Aaron Harrison ~ Big Blue Assassin

Aaron Harrison ~ Big Blue Assassin

That’s two game winners in a row. This dude is on fire.


The Lost Spirit of Good Sportsmanship

“Football is a great deal like life in that it teaches that work, sacrifice, perseverance, competitive drive, selflessness, and respect for authority are the price each and every one of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”
-Vince Lombardi

Manning and Brady shake hands after the game.

A friend on WildcatNation wrote a timely piece on the decaying spirit of sportsmanship across America today.  Really, it’s a global phenomenon.  From the Football Hooligan of Europe to the assassination of sports stars who fail on the world scene such as the Olympics and the World Cup.    In America, we have Soccer Moms fighting with each other.  Fathers berating their sons on the Football field and fighting with other Fathers and Coaches over playing time and Coaching Tactics.  Fans fighting in their seats in every Stadium across the Nation.  There was the big brawl during the Pacers~Detroit game.  The infamous Knicks~Miami brawls.  Football players and Basketball players carrying guns into the Stadiums and Arenas across America.  The list goes on and on.

Lighthouse touches on all of this and gives a few suggestions as to how to improve this dynamic for the future in the following article:

Sportsmanship, What Happened?

Who’s at Fault?

Webster describes sportsmanship as, “a fairness, courtesy, being a cheerful loser etc.” How far have we come from the time in our country when that was a meaningful description? I’m ashamed to say, too far. Who’s to blame? Again I’m ashamed to admit, me, you, parents, coaches, administrators, rules makers, officials, in other words, we are all guilty in one way or the other.

We in Kentucky are very fortunate to have many outstanding athletes at all levels who compete each year in a multitude of sports on the gridirons, fields and courts. These student athletes are coached by a dedicated group of professionals and are supported by thousands of parents and fans. However, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association reports that approximately 700 players and coaches are ejected from high school contests each year due to unsportsmanlike conduct. (The breakdown is 80% athletes, 20% coaches. No statistics are kept on fan ejections, which could easily surpass those of players and coaches). When you add in the NCAA in all sports and levels, it’s mind boggling.

During my nearly 30 years of officiating basketball, football, baseball, and softball, I have seen the decline in sportsmanship in all sports at all levels. I have had the privilege of officiating every level, especially basketball, from small children to the old ABA professional level. I felt blessed to officiate every game, but have personally experienced several upsetting situations. One was at a peewee football game; a dad ran out of the stands and yelled at his son that he would whip him if this much bigger kid knocked him down again. At a DII basketball game; police had to be called to control a coach who the next day was fired because of his behavior. I had to remove a scorekeeper and have fans escorted out. We had to stop a college basketball game because four teenagers were using thick rubber bands to shoot nails at the opposing players. Finally they were arrested. And I could go on and on. I feel very fortunate to have only ejected a few players or coaches.

As you can imagine, I’ve endured a lot of verbal abuse. I guess I’ve heard every vulgar name you can think of. I once had a school administrator threaten me on my way to the locker room at halftime. One of my friends received a very nasty letter, anonymously of course. One official was shot at with a BB gun, they missed. Some of this stuff you expect, but some of it, certainly not. One fact I’m particularly ashamed of, Christian schools are among the worst. I heard this comment from a High School official, “Those Christians, they pray before the game and then all hell breaks loose.” And I have to admit it’s true because I witnessed it myself.

I strongly believe the underlying problem is the lack of respect that individuals have for each other and for authority in our society. Many people feel they can say whatever they want to whomever they want. This particularly seems to apply to individuals in positions of authority. All you have to do is ask school teachers, policemen, even parents. And, the problem is widespread.

We recently witnessed trash talking used to get in the heads of opposing players, and it seemed to be supported by the coach. We hear vulgar chants from fans, and they are not all students, but it is never addressed by school administrators. Hence, a message of support. This language is allowed in the classroom, so why not in the gym. Our students learn in the gym just like they do in a science lab. This lack of respect detracts from the otherwise positive benefits derived from sports participation.

I challenge everyone associated with athletics to make good sportsmanship a priority. Set a positive example to reinforce these critically important values associated with interscholastic sports participation. I propose the following specific measures to improve sportsmanship and the student athlete experience.

