a coincidence that Randle wants to be there when he can ask former Calipari players how much he helped them fulfill their dream of playing in the NBA and get a feel for what the coach can do for them.
— Former Xavier guard Dez Wells is on the UK campus for a few days as he contemplates his future. He was kicked out of Xavier for a “serious violation of the student code of conduct” after the 6-5 guard had allegations of rape made against him by a student that Wells admitted having consensual sexual activity with. A grand jury did not pursue any charges.
Wells waveraged 9.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game during his freshman season at Xavier and will have three years of eligibility left.
Two questions jump out here: Can he be cleared to play quick enough to get enrolled in school for this semester and would he receive a waiver to play this season which certainly would make him even more valuable to UK? What impact would his transfer to UK have on the super talented 2013 recruiting class where Calipari seems positioned to bring in a mega class again?
— Michigan’s James Young, a UK target who had a terrific summer, transferred from Troy High School to Rochester High School this week. Rochester coach John Pleasant told the Royal Tribune in Royal Oak, Mich., that Young’s mother enrolled him in school (that doesn’t start until next week) and that he got a phone call from his athletics director telling him. The 6-6 Young averaged 26.5 points, 11 rebounds and six assists per game last year. ESPN now has him ranked No. 5 nationally.