Saturday, August 29, 2009

Garcia Helps Dominican Republic Win in FIBA Play

Ex-Louisville sharp-shooter Francisco Garcia scored 21 points in the Dominican Republic's 78-73 victory over Venezuela today at the FIBA Americas Championship. Garcia was 8-19 from the field in the game.

The Dominican Republic improved to 2-1 in pool play and all but assured a trip to the quarterfinals. They finish pool play tomorrow against Argentina.

In other action, the U.S. Virgin Islands finished pool play win less with an 0-4 record. Former Murray State Racer Cuthbert Victor added 7 points and 9 rebounds in today's 80-63 loss to Mexico.

Employees to Gillispie: Go Straight to Shell


New details are emerging after the arrest of former Kentucky head coach Billy Gillispie.

WKYT.com is reporting that Gillispie stopped at a Shell Station on Highway 127 in Anderson County. He was visibly disoriented which prompted Shell Station employees to call 911. Gillispie was almost immediately pulled over and charged with DUI after officers noticed that they smelled alcohol on his breath and he had slurred speech.

Gillispie has returned home to Texas but will be back in Kentucky next month for a court date.

Source: WKYT.com

NOTE:
I placed a call to the Shell Station earlier to ask about the incident with Gillispie and was told, "We got no comment."

So, there you have it - don't mess with the Shell Station in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

Q&A with Former Bellarmine Knight Calvin Fowler

I connected with former Bellarmine Knight Calvin Fowler on Twitter and have been keeping track of his career since. I was able to chat with CFowl recently and get an update on how things are going for him. Here is a Q&A with Calvin Fowler:

Calvin, nice to hear from you and congratulations on your impressive showing at the En Fuego Hoops showcase.

Thanks Anthony! I appreciate you keeping up with me!

You played college basketball for Bellarmine University. Tell me a little about your time at Bellarmine and what you have been doing since.

Well, I transferred to Bellarmine from Columbus State Community College in Ohio. My first year at Bellarmine I played for Coach Chris Pullem and my senior year I played for Coach Scott Davenport, two totally different systems and coaching styles. They are both great coaches and I have learned a tremendous amount about the game of basketball and everyday life from those two.

After my senior season I was blessed with the opportunity to play professionally in England for the London Leopards. Coach Pullem contacted the GM for the Leopards for me, I sent my game film and college stats over and within a week the Leopards sent me a contract and offered me a two-year deal. My first season as a professional athlete was an adventure, everyday it was something new that I hadn‘t had to deal with in college, but I loved every minute of it! I was given way more responsibility and accountability for on and off court things than in college. It took me a while to get use to driving on the other side of the road, learning how to drive a 5 speed with the wheel being on the other side of the car, roundabouts, interviews, fans being able to give their opinions in the local papers, blogs, and my biggest adjustment was that McDonalds didn’t taste the same for a while. Overall I loved my time there, I’d like to think of England as being my 2nd home, the people and the fans were great! My team finished 4th in the league out of 12 teams. I averaged 24.3 ppg and some rebounds lol (4.8)

The following season I returned to the states to finish up my last semester at Bellarmine, during this time I had several offers from other teams in Europe but I felt I needed to finish up my degree first before returning. Also while being back in the states I sustained a couple of injuries that halted my return to the hardwood abroad. So, during the second half of last season my agent felt it would be best for me to rehab and prepare for this season. I rehabbed at Bellarmine, trained with my shooting coach Wayne Gill, conditioned with former UK football player Justin Hutton and now God has blessed me with a second chance to play ball again.

As I mentioned, you had an impressive showing at the En Fuego hoops event. You played some excellent basketball and were named co-MVP. What was your mindset heading into that event? How would you describe the competition during an exposure event like En Fuego Hoops?

Well, with basically sitting out this past season going into the showcase my mindset was to go hard from the second I laced my Nike’s up until the last ball bounced. I felt like I had to make up for lost time. I knew the other players were coming to the showcase off of their respective seasons and better resumes so I felt like I needed to show and prove that I hadn’t lost a step. (Most of the guys came from bigger universities and Top Leagues around the globe) The competition was tough! No one took any possessions off, everyone played like it was their last day on earth to play basketball, it was such a great atmosphere to be in! It felt good to be named co-MVP, it made me feel like I was back on board again.

Have you been presented with any professional opportunities since En Fuego Hoops?

Yes I have actually! My agent was actually in attendance at the showcase so she took care of all the inquires and business. She told me she just wanted me to play, have fun and she’d take care of everything else!

Have you made any decisions on where you will play next?

I am leaving for Syria on the 25th of September to play in the Division 1 league. My fall back is the NBDL, God willing everything works out in Syria for me.

I saw some clips of you playing on YouTube and I came away impressed with your quickness and outside shooting. How would you describe yourself on the basketball court?

Thanks! I am a very versatile player, I can play 1-3 positions comfortably. I use to be labeled as a slasher, now everyone says I can do it all. Overall I would say I am a hard worker, lockdown defender and a scorer.

In your opinion, who is the best basketball player you’ve had the pleasure of stepping on the court with?

The best player I have had the pleasure of stepping on the court with would be a guy named Dajuan Tate, we played in high school a little bit together and against each other in college. Tate now plays in China for the Shanghai Sharks. Tate should be in the NBA! I think he will get his shot one day.

Your favorite basketball player of all-time is: Derek Anderson.

What will Calvin Fowler be doing in 10 years?

I plan to be living in Laguna Beach, California and running my own showcases on the east and west coast! There is so much talent around the globe that goes unnoticed and I want to make sure that every player gets an opportunity to showcase their talent, if they want to…

Do you have a nickname that has managed to stick?

LOL, I have several, this is a tough one, I’d have to say it’s a toss up between Cfowl and Cal

Calvin, you’re an excellent player and you have the personality to match. I hope you have a great season and a long career. Stay in touch during the season and let us know how things are going.

Thanks Ant, I appreciate you taking the time out to speak to me, I’ll be in touch, GO KNIGHTS!!!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

ESPN Previews SEC Basketball

ESPN.com has released its preview of SEC basketball for 2009-10.

ESPN's Thoughts on Kentucky:

Kentucky The talent level isn't in question. John Calipari has as much if not more than any other team in the country, including top-ranked Kansas. But the issue will be how he is able to massage egos, manage minutes and deal with plenty of inexperience and immaturity. The heavy lifting will fall on Patrick Patterson's shoulders and someone like Darius Miller will have to assume more responsibility. But the star will be John Wall. If he's as good as advertised and lives up to his hype of being the top pick in the 2010 draft, then Kentucky should be one of the favorites to get to nearby Indianapolis for the Final Four.

Things to Know from the Offseason:

1. Spring Cleaning: What John Calipari did once he landed the Kentucky job with his spring recruiting haul might be unmatched. He pulled together the best spring batch of recruits perhaps ever assembled. Getting John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Darnell Dodson and Eric Bledsoe in the late period just doesn't happen. Of course, Calipari had connections to them while head coach at Memphis, but to orchestrate an entirely new team is quite remarkable.

2. Return Of The Pat: Even with the No. 1 recruiting class, Kentucky still needed to keep at least one of its two key players -- Patrick Patterson or Jodie Meeks -- from last season. Getting Patterson to put off the NBA draft for at least one more year was more important because of his ability to dominate in the post. Meeks, despite his prolific scoring, was still more replaceable than Patterson. The Wildcats needed an anchor to board and finish and the rising junior can deliver on both counts.

3. Memphis Vacation: The fact that the NCAA vacated Memphis' Final Four appearance and NCAA-record 38 wins doesn't concern Kentucky directly, but it still has an affect on UK coach John Calipari. He won't let it bother him but the stain is still there as the appeals process unfolds during the season. That means there will continue to be chatter about Calipari's past, even if he isn't directly named, while he embarks on what could be a special season in Lexington.

