Saturday, March 28, 2009

Louisville Heads to Elite Eight After Dismantling Arizona


(1) Louisville 103
(12) Arizona 64

NCAA Tournament - Sweet Sixteen

The Louisville Cardinals looked impressive in their lopsided win over the Arizona Wildcats. The Cardinals stormed to a 21-point halftime lead and was never challenged en route to the 39-point win. Louisville coach Rick Pitino is now 9-0 all time in Sweet 16 games.

"We played great tonight because we really passed the ball beautifully," Pitino said. "It's fun as a coach to watch the guys be so unselfish."

Louisville (31-5) was led by Earl Clark with 19 points and 9 rebounds. Jerry Smith added 16 points. Terrence Williams and Samardo Samuels each scored 14 points for the Cardinals. As a team, Louisville was nothing short of magnificent. They were 38-66 from the field for a sizzling 57.6%. In true Pitino fashion, the team was 14-29 from the three-point line for 48.3%. They even hit 13-14 free throws in the game. Louisville had 29 assists versus only 9 turnovers.

Arizona and interim coach Russ Pennell end their season with 21 wins and 14 losses. Pennell will likely be replaced soon with a higher profile coach. Chase Budinger led the Wildcats with 22 points. Jordan Hill and Nic Wise each scored 14 points, but they were a combined 10-32 from the field. Arizona only shot 38.1% from the field and were 7-24 from outside the three-point line.

Louisville moves on to play Michigan State in the region finals on Sunday. The winner will earn an appearance in the Final Four.



Photo: ESPN.com

ESPN Reporting That John Calipari...

...will likely stay at Memphis.

The statement scrolled across the ESPN Bottom Line a few moments ago.

Billy Gillispie Press Conference - Notes

Notes from the Billy Gillispie Press Conference:

- Gillispie loves basketball and horse racing
- Says he's been loyal and hard-working
- Didn't feel like it was over until yesterday at 2:15
- Wishes he would've won more
- Thinks the team will "take off" with one or two more pieces
- States that he loves the public and loves Lexington
- Says he never declined to sign autographs and was always out and about in the public
- He's always been a company man and does what he's asked to do
- "I'm the luckiest guy there ever has been and I'll keep being lucky...this is just a small bump in the road..."
- He's never been a 5-year guy; he came here with a 1-day plan
- "I love those guys and they practice as hard as any group I've ever seen..."
- He will be available to the current players the rest of his life; "My phone number will never change..."
- He's going to miss the players, but we'll "have to ask them if they'll miss me..."
- "I slept late today for the first time in a while."
- He says he has called most of the parents of the players; talked to some left messages for some
- He feels the contract states that UK owes him $6 million dollar buyout; says it states that in the contract
- "I like Mitch... I like a lot of things about Mitch."
- He would absolutely like to be a head coach next season.
- Last season was one of the best things he's ever been around (the 12-4 run to turn the season around)
- "There's nowhere in the world where 24,000 fans show up every night..."
- Says he has not looked at any other jobs yet
- "People are what makes the world go round for me..."
- He doesn't remember saying the statements about not being an ambassador for UK
- He doesn't have any regrets about playing Derrick Jasper; thinks Jasper will be an NBA player
- He was asked to have today's press conference, but can't remember who asked him
- "I don't have any regrets."
- He and Jeannine (Edwards) have been friends for a long time; says he called her next day and apologized
- "I'm the luckiest person that's ever walked the face of the Earth. Seriously..."
- "We won't let this bother us. It's a bump in the road. It's not an ending in the road."
- Says no other schools have contacted him yet
- States that he loves his assistant coaches; they will all be with him wherever he lands
- Mr. Keightley was a great friend and one of the most special human beings he's ever been around
- "You wanna buy my house?"

Continue Praying for Former Cat Mike Casey

Here is the latest on Mike Casey's condition from his daughter:

Please continue to pray for Daddy.

The doctors woke Dad up this morning and removed the ventilation tube. He was doing well for several hours but then he tried to stop breathing on us.The ventilation tube went back in and they have sedated him for the weekend for him to rest more and his lungs to get stronger. They think he may have a touch of pneumonia but we are praying he does not and we are praying for the best. His other numbers are looking good.

God is faithful!

Please continue your strong prayers!!! The power of prayer is incredible and you have continued to prove that!In God's wonderful name!

God bless you.
Love & Blessings,
Laura

Previous Updates:

Mike Casey Update

Prayer Request for Wildcat Great Mike Casey

Update on Former Wildcat Mike Casey

Former Kentucky Walk On Slams Gillispie on Sirius?

A caller stating that he was former UK walk on Dusty Mills called The Gresh Show on Sirius tonight and had some very interesting comments regarding Billy Gillispie.

One statement that stood out: "The players I am still very close to are ecstatic that Billy Gillispie has been fired."

VIDEO: Alan Cutler Chasing Billy Gillispie


Here is a great video of Alan Cutler and others chasing a very upset Billy Gillispie:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aflzNDRs3Z8&eurl

My favorite quote:

"You need to get in shape, don't ya?"

Here is what Cutler had to say about the incident:

As far as the video, that has been linked all over, about me chasing Billy G., I was just doing my job as an aggressive reporter. I was trying to get a comment about getting fired. That's what reporters do.

I'm getting ripped all over for doing that.

What I find interesting is how most of us have watched TV newscasts. When a mic is stuck in a parents face after some terrible accident, there is no outcry of hate to that reporter for talking to that parent like what I'm now experiencing.

Let's put this in perspective. I tried really hard to put a mic in the face of a millionaire who did a job that the administration believed was such a bad job, they are willing to pay a lot of money to get rid of him after only two years.

I was just doing my job. I have nothing for or against Billy G. Wish him good luck. And, I hope he learns from his experience at UK. I hope he grows from it, and is open minded enough to do that.

Tom Izzo Would Accept the Kentucky Position

Apparently Tom Izzo would take the UK job if offered:

NEWS 25 Sports has learned Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo is the top choice to replace Billy Gillispie as UK head coach.

Sources in Lexington told News 25 late Friday night that Izzo is the target of Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart. Those sources also told NEWS 25 Sports Izzo's representatives have said if Izzo is offered the UK job, Izzo would accept.

