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The inaugural Scratchies

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scratchies logo award (2).jpgWhat happens when you have no games, finals week, the end of the year approaching and a blogger with time on his hands? You get the Scratchies (not a skin disease). Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud (or embarrassed) to introduce the inaugural Scratchies, an end-of-the-semester awards rundown that I plan hope to do at the end of every fall and spring semester to recap the previous athletics season.

Not to be confused with ESPN's Herbie Awards or UK's end-of-the-year CATSPY Awards, the Scratchies offer no actual hardware of glitzy awards show. Instead, these honorees have earned the appreciation of a lowly blogger trying to pass the time of a six-day game-less stretch.

Nonetheless, check back during finals week of the spring semester for the Spring Semester 2011 Scratchies Awards. Without further ado, I give you the 2010 Fall Semester Scratchies. And please feel free to disagree and comment on who you think should have won.

MVW (Most Valuable Wildcat)
Randall Cobb, football
- Who else? Mr. Do Everything was, well, just about everything for the Kentucky football team. He caught passes, ran the ball from the quarterback position, returned punts and kicks, held snaps, took out your trash, and even got the paper. What didn't Cobb do this year? He led the Southeastern Conference with 2,192 all-purpose yards, broke the career touchdown mark at UK and was the program's first Associated Press first-team All-American since Derek Abney in 2002.

The Dream Team (team of the semester)
Men's basketball - I'm going to take a lot of grief for this one because the Cats are only nine games into the season, but John Calipari's team has been the most impressive through the first semester. Given the schedule UK has had to manage through - most computers rank Kentucky's early season slate as one of the toughest in the nation - and the players Calipari had to replace, the Cats have played remarkably well in early season tests. Enes Kanter's status remains up in the air, but this team still has a chance to make a deep run come March.

RBW_6808.jpgThe Adolph Rupp Award (coach of the semester)
Craig Skinner, volleyball
- One could make a case for Skinner winning this award just about every year. Too often overlooked for his team's accomplishments, Skinner has put together arguably the steadiest program at UK in guiding the Cats to six straight NCAA Tournament berths. The team's appearance this year may have been his most impressive. Despite losing All-SEC stalwarts Sarah Rumely, BriAnne Sauer and Sarah Mendoza, and losing four of five midway through the season, Kentucky rallied down the stretch to win six of seven and make the NCAA Tournament.

The Jose Bautista Award (most improved player)
Danny Trevathan, football
- Danny Trevathan has long been touted as the next great in a recent trend of star linebackers at Kentucky, but nobody could have predicted Trevathan would have the type of breakthrough season he enjoyed in 2010. On a defense in serious need of a leader, Trevathan emerged from last year's somewhat limited role and became one of the best linebackers in the SEC. Trevathan led the SEC with 130 tackles.

The Butler Award (surprise team)
Women's soccer - In Jon Lipsitz's first season as head coach, the Cats struggled just to find the back of the net much less wins. A season after scoring 11 goals on the year, Lipsitz's 2010 team managed to match that in two games alone against Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. With a newfound offense and a continually stingy defense, the Cats made the SEC Tournament and nearly pulled off an upset of No. 2 seed South Carolina. With most of this season's starters returning next year, the future is extremely bright.

One Shining Moment (best moment)
Football's upset of No. 10 South Carolina
- Joker Phillips notched one of the few signature victories that his predecessor, Rich Brooks, could not attain. In snapping a 10-game losing streak to South Carolina and beating coach Steve Spurrier for the first time, UK ended one of the notorious streaks that has plagued the program. Mike Hartline's 24-yard pass to Randall Cobb put the Cats ahead and Anthony Mosley's interception in the end zone sealed the victory.

The "band is out on the field" Award (best game)
Volleyball's upset of No. 15 LSU
- In desperate need of a marquee win to enhance its NCAA Tournament resume, the Kentucky volleyball team rallied for a come-from-behind 3-2 win over defending conference champion LSU on Senior Day. The victory proved to be the turnaround victory Skinner's team was looking for as the Cats made their fifth straight NCAA Tournament.

