Saturday, March 14, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
NCAA DII Tournament Schedule (Kentucky Teams):
(3) Northern Kentucky vs. (6) Lake Superior State 11:00 AM
(2) Bellarmine vs. (7) Kentucky Wesleyan
Winners Meet in Second Round
The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award celebrates the loyalty of seniors that honor a four-year commitment to their university. The Senior CLASS Award recognizes these student-athletes for great achievement during competition and in their community while staying in school.
Lowe's Senior Class Award
Kentucky is now projected as a 4-seed in the NIT:
I'll be cheering for the Cats like always, but this is a very difficult season.
SEC Tournament Quarterfinals
LSU (27-5) simply appeared to play with more energy this afternoon in grabbing 13 offensive rebounds and swiping 10 steals. The Tigers only shot 39.3%, but they managed to get off sixteen more shot attempts than Kentucky. LSU was led by SEC Player of the Year Marcus Thornton, who had 21 points. Tasmin Mitchell added 14 points and 8 rebounds and Bo Spencer scored 16 points.
Kentucky (20-13) suffered through off days from Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson. Meeks finished with only 8 points on 9 shot attempts. Patterson managed 15 points and 10 rebounds, but he only made 4 field goals. No other Kentucky players scored in double figures in the loss.
LSU will move on to play the winner of this afternoon's South Carolina/Mississippi State game.
- Jodie Meeks, Kentucky
- Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
- Stephen Curry, Davidson
- Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
- Ty Lawson, North Carolina
- DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh
- Sam Young, Pittsburgh
- Gerald Henderson, Duke
- Kyle Singler, Duke
- A.J. Abrams, Texas
- Jon Brockman, Washington
- Nick Calathes, Florida
- Sherron Collins, Kansas
- Darren Collison, UCLA
- Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
- James Harden, Arizona State
- Jordan Hill, Arizona
- Kalin Lucas, Michigan State
- Jerel McNeal, Marquette
- Jeff Teague, Wake Forest
- Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut
- Marcus Thornton, Louisiana State
- Terrence Williams, Louisille
- Tyreke Evans, Memphis
Announcement from ESPN
Connecticut 117 (6OT)
Big East Tournament
Yes, I realize that this is Bluegrass State Basketball, but occasionally something happens that just deserves respect. Tonight was one of those occurrences. I just watched perhaps the greatest college basketball game of all time. Syracuse just defeated Connecticut 127-117 in 6 overtimes. That's right, 6 overtimes!
I'll add more tomorrow as I'm a little tired from watching a 4-hour game, but all I can say is WOW!
UPDATE: Ok, I have managed to get some sleep and can think straight again. Here are a few stats and notes from the legendary Big East game last night:
- 8 players fouled out (4 from each team)
- The teams combined 211 total field goal attempts
- Official Game Time: 3 hours, 46 minutes
- 6 players registered double-doubles
- Jonny Flynn: 34 points, 11 assists in 67 minutes
- Longest game in Big East Tournament history
- 125 total rebounds (69 for UCONN)
- 66 total fouls
- 93 attempted free throws
- Game was largely decided by free throws. Syracuse 40-51 (78.4%); UCONN 24-42 (57.1%)
- 58 attempted 3-pointers
ESPN Box Score
ESPN Game Recap
My First Thought: Syracuse played 70 minutes and only had 16 turnovers; Kentucky had 31 turnovers against Kansas State in 40 minutes
Thursday, March 12, 2009
The Georgetown Tigers (27-4) will be the tournament's overall #4 seed and will open against Central Methodist (27-6). The game will be played on Wednesday, March 18th at 3:15 PM. Of the tournament's 32 teams, Georgetown is making the most appearances with its 28th and holds the most all-time wins in the tournament with 49 victories. Georgetown is in a quarterfinal pod with 5th-seeded Mountain State (27-4).
Mid-South Tournament champions Cumberlands (26-6) were given the tournament's #11 overall seed and will open against Jarvis Christian (23-7). That game will be played at 10:00 AM on Thursday morning, March 19th. The Patriots were placed in a quarterfinal pod with 6th-seeded Westminster (28-4) and 3rd-seeded Union (28-5).
Lindsey Wilson (23-8) received an at-large bid and enter the tournament unseeded. They will open against the overall #10 seed Texas Wesleyan (26-3). They are in a quarterfinal pod with 7th-seeded McKendree (28-5) and 2nd-seeded Oklahoma Baptist (27-4).
It was a disappointing day for Pikeville College (20-12) and coach Kelly Wells as the Bears did not receive an at-large bid to the tournament.
NAIA Tournament Announcement
2009 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Bracket
SEC Tournament First Round
The Kentucky Wildcats (20-12) snapped a four-game losing streak with their first round SEC Tournament victory over Ole Miss this afternoon. The Cats played an unimpressive first half, but came out strong in the second twenty minutes to get the critical victory. Ole Miss (16-15) was not able to withstand the second half surge by Kentucky.
