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Abby Myers making an impact in and out of the pool

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Myers_Abby_Posed_2014_08 Edit.jpg
From her success in the pool to the classroom and her commitment to the community, senior swimmer Abby Myers' impact on the Kentucky swimming and diving team and the University of Kentucky is hard not to notice.

A team captain who has excelled both in the pool and in the classroom, Myers' leadership is a key reason for the Wildcats' success in 2014. Combined with her commitment to community service, and she is the perfect representation of what it means to be a student-athlete at Kentucky.

Myers, along with softball player Griffin Joiner, has been named one of UK's two nominees for the NCAA's Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship. 

Established by the NCAA in 1988, the program honors one male and one female student-athlete annually by awarding a postgraduate scholarship in recognition of outstanding academic achievement and potential for success in postgraduate study.

"It means a lot to me. It is an honor to be chosen by the coaching staff and athletic department," Myers said of her nomination. "It means a lot that they would think so highly of me and choose me to be a candidate for this award."

The recipient of the Walter Byers Scholarship, announced in the spring, will be recognized as one who has combined the best elements of mind and body to achieve national distinction for his or her achievements, and promises to be a future leader in his or her chosen field of career service.

For UK head coach Lars Jorgensen, Myers fits the bill perfectly.

"Abby represents everything that's great about UK and our team," Jorgensen said. "There couldn't be a more deserving person, who's a great student, a great athlete and a great leader. She does wonderful things in the community and we're proud that she is nominated for this honor.

"Our women's team has made great strides the last two years, and much of that is because of Abby. Her work ethic in the pool, she holds her teammates accountable, she's tough as nails and she is well respected by her peers. She is a great person too. There's no shortage of good things to say about her. As far as her leadership, she is an outstanding leader and Abby has been huge in terms of our overall progress as a team."

As one of UK's captains this season, Myers has taken on an expanded role as a leader. With a large core of freshman and sophomores, those leadership responsibilities increase.

From workouts and competition to life outside the pool, Myers does not take the role lightly.

"I'm just trying to set the team into the right direction and set a good example," Myers said. "I want to give everyone an opportunity to be the best that they can be. I think the team has really taken that and run with it this year. I have seen the team grow a lot over the past two years and this is the best team I have been a part of."

In the classroom, Myers has been recognized several times for her academic success. Last spring, she was named to the Academic All-District Team, and helped the women's team earn the nation's best grade-point-average among all Division I men's and women's swimming and diving teams.

With a 3.94 GPA last year and majoring in Exercise Science, Myers has been named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll on three occasions.

Outside of team activities, Myers still can't get far away from the pool. Twice a week, she volunteers with a Special Olympics swim team in Lexington.

Myers was UK's representative on the 2014 SEC Community Service Team.

"My favorite part about community service is that I am part of a Special Olympics swim team downtown called the Fintastics," Myers said. "I have been doing that since my freshman year and they are kind of like my Lexington family. I see them twice a week, coach them and even swim with the kids a little bit. They are so much fun to be with. It's a nice thing to do to get off of campus to see some of the local Lexington people and get to know some people outside of UK."

From Cranberry Township, Pa., Myers is far from home, but her team -- both at UK and with the Fintastics -- have become part of a second family.

As Myers competes in her final season with the Wildcats, the All-American will continue to take UK to new heights. For Myers, this is just the beginning.

Towns not afraid to try different, be different

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Karl-Anthony Towns had 19 points and nine rebounds in UK's win over EKU on Sunday. (Elliott Hess, UK Athletics) Karl-Anthony Towns had 19 points and nine rebounds in UK's win over EKU on Sunday. (Elliott Hess, UK Athletics)
By any reasonable measure, Karl-Anthony Towns' college career started well.

Starting on the No. 1 team in the land, Towns was among the nation's top shot-blockers and even won Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week honors after big games against UT Arlington and Providence. He followed that up with 10 more points in Kentucky's second top-10 win of the season against Texas.

But the Saturday after the victory, Towns had a reaction you might not expect.

"I woke up in the morning, brushed my teeth - good hygiene, that's the biggest thing - and I looked in the mirror and I wanted to be better," Towns said. "I wanted to do something a little different than what I'm used to."

For Towns, there's no bigger departure from the norm than abandoning the toothy grin that he's come to be known for around the Joe Craft Center.

"He's got a very nice smile," assistant coach Barry Rohrssen said. "He really does."

Fear not, Coach Rohrssen, the smile isn't going away all the time.

