Jorts takes out the Cards in the Chicken Box!

Josh Harrellson puts in 23 points and grabs 14 rebounds in the win over the hated Louisville Cardinals and Quick Rick.  Brandon Knights led all scorers with 25 points.  Deandre Liggins did his thing and shut down every hot hand that attempted to score.  Swatting one Siva ball into the stands.  Liggins and Harrellson are exactly what this team needs for a good run in the tournament.  Senior Leadership.

Cal has done wonders with these kids.

In four years, Cal will have a good mix of Seniors, Juniors and One Year Wonders.  It’s gonna get nasty.  You almost feel for the Cards as they’re so far behind the power curve that they can’t catch up.  But, don’t…they deserve their Pitino and everything else that happens to that program.

And Dr Dunkenstein ain’t walkin’ through that door Little Ricky.

No. 11 Kentucky handles No. 22 Louisville 78-63

Kentucky
Name Min FG 3Pt FT Off Reb Ast TO Stl Blk PF Pts
J. Harrellson 37 10-12 1-1 2-3 6 14 2 1 1 1 3 23
B. Knight 36 7-13 4-6 7-8 1 3 4 5 0 0 2 25
T. Jones 33 5-11 0-2 2-2 3 8 5 1 1 3 2 12
D. Miller 29 3-6 0-1 1-1 1 3 0 2 0 1 4 7
D. Liggins 39 1-7 0-4 0-0 0 4 2 4 4 2 2 2
J. Hood 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
D. Lamb 23 3-6 1-2 2-2 2 3 1 0 0 0 2 9
E. Vargas 2 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 200 29-57 6-16 14-16 13 35 14 13 6 7 15 78
Percentages: .509 .375 .875 Team Rebounds: 1

Josh Harrellson’s career day sparks Kentucky

BONUS on the DAY!  That bum up in Minnesota lost as well.  lol

President Obama to “Thank” Cats on “Hoops for Haiti”

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Kentucky is getting all the great press lately.

Unanimous #1 College Basketball Team in the Nation.

Cousins, Patterson and Wall ~ One of them is either Player or Frosh of the Week almost every week of this season.

Wall and Patterson are front runners for National Player of the Year.

Wall is frontrunner for SEC Player of the Year.

Cal puts together “Hoops for Haiti” on a moments notice.  He and the Cats raise over 1,000,000 USD in less than a week.

Now, the President of the United States of America wants to thank them for their efforts.  Put aside politics for a moment and hear those words.  THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IS GOING TO THANK THE CATS! This is an honor of the highest order.  It matters not whether you voted for the man or not.  He’s the President.  He is the human embodiment of the Nation.  He wants to either meet with the Cats or in some manner convey his and the nations appreciation for their efforts.

Aside from the honor associated with receiving this magnanimous gesture, it’s publicity of the highest order.  This is a publicity bonanza.

Coach Cal is a master.  I’m not saying that he did this for the press that it’s garnered.  It doesn’t matter.  What matters is that the University of Kentucky is getting a public lift that is amazing in scale.  It’s unbelievable what Coach Cal has done.

I have to admire the man.

He’s amazing.

UK has not seen this kind of public adulation since…well, not in my memory.

Congratulations Coach Cal and to the Cats are in order.  This is incredible.  I love it.

It’s awesome to be a Cat fan right now and to be associated with this incredible team and its Coach.

GO BIG BLUE!

Billy Gillispie is out. IT IS OFFICIAL.

“RESPECT ME!  I’m on the phone.”

What the hell was that?

By Jerry Tipton and Ryan Alessi / jtipton@herald-leader.com

On his first full day in Lexington, Billy Gillispie stood grinning in front of thousands of adoring University of Kentucky fans who came to an impromptu pep rally in Memorial Coliseum. He bathed in Big Blue love before going to a news conference introducing him as UK basketball coach.

Despite that outpouring of affection, Gillispie found himself fired two years later because his UK bosses did not believe he understood the nature of his job and its connection with fans.

” … Dedicated and passionate fans deserve a coach that understands that this is not just another coaching job,” Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said in reading a statement at another news conference on Friday.

Winning and losing didn’t end Gillispie’s time as coach after two seasons, although his .597 winning percentage was the the worst for a UK coach since Basil Hayden’s one-season 3-13 record in 1926-27.