The Wildcats were led by Jodie Meeks with 25 points on 9-15 field goal shooting. Patrick Patterson dominated in the paint with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Perry Stevenson came up big for Kentucky with 13 points and 8 rebounds. The Cats also picked up a huge contribution from freshman Darius Miller off the bench as he scored 12 points. Kentucky's defensive pressure forced Ole Miss into committing 18 turnovers.
The Rebels were led by Terrico White with 21 points, including four from beyond the three-point arc. David Huertas, the SEC's fifth leading scorer, came off the bench to score 15 points for Ole Miss.
Kentucky will face SEC regular season champions LSU in the quarterfinals tomorrow afternoon.
ESPN Game Recap
ESPN Box Score
SEC Tournament Page
Complete SEC Bracket
Can Kentucky Save Its Season in SEC Tournament?
Patrick Patterson Staying for Junior Season
Big East Quarterfinals
The Louisville Cardinals started their post-season with a smooth victory over the Providence Friars. Louisville (26-5) hopped on the back of its defense in forcing 26 turnovers, picking up 16 steals and holding the Friars to 33.9% shooting from the field.
Louisville was led by Earl Clark with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Big man Samardo Samuels added 22 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists for the Cards. Louisville had 21 assists on 30 made field goals.
Providence (19-13) will likely be headed to the NIT with the loss, although they are still officially on the NCAA bubble. A win over Louisville would have likely punched their NCAA ticket, but now they will be forced to sweat it out during Sunday's selection show. The Friars picked up 17 points and 5 steals from Weyinmi Efejuku. Geoff McDermott chipped in 11 points, but he also had 7 turnovers.
Louisville will move on to play the winner of Villanova and Marquette in tomorrow's semifinal action.
ESPN Game Recap
ESPN Box Score
Big East Tournament Headquarters
Complete Big East Tournament Bracket
Louisville Hopes to Use Big East Tournament as Springboard to #1 Seed
Louisville Cardinals Playing for Big East Regular Season Championship Tonight
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Scott County 67
11th Region Championship
Lexington Catholic won the 11th Region on two free throws by sophomore Taylor Martin with 3.8 seconds remaining. Scott County's Chad Jackson turned the ball over on the last play and the Knights advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.
Catholic was led by Vee Sanford with 26 points. Taylor Botkin and Jaylen Beckham chipped in 10 each for the Knights.
Scott County was picked up a game-high 31 points from Ge-Lawn Guyn. Chad Jackson finished with 16 points and 9 rebounds. Dakotah Euton added a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. The Cardinals were playing without big-man Richie Phares, who was injured in the semifinals.
KHSAA Sweet Sixteen Bracket
Torn ACL for Richie Phares of Scott County
Boone Co. 29
9th Region Championship
Holmes (32-2) picked up 26 of their 32 points from Elijah Pittman and tournament MVP Ricardo Johnson, each with 13 points. The Bulldogs will return to the Sweet Sixteen for the third consecutive year, including a runner-up finish last season.
Neither team made a three-point shot in the game.
KHSAA Sweet Sixteen Bracket
Lewis County 61
16th Region Championship
The Elliott County Lions will represent the 16th Region in the Sweet Sixteen for the third consecutive season after their victory against Lewis County last night. Elliott (30-2) was led by point guard Ethan Faulkner, who had his second triple-double in two nights. Faulkner, who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, had 17 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in the championship game. In the semifinals against Ashland, the Northern Kentucky signee had 20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and 6 steals.
Elliott also picked up 19 points and 10 rebounds from Jonathan Ferguson. Evan Faulkner and Timmy Knipp each contributed 15 points.
Lewis County (18-16) picked up a monstrous 28 points, 18 rebounds and 6 assists from Chris Thompson.
KHSAA Sweet Sixteen Bracket
Postgame Interview with Jonathan Ferguson of the Elliott County Lions
Jonathan Ferguson is King of the 16th Region
Elliott County Lions Basketball – A Special Team Through the Eyes of an In-Law
Absolutely great! It’s nice to win three in a row.
Having the team that the Elliott County Lions have this season, tell me a little about the team’s goals before the season started.
Playing Saturday night at Rupp was our only goal.
What do you feel will be the key to obtaining that goal?
Play hard and play together…
Many of Elliott’s players have played in the Sweet Sixteen twice. How do you feel that the experience of playing in that atmosphere is going to help your team finish out this season?
I believe it will help drastically and provide for a more enhanced performance
You’re going to be matched up with a familiar opponent in Anderson County in the first round of the Sweet Sixteen. Tell me a little about what you’re expecting to see from Anderson.
