Most Recent Posts
- UK coach John Calipari says players played too long and “I’m the one that played them that many minutes”
- UK OT Jordan Swindle on change in attitude: “These coaches instilled in us to play until the end and not give up”
- Kentucky nickelback Blake McClain happy to “just play fast”
- Booker says Kentucky, not Duke, has nation’s No. 1 recruiting class
- Cats Return To Rupp To Find Their Determination To Win; numbers favor UK by 10
- Coach on Booker: “He is the Peyton Manning of basketball” and he’s no “butt-hole”
- UK coach John Calipari talks life, bullying, Louisville, NBA and UK with Rafferty Monday at 7:30 on FOX Sports
- Calipari on Cats: “We start looking for excuses and heads down.”
By DARREN DIGUETTE, Executive director of www.strideky.org
Podcast for Larry Vaught’s Blue Zoom Radio Show for Nov. 14, 2013, with Larry Vaught and co-host former UK player David Hopewell.
By LARRY VAUGHT
College basketball analyst Jay Bilas thinks Kentucky coach John Calipari has “outdone” himself with this year’s freshman class.
“From a rating standpoint, they have so many players No. 1 at their position that it is really unusual,” said the ESPN analyst. “It would be folly to say this is the best recruiting class ever. It is the highest rated. We can only call it the best recruiting class by looking backwards. But there are not any more classes that are going to come in and win three championships because players don’t stick around. It is a different standard now. But from a pure talent standpoint, it is off the chart. This class is really good.”
Bilas was in Lexington during the summer for one of Calipari’s camp and says he was “blown away” by UK’s talent.
“I had seen them before, but to see them all together and the level that John has gotten his program to with that youth is impressive,” Bilas said. “I frankly didn’t think it was possible to take a new team each year and compete. But what has been the anomaly was last year, which was expected to be the norm. For those who doubted if he can coach, and I was not among that group, he not only can recruit, but he is a great coach.”
Bilas found a lot to like with UK’s new players.
“You can tell at every spot they are special. Julius Randle is the best player. At 6-9, he is the most physical, imposing left-hander. If he limits it to two dribbles, nobody can stop him. If he dribbles more, he gives people a chance. But nobody can stop him if he holds it to two dribbles,” Bilas said. “I was really impressed with James Young. I had seen him before, but he is just getting better and better. He can be their best defender.
“Andrew Harrison is back in the mold of the big, dominating point guard John has had with (John) Wall or (Derrick) Rose. I am not projecting he will be the first pick in the draft, but he will not be much further down. He will be within shouting distance of that. He’s big, strong, quick and can get in the lane. His brother, Aaron, can really shoot.
“Dakari Johnson has really good feet and hands and can score in the low post. He doesn’t run very well. He’s not a speed merchant, but he’s not slow. That’s not his strength. He has a chance to be very good and will contribute right away. It is hard to imagine a class in today’s age with more talent, but I would not put it past Calipari.”
Bilas doesn’t think Calipari will need to change the way he prefers to play because of the increased size Kentucky has this year.
“They changed the way they played last year, and a little bit the year before, and did not use as much dribble-drive,” Bilas said. “I think they will go back and mix ball screens in. The problems they had last year is No. 1, they did not have a point guard, and they could not shoot it. Defenses packed in and Kentucky could not bring them out. You can spread the court all you want, but you have to stretch defenses.
“You can stand anywhere you want, but if the defense does not go with you … this year they will be able to spread defenses and open driving lanes. This team can really drive. If they make shots, it will open driving lanes and open it up for lobs. That team is going to shoot a lot of free throws and get a lot of easy baskets. I was really impressed with them.”
LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky student-athletes set a school record for graduation rate and tied another record in the annual report issued Thursday by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
The NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR), a four-year composite statistic for the freshman classes of 2003-04 through 2006-07, was 79 percent. That tied the school record set last year and continued UK’s trend of having broken or tied the mark for earning diplomas every year since the NCAA began charting graduation. The GSR includes all scholarship athletes. Athletes who transfer in good standing do not count against the school’s GSR. Schools also are allowed to count incoming transfers who subsequently graduate.
