Van Florence gone but not forgotten at awards ceremony

By LARRY VAUGHT

He couldn’t be there, but no one forgot Van Florence.

The Bluegrass Sports Commission named Florence its Bobby Flynn Volunteer of the Year for his years of service to the Kentucky basketball program as president of UK’s 101 Club for over 30 years.

However, Florence passed Saturday at home after a long illness. He has been born with cerebral palsy, but never let that slow him down and it was the same when he got sick a few years ago. He had worked with Adolph Rupp, Joe Hall, Eddie Sutton, Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith at Kentucky. He helped both Smith and Pitino start charitable foundations during their time at UK.

Shaquille O’Neal wants apology for “dumbest story I have ever read in my life”

By LARRY VAUGHT

Former LSU and NBA star Shaquille O’Neal is not happy that a comment he said was clearly a joke turned into a national story about him getting money during his college playing days.

During the 12th annual Los Angeles Lakers All-Access fundraiser Monday, O’Neal was asked about his years at LSU. Los Angeles Times beat writer Mike Bresnahan quoted O’Neal’s answer: “Yes, they paid very well. Statute of limitations is up. I can talk about it.” Then he added, “Snitches get stitches . . . what can I say?”

Marcus Lee knows he has to adjust so he fouls less

By LARRY VAUGHT

Vicky Graff Photo

Vicky Graff Photo

Marcus Lee admits it has been a “rough couple weeks” for him and he hopes to be back on track when Kentucky hosts Missouri Wednesday night.

What would  likely help Lee more than anything is avoiding foul trouble.

“Fouls have been very crazy lately, especially for me. But I guess that’s the way they’re calling it now and that’s something I have to adjust to. That’s what I’ve been doing and trying to work on, fouling less. I know that if I stay in the game, we’ll do better and I’ll feel more confident,” Lee said.

Guest post: Numbers favor Kentucky by 17 over Missouri

By RICHARD CHEEKS

Vicky Graff Photo

Vicky Graff Photo

Last Thursday, the Cats impressed with a huge road win at Arkansas. It was not simply the fact of the win that impressed so much as the manner of the win, which they accomplished with full effort from tip to final buzzer. Coming on the heels of an embarrassing loss at Auburn a few days earlier, the strong performance could have been simply another upward swing in a season marked by several wide swings from very good to very poor, repeating at least 4 prior times since the 6th game of the season.

What challenges does Missouri present to UK?

By LARRY VAUGHT

Tyler Ulis (Vicky Graff Photo)

Tyler Ulis (Vicky Graff Photo)

Here is what assistant coach Tony Barbee had to say about Missouri today going into Wednesday  night’s game in Rupp Arena.

“They present a big challenge. If you look at their last three games they’re playing very well. They led at Texas A&M late in the second half. They led a lot of the game at South Carolina and played them close, a team that’s been leading the league for most of the year. And they played Georgia well at home. So you look at the last three games. They’ll mix up their defenses, with man and they’ve been playing a lot of zone lately. They have some guards. Wes Clark is one of the better guards in the league. You got a senior center in (Ryan) Rossburg. He presents a challenge inside. Their freshman (Kevin) Puryear has been playing well. It’s going to be a difficult game,” Barbee said.

Kentucky 18th in preseason softball poll

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky softball team was appointed to the No. 18 national ranking in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association to begin the 2016 campaign, it was announced on Tuesday afternoon in the release of the preseason poll.

This marks the third-straight season that Kentucky will begin the season ranked in the top-25 under the direction of ninth-year head coach Rachel Lawson. UK started the 2015 season in the No. 6 slot, its highest starting position in program history.

Teammates, coaches like the way Willis is “balling”

By LARRY VAUGHT

Derek Willis (Vicky Graff Photo)

Derek Willis (Vicky Graff Photo)

Freshman Isaiah Briscoe said Tuesday that coach John Calipari wants every player on the court talking, something that Kentucky junior has not always easily done.

But Briscoe says Willis is doing a lot more than just talking recently.

“Derek, he’s been balling. Blocking shots, rebounding, running in transition, making shots. Everything he’s known how to do,” said Briscoe.

Briscoe thought Willis’ double-double at Auburn “got his confidence going.”

Assistant coach Tony Barbee said Tuesday that Willis’ play the last three games has made a tremendous difference.

UK target Jarred Vanderbilt back in Kentucky to play Feb. 6-7 at Pulaski County

By LARRY VAUGHT

This Kentucky fan made sure to let Jarred Vanderbilt  know where he wants him to go to college. (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

This Kentucky fan made sure to let Jarred Vanderbilt know where he wants him to go to college. (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

One of the nation’s top juniors is 6-9 Jarred Vanderbilt of Houston, who is only 16 years old and plays for Victory Prep and coach Rodney McCray, a former Louisville standpoint.

“He’s going to be really special at the next level,” Victory Prep (Texas) coach Rodney McCray, a former Louisville and NBA star, said.

Missouri coach sees Kentucky team that has defined and accepted roles

By LARRY VAUGHT

Vicky Graff Photo

Vicky Graff Photo

Watching Kentucky beat Arkansas and then Vanderbilt in convincing fashion in a 48-hour period certainly impressed Missouri coach Kim Anderson going into Wednesday night’s game in Rupp Arena.

Kentucky has again been solid at home this year while Missouri has struggled to win on the road.

“With our guys, we’re young. I talk more about opportunity to go in and play a team like Kentucky. It was the same thing kind of with (Texas) A&M. You get a chance to go in and play a ranked team. A team that’s an experienced team,” Hamilton said Monday on the SEC coaches teleconference. “Kentucky has a measure of experience with a guy like – even though (Tyler) Ulis is young, he’s played a year and (Alex) Poythress has played. They have some experience.

UK Women vs. Tennessee Photo Gallery

(Photos by Vicky Graff)