They will come ready to play and throw everything they have at us. It will be a very tough game.
How does it make you feel to see the story of Elliott County basketball recited by such sources as ESPN, the Lexington Herald Leader, the Courier Journal, and USA Today?
It was very exciting and also great to see our small community getting some recognition.
One final question about the team – the starting five has played a tremendous amount of basketball together. Can you tell me what it’s been like playing with Ethan, Evan, Timmy and Chris throughout most of your career?
It has been very fun and they are a great group to play with.
Describe Ethan and Evan in one word.
Ok, I want to shift gears now and talk a little about you individually. I have read the stories about you and your father spending countless hours playing basketball during your childhood. How much do you think those family games have helped you in getting to the level you’re playing at now?
They have everything to do with me getting to the level I am at now.
Did you ever dream of achieving something as special as becoming the 16th Region’s all-time leading scorer?
How does it feel now that you’ve obtained that record?
Jonathan, I know several teams are hoping you’ll be playing for them for the next four seasons. Who are the schools that have been recruiting you the hardest?
Marshall, Western (Kentucky), Air Force, Northern (Kentucky)
Have you made a decision yet?
Are you leaning in any certain direction?
Ok, let me finish with this question: you’re down two points in the state championship game and your team is taking the ball out of bounds. Who do you want taking that shot?
Whoever is hottest on the team in that game…
Jonathan, it’s been great talking to you. Again, congratulations on a great season and a great career. Best of luck the rest the way.
Also check out:
Jonathan Ferguson is King of the 16th Region
1st Region: Graves County 49 Marshall County 45 (OT)
2nd Region: Christian County 95 Henderson County 82
4th Region: Bowling Green 54 Franklin-Simpson 47
5th Region: Adair County 82 North Hardin 76 (2OT)
6th Region: Central 84 Shawnee 60
7th Region: Eastern 66 Jeffersontown 54
8th Region: Andesron County 52 Shelby County 49
9th Region: Holmes 32 Boone County 29
10th Region: Mason County 51 GRC 43
11th Region: Lexington Catholic 68 Scott County 67
12th Region: West Jessamine 47 McCreary Central 42
13th Region: Corbin 71 South Laurel 35
14th Region: Hazard 51 Perry County Central 48
16th Region: Elliott County 83 Lewis County 61
KHSAA Sweet Sixteen Bracket
South Florida 56
Sun Belt Championship Game
The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers are heading back to the NCAA Tournament after their impressive run through the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. The Hilltoppers (24-8) allowed South Alabama to get back in the game in the second half, but hit key shots late to seal the championship victory.
WKU was led by A.J. Slaughter with 18 points. Steffphon Pettrigrew added 15 points and 7 rebounds and Orlando Mendez-Valdez contributed 10 points and 8 assists. Western was a perfect 14-14 from the free throw while South Alabama was only 5-8. The Hilltoppers outrebounded the Jaguars 29-14.
South Alabama (20-13) was led by a game-high 27 points from DeAndre Coleman.
ESPN Box Score
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
DePaul pulled a bizarre upset over Cincinnati (18-14) today to advance to the second round tomorrow. DePaul did not win a Big East game this season, but managed to defeat the Bearcats 67-57 this afternoon. In other action today, St. John's defeated Georgetown, Notre Dame outlasted Rutgers and Seton Hall pulled away from South Florida.
Complete Big East Tournament Schedule:
First Round - Today:
Game 1: (16) DePaul 67 (9) Cincinnati 57
Game 2: (13) St. John's 64 (12) Georgetown 59
Game 3: (10) Notre Dame 61 (15) Rutgers 50
Game 4: (11) Seton Hall 68 (14) South Florida
Second Round - Tomorrow:
Game 5: (8) Providence vs. (16) DePaul Noon ESPN
Game 6: (5) Marquette vs. (13) St. John's 2:00 ESPN
Game 7: (7) West Virginia vs. (10) Notre Dame 7:00 ESPN
Game 8: (6) Syracuse vs. (11) Seton Hall 9:00 ESPN
Quarterfinals - Thursday:
Game 9: (1) Louisville vs. Game 5 Winner Noon ESPN
Game 10: (4) Villanova vs. Game 6 Winner 2:00 ESPN
Game 11: (2) Pittsburgh vs. Game 7 Winner 7:00 ESPN
Game 12: (3) Connecticut vs. Game 8 Winner 9:00 ESPN
Semifinals - Friday:
Game 13: Semifinal #1 7:00 ESPN
Game 14: Semifinal #2 9:00 ESPN
Finals - Saturday:
Game 15: Championship Game 9:00 ESPN
Big East Tournament Headquarters
Complete Big East Tournament Bracket
Brian Hutchinson, the Morehead State Athletics Director, has done a trememdous job in rejuvenating MSU athletics. Head coach Donnie Tyndall has taken over a 4-23 team and managed to get them back to the NCAA Tournament in only three years on the job. This will be the Eagles first appearance in the Big Dance in 25 years.
