Most Recent Posts
- Swiss Cat – Vacation notes and photos from Larry from his trip to Switzerland.
- Kentucky softball team earns 40th win to tie school record for most wins in a season
- Calipari says Cats will press more, foul more, bump and grind, hip-check next season
- Caldwell County sophomore Elijah Sindelar special QB but also has big-time baseball options
- Stoops believes he has special understanding of high school coaches
- Video: UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown talks about working with head coach Mark Stoops
- Dallas Prime Prep will bring marquee players Mudiay, Thomas, Ferguson to Marshall County Hoop Fest
- Father had biggest impact on Mark Stoops’ coaching career and life
By LARRY VAUGHT
Flying into Zurich, Switzerland, the landscape did not look that different from Kentucky — plenty of farm fields, rolling hills and scattered living areas. Of course, soon we will see just how diversified the Swiss landscape can be.
This is a friendly country. That was obvious as soon as we got to the airport after almost our nine-hour, overnight flight from Chicago to Zurich. If you need help, just ask and someone will know English and help.
We are staying three nights at the Movenpick Hotel. While my wife caught up on her sleep, I managed to wander to a local grocery for some snacks and even got to take a run along a river thanks to a local who pointed the way to me. I also got to see how big the Swiss are on flower gardens and having immaculate landscapes in their yards. Two unusual sounds — one cafe has a small pond-like pool with numerous bullfrogs sounding off loudly and a field beside the highway had cattle that would have made Mississippi State fans proud with the way the cowbells sounded.
One highlight today was chocolate sampling in our hotel. Lindt Chocolate occasionally sends samples that the hotel then uses for a surprise “chocolate night” for guests who are around at the right time. We followed that with dinner and I tried the veal sausage with a terrific dipping sauce that was far better than I thought it might be.
My favorite — chocolate with hot peppers. My wife liked the dark chocolate and the white chocolate with raspberries. But they all were unbelievable.
Saturday we will hopefully board the train for the Zurich Zoo and then head downtown to see the older, historic areas for some unique shopping, cafe dining and maybe a few local beverages — when in Switzerland, one must do as the Swiss.
This was a day solely on our own and gave us a chance to be as adventurous as we wanted.
We got directions/instructions for how to get the train to the Zurich Zoo, one of Europe’s best, and headed out. We had to ask a few locals just to make sure we were headed the right way, and then needed a bit of advice as we made our way out of the main station to find the tram transfer to the zoo. Fortunately, I picked a gentleman taking his five grandchildren to the zoo to ask for directions and his high school age granddaughter was great help.
Admission was 22 francs each, and the zoo had a big variety of animals — just not a lot of anything except penguins. However, locals seemed to thoroughly enjoy the zoo, especially the tiger and elephants. This was a very family friendly place with many folks bringing picnic lunches and the zoo had numerous spots for children to play, climb, slide and more.
We found the tram and ventured back to downtown Zurich. We got a snack at McDonalds — about $10 for two cheeseburgers and a small Coke (no value menu here) and then wandered through the streets of both the biggest stories and the almost alley-like streets of old town. Unlike Italy that had cafes everywhere, cafes here were much bigger and more of a bar-restaurant. But the food, it was all still delicious.
We enoyed the lake and the festival-like atmosphere in that area. We made our way into a church, found another church Winston Churchill visited during World War II and loved the scenery as well as the friendliness of the Swiss. And yes, we managed to sample some chocolate again. In Italy you drank wine. In Switzerland, you eat chocolate.
(Photos by Victoria Graff, and property of Schurz Communications, Inc., and vaughtsviews.com. All rights reserved; images may not be reprinted in print or online without permission of the owners. Reprinted images must be attributed to vaughtsviews.com and linked to the original site.)
LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley threw seven strong innings, allowing only one hit and no earned runs, while junior infielder Krystal Smith went 2-for-3 at the plate with a home run and two RBI, as the No. 12 Kentucky softball team posted its school-record tying 40th win of the season and clinched its ticket to the NCAA Lexington Regional Finals on Sunday with a 6-2 win over Virginia Tech at John Cropp Stadium.
Kentucky (40-18) now advances to the regional finals on Sunday against either Notre Dame, Virginia Tech or Marshall depending on results from the rest of day two action from the Lexington Regional. The regional final will begin Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. If UK drops the first game of the regional final, a winner-take-all game two will be played at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.