Ironically, failing to connect with those around him cost Gillispie his job. Ironic because in his time here, Gillispie repeatedly emphasized the importance of building relationships.

“We obviously did not achieve the results we all desired on the floor this season,” Barnhart said of UK’s 22-14 record. “Those results can occur when you are trying to grow a program. We clearly understand that.

“However, it is as important to represent the Kentucky program and the basketball program, more specifically, in a manner which best utilizes our incredible tradition, assets and platform. …

“It is my evaluation that we have not done all we can to manage the entire scope of the program and all that we expect.”

UK President Lee T. Todd echoed that reasoning. He said he spoke to Gillispie during protracted — and ultimately futile — contract negotiations about the public nature of the job.

“It’s kind of like the president’s job,” Todd said. “Nobody really writes out exactly what you have to do. Philosophically, we wanted someone that represented the entire Big Blue Nation. … This is a unique opportunity, a very unique job.”

Gillispie did not answer reporters’ questions. Holding a cell phone to his ear, he walked through raindrops in and out of Wildcat Lodge to tell the players the news and then the Craft Center to clean out his office.

Gillispie and his assistant coaches had reason to be busy. In what suggested a good-riddance sentiment, UK asked them to pack up their belongings and leave their offices by 5 p.m. (about three hours after Gillispie learned his fate in a meeting at Todd’s official residence).

The Southeastern Conference Tournament served as a stage to expose how differently Gillispie and his bosses viewed the UK job.

Gillispie, who saw celebrity as a hindrance, said the UK coach must recruit great players and coach them. Period. He did not embrace the suggestion of also being an ambassador, which showed itself in his first pre-season when he did not speak to the Lexington Rotary Club, something his predecessors did annually dating back to at least the 1950s.

Barnhart, who called fan interest in UK basketball a “cradle-to-grave love,” noted how fans drove to Omaha, Neb., earlier this week to watch the Cats play Creighton in the National Invitation Tournament.

“There is a clear difference in how the rules and responsibilities overseeing the program are viewed,” Barnhart said. “It is a gap that I do not believe can be solved by just winning games. It is a philosophical disparity that I do not believe can be repaired.”

Todd and Barnhart also spoke of their desire for coaches to provide a rewarding experience for the athletes.

The father of leading scorer Jodie Meeks suggested that Gillispie’s demanding style was distracting, if not a hindrance.

“You don’t want to throw gasoline on the flames, but, clearly, a lot of things happened behind the scenes that made it difficult for the kids to play basketball and focus on winning,” Orestes Meeks said.

Of his relationship with Gillispie, the elder Meeks cited his son’s UK record 54-point performance at Tennessee on Jan. 13.

“I got calls from every coach he ever had: baseball, basketball, all of them,” Meeks’ father said. “Except his current coach. His current coach never called. That said a lot to me. … ”

“When you start placing blame, tell them when the ship misses the harbor, do they blame the harbor?” Orestes Meeks. “I don’t think it’s anybody’s fault but his own.”

Originally, Gillispie and UK had a whirlwind romance consummated with a hiring in the first 24 hours. Without mentioning those details, Barnhart acknowledged his surprise at the unhappy ending.

“This is not a place I thought we would be at this point, or one that I would want to be,” the UK athletics director said. “However, after long and deliberate discussions, President Todd and I have decided we must charter a new direction for the University of Kentucky men’s basketball program. Unfortunately there are times when a situation and the people involved do not create the right chemistry or right fit. It is our belief that is where we are and where we find ourselves with Kentucky basketball today.”

Barnhart said he and Todd have talked for a month about “dramatic differences” in how the administrators and the coach view the job of coach. Gillispie’s comments at the SEC Tournament about the job’s public component not being in the “job description” seemingly sealed his fate.

After denying any regrets in the hire, Barnhart said, “He’s a good basketball coach. Sometimes it’s not the right fit.”

I Blame it all on Tubby!  Especially this…

INDIANAPOLIS — Ah, now I know why Kentucky fired Billy Gillispie.

Turns out, he wasn’t Rick Pitino.

Say what you want about the rabid nature of the Wildcats’ basketball fans, but after all these years, that’s really all they want. And is it so much to ask?

