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Web Wednesday: Miller's trip abroad edition

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Each Wednesday here at Cat Scratches, we're going to take a look back at the latest week's news in UK Athletics from around the web.

Best on the 'net

Men's basketball: The reinvention of Joe B. Hall (Mark Story, Lexington Herald-Leader)

In retirement, Joe B.'s "second act" has been a humdinger, filled with one surprise after another.

The coach who used to be second-guessed regularly, even savaged, on Kentucky radio sports talk shows has reinvented himself in "retirement" as a host of a show that is syndicated around the commonwealth.

Football: Pardue growing into coaching role at UK (Kyle Tucker, Louisville Courier-Journal)

Pardue proved he's more than capable of developing talent while at LaGrange, which had 26 players sign with major college programs during his final 10 seasons. They went to Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State and South Carolina. A dozen of them signed with UK, which put Pardue on Joker Phillips' radar.

The Wildcats' coach hired him largely because of Pardue's deep ties to other high school coaches all over Georgia, where UK would like to strengthen its recruiting efforts, but Phillips also predicts he'll make a fine position coach.

Men's basketball: Jones ready to play leading role for Kentucky (Jason King, Yahoo! Sports)

Jones spent most of his summer in Lexington, working on his ball-handling skills, shooting and conditioning while adding strength and bulk. Jones said he weighed 240 pounds as a freshman. Now he's up to 250. He hopes the extra muscle will help him absorb contact better under the basket, enabling him to finish plays.

When he wasn't working out, Jones took an equal interest in setting a good example for the Wildcats' newcomers.

"I wanted to make sure that I was going as hard as I could in front of my new teammates," he said. "It's obvious they look up to me. I try to show them how to do the right thing and what's best for them. When they ask me questions, I try to play the big brother role that my teammates played for me last year.

"College can be shocking for a freshman, because everything is so much different than high school. Everything is much more serious. It takes time to get used to. The summer is the best and easiest time to do it."

Baseball: Meyer, Nationals agree to deal (James Pennington, CatsPause.com)

Reports of Meyer's signing didn't emerge until after midnight had passed. At 12:11 a.m., just as reports were starting to trickle out, Meyer announced the deal on Twitter.

"Thanks to everyone in Lexington for all the support over the last 3 years," Meyer tweeted. "Had the time of my life. Ready to start the next part of my career with the Washington Nationals!!!!"

Men's basketball: Miller goes to China - does he come back better? (Aaron Smith, Kentucky Kernel)

UK guard Darius Miller is traveling around the world to China for a basketball tournament. Will he return a better player?

Barring a complete destruction of self-confidence should he get dunked on by a 5-foot-9 foreign player, yes. Playing more basketball with good players and good coaches will help. Darius Miller post-China should be better (and more cultured) than Darius Miller pre-China. By how much, and improved in what aspects, is harder to determine, but anyone associated with international competitions invariably says it's a beneficial experience.

Incoming freshman point guard Marquis Teague, who played for the 2010 U-17 team that won a gold medal, said late-round games bring a different kind of pressure. The U.S. is widely expected to win these 2011 Games. The team has won a medal in every competition since 1965, and this is typically one of the weaker international events played. If the U.S. advances deep in the tournament, the pressure will be that of finishing the job as an expected favorite -- where Miller and UK will often find themselves.

Football: McDuffen ready to hit the field (Jeff Drummond, CatsPause.com)

"He's a guy who looks like a young Danny (Trevathan)," UK head coach Joker Phillips said. "Whether or not he'll develop into a Danny Trevathan, who knows? But he looks a little like Danny did when he was a freshman."

"He's shown some flashes that remind us of Danny," UK linebackers coach Chuck Smith said. "... Athletically, he's got the tools. He's fast, he's quick, he's explosive. He's going to be a good one."

And this from new Wildcat defensive coordinator Rick Minter: "I wasn't here when Danny was young. All I know is Danny now, and that's darn good. But Malcolm's on his way. He's a big positive for us and the future. The best thing about him is, he's got his whole future ahead of him."

Men's tennis: Q&A with Eric Quigley (Tiebreak Tennis)

1. What are your expectations, considering last year you finished in the top 16?
---My expectations this year is to simply play my game and focus on what I do best, However making the sweet 16 last year will help me this year knowing what to expect going into the tournament this year.

2. What preparations are you making for the championships in New Haven?
---I am playing many tournaments before the championships in new Haven. This will help me be match tough which will be important in the sweet 16 in New Haven!

Former Wildcats making headlines


Randall Cobb making plays for Packers (Chris Jenkins, Courier-Journal)

Cobb doesn't seem overwhelmed by his early success, and isn't surprised he was as productive in his first preseason game as he has been so far on the practice field.

"That's what you're supposed to do," Cobb said. "That's just something that's built into me. I want to go out in practice and get better each day, and then show how much I've gotten better in games."

Cobb was the Packers' leading receiver Saturday, catching three passes for 60 yards. He also returned two kickoffs for 58 yards.

Prospect of the day: James Paxton (John Sickels, Minor League Ball)

Command is the key for Paxton. His walk rate was rather high at Clinton, but his stuff was so good he thrived anyway. His command has been excellent in his recent run of starts and the results are obvious. He didn't walk a lot of guys in college, but his command within the strike zone was inconsistent, and scouts felt he was hit harder than he should have been given the quality of his fastball and breaking ball. Note that Kentucky plays in a high-offense context, and his K/IP and K/BB ratios for the Wildcats were more indicative of his potential than the elevated ERA. In pro ball, the results have matched the potential.

There have been a few rumbles that Paxton could be promoted for September, but it seems more likely that he'll be a candidate for 2012.  He is one of the top pitching prospects in the game, and profiles as a number two starter if he continues to progress with his command.

Josh Harrellson helps stop drunk driver (Sean Moody, WKYT.com)

"About four or five of us guys jumped on the truck and reached in there and turned the keys off and just tried to make sure he wasn't going anywhere," he said.

He says it was a harrowing experience, but when he discovered there were young children in the backseat, he knew it was worth it.

"We were just worried because he could have put it in drive at any time and maybe ran somebody over, or while our arms were in the car, just kept going and we could have been drug or something. I'm the type of guy that, I want to make sure everybody else is alright. I saw it, I moved out of the way, I'm fine. My truck got hit, that's replaceable. I was just thankful nobody got hurt and the kids were fine," said Harrellson.

Tim Masthay opens pre-season with some booming punts (Herald-Leader)

It was just one pre-season game, but former Kentucky standout Tim Masthay seemed to pick right up where he left off last season, booming punts Saturday night in the Green Bay Packers' loss to the Cleveland Browns.

"He's having a great (camp)," kicker Mason Crosby told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "From our off-season together to seeing him hit the ball the way he did (Saturday) was awesome.

News from UKathletics.com

Men's basketball: UK to be featured four times on ESPN's Super Tuesday

Baseball: All seven signees turn down MLB Draft to attend UK

Men's golf: 2011-12 schedule announced

Swimming and diving: Reed highlights successful trip to USA Swimming Nationals

Volleyball: Notebook: Two named preseason All-SEC

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