Izzo has been at Michigan State since 1995 and has taken the Spartans to four Final Fours, including the 2000 National Championship.

Link

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Kentucky Situation - Update

- Gillispie met with Todd and Barnhart for 18 minutes this afternoon
- All coaches have been asked to have their offices cleaned out by 5:00 p.m. today (per KSR)
- Press conference “to announce a head coaching change.” at 4:30 p.m

- Billy Gillispie will have a press conference of his own tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. (per WKYT)

Billy Donovan Will Not Coach Kentucky

According to Fox Sports in Orlando:

Source: Donovan to leaveUF

UPDATE: Billy Donovan is NOT interested in leaving Florida. Here is Donovan's statement:

"In response to the rumors circulating about my interest in other jobs, I wanted to address this as quickly as possible. I am committed to the University of Florida and look forward to continuing to build our program here."

Anthony Grant is the New Head Coach at...

Alabama.

That probably eliminates Donovan from the Kentucky equation.


Hold the phones - Andy Katz reporting that the new Kentucky coach could be Billy Donovan.

Billy Gillispie and Kentucky Part Ways - Officially

ESPN is reporting that the decision is final and Billy Gillispie will no longer coach Kentucky.

News conference at 4:30 p.m today


ESPN Announcement

Gillispie Confirms Meeting With Kentucky Officials

Ok, no more humorous posts for today. I am going back to the serious information concerning Kentucky basketball and Billy Gillispie. WKYT has learned that there will be a meeting between Billy Gillispie and UK officials today:

Gillispie Set To Meet With UK Officials

Here's What I Know For Sure - Facts Only

I have checked all the usual sources and put together a list of only facts regarding the Kentucky basketball situation:

- There will be a press conference at 2:00 p.m. today
- Billy Donovan was in Lexington last night at the Downtown Lexington Hotel (old Radisson)
- Billy Gillispie has been let go; they will spin it as a mutual agreement in a positive manner
- There will be no press conference today at all
- John Calipari has been contacted
- Travis Ford will be the next Kentucky coach
- Billy Donovan was in Gainesville last night - that is confirmed
- Travis Ford will stay at Oklahoma State
- John Calipari has not been contacted
- Tom Izzo said yes and no to Kentucky
- Sources are like opinions (and half the time they actually are just opinions); everyone has one
- Flo Rida's crew dismantled a rabbit in downtown Lexington the other night
- Brittney Spears is still cute; Jessica Simpson is still hot
- Kentucky has great fans
- C-A-T-S! Cats! Cats! Cats!
- And of course, I'm just having a little fun. We all need to step back and laugh a little.

Nostradamus Makes the Following Prediction


An ancient scroll was recently unearthed and it reads:

1. The great King of Terror will be no more. Prepare for great public deceit during teatime twelve days past the Ides of March in the year 2009.

2. The Blue Empire will soon be dominated by the Prince of Gainesville or the Duke of Stillwater. The King beckons the Prince and will only pay wage to the Duke out of necessity.

3. The King of Terror will be sought after by a new kingdom - the Kingdom of Wolves.

4. If the Prince of Gainesville renounces his throne and travels far to the Blue Empire, his power will be consumed by a young knight from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

5. If the Duke is chosen in the land of Blue, the young knight will overthrow the ruler in the Valley of Crimson.

6. Prepare for colossal changes my brethren. There will be a great turmoil, like that of an enormous circus, that will shadow the Blue Empire for days and weeks. When the trials of change are welcomed by the good people of the Empire, only then will the Empire prosper.

Pat Forde of ESPN on Gillispie

Pat Forde (ESPN) was just on Mike and Mike and said he believes it is “extremely likely that the UK job will be open this afternoon” and that if he had to bet his salary on the who the next coach would be, he said “Travis Ford”.

My Thoughts: I'm still hearing Billy Donovan with Ford being a "backup" plan. I have not heard the outcome of the meetings between Donovan and UK.


Forde's article: Gillispie's status at Kentucky unclear

Jay Bilas (ESPN) states: "To have to fire a coach after two years is a travesty and a joke."

Kentucky's Official Statement on Gillispie

“UK men’s basketball coach Billy Gillispie has not been fired. There have been no meetings between Gillispie and UK officials today, and there is no scheduled press conference for tomorrow.”


My Translation: "The rumors that are going around are probably true but we'll tell you about them when we're ready."

Rick Pitino to Coach the Wildcats?

Not those Wildcats...

There has been plenty of talk out west about Rick Pitino possibly moving to Arizona to coach the Wildcats. Pitino addressed the speculation today prior to Louisville's Sweet Sixteen match up with those same Arizona Wildcats. Here are Pitino's comments regarding the Arizona rumors:

"The only job that I thought about for a 24-hour period since I have been at University of Louisville was Providence College last year. I sat down. The athletic director at the University of Louisville is one of my closest friends. I sat down with him and said to him because of the personal things that I went through at Providence I wanted to sit down with him and talk about the job and see if I did want to come back because of personal reasons that are very deep to me. I sat down with them and talked to them I realized Louisville was the place for me. Outside of that for eight years I have not thought about any job except for the University of Louisville," Pitino said.

Article

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Former Wildcat Joe Crawford Signed by Knicks

Former Kentucky Wildcat Joe Crawford has been called up to the NBA by the New York Knicks.

Crawford, a 6'5", 210 pound shooting guard, has been very solid, though rarely spectacular, for the Los Angeles D-Fenders' this season, averaging 20.8 points, 4.6 boards and 2.7 assists in 43 games (42 starts) with the D-Fenders'. He hasn't been the most consistent player in the D-League, and March has actually seen a drop on his stats, but shooting 40% from the 3-point line this month has surely made up for that.

Congratulations and good luck to Joe!

LA Lakers 2nd round pick, Joe Crawford, called-up to the New York Knicks

Related Article:

Former Cats Crawford and Daniels Using NBDL to Chase Dreams

Who Is Staying at the Lexington Downtown Hotel Tonight?



Matt Walsh's former coach?

Billy Gillispie HAS Been Fired?


Per WHAS news report...

They state that sources say Gillispie is definately out.
Here's the Link
UPDATE: WHAS was just forced to read a statement from UK on their 11 o'clock news. The statement read that Billy Gillispie HAS NOT BEEN FIRED and there is NO PRESS CONFERENCE scheduled for tomorrow.