They want a slick, sharp coach on the bench. They want him to unleash a team such as the Cardinals upon the rest of college basketball like Huns attacking the Great Wall. They want to break the scoreboard, demoralize the opposition and serve notice upon the field.

Most of all, they want possibilities.

Frankly, they want to be Louisville.

And if you know a Kentucky basketball fan, you know how painful that must be to admit.

Tell me. Short of a scandal or three, has there ever been a worse day to be a Kentucky fan? First of all, Gillispie was fired in disgrace, which either came much too early (the prevailing national opinion) or much too late (the overwhelming viewpoint of the Wildcat faithful). Then, before you can dribble a ball the length of a court, their designated next-guy, Billy Donovan, flatly turned them down … again. Evidently, having two years to reconsider didn’t change a thing for Donovan.

Then, after all that, they had to withstand this:

Louisville, the new team of Kentucky’s old coach, looks a lot like a champion-in-waiting.

The Cardinals were darned near perfect against Arizona on Friday. They ran, they shot, they passed, they defended, they rebounded. They drubbed Arizona 103-64, the most points Louisville has scored in an NCAA Tournament game. If it hadn’t been for a late burst of mercy, the 39-point margin might have been 60.

For one night, at least, the Cardinals had the look of greatness. They are so deep, so skilled. The players come at an opponent all at once, and all can dribble, and all can shoot. They dunk, and it is like hearing an airplane break the sound barrier. It is difficult to tell guards from forwards or subs from starters. Stopping them is like trying to hold back a flood with a sponge.

Want to know how wonderful the Cardinals were? Just ask Pitino, who sounded like Roger Ebert at a foreign film festival.

“Fabulous,” Pitino said.

“Brilliant,” he said.

“Dominating,” he added.

So it went. Pitino, 56, also said “tremendous” and “great” and “terrific” and “beautiful” and “unselfish.” You kept waiting for him to give his team an enthusiastic thumbs-up. For the record, Pitino also suggested that humility was very, very important.

The thing is, who is going to disagree? The Cardinals shot 57 percent from the floor, and 93 percent from the free-throw line, and they outrebounded Arizona, and they had 29 assists to only nine turnovers. It looked as if everyone else was playing one game of basketball, and the Cardinals were playing something better, something more pure.

Did anyone see a flaw? Oh, Pitino apologized for the final dunks of the game, but they were just exclamation points on a paragraph. The message already had been sent.

Who is going to stop Louisville if the Cards play this close to capacity? Pitt? North Carolina? Connecticut?

Anyone?

“It’s going to be hard to beat them if they play like that,” Arizona coach Russ Pennell said. “I think it has to be someone who has the quickness to really put pressure against their fullcourt press. Yet Louisville kind of preys upon people who do that.”

For the opponent, that’s the conundrum. For the Cardinals, it is matching their own excellence.

“We know we’re not going to play like this again,” Pitino said, “because of the types of defenses we’re going to run into now. It’s going to be a totally different type of game. We did a great job getting second shots tonight. Michigan State and Kansas don’t give you those.

“Guys, we all know we’re one game from the Final Four. We’re three games from the national championship. I think this team has stayed grounded. Their egos are in check. I’ll find something to be upset about. We’re not going to fall in love with ourselves because we had a good game. We understand what we’re up against.”

In the old days, back before the Wildcats were in a snit — you spell it with an “N” and an “I” and a “T” — coaches at Kentucky used to talk like that. They, too, played like a regal team about to storm the castle. They, too, looked like the team to beat.

As for that brunet in the fifth row cheering on the Cardinals?

No, that wasn’t Ashley Judd.

Was it?

If Tubby had left to the Hawks, UK could have hired Pitino and all would have been right in the Big Blue Nation.  Instead, Tubby waits until he’s decimated the team to leave.  Mitch screws up and makes a bad hire and Lee Todd steps in and fires him.

One could blame CM Newton for making the wrong hire.  He hired the wrong assistant.  Instead of hiring Billy D back in 97, he hired the guy who would be the cause of the storm now crashing through the Big Blue Nation.

Oh, and by the way, UL is on the way to the Final Four and probably a Championship.  lol

It could be worse.  The moon could crash into the sun tonight.  haha

This all sounds like a really bad Univision Soap Opera from Mexico.