UCLAs Aaron Afflalo comforts Adam Morrison after a loss in the NCAA Tournament

Just play the game! Concentrate on your performance, not on putting down your opponent. Whether you’re a professional or in middle school, realize you are a role model, and you have someone looking up to you, so set a good example.

Hold your players accountable for their conduct. Remember, you control your players’ most precious commodity-playing time. Don’t allow your players to engage in unsportsmanlike behavior. Set the proper example with your own conduct. Your players will take their lead from how you behave. Never allow your players to abuse opponents under any circumstances. Never berate the officials. If you disagree with a call, ask (in a gentlemanly manner) for an explanation of what the official saw. If you feel you can “bait” an official, simply scratch him, because the other coach probably feels the same way. If you’re both right, that official has no business on the court anyway.

Create an atmosphere at your athletics where good sportsmanship is expected. Don’t allow your students to engage in vulgar chants or demean the other team. Have zero tolerance for any act that is not in the interest of good sportsmanship. Use athletic contests as an opportunity to teach positive values. Control your coaches, after all, they are teachers of young adults and you would never allow a science professor to act like some coaches do.

A spectator’s ticket for admission must be considered an opportunity to watch the performance of highly impressionable athletes from children thru college and even into adults. It’s not a license to abuse coaches, players, officials or other fans. Fans must understand that attending a game is a privilege and should be treated as such. Fans should focus on positively encourage their teams and not engage in demeaning conduct toward opponents. Fans need to understand they are subject to removal from the premises if they exhibit inappropriate behavior. Officials are going to make bad calls, players are going to make mistakes, and coaches are not always going to play the players fans think they should play.

We must shoulder some of the blame for the deterioration of sportsmanship. When we fail to address unsportsmanlike actions by coaches and players, we do a disservice to the game. We must have the courage and conviction to address those situations. When it comes to dealing with unsportsmanlike acts, we have broad discretion in our responses, from verbal warnings to ejections. Remember, enforcing rules related to poor sportsmanship, and all rules, is our job. The game is there for you, you are not there for the game. You know the rule for walking so, call it whether it happens in the paint or 30 feet out. It does have an effect on the game. If you allow a coach to “bait or work” you and you turn a deaf ear because you’re worried about your rating, please for the betterment of the game, turn in your stripes!

Everyone associated with athletics must take responsibility for improving sportsmanship. From player to coach to official, we are all equal partners in promoting the positive values inherent to interscholastic participation. No matter what your role is in the game, do YOUR part to support good sportsmanship.

I’ll admit that I’m guilty of some of these activities.  I’ve heckled the refs in my time.  Mostly in fun.  To get a laugh from the crowd.   However, I can see how it can be taken too far.  I’ve heckled fans as well.  Coming close to physical altercations a time or two in the past.

I reckon it’s time to modify my behavior so as not to countenance this behavior in the future.

It’s a great piece Mr. Lighthouse.  Thank you for taking the time to highlight this issue.

One man practicing good sportsmanship is far better than 50 others preaching it.
— Knute Rockne, football coach

I never thought about losing, but now that it’s happened, the only thing is to do it right.
— Muhammad Ali, boxer

Always imitate the behavior of the winner when you lose.
— Anonymous

“In the end, it’s extra effort that separates a winner from second place. But winning takes a lot more that that, too. It starts with complete command of the fundamentals. Then it takes desire, determination, discipline, and self-sacrifice. And finally, it takes a great deal of love, fairness and respect for your fellow man. Put all these together, and even if you don’t win, how can you lose?”
-Jesse Owens

When the Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, He writes not that you won or lost, but how you played the Game.
— Grantland Rice, sportswriter

It’s good sportsmanship to not pick up lost golf balls while they are still rolling. Mark Twain

Kentucky ~ IS THE SEC!

With the Gators and Wildcats being down for the last several years, the SEC has struggled to gain its footing nationally. Tennessee and Bruce Pearl make a nice story, sure, but they are nothing compared to the vaunted Wildcats.

This is the cold, hard truth that the rest of the SEC doesn’t want to acknowledge.

When it comes to basketball, UK is the SEC.  The SEC needs a dominant Kentucky in order to be relevant.  Much like the ACC needs FSU in order to remain relevant in the BCS of Football.  It’s the natural order.

Get used to it.