WHAS = OOPS

Forde: Blame goes to Gillispie and Kentucky

Barring a 180-degree change of tenor, Gillispie's short, ugly tenure as coach of the Wildcats seems as good as over. A decision will be made by Friday, sources say, and after weeks of simmering angst it does not figure to be a happy one.

Blame goes to Gillispie and Kentucky

Gillispie: Patrick Patterson AND Jodie Meeks Will Return

Billy Gillispie stated on his call-in show tonight that both Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks will return to Kentucky next season. That, of course, does not guarantee anything, but that is what we have to go on for now.

He is also using some interesting pronouns, such as "we" and "us" when discussing next season and the future.

Records Are Made to be Broken



Today marks a new record number of visitors at the Bluegrass State Basketball blog. In fact, the record has almost been doubled and it's only 6:45 p.m.

I guess there's a good reason why Billy Gillispie has been as high as #49 on the Google Trends list today.

I have received e-mails, text messages and phone calls throughout the day with questions and thoughts on the Billy Gillispie situation. I am waiting for one more source to check in and I will have a full update a little later.

Mike Casey Update

For those of you that have wondered here for the first time today (looking for Gillispie info), please review previous posts concerning former Kentucky Wildcat Mike Casey and his illness. Here are the previous articles:

Prayer Request for Wildcat Great Mike Casey

Update on Former Wildcat Mike Casey

Please continue to pray for Mr. Casey and his family. Here is today's update from Mike's daughter, Laura:

Just a quick note:

Dad had a little set back this morning and tried to quit breathing on us. The awesome medical staff at Vanderbilt revived him but did so by placing the ventilation tube back down his throat to get his oxygen levels back up. They did some bronchial suction and sent if off for cultures. Please pray for no pneumonia or any other set backs. His platelet levels are down and so the doctors are on alert. Apparently, a platelet transfusion is riskier than a blood transfusion.

They have sedated Dad all day today and plan to wake him up in the morning. We hope a lot of the narcotics and other meds making him delirious will be out of his system and he will be less agitated tomorrow. I was instructed to go home and sleep since I haven't been home all week. I am to sleep while Daddy is resting.

Again, I ask you to lift Daddy up to the Lord............He is a fighter and a strong man and he doesn't deserve this.God has a plan. It is His will not ours.

Thank you God for making the family strong and bringing us closer together and closer to you.

God is with me now. God is my constant companion. God will never leave me, Dad, or any of us!

God bless you and thank you for your prayers.

Love & blessings,
Laura

Kentucky Assistant Tracy Webster Cleans Out Office

Matt Jones reports:

Drew Deenor is reporting that UK Assistant Tracy Webster has cleaned out his office and is moving out of the UK basketball facility. Take that however you want...

UPDATE: Someone on the inside says this is not true and at 5:30 p.m., there were actually two of the assistants talking in the office. So, take that however you want...

Big Blue Nation's Impact on Google Hot Trends

I will be keeping track of the interesting Google trends as the day progresses. Check the top left of the site where it says "Some Google Trends."

Google Trends provides insights into broad search patterns and generally determines what people are searching for on a daily basis. The latest trends, updated around 11:00 a.m. included the following (keep in mind - this is worldwide activity on Google):


#60 - lexington herald leader
#66 - billy gillespie

Just thought I'd throw these on here for fun:

#92 - gainesville sun
#93 - lakeland ledger
#96 - ocala star banner
#99 - sarasota herald tribune
#100 - tuscaloosa news

This should be an interesting site to monitor over the next couple of days.

Google Trends

"Fire Billy Gillispie" Must Be A Hot Topic

I apologize if my website is running sluggishly today. The site has been absolutely hammered since the end of the Kentucky/Notre Dame game last night. I'm still trying to figure out why so many people were up between 3:00-6:00 a.m. this morning!

Anyways, I'm working on alternate plans to keep things running smoothly. If the site times out to the dreaded "cannot be displayed" screen, try your "Refresh" button.

As far as the hot topic, sources close to the program are still saying that Gillispie is likely gone. There have been no official announcements or leaks that I can confirm. I can confirm that there will be an announcement coming within the next 24 hours or so (likely tomorrow).

Source: Billy Gillispie Will No Longer Coach the Kentucky Wildcats

I saw a look on Billy Gillispie's face tonight that was a little shocking to me. He seemingly has the ability to smile in every situation. Last season, Kentucky was suffering a bizarre loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville. The Cats were down at least 30 and the camera panned to Billy Gillispie. Sure enough, he was smiling. It was not a happy smile, but a "what else can go wrong" smile. He is the master of the "I could kill you right now, but I'm still smiling" smile. He has the "I'm dumbfounded by your question so I'll just smile" smile. He has the "Meeks just scored his 54th point" smile. Billy Gillispie has a smile for every situation. Tonight was different. After the horn sounded and Kentucky's season ended in South Bend tonight, the camera again panned to Billy Gillispie. This time, he was not smiling. In fact, it appeared that he was darned close to crying. He had the look of a man that sincerely wanted to win the game. He had the look of a man that had just coached his last game for the Kentucky Wildcats.

There has been speculation of meetings and rumors of hirings, firings and reprimands for weeks now. The discussion intensified after it was discovered that there was a "high level" meeting late last week between Kentucky president Lee Todd and AD Mitch Barnhart. Now, it appears that the rest of the story will soon be made official.

A reliable source tells me that Coach Gillispie told his players goodbye in the locker room tonight. Apparently, there was a meeting Friday night and certain things could not be worked out. Thus, the Billy Gillispie era at Kentucky will likely end after only two seasons. There should be an official announcement by the end of the week. There are other teams interested in Gillispie's services for next season, but that is for another time.

I have heard several names of who the next Kentucky coach will be, but nothing reliable.

UPDATE: Andy Katz at ESPN is also reporting that Billy Gillispie will no longer be at Kentucky

UPDATE #2: Marc Maggard says Gillispie has been fired

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Notre Dame Sends Kentucky Home, Gillispie Packing?