Here is a nice article about the Eagles from CBS Sports:
Morehead State giddy over NCAA tournament bid
Morehead State Athletics
A look at a blueblood on the bubble
Some quotes from the article:
On the court beneath her end line seats, the Wildcats betray her presumption, losing to Georgia, 90-85. In the corner of Rupp Arena near the tunnel where the team exits, two university policemen snicker as the horn sounds.
"You think coach is going to be in a good mood?" one says.
"Nope. Just make sure you stay away from the flames,'' says the other.
"Well at least we can book the Holiday Inn for that NIT game,'' the first chuckles back.
"Here every word is isolated to the syllable, every gesture is interpreted and it gets to be a burden, but Billy is paid very well to be the coach at Kentucky and with that comes a responsibility,'' says athletic director Mitch Barnhart, who plans to have a heart-to-heart with his coach at season's end. "The coach at Kentucky is more well known than the governor, and you have to recognize that.''
"It disappoints me to see these guys hurting right now,'' Barnhart reflects. "The smiles have left their faces. This game is supposed to be fun and it doesn't look fun to me right now.''
Someone more central to the tragic play unfolding here agrees.
"We're not having fun right now,'' Patrick Patterson tells a handful of reporters in the media room. "We have to find a way to get the fun back.''
Though the smile never leaves his face, Gillispie pointedly tells Bromley there is nothing he can do when "you have already formed your opinion.'' During a break when the cameras are off, Bromley tries to explain that he wasn't speaking for himself, but his attempt to break down the semantics has no effect on Gillispie. He sticks to his point: He doesn't care about people who already have formed their opinions.
"It's like playing for Team USA. You've got the entire state right in your ear and they don't care,'' Patterson says. "I always say it's a love-hate relationship. They love us, but they sure do hate us sometimes. My friends call up and say, 'What's the big deal? So you're struggling a little bit.' I tell them, 'Man you don't understand. This is Kentucky.'"
"I thought I was prepared for all of this,'' says freshman Darius Miller, who grew up on the Ohio border town of Maysville, Ky. "And then I got here and I realized I wasn't. I can't explain it. You have to experience it.''
About halfway into the flight the pilot comes over the speaker to update his passengers on their trip.
"We're about 40 minutes outside of Gainesville, flying over Athens, Georgia, right now,'' he intones.
Athens, Georgia, home to the University of Georgia.
Even the friendly skies offer no escape.
My Thoughts: Well, let's tell it like it is - these are very difficult times for the University of Kentucky basketball program. I'm not 100% sure where to point the finger of blame, but I will say that things do not look good at this point. There are rumors from reliable sources floating around that Gillispie may be gone soon, especially if the Cats lose early in the SEC Tournament. This is definately going to be an interesting week - win or lose.
Meeks led the Wildcats in scoring and ranked fifth nationally with a 24.7 ppg average during the regular season. He set the school record for points in a game when he poured in 54 at Tennessee and went on to break the single-season three-point record with 107 during the regular season.
Meeks is the seventh Wildcat in the last six years to receive USBWA All-District honors, but the first District Player of the Year in that time frame.
Congratulation to Jodie Meeks!
Hopkinsville native Scotty Hopson, who plays for Tennessee, was recognized on the SEC's All-Freshmen Team.
2009 SEC Men's Basketball postseason awards:
First Team All-SEC
*Nick Calathes, Florida – G, 6-6, 194, So., Casselberry, Fla.
*Jodie Meeks, Kentucky – 6-4, 208, Jr., Norcross, Ga.
Patrick Patterson, Kentucky – 6-9, 235, So., Huntington, W.Va.
Tasmin Mitchell, LSU – F, 6-7, 240, Jr., Denham Springs, La.
*Marcus Thornton, LSU – G, 6-4, 205, Sr., Baton Rouge, La.
Jarvis Varnado, Mississippi State – F/C, 6-9, 210, Jr., Brownsville, Tenn.
*Devan Downey, South Carolina – G, 5-9, 175, Jr., Chester, S.C.
*Tyler Smith, Tennessee – F, 6-7, 215, Jr., Pulaski, Tenn.
Second Team All-SEC
Alonzo Gee, Alabama – G, 6-6, 219, Sr., Riviera Beach, Fla.
Michael Washington, Arkansas – F, 6-9, 239, Jr., McGehee, Ark.
Korvotney Barber, Auburn – F, 6-7, 225, Sr., Manchester, Ga.
^Garrett Temple, LSU – G, 6-6, 190, Sr., Baton Rouge, La.
