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- Goodwin getting “postive feedback” from workouts with various NBA teams
- Ohio twins will transfer from Pittsburgh to Kentucky
- Photo Gallery: Alex Poythress at Camp Cal
- Ohio RB Mikel Horton did all he could to help convince Georgia RB Boom Williams to commit to UK
- Boom Willams expects to make impact returning punts, kickoffs
- UK commit Stanley Williams ready to bring the “Boom” to Kentucky football
- Calipari uses Twitter to explain Kentucky’s recruiting success
- Longtime sports writer Joey Fosko dies from apparent heart attack
By LARRY VAUGHT
Terrence Commodore recently was sitting around with one of his mentors when it was suggested maybe he put together a summer basketball camp featuring some of the players he got to know when he was on John Calipari’s staff at Kentucky.
“I have a good relationship with a lot of guys that came through Kentucky and was good friends with them,” said Commodore, a former Mason County basketball player. “I just put a concept together and ran with it. They were all pretty open to it. The main part was just scheduling and making sure who was available when. But they all like to give back and help kids.”
What Commodore worked out was to have former UK players and current NBA players Patrick Patterson, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Darius Miller and Eric Bledsoe agree to be part of the inaugural Camp One for kids ages 7-16 that will focus on “fundamentals, encouragement and development of children.”
There will be a camp at Lexington Christian Academy June 10-12 and another camp at HOOPS Academy in Louisville June 24-26. Players 7-10 will go from 9 a.m. to noon and those 11 to 16 will attend camp from 1-4 p.m. Cost is $175 per camper and includes Camp One T-shirt and an exclusive autographed Camp One team photo.
“There will be a limit, but we hope to have plenty of room for everybody that wants to come,” Commodore said.
The camp in Lexington will have Cousins, Wall, Miller and Patterson while Bledsoe, Cousins and Miller will be in Louisville. Players will appear on various days and not all together.
“There will be a little time each day for them to give a small lecture about what it takes to work hard to get to where you want to be and the importance of going to school,” Commodore said. “There will able be a Q&A each day. We want guys to interact with the kids and have fun. It’s not going to be a case where they just stop by for a few minutes. They will be there for the day.
“The main focus of the camp will be teaching kids fundamentals. A lot of kids just play and never learn the fundamentals. We will have stations to focus on fundamentals. We will also have a few competitions, play some five-on-five.
For information contact Commodore (606-584-1001, Commodore@TheCampOne.com) or Brandon Hutchinson (BHutch@TheCampOne.com, 304-638-9062).
By LARRY VAUGHT
NASHVILLE — He still calls his two years at Kentucky working on Billy Gillispie’s coaching staff a “good experience” but today Tracy Webster says he is “all orange” and enjoying life on Cuonzo Martin’s staff at Tennessee.
“It’s a good situation. A great place to be. Good players, good staff. My wife likes it. What more can you ask for?” said Webster Thursday.
Webster and Martin played against each other in college when Martin was at Purdue and Webster at Wisconsin.
“Basketball players enjoy being around basketball players. I was always a friendly guy. He was always a great guy. We are around the same age, so it is a good fit,” Webster said.
He had hoped Kentucky would be a “good fit” when he joined Gillispie. However, Gillispie was fired after the second season.
“It was a good experience. You had a chance to see what another school was like. A lot of things were great. I have not put too much thought into it. But it was a great experience for me and my wife,” Webster said. “I text that old staff at times. We talk on the phone a little bit. It is tough to do that during the season because we are all ripping and running.”
Webster says Calipari — who watched his team lose by 30 points at Tennessee last month — has done a “great job” in his four years at Kentucky. “He’s had NBA guys he has coached up well and he won a championship. That’s what is expected at Kentucky,” Webster said.
He’s been happy to see the success former Cats Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks have had in the NBA.
“They were good players. They worked hard, too, and they both are really good guys,” Webster said.
Meeks had a career game Jan. 13, 2009, when he scored 54 points in a 90-72 win at Knoxville with Webster on the UK bench.