52_UK_Vanderbilt_14_ASB.JPGThe Doug Flutie Hail Mary Award (best play)
Cobb's sensational run
- Already in the midst of a career rushing day against Vanderbilt, Randall Cobb saved his best run for last. On a designed throw from the quarterback position, the 5-foot-10, 186-pound junior scrambled away from two would-be sacks, ran down the left sideline, cut it back across the field and shook a couple more defenders -- all before finally running out of gas and stepping out of bounds on the right sideline.

The Cam Newton Award (breakthrough player)
Eric Quigley, men's tennis
- Not that Quigley isn't already a star at UK, but this fall season cemented his status as one of the best players of the 2010-11 athletics class. Quigley won the USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regional Indoor Championship in dominating fashion, defeating the country's No. 1-ranked player. Quigley also made school history by becoming only the sixth player in school history to play in the finals of a collegiate grand slam.

All-Calipari Team (All-Freshman team)
Caitlin Landis, women's soccer
- Scored seven goals in her first season
Brandon Knight, men's basketball - Averaging 17.4 points and has dished out 33 assists through his first nine career games
Tyler Beadle, men's soccer - Recorded four shutouts as the full-time starter
Maegan Conwright, women's basketball - First-year point guard is averaging 9.1 points
Emily Holsopple, rifle - Represented UK at the USA Shooting Championships

All-Up-and-Comers (non-freshmen on the rise)
Sophomore Stephanie Klefot, volleyball
- Named SEC Libero of the Year
Sophomore Chelsea Oswald, cross country - Won the Iona Meet of Champions this fall
Sophomore Larry Warford, football - Garnered All-SEC honors in first full-time duty
Junior Kelsey Hunyadi, women's soccer - Led UK with eight goals despite missing four games
Junior DeAndre Liggins, men's basketball - Sure, he's a veteran, but in his first season as a starter, he's averaging 9.9 points

All-Wildcat Team (The Scratchies equivalent of the All-America team)
Freshman Terrence Jones, men's basketball
- Leads the team in scoring (18.9) and rebounding (10.2)
Senior Victoria Dunlap, women's basketball - Reigning SEC Player of the Year leads the SEC in scoring (19.3), rebounding (11.4), steals (3.7) and blocks (2.3).
Senior Lauren Rapp, volleyball - Finished seventh in school history with 1,280 kills
Eric Quigley, men's tennis - See above
Randall Cobb, football - See above

All-Rex Ryan Team (when you need a sound bite, these are your go-to guys)
Senior Ricky Lumpkin, football
Ian Collins, men's soccer
Jon Lipsitz, women's soccer
Derrick Locke, football
Amber Smith, women's basketball

A77G2095.jpgThe Craig Sager Award (best dressed)
Jon Lipsitz, women's soccer -
He wears a suit on the sidelines of every soccer game. Enough said. And yes, that Craig Sager Award has just a touch of sarcasm to it. And no, Lipsitz does not dress like Craig Sager.

The Streak (strangest stat or streak)
Overtime, anyone?
- The men's soccer team played in a school-record nine overtime games in 2010. The nine overtime games came during a 12-game stretch in which the Cats battled a slew of injuries.

The Steve Bartman Award (best blooper)
Chris Matthews, football
- During one of Joker Phillips' weekly news conferences, Matthews, who had just finished up with interviews of his own, sat in the back of the media room minding his business while dozens of reporters fired questions at Phillips. In a rather quiet room, a loud bang turned the attention of everyone to Matthews lying on the floor. Matthews had leaned back too far and fell out of his seat. It was one of those things where you had to be there.

