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By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky assistant basketball coach John Robic emphasized that junior Darnell Dodson will be playing for the Wildcats next season during his time Saturday at the UK Ohio Convention in MIddletown, Ohio.

“Dodson is eligible. Don’t believe everything you hear,” said Robic.

Rumors have swirled since the season ended that Dodson would not be back with the Wildcats. Rumors speculated that it could be anything from academics to off-court problems.

But when asked if Dodson “definitely would be at Kentucky next season,” Robic quickly said yes.

He added that Dodson, like other returning players, needed to have improved their skills and strengthened their bodies during the offseason.

“We need him to be a better 3-point shooter, a better defender, a better player. But that’s true with all five guys coming back,” Robic said.

Here are a few other insights Robic shared with about 150 UK fans at the 21st annual convention in Middletown:

— Passion of Kentucky fans.
“In Kentucky, this state is blue. We enjoyed those little camps across the state just to see the people. From kids camping out for Big Blue Madness tickets to camping out for game tickets to waiting in line to get into Rupp Arena. There’s nothing like Kentucky fans. It is a great place, but it is a different place because of the passion you people have.”

— On the incoming players.
“Enes Kanter you have to keep out of the weight room. He is a big, big young man. Terrence Jones is an exceptional player. The weight and strength coaches love him. This group has bought into weights and conditioning. We want to be in better shape this season because of the way we will play.
“Eloy Vargas is not here yet. He is still finishing up course work. He will not go on the trip to Canada with us next month.
“Stacey Poole, Doran Lamb and Brandon Knight have all been good. They are all good on paper. They seem to get along very well. That’s why we had success last year was because the freshmen got along and got along with returning players and I think that will happen again. These kids really seem special. They have done an outstanding job adjusting to college life and with their academics.”

— On Kanter’s eligibility.
“It is in the final stages right now, but we think he will be fine,” Robic said.

— On scheduling.
“I do all the scheduling. I remember watching games Kentucky used to come up and play (in Cincinnati). We have to play the one game in Louisville every year. There was talk about the Indiana series rotating, but the head coaches decided to keep the games on campus. The biggest thing about scheduling is when we have 24,000 in the building (Rupp Arena), we need to play as many home games as can. We would like to scrimmage another college team like you are allowed to do, but we can’t because of what a home game is worth to university
“Scheduling is probably as difficult, or just below, recruiting. I finished (the UK schedule) a long time ago. It should be released fairly soon. We are supposed to get the SEC schedule next week. It should be out next week.”

— On last year’s team chemistry.
“I get text messages from all the players who were first-round draft choices. DeMarcus (Cousins) sent me a text at 2:30 the other night. ‘Do you see your boy tonight.’ He had 22 (points), 12 (rebounds) and hit the game-winner.
“They were just great young men. They were really good ambassadors for our program, for their families, for the university. Well-mannered. They stayed out of trouble. We didn’t have one issue with anybody. They enjoyed playing together. They truly were brothers.
“Mark Krebs’ mother recently passed away. All the returning guys went to the viewing. Everyone of the players who just left (for the NBA) had flowers at that viewing. That is a neat, neat thing. Obviously, they couldn’t be there, but they were really tight and they all sent flowers.”

17 Responses to Robic: Dodson definitely will still be at Kentucky

  • Jason says:

    Wow, Larry got to talk to an assistant.

  • Pauline says:

    Nice article Larry.

  • TheProfessor says:

    I must say that Robic’s unequivocal statement is welcome because this team will need Dodson, not only as an essential practice body, but as Robic says, as an improved player that Coach Calipari can rely upon in the heat of battle.

    However, Robic’s suggestion that the questions about Dodson’s status are simply the result of idle internet rumor and chatter is more than a little disingenuous. Calipari’s own statements about Dodson’s status have been the source of that internet chatter to the best of my recollection. Surely, Coach Calipari was not speaking out of school about Dodson, his need to take care of some issues to be eligible, etc.

  • vaughn says:

    Don’t listen to the professor he is a Tubby man and a sota fan.

  • larryvaught says:

    Robic was very gracious. He was also half joking with fans with his comments.
    And don’t think Prof can be called a “Tubby man”

  • Tana says:

    Thanks for sharing Coach Robic’s comments here, Larry (and also on the WLAP Sunday morning show). I especially like how Coach Robic shares how the players now in the NBA send him text messages and how he goes on to say that they were “just great young men,” how none of them got in trouble, and that there had never been an issue with any of them. That is certainly not the image some in the national media promote. Further, in my opinion, last year’s players’ not getting in trouble off the court and feeling like “brothers” on and off the court is a huge part of last year’s success.