The win for Kentucky was its 40th of the season, tying the school record for most wins in a season. Head coach Rachel Lawson’s 2011 team also had 40 wins en route to advancing to the school’s first ever Super Regional. UK’s win against Virginia Tech was its first in school history over the Hokies in three tries.
This is the third time UK has advanced to a regional final, also accomplishing the feat in 2009 and 2011. The Wildcats lost the first game of the 2009 regional final to Ohio State while it defeated Michigan in game one of the Ann Arbor Regional Final in 2011. The Wildcats are now 10-8 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
Nunley was fantastic in the circle for the second straight game, throwing a complete-game one-hitter, allowing two runs – both unearned – with five strikeouts. For the season, Nunley is now 26-8 with a 2.00 ERA, striking out 185 in 245.1 innings pitched. So far this weekend, Nunley is an impressive 2-0 with a 0.47 ERA, striking out 10 batters in 15 innings pitched while opponents are hitting just .140 against her.
Offensively, Kentucky was paced by Smith and fellow junior first baseman Lauren Cumbess. Smith went 2-for-3 in the game with her third home run of the season and two RBI, while Cumbess blasted her team-best 12th home run of the season to finish 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Freshman outfielder Sylver Samuel was 2-for-3 in the game with a run scored, while sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner was 1-for-3 with a run scored.
Virginia Tech posted two runs in the second inning on one hit and a Kentucky error. Bkaye Smith delivered the two-RBI infield single to tie the game before Nunley retired 16 of the last 17 batters she faced to seal the UK win.
The Hokies started Kelly Heinz in the game, who went 3.1 innings, allowing four runs – three earned – on four hits with four strikeouts. She was relieved in the fourth inning by Maggie Tyler, who worked one inning, allowing two runs – one earned – on two hits with one strikeout. Jasmin Harrell threw the final 2.2 innings of work, allowing no runs on one hit.
Kentucky scored first in the game posting two runs on two hits in the opening inning. After Joiner set the table with a one-out walk, Cumbess stepped to the plate and hit a high-towering fly to leftfield that cleared the fence to give UK a 2-0 lead. Heinz then got a lineout and strikeout to end the inning.
Virginia Tech tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the second inning after starting the frame with two runners on base on a walk and a UK error. Nunley got a strikeout and a groundout for two outs before a hard-hit chopper took a bad bounce away from a UK infielder to score two runs and tie the game 2-2.
UK answered to take the lead back in the third inning on an infield single and two Virginia Tech errors. Samuel started the rally with an infield single back to the pitcher, stealing second and moving to third on a throwing error by the catcher. Dill then hit a soft liner to the Virginia Tech third baseman that went off the infielder’s glove, scoring Samuel to give UK a 3-2 lead.
The Wildcats scored three more runs over the next two innings to take a 6-2 lead and seal the Kentucky victory. UK posted its fourth run on the home run by Smith, who laced a one-out solo shot to leftfield. Smith was also responsible for UK’s two runs in the fifth inning, getting an RBI single to the leftside of the infield with the bases loaded that scored two runs when the shortstop’s throw went wide.
For the latest on UK softball, follow “@UKSoftball” on Twitter or like Kentucky Softball on Facebook.
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.
By LARRY VAUGHT
What do you think John Calipari learned over the course of last season? Here’s what he said:
“First of all, you have to have more than eight scholarship players. You may ask why I did that. Because I was trying to protect players in the program. What you learn is, you can’t protect players. You can’t protect them from competition. You bring in your group and the guys that understand competition brings out the best, they strive and they get better. They don’t have to play 30 minutes a game to reach their dreams. And so why I did it – if I had it to do over again, we would’ve had a couple more players. By not having a couple more players, guys were put in positions you have to play, and it’s hard to change guys when they’re in that mode.