“When he calls me and says something about it, I think about it,” Webster laughed and said. “Right now I am here and I am Tennessee orange. You work the job you have and try to do a good job. Jodie will call every now and then and, not that he would brag about it, but someone else will bring it up and he will call on 3-way and talk about it a lot.”
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. Victoria recently attended an NBA game between Anthony Davis’ New Orleans Hornets and Patrick Patterson’s Houston Rockets.
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.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Having Kyle Wiltjer score in a variety of ways against Tennessee did more than just add to the Kentucky sophomore’s confidence.
“It builds his confidence and builds our confidence, too,” UK freshman Alex Poythress said. “When he is out there, he brings a lot of things to the table.
He is 3-point shooter and is a great free throw shooter, too. But he showed he can score in other ways.
“I think he can be a good defender when he wants to be and when he chases down the ball screens. He’s working on getting rebounds and just getting better at that, too.”
Wiltjer had 17 points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 26 minutes Tuesday in a 75-65 win over Tennessee. He’s averaging 10.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game going into Saturday night’s game at Auburn. He is UK’s top free throw shooter (80 percent), but has taken just 20 free throws in 16 games.
Kentucky coach John Calipari knows what it would take to get Wiltjer more free throws.
“You’ve got to be aggressive, play through bumps and be tough, ball fake and go in with the idea you’re going to get fouled, not going to avoid contact and say the guy grabbed me. They ain’t calling that,” Calipari said. “You’ve got to go in with an idea to hit baskets. Ball fake and go through, not ball fake and avoid, fadeaway, step back, all of that stuff that we’re doing. You can’t get fouled. They’re not going to just give us calls so you’ve got to create that contact, get a foul and get to the line.”
Wiltjer did ask twice late in Tuesday’s game to have plays run for him — and he scored both times.
“Kyle is always hitting shots in practice. If he wants to shoot the ball, he can. Nobody on this team has a problem with anybody taking shots. We can all hit shots. We are all unselfish players. If one person says he can hit a shot, we are going to get him the ball like we did Kyle,” Poythress said. “We just pass to him if he’s open and we know he will hit the shot. We have confidence in him.”
Here’s what Wiltjer had to say after Tuesday’s win.
Question: Did you make a conscious effort to be more active on defense in this game?
Wiltjer: “Yeah, that is a new way to play on defense with me hedging on the ball screen. It kind of takes the pressure off me. I think we are going to stick with that. It has worked the last two games and that’s the main thing.”
Question: Do you and Julius Mays work a lot on plays together?
Wiltjer: “We run a lot of handoffs and stuff together. When you have two shooters, it is hard to defend and something we want to use more.”
Question: Why did you attack the rim more in this game?
Wiltjer: “Coaches have just been on me to drive every day in practice. I kind of had that mentality in practice and I guess it carried over. They were playing my (outside) shot pretty heavy.”
Question: How is it to see what Nerlens Noel has done in recent games?
Wiltjer: “His intensity has been great on both sides of the ball. He’s been active and when he’s like that, we are lot better.”
Question: Have you changed anything in your workouts recently?
Wiltjer: “Every day in practice just going hard. Coaches have been really on me to be aggressive and look for my shot and using that to kind of get in the lane a little more.”
Question: Why did you ask for the first time to have plays run specifically for you?
Wiltjer: “I was just feeling it a little bit. I knew we had plays in for me. I knew it would be open. I just called it. I have been working hard in practice and trying to stay positive even though my shots have not been going down. Staying confident is the key.”
Question: How hard was it to stay confident overall after Calipari and others questioned your defensive play at Vanderbilt?
Wiltjer: “We have a great coaching staff and it is really easy to just forget about it when you go in the gym and work hard. (Assistant) Coach (Kenny) Payne does a great job of working us out and just taking the pressure off by putting in the work.”
Question: But is it easy to forget when you are reading about it in the newspaper or hearing about it on sports talk shows or TV?
Wiltjer: “I don’t read a lot. I just live my life, go to school and play basketball sometimes.”
Question: How different is it this year to have to win games like this compared to last year when some victories came easier?