Notre Dame 77
Kentucky 67

NIT Quarterfinals

A season that can only be described as disappointing came to an end tonight for the Kentucky Wildcats. Notre Dame scorched the nets from the outside, going 12-25 from the three-point line. The Wildcats never led in the game and trailed by as many as 17 in the second half.

Speculation about Billy Gillispie's future at Kentucky has dominated Lexington for the past week. If this was indeed Gillispie's game as the Wildcat head coach, it will be a disappointing end to a disappointing two-year era. Kentucky president Lee Todd attended the game tonight but declined to comment on Gillispie's status. Todd also said an announcement on Gillispie's future would not be made before Friday.

Notre Dame (21-14) was led by superstar Luke Harangody with 30 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists. Kyle McAlarney added 15 points and Ryan Ayers contributed 14 for the Irish. Notre Dame will advance to play Penn State in the NIT semifinals next week at Madison Square Garden.

The Wildcats end their disappointing season with a record of 22-14. They opened the season by winning 16 of their first 20 games. They then entered a torturous stretch that saw them finish the season with 10 losses in their last 16 games. Kentucky was led by Jodie Meeks with 21 points, including 18 in the second half. Patrick Patterson added 18 points and 7 rebounds. No other Wildcats scored in double figures for the game.


My Thoughts: Well, I said in my pregame thoughts that Kentucky would have to contain Harangody and prevent Notre Dame from lighting it up from three-point range. The Cats did neither - allowing Harangody, who has potentially the most unorthodox talent I have ever seen, to score 30 points and allowing the Irish to shot 12-25 from deep. That was ultimately what decided the outcome as most other stats were equal.

As far as Billy Gillispie's future goes - my sources are telling me that Kentucky will have a new coach next season and that an announcement will be made soon. I have to think that Kentucky has enough talent to be in the NCAA Tournament. It's true that we are lacking at the point guard position, but we do have two of the top 25 players in the country on our roster. This team has left more questions than answers and the tumultuous slide to end the season is unexplainable. This team got worse when it was supposed to get better and that is a red flag that something is terribly wrong behind the scenes.

Many folks will argue that two years is too soon to let a coach go, but if there is a terrible fit between a coach and a university, there may not be a choice.

UPDATE: Patrick Patterson indicated in the postgame interview that he wants to come back to Kentucky for his junior season.

Billy Gillispie Decision Already Made?

Take it for what it's worth, but one of the most trustworthy sources I have tells me that a decision on the Billy Gillispie situation was made on Friday. If all that he tells me is true, the coaching carousel is about to spin a little faster than usual. Stay tuned...

Kentucky's Road to New York Goes Through South Bend


Kentucky Wildcats (22-13)
at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (20-14)

Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: South Bend, Indiana
Television: ESPN2
At Stake: The winner keeps season alive and heads to New York City for the semifinals of the NIT.

The Kentucky Wildcats travel to South Bend tonight where they will face the Fighting Irish in the quarterfinals of the NIT. Each team had NCAA Tournament potential, but have ended up in the postseason exile known as the NIT. The winner of tonight's game will have the opportunity to play against Penn State in the tournament's semifinal round at Madison Square Garden.

Kentucky has advanced to the quarterfinals by virtue of victories over UNLV and Creighton. The Irish have defeated UAB and New Mexico in the first two rounds of the tournament.

Tonight's game will feature an intriguing matchup between All-American Luke Harangody and Kentucky big man Patrick Patterson. Harangody has torched opponents for 23.3 points and 11.9 rebounds a game. Patterson leads Kentucky at 9.4 rebounds a game and is second on the team in scoring with 17.9 points.

The key for Notre Dame will be containing Patterson and Jodie Meeks, who leads the Cats in scoring with 23.8 points a game. The majority of Kentucky's losses have came when Patterson, Meeks or both have struggled. For Kentucky, they will not only have to slow Harangody, but also prevent the Irish from beating them from long range. Notre Dame shoots close to 40% as a team from three-point and similar teams have caused many problems for Kentucky's defense.

A backdrop to the game is the continued chatter about the much-maligned Kentucky coach, Billy Gillispie. There have been weeks of speculation and rumors regarding Gillispie's future at Kentucky and a loss tonight would add fuel to the fire. The list of those that believe Gillispie's next loss will be his last game as Kentucky's coach is a long one.

My Thoughts: It has been nice to have somewhat of a Kentucky tournament run, even though its in the NIT. I will be cheering full force for the Cats tonight, but Notre Dame is tough on their home court. I'm excited about the all-star matchup between Patterson and Harangody. I also hope for a big game from Jodie Meeks.

Prediction: I'm going with my heart in this one...I'll take Kentucky by 3 points.

KSD Players, Coach Selected for USADB National All-Star Game

Kentucky School for the Deaf players Dustin Tipton and Travis Zornoza and coach Mike Yance have been selected to participate in USA Deaf Basketball's youth all-stare game. The game will be played April 18 in Fullerton, California.

Tipton and Zornoza are the first KSD players to be chosen for the USADB all-star game. The two Colonels are among 20 players picked for the USADB East-West game that is part of a four-day basketball event that also includes adult men's and women's tournament.

Zornoza, a 6-1 center who will likely play guard in the all-star game, averaged 12.2 points, a team-high 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists for KSD, which went 12-13 this season and finished second in the Mason-Dixon Tournament for Southern schools for the deaf. Tipton, a 5-10 guard, averaged 9.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and a team-high 3.7 assists. Both players shot 46 percent from the field.

Yance said coaches from Gallaudet University, a school specifically for deaf students in Washington, will be watching players at the game. Zornoza has already committed to play for Gallaudet, while Tipton said he's interested in attending that school but looking at others as well.

Yance will coach the team that Tipton and Zornoza are playing on.

Source: Danville Advocate Messenger

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Son’s First Trip to Rupp Arena


My 2-year old son, Alan, seems destined to be an athlete. His favorite words besides “mommy” and “daddy” are “bootball” (football) and “backetball” (basketball). As a toddler, he can already easily identify basketball, football, baseball, soccer, volleyball, tennis, fishing, hockey and even golf. His preferred morning programming, while daddy is getting ready for work, is not SpongeBob Squarepants, Mickey Mouse, Handy Manny or The Wiggles. Instead, he thoroughly enjoys a half hour of SportsCenter on ESPN.