“My wife and I talked about it, I don’t have any regrets where I gave guys more than one chance to make it and it hurt our team. Like, ‘Why did you leave this guy there? Why didn’t you just tell him, ‘Beat it. You’re not going to be good enough. We’re going to put you here.’ Because it’s about each individual player. And I can tell you that guys got the full season to prove themselves and do what they were gonna do, and you know what? I told my staff, ‘If I’m going to err, it’s going to be on the side of a player.’ Now, I know that’s, ‘Well, the program’s got to go and this kid’s got to go!’ That’s all good. But if it were your son, what would you want me to do? So if I’m going to err, it’ll be on the side of a player, which at times hurts the program. Now, it’s now how we’ve all been brought up to do this. It’s how I do it. And so, there were some things that went on that I should have changed this and this, but I was giving guys that opportunity. And Ellen and I said it: You can live without regrets. It may have hurt you for a season; what’s it doing to you? Nothing. But that young man had every chance to do what he was supposed to to change, to do it. If he didn’t, if he wasn’t willing or wasn’t able, now we know and we move on. But he got that full shot.
“So those were some things (I learned). But I’ll tell you again: Can you imagine if all four of the guys put their name in the draft (and) we would’ve have had four first-rounders? Do you know what that means? This is about the players. This is about them getting better. Can you imagine that? Now you can say why however you want to say why, but that’s a fact. The guys coming back should have come back. The guys that put their name in the draft, I’m going to do everything I can to help them. We’re not changing how we do that.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Even though Kentucky coach John Calipari insisted Wednesday that he was “not hearing” the talk about his team being a lock to win next year’s national championship, he said he could “imagine” the talk is out there.
Apparently he’s the only one that doesn’t know for sure the talk is out there even if the Wildcats didn’t get Andrew Wiggins Tuesday.
“It’s probably because people are really rooting for us to do well. So that’s probably part of the reason. They want us to do so well, they’re putting that out there to help us build this team right,” joker Calipari.
Then, he turned serious to try and downplay those expectations for his team that will have eight new players join five returning players off last season’s NIT team.
“I don’t buy into any of that. I mean, if anybody thinks this is easy, we got a lot of coaches right now that have taken players that are the elite players and it hasn’t worked out,” Calipari said. “What we do here is hard. It’s not the normal thing that goes on. Do I like it? No. Do I wish kids would stay for two or three years? Absolutely.
“I’m still trying to do things to get that rule changed so that at least we encourage them to stay two years by doing things that make it possible for them to stay two years or three. If they stay two with the summer, they’re close to being graduated. They’ll be a little year (away from graduating).”
That led Calipari to tout his team’s 3.4 grade-average during the spring semester that had 12 players with a B average. He reminded everyone again that all 25 players who have gone through his program at UK have either graduated or gone to the NBA.
“We call it the success rate here. It’s a different situation. We’re not working on a 25-year-old model here. It’s different. It makes people mad when you talk about it. Oh, because, ‘You’re not about academics! You don’t care, you’re a basketball factory!’ We had a 3.4 GPA. We’ve had 10 players graduate. We’ve had two players come back. We have two more players coming back to finish up,” Calipari said. “You’re at Kentucky, you’re held to a different standard. Things that go on at other campuses can’t go on here. Just can’t.”
Calipari has hinted he would like to coach a team that goes 40-0 and wins the national title. If UK had landed Wiggins, that would have been the expectation for next season. Even without Wiggins, many wonder if this team could do it. Two years ago UK went 38-2 with Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist leading the way.
Calipari knows there will be stories about his team “chasing perfection, chasing greatness” next season.
“We’re chasing things that have never been done in the history of our game. What I like about that, people say, ‘Pressure!’ Man, pressure brings out the best,” he said. “‘You’re going to be fired if you don’t get this done! You’re not going to make it if you don’t get this done!’ Wakes you up earlier in the morning. I don’t mind a little pressure. I’ve had it my whole career. I’ve had the gun to my head for 20-something years. And you know what? I’m at my best when the gun is to my head versus, ‘OK, I’m good, I can kick back.’ I’m not as good. And you know what? Players are the same.
“Now, I’m not sitting there saying, ‘If we lose a game, it’s not a successful season.’ No. But you’re chasing greatness. What’s wrong with that? ‘Well, we want to talk moment to moment and we’re not putting that on the kids.’ Well, we are. Any pressure on these kids when they come here? It’s on us. Now it won’t be on us that’s the forefront thing we’re talking about, but there’ll be things out there that they’ll see.”
He remembers one year when he was coaching at Massachusetts and a player talked about going undefeated. The team’s first game that year was against Kentucky. The schedule also included Maryland, Florida, Wake Forest (with Tim Duncan), Syracuse, North Carolina State, Southern Cal and Louisville.