Kentucky is back.  Coach Cal will keep UK at the top. More than likely, Cal will stay 8 to 10 years which means that Mitch Barnhart should should be keeping an eye out for a successor.  It’s too early to bring in an assistant.  Two or three years down the line, Cal should start looking for someone to whom he can hand the reins.  Recruit this young and talented  coach to the bench at UK and start his training to take over.  Unlike Tubby Smith, Cal selects young and enthusiastic talent for his bench.  No re-treads on the bench under Coach Cal.  Keep that bench full of young hungry assistant and associate coaches.  Hopefully, Cal finds a few ex-players from UK teams to carry the torch after he leaves.

2018 or so, Cal can hand the reins over to a pre-selected individual.  No coaching searches.  No guessing.  Simply a seamless turn over.  This is how it should be done.

UK reloads and keeps rocking the SEC and the NCAA.

Nahida, Jalil and Wazir Ali Say “Go Big Blue!!!”


I purchased a couple of UK sweatshirts to give to my little friends over at the RHQ.  I wanted to give the sweat shirts to the kids before I left for leave as a Christmas gift.  I didn’t have the time, though.  So I put them away until after my R&R.

Wahid, Shoaib and I took the  sweatshirts and a few other items (puzzles and candy) to the kids today.   It was fun playing with the kids and explaining them the meaning of the puzzles.   I explained to them who Donald and Daisy  Duck and Huey, Dewey and Louie are as well as the 101 Dalmatians and the Cookie Monster.  As I was doing it, Shoaib reminded me that I used to call Wahid the cookie monster.  When I first met Wahid, he scammed one of my cookies off of me.  I got mad and told him that I’d kick his ass if he ever touched my stuff again.  lol  Then I started messing with him and nicknamed him cookie monster.  It ran on for a year and finally I just let it tail off.  He was pretty embarrassed by it.   Of course, that just made me rub it in all the more.

We gave them the sweatshirts and the candy.  Baba brought over his baby girls as well.  They were cute little girls.  One of them was scared to death of me and the other just looked at me as if I was a curiosity.  I laughed and laughed.  Kept tell ing her; “so you’re the brave one of the family” and laughing.  She let me hold her and talked to me and generally was a fearless little gal.  I loved it.  Too cool.

After the boys put on their sweatshirts, I got them to pose with the flags and yell “Go Big Blue!”  It was too funny and too cute.  I wish I had my vidcam, but, I left it in Thailand with Unny.  I had to coax Nahida over to get into the picture.  She gets shy when the camera comes out.

I sometimes wonder what these kids think of all of this.  I’m some strange American man and I bring them things for no reason.  Shoaib teased Nahida today and told her that I wanted to take her back to the States to marry my son.  She didn’t take to the idea.  I told her that he was joking and I don’t have a son.  No need to worry about that.  Even so, she seemed nervous the whole time.  As if she thought we might take her away.

I kept re-assuring her that it was in no way going to happen.  Although, I’d love to adopt her and take her home with me.  Get her away from the fate that most likely awaits her as an adult Afghan woman.  Send her to school and lead her to a happier life.

I gave Shoaib the camera and he snapped away as I played and acted like a kid myself.  I think they enjoyed it.  Little Jalil called me Dear Uncle today.  I can’t remember the Dari word for Uncle  or I’d type it here.  Then Jalil and Ali started calling me Dawood Khan.  lol  That’s what was on my name tag on my uniform when I first met them.  I laughed and laughed.  I got them to yell “Kentucky!” and “GO BIG BLUE!”, “Patrick Patterson” and “John Wall.”  I was trying to get them to say “The Great Wall of Kentucky!”  But I think it was too long.  lol

Then I got them to yell “UK is Number One” and “Go Big Blue!” again.

It was a fun time.  Always nice seeing my little friends.  Peace!

John Calipari on Playing at Kentucky

Calipari said he’s trying to do much more with this team. “It’s about more than just winning,” Calipari said. “It’s about are you getting your team better. are they coming together? That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Calipari also said that he’s seeing a huge difference in his competition. The Wildcats are a big target every night. “We’re everybody’s Super Bowl,” Calipari said. “It’s almost stupid watching tape. They’re not going to play the way they’re playing on that tape.”