This one is for you Billy G:

Jodie Meeks: Breaks Dan Issels Record, Scores 54 at UT

“In any legitimate conversation right now about National Player of the Year, Jodie Meeks has to be metioned with the four or five guys we’ve been mentioning all along,” proclaimed ESPN hoops analyst Jimmy Dykes on the broadcast Tuesday night. He repeated the same sentiment via phone Wednesday.

“Jodie Meeks has to be there,” said Dykes. “You don’t base the National Player of the Year on just one game, you base it on the whole body of work. But the kid came in averaging over 24 points a game, the number five scorer in the country.”

Then Jodie flat blew the roof off the joint.

Jodie Meeks ripped through Thompson-Boling Arena this week like a snowstorm through the Mongolian Steppes.  He scored 54 points on the way to breaking Dan Issels single game scoring record that’s held for 39 years.  Absolutely amazing.  If that wasn’t enough, he did so while playing solid defense and keeping his team involved and kept UT out of their minds trying to defend him.

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said he worked with his players for several days trying to come up with a game plan to keep the ball out of Meeks’ hand.

To say it didn’t work is an understatement. Meeks went 10-for-15 from 3-point range (he also set a school record for 3s in a game), made all 14 of his free throws, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out four assists. He scored 26 points by halftime.

He was at 52 points and potentially let the record pass him by late in the game in order to garner one more assist by throwing an alley oop to a wide open Patrick Patterson.  He even apologized for taking the one bad shot of the night as the shot clock expired.  Running past the bench and Coach Gillispie stating “My bad, my fault.”

After the game, he was humble enough to tell the press that it was all due to the team and that what he really wanted was to get a win at UT.  The scoring record was not top on his mind.  Victory was.

My kind of guy.

Meeks has singlehandedly put UK back in the National Conversation.  If UK is ranked come the next poll, you can thank Jodie Meeks.

Coolest of all was that his father (and Uncle) were on hand to see the spectacular performance.  I’ve met both Jodie Meeks and his father.  Way back when they were visiting UK.  Prior to the commit, if I remember correctly.  I met them at the UK Bookstore with my friend Rick (WildCatRick of WCN).  You always meet interesting folks if you hang around Rick.  The Meeks are good people.  So someting like this is doubly awesome.  Because it’s happening to genuinely good folks.

Congrats to Jodie and his family.  It’s a hell of an achievement.  It was a game for the ages.  Legendary.  Jodie Meeks is now a part of UK lore right alongside Issel, Nash, Dampier, Riley, Kenny and Antoine Walker, Mashburn, Prince, Bowie, Chapman and Wah Wah Jones.  He’s in the Book.

And one last thing.  Thank You Jodie Meeks.  It was a pleasrue to watch you become legend.

Dan Issel Speaks…

But there is always a moron around who refuses to shut his pie hole.  Woody Paige, you get the vote this go around.

Wayne Chism bemoans UTs inability to stop Jodie Meeks…

http://www.wildcatnation.net/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=1589&d=1231992816

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The Day After, Meeks Still Humble.

Meeks humbly told Issel he didn’t mean to break the record or even realize he was doing so. His only intention, he said, reiterating what he said after the game, was to finally knock off the rival Volunteers in Knoxville.

“It’s an honor to me,” Meeks said Wednesday. “I don’t see myself as being legendary or anything like that.”

Issel disagrees.

The onslaught resumed immediately after halftime, as the Vols apparently forgot what Meeks did to them in the first 20 minutes.

Late in the shot clock in Kentucky’s first possession following intermission, Meeks asked for a clear-out at the top of the key, drove on Prince, stumbled a bit, recovered and swished a jumper. Then came a drive past Tyler Smith from the wing. Then a 3 in transition. (Some courtside observers thought Meeks had a foot well inside the 3-point line, so Issel might ask for a review of the videotape.) Then he hit another 3 after a handoff from teammate Ramon Harris.

Cats pull down first win of the Season

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The Kentucky Wildcats defeat the Delaware State Hornets 71-42 bringing them to a 1-2 record.

Yes, that’s right.