Last Friday, my wife and daughter had plans to go with a group from our church to Kid’s Place in Lexington. I realized that this would be the perfect opportunity to take Alan to Rupp Arena for the first time, so I purchased my ticket to the Friday-night session of the KHSAA Sweet Sixteen.

I still remember that first time I walked through one of the Rupp Arena tunnels and looked out onto the court. I can easily recall the shock of seeing 20,000 people in one venue and the overwhelming sensation as I surveyed the arena’s sheer size and noise. Somehow, deep down, I knew that taking my son there for his first visit would eclipse my own experience.

My plans were to watch the Elliott County/Shelby Valley game. Not only because Elliott County is my favorite team, but also because two full games would probably be a little much for a youngster. We arrived during halftime of the first game between Holmes and Lexington Catholic and the excitement of just being in the lobby’s crowd was already evident on Alan’s face. I held his hand and allowed him to walk at his own pace so that he had the opportunity check things out. The first attraction that caught his wondering eyes was a merchandise stand that had a display rack full of various stuffed animals. In an effort to make sure I was on the same page, he pointed at the rack and exclaimed, “Daddy, wook, toys!”

We moved on through the crowd and I had all intentions of just hanging out in the lobby until the first game ended, but I found it impossible to wait. The excitement of letting him see Rupp Arena for the first time was uncontainable. I picked him up and asked, “Alan, do you want to see some basketball?”

“Yeah, backetball,” he said excitedly.

I carried Alan down the first tunnel I could find and I could see the anticipation on his face as we weaved down the corridor towards the sounds of whistles and the roaring crowd. I walked him out to the top of the steps, so that the entire arena was in view. Lexington Catholic was attempting to make an improbable comeback, so it was exceptionally loud at that particular moment. I anxiously turned to see the expressions on Alan’s face. He was smiling as big as he could ever smile. The glowing look on his face gave me cold chills and could have reduced me to tears if I would have allowed it. Being that I was in “man-mode” however, I just smiled and gave him a kiss on the cheek. He said, “Wook daddy, backetball,” as he pointed to the Rupp Arena court.

That was one of those moments where I felt frozen in time…when it all just seemed to make sense. I think such a fulfilling gift can only be obtained by a father who sees that glowing look in the innocent eyes of his child.

Alan and I made our way to the 8th row of Section 213 and he sat patiently on my knee for the entire 32 minutes of the Elliott County victory over Shelby Valley. We had “playtime” in the lobby before the game and during the halftime break, but his attention was focused on the game when the ball was inbounds. Every time the fans in the arena clapped, he clapped. I tried to teach him to cheer for the Lions, but I settled on him just cheering for the game.

After all, there is nothing like that first game in Rupp Arena. – especially for Dad.

Update on Former Wildcat Mike Casey

I received an update from Mike Casey's daughter, Laura, this afternoon. Everyone please continue to pray:

An update on Dad.

Thank you Our wonderful God!!!! Dad has made it out of surgery. Everything went well and better than the surgeon expected. Dad is recovering and should be back in his room in about an hour.

The next steps are big ones.

As of right now, no blood transfusion and no dialysis but they will keep a close eye on Dad. He still is at risk for infection.

We aren't out of the woods yet. The next 10 days are critical but we have FAITH, my Daddy is a fighter and God is good.

Thank you for all your prayers and sweet emails and calls.

We ALL appreciate the love and support we are receiving.Keep praying. God bless you!

Love,
Laura



Related Link: Prayer Request for Wildcat Great Mike Casey

Outstanding Article on UK Athletics by Dick Gabriel

I took the time to sit down and read through this article on WKYT.com and I thought I would pass it along. It is an amazing read for anyone that likes to know what it going on behind the scenes at a major athletic program like Kentucky. I am a junkie for such information and I found this to be a very nice article. Check it out:

UK Basketball: How Did It Come to This?

Louisville Cardinals' Fans Not Pleased with CBS

Apparently, CBS waited until crunch time of the Louisville/Siena game and then decided to send the Louisville area fans to another game. At the time the broadcasts was interrupted, the Cardinals actually trailed Siena. During the missed portion of the game, Louisville went on a run to take a 68-63 lead.

CBS was supposed to provide a "constant feed" of live U of L game action and not cut away from the hometown team, WLKY president and general manager Glenn Haygood said. But Haygood said CBS interrupted the broadcast for reasons unknown to him. He said there were no alternate live feeds provided by CBS that WLKY could switch to.

"I was as furious as any Louisville fan," Haygood said. "I was fit to be tied when I saw what was happening. … We were doing everything we could to find a satellite channel that had the Louisville game on it. We would have broadcast it. There was not one that CBS provided."

CBS infuriates an entire city during Louisville-Siena game

My Thoughts: I would be very upset as a Cardinals' fan, as well!

Larry Vaught: Patterson thinks Gillispie will be back at UK

Just when the rumors around the state have all but welcomed a new coach to Lexington, Patrick Patterson has jumped the shark. He tells the Advocate Messenger's Larry Vaught that Billy Gillispie might be back at Kentucky next season. Here is the article:

UK Basketball: Patterson thinks Gillispie will be back at UK

Some highlights that I pulled:

Patrick Patterson believes that Billy Gillispie will be coaching at Kentucky again next year.

"I know personally that I think coach Gillispie will be back next year, so I just go with that mindset," said Patterson, who had 12 points and five rebounds against Creighton. "I don't worry about anything else or second guess that. I am confident he will be back.

"Coach Gillispie is not worried about anything. He is just worried about finishing this year. That is the mindset we all have. We are just concentrating on basketball. We don't worry about any of the outside distractions and just continue to focus on what we are doing."

Has he told you he will be back?

"No, he hasn't said that, either. He hasn't said whether he will be back or won't be back because I believe that he doesn't know," Patterson said. "No one knows except for Mitch. None of us in this locker room know if he will be back or not.

"From a player's standpoint, I believe in him and what he is trying to do for this program and continue this great tradition. I believe he will come back. I am confident he will be back, but I am not sure if he will."

Patterson called Gillispie "a great coach and tremendous mentor" for him and other players. However, he said there was no way for him to know what a coaching change might mean to the program.