Some Key Players:

Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky: The focus is on John Wall and with good reason. But how Bledsoe handles his role will be a major factor in the success of the Wildcats. He would be a starting lead guard on most teams, but will have to share the role and at times back up Wall when John Calipari goes with one lead guard. Calipari implored Wall and Bledsoe to play together throughout the summer to experiment with that lineup. The more Bledsoe can adapt to sharing, the better off the Wildcats will be going forward.

Scotty Hopson, Tennessee: Hopson was a highly-touted recruit who just needed to get into a groove with the Vols. He went through the usual growing pains of being a college freshman. But the school reports he has added 15 pounds of muscle and is showing more balance in his game while playing this summer. He has also lowered the arc on his 3-point shot and made himself into one of the better offensive threats for the Vols.

Freshmen We Can't Wait to See:

John Wall, Kentucky: Wall was the talk of the late signing period. This super athletic guard has great size with matching speed and quickness with the ball. He is an above-the-rim finisher in transition, can get into the lane at will where he can put the ball on the money to open teammates with flare. It will be interesting to see if he can handle the heat of being the point guard of the Big Blue.

DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky: Cousins can score inside with power and touch and out with shooting range to the arc where he can hit pick-and-pop or trial jumpers with ease. He rebounds at rim level on both ends and is an excellent passer in or out of the post as well. The keys for Cousins are playing with urgency on a consistent basis and body maintenance.

Non-Conference Games We Can't Wait to See:

North Carolina at Kentucky, Dec. 5: The Carolina game precedes the Louisville showdown by a month and will give the Wildcats even more of a test. UNC's athleticism and length inside will challenge Kentucky's young Cats maybe more than any other game this season.

Louisville at Kentucky, Jan. 2: The drama for this game continues to build with each day, considering the bizarre behavior going on in Louisville, the unknown of when the extortion trial will hit for the woman who had the affair with coach Rick Pitino, and the likelihood that Kentucky by Jan. 2 will be either No. 1 or No. 2 in the country. CBS was smart to put this game on an NFL Sunday because it has the potential to have a playoff atmosphere from the opening tip.

Complete Article from ESPN.com

Japeth Aguilar Could Face Ban in PBA

Former Western Kentucky Hilltopper Japeth Aguilar, the top overall pick in the Phillipines Basketball Association (PBA) Draft, is refusing to sign with the team that drafted him. If Aguilar cannot come to terms with the Burger King Whoppers, he could face stiff sanctions according to PBA chairman Lito Alvarez.

“I really do not know what the sanctions are (if he doesn’t sign). A ban maybe from playing in the PBA."

“Hindi natin gusto na mangyari kay Japeth ito (We don’t want this to happen to Japeth). I am still hoping that he will reconsider his decision. Pero kung hindi siya lalaro (But if he won't play), we’ll teach him a lesson. Natatakot ako sa puwedeng mangyari sa kanya kapag board na ang nag-desisyon (I’m afraid of what might happen to him if ever the PBA board comes up with a decision)."

Burger King has already offered the 6-foot-10 former Western Kentucky University stalwart, the personal choice of Burger King coach Yeng Guiao as the team’s no. 1 overall pick, a three-year contract worth P8.7 million.

Source

My Thoughts: 1) That is one of the best quotes I've ever read anywhere - "Pero kung hindi siya lalaro (But if he won't play), we'll teach him a lesson." 2) I never thought I'd see the day that a basketball player wouldn't sign with the Burger King Whoppers.

Rivals.com Ranks the Non-BCS Schools; WKU 10th


Rivals.com has offered a pre-season top 10 for non-BCS basketball teams. They rank Butler, which includes Lexington native Shelvin Mack, at the top the list. The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers make the list at #10. Here is what they say about Butler and WKU:

1. Butler: The Bulldogs exceeded expectations last season by winning a Horizon League regular-season title and earning their third consecutive NCAA tournament bid while regularly starting three freshmen. This season, much more is expected. Butler returns its entire roster and should open the season ranked in the top 20. If the Bulldogs get the right kind of draw, they just might reach the Sweet 16 for the second time in the past four seasons. Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored figure to make major strides in their sophomore seasons, while junior Matt Howard already has established himself as one of the nation's top power forwards.

10. Western Kentucky: After reaching the Sweet 16 in 2007 and advancing to the second round last season, the Hilltoppers should make it back to the NCAA tournament in 2009. Western Kentucky loses 2008 Sun Belt player of the year Orlando Mendez-Valdez, but the Hilltoppers return their other four starters. Keep an eye on guard A.J. Slaughter, the most outstanding player in the 2008 Sun Belt tournament. Western Kentucky's successful postseason experience from the past two seasons gives it a slight edge over Creighton for the final spot on our list.

Rivals.com Non-BCS Top 10:

1. Butler, 2. Siena, 3. Dayton, 4. Xavier, 5. Gonzaga, 6. Memphis, 7. Northern Iowa, 8. Tulsa, 9. BYI, 10. Western Kentucky

Northern Kentucky Will Hold Walk-On Tryouts

Press Release from NKU:

The NKU men's basketball team will hold walk-on tryouts for currently enrolled students on Sept. 8 in The Bank of Kentucky Center. There will be a meeting at 5:30 p.m., and tryouts will continue until approximately 7:30 p.m.

Participants must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours. Tryout candidates must also have had a physical performed within the past six months and be proof of the physical. Participants will also be asked to sign a waiver on site and bring playing gear. The tryout will consist of various drills as well as 5-on-5 and/or 3-on-3.

For further information, please e-mail NKU assistant coach Kurt Young at youngk6@nku.edu.

Exciting News at Murray State University

Murray State has made several exciting announcements recently. First, the university is upgrading the Regional Special Events Center, which is the school's basketball facility. The changes are expected to give the arena "more of a big-time college basketball feel." Some of the enhancements include new banners for all OVC member institutions, a new playing floor and two large wide screen video boards. All upgrades are expected to be complete by about mid-September.

Next, the Racers announced the hiring of former UT-Martin head coach Bret Campbell. Campbell will join Murray State as an assistant, which gives the team a load of experience in that role.

Finally, Murray State has announced that its January 9 game with Austin Peay will be televised live on ESPN2. The game will tip-off at 5:00 p.m.

This has been a very exciting summer for those in the Murray State family.

Roster Announced for the Bluegrass Stallions

The Bluegrass Stallions, Lexington’s new professional basketball team, announces their inaugural team roster. The team roster is as follows:

2 Ravi Moss 6’3 Guard Kentucky
3 Akeem Scott 6’3 Guard ABA
5 Aubrey White 6’3 Guard ABA; Georgetown College
7 Bobby Perry 6’7 Forward Kentucky
15 Wayne Turner 6’2 Guard Kentucky; CBA
18 Antonio Murrell 6’0 Guard Indiana Wesleyan
21 Darnelle Dialls 6’8 Forward Australia; Holland; EKU
23 Justin Taylor 6’3 Guard Portugal; CBA
24 William Harris 6’7 Forward Mountain State
25 Marcus Thompson 6’4 Guard EBA; KBDL
30 Luke Fitzgerald 6’8 Forward Univ. of the Cumberlands
48 Lukasz Obrzut 7’1 Center NBA; Kentucky

There will be other players added to the roster but these are the initial twelve players selected by Head Coach, Kyle Macy. “The players selected for this ABA team will be excellent athletes with professional basketball skills. Basketball fans in Central and Southeast Kentucky have not seen basketball like this before,” said Macy.

“Coach Macy has put together a team of exceptional talent and will no doubt have a great winning record in our first season,” added Tony Chase, team owner.

Complete Article from WKYT.com

Talking to a Legend: Ervin Stepp


The name Ervin Stepp is a legendary name in the annals of basketball history in Eastern Kentucky. As players that were the greatest of their generation, you’ll find Stepp sandwiched between the great “King” Kelly Coleman of Wayland and Clay County’s sharp-shooting Richie Farmer on a timeline.