He said what? (quote of the semester)
"I love that kid. He does everything that you want a center or a big man to do. He plays ball screens great, he rebounds the basketball, he blocks shots. He's the mother hen out there." - Boston coach Patrick Chambers on men's basketball forward Josh Harrellson

The "Get Your Popcorn Ready" Award (best celebration/dance)
Matthew Mitchell, women's basketball
- Already famous/notorious (you choose the adjective) for being one of the most outspokenly confident and hilarious men in UK's athletics department, Mitchell saved his best moment for this year's Big Blue Madness. With "The Dougie" being the craze these days, Mitchell decided to bust out the move in front of 24,000 fans during the UK women's basketball team's introductions. Only the video itself of the dance can do it justice.

Oct. 17 Performances of the Week

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Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Oct. 17:

Volleyball: Whitney Billings

Freshman Whitney Billings had an outstanding weekend in helping lead the Blue and White to a pair of Southeastern Conference home victories. Billings put together a sensational complete effort for the Wildcats and was exceptional in all phases of the game. Against Alabama, Billings paced the squad with a team-high 14 kills on a .312 hitting percentage, just the fourth time in her career she has eclipsed the .300 mark. She also contributed 12 digs in the victory for her fifth career double-double and the first of her career in conference action. Billings then added eight kills and a team-high 13 digs in a win over Mississippi State. It is the second time in four matches Billings has led the Wildcats in digs for a match. She was targeted 20 times this weekend off of the service line and was perfect with a 1.000 reception percentage. For the weekend, Billings led the team with 3.14 kills per set while ranking second on the squad with 3.57 digs per set. She totaled 3.50 points per stanza to rank second on the squad. Her numbers for the week were all well above her season average, including kills per set, hitting percentage, assists, aces, digs, receptions and points.

Women's tennis: Megan Broderick

Advanced to the round of 16 of the main singles draw at the USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regional Championships. Teamed up with sophomore Jessica Stiles to advance to the semifinals of the main doubles draw.

Football: Winston Guy

Had 10 tackles and an interception.

Football: Mike Hartline

Completed 32 of 42 passes for 349 yards and four touchdowns in upset of South Carolina.

Volleyball: Stephanie Klefot

Sophomore Stephanie Klefot continues to be a force for the Wildcats from the back line. Klefot picked up 32 digs in seven sets action for an average of 4.57 digs per set in helping lead UK to a pair of SEC victories. With 21 scoops against Alabama, Klefot has now posted six matches this season with 20 or more digs. She has led the Blue and White in digs in 17 matches this season. With 11 digs against Mississippi State, Klefot has charted 10 or more digs in 19 of UK's 20 matches this season. With the 32 scoops this weekend, she surpassed her season total from a year ago.

Football: Chris Matthews

Caught a career-high 12 passes for 177 yards and one touchdown.

Cross country: Luis Orta

Orta has led the men's team in each of its three previous meets of the season and made it a fourth with a strong finish Friday in Boone, N.C. The sophomore navigated the 8,000-meter course in 24:49.30 for his fourth consecutive top-25 finish.

Volleyball: Becky Pavan

Junior Becky Pavan continued her efficient play in helping the Wildcats to a pair of SEC home victories this weekend. Pavan charted 2.86 kills per stanza on a team-high .395 hitting clip in seven sets of action. Against Alabama, Pavan totaled 13 kills for her 20th career match with 10 or more hammers. She totaled the 13 kills on a .500 hitting clip and contributed a team-high four blocks. Against Mississippi State, Pavan turned in the most complete performance of the season. She notched seven kills in the win, but it was her contributions from the service line that paid the most dividends for the Blue and White. UK scored 19 points with its starting middle blocker at the service line in the three set match with the Bulldogs. She had four runs of six or more points while adding a season-high three service aces. With her strong service performance she was forced into action from the back row and came through with a career-high six digs in the match. She also dished out a pair of assists and added two blocks to her line. For the weekend, Pavan led the team with 4.00 points per set, well above her average of 2.47 for the season.