"He knows everything about basketball. He loves basketball. He loves Kentucky. He loves being here. I am just confident he will be here," Patterson said. "If they do get rid of him, I can't say what would happen to the program. But I do think Kentucky would be losing a great coach."

Jon Hood Named Gatorade Player of the Year in Kentucky

Future Kentucky Wildcat Jon Hood has been named the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Kentucky. Hood, the favorite to win Kentucky's Mr. Basketball, averaged 28.7 points, 13.1 rebounds, 3.1 blocked shots, 2.5 assists and 2.3 steals a game as a senior for the Madisonville Maroons.

Congratulations to Mr. Hood!

Article in Courier Journal

Patrick Patterson Joins 1,000 Point Club at Kentucky


Congratulations to Patrick Patterson as he became the 57th Wildcat to join the elite 1,000 point club at Kentucky.

Patterson scored 12 points against Creighton to help the Wildcats to a 65-63 NIT victory last night. He has reached the 1,000-point plateau in 58 games making him the 10th fastest Wildcat to do so.

Related Articles:

Kentucky Wins a Tough One at Creighton

Terrence Williams Improving Draft Status in Tournament

Chad Ford of ESPN feels that Terrence Williams is improving his status with a nice showing in the NCAA Tournament. He has Williams listed on his current "Who's Hot" list:

Terrence Williams, G/F, Sr., Louisville

Williams has been one of the biggest enigmas in college hoops. He has all the physical tools to be a lottery pick, but his game has rarely matched his talent. Poor shooting percentages, high turnover rates and some off-putting on-the-court behavior have given many scouts pause. But his play in the tournament so far has been hard to ignore.

He was solid in the opening round versus Morehead State, putting up 13 points, nine boards and three assists. And he was spectacular versus Siena, tallying 24 points, 13 boards and four assists.
His athleticism, rebounding and passing ability make him a very attractive draft prospect. But he'll have to continue to dominate in the tournament to change the feeling that many NBA executives have about his seriousness to the game.

Article from Chad Ford

Monday, March 23, 2009

Kentucky Wins a Tough One at Creighton


Kentucky 65
Creighton 63

NIT Second Round

The Kentucky Wildcats improved to 22-13 on the season with a hard-fought road victory over the Creighton Bluejays tonight. Kentucky's biggest lead of the game was two points, the final spread. The Wildcats have struggled all season to win close games down the stretch, but found a way to get it done tonight. Down a point, Jodie Meeks drove to the basket, hit the shot and was fouled. He converted the three-point play and Creighton's three at the buzzer looked good but bounced harmlessly into the arms of Kentucky.

The Wildcats were led by Meeks with 16 points. Perry Stevenson added a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Patrick Patterson, who sat out close to fifteen minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, added 12 points and 7 rebounds. Ramon Harris added a nice line of 9 points and 8 assists for the Cats.

Creighton (27-8) missed five key free throws late to keep the game close and then Kentucky took advantage. The Bluejays fought hard in a game that featured the biggest-name opponent to play at Creighton in many years. Creighton picked up 18 points from sharpshooter Booker Woodfox. P'Allen Stinnett added 15 and Kenny Lawson had 12.

Kentucky advances to the quarterfinals of the NIT and will play at Notre Dame on Wednesday night.



My Thoughts: I predicted the Cats would win by four and I would've been right if Creighton could have fouled Meeks before the buzzer. I'll settle for the two-point win, however. It was nice to see the Cats win a close game in crunch time, especially against a tough opponent on the road. I still would question some of the substitution patterns and in-game adjustments, but I'm happy to get a decent win.

My first thought is that this would have been a nice RPI-boosting win to pick up in December. My second thought is the ongoing saga that is the future of Billy Clyde Gillispie. I expect a very tough game for the Cats in South Bend. Notre Dame is always tough at home (just ask Louisville) and Harangoady will present all kinds of matchup issues. In a disappointing season, though, its nice to have an opportunity to get to Madison Square Garden.

Kentucky Continues NIT Quest for Madison Square Garden

Kentucky Wildcats (21-13) at Creighton Bluejays (27-7)

NIT Second Round

Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
Television: ESPN
At Stake: Winner advances to quarterfinals of NIT

The Kentucky Wildcats look to extend their season at least one more game on the road at Creighton tonight in the NIT. At 27-7 overall and 14-4 in the Missouri Valley Conference, the Bluejays are a solid team that owns victories this season over DePaul, Dayton, New Mexico, St. Joe's, Fresno State and George Mason. Kentucky finished the season on an unprecedented cold streak that saw them miss out on the NCAA Tournament for the first time in a long time.

The key to tonight's game may very well be Kentucky's ability to contain the three-point shot, which has been a problem area in several of the Wildcats' losses. The Bluejays shoot close to 38% as a team from outside the arc. Booker Woodfox is an outside marksman for Creighton, shooting 48.3% on 185 attempts.

For Creighton to defeat the Cats, they will have to figure out a way to stop Patrick Patterson in the middle and contain Jodie Meeks on the perimeter.

My Thoughts: I will shamelessly admit that I didn't exactly know where Creighton's campus was located until this game came up. I knew it was in the midwest, but I was unsure of the city. My heart wants to tell me that Creighton is still a mid-major team and Kentucky should walk out of this game a winner. My head still tells me that its impossible to predict the outcome of a Kentucky game this season. I expect the Cats to have a battle on their hands in a hostile arena. The Bluejays will view this game as an opportunity to knock off one of basketball's big boys and will be fired up. Creighton also shoots the three-pointer well, which has been an obvious Achilles heal for this Kentucky team. All that being said, I think Patrick Patterson can dominate the paint and help the Cats squeak out a road win.

Prediction: Kentucky wins by 4 points

Prayer Request for Wildcat Great Mike Casey

I received word from Laura Casey Lake this afternoon that her father is very ill. Laura's father is former Kentucky Wildcat Mike Casey who played for Adolph Rupp from 1967-'71. She is requesting prayer for Mr. Casey. Here is Laura's message:

Dad has congestive heart failure and is awaiting a heart transplant. He acquired an infection in his legs several months ago that has put a halt on the transplant process. He is almost cleared for the transplant per the infectious disease doctors, however his other organs are starting to fail. This morning the doctors told us they don't think he will make it a week. We are very strong in our faith and believe miracles happen everyday and by the Grace of God he will be healed.