Here are the annual scores for UK student-athletes breaking or tying the school record each year of the nine-year history of the GSR.
Year Announced NCAA GSR
The Federal Graduation Rate (FGR) for student-athletes, also a four-year composite statistic for the freshman classes of 2003-04 through 2006-07, is a school-record 59 percent. Data for this statistic is available since 1991. In the FGR, student-athletes who transfer count as non-graduates, regardless of their academic standing or subsequent graduation from another institution. Incoming transfer students, from junior college or four-year schools, who graduate at UK are not counted as graduates. These factors account for the difference between the FGR and NCAA GSR.
The improvements reflect the emphasis on academic success by Mitch Barnhart, who became director of athletics in 2002.
“Our student-athletes continue to raise their level of academic achievement,” Barnhart said. “Most young people will not have the opportunity to play professionally and graduation is a cornerstone of their future success.”
The long-term outlook remains bright for UK’s student-athlete graduation numbers. One of Barnhart’s goals for UK Athletics is a composite 3.0 grade-point average for all student-athletes. The Wildcats have hit that goal in the last two semesters, fall of 2012 and spring 2013.
Podcast for Larry Vaught’s Blue Zoom Radio Show for Oct. 10, 2013, with co-host David Hopewell and guest superfan Tina Cox.
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Entering his 20th year with the University of Kentucky athletics department, Tony Neely has been promoted to assistant athletics director/media relations. As part of this promotion, Neely will oversee the daily operations of the athletics media relations office, UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart announced Tuesday.
“Tony Neely is one of the longest-tenured employees in our athletic department and he is very deserving,” UK Senior Associate Athletics Director Jason Schlafer said. “Tony will not only do a fantastic job for us in coordinating our media relations office, but he is a high-character guy that everyone enjoys being around. We are very fortunate to have him, his wife, Terri, and his daughter, Grace, as a part of our UK Athletics family.”
Neely, who started at Kentucky in 1994, has spent the last 19 years as the primary media relations contact for UK’s football team, writing thousands of releases, coordinating hundreds of interviews and developing countless relationships with student-athletes, coaches and media members. In 2010, Neely and his staff were named one of the best football media relations staffs in the country by the Football Writers Association of America. He has received several publications and writing awards from the College Sports Information Directors of America. During his tenure, UK football has seen unprecedented growth in media coverage from national television to national publications – all of which is coordinated by Neely.
On top of his responsibilities with football, Neely will oversee all aspects of UK’s media relations office and its media relations efforts for UK’s 22 varsity athletic teams. Neely has also served numerous times as the media relations coordinator for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Rupp Arena.
Prior to his time at Kentucky, Neely spent 16 years in media relations at his alma mater, Vanderbilt University, from 1978-94. The native of Nashville, started as a student assistant at Vanderbilt while an undergraduate, before serving as an assistant sports information director and associate sports information director from 1982-92. Neely was promoted to head sports information director in 1992, supervising all functions of VU’s sports information office for all men’s and women’s sports.
Neely graduated cum laude from Vanderbilt in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He and his wife, Terri, have one daughter, Grace, who will be a freshman at UK this fall.
Evan Crane added as an Assistant Media Relations Director
The media relations office has also added Evan Crane as an assistant media relations director. Crane has served as a media relations assistant for three years after previously working as a student assistant his final two years as an undergraduate at UK.
A native of West Paducah, Ky., Crane will continue to oversee the day-to-day public relations aspects of Kentucky’s football and softball programs.
In the spring of 2013, Crane directed media relations efforts for the nationally ranked softball program that won a school-record 41 games and advanced to its second Super Regional appearance in school history. Crane helped coordinate media relations efforts for the 2013 SEC Softball Tournament as well as the regional round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament both of which were hosted in UK’s newly minted John Cropp Stadium.