Stepp, who played for the Phelps Hornets, took scoring to levels that will likely never be witnessed again. If you’re unaware of Ervin Stepp, take a glance at the KHSAA record books and prepare to be dazzled. Kelly Coleman’s 46.8 scoring average for the 1955-56 season ranks third in the KHSAA record books list for Most Points Scored-Per Game-Season. In the top two spots, you’ll find Ervin Stepp in 1978-79 with a 47.2 average and Stepp again in 1979-80 with an absurd 53.7 points per game average. Did you catch that? That is a 53.7 scoring average for an entire high school season – in an era before the three-point line was ever imagined. Those averages led to 2,724 points in only two seasons.

Stepp recalls several memories from his high school days that were rare in the Phelps area. He remembers sitting in a high school classroom and having the class interrupted by a reporting crew from CBS. He remembers winning the prestigious Hertz #1 award. Then, there is the Kentucky Mr. Basketball award in he earned in 1980. He is also quick to point out the intense, “knock-down, drag-out” battles in the Stepp-family backyard.

Ervin grew up with several family members that are basketball legends in their own right. His older brother Joe led the state in scoring in 1971 and 1972. Another brother, Jim, led the state in scoring in 1978. Then, Ervin came along and led the entire nation in scoring in 1979 and 1980. He describes his late father as “being way ahead of his time” in teaching basketball and his uncle Orville as “a great player during his time.” The Stepp name is synonymous with great basketball and is well known throughout Eastern Kentucky.

I sat down with Ervin Stepp last night and what I discovered is a man that is as passionate about the sport of basketball as any person I have ever met. Here is my discussion with the legendary Ervin Stepp.

Ervin, tell me how you got started with basketball. Growing up with your brothers, who are all good players, you must’ve had some pretty good games in the backyard.

I just always played. Joe was the oldest, then Jimmy. Dad played and taught us to play. We were the better players in the area and were blessed to play against each other. Gary was a little to young at that time. Joe and I would play against Jim and Dad and we had some crazy two-on-two games. There wasn’t AAU or anything back then, so we’d spend the whole summer just working on our weaknesses.

It was like a religion. I can remember the obsessiveness of it.

Who taught you to shoot?

As far as form, Dad would always say, “it takes sixty days of repetition to form a habit.” He taught all of us the correct form and we put it to repetition. Dad was way before his time in basketball knowledge.

You know, he was a welder and he had this theory that if he cut the rim down from seventeen to fifteen inches to let us boys shoot on it that we’d go back in the fall and the rims would look huge. And it did, man. We would go back and it was like throwing the ball in a bathtub after playing on that small rim all summer. That really helped our shooting. Looking back on it, he should’ve patented that idea.

Tell me your best memories of high school basketball.

High school was pretty crazy. It didn’t really dawn on me until after high school. My first game, I had 50. Joe was coaching me at the time and he chewed me out afterwards. He made me stay focused. The second game, I had 68 points against Millard. I really remember those first two. I hit my first 13 field goals against Millard. I was something like 27-34 from the field and 14-16 from the line in that game. I think I had something like 20 rebounds in that one, too. In my career, I shot about 58% from the field and averaged 14-15 points a game at the free throw line.

Another game that really stands out is my senior season against Feds Creek. I scored the most points I ever scored in that game. I took 42 shots and hit 25 of them. I was 25-27 on free throws and ended up with 75 points. I think I got 50 in the second half of that game. I wonder sometimes how that game would’ve ended up if I ‘d shot a little better percentage.

There was another game at the AIT in Ashland. You know, that was the big name tournament in the state back then. Ashland has scheduled us to come in and play. They were the number one team in the state and they scheduled the game to draw a crowd. I remember tons of college coaches there watching that game and I scored 50. They won the game but it was a great memory to play like that on their court in front of all those people. Those are the games that stand out the most.

My teammates were really my best friends. There was no jealousy or anything like that. They loved watching me score.

Let’s talk about the magical season you had in 1979-80. You won Mr. Basketball and were able to sustain a scoring average of 53.7 PPG. How were you able to accomplish those numbers without the 3-point line?

It’s really weird. The free throw line was huge for me. It was key for me. I shot a good percentage and got 14-15 points a game at the line. You know, Joe kept me really focused. I was just so darned focused. Being able to put it on the floor really helped.

Do you think back on your high school career and ask yourself how you were able to accomplish some of those numbers?

I have. In my 30’s, I watched other kids like Chris Harrison and Tim Couch. They were great scorers, playing with the three-point line, but they never came close to 50+ points a game. It’s kind of unbelievable.

Where did you play after high school?

I ended up going to Eastern Kentucky. I had offers from Auburn and Virginia Tech and UK recruited me, but we kind of made a family decision to go to EKU. We all wanted to stick together. Jimmy transferred to EKU and Joe was an assistant there. My best choice maybe would’ve been UK or Auburn. I often wonder what would’ve happened if I’d went to Auburn.

You ended up playing some professional basketball. Tell me a little about that experience.

I played in a semi-pro league at the age of 35. Rick Huckaby actually coached us. I loved it. I had several games of hitting 10-plus three’s. I didn’t exactly have my 25-year old game, but I could still stroke it.

As one of the greatest shooters to ever play basketball in Kentucky, you must’ve been pretty excited when the three-point line was introduced. Do you remember the first game you played with the line?

They actually had an experimental deal when I was at EKU. It wasn’t even at the top of the key…it was closer. I think it was between the top of the key and the free throw lane, almost felt like a layup. I averaged 8-9 three-pointers a game as a semi-pro.

You mentioned before that you were playing at a pretty high level well into your 30’s and even 40’s. Did the 3-point line give you an advantage that helped you prolong your career?

Yeah, absolutely. Huckaby got me for one reason…to shoot the three. His assistant got a hold of me and I went down for a tryout. I tried out and it was a done deal.

Who is the greatest player that you’ve been on the court with at any level?

Oh man, there were so many of them. I’ll have to name a few. Let’s go with Bernard King, Adrian Dantley, John Lucas, (Charles) Barkley, Lenny Bias, Doc Rivers and Sam Perkins. Those are the ones that stand out.

Ervin, I hate to bring this up but I think it’s an important part of your story (he cuts me off: I don’t mind talking about it at all.) Well, four years ago, you were in an accident and I’ve often heard people say that you are very blessed that you didn’t lose your life that night.

I wrecked at the age of 43. I’d driven to Spring Valley in Huntington. We played an outside game on Friday night and I had hit 9 three-pointers. I was very excited because that was the best I’d played in a long time. I called Joe on the way home and told him that I’d found my youth. Within a half-mile of my house, I nodded off. I don’t remember a whole lot. It really destroyed my left arm. I went air born and my vertebrae snapped in half in two places. A kid was outside and heard the noise and came out to see what had happened. That was a blessing in itself, because I would’ve died there had he not been outside. It was a remote area and little to no traffic that late at night.

I do remember calling my wife and that’s basically all I remember. My left arm went about eleven hours with no blood flow. They had to take a vein out of my left leg and put it in my arm.

They told my family that I could possibly die. They added that if I survived, I could be paralyzed because my back was broken into in two places. They told them it was very possible that I would lose my left arm, as well. I was in a coma for about 5 days before I came through. I didn’t really remember anything at that point. They had put two 12” rods in my back. I lost my index finger and half of my thumb on my left hand.

You know, looking back on it though, the best possible scenario happened with every single injury. I could’ve died. I could’ve been paralyzed from chest down and lost my left arm. I came out of it with the damage to my hands, some scars on my back and my arm kind of feels like it’s constantly asleep…but, it could’ve been way worse.

Oddly enough, six months later, me and another guy were heading to work in Whitesburg. A guy rearended us that was going about 50 miles per hour. He hit us so hard that it knocked the metal rods out of my back. They were forced to totally remove them, but as luck would have it, the rods actually saved me from being paralyzed.

Believe it or not, after all of that, my career now is in the prosthesis industry. I missed about a year of playing ball after the wreck and it was difficult. I did manage to compete in a 3-point contest about 3 months after that last wreck. I shot with one hand only and somehow won third place. That doesn’t sound like it would be a big deal, but it was amazing how that helped with the psychological end of the whole ordeal.

Do you have any explanation for escaping that wreck without being paralyzed or even worse?