UK starts off the 2008-2009 Season 1 W and 2 Ls.  Losses coming against UNC and………VMI.  Yep.  The Virginia Military Institute out of Lexington, Virginia.  The Keydets defeated the cats in the home opener at Rupp Arena 111 to 103.  I know.  The Cats score 103 points and lose.  Doesn’t seem possible.

Billy Gillispie isn’t starting off the season with much promise.  Even so, if this team gets it’s PG problems sorted out.  If Liggins matures fast enough.  Porter develops into a bit more than a moderately skilled role player or the Harris Point Forward experiment pans out.  Who knows.  It might be a good season.

The talking heads at ESPN and Sports Illustrated are saying that this is a down year in the SEC.  The UK OOC schedule is pretty light.  The Cats will have plenty of cupcakes to use as a learning curve.  The question.  Will UK have enough OOMPF to the schedule to make the NCAA Tournament at seasons end?  Gillispie will not make any friends if UK misses the NCAA tournament.

I’m hoping that UK turns it around.  Patterson gets in the Game and starts scoring as he did in his pre-injury Frosh days.  Meeks learns about shot selection.  Liggins and Miller can bring it and not let being Freshman get in the way of valuable contributions.  Harrelson and Galloway can translate some of those numbers from the JUCO ranks to the DIV 1 side of the house.  Harris matches intensity with offensive output and brings that fabled summer game to the season with him.

This can be a good year.  I’m hoping for the best.  It will only get better from here.  I hope.

All Eyes on Billy Gillispie.

It should come as no surprise.  Random school does it.  Anything.  It doesn’t matter.  From recruiting 8th graders to UCLA paying players to stay at UCLA.  Whatever it might be.  Any school does it.  No headlines.  No outrage.  No real objections.

UK does it.  Suddenly it’s a problem.  Billy Gillispie inks an 8th Grader.  Dick Vitale screams that it’s a sign of the Apocalypse.  Billy Donovan inks an 8th Grader and it’s a sign of his genius.  Billy Gillispie holds midnight madness a week early.  Headline news.  Four other schools did the same thing this year.  Can you name them?  A UCLA Booster paid it’s players thousands, tens of thousands over a ten year period.  Openly.  It was an open secret.  Absolutely not a peep from the NCAA.   Duke Boosters hire parents of players into positions for which they are unqualified and help them obtain loans for housing for which they are woefully financially unprepared.  Not a sound.  Not a whimper.  An Emery Envelope falls open in the hands of a UCLA fan containing $1,000.00.  Supposedly this envelope originated with a UK booster.  UK is put on two years probation.  Almost given the death sentence.  Emery was sued over this and settled out of court.

Now that UK has a Coach that will play the recruiting game within the rules.  He does things that journalists have always found “questionable” but rarely made much noise.  That is the old days.  A Kentucky Coach doing it is news.  Now they will make noise about it.

Jeff Goodman.  He admits that everyone is doing it.  But now that UK is doing it, he’s got himself a story.  That Baylor was doing it or Kansas or Oklahoma State were doing it.  Not big enough.  UK.  That’s a different story,  And one that must be written.

It’s a lack of journalistic integrity. It’s a lack of integrity within the NCAA Rules and Infractions Committee. It’s been there since the beginning.

KENTUCKY COMMIT NO SURPRISE
Oct 13, 2008 | 7:54AM

I have to admit I wasn’t surprised that Daniel Orton, one of the top big men in the country, committed to Kentucky over the weekend while in town for an early Midnight Madness.

Not because Kansas took itself out of the equation when the Jayhawks took a pledge from forward Thomas Robinson.

But because it certainly didn’t hurt that Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie paid Orton’s father, Larry, to speak at camps in Lexington on three separate occasions this past summer.

Let’s be clear. This isn’t against the rules.

It’s just Gillispie being Gillispie.

Remember, he was basically the guy that came under fire for being one of four coaches to hold Midnight Madness a week before the “official” start of practice.

Creative? Absolutely.

On the verge of being unethical?  It depends who you ask.

Larry Orton admitted he was also paid to speak at Kansas and Oklahoma State, but he only picked up one paycheck from each of those schools.

C’mon. He may be articulate, knowledgeable and could even rival Bill Clinton in terms of his ability to captivate a crowd, but that’s not why he was there.

He was there because he is Daniel Orton’s father.

