- The Wildcats return home for a pair
of league games this week beginning with Arkansas on Tuesday night. UK just
completed a two-game road stretch where they posted a 2-0 record, including a
65-62 win over Tennessee in Knoxville on Saturday.
- Kentucky had to come from behind,
trailing the Volunteers by as many as eight in the second half, but the
Wildcats were up to the challenge, including freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist,
who led UK with his third double-double this season. He finished with 17 points
and a game-high 12 rebounds.
- Fellow freshman Anthony Davis was
named the SEC Freshman of the Week after he finished with a game-high 18 points
and added eight rebounds and four blocks, while Terrence Jones was the only
other Wildcat in double-figures with 10 points.
- Kentucky remains the only undefeated
team in the SEC at 5-0 after two hard-fought wins over No. 6/7 Tennessee and
No. 24/RV South Carolina last week. The Wildcats captured a one-point 61-60
victory over the Lady Vols on Thursday in Memorial Coliseum, snapping the Lady
Vols' 36-game SEC winning streak.
- Junior guard A'dia Mathies turned in
one of the most impressive individual performances in UK Hoops history in the
win by netting a career-best 34 points to go along with nine rebounds, two
assists, two blocks and two steals. She hit the game winner with 4.2 seconds remaining
to give UK its third win over top-10 team this season and first win over
Tennessee in five tries. For her efforts she was tabbed the SEC Player of the
- The Cats then defeated South
Carolina on the road, 66-58, marking their first win in Columbia, S.C. since 2009.
The balanced scoring effort was led by Keyla Snowden who came off the bench for
15 points and three steals. Ten of the 11 players who saw action scored at
least two points.
- Kentucky got strong outings from
Emily Holsopple and Ethan Settlemires to lead the defending national champion Kentucky
rifle team improved to 8-0 win a win at Army, 4693-4646, on Saturday at the
Tronsure Rifle Range.
- Kentucky opened its spring portion
of the schedule with the win at West Point, totaling a 2325 total smallbore
score and a 2368 total air rifle team tally.
- Holsopple and Settlemires led UK in
both guns, with the duo each charting a 585 in smallbore. Settlemires led UK in
air rifle with a 594, with Holsopple adding a 593. Also in air rifle, Henri
Junghänel finished with a 592, with Heather Greathouse recording a 592 and Stacy
Wheatley posting a 589. Katie Fretts finished with a 585 in air rifle.
Holsopple and Settlemires led UK with 585's, with Junghänel charting a 576, Greathouse
a 579, Wheatley a 572 and Fretts a 569.
- The No. 23 University of Kentucky
gymnastics team concluded its first Southeastern Conference meet of the season
by falling 196.650-191.975 to No. 11 Arkansas at Barnhill Arena in
- In all, Kentucky had 19 of 24
routines performed by freshmen and sophomores in the meet, while five Wildcats
made their collegiate debuts on an event in the meet.
- Kentucky's youth shined on vault
with freshman Kenzie Hedges leading the way with a 9.775, while sophomore Holly
Cunningham was second on the team and tied a career high with a 9.75. Freshman Sara
Shipley went second in the lineup and scored a 9.725, while sophomore Audrey
Harrison went 9.7. Senior Storey Morris posted a 9.65 followed by freshman Shelby
Hilton, who was making her collegiate debut, earning a 9.475. Kentucky scored a
48.6 as a team on the event.
- The Kentucky men's tennis team
completed a successful four-day run in the Southeastern Conference Coaches'
Indoor Championships with junior Anthony Rossi claiming the singles title at
the event. Rossi used a very workmanlike performance Monday to win the final
over the No. 10 Sadio Doumbia.
- Rossi becomes the first Kentucky
player to win the singles title in the annual event since Adam Malik did it back
in 1989. The UK star is only the second player in school history to win the
- Kentucky had a good showing at the
event overall with three singles players making the quarterfinals in Rossi, Eric
Quigley and Tom Jomby. UK also had two doubles tandems in the quarterfinals,
while sophomore Panav Jha and Quigley advanced to the doubles semifinals.
Track and field
- The Kentucky men's and women's track
and field programs began their seasons Friday and Saturday by hosting the
Kentucky Invitational at Nutter Field House.
- The Wildcats got strong performances
from its men's one-milers, as junior Luis Orta ran a personal-best and SEC-leading
time of 4:09.59 to finish in second. Sophomore Adam Kahleifeh finished fourth
with a time of 4:12.20.
- Freshman Bradley Szypka finished
second in the men's shot put with a throw of 16.28m/53-05.00, while junior Darryl
Bradshaw finished third in the 60-meter hurdles finals with a time of 8.18.
- The Wildcats placed in the top three
in six different events Saturday.
Swimming and diving
- The UK swimming and diving teams
combined to go 2-2 over the weekend, with both teams dropping an SEC dual meet
to Alabama on Saturday, but quickly rebounding to sweep Emory University on
- On Sunday in the women's
100-butterfly, UK had a dominating performance taking first through fifth.
Julia Gerotto led the way, recording a
time of 57.49, while Anna Mattox followed up with a 58.47 for second place.
Lindsay Lash, Abby Myers, and Diana Norkus rounded out the top-five for
- Overall on the weekend, Kentucky won
seven of the contested eight diving events. Sophomore Greg Ferrucci claimed
first place in three of the four events he was entered in.
- Women's tennis traveled to Honolulu,
Hawaii, for the Rainbow Wahine Spring Invitational.
- The team swept Kansas in doubles
play. The 34th-ranked duo of Khristina Blajkevitch and Jessica
Stiles took on the Kansas' 42nd-ranked doubles team of Monica Pezzotti and
Paulina Los, defeating them 8-4.
- Freshman Stephanie Fox faced
Washington State's 123rd-ranked Elizaveta Luzina and beat her in straight sets
with a score of 6-1, 6-3.
Tuesday, Jan. 17
Men's basketball hosts Arkansas - 9:00
Thursday, Jan. 19
Women's basketball at Georgia - 7:00
Friday, Jan. 20
Women's tennis hosts Marshall - Noon
Gymnastics hosts Florida - 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 21
Men's basketball hosts Alabama - Noon
Rifle at TCU
Sunday, Jan. 22
Women's tennis hosts Belmont - 11:00
Men's tennis vs. Michigan State - 2:00
Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, Jan. 8:
Men's basketball: Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis averaged a double-double for the third straight week, helping the Wildcats to a 2-0 record on the week including a win in the SEC opener over South Carolina ... Davis has tallied five-straight double-doubles and six in his last seven games ... He now has nine double-doubles on the season, tying him for fourth most by a UK freshman in school history ... He blocked 10 shots on the week and is on pace to destroy the UK single season blocks record by nearly 70 blocks ... Davis tallied a 20-10 game against Arkansas-Little Rock, his second 20-10 performance of the season ... He then just missed a triple-double in his first-career SEC outing, with a 12 point, 10 rebound, seven block effort against South Carolina
Swimming & diving: Greg Ferrucci
The Kentucky diving team competed in the Georgia Diving Invitational this week in Athens, Ga. UK was paced by sophomore Greg Ferrucci who posted a score of 412.20 in the three-meter competition. The score was good enough to land the defending Southeastern Conference Freshman Diver of the Year the overall champion in the event, taking home first place