I really think that God has a purpose for me. He’s not done with me yet. That’s the only explanation I can give you. It just wasn’t my time.

I’ve heard you reference God several times as we’ve talked. Tell me your stance on God. Did your accident help shape your faith in God?

My father was a preacher. I was a typical young person…kind of up and down. I was actually bitter after the wreck. I was selfish and thinking of myself. I managed to get hooked on pain medicine after the wreck and was having all sorts of problems. I finally told myself that it had to stop and I rededicated myself and straightened my life out. I am a Christian and I love God. (he chuckles) I’ve pretty must testified to you here. Nothing wrong with that, though.

Do you still play basketball these days, despite your injuries?

Yes, I missed one year of organized ball and then I was back at it. Heck, we won a league in Martin County two years ago that had four former Mr. Basketballs playing in it! I told myself that I wasn’t going to let that wreck get the best of me and I have fought back. I am really into lifting weights right now. I can bench about 280 right now and I’m able to hold the bar with my bad hand. It’s really just a true blessing.

I have to say that there aren’t very many people that have the type of motivation and drive that you display. What gives you that inner drive to overcome the kind of adversity that you’ve dealt with?

That’s something that I really can’t explain. I’ve always had this type of drive on everything I’ve done. It’s just part of who I am. If I’m told there is a one in ninety-nine chance of something happening, I’ll forget about the ninety-nine and just focus on what I can do to get the one.

Describe your love for the game of basketball.

Oh goodness. It’s really hard to describe but it’s just a major part of my life. I watched Joe and Jimmy growing up and I wanted it. It’s just a passion. If you have that passion and love, there’s no burning you out on something. That will never go away. I’d play every day of the week, right now, if I could.

I know there were hundreds of games that can prove you right or wrong on this next question. When you guys were growing up, who won the most Stepp battles on the family court?


(He chuckles again) It was almost always me and Joe against Dad and Jim. Joe was the oldest and he seemed to always have that psychological edge. Joe and I always say we won the most. Jimmy and Dad always said they won the most. It was knockdown, drag-out. The neighbors would sit on the porch and watch us go at it. I remember coming in to the dinner table one night and we were not even speaking. My mom said, and if you knew my mom you’d be shocked that she said anything, “I wish you boys would just stop playing that game!” Honestly though, Joe won the most. I’m not going to lie.

I hear that Joe has a couple of sons that are playing at a high-level. Tell me about Clark and Clint.

Clark transferred from Austin Peay and will play for Don Butcher at Cumberlands. He is looking forward to getting back to his natural position, which is point guard. He has commented that Cumberlands is on at least the same level as Austin Peay, which says a lot about the Mid South teams.

Clint is a very confident player. He needs to be more consistent, but he is an unbelievable shooter. He can get his shot off on anybody and actually has a chance to break the 3-point record in the state this season (Clint will be a senior at June Buchanan). He wants the ball in his hands for the big shots and he’s quick. I think he has a great chance to go to the next level. He does need to learn to put it on the floor, but he has a great chance.

You have three daughters, correct? After Clark and Clint, who is going to be the next Stepp to shine on the basketball court?

I do have three wonderful daughters and they aren’t really into basketball. My nephew that works for me has a 4-year old. Who knows man!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Uh Billy, the Coaching Fraternity Isn't an Actual Fraternity


I think a few NCAA head coaches are having trouble understanding that the term coaching fraternity is a cliche used to describe the collective group of college basketball coaches around the nation. Some coaches seem to think that the coaching fraternity is an actual fraternity and their behavior has to fit accordingly.

As a proud member of the Kentucky Gamma Chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at Morehead State University, I have a working knowledge of fraternities and Greek life in general. I am going to attempt to give some advice to coaches that have obviously misunderstood the cliche known as the coaching fraternity.

As a member (especially a married member) of the coaching fraternity, it is not generally acceptable to hang out after hours at restaurants, hook up with random women and have sex on dinner tables while your buddies lay low and enjoy the sites and sounds. This may have been a laughable story in college, but as a married adult male, I think it has been proven that this type of behavior can lead to career-threatening damage.

Another no-no in the coaching fraternity is drinking and driving. I know everyone makes mistakes, but three times is taking to the level of severe problem. This is a tell-tale sign of alcohol abuse and a total lack of control. Someone that has this problem more than once is in serious need of help.

Hazing is not acceptable in real fraternities, nor is is allowed in the coaching fraternity. It is not a good idea to lock your players in a bathroom stall and question their toughness. It definitely is a bad idea to kick a player off the bus outside a road arena and tell him to walk home, as well. These are the only examples I'm willing to disclose, but I promise that the other examples are not tolerable, either.

Binging on alcohol is another bad idea if you want to remain in the coaching fraternity. It is fine to drink if you're of legal age, but it is risky to be that "guy" in college that always used to say, "hey dude, this is the 27th consecutive day that I've caught a buzz..." or "Spring Break!!!" There is at least one coach, or at least one former coach, that is having a difficult struggle in this regard.

Just like in college, cheating is also against the rules in the college fraternity. I knew several students that lived by the philosophy "it isn't cheating if you don't get caught..." I guess that is debatable.

Let's face it, I'm having a little fun at the expense of Coaches Gone Wild: Bluegrass State Edition, but let me be serious for a moment. Here are my thoughts on three different situations that have taken place recently:

Calipari and Memphis: I believe that John Calipari knows the rules like the back of his hand. I think he knows how to work the rules, how to utilize loopholes and how to take advantage of them. I do not think that he is a blatant cheater as he is made out to be by various media sources. There is no way possible that John Calipari could have made it to this point in his career without getting caught if he cheated the way that many like to say he does. When the allegations arose at Memphis, the NCAA shredded the basketball program and went through it like a fine-tooth comb. They admitted that it was one of the cleanest programs they had worked with. Calipari may be a master of bending the rules, but he isn't breaking them. He would have been caught by now.

Pitino's Sexcapades: Rick Pitino is a great coach that made a mistake and has been caught up in it. I think that in hindsight, he is truly remorseful and the constant problems associated with the situation are taking a toll on the Louisville coach. He made a terrible mistake, absolutely, no questions asked. He made a second mistake by calling an impromptu press conference yesterday, only to lash out at the media. In doing so, he put himself back in the news and made a complicated problem even worse. At the end of the day, he made a mistake, did not break any laws and will hopefully be able to outlive this scandal.

Billy Gillispie as John Blutarsky: Zero...point...zero! That is the point that Billy Gillispie's life has spiralled out of control to. Gillispie is a man that is obviously going through some personal struggles. He is having trouble with alcohol abuse, legal problems and does not appear to be in great health. I hope Gillispie can regain his composure in life and get help. I know plenty of people will poke fun at the former Kentucky head coach, but in all seriousness, this is a man that is screaming for help. I hope he can find it before it's too late.

Victor Plays Well in Loss to Puerto Rico

Former Murray State star Cuthbert Victor had another nice showing in the FIBA Americas Tournament, despite his U.S. Virgin Islands teams coming up short against Puerto Rico.

Victor added 12 points and 7 rebounds in his team's 85-74 loss. The Virgin Islands return to action tomorrow against Canada and then finish pool play on Saturday against against Mexico.

Northern Kentucky Releases 2009-10 Schedule

The Northern Kentucky Norse have announced their 2009-10 schedule. The schedule features an opening game against the Xavier Musketeers in Cincinnati.

NKU 2009-10 Schedule

11/7/2009 Xavier Cincinnati, Ohio TBD
11/15/2009 Grand Valley State Allendale, Mich. 3 p.m.

John L. Griffin/Lions Club Classic
11/20/2009 Lake Erie Highland Heights, Ky. 7:45 p.m.
11/21/2009 Tusculum Highland Heights, Ky. 7:45 p.m.