Since his arrival as a member of the UK media relations department, Crane has worked closely with several of UK’s athletic teams including men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball and swimming and diving. He’s assisted in the management of several conference championship events including men’s basketball, men’s tennis and volleyball.
The son of Robert “Tobin” and Renae Crane, he graduated in May 2010 from Kentucky with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. Before coming to UK, Crane received an associate’s degree from West Kentucky Community and Technical College.
Vaught’s note: Kentucky fan Linda Sinclair is now retired, still loving Kentucky basketball in Lexington West (Louisville to some) and back sharing her unique sense of humor.
By LINDA SINCLAIR
Basic Facts About Wildcats
The most common wildcat in North America and around the world is the Kentucky Wildcat. They come in small, medium, large and X large sizes. Their choice of color is blue and white with occasional variations. They are fierce, dedicated, ferocious, loyal, intense, strong, reliable, powerful, talented, aggressive and experienced hunters.
Wildcats mainly hunt gators, bulldawgs, gamecocks, tigers, hogs, elephants, rebels, volunteers, commodores, and anything or anyone who gets in their way. Wildcats are also known to eat cardinals, tar heels, blue devils etc. which they usually consume during the winter months.
Wildcats enthusiast were once found only in the state of Kentucky but now they are found around the world, north, south, east and west. You can’t go any place where there is not a Wildcat lair. The Wildcat’s range does not seem to be limited. As the history of the Wildcat has grown so has the popularity and love of them throughout the world.
The Wildcat keeps on the move and hunts for a full 40 minutes. It is can hunt on its own or in a clowder. Wildcats are excellent hunters. They hunt by stalking their prey with stealth and patience and then ambushing it with a short chase or pounce then capturing their meals with one great leap. They will lie in wait, crouch or stand and wait for victims to wander close. It has been known to leap unbelievable bounds. Its preference is for mammals. Its main prey varies by region. They are heavily built cats and they have excellent vision and hearing and a good sense of smell. They are strong and muscular.
Wildcat habitat varies widely from courts and fields, arenas and super-domes.
Each Wildcat may have several dens, one main den and several auxiliary dens, in its territory. It customizes its own sleeping den.
Main den - Usually an arena in their territory.
Auxiliary dens – Located in less-visited portions of their range and often any other den where other wildcats congregate to mingle and watch, discuss and analyze. They have been known to travel thousands of miles.
Spring with first kittens showing up in the den in the summer.
Gestation October to March or April
Litter size 10-13, sometimes playmates may join and are kept to play with the original litter.
The kittens begin eating solid food at around two months after their Oct. weaning and begin learning to hunt at 3 months.
In most areas outside their home range, Wildcats are persecuted as predators and are frequently physically abused by other species.
Conservation of Wildcats
Since April 2009, John Calipari has brought his expertise to the Wildcat nation helping to preserve the respect and tradition of Wildcats.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Could Julius Randle be even better than many Kentucky fans believe? Could he even be a better player his freshman season than the more highly-touted Andrew Wiggins?
“Randle is terrific,” said Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News. “He will be a load if he gets the ball in dangerous spots.”
That means if incoming UK point guard Andrew Harrison delivers the ball to Randle the way Marquis Teague did to Anthony Davis two years ago, Randle could shine.
“If Randle gets the ball in the right spots, he can score off the bounce, go to either hand, overpower guys. He is so freaking quick, too. You have to see him to appreciate how strong and quick he really is,” DeCourcy said.
DeCourcy still remembers the transition Randle made from his sophomore to junior seasons — he was hurt most of his senior year.
“As a sophomore, I thought he was a big, strong kid who wasn’t athletic,” DeCourcy said. “Then the next year I saw him and he was just unbelievable. He is a great athlete, too. He’s really got a chance to be special.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Has John Calipari ever had a team as deep as the one he’ll have next season? Here’s what the coach said.