Wiltjer: “We know every game is going to be close. We can use that as motivation because we want to be a team that can womp down on people. We still have things where we break down that hold us back, but I think if we keep improving we will be okay.”
Question: How is your role changed from last year to this year?
Wiltjer: “Coach Cal knows what I have been through, so not only does he want me to lead every day in practice, but wants me to be confident. I have put in a lot of work, so he wants me to be a better player. I just see my role expanding more and I want to keep improving.”
Question: What have you told the freshmen about expectations here and the type of questions they would get when the team was not winning?
Wiltjer: “I am keeping the guys focused on getting better and not reading stuff. We are a hard working team. There’s no question about that. We just need to keep coming together. We have taken a little longer (than last year) but coach Cal has done a good job of coaching us every day in practice.”
Question: Are the practices harder this year?
Wiltjer: “They have been very hard. This is the hardest we have played in our lives. Just getting that mentality of going hard every drill is big for us.”
Question: How big could this game be for your confidence since you scored in a variety of ways and did more than just hit 3-pointers?
Wiltjer: “It is important. Coaches have done a good job of working me out every day and getting my mentality to not just be a shooter. I have been doing other things. If I can do more than just shoot, it will help my team a lot.”
Question: How do you react to people saying this team lacks a Patrick Patterson or Darius Miller type of leader?
Wiltjer: “We don’t really try to compare to last year’s team or any past team. We just try to focus on ourselves.”
Question: Do those type questions annoy you?
Wiltjer: “Not really. We just try not to compare is all.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Is there a chance that this Kentucky basketball team simply is not tough enough overall to be a Final Four contender?
“It’s hard to say if a team is soft as a unit,” said FOX Sports college basketball analyst Larry Conley. “I think they have guys that play with skills. Their skills actually are pretty solid. Are they mean and nasty? No, as a team they are not but that does not mean they can not go out and win games. I’ve seen a lot of teams do that.
“It’s always nice to have one or two guys like that (mean and nasty) to whip a team into shape to make the team better. They just don’t have anybody like that. You can’t make people something they are not. They are what they are. They have ability. John (Calipari) and his staff knew what they were getting when they signed these players and they have gotten better from the first exhibition game until now. But they are not an overly physical team at this point.”
That amen you hear likely could be coming from Kentucky coach John Calipari. His teams normally are physically and mentally tough. He’s had players like Patrick Patterson, Demarcus Cousins, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Deandre Liggins at UK known for their physical toughness. He’s had others like Brandon Knight, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe and Anthony Davis that were mentally tough. But the coach has openly worried about this team.
“The tape doesn’t lie. You watch a little bit of this tape, and you’ll see,” Calipari said last week after UK beat Lipscomb. “Their big guy threw our big guys around. Then you talk about the guards at Mississippi. Wait till you see their big guys. The big guys at Tennessee, wait until you see their big guys. Their players are throwing us around is what happened.
“Just be more physical. You’ve got to bend over. You can’t stand straight up and down. You can’t accept that he’s going to beat you to the spot. All those things right now throughout their careers have been acceptable. It’s not anymore. Well, we’re trying to change habits that they’ve developed over a period of time.”
Conley said it’s also difficult to gauge UK’s toughness because they have played many “lambs for slaughter” this season.
“Maryland was okay, Duke is very good, Baylor is okay and Notre Dame is okay,” Conley said. “Now Louisville is really going to be a test (Dec. 29). I think Kentucky fans are frustrated with this team. Coming off a national championship year with a team that had tough guys and maybe better skill sets, it’s hard to be on this team.
“But look at the numbers. They are getting better. They defended much better the other night than they have all year. This is a not a team you are going to look at and say they do this really well, but they can do enough well to be a really good team. How good we won’t really know until the Louisville game and that’s when a lot of questions will get answered.”
What about Southeastern Conference play? Can Kentucky win a third SEC title in four years under Calipari?