Towns, seeking to find an edge to take his game to the next level, decided stash his smile in favor of a scowl during UK's matchup with Eastern Kentucky on Sunday. Towns' theory is that he plays his best when he's mad, so why not take that mentality to tipoff?

His logic, it seems, was sound.

The freshman was dominant against the Colonels, posting 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting, nine rebounds and four blocks. Just as importantly, the performance drew rave reviews from his toughest critic, Karl Sr., which means Junior plans to try the same approach for UK's next game, a matchup with Columbia (5-2) at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

"My father liked it," Towns said. "He said it's a different person (than) he's ever seen, so I like it too. I looked at a little bit of tape and I thought it kept me a little bit more focused on the game. I like it. I'm going to keep experimenting with it."

Considering Towns had already established himself among the top NBA Draft prospects in the nation, it's somewhat of a scary thought if the experiment works. Towns, after that EKU performance that again won him SEC Freshman of the Week honors, is averaging 9.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in 18.8 minutes.

"You're always looking for that next step to give your team another help," Towns said. "I'm just trying to help my team at all causes, at all times."

What Towns has going for him, other than his talent and 6-foot-11 frame, is he's on a team deep and experienced enough that he can experiment with the best ways to do that without having to worry about carrying the load on his own.

"For me it's been great knowing that I have a security blanket, I guess," Towns said. "Not everything's always going to be on my shoulders like it was in high school. The best thing about it is that I put pressure on myself. I want to be the best player I can possibly be. I want to be the best I can be for this team, so I'm putting a lot of pressure just on myself."

Towns' ultimate goal is to forget the freshman label he's carrying and play like his veteran teammates, namely Willie Cauley-Stein, who dominated in the win over Texas that prompted his mini-reinvention.

"The biggest thing is just don't be timid," Towns said. "Go out there and have a ball playing, but also we're getting to that part of the season now. Games are going to be a lot harder. We gotta do what we gotta do to make sure that we're the best possible. If this mentality helps me and the team then so be it. I'll do it every game."

Rohrssen feels the same way, though he still wants Karl to remain Karl off the court.

"His priorities always seem in order," Rohrssen said. "Again, he isn't just a good player. He's a wonderful person. He's so well-liked in this building, among his teammates, on campus, in the community here. Throughout many of the events that we've done, Karl has always gone above and beyond even what you ask him to do."

Whether it's in basketball or in life, going above and beyond is what Towns does. It's just who he is.

"Karl is a bit different, in a good way," Rohrssen said. "In a very good way."

UK in the NFL: Warford makes his return

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Larry Warford returned to active duty for the Detroit Lions this weekend after an absence due to injury. (Britney Howard, UK Athletics) Larry Warford returned to active duty for the Detroit Lions this weekend after an absence due to injury. (Britney Howard, UK Athletics)
By Connor Link, UK Athletics

This week in the NFL, Detroit Lions right guard Larry Warford returned to the playing field after spending the last three weeks on the sideline with a sprained left knee. In a rematch with First Team All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy--of whom Warford got the better in their one-on-one matchup as a rookie last season--the former Wildcat emerged victorious. The Lions defeated McCoy's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 34-17.

In addition to Warford's successful return from the first injury of his entire football career, Week 14 marked former Kentucky wide receiver Chris Matthews' first official game as an active NFL player. The 6-foot-5 Los Angeles native was promoted from the Seattle Seahawks' practice squad on Saturday after two seasons in the Canadian Football League (where he was named most outstanding rookie in 2012). The defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 24-14.

Cats in the Spotlight

Randall Cobb | #18 WR | Green Bay Packers (10-3)
In a tight 43-37 win over the Atlanta Falcons, Cobb caught four passes for 58 yards. With Cobb held without a touchdown for the past four weeks, Kentucky's all-time total TD leader has seen his 2014 receiving touchdown total stagnate at 10 (tying him for fourth in the NFL).

Jacob Tamme | #84 TE | Denver Broncos (10-3)
Despite a rib injury that left Tamme questionable for Sunday's game with the Buffalo Bills, the Danville, Ky. native caught one pass for 10 yards. However, Tamme also lost a fumble in the Broncos' 24-17 win over Buffalo.

Avery Williamson | #54 ILB | Tennessee Titans (2-11)

In yet another loss by the Titans, Williamson totaled six total tackles (three solo, three assisted) against the New York Giants. Tennessee fell to New York, 36-7.

Wesley Woodyard | #59 ILB | Tennessee Titans (2-11)
Kentucky's veteran half of its Titans linebacker duo outshone its rookie half by a two-tackle margin on Sunday. Woodyard combined for four solo tackles and four assists in Tennessee's blowout loss to the Giants.