David Huertas, Ole Miss – G, 6-5, 200, Jr., Humacao, Puerto Rico
Terrico White, Ole Miss – G, 6-5, 211, Fr,. Memphis, Tenn.
^Dominique Archie, South Carolina – F, 6-7, 200, Jr., Augusta, Ga.
^Zam Fredrick, South Carolina – G, 6-0, 203, Sr., St. Matthews, S.C.
Wayne Chism, Tennessee – F, 609, 242, Jr., Jackson, Tenn.
A.J. Ogilvy, Vanderbilt – C, 6-11, 250, So., Sydney, Australia
SEC All-Freshman Team
*JaMychal Green, Alabama – F, 6-9, 220, Fr., Montgomery, Ala.
Courtney Fortson, Arkansas – G, 5-11, 180, Fr., Montgomery, Ala.
Erving Walker, Florida – 5-8, 161, Fr., New York, N.Y.
Trey Thompkins, Georgia – F, 6-8, 245, Fr., Lithonia, Ga.
*Terrico White, Ole Miss – G, 6-5, 211, Fr,. Memphis, Tenn.
*Dee Bost, Mississippi State – G, 6-2, 170, Fr., Concord, N.C.
Scotty Hopson, Tennessee – G, 6-7, 185, Fr., Hopkinsville, Ky.
Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt – G/F, 6-7, 210, Fr., Norrkoping, Sweden
SEC All-Defensive Team
^Quantez Robertson, Auburn – G, 6-3, 200, Sr., Cincinnati, Ohio
Garrett Temple, LSU – G, 6-6, 190, Sr., Baton Rouge, La.
Chris Johnson, LSU – C, 6-11, 210, Sr., Montross, Va.
*Jarvis Varnado, Mississippi State – F/C, 6-9, 210, Jr., Brownsville, Tenn.
^Dominique Archie, South Carolina – F, 6-7, 200, Jr., Augusta, Ga.
Devan Downey, South Carolina – G, 5-9, 175, Jr., Chester, S.C.
SEC Coach of the Year: Trent Johnson, LSU
SEC Player of the Year: Marcus Thornton, LSU
SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Justin Knox, Alabama
SEC Freshman of the Year: Terrico White, Ole Miss
SEC Sixth-Man of the Year: Brandis Raley-Ross, South Carolina
SEC Defensive Player of the Year: Jarvis Varnado, Mississippi State
*-Unanimous selection ^-Ties are not broken
Announcement from the SEC
Monday, March 9, 2009
George Mason 50
One of the NCAA Tournaments favorite giant-killers has once again punched its NCAA ticket with a Colonial Athletic Association championship. VCU (24-9) picked up 25 points and 8 assists from superstar senior Eric Maynor. The Rams also receive a huge game from big man Larry Sanders, who has 18 points, 20 rebounds and 7 blocks.
VCU stunned Duke two years ago in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and they are playing well enough to be feared again this season.
Two of Virginia Commonwealth's assistant coaches have Kentucky ties. Former Kentucky Wildcat Allen Edwards is on the VCU bench. He is joined by former Newport Central Catholic player John Brannen. They are assisting one of America's best young coaches in Anthony Grant.
ESPN Game Recap
Virginia Commonwealth Basketball
The Louisville Cardinals have moved up to a #1 seed, which is most likely where they'll end up barring an early upset in the Big East Tournament.
Morehead State is projected as a #16 seed with a first-round game against North Carolina. They are shown as a team on the rise and I expect them to move up to a 15-seed, especially with Chattanooga (18-16) pulling a shocker to win the Southern Conference Tournament tonight. The Eagles are probably one more low-level conference upset away from jumping to the next level.
Western Kentucky, which advanced to the Sun Belt Conference championship game tonight, is projected as a 13-seed with a first-round game against Clemson. One thing has been proven several times in the past - teams do not want to play the Hilltoppers in the NCAA Tournament.
Joe Lundardi's Bracketology
Louisville has moved up to #5 in both polls this week.
Rankings from ESPN.com
"Something is terribly wrong," stated Shidler.
"I think Coach came in not understanding the meaning and importance of the UK basketball program," Shidler said. "I just think he has bit off a little bit more than he could chew."
Shidler added that he understands the team is a little low on talent, but adds that the team may have quit on Coach Gillispie.
"I think there is a possibility the players may have quit on the coach. I have not heard many positive things from Gillispie about the players all year. He just keeps browbeating them, and that will not work with today's kids," Shidler said.
"You can't just fix this problem with young kids. I don't see any quick fix based on the kids coming in, especially since we don't know what Patterson and Meeks are going to do," Shidler said. "It is was it is, and I just don't see it getting back to the Kentucky basketball I expect any time soon."