11/23/2009 UC-Clermont Cincinnati, Ohio 7 p.m.
11/27/2009 Edinboro Erie, Pa. 6 p.m.
11/28/2009 Gannon Erie, Pa. 8 p.m.
12/3/2009 *Indianapolis Indianapolis, Ind. 7:30 p.m.
12/5/2009 *Southern Indiana Evansville, Ind. 4:15 p.m.
12/12/2009 Mount Vernon Nazarene Highland Heights, Ky. 3:15 p.m.
12/23/2009 UC-Clermont Highland Heights, Ky. 7 p.m.
1/2/2010 *Lewis Highland Heights, Ky. 3:15 p.m.
1/4/2010 *Quincy Highland Heights, Ky. 7:45 p.m.
1/7/2010 *Missouri-St. Louis St. Louis, Mo. 8:45 p.m.
1/9/2010 *Rockhurst Kansas City, Mo. 4 p.m.
1/16/2010 *Wisconsin-Parkside Highland Heights, Ky. 3:15 p.m.
1/18/2010 *Maryville St. Louis, Mo. 4 p.m.
1/21/2010 *Kentucky Wesleyan Highland Heights, Ky. 7:45 p.m.
1/23/2010 *Bellarmine Highland Heights, Ky. TBD
1/28/2010 *Illinois-Springfield Springfield, Ill. 4 p.m.
1/30/2010 *Saint Joseph's Rensselaer, Ind. 4 p.m.
2/4/2010 *Drury Highland Heights, Ky. 7:45 p.m.
2/6/2010 *Missouri S&T Highland Heights, Ky. 5:15 p.m.
2/11/2010 *Bellarmine Louisville, Ky. 8 p.m.
2/13/2010 *Kentucky Wesleyan Owensboro, Ky. 4:15 p.m.
2/18/2010 *Southern Indiana Highland Heights, Ky. 7:45 p.m.
2/20/2010 *Indianapolis Highland Heights, Ky. 7:45 p.m.
2/27/2010 TBD TBD TBD

Garcia Shoots Dominican to FIBA Americas Win

Former Louisville Cardinal Francisco Garcia was 6-10 from the field and 7-7 from the free throw in leading the Dominican Republic to a 100-87 victory over Panama during day 2 of the FIBA Americas Tournament. Garcia finished the game with 24 points.

The Dominican Republic is now 1-1 in pool play. They will have an off-day tomorrow before returning to action on Saturday and Sunday.

Billy Gillispie Arrested for DUI


Former Kentucky head coach Billy Gillispie has been arrested and charged with DUI in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Gillispie continues to make moves that would seemingly damage his coaching future.

Excerpt from LEX18.com Article:

Former University of Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie was arrested early Thursday in Anderson County.

Lawrenceburg Police said Gillispie was pulled over in a white 2009 Mercedes with Texas tags around 2:45 a.m. on US 127 after someone reported seeing the car driving erratically. Gillispie was arrested and charged with DUI.

We're told Gillispie refused to take a breathalizer or blood alcohol test. Police said a passenger, 42-year-old Charles O'Conner was also arrested and charged with alcohol intoxication.

We're told when police pulled Gillispie over, he told police he and O'Conner had been golfing. Officers said they smelled a strong odor of alcohol on the former coach.

Gillispie and O'Conner were taken to the Franklin County jail.

This is not the first time Billy Gillispie has been charged with driving under the influence. In 1999, he was arrested and charged with DUI in Oklahoma. He later pled guilty to a lesser charge.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Garcia, Victor Play Well But Lose at FIBA Americas


Francisco Garcia and Cuthbert Victor both played good basketball for their respective teams, but both came out of day one at the FIBA Americas Championship with a loss.

Garcia and his Dominican Republic teammates suffered an 81-68 loss to Brazil. Garcia, a former Louisville Cardinal, led his squad with 17 points, including 5-10 from long range. The Dominican Republic actually led after three quarters, but came unglued during the final quarter. They were outscored 24-7 in the final frame.

Victor, who played college basketball at Murray State, chipped in 12 points and 6 rebounds for the U.S. Virgin Islands during its 88-62 loss to Uruguay. The game was never seriously in doubt as Uruguay jumped out to a 20-point halftime lead. The game was decided on field goal shooting as the Virgin Islands only shot 33.8% versus 52.5% for the Uruguayans.

Both teams return to action tomorrow.

Rick Pitino Press Conference - Notes

Notes from the Rick Pitino Press Conference:

- The room is abuzz with anticipation
- Pitino opens with an attack on the media
- "Wait for the trial and the truth will come out."
- Pitino now shifts focus to attack Karen Sypher's credibility
- Pitino says: Everything that is being reported is 100% a lie
- "It hasn't hurt recruiting one bit."
- "Our fans are the greatest in college basketball."
- Pitino admits that he made a mistake
- "You shouldn't be reporting these lies."
- "The FBI does not care about basketball."


Watch the press conference:

BleacherReport.com Breaks down Western Kentucky

BleacherReport.com is continuing with its 65 Teams in 65 Days NCAA basketball preview. At #51 on the list, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers:

Location: Bowling Green, KY
Nickname: Hilltoppers
Conference: Sun Belt
Last Year’s Record: 25-9

Why They’ll Make It

Its amazing that as a mid-major, Western Kentucky is getting to the point where it doesn’t rebuild; it reloads.

There are only five returning players for the Hilltoppers this season, but they're the right five.
Led by the frontcourt trio of Sergio Kerusch, Stephon Pettigrew, and second-team all-conference guard, A.J. Slaughter, the Hilltoppers will still have the most talented starting five in conference.
However, the talent doesn’t stop with the starting five.

They have an outstanding recruiting class coming in, led by the Gatorade Alabama Player of the Year, Jordan Swing and top junior college prospect, Cliff Dixon.

Anyone expecting the Hilltoppers take a step back this season need only to look at this roster. Western Kentucky will continue to be difficult to defeat.

Why They Won’t Make It

Depth will be an issue for the Western Kentucky this season.

Among the seven players they lost last season was the Sun Belt’s Player of the Year, Orlando Mendez-Valdez. He’ll be difficult to replace, as will the quality depth this club has enjoyed in recent seasons.

In addition to that, the Hilltoppers had to dismiss incoming freshman David Laury from the team in late July.

They still have a talented class coming in, but it’s always unclear how a group of freshmen, no matter how talented, will adjust to the college game.

If they aren’t able to get solid play off the bench, the Hilltoppers may see their NCAA tournament berth in North Texas’ hands.

Source

Rick Pitino Press Conference Today

Several media sources are reporting via Twitter that Rick Pitino has called a press conference for this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. There is no word on what the press conference will be about.

Mark Krebs Offered Final UK Scholarship


Former walk-on Mark Krebs will become the newest scholarship player for John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats. Krebs was offered the scholarship late last night.

I have verified with someone close to the Krebs family that Mark has indeed picked up the final UK scholarship.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

One-on-One with Pikeville College Head Coach Kelly Wells


Kelly Wells is the head coach at Pikeville College. He enjoyed a successful playing career in high school at Rowan County, where he helped get the Vikings to three consecutive Sweet Sixteen appearances. He played a season at Tulsa before finishing his college career with three seasons at Morehead State. As a coach, he led Mason County to a state championship in 2003 and a state runner-up finish in 2004. He then coached at Hawaii-Pacific before coming to Pikeville.

I consider Coach Wells a good friend and it was great to talk a little basketball with him earlier today:

Coach Wells, thank you for taking the time to speak to me today. Tell me a little about your background as a player and coach.

Grew up playing basketball in the youth leagues and summer camps of Morehead and Morehead State University. My father coached the women at MSU for 10 years and I kind of was the typical coach’s son. Always at practice and around the team.

As a player, you helped take Rowan County to the Sweet Sixteen three consecutive times. As a coach, you led Mason County to a state championship in 2003. Talk a little about the feeling of accomplishment that follows a trip to the Sweet Sixteen.

The trips to the Sweet 16 at RC were a new experience not only for me, but our community as a whole. You really don’t appreciate those things until you get away from it somewhat. It was great to be a part of those championship teams! Can you describe your feelings as the final horn sounded to end that 2003 championship game? Not sure how to explain the sense of accomplishment and pride I felt for our team and community. Maysville and Mason County is a special place with special people. To be a part of our first championship was emotional and exciting. The players that we had were the reason for the success and to see them doing great is what it is all about.