UK in the NBA: Point guards star in week 7

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Former UK guards Eric Bledsoe and John Wall posted big games in the NBA this week. (UK Athletics) Former UK guards Eric Bledsoe and John Wall posted big games in the NBA this week. (UK Athletics)
By Nick Jones, UK Athletics

Through games on Sunday, Dec. 7

A trio of former Kentucky guards highlighted week six in the NBA. Eric Bledsoe, John Wall and Rajon Rondo have been on top of their games to this point in the season, but the three floor generals handed in consecutive spectacular performances this past week.

Bledsoe collected averages of 23 points, six assists and three rebounds while logging over 38 minutes per game as the Phoenix Suns posted a 2-1 record for the week. Even as the fourth year guard carried the scoring load for his team, Bledsoe still let his presence be known on the defensive end of the floor, including this spectacular chase-down block against the Rockets on Sunday.

UPDATE: Bledsoe had another huge game on Monday, posting 27 points, 16 assists, 11 rebounds, two steals and two blocks in a 121-120 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Bledsoe's triple-double against his former team was the first of his career and the first for a Suns player since 2006.

Rajon Rondo was back to his stat-stuffing ways with several eye-popping box score performances. First, Rondo recorded a season-high 19 assists and 12 rebounds last Tuesday, marking his sixth career double-double with assists and rebounds. No other guard in the league currently has more than one.

Rondo continued his passing display on Friday when he out-assisted the entire Los Angeles Lakers team 16 to 14 in a convincing 113-96 win for the Celtics. He capped off the week by posting a triple-double against John Wall and the Washington Wizards. Rondo was good for 13 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in another Celtics victory, who have put together three straight wins for the first time this season.

Even with the greatness from Rondo, former Wildcat John Wall pieced together an impressive night himself. Wall finished the game with 17 points, 14 assists, eight rebounds, three steals and three blocks in what was truly a heavyweight matchup between two of the league's best point guards.

76ers get first win

The Philadelphia 76ers opened the 2014-15 NBA season with a 17-game losing streak, just one game away from tying the NBA's worst start in league history. On Wednesday, though, Philly defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves as rookie Nerlens Noel chipped in eight points, three rebounds and two steals in 25 minutes of action.

Noel followed up the first encouraging night of basketball in his young career with an 11-point, 10-rebound performance, recording his third double-double of the season.

Week seven TV schedule

Tuesday: Dallas @ Memphis (Tayshaun Prince) 8:00 p.m. on NBA TV
                Sacramento (DeMarcus Cousins) @ L.A. Lakers 10:30 p.m. on NBA TV
Wednesday: New Orleans (Anthony Davis) @ Dallas 8:00 p.m. on ESPN
Thursday: Houston (Terrence Jones) @ Sacramento (DeMarcus Cousins) 10:30 p.m. on TNT
Friday: Portland @ Chicago (Nazr Mohammed) 7:00 p.m. on ESPN

Statistics (through games on Dec. 7)

Player (Team)

Games   Played

Games Started

MPG

PPG

RPG

APG

BPG

SPG

Eric Bledsoe (Suns)

21

21

32.2

15.8

4.7

5.7

0.7

1.4

DeMarcus Cousins (Kings)

15

15

32.0

23.5

12.6

2.4

1.5

1.1

Anthony Davis (Pelicans)

19

19

36.3

25.2

10.7

1.7

2.9

2.1

Archie Goodwin (Suns)

9

0

7.0

3.3

1.3

0.3

0.0

0.1

Chuck Hayes (Raptors)

12

0

10.2

1.5

2.2

1.0

0.1

0.5

Terrence Jones (Rockets)

4

4

29.3

14.0

7.5

1.5

1.8

1.0

Enes Kanter (Jazz)

20

20

25.3

13.7

6.7

0.7

0.4

0.4

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Hornets)

6

6

23.3

9.8

5.5

1.3

0.8

0.2

Brandon Knight (Bucks)

22

22

32.1

17.6

4.7

5.8

0.1

1.5

Nerlens Noel (76ers)

17

13

30.8

8.2

6.6

1.6

1.2

1.6

Patrick Patterson (Raptors)

20

3

25.5

7.5

5.7

1.6

0.4

0.6

Tayshaun Prince (Grizzlies)

 

11

6

23.1

8.0

2.8

0.8

0.1

0.3

Rajon Rondo (Celtics)

17

17

32.8

8.8

7.8

11.2

0.2

1.6

John Wall (Wizards)

19

19

35.3

17.6

4.7

10.0

0.7

2.2

James Young (Celtics)

5

0

3.6

2.2

0.4

0.2

0.2

0.0


Marcus Lee had 10 points, all on dunks in UK's 82-49 win over Eastern Kentucky on Sunday. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Marcus Lee had 10 points, all on dunks, in UK's 82-49 win over Eastern Kentucky on Sunday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Marcus Lee was the first UK player to find out firsthand what John Calipari meant when he said the platoon system is "not communism."