Daniel Orton getting high praise:

Also very good at basketball: Daniel Orton

by John Gasaway

I tried six ways to Sunday to make the following fit in the John Wall feature I just posted, but it was like putting a taco on a birthday cake so I had to leave it out. Nevertheless I want this to be on the record:

The sequence in Saturday’s North CarolinaKentucky game where Daniel Orton rejected John Henson at the rim, sprinted down the floor, received a fast-break pass from Eric Bledsoe, and dished an exquisite bounce-pass to Patrick Patterson for the dunk may have been the most impressive possession I have seen from a player this decade. Defense, athleticism, hustle, selflessness, and point-guard-level skill, all on one play. Seven-second wonder Daniel Orton, I salute you!

How Good is John Wall?

John Wall Takes Over! Scores Career High 23 against Stanford


Name Min FG 3Pt FT Off Reb Ast TO Stl Blk PF Pts
D. Miller 36 3-9 3-6 4-5 3 4 3 1 0 0 3 13
D. Cousins 26 5-8 0-1 3-8 2 5 2 2 1 3 5 13
E. Bledsoe 30 2-4 1-2 0-0 0 0 3 2 1 0 4 5
J. Wall 45 7-15 1-4 8-8 1 4 5 5 1 2 3 23
P. Patterson 31 5-9 1-2 1-2 6 11 0 0 0 1 2 12
D. Orton 9 0-2 0-0 0-0 1 2 0 2 0 2 0 0
D. Dodson 13 0-3 0-3 0-0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0
J. Harrellson 4 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 0
R. Harris 24 3-5 0-1 1-2 1 7 1 0 1 0 2 7
P. Stevenson 7 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 2 0 1 0 0 1 0
Totals 225 25-56 6-19 17-25 15 37 14 15 5 8 21 73
Percentages: .446 .316 .680 Team Rebounds: 2

“NBA, that’s all I’ve got to say,” Wildcats forward Patrick Patterson said. “John Wall is a pro player and he wants the ball in crunch-time situations. Whenever we need a basket or something on the offensive end John is going to be the one to do it.”

Calipari on Wall and Bledsoe:

“I think we’ve got two guys when the game is on the line they are not afraid to make plays, which bodes well for us,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “You saw once again that late in the game I’m not calling a timeout. I don’t need to be a hero, let those guys be the hero.”

“Those two guys have the killer (instinct),” Calipari said. “What you want is the guys with the killer to bleed onto the others. Just a will to win.”

“For such a young team, they showed a lot of poise down the stretch,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. “(Wall) is one of the fastest guards I’ve ever seen play on any level. He showed a lot of poise for his age. He’s a terrific player.”

On the other side, Wall was the only Kentucky player to get going before the break. The freshman guard had 15 points but could not do all the heavy lifting with preseason All-American forward Patterson going out of the game less than six minutes in with two fouls. Without Patterson’s inside presence the Wildcats struggled to get anything in the paint and shot just 35.5 percent from the field.

Patterson got going early in the second half on his way to his 25th career double-double, but he missed two point-blank opportunities on the same possession that would have given Kentucky its first lead since late in the first half with just over 10 minutes remaining.

He made up for it later, using a power post move to give Kentucky a 54-53 lead with 6:42 to play.

John Wall will be the first #1 Draft Pick in Kentucky History.  He or Patterson should be the First UK Basketballer to bring home the Adolph Rupp Trophy for Player of the Year.  I think one of them will bring home the Wooden Trophy as well.  Wall may well be the most highly regarded Frosh/Student Athlete to ever have worn the UK Jersey by the time this year is finished.  He is certainly lived up to the hype surrounding him as a player.  What’s more is that the guy is actually a good student and a good guy as well.

Calipari pulled off a recruiting coup with John Wall.  His second best recruiting pitch was retaining Patrick Patterson.  These are two All World Student Athletes.  I just hope that all of the anti-Cal or anti-Kentucky feeling out there doesn’t hurt them over the course of the year.  Lots of guys out there who are waiting like vultures for something, anything to pop up to stall or kill Cal and Kentucky’s momentum.  Yet, these same hypocrites defend John Wooden as if their reputations depended upon said defense.