Calipair: “Well, we’re not deep at every position, but we’ve got a lot of good players, and just figuring out who’s who. But what I like is there’s going to be competition. Some guys are going to play. Some guys are not going to play. Who? No one’s been promised anything. That’s just how it is. They’re going to have to compete with each other. And you’re not going to play 13 guys. We all know that. Probably going to play eight or nine guys. Well, what does that mean? Well, let’s do the math. If we play eight or nine, that means four or five aren’t playing much. Well, who are those four or five? Well, it’ll be decided when we’re playing basketball.
“Will we play different? Absolutely. We’ll press more. We’ll foul more. Because that’s the way the game’s going. Now they’re saying all this stuff about the charge/block and, ‘We’re not going to let the fouling go.’ Do you really believe that? You watch the games. The more you foul, the more you shoot free throws. I don’t understand how that works. So we’re going to press and play more physical and bump and grind, and we’ll put our arms up in the air and we’ll hip-check guys. That’s how we’re going to play. Now we have numbers. Again, my philosophy had always been six fouls – that’s all you want to have in a half, because you don’t want them to shoot one-and-ones; we’re not playing to foul. But now we have numbers. We’ll play more toward our team, how this team needs to play.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
His football coach is not really sure what is his best sport or even what he does best on the football field. All Caldwell County football coach Davis Barnes knows is that sophomore Elijah Sindelar is special whether it’s football or baseball.
“I really don’t know what his best sport is,” said Barnes of the 6-4, 210-pound Sindelar. “This year he did not play basketball, but he’s good there, too. He’s just a gifted athlete. He excels in all three sports. In baseball, he pitches and plays either third base or first base.”
On the football field, Sindelar — who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds — plays quarterback. He threw for 2,961 yards and 32 scores by completing 203 of 327 passes last year and ran for 447 yards and seven scores on 65 carries. In the Class AA state title game loss to Newport Central Catholic, he was 21 of 29 passing for 258 yards and two scores and rushed 14 times for 54 yards and a touchdown.
“He improved so much as a sophomore just by being able to see the field better and understanding coverages,” Barnes said. “He developed a knack for picking up and reading defenses. He ran the ball a little bit more this past year, but his pocket awareness was better. He had a good year as a freshman, but just having a year in this offense helped him tremendously.”
He’s been getting what Barnes calls “quite a bit of attention” from college recruiters, including those at Kentucky and Louisville. Murray and Austin Peay have expressed serious interest, too. Of course, he might get even more attention in baseball. Several pro baseball scouts says there is no reason to doubt his draft potential
“I think he’s going to get a lot of looks in football. He had a really good state championship game and a lot of coaches saw him play in that game,” Barnes said. “I think next year, he’ll get quite a few offers. I have really not talked to him about the baseball part. I have sat down with his parents and talked about the football part. They just want what is best for Elijah. They are very open about his future. I think his junior year in baseball will be big.”
Some think his junior football season could be just as big. As good as Patrick Towles of Highlands and Drew Barker of Conner have been in recent years, some veteran high school football analysts believe Sindelar could be the top quarterback the state has produced in 20 years or more.
“There are a lot of good quarterbacks who throw the ball around,” Barnes said. “A lot of people are talking about him. He does throw a nice deep ball with good touch. He’s special, but we’ll see how special.”
Barnes also says he is a “great kid” with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.
“He’s a student leader with a great and supportive family,” Barnes said. “He’s a young man who knows right from wrong and does things the right way. He’s very coachable, but still has that certain attitude the great athletes have. He can do things on the field you can’t coach. I have a weightlifting class at 6:30 (a.m.), and he’s in that class. He gets his lifting in each morning and that helps him tremendously. But that’s the kind of kid he is.”
Barnes isn’t sure of Sindelar’s summer plans because he plays on a traveling baseball team. He thinks he might opt to attend several one-day junior camps.
“I know probably UK will be one and Louisville probably will be one of them. After that, I don’t know. But he has a lot of options,” Barnes said.