Love & Blessings,
Laura Casey Lake

Western Kentucky Suffers Heart-Breaking Loss to Gonzaga

(4) Gonzaga 83
(12) Western Kentucky 81

NCAA Tournament Second Round

Gonzaga's Demetri Goodson sped down court and banked in the game-winning shot with 0.9 seconds showing on the clock. The Hilltoppers watched in heartbreak as their desperation three-quarters court shot landed well off target at the buzzer. It appeared as though at least one player and head coach Ken McDonald tried to call a timeout after Goodson's shot, but the officials failed to notice. The result was a long heave that had little to no chance of going in.

The game was ultimately decided at the free throw line. The Bulldogs were 14-19 from the line while Western only managed to shoot 5-14 (35.7%). In comparison, the Hilltoppers shot 12-25 from the three-point line for 48.0%.

Gonzaga (28-5) will advance to the Sweet Sixteen where they will have the task of playing the North Carolina Tar Heels, the South Region's top seed. The Bulldogs placed five players in double figures for the game. They were led by Matt Bouldin with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Point guard Jeremy Pargo added 18 points and Micah Downs scored 12. Austin Daye and Josh Heytvelt chipped in 10 points each.

Western Kentucky (25-9) had an excellent season, but were unable to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the second consecutive season. The Hilltoppers were led by Sun Belt Player of the Year Orlando Mendez-Valdez, who had 25 points and 7 assists. Mendez-Valdez nailed 7-10 shots from outside the three-point arc. Backcourt mate A.J. Slaughter added 24 points.

ESPN Box Score

ESPN Game Recap

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Virginia Attempting to Bring Tubby Smith to the ACC?

Tubby Smith may be ready to make some Blue Ridge Mountain memories according to sources of FoxSports.com. Jeff Goodman reports that Virginia is preparing to make a strong push for Minnesota head coach.

Smith was the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats for ten seasons before leaving for Minnesota. He had an overachieving season with the Golden Gophers, leading them to a 22-11 record and an NCAA Tournament appearance.

UPDATE: Tubby says he's not looking elsewhere

Tubby's Son in the Running for High Point Job

Tubby Smith's son, G.G., is one of the final four choices for the High Point head coaching position.

Article from Jeff Goodman's Blog

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Louisville Cardinals Headed to NCAA Sweet Sixteen

(1) Louisville 79
(9) Siena 72

NCAA Tournament Second Round

The Louisville Cardinals survived a mini-scare to defeat Siena in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Siena (27-8) was down seven at halftime, but used inspired basketball to actually take a four-point lead in the second half. Rick Pitino called a timeout to challenge his team and the Cards responded to get the win.

Louisville (30-5) was led by Terrence Williams with 24 points and 15 rebounds. Earl Clark also added a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Samardo Samuels contributed 13 points and 8 rebounds for the Cardinals. Louisville out-rebounded Siena 44-31 and dominated the paint. Siena managed to stay in the game by forcing 17 Louisville turnovers.

The Saints picked up 24 points and 8 rebounds from Edwin Ubiles. Alex Franklin added 19 points for Siena.

Louisville advances to face 12th-seeded Arizona in the Sweet Sixteen.

ESPN Box Score

ESPN Game Recap

John Pelphrey Has Support in Arkansas

Arkansas Razorbacks coach John Pelphrey has the support of his AD after a disappointing season. Pelphrey, a Paintsville native and former Kentucky Wildcat player, saw his team finish 14-15 overall and only 2-14 in the SEC.

Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long has given Pelphrey his support and ended speculation about the coach's future.

“John Pelphrey is our basketball coach,” Long said. “We have to give him time to build this program, and we’re going to do that."

“We want to build the program the right way for the long term," added Long.

Pelphrey has gone 37-28 in two seasons as the Razorbacks' coach.

Article on Jerry Tipton's Blog

Billy Gillispie Focused on NIT; Everyone Else Focused on Coach's Future

Kentucky Wildcats head coach, at least for now, Billy Gillispie answered questions about the NIT and his job status this afternoon. Gillispie's tone was one of a coach that seems to have reason to worry. When asked if Monday's game at Creighton would be his last game, Gillispie replied with, "I have no control over that."

"I would say there have probably been a few rumors," he said. "I don't worry about it much. I worry about the things that I can control. And what we can control is how we prepare for Creighton."

On his position as the Kentucky head coach, Gillispie stated, "Shoot, I love it here. I love this place."

John Clay of the Lexington Herald Leader also had the take that Gillispie may know his future is in jeopardy. Clay reports on his blog: You got the feeling this is a coach who knows his time is short. About this rumored meeting that took place with or among high UK officials this weekend, Gillispie answered that yes there was a meeting, but then quickly said that he has meetings all the time, with recruits, etc. He dodged the question about his future saying he only worried about things he can control. In other words, he can’t control whether he will be back as coach next year.

Questioned again about the future, Gillispie replied, "Any time you work for someone else, other people make decisions.. Decisions are made all the time anytime you work for someone else. Shoot, I love it here, I like it here, I like our guys. I’m really excited about our guys coming in, our guys coming back and I don’t worry about all those kind of things.”

While Gillispie continues to brush off questions and focus on the NIT, most everyone else is wondering about the future of the Kentucky coach. Some of those with the most interest are the parents of Kentucky's recruiting class for next season. WKYT interviewed the parents of G.J. Vilarino, Daniel Orton and Jon Hood. Here are some portions of what the parents had to say regarding the Gillispie situation:

Jon Hoods Father, Brian:"a couple of statements by a couple of people could end all of this, if there going to bring him back a simple statement would end all of this speculation.....recruiting days, if you know anything about recruiting, recruiting days are more precious than gold, you get a limited number, them being allowed to recruit right now to me says something, if they were going to fire somebody, why would they be letting them use up the new staffs recruiting days.....cause i know what we are going to do, we are going to take a step back, re-assess and re-evaluate cause even though u sign with a school ur still intrusting your child"

Daniel Ortons Father, Larry:"I got a call into the AD, Mitch, just trying to find out what is going on cause we had our mind on coach Gillispie being the coach there coming in....you always have to re-think it because you come to a school because of a coach"