With Willie Cauley-Stein, Lee's first-platoon counterpart, dominating in a top-10 matchup with Texas, Lee was informed in the locker room he would move into a backup role in the second half.

It would have been understandable had Lee been a little down playing just one minute after halftime. Instead, he sat back and enjoyed the show.

"It was great the other game just watching him go off," Lee said. "That's the greatest I've seen Willie and that's just the kind of team we are."

Lee, in spite of having to take a step back, didn't disengage. Knowing how the platoons work and that his time would come, the sophomore was secure enough being the biggest cheerleader for the player who was getting his minutes as he posted 21 points, 12 rebounds, five steals and three blocks.

"When someone ahead of you is doing really well, you're just like, 'Hey Coach, keep him in,' and you're totally fine with it and you know you have the next game," Lee said. "So I wasn't worried about it at all. I knew today would just be a new game and everything would be different."

He was right.

Lee, jumping right back into the rotation, had his best game of the season in No. 1 UK's latest dominant performance, an 82-49 win over Eastern Kentucky on Sunday at Rupp Arena. Lee had 10 points in the victory on five second-half dunks, his offensive specialty.

"It makes the game fun," Lee said. "Any kind of lob is fun. But playing this fast tempo is just something that I've always loved to do. It's just my kind of game and the lobs just kind of came naturally in this game."

Considering Lee had been quiet through much of UK's undefeated start, scoring no more than four points in any game before EKU, his emergence was encouraging. Much more encouraging is the fact that the Cats are responding to the way playing time is being divvied up just as the coaching staff hoped they would.

"These guys genuinely really like each other," assistant coach John Robic said.

Those feelings were proven by the way Lee handled Cauley-Stein's career night on Friday and again Sunday by Cauley-Stein. Forty-eight hours removed from a performance that had NBA scouts and analysts buzzing, Cauley-Stein was eager to see Lee succeed just as Lee had been for him.

So eager, in fact, that Cauley-Stein told John Calipari to leave Lee in at one point rather than check back in himself.

"It was Willie's turn to go in, and Willie told Coach, 'Keep Marcus in,' " Robic said.

Watching the moment live, Robic was reminded of the 2012 Southeastern Conference Tournament title game when Michael Kidd-Gilchrist gave up his starting spot for a struggling Darius Miller. UK would lose the game to Vanderbilt, but Miller regained his form and the Cats would of course go on to win their eighth national championship.
 
"It was one of those things that if you think back what Gilchrist did for Darius Miller, that's a sign of maturity, that's a sign of a leader, that's a sign of being a good teammate," Robic said. "They appreciate that."

It remains to be seen whether similarly selfless acts by this year's team will lead to No. 9, but it's certainly not a bad sign.

"That totally puts trust and comfort in your other players knowing that I'd be able to do it for him and he's also capable of doing the same for me," Lee said. "It kind of just shows how much we care for each other and we're not just there for ourselves."
 

Video: Lee, Towns, Lyles on UK's win over EKU

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Video: Highlights from UK's win over EKU

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Video: Robic's post-EKU press conference

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Recent Comments

  • joel alberto luna colon: I agree with you, UK has not only the talent, but some experience. They could go undefeated if they want read more
  • Berdj Rassam: This was expected to be an easy win for UK. read more
  • dannyone: if the cat,s play like that in every game as they should they could go all the way.so what I,m read more
  • Dale Sine: Coach Cal at it again. He is the best coach in America and the only coach that could handle coaching read more
  • Mike J.: Cal is the best coach out there. He returned Memphis to national prominence and stayed 9 years, a helluva lot read more
  • Berdj Rassam: Booker will be a key part of whether or not this team will be successful this season. read more
  • Tom Moore: Since Tubby 98 and 2003-2004 team which should've won it all, Kentucky fans ( I am true blue ) have read more
  • John Mylant: Kentucky verses Kansas I am a UK fan but bringing this into perspective, this was just one of those games. read more
  • Catherine: We have the Blue Platoon and the White Platoon, I say we should name the rest team "The Closers"! read more
  • Sandy: Great game. I couldn't take my eyes off in the second half. Proud of all of you. I thought Epps read more