AAU coaches, high school coaches and many others affiliated with top recruits have collected a paycheck for getting up in front of young kids at these summer camps.

Texas Blue Chips director Mitch Malone spoke a couple times at Baylor this past summer. He was involved in Ekpe Udoh’s transfer from Michigan to Baylor and also coaches Quincy Acy – who committed to the Bears and is one of the top players in Texas. There are plenty of others who take advantage.

It’s getting out of hand and isn’t illegal. Not yet.

It’s triggered an NCAA proposal (13.12.2.2.2) in which a school is not able to employ a speaker in its men’s basketball camp or clinic who is involved in coaching prospective student-athletes or is associated with a prospective student-athlete as a result of the prospective student-athlete’s participation in basketball.

I don’t mean to go after Orton here, but this guy isn’t exactly on par with, say, legendary high school coach Bob Hurley.

His background: a couple years of junior college ball, a cup of coffee at Old Dominion capped off at Cameron University in Oklahoma. He’s also an assistant AAU coach on his son’s team.

However, Orton’s resume doesn’t matter. He says he speaks about the recruiting process and “what’s going to happen once the kids get to school” and “to get kids to understand it’s hard work.”

“I’m not trying to get any special privileges or anything like that,” Orton said. “I just think I’ve got something to say. I think I’m a pretty good speaker.”

That’s not why Billy Gillispie has brought him to Lexington on three separate occasions – two with his son.

Orton wouldn’t divulge how much he was paid per appearance, but it’s likely somewhere in the neighborhood of $500-$1,000 a pop plus travel. That’s how much two other high school coaches were compensated to speak at one of the UK camps.

Orton’s other son, Terrence Crawford, who played for current Kentucky assistant Glynn Cyprien at Oklahoma State, also made numerous appearances at the Kentucky camps.

Larry Orton was recently unable to confirm whether schools had offered Crawford a position on their staff.

“I heard Kentucky and Oklahoma State both offered him a job,” Orton said. “I don’t know. Nothing’s done until it’s done. If he gets a job, it’s going to come out, anyway.”

As we know, that isn’t illegal either.

The Season begins…

It’s that time of the year again.

Big Blue Madness signals the start of the Basketball Season.

Kevin Galloway showing off his skills and the new UK uniforms.

Kentucky debuts new uniforms, struggles offensively in Big Blue Madness drill

LEXINGTON, Ky. — A year ago, Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness was about showing off a new coach. This time, it was about showing off a new look.

Billy Gillispie’s Wildcats donned their new blue and white uniforms with a checkerboard pattern as the nation’s all-time winningest program kicked off its preseason preparations Friday night in front of 23,000 of their closest friends.

While fans arrived before 9 p.m., it wasn’t until 11:18 that the second-year coach finally made his appearance.

Last year, four large banners descended from the rafters, and when they finally dropped, there Gillispie stood, waving to the crowd.

This time, the banners fell while pyrotechnics filled Rupp Arena, but Gillispie was nowhere to be seen. Instead, he entered moments later, jogging through the crowd in his gray jumpsuit, dishing out high-fives along the way.

“I know they’re excited to be here,” Gillispie, already seemingly short of voice, said of his players. “They love being here at Kentucky.”

Gillispie’s entrance was far humbler than that of women’s coach Matthew Mitchell, who appeared riding on a fire truck.

The men’s team first took the court with a dunk contest that Ramon Harris clinched with an off the backboard follow that he jammed home.

Then, there was a defensive-minded scrimmage, in which both sides took more than three minutes to score. It was a troubling reminder of the team’s slow starts at times last season, which ended with a loss to Marquette in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Although the checkerboard pattern on the new uniforms is subtle, those who designed them for Nike said they were intended as a nod to jockey silks representing the state’s signature industry, horse racing. Penny Chenery, who owned 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, received an honorary jersey from Gillispie at midcourt during the festivities.

They also feature a shoulder patch that says “Mr. Wildcat.” The reference is a tribute to longtime equipment manager Bill Keightley, who died earlier this year at 81. A lasting memorial to Keightley was painted on the Rupp Arena floor in front of his familiar spot on the bench.

His daughter, Karen, wept at that honor and as fans stood and politely applauded while a tribute video to Keightley played on the large screens.