G.J. Vilarinos Father, Jerry:"We trying to stay positive with it, were hoping that doesn't happen, that he's still there, he gets an opportunity to finish what he started, i think he has alot of good pieces in place, talent is there, he's got talent coming in, next year be a special year"

My Thoughts: I have taken into consideration all the evidence, all the reactions of everyone involved and all the hints that are being dropped all over the place. I don't like speculating on such matters, at least not publicly, without some pretty strong feelings on the subject. To me, it seems pretty obvious that:

a) There are many folks in and around the Kentucky basketball program that are very dissatisfied with how things have evolved in the past two years. We have heard displeasure voiced by former Wildcats, politicians, administration, current players, local/national media and scores of fans.
b) We have heard rumor after rumor about Billy Gillispie's attitude and overall self-representation as the Kentucky head coach. I'm not a big fan of the "rumor mill," but to me it's pretty clear that oftentimes where there's smoke, there's fire. A few rumors would be one thing, but when there are literally hundreds of stories circulating about a certain subject, there is something that is just not right. At the core of these rumors is the underlying theme that Gillispie has a knack for coming off as sort of a jerk. He has done himself no favors in denying these rumors, especially considering his treatment of several reporters on national television. Again, I have never sat down for a conversation with Billy Gillispie but seemingly everyone I talk to passes along a similar tale.
c) There has been several weeks of speculation concerning Gillispie's future at Kentucky. He has obviously been the focus of the Big Blue Nation for some time now. If he had the support of his superiors, it would seem to me that they would have immediately made an announcement along the lines of, "Hey, we appreciate and understand your concern as fans and supporters, but Billy Gillispie is our guy and he is our coach..." In my opinion, media silence in this situation is a red flag for things to come.
d) It has been more than just random UK fans that have started and/or spread rumors about Gillispie's departure. We have heard several opinions from those that are actually close to the program. Several of those have reputations of "being in the know" when the Kentucky Wildcats are concerned. When a certain few sources talk, it is wise to listen. Add the opinions of those sources to Billy Gillispie's demeanor lately and what do you get?
e) All of the Above. I could probably let it pass if only one of these things had taken place, but when they ALL happen in conjunction, I start taking notice.

So, what is my final opinion? I feel pretty solidly that there is going to be some changes made immediately after the Kentucky season ends. I won't necessarily predict that Gillispie will be fired and sent packing, but there are too many obvious signs that something is about to change. At the very least, I think Gillispie will be put on a probationary period to get things straightened out. I think there is a possibility that the could be asked to leave or even that he will leave on his own, but I'm not prepared to make that exact prediction just yet.


Here are what others are saying:

WKYT's Interviews

John Clay's Thoughts on the Situation

Brett Dawson of the Courier Journal

Matt Jones at Kentucky Sports Radio

Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald Leader

Article on ESPN.com

Sweet Sixteen Run Nets Offer for Holmes' Ricardo Johnson

Minutes after Covington Holmes defeated Central to win the KHSAA Sweet Sixteen title game, Ricardo Johnson was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. Minutes after that, he picked up his first NCAA Division I scholarship offer from Bradley.

Johnson, a junior, had an impressive tournament for the Bulldogs. He averaged 13 points a game during the tournament and was the Holmes' most consistent defender and ball handler. Ricardo was also the MVP of the 9th Region Tournament.

Article from NKY.com

Jerry Tarkanian's Thoughts on the Kentucky Wildcats

I browse the Las Vegas Sun's website about once a week to check up on Jerry Tarkanian's "Shark Bytes" page. In his latest article he makes a few mentions about the Kentucky Wildcats. He thinks the Cats' problem is a pretty simple one. Here are the Shark's thoughts:

Kentucky played a tremendous first half. Obviously, Kentucky would be a heck of a team if they had a point guard. But the point guard they had, Derrick Jasper, transferred to UNLV and is sitting out.

Kentucky has some good players and Billy (Gillispie) is a good coach, he just doesn’t have a point guard.

It is always interesting to hear the thoughts of a great basketball mind. Check out Tark's article here: Heart, Dean and Digger

Covington Holmes Wins KHSAA Sweet Sixteen

Holmes 67
Central 63 (2OT)

KHSAA Sweet Sixteen - Championship Game

The Holmes Bulldogs (36-2) defeated Louisville Central in a memorable championship game tonight at Rupp Arena. Holmes was considered a heavy favorite coming into the game, but Central took them into double overtime before the championship was decided. Central (19-15) had opportunities last in the second overtime, but were not able to capitalize. Down three, the Yellowjackets threw a bad pass that was stolen and led to a three-point play on the other end to seal the victory for Holmes.

Holmes was led by Elijah Pittman with 14 points and 8 rebounds. Jeremiah Johnson and Dominique Johnson each contributed 13 points. Ricardo Johnson was named the tournament's MVP.

Central was led by Ridge Wilson with 18 points and 7 rebounds. Wilson is an all-state football player that will play college football for the Kentucky Wildcats. Alex Morrison added 15 points for the Yellowjackets.

My Thoughts: From top-to-bottom, I believe that Holmes may have been the best team in the tournament. In other words, I think the best team won. As an Elliott County fan, I am disappointed that they lost, but congratulations to the Bulldogs.

All Tournament Team

Elisha Justice, Shelby Valley
Vee Sanford, Lexington Catholic
Chris Dowe, Eastern
Travis Johnston, Grayson County
Jarrod Polson, West Jessamine
Jonathan Rehner, West Jessamine
Ethan Faulkner, Elliott County
Timmy Knipp, Elliott County
Ridge Wilson, Central
Alex Morrison, Central
Wann Robinson, Central
Jamel Riley, Holmes
Elijah Pittman, Holmes
Ricardo Johnson, Holmes

Most Valuable Player - Ricardo Johnson, Holmes

North Carolina Tar Heels Tie Kentucky on NCAA Win's List

(1) North Carolina 84
(8) LSU 70

NCAA Tournament Second Round

With their victory tonight, the North Carolina Tar Heels have 98 NCAA Tournament wins, which ties them with the Kentucky Wildcats for the most in NCAA history.

Go Gonzaga!

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