Swimming and diving: Kelcy Perry

  • Kelcy Perry led the Kentucky women's swimming and diving team to a pair of wins over Southern Illinois and Missouri to open the season.
  • Perry, a sophomore from Richmond, Ky., won the 200- and 100-butterfly and was a member of the victorious 200-medley relay.
  • Perry set a personal-best time in the 200-butterfly with a 2:04.93.
  • Perry's previous best was 2:10.17. In the 100-fly, Perry swam to a first place finish with a time of 56.20.
  • Perry combined with Chatham Penrod, Jenna Willis, and Jenna Newsome for Kentucky's victory in the 200-medley relay. Perry swam the third leg in a time of 25.04.

Football: Ryan Tydlacka

Punted for 41.5-yard average and had three punts inside the 20-yard line.

Passion for job key to Weber's run, All-Americans

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Thumbnail image for weber.jpgTrack and field head coach Don Weber knows a thing or two about longevity. After all, he's been coaching longer than all but one Southeastern Conference track coach and coached through six different presidents. 

In a day and age in college athletics where instability and coaching changes are the norm, Weber is a rare breed. Despite coaching the northern-most school in the nation's toughest league, Weber has put together a career rich of gaudy statistics and almost unbelievable numbers as he enters his 27th season at UK.

In total, Weber has guided seven Wildcats to 11 NCAA individual national championships, coached 109 SEC individual champions, one cross country national team championship and seven SEC team titles in cross country. The most eye-popping number is 215, the number of All-Americans that have passed through UK's doors under the watch of Weber.

To put that number in perspective, there have been 75 All-American's all time in the history of UK basketball and football, combined. Although it's easier to be granted All-America status in track and cross country (top eight American-born finishers at nationals are tabbed All-Americans), it is still a testament to Weber's sustained success.

"Over the years and being exposed to more kids, most of what I know and believe about what we do, training and competing, to a great degree, I've learned from the kids that I've coached," Weber said. "I've had some great teachers."

Weber might not take full credit for his athlete's success over the years, but there's something to be said about a coach who has stayed at a school for as long as Weber has and to have produced as many All-Americans.

The fuel behind the numbers, the longevity and the success has been an unwavering passion. Weber wants to be the UK track and field and cross country coach at his alma mater just as much as he did two-and-a-half decades ago.

"Every day I would check the Courier-journal hoping, wishing to read in the paper that the UK track coach retired or resigned because that's where I wanted to coach," Weber said. "Over a period of time of waiting and looking, it happened. I was very fortunate that the guy who got the job when that coach quit was an assistant coach here when I was an athlete. He coached here from 1978 to 1984 and then I got elevated. There was never any other place that I was interested in coaching."

Ever since becoming the head coach in 1984, Weber has coached his athletes to believe in his model, a system that starts and ends with the athlete themselves.

"It has to be personal," Weber said. "You have to want to do this for really good reasons, not just because there is a status connected to athletes. There have been a lot of athletes that I've known that really enjoy the process of improvement. You want to foster an environment where you tell the athlete that this is their thing, this is your skill and we want to assist you to do that, rather than them thinking that they work for us and that this is their job." 

Weber has achieved success despite what UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart has admitted to be below-average facilities. After years of an aging outdoor track facility, UK has agreed to build a new outdoor track, the initial phases of which are expected to begin shortly.
A pleased Weber said the future facility will only help build on the number of All-Americans the program has produced and improve recruiting.

"I think it's huge," Weber said. "It will be another indication that track and field is important at the University of Kentucky. Facilities, regardless of the sport, are significant to high school kids. It just leaves the impression of that's something that I want to be a part of."

Even with current facility's state, Weber's teams have continued to roll right along.

The women's cross country team have gotten off to a fast start to the 2010 season, led by sophomore Chelsea Oswald. The Cats have posted three straight top-10 finishes to begin the season, including a team championship at the Iona College Meet of Champions.