My Thoughts: Last week, I was a little concerned when Mike Casey expressed his strong opinions on Kentucky basketball and Coach Gillispie. After watching another week of basketball, I concur that the team may have quit on the head coach. There are very apparent chemistry issues with this team and one can only hope they get the problems ironed out before Thursday. I think it shows the love that these former Cats have for the team and the university when they express concern.
Mike Casey's Thoughts
Source: The Advocate Messenger
Seventeen of the 20 players announced today are ranked among the top 100 nationally in the Class of 2009 by at least one scouting service. Ten are among Rivals.com’s top 50.
Article from Courier-Journal
Lawrence Co. 46
15th Region Championship
Shelby Valley has punched their ticket to the Sweet Sixteen. The game was tied 25-25 at the half and Shelby Valley exploded in the second half.
The Scott County Cardinals are scheduled to compete with Lexington Catholic in the 11th Region championship game tomorrow night at 8:00 PM.
For several years now I have been hearing Kentucky fans make the statement, “we just don’t play Kentucky basketball anymore…” or some variation of that comment. I have read similar thoughts splattered across various message boards and even hear it regularly on radio call-in shows. This type of comment has been made with reckless abandon the last few weeks, during which the Wildcats have finished the season by losing eight of their last eleven games. I thought I would do a little research to answer the timeless question – what exactly is “Kentucky” basketball?
I started my search in the most logical place – Google. I did a specific search for “what is Kentucky basketball” and it returned nine results. One of those was a Myspace page, one was a message board that required a login to view, another was unrelated to what I was trying to find and the others were words and articles posted on various sites by fellow Kentucky fans. Some of the words that were used to describe Kentucky Basketball included: tradition, passion, memories, heart, winning and life. Then, there were many references to legendary names that are associated with Kentucky Basketball: Kyle Macy, Cawood Ledford, Dan Issel, Jamal Mashburn, Travis Ford, Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith, Adolph Rupp, Bill Keightly, and on and on. My research led me to a long definition of Kentucky basketball that was actually posted on several sites and originated in a forwarded e-mail that many fans received. It read:
“It’s not a coach. It’s not a player. It’s pride…tradition. It’s a 5 year old with a cat paw on his cheek saying, “Beat Louisville!” It’s not a game. It’s not a season. It’s pride….tradition. It’s expecting to be dancing every year where most pray to be. It has no beginning. It has no end. It’s pride….tradition. It’s waiting for midnight madness when the March buzzer rings. Players that come are in awe of it. Players that leave treasure it. Players that oppose despise it. It’s pride….tradition. It’s getting the best from every opponent in hopes to top it. Rupp built it. Hall polished it. Sutton shamed it. Pitino restored it. Smith nourishes it. It’s pride….tradition. Keightly has served it. Happy sang to it. Cawood lived it. It’s pride….tradition. Digger hates it. Vitale and Packer are jealous of it. McGuire realized it. It’s pride….tradition. What is Kentucky Basketball? It’s “Blue and White” and “Go Big Blue” It’s “C!-A!-T!-S! Cats!, Cats!, Cats!” It’s pride….tradition. It’s more than a pastime It’s more than a hobby. To some it’s a religion. It’s pride….tradition. It’s K-E-N-T-U-C-K-Y on the jerseys. Win or Lose, that’s all that matters to me.” (Forwarded e-mail, no source)
That is an inspirational read, but it still leaves me to wonder what Kentucky basketball is. Is it a style of basketball? Is it a certain collection of players? Is it a different level of hustle and pride? Is it having a more cohesive team chemistry?
I continued my research in hopes of finding a good, solid answer to the question. I headed to several Wildcat message boards to see if I could get a better definition from the Kentucky fans. The two recurring themes that I continued finding were tradition and passion. The Kentucky Wildcats certainly have a tremendous amount of tradition. Consider the following:
- Kentucky is in its 106th season of basketball
- Kentucky is the all-time NCAA leader in wins with 1,985
- The Wildcats have won 7 NCAA championships
- The Wildcats have had 13 Final Four appearances
- Kentucky has made 48 NCAA Tournament appearances
- Kentucky has had the SEC Coach of the Year 33 times
- Kentucky has had the National Coach of the Year 9 times
- Over 90 Cats have been selected in the NBA Draft
- 42 retired jerseys are hanging from the Rupp Arena rafters
- Kentucky has had 46 All Americans
- There are 6 Wildcats in the Basketball Hall of Fame
- 9 player and 2 coaches have represented Kentucky in the Olympics
- There have been 12 SEC Players of the Year at Kentucky
I could go on, but the numbers leave little doubt. There is big-time basketball tradition at the University of Kentucky.