This year, UK has three of the Top Freshman in the CNNSI Power Rankings.  Wall and Cousins are ranked #’s 1 and 2 respectively.  Eric Bledsoe is ranked at #25.  I’m sure that Bledsoe will rise as the year goes on.  All three are players.  I can see them all going to the NBA after this year.  Hopefully, Bledsoe and Cousins come back for a 2nd year.  The good thing, though, is that IF Cousins sees it as more wise to come out for the Draft after this year, it will likely mean that he has helped lead UK to a Final Four or better.

This should be a great year for Kentucky Basketball.  Patterson, Wall and the rest of the Frosh are finding ways to win this year.  Whereas last year, Billy Gillispie was finding ways to lose.


Calipari at Kentucky by Gregg Doyel

At UMass, a nothing school on the college basketball landscape, John Calipari won like he was at Kentucky. At Memphis, a bigger basketball school than UMass but still nothing much to look at when he got there in 2000, Calipari won again like he was at Kentucky.

So what happens now that John Calipari is coaching Kentucky?

John Calipari will prove himself worthy of Kentucky fans' applause. (Getty Images)
John Calipari will prove himself worthy of Kentucky fans’ applause. (Getty Images)

I’ll tell you what happens. Kentucky will win like it’s the Boston Celtics. John Calipari will prove himself worthy of Kentucky fans’ applause. John Calipari will prove himself worthy of Kentucky fans’ applause.
College basketball as you know it? It’s over. That sport doesn’t exist anymore, because that sport had a semblance of parity. One year North Carolina is the dominant program. One year it’s UConn. One year it’s Duke or UCLA or Florida. Maybe those teams don’t win the national title the year they’re dominant, or maybe they do. Either way, every year there is a team that, on paper, is the dominant program in college basketball. And every year it’s a different team.

Until now. Until John Calipari merges with Kentucky.

Once Calipari gets Kentucky rolling — and it won’t take him long — Kentucky will be that team. That dominant team. Every year?

Yes. Every year.

Things can go wrong, of course. Players can get hurt or ineligible. A scandal can come along out of nowhere, like the one rocking UConn at the moment. Kentucky itself has been laid low by NCAA violations, back when Eddie Sutton was running amok in Lexington. So things can happen.

But if none of those things happen … it’s over. College basketball will belong to Kentucky. Turn back the clock 50 or 60 years, because it’ll be like that all over again. Kentucky won three national championships in the four seasons between 1948-51. The Wildcats added another in 1958. What happened between 1951 and ’58? Three trips to the Elite Eight happened. Not even a point-shaving scandal could slow Kentucky down. The Wildcats didn’t field a team in 1953 because of that scandal, then went 25-0 in 1954, but were held out of the NCAA tournament.

The coach then was Adolph Rupp. When he retired in 1972, he had won 876 games, more than anyone in college basketball history. His record stood for 25 years. Rupp was that good at Kentucky.

John Calipari would be that good at Kentucky, too. How could he not? He has been Kentucky-good at places that couldn’t hold Kentucky’s jock.

In 1988, Calipari went to Massachusetts, which hadn’t been to the NCAA tournament in more than 25 years, and soon he was making it look easy. UMass averaged 29 wins per season from 1992-96, and reached the 1996 Final Four. There was the Marcus Camby scandal, with Camby’s relationship to an agent costing him his eligibility and UMass its spot in the Final Four, and heads will roll if that happens at Kentucky.

But if that doesn’t happen, Calipari will win huge. He’ll win like he won at Memphis, where he won at least 33 games in each of the past four seasons and reached the 2008 NCAA title game.

Calipari will win like that at Kentucky, and maybe as soon as Year 1. Kentucky has two future pros, forward Patrick Patterson and guard Jodie Meeks, but neither is quite ready for the NBA. If they come back, and if Calipari brings just two of the incoming freshman studs he has lined up at Memphis — say, Xavier Henry and DeMarcus Cousins — Kentucky would enter next season among the preseason favorites to win the national title. One year after going to the NIT.

Calipari is that good, because he attracts that kind of talent. You can question how he attracts that talent, and you can question the character of some of the talent he attracts, and those are legitimate issues for someone to tackle. But those are issues for another day.

Today, the issue is the merger of John Calipari and Kentucky basketball. He’s going to get that school rolling again, because that’s what he does. UMass had been stalled for 25 years, but he got that program up and rolling. Memphis had been stuck in neutral until he got that place rolling.

He’ll get Kentucky rolling, too. Heaven help anyone who gets in the way.