In Oswald's two meets this year, she captured the individual championship at Iona College Meet of Champions and placed second in the San Francisco Invitational. When Oswald didn't race last week in the Great Louisville Invitational, the team finished in ninth.

"She's one of our key runners," Weber said. "Not only is she a talented, gifted runner but the thing that distinguishes her is the thing that distinguishes every other accomplished athlete we've ever had - how motivated she is, how interested she is in maximizing her talents. And yet, we've got other runners that might not be as gifted but their accomplishment, motivation and success and how that's going contribute to their best performance and how that's going contribute to if their three, four or five for us is just as appreciated and important."

The men's cross country team hasn't fared quite as well, dropping out of the Southeast Region rankings this past week, but the Cats did win the San Francisco Invitational. The men's team is paced by Luis Orta, who won the individual championship in San Francisco and followed it up with a fifth-place posting at the Iona meet.

Important meets dot the future schedule, including the SEC Cross Country Championships on Nov. 1 and the NCAA Southeast Regionals on Nov. 13. In leading up to those two meets, Weber said the next few weeks will be about handling their own business.

"When I think about the SEC meet that is coming up and every SEC meet and every championship meet we've ever been to, I've never drawn out the meet and compared what other teams are doing from week to week," Weber said. "I've always just thought that our job responsibility is to be as good as we can be on race day. If we do that, most of the time, we'll be pretty satisfied with the end result."

Performances of the Week: Sept. 21

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Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, Sept. 19:

Football: Mike Hartline

Completed 21 of 29 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns.

Football: Derrick Locke

Had 17 carries for 166 yards and two touchdowns; also caught three passes for 29 yards.

Women's soccer: Sydney Hiance

Hiance recorded her third and fourth shutouts of the season on the week. Her shutout against South Alabama was the 19th of her career moving her to third place on Kentucky's all-time shutout list, one shy of second. Hiance and the Wildcats' defense have recorded three straight shutouts and have yet to allow a goal at home this season in five matches.

Volleyball: Elizabeth Koberstein

Freshman setter Elizabeth Koberstein made her first career start in a victory over South Carolina. Koberstein was sensational in her first complete action, dishing out a UK season-high 48 assists and leading UK to a season-best .328 hitting percentage. UK's 58 kills in the match are the most in a four-set match this season. Four UK attackers registered over 10 kills and two players posted .330 hitting clips or better. Koberstein was also terrific in her dispersal of the ball as all four players with 10 or more kills had between 26 and 28 total attempts. Koberstein saw limited action in the third set against No. 3 Florida where she was effective in dishing out six assists during the later portion of the stanza.

Cross country: Chelsea Oswald

Chelsea Oswald and the Kentucky women's cross country team claimed victories at the 2010 Br. John "Paddy" Doyle/Iona Meet of Champions in Bronx, N.Y., on Saturday. Oswald breezed through the six-kilometer course winning the race by nearly 13 seconds with a time of 21:41.68 to take the women's individual title, the second of her career. The team followed suit winning the meet with 62 points in a much tighter contest between the Wildcats, Brown and LaSalle. The top three teams were separated by only three points with Brown and LaSalle divided by a single tally. Two weeks ago in San Francisco, Oswald finished second with the team paralleling her performance with a runner-up finish.

Volleyball: Lauren Rapp

Senior Lauren Rapp led the Wildcats to a 1-1 week to open SEC action. The middle blocker from Indianapolis recorded 24 kills for the weekend on a sizzling .447 hitting percentage. She also paced the frontline defense with 11 total blocks for 1.38 blocks per frame as UK totaled 10 or more blocks in both matches this weekend. Rapp led the Wildcats in blocking in both matches. She also had a season-high 16 kills on a dazzling .500 hitting clip in the victory over South Carolina, UK's seventh straight in that series. Her 3.81 points per set is well above her 3.17 average for the season, and her hitting clip was nearly over .200 points higher than average.

Football: Danny Trevathan

Led team with eight tackles, including a tackle for loss.

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