You completed your college career at Morehead State, which is located in your hometown. How did it feel to “come back home” so-to-speak during your college career?

Morehead and Morehead State University are who I am. To be able to play and graduate from there meant the world to me. “Back Where I Come From” fits me pretty well to a T!! My entire family has graduated from MSU including my wife and her family.

I know you have played and coached against several great opponents during your career. What name comes to mind as the best basketball player you or one of your teams ever competed against?

As a player I can remember playing against Byron Houston from Ok State and Shawn Bradley from BYU. As a coach I can remember playing against Eric Gordon from Indy Central and Lonnell DeWalt from Warren Central. I had the best on my team, Chris Lofton!!

You are now at Pikeville College and you have plenty of positive things taking place in your program. One recent announcement is that the Bears will be playing the majority of their home games at the East Kentucky Expo Center. Tell me a little about the decision to move most of the games from campus to the Expo Center.

The difference between a typical talent show and “American Idol” is all in the presentation. We have always put on a great talent show here at PC, but now we have an opportunity to be something special. It also gives us a great opportunity to connect to our community with events such as Alumni, Local Business, Etc. We now have the nicest facility in all of NAIA and you would be hard pressed to find too many DI facilities nicer. We want the best for our student-athletes here and this is another way to show that.

You have also announced some new ideas regarding ticket sales for the 2009-10 season. How are ticket sales looking since the announcement?

The general excitement has been overwhelming in most ways. That is no exception with season tickets. We have only had tickets on sale since Saturday and we are busy completing orders. But, there is always room for more—Buy Your Season Tickets!!!!

It definitely sounds like you have generated some excitement about Pikeville Bears basketball. Let’s talk a little about your team this coming season. You return several key players, including a talented scorer in Josh Samarco. You also have a talented recruiting class on campus. Talk a little about the players you have and what you’re expecting this season.

The timing couldn’t be better for this team and roster of players. We are just as excited about our guys as we are all the changes around the program. We return four of our top 6 players off back to back 20 win seasons. One of those is Josh Samarco who was a 2nd team all-American and another is All-MSC Justin Hicks. Two other returning players are starting post Anthony Smith and 6th man Kane Belcher.

Other returners are Chris Puckett, Zach Hurt, and Adam Simmons.

The recruiting class is led by NCAA DI transfers PG Jonathan Clark, F Maurice Thomas, and PF Andre Thornton. All three have the potential to be all-league players in their perspective positions. Other transfers are G Chris Donald and G Ryan Whitaker that we expect both to play significant minutes on the wing for us.

Also, in that class are freshman G/F Trevor Setty, G Kyan Hines, and PG Tobin Erhardt. Derrick Lee is also a transfer from Southern Indiana.

One of our issues last season was our depth and we have addressed that need in a major way!!

Name a couple of players that you expect to have big seasons from on the court this season.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS: Justin Hicks, Josh Samarco, Jonathan Clark, Maurice Thomas, Chris Donald, Anthony Smith, and Andre Thornton. This should be our strongest team at PC since I have been here!!

One thing we can bank on is that the Mid-South Conference will be extremely tough year-in and year-out. This season will be no exception. All the MSC teams are competitive, but which team or teams do you expect to be near the top in 2009-10?

The humbling part of having a very good team is that ALL the other teams in our league will as well. Not only will they all have very good teams, but they will be coached by great coaches who work very hard and are first class. Having a good team means very little in our league---It takes much more than just that.

I have watched several Mid-South games during the past few years and I have to say that these games are as intense and exciting as any basketball a fan could find in the state of Kentucky. How would you describe the atmosphere during a league battle against the likes of a Georgetown or a Cumberlands?

The MSC basketball games are as intense as any you will find at any level. It may be the best kept secret in basketball to many. Those who truly know basketball know how good it is and appreciate it. We have great rivalries and also great friendships in our league. If you are a MSC recruit you are a very good player!!!

Which MSC team has the most challenging road environment for a visiting team and why?

All our teams have unique situations for sure. Some gyms are nicer than others and some have more support than others, but any night you are not on top of your game it will be a challenging environment. The NAIA focuses on the Champions of Character initiative and sportsmanship is a way of life in our league.

Name a conference player or two from other teams that you expect to have great seasons in 2009-10.

LWC – McPhearson, Gtown – Moses, St. Catharines – Johnson, WVTech – Slack, Campbellsville – Comanares, Cumberlands - Bryon

What can an opponent expect when they tip-off against a Kelly Wells’ coached basketball team?

Very good offensive team in all categories and one that must continue to improve defensively to get where we want. Our identity will be built around our togetherness. We will be prepared and skilled.

Coach, it’s been great talking with you. I look forward to following the Bears this season and I wish you nothing but the best.

Rafael Franco Joins Kentucky Wesleyan Staff

Rafael Franco, an assistant at the University of Southern Mississippi for the past four seasons, has been appointed as an assistant men's basketball coach at Kentucky Wesleyan, according to Panther head coach Todd Lee.

Franco, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, served as Director of Video Operations and Camp Director plus office operations for two-and-half seasons for head coach Larry Eustachy. Prior to his promotion, he served as a graduate assistant for the Golden Eagles for one-and-half years.

“Rafael brings a lot of basketball experience to our staff, both at the Division I level and the international level," said Lee. "He has worked scouting opponents in Conference USA and that will help as we prepare for the teams we will be playing.

"His playing experience and ability to work with our post players will be valuable. His connections in South America, especially Brazil will be a very big asset for our recruiting in the future.”

Franco's responsibilities included video operations, film exchange, office operations, summer camps, monitoring players in the classroom and the liaison/director to the Hardwood Booster Club.

"I am honored to have this opportunity to work for a college with an incredible rich tradition and history," Franco said.

"My 21 years playing experience and winning championships combined with working with the four best coaches in Brazil plus Eustachy, Layden, and former NBA head coach Frank Johnson have prepared me well.

"I can’t wait for our first game at the Sportscenter to fill the atmosphere that I heard so much about."

Press Release from KY Wesleyan

Ex-Georgetown Star Demetrius Guions Signs in BJ League

Press Release from Georgetown College:

Former Georgetown College star Demetrius Guions has signed a contract to play professionally with the 89ers in Sendai, Japan.

The 6-5 guard from Radcliff, Ky. transferred to Georgetown from North Carolina A & T with two years of eligibility remaining and was named an NAIA All-American each of his two years in the league. In addition, Guions is a two-time Mid-South All-Conference player, appeared in two NAIA National Tournaments, making it to the Fab Four in 07-08, and was an integral part of the Tigers’ perfect 31-0 regular season, also in 07-08.

Guions finalized his agreement with the Sendai 89ers last week. The team is a part of the Japan-BJ League and last season went 31-21 and finished 3rd in their division. Sendai was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Eastern Conference Tournament to end the year.

As a senior, Guions averaged 12.3 points per game and 4.8 rebounds. He added 42 steals and 23 blocks for the Tigers, who finished the year 27-5.

Guions will report to Japan next week. He is the 39th Tiger coached by Happy Osborne to play professionally.

Source

Cuthbert Victor, Francisco Garcia on National Teams


A pair of players with local ties have been named to their respective national teams.

Cuthbert Victor will compete on the 2009 U.S. Virgin Islands national team. Victor, who played college basketball for Murray State, continues to enjoy a productive professional career. He currently plays club basketball in Spain for Vive Menorca.

Former Louisville Cardinal Francisco Garcia will represent the Dominican Republic as a member of their 2009 national team. Garcia is currently a member of the NBA's Sacramento Kings.

Both players will join their national teams for the upcoming 2009 FIBA Americas Championship that gets underway tomorrow. The Dominican Republic will compete in Group B with Panama, Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina. The U.S. Virgin Islands are in Group A with Mexico, Uruguay, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Sources: LatinBasket.com and FIBA.com

Marshall County's Scott McKenty at Olney Central College


Former Marshall County guard Scott McKenty will continue his basketball career at Olney Central Junior College in Olney, Illinois. This morning, I spoke to OCC head coach Michael Burris about his basketball program and Scott.