Although the official opening practice of the college basketball season isn’t until Oct. 17, Kentucky is one of a handful of schools using a technicality in the NCAA rules to hold their bash a week earlier. The NCAA allows two hours of team workouts per week, starting in mid-September.

The early Madness events could be short-lived, though. National Association of Basketball Coaches spokesman Rick Leddy said the rule was intended to give coaches and players extra time working on their skills, not to hold a pep rally.

Gillispie said before the festivities that he planned to have fun at this year’s Madness after feeling a little too apprehensive ahead of last year’s festivities.

“I didn’t know what to expect last year,” he said. “I’ve been to a lot of Midnight Madness at different places, but Big Blue Madness is something special. I’m very excited about it.”

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

And a rare positive commentary from Jerry Tipton.

Recruits wow fans in public pickup game

Prospects in town for UK’s Big Blue Madness stole the show at public pickup games involving Kentucky basketball players on Saturday morning in Memorial Coliseum.

Center prospect Daniel Orton commanded about 400 fans’ full attention. Other prospects who played in the pickup games included Russell Byrd, Dakotah Euton, Dominique Ferguson, G.J. Vilarino, Jon Hood and Vinny Zollo.

Here’s some observations:

■ Orton is the main focus of the fans. Fans applauded when veteran UK players appeared on the court for the pickup games. But Orton was the only one to rate a standing ovation.

He did not disappoint. Early on, he rebounded a Patrick Patterson miss, dribbled toward the left corner and swished a set shot. “He’s a beast,” one fan could be heard to say.

Later, Orton dunked over Euton and got into an interesting competitive exchange with transfer Matt Pilgrim. First, Orton posted up for a basket over Pilgrim, which drew cheers. Then Pilgrim answered with a rousing dunk. Then, Orton dunked on Pilgrim.

Advantage, Orton, who looked completely comfortable on the court with college players. Kentucky and Kansas head his list. He’s scheduled to attend Kansas’ Midnight Madness next weekend.

■ Byrd stood out, in part, because of his red hair, yellow T-shirt and black shorts. When he hit a three-pointer, a fan yelled, “Where’s your blue at?”

Byrd, who is from Fort Wayne, Ind., has had being close to home a factor in his recruitment. But to hear his father on Wednesday night, Byrd will give UK serious consideration.

■ Ferguson fit in while not trying to impress. During warmups, I counted him making six of seven three-point shots (the Coliseum has the shorter women’s line). In the games, he showed plenty of perimeter skills.

■ Vilarino is an intriguing player. The recruiting analysts are not high on him. Yet, he shows a competitive spirit and a point-guard mentality. He was strictly pass-first while also showing a willingness to be a scoring threat. He made a three-pointer off a nice in-and-out pass from Orton. He also gets up and down the court quickly.

■ Hood has a chance to be a fan favorite. He’s got a nice rotation on his jump shot and gets a lot done on the court without forcing anything.

■ With his shaggy blond hair, Euton is easy to pick out of a crowd. He hit a three-pointer.

■ Of the players on UK’s team, two stood out for me. Junior Ramon Harris seems to be emerging (at least in the pickup games) as a scrappy player who can provide more scoring. He hit a few threes and drove for a dunk that punctuated the morning. I wouldn’t necessarily think of him as an all-conference player, but he’s been noticeably productive in these pickup games.

Freshman Darius Miller looks more comfortable in each public workout. He drove the baseline for a reverse layup and scored on a putback of a Euton miss. He’s been economical in his movement, but increasingly effective.

Jerry Tipton

Go Big Blue!!!

Postgame interview with Coach Adolph Rupp

Coach Rupp was interviewed by Claude Sullivan after the 1966 National Championship loss to the Texas Western Miners.

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Claude Sullivan: OK, well it’s a tough one to give tonight because everybody in Kentucky and on this Standard Oil network, who was listening. I know that almost everyone of them was for these Kentucky Wildcats. And of course, it’s a heart-breaking thing because a journey that Adolph Rupp talked about earlier that began back in December, ended here on heartbreak highway tonight. For the Wildcats who now are sitting dejectedly across the floor. They came into this thing heavily favored, maybe that hurt them. The way these Washington papers played it up today as no contest, they thought Kentucky was going to walk away with it, maybe that hurt the Wildcats more than anything else.