“They said it. ‘Let’s go undefeated.’ I didn’t say it. I looked at the guy: ‘What, do you need drug tested? What are you talking about? We play Kentucky the first game. They’re the No. 1 team in the country.’ Well, you want them in a mentality that they can win every game. It’s hard to. It’s never been done in the modern era,” Calipari said.
Never done, but whether he likes it or not, UK fans are going to be talking about his team doing just that even with Michigan State, North Carolina, Baylor, Louisville, Florida and others on next year’s schedule.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari issued a warning to next year’s opponents during an interview with his go-to guy Andy Katz of ESPN.
“We’re going to be much stronger physically at all positions,” Calipari told Katz. “Our post presence will be there with Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee. He’s a lot like Nerlens in terms of blocking shots and going after balls. He’s bouncy with great energy, but he’s not as big.”
And remember that Lee is probably considered No. 6 among the incoming UK McDonald’s All-Americans. However, two NBA scouts recently told me they thought in five years he could be the best player of any of UK’s incoming freshmen.
Lee and Johnson are also going to help Willie Cauley-Stein.
“Willie is coming back with one thought in mind,” Calipari told Katz. “He wants to do something on the basketball court and in the tournament. He’s got something to prove to himself. He’s got a great frame of mind. He understands he’s got to do it and do something different.”
Calipari also told Katz he might play 6-9 Julius Randle at small forward and Cauley-Stein at the power forward to give UK a big, big lineup.
“There will be a lot of teams ahead of us, but we’ll be deeper and the bench will be a great friend of mine,” Calipari told Katz. “I’ll be able to play like we played at Memphis. We’ll be pressing and getting after people because we have more people. We’re going to have competition.”
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Steve Meilinger, a two-year first-team All-American who excelled at several positions on offense and defense for the Kentucky Wildcats, has been named to the College Football Hall of Fame as announced Tuesday by the National Football Foundation.
The event was held in New York City at the NASDAQ MarketSite. The ceremony was announced by Rece Davis of ESPN.
“I thank the National Football Foundation for naming me to the Hall of Fame,” Meilinger said. “There are so many great players across the nation every year that don’t get honored, so I really appreciate it.”
Meilinger played at Kentucky from 1951-53 under Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Meilinger helped the Wildcats to a record of 20-10-3, including an 8-4 mark in 1951 that was capped by a Cotton Bowl win over Texas Christian. UK was ranked in the nation’s top 20 all three seasons in the final Associated Press and United Press International rankings. He was a freshman (ineligible to play at that time because of NCAA rules regarding first-year players) on the 1950 Kentucky squad that went 11-1 and is the national champion according to the Sagarin Computer Ratings.
Known as “Mr. Anywhere” for the Wildcats, he split time between end, halfback and quarterback on offense; on defense, he played end, linebacker and defensive back – basically, every position on the field except the interior offensive and defensive lines, a remarkable combination. On special teams, he was a two-year starting punter and also returned punts and returned kickoffs.
Meilinger set Kentucky’s career records for pass receptions, receiving yardage and touchdowns with 75 catches for 1,210 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also rushed 134 times for 714 yards and five TDs and passed for 127 yards and a TD. On defense, no tackle stats were kept during that era but he made six pass interceptions.
Meilinger was a first-team All-American as a junior by the Newspaper Enterprise Association and the All-Players team. He was first-team All-America as a senior according to the NEA, American Football Coaches Association/Colliers Magazine and the All-America Board.
Ironically, the versatility that made him so valuable also hindered his bid for even more national recognition. As was noted in the 1953 Kentucky media guide before his senior season:
“One national magazine cited the Kentucky star as ‘Offensive Player of the Year.’ He missed some of the major selections apparently due to a lack of a clear majority of nominating ballots at any one position.”
On the league level, he was named first-team All-Southeastern Conference all three of his varsity seasons, the first of only five Wildcats in school history to be a three-time first-team All-SEC selection.
Meilinger played under Bryant, a College Football Hall of Famer, and was teammates with two Hall of Famers in quarterback Vito “Babe” Parilli and tackle Bob Gain.
“Coach Bryant was one of the finest persons I ever met,” Meilinger said. “He helped me in many ways and, helped me understand the importance of all the positions I played.