Coach Burris, tell me a little about your basketball program at OCC.

We are an NJCAA Division one program competing in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference with the likes of SE Illinois, SW Illinois, Wabash Valley, and John A. Logan. We feel it is one of the best leagues in the nation. We were 20-11 last year in my staff's 4th season at the helm. We were a program that was very successful in the late 90s and early 2000s. We dropped quite a bit and now are in rebuilding program stage. We will be a very young team this year, but like what we have seen so far from them.

What led you and your staff to Marshall County and Scott McKenty?

I have a lot of respect and admiration for Marshall County coach Gus Gillespie. He is a terrific coach and Marshall fans should be happy to have him. I got to know him while he was coaching at nearby Robinson High School. Coach G also played here at OCC for a year so he knew about our program. He told me about Scott early in the season. I believe my staff and I were at 15 games during his senior season. We really liked him and made him a priority for our recruiting class.

Tell me your thoughts on Scott’s basketball skills. What do you see as his primary strengths and weaknesses?

Scott is a true point guard. He sees the floor so well and he passes the ball very well. He made other guys on the floor better each time we saw them play. He is a tough, throw back kind of player. He played the last two games of the state series with a broken hand on his shooting hand. He knows how to compete, and obviously he has been well coached. Scott needs to adjust to the speed and athleticism of the JUCO game which most of our freshman do. He will be fine. He handles the ball so well. He will continue to rep his jumper in workouts here.

How will Scott help your basketball team?

Scott will compete for a starting point guard spot with a fellow freshman Austin Akers from Northview HS in Brazil Indiana. We are counting on Scott to provide leadership at the one spot. We are confident he can run our uptempo system. The thing we love about Scott is he is going to play his tail off everyday and he raises the level of competitiveness in practice daily.

Will he have an opportunity to contribute this season?

He will contribute to our team immediately. We graduated two 1000+ point scorers. We feel this team will have a lot of different leading scorers night in and night out. Scott just needs to make open shots, defend the point on opposing teams, and take care of the basketball.

Any additional thoughts, Coach?

We are happy to have Scott here with us. He is a winner and hopefully he will lead the other 11 freshman in the program to help us continue to raise the bar here at Olney Central College. We're very excited about the future with this talented freshman class.


OCC has had seven NCAA DI signees the last two years. Here is a list of OCC players that have transferred to other programs:

08-09

Ahmad Grant--UNC Wilmington
Ryan Daniels--Central Arkansas
Jared Rehmel--Central Arkansas
Joe Wright--South Carolina State
Cor-J Cox--Mississippi Valley State
Jeremy Kendle--Bellarmine
Cameron Hall--Carson Newman
Vern Watkins--William Woods
Ryan Laswell--Indianapolis will try to walk on

07-08

Tijan Jobe--Indiana University
Burleigh Porte--Wisconsin Milwaukee

Brandon Knight's List is Growing?


Last week, it was reported that Brandon Knight had cut his final list to five schools, but that has apparently changed. In an article appearing on ZagsBlog.com this morning, Knight's mother states that the list is actually closer to ten schools. Here is the article from Adam Zagoria:

I just talked to Turgenia Knight, Brandon Knight’s mother, and she says Brandon is considering more than just the five schools mentioned the other day.

She said Duke is also on the list that includes UConn, Kentucky, Kansas, Miami and Florida.

She said several other schools are in the mix and would get back to me later today, but Syracuse, Miami, Georgia Tech and Florida State are also listed on his Rivals page.

“It’s those [five] schools probably with about four additional ones added on to that list,” she said. “Duke would be added onto that list. About four additional schools.”

She said Brandon, the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2010 out of Ft Lauderdale (FL) Pine Crest, had the complete list and that she was working on arranging visits.

A visit to Kansas for Midnight Madness is set.

“We are going to be going to Kansas and a couple other places,” she said.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dick Vitale Agrees That the NCAA Got it Wrong


Dick Vitale agrees that the NCAA is making a mistake if they punish Memphis for violations stemming from Derrick Rose's questionable SAT score. Here are some expcerpts from Vitale's article on ESPN:

On the fact that Rose was cleared by the NCAA:

I have a big problem with this whole situation.

Here is a simple question: Which Division I coach would keep Rose out of the lineup after the NCAA declared him eligible to play? There is an NCAA clearinghouse that determines player eligibility and they told Memphis that Rose could play.

I don't believe there is a coach in America who wouldn't play him after the clearinghouse declared him eligible.

Why shouldn't they play the No. 1 point guard when the governing body, on two occasions, declared him eligible.

The University of Memphis and then-coach John Calipari followed the rules and regulations. Compliance people did the best they could in finding out what the player's status was. The determination was simple: play him.

On the punishment:

No way they should vacate that banner and the wins.

On John Calipari:

John Calipari is being maligned by people who are against him. They scream that he coached two schools that ended up vacating their Final Four appearances. They say this is a pattern of wrongdoing.

Oh really?

Was it Calipari's fault that Marcus Camby took money from an agent? It has been stated that Calipari was not involved in this Rose issue.

If you are anti-Calipari, you will have your ammunition and you will whack away at him. Whenever you are a high-profile success like Calipari, you are going to take some shots.

When it is all said and done, his days at Kentucky will solve a lot of problems. He will win, win, win in the Bluegrass State.

I recently spoke to Calipari and he is so motivated and fired up to bring success to Lexington. He wants to do it the right way.

Think about this. He has had around 100 players during his days as a Division I head coach. Have any of his players come out and accused him of giving them cash? Have they been given clothes, a car, anything? Has anyone ever said Calipari himself was cheating?

There has never been any complaints in those areas.

On rectifying the situation:

I say to the NCAA, there is an appeal from the University of Memphis. I say, come on, look in the mirror. The governing body said the young man can play. He played, he performed, they won. It is not fair to take away the 38 wins and that championship game banner.

Punish the school by taking back the money. That is the penalty they deserve.


My Thoughts: When the legendary Dick Vitale talks college basketball, it is usually a good idea to listen.

Karen Sypher Psychiatric Exam Requested by Prosecution

A woman charged with trying to extort $10 million from Louisville coach Rick Pitino may be so mentally incompetent that she does not understand the legal proceedings and may not be able to assist in her own defense, federal prosecutors said Friday in asking a judge to order a psychological exam.

In a motion filed in federal court, prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Charles Simpson to order the exam for Karen Cunagin Sypher, 49, based on "a multitude of factors." The reasons for their request were included in sealed documents.

Sypher has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of trying to extort money from Pitino and lying to the FBI. She is accused of demanding college tuition for her children, that her house be paid off and $10 million in exchange for keeping quiet about allegations involving Pitino.

James Earhart, Sypher's attorney, said he's not sure what prompted the request for the psychological examination.

"I didn't file it, so I don't know," Earhart told the Associated Press. He declined to further address the motion's claims about his client.

Complete Article from CBSSports.com

My thoughts: Hmm, in other news, water is wet and the sun is actually really hot.

ESPN Previews Louisville and the Big East Conference


ESPN has published its Big East Conference preview and they rank Louisville sixth in the preseason standings. Here are ESPN's thoughts on the Cardinals:

6. Louisville: The Cards should be very good, but there is no telling how the off-court distractions will affect this team. Losing Terrence Williams and Earl Clark is a blow, but there is talent. Louisville's backcourt is back along with freshman Peyton Siva, but the firepower will be up front in Samardo Samuels and Terrence Jennings. Louisville will probably not be as effective a pressing team, and needs to play inside-out.

The ESPN top 5 are: Villanova, West Virginia, Connecticut, Georgetown and Syracuse

One of the top offseason storylines: Will Rick Pitino withstand the heat? With the salacious details about his encounter with accused extortionist Karen Sypher now public, the Louisville coach is going to face an uncomfortable season. If he thought walking into Rupp Arena as the Cards' coach for the first time was tough, wait until he goes to Kentucky this season. Pitino's camp remains steadfast that the coach isn't going anywhere, even with best friend and veteran head coach Ralph Willard at his side should he need to bail. But Sypher's trial still looms.