  • ClassyCatFan says:

    The only thing he said that disappointed me was about the Indiana series. There is no reason why that tradition of a Kentucky neutral and Indiana neutral site shouldn’t be renewed. Now that Louseyville is moving out of Cheat’em Hall, there should be no scheduling conflicts and what a magical atmoshere! The Mason-Dixon line is less clear cut than the mid court line that separated the blue from the red. Bands, cheerleaders, flags, university presidents making interesting wagers.

    It had the atmosphere the NCAA tournament used to have when fans and students could actually afford to go to the games and cheer for their team. It also had the whole pre and post game economic impact of rival fans drinking adult beverages and chanting each other down in Louisville and Indy bars and restaurants before and after the games.

    Please John Robic… bring this back to the way it was before!

  • Suziecat2 says:

    Classy,

    My understanding about scheduling (or not) games away from the 24,000 plus seats at Rupp Arena is purely an economical decision.

  • ClassyCatFan says:

    Suzie,

    You are probably right, but so is the NCAA decision to keep expanding the tournament (eventually it will be at 96 teams) and its $10.8 BILLION, that’s billion with a B, deal with CBS an economic one.

    That doesn’t mean its good for basketball, student athletes, traditions, or athletics in general. But then again, I have learned not to expect the National College Athletics Association to be concerned about colleges, students or athletes.

    I would just hope that UK would not go in that same direction. I already hate the NCAA with a passion, don’t want to start hatin’ on UK for the same reasons.

  • Suziecat2 says:

    I agree, Classy. Think, we are all tired of watching big money call the shots, but those making the scheduling decisions have to answer to the University and do what is best for them. The reality is…it takes money to “float the boat”. I DON’T have to like the process, but I understand.

    Yes, the NCAA has a ton of flaws. Seem to me, that they should use some of their money to hire more people in their eligibility/compliance department, so when they declare a player eligible they really are.

  • ClassyCatFan says:

    You make me smile Suzie!

    I agree that eligible should mean eligible not, “well he’s elible until we can find something on him.” I think a better use of the money would be to pool all of the revenue from all of the sports and create a stipend fund. Then they could pay the players in all NCAA sports an allowance, since they can’t work anywhere to earn spending money.

    That TV money, which pays for lots of fancy steak dinners at St. Elmos for NCAA brass, was generated on the backs of kids who aren’t even allowed to accept a hamburger from someone.

  • Suziecat2 says:

    Classy, you just made my day!
    The world has to be a better place when we smile. After all, a smile is contagious, isn’t it?

  • larryvaught says:

    Amen to that Suzie

  • TheProfessor says:

    Well it appears that all the questions and chatter about Dodson’s status on this team were not idle, and without a basis after all. This evening, Coach Calipari announced that “junior Darnell Dodson will not be playing for UK this season. If Darnell, who is academically eligible, decides to return, he could practice with the team if he meets our standards” per Matt Jones tonight.

    http://kentuckysportsradio.com/?p=57235

  • jasonukfan says:

    As to Kentucky making scheduling decisions based on financial income, how is that not leaning toward benefiting the student athlete and fans? That money is used to hire better coaches, build or maintain better facilities, increase recruiting budgets to bring in better players, pay for non-revenue producing sports, etc. Facts are facts, and the fact is that running a athletic department costs money. The less home games we have only means that the ticket prices would need to increase in order to meet budgets with less home games. The last thing we should be doing is paying money to a neutral site so we can play there. Personally, I prefer the UK vs IU game on the teams home floors. There isn’t any place in the world I’d rather see Kentucky play a game more than Rupp (except, of course, wherever the Final 4 and Championship games are being played). I’m all for having as many home games as we can. All we need now is a UK owned on campus arena so that every dollar stays in house.

  • larryvaught says:

    Great points Jason. Any school has to generate all the revenue it can and UK makes more money playing in Rupp than anywhere else. Just hard not to play all the games there that one can

  • TheProfessor says:

    Jason makes a good point, but I would add that the UK/IU series must be evaluated economically on a 2 year cycle, either Home/Away or Neutral/Neutral.

    I do not know how that 2 year analysis would turn out using Louisville and Indy as the alternating neutral sites, but with the home/away, each school generates their home game income every other year while with the neutral/neutral system, each school receives a split of the income each year.

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