“I had them and Florida at the top at the beginning of the year. Nothing has changed for me except that Missouri might be a little better than I thought,” Conley said “Tennessee getting (injured) Jeronne Maymon back could be the difference in winning or losing give games. If he is back, they will be hard to beat again. Those are the four best teams. Alabama has had a couple of key injuries. I am not sure if they can stay up there.
“The best darkhorse team is Ole Miss. (Marshall) Henderson out of junior college is averaging shooting 12 3’s a game. There are teams that don’t take that many. They are tough kids, too. They have about four kids that will take you to the woodshed. Texas A&M is good but not great. I am a little surprised at LSU but I know their talent and do not seeing them winning the league or Johnny Jones should get the best coaching job of the year.”
Since Kentucky has already lost three games and will be a decided underdog at Louisville, could there be a scenario where UK could find itself in danger of not making the NCAA Tournament?
“I could not see Kentucky not getting in the NCAA,” Conley said. “I still think they will win 22 to 26 games.
“The big thing right now is that they just don’t have that fire in their belly. It’s hard to put your finger on. I have seen Alex Poythress do things where you go, ‘Wow. Why doesn’t he do that every game?’ That lack of consistency is what frustrates John and all Kentucky fans. But they may get it one game and all of sudden they beat a really good team and say we are pretty good and just take off. I have seen it happen before and maybe it will happen to Kentucky this year.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Two years ago Patrickâ€ˆPatterson played his final game in Rupp Arena for Kentucky and went through an emotional pregame ceremony with his parents, Tywanna and Buster. He was only a junior, but was set to graduate and knew he was going to the NBA, so Kentucky included him in the special ceremony.
At that time, Darius Miller was a sophomore. On Thursday, heâ€™ll go through his Senior Night with his parents, Brian and Nicole, and Tywanna Patterson and her husband will be there to celebrate with them.
Here are some thoughts Tywanna Patterson shared about her memories from that game two years ago.
Question: What do you remember most about Patrick’s Senior Day experience and how emotional was it for you?
Patterson: â€œI remember it well, especially how emotional it was for me being that it was Patrickâ€™s final home game. What made it even more special was that Patrick was graduating in May and the finality of it all made it even more emotional and special. It was great having our family there and Patrickâ€™s grandparents as well. It was also great getting to share it with the fans and other teammates and their families.â€
Question: How does that game rank among your Kentucky memories?
Patterson: It ranks very high among my Kentucky memories. It makes it even more special to win the game for us and for BBN. Some of the clips is also on www.youtube.com under The Patrick Patterson Story, so I can always see some of his Senior Night online!â€
Question: What do you think Thursday night will be like for Nicole and Brian Miller, Darius Millerâ€™s parents?
Patterson: â€œI think Thursday night will be very special and very emotional for Nicole and Brian Miller. It will be a happy occasion to be able to share it with their family, friends and the fans. BBN will enjoy being a part of it as well. I even sent them a copy of the wwwyoutube.com video clip from The Patrick Patterson Story on Nicoleâ€™s face book page reminding her of how we did it and they were also in the video.â€
Question: How proud are you of what Darius has done since Patrick was like a big brother to him?
Patterson: â€œBuster, Patrick and I are very proud of Darius and all that he has accomplished at Kentucky. I am especially proud and happy as a mom that he is getting his degree as well and that he has stayed in school all four years to obtain this. Education is very important and a great milestone. Not all athletes stay in school and finish their degree. I know Brian and Nicole will be beaming with pride and happiness. I look forward to being there and sharing in their happiness as they were there to share in ours.â€
Question: What advice would you have for the Millers about Senior Night and life after UK basketball?
Patterson: â€œEnjoy each and every moment of Senior Night. It is Darius and their family night to be acknowledged and to stand before BBN and be recognized and honored. I am getting emotional just thinking about it. I know I will cry just as I did with Patrick. There is still much to do after UK basketball. The sky is the limit. Darius will have his degree and the NBA is waiting as well. So many more opportunities and they can always come back for games at UK as Buster and I do. Once UK â€¦ always UK â€¦ the door remains open and we are here for them whenever they need us. WOW! Time has flown by, but lots of good memories. Go CATS and Go BBN!!