One of the league's most anticipated freshmen: Peyton Siva, PG, Louisville: Siva is a super-athletic, quick and skilled point guard. He's not a great shooter, but he can do everything else they need. He should get major playing time, if not start.

Two of the league's top non-conference games:

Louisville at Kentucky, Jan. 2: Seriously, you have to ask why? The bitterness now involved in this rivalry makes the Civil War look like a little dust-up. Are you going to honestly say you'll be watching anything else the moment Rick Pitino walks onto the court at Rupp?

Connecticut vs. Kentucky, Dec. 9 (SEC-Big East Invitational): There is no love lost between the two head coaches, and as the one-time bitter New England rivals now go head-to-head nationally for recruits and wins, things only get testier. This SEC-Big East Invitational game in New York should feature some of the best talent in the nation.

Calipari Offers Role Reversal for Jeannine Edwards


The UK Basketball Women's Clinic will kickoff on October 7 at Memorial Coliseum and the Joe Craft Center. The event will take place from 6:00 p.m to 9:00 p.m. at a cost of $100.

Ironically enough, the special guest speaker at the event will be none other than Jeannine Edwards (of Billy Gillispie interview fame).

Someone on Twitter posted earlier: "John Calapari really does do everything better than Billy Clyde."

Press Release from UKAthletics.com:

October 7, 2009
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Joe Craft Center
Cost: $100

Special guest: Jeannine Edwards

WHERE: Memorial Coliseum and the Joe Craft Center. Both facilities are located on the corner of Avenue of Champions and Lexington Avenue across the street from the University of Kentucky Student Center. Parking is available in the "E" lot between Lexington Avenue and Martin Luther King Drive.

WHEN: October 7, 2009

Registration will be located in the front entrance of Memorial Coliseum from 4:30- 6 pm. The clinic will begin at 6 pm and conclude at approximately 9 pm.

WHAT'S HAPPENING:

Scheduled presentations include behind-the-scenes looks at UK video, strength and conditioning and sports injury/rehabilitation lectures, as well as a Q&A with Coach Calipari, staff and current players. New to the program this year are discussion and demonstration of the Dribble Drive offense.

* If you are recruitable age (entering the 7th - 12th grade, junior college, or prep school), you are not permitted to attend the clinic.

Ex-Wildcat Shagari Alleyne Signs in Norway


Former Kentucky Wildcat center Shagari Alleyne has signed a professional contract to continue his basketball career in Norway. He has signed with Tromso Storm in the Norwegian BLNO league.

Alleyne, who stands at an impressive 7'3", played three seasons for Kentucky before transferring to Manhattan College. He did not play for Manhattan and opted to enter the 2007 NBA Draft. After going undrafted, he attended training camp for the Philadelphia 76ers, but never made the team.

In 2008, he was invited to join the Harlem Globetrotters, where he became known as "Skyscraper."

Source: EuroBasket.com

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Kentucky Wildcats: Recruiting Updates

Here is a quick update from the weekend:

- Marquis Teague visited the UK campus over the weekend; Teague is the top PG in the 2011 class

- Former Florida Gator Eloy Vargas also visited Lexington over the weekend; we'll have more on this later today

- Harrison Barnes trimmed his list to six and Kentucky did not make the cut; most people that I've talked to thinks that Barnes will be Duke's to lose

Who Gets My NCAA Office Pool Money From 2008?


In the 2008 NCAA Tournament, my picks clicked on all cylinders during March Madness. I walked away from the local gambling ring known as the "office pool" $500 richer and full of pride until early April 2009.

The only problem - now that Memphis didn't actually participate in the NCAA Tournament, my picks were very wrong and I probably didn't even finish in the top 10. The dilemma now is figuring out who the actual winner happened to be. That person will surely be pleased with an unexpected $500 bonus check and I certainly am not happy that I have to dip into my savings account. It is going to be tough to sign that check and hand it over. Thank you NCAA for stripping me of my NCAA Tournament March Madness Office Pool Championship - my first and only one, by the way.

Am I really going to recalculate the 2008 NCAA Tournament brackets and surprise the new winner with a $500 payday? Of course not.

Does it really matter that the NCAA no longer recognizes the Memphis Tigers' 38-2 season and Final Four appearance? Or course not.

Was the NCAA's so-called penalties for Memphis justifiable or were they simply sending a message to a non-BCS school that was under the leadership of John Calipari? That's debatable. What isn't debatable is the fact that Kansas won a national title with an ineligible player and the NCAA turned the other cheek. The key factor in both situations - both players were ruled eligible by the so-called "NCAA Clearinghouse" and both schools were given the green light to allow the athletes to participate in varsity athletics.

Does that make sense? Of course not.

Perhaps the NCAA should strip itself of credibility and put itself on a 3-year probation.

I personally hope that Memphis follows through with an appeal and defeats the NCAA's erroneous judgement in this particular case. If the appeal is lost, I hope R.C. Johnson drops the Final Four trophy off the top of the Morgan Keegan Tower.

Former Western Kentucky Hilltopper Courtney Lee

Mike Moreau has published a nice article about former Hilltopper Courtney Lee. The article appears on HoopsWorld.com and discusses the ups and downs of Lee's rookie season. Here are some excerpts:

"Courtney went from barely getting a sniff of playing time in October and November, to getting major minutes in December, and then to the starting lineup in mid-season."

"He was so good in his role as the spot-up-two-guard-lock-down-defender that the Magic traded Bogans and didn't even miss the injured Pietrus. He was the last rookie standing in the NBA playoffs and started in the NBA Finals."

"So how does that happen? Luck? Karma? Providence? None of the above. It happens because of what Courtney Lee represents in his everyday life – character and hard work. It is the backbone and foundation of any player's development and it is who he is that enabled him to do what he did."

"From the bright lights of the Finals to the swamps of Jersey, Lee will be watching his former teammates and friends challenge for another title while he plays for a lottery ticket. "

Complete Article from HoopsWorld.com

Derrick Miller Explodes for 40; Continues to Shine


Former Georgetown Tiger Derrick Miller is having a career season thus far in Paraguay. Miller, who plays for Sacachispas de Encarnacion in Parauay's National League, recently exploded for 40 points in a 117-107 victory over Club Social Amambay. In the game before that, he scored 29 points in a 92-86 win over Felix Perez Cardozo.

Miller played for Happy Osborne and the Georgetown College Tigers nearly a decade ago.

Source: LatinBasket.com

Miller's Career Timeline:

1997-1999: Central Florida Community College
1999-2000: College of Charleston
2000-2001: Georgetown Coll. (NAIA)
2001-2002: Kentucky Coyotes (NABL)
2002: Florida Sea Dragons (USBL)
2002-2003: VIF Valerenga Kings (Norway)
2003: Kentucky Coyotes (UPBL)
2004: St.Louis Skyhawks (USBL)
2005: Puente Alto C.D. (CHI-DIMAYOR)
2005-2006: Alma Juniors Esperanza (ARG-TNA,1T)
2006: Arrieros de Medellin (COL-Copa Federacion)
2006-2007: Basket Clubs Vienna (AUT-A Bundesliga,1T)
2007: InderValle (COL-Copa Federacion,1T)
2007-2008: Asociacion Italiana (TNA,1T)
2008: Sacachispas de Encarnacion (Paraguay)
2008-2009: Asociacion Italiana (TNA)
2009: Sacachispas de Encarnacion (Paraguay)

Matt Pilgrim Cleared to Play in 2009-10


I just talked to a friend at Oklahoma State that says Matt Pilgrim has been cleared by the NCAA to play for the Cowboys in 2009-10. Pilgrim transferred from Kentucky to Oklahoma State during the summer, after sitting out last season at Kentucky as a transfer.

A look at OSU's official roster now shows Pilgrim listed (see image).

Oklahoma State is coached by former Kentucky point guard and Madisonville native Travis Ford.

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