As far as passion, that is something that is hard to quantify. Many fans seem to think that a good Kentucky team should have a few Kentucky kids on the roster that “understand the passion of Kentucky basketball…” I cannot remember the number of times that I came across a similar statement during the hours I spent researching Kentucky basketball. Passion is defined as “feeling very strongly about a subject or person, usually referring to feelings of intense desire and attraction, be very passionate about something” (Wikipedia). That’s a pretty decent summary of passion, but I still have to believe there’s more to the subject of Kentucky basketball.
I opted to take a different approach to the topic and hit it from another angle. In doing so, I think I figured out what Kentucky basketball is all about. I decided to take a look at the seasons and eras when it has been said that we were playing Kentucky basketball and of course, the times when we were not. What I realized is that we were playing Kentucky basketball when Adolph Rupp was our coach, we were not playing it the way we should be when Joe B. Hall was our coach. Eddie Sutton had various issues at Kentucky. Rick Pitino came along and revived Kentucky basketball. Tubby Smith played Kentucky basketball for a few years, but forgot how towards the end of his tenure. Billy Gillispie discovered how to play Kentucky basketball last season, but he has forgotten in 2008-09.
In my opinion, Kentucky basketball is about winning. I believe it’s nothing more or nothing less. I believe when Kentucky is recruiting a high level of talent, winning basketball games and making historical runs through the NCAA Tournament that they are playing “Kentucky” basketball. When the team is struggling on the court, losing more than 10 games in a season and making a first or second round exit from the NCAA Tournament, then they are not playing “Kentucky” basketball.
Many will state that there is a style of play that is Kentucky basketball – often it’s said to be run-n-gun, intense full-court pressure defense and shooting a high number of three-point shots. In my opinion, that is “Rick Pitino” basketball and not necessarily Kentucky basketball. It just so happens that we had a great run of talent and victories during that era. Using that argument will almost always get the swift response, “Rupp’s teams played an up-and-down tempo, as well…” or something along those lines. While that is true, the essential part of Rupp’s coaching legacy was that he was winning a tremendous amount of games. Loyola Marymount in the 1990’s played an up-and-down tempo as well, but that did not exactly translate into national championships.
The cries for bringing back “Kentucky” basketball were never louder than during the end of the Tubby Smith regime in Lexington. In fact, Smith was essentially ran out of town and had to seek a reprieve in Minnesota. It could probably be said with validity that Tubby Smith was a victim of Rick Pitino’s success. In the 1990’s, Coach Pitino led the team to levels rarely obtained in college basketball and it was next to impossible for any coach to live up to those expectations. Tubby Smith was still playing “Kentucky” basketball during the seasons that his teams were winning. It was the last few seasons when recruiting came up a little short by Kentucky standards and Kentucky failed to make NCAA Tournament runs that it became apparent that Smith was no longer “coaching Kentucky basketball.”
Now, Kentucky has Billy Gillispie on the sidelines and he has gotten off to a difficult start. Last season, he started playing “Kentucky” basketball when the team recovered from a 7-9 start to make an improbable run to the NCAA Tournament. Although they lost in the first round, he had proven that he was ready to play Kentucky-ball again. This season has turned into a monumental collapse in Lexington with the Cats losing their last four games of the season and finishing up with a debacle of eight losses in their last eleven games. Kentucky is in grave danger of missing the NCAA Tournament altogether this season. Guess what? Everywhere I turn - from newspapers, to message boards, to radio call-in shows and even the dinner table, I often hear this phrase, “Billy Gllispie just doesn’t know how to coach Kentucky basketball…”
What is the bottom line? When Kentucky wins, they are excelling at Kentucky basketball. When Kentucky loses, they just aren’t playing Kentucky basketball anymore. I wonder if Billy Gillispie will discover the secret to Kentucky basketball?
True Blue Kentucky
Sunday, March 8, 2009
The Cumberlands Patriots won the Mid-South Conference Tournament Championship with a 60-57 victory over the Georgetown Tigers. Cumberlands (26-6) earned the victory when Josh Phillips nailed a 24-foot jumper with 1.4 seconds remaining in the game. Georgetown's got a shot off before the buzzer, but the long attempt missed the target. The Patriots will have an automatic bid to the NAIA Division I Tournament which will be played March 18-24. Georgetown (27-4) will certainly receive an at-large berth.
Cumberlands was led by Mid-South Player of the Year Luke Fitzgerald, who had 16 points and 8 rebounds. Josh Phillips added 13 points on 5-10 shooting.
Georgetown picked up a game-high 19 points from Vic Moses. Vince Crutcher and Demetrius Guions each added 10 points for the Tigers.
Recap from Cumberlands
With Morehead State winning the Ohio Valley Conference Championship and preparing for an appearance in the NCAA Tournament, I decided to take a peek at their RPI. I was curious to see if Morehead would be placed in the play-in game (64 vs. 65) by the NCAA Tournament Committee. While viewing the daily RPI Rankings, I decided to post an update of the Bluegrass state's RPI standings:
Team - RPI Ranking - SOS Rank - Conference
1) Louisville Cardinals - 9 - 16 - Big East
2) Western Kentucky Hilltoppers - 53 - 134 - Sun Belt
3) Kentucky Wildcats - 80 - 62 - SEC
4) Morehead State Eagles - 142 - 184 - OVC
5) Murray State Racers - 154 - 216 - OVC
6) Eastern Kentucky Colonels - 173 - 299 - OVC
Conference RPI Rankings
3) Big East
17) Sun Belt
Here are some thoughts after looking at the numbers:
- Louisville has a great opportunity to be a #1 seed and probably a #2 at worst
- If Kentucky manages to win the SEC Tournament, they would still probably be a #9 or #10 seed (much like Georgia last season)
- Morehead State will likely be a #16 seed, but not in the play-in game. A #15 seed is a possibility, but it would depend on some upsets in other conferences.
- Speaking of MSU, they played a nice out of conference schedule this season. Perhaps they are living proof that a difficult schedule pays off when it counts.
- EKU had the 299th ranked schedule out of 343 teams (Good 'ole N.J.I.T is dead last, by the way)
- WKU might be the second-best team in the state at this point and coming from a Wildcat fan, that hurts to say
- UK is 80th in the RPI. Some teams that are in front of them: American University, UTEP, Miami (OH), Wisc. Green Bay, Cleveland St., VCU, Rhode Island, Northern Iowa, Niagara, Tulsa, George Mason and of course - Minnesota
Northern Kentucky earned the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament Championship with an impressive 22-point victory over Bellarmine this afternoon. The Norse opened up with a 10-4 run and never looked back, stretching the lead to 43-22 at the half. Northern Kentucky then cemented the victory with a 7-0 run to start the second half.
Northern Kentucky was led by DeAaron Williams with 19 points and Dustin Maguire with 18. Scott Bibbins chipped in with 15 points and 5 assists. Leslie Malone, the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, dominated the glass for 15 rebounds and 8 blocks.
Bellarmine failed to get any players in double figures and were led by Forrest Smallwood's 8 points.
The NCAA Division II Selection Show takes place at 9:00 PM tonight.
NCAA Division II Selection Show
Men's GLVC All-Tournament Team
Leslie Malone, Northern Kentucky (Most Outstanding Player)
Dustin Maguire, Northern Kentucky
Justin Benedetti, Bellarmine
Jamar Smith, Southern Indiana
Aaron Hill, Rockhurst
First Round - Thursday, March 12
G1 E4 Kentucky vs. W5 Ole Miss 1:00 p.m. / Raycom
G2 W3 Mississippi St. vs. E6 Georgia 3:15 p.m. / Raycom
G3 W4 Alabama vs. E5 Vanderbilt 7:30 p.m. / Raycom
G4 E3 Florida vs. W6 Arkansas 9:45 p.m. / Raycom
Quarterfinals - Friday, March 13
G1 Winner vs. W1 LSU 1:00 p.m. / Raycom
G2 Winner vs. E2 South Carolina 3:15 p.m. / Raycom
G3 Winner vs. E1 Tennessee 7:30 p.m. / Raycom
G4 Winner vs. W2 Auburn 9:45 p.m. / Raycom
Semifinals - Saturday, March 14
G5 Winner vs. G6 Winner 1:00 p.m. / Raycom
G7 Winner vs. G8 Winner 3:15 p.m. / Raycom
Finals - Sunday, March 15
G9 Winner vs. G10 Winner 1:00 p.m. / CBS
I'll have much more on the SEC Tournament as the week progresses.
4th Region: Bowling Green 64 Cumberland County 63 (3OT)
4th Region: Franklin-Simpson 50 Barren County 33
4th Region: Russell County 65 Warren Central 57
4th Region: Russellville 67 Allen County-Scottsville 55
10th Reigon: George Rogers Clark 58 St. Patrick 47
10th Region: Mason County 58 Bishop Brossart 35
10th Region: Montgomery County 55 Harrison County 52
10th Region: Scott 70 Demin 49
11th Region: Lexington Catholic 75 Madison Central 62
11th Region: Scott County 78 Lafayette 58
15th Region: Lawrence County 75 Prestonsburg 48
15th Region: Shelby Valley 75 Johnson Central 57
16th Region: Ashland Blazer 73 Rowan County 65 (OT)
16th Region: Bath County 50 West Carter 44
16th Region: Elliott County 88 Russell 61
16th Region: Lewis County 58 Fairview 56 (2OT)
5th Region: North Hardin vs. Taylor County 2:30
5th Region: Adair County vs. John Hardin 5:30
9th Region: Newport Central Catholic vs. Holmes 4:00
9th Region: Boone County vs. Highlands 2:00
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