“When I came to Kentucky, he also told me that even though I was a hotshot freshman that he was in charge,” Meilinger joked.
Gain was a senior when Meilinger was a freshman, so they did not get to play in games together because of the freshman ineligibility rule. But Meilinger got on the field as a sophomore when Parilli was a senior, quickly becoming the Babe’s primary receiver. He caught a then-school-record 41 passes for 576 yards and eight TDs that season in taking the Cats to the Cotton Bowl.
“Babe helped make me an All-American,” Meilinger said. “I guess I was his favorite target and every time I see him I tell him how grateful I was for him to do that.”
Meilinger had a wonderful ride during his four years with the Wildcats – a freshman on the Sugar Bowl champion team, a sophomore on the Cotton Bowl squad, then earning first-team All-America honors as a junior and senior.
“I’d always dreamed of going to a bowl game, so my biggest thrill was playing in the Cotton Bowl and defeating TCU,” Meilinger said. “It was also a thrill to be named All-American two years in succession. There are so many great players, to receive that honor two years was something special.”
Following his senior season, he played in four postseason contests, the Coaches All-America Game, College All-Star Game, East-West Shrine Game and Hula Bowl.
Meilinger was selected in the first round (eighth overall pick) of the 1954 National Football League draft. However, he went into the United States Army and spent two years as a Tank Commander in the 100th Tank Battalion of the 1st Armored Division.
After missing two years of football because of military service, he returned to the gridiron in 1956 and spent six years in the NFL – 1956 and ’57 with Washington, 1958-60 for the Green Bay Packers and 1961 with the Pittsburgh Steelers – before injuries ended his career. In 1960, he played in the NFL Championship Game under Coach Vince Lombardi. His career stats include 60 catches for 863 yards and eight touchdowns.
Honors continued to roll in for Meilinger following his playing career. He was named to the SEC All-Quarter Century Team (1950-74) by the Birmingham Quarterback Club. He was chosen for the UK All-Time Teams for the 100th Year of Kentucky Football (1990) by theLexington Herald-Leader and Louisville Courier-Journal. His jersey has been retired by the University of Kentucky and he was named a Living Legend of the SEC in 1999.
In addition to his newest honor, Meilinger belongs to five other Halls of Fame:
• (State of) Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame
• University of Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame
• Fork Union Military Academy Hall of Fame
• Lehigh Valley (Pennsylvania) Hall of Fame
• Liberty High School Hall of Fame
Upon completion of his football days, Meilinger became a United States Marshal. He was one of the original six marshals who founded the U.S. Federal Witness Protection Program and eventually became Chief Deputy of the Eastern District of Kentucky. After retiring as a marshal, he became a Property Valuation Officer for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Originally from Bethlehem, Pa., Meilinger resides in Lexington with his wife Eileen and continues to support his alma mater.
Additional Wildcats in the College Football Hall of Fame include Gain (1947-50), Parilli (1949-51), Coach Bryant (1946-53), tackle Lou Michaels (1955-57) and Jerry Claiborne, who played at UK in 1946, ’48-49 and was head coach of the Cats from 1982-89. Bernie Shively, who was athletic director at UK from 1938-67 and head coach of the Cats in 1945, was inducted to the Hall of Fame in recognition of his playing days at Illinois.
Meilinger will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame on Dec. 10 in New York City during the National Football Foundation Annual Awards Dinner. He also will honored during an enshrinement festival at the Hall of Fame in the summer of 2014.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Ever wonder what new Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops might do when he gets a break from football. So did I, so I recently asked him. Here’s what he said.
“I like to play – I like to get out and play a little golf when I get time. Even though I say that, I’ve played about four times in the last four years. I’m trying to get out more now,” said Stoops. “Now that they’ve tied me into the office, I can’t spring recruit like I used to, now I’m trying to get out and trying to get the golf swing back a little bit. I may try to get out here later this afternoon and hook up with Tim Couch and play a round.
“I’m trying to get out and do that, but it’s so consuming between my family demands because of my young children. It’s really football and then the family. What I like to do now is when I get time to get home at a decent hour is go play some baseball and go play with my kids in the backyard. He’s playing Tee ball right now so I take him to Tee ball practice when I can, take him to Tee Ball games, and just spend some time with him in our backyard playing and spending time with the kids.”