Adolph Rupp: Seems, they made about 17 more free throws than we made, and I think that was the entire story of the game. We made, more, five more field goals than they made, that’s the fact of the case. But we didn’t play very good tonight. Texas Western made a lot of mistakes against our press, and I was sure we’d catch them. But I think it will show that the shooting average tonight did not take care of us at all. In the first half it was 33%, and I don’t believe it was much better than that in the second half.

And I’ve always told you on this program that shooting has taken care of us, but tonight it didn’t. And I don’t think we had a single boy that played up to par tonight.

Claude Sullivan: Coach Rupp I’m sure that a lot of people will be asking you, ‘How good is Texas Western’ ?

Adolph Rupp: Well, the way they handled the ball tonight, it’s a good ball club. I put them in the same class with Michigan, I put them in the same class with Tennessee, and Vanderbilt, teams like that. I think they’re a good ball club. They hit tonight, they hit very well tonight. They hit the clutch baskets when they needed it. We got them down there in the second half, I think we got them down to one point one time, two points another time, but we never could get the clutch basket. And it was our shooting that hurt us tonight. We missed shots. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the rebounding doesn’t show that we stayed on the boards with them pretty well, in spite of the fact that they’re much bigger than we were. But we just couldn’t shoot well.

Claude Sullivan: Coach Rupp did you feel that in the beginning of the game when after nine minutes you only had nine points, that it was bound to break for you with such a slow start.

Adolph Rupp: Yep, I told the boys at the half, I said we can’t play a miserable second half the way we played this first half. We gave them four baskets the first half that we shouldn’t have given to them. And, those two steals. I told the boys in the locker room, just before they came out at the beginning of the ball game, that they double team the boy bringing the ball up. But you can’t dribble the ball with your head down and not look around to see what’s going on, and that’s exactly what happened. Those were the two baskets, I believe, that hurt us early in the ball game. Then we gave another one by throwing the ball away, and they took it and threw it in and it got them a six point lead. And we never were able to get the momentum going after that. We started pressing a little bit then then and I think that’s the story.

Claude Sullivan: Well we’ll be back here at College Park talking with Coach Rupp in just one minute.

Claude Sullivan: Well the college basketball season is over, Coach Rupp, what are the plans now ?

Adolph Rupp: Well it’s been a long year, it’s been a good year, it’s been a better year than any of us ever dreamed it would be. Now then of course we’ve got to go out, we had a miserable recruiting year last year, one of the worst we’ve ever had. And we’ve got to go out and find us some boys, with size. This little button kid has gotten us an awful long way but, but it proves what I’ve been saying all year long, that when you get in there with those big guys who can dunk that thing, you’re going to be in trouble and that hurt us tonight, badly here. This team was very quick, they’re very fast, and although we did have five more field goals, they stepped up to that free throw line, they just got all the breaks in that way. So, I guess we just have to start a new string somewhere along the way and that’s just the way it’s going to be.

Claude Sullivan: Well, Coach Rupp, thank you very much for the visit, not only tonight but all season. We’ve certainly enjoyed being with you, it’s been wonderful. We’ve enjoyed it, and we’ll look forward to another year.

Adolph Rupp: Claude, thank you and thanks to the sponsors who have made this program possible, and I’ll come up and help you broadcast one of the Reds baseball games some day.

Claude Sullivan: Needed, he will be a knee high. Thank you coach and we’ll hold you to that promise.

Here at courtside at College Park Maryland, the Baron Rupp has bowed out for another college basketball season with a record of 27 and 2. Finished second in the NC double A’s, but for the first time in five tries, has lost the championship game.

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I always enjoy hearing or reading Coach Rupp talk about Basketball. I’ve recently purchased two of his books on coaching basketball. I purchased some original reel to reel footage of Rupp as well. Eventually, I plan on posting clips of Coach Rupp on here. Note in his comments the need then for the big man and the challenges of finding quality bigs. Gillispie is confronting that same challenge today. Another similarity to the present. Coach Rupp was a huge proponent of the Man to Man Defense. He felt that Zone Defenses should be used sparingly if at all. Gillispie is also similar to Rupp in that he is hot and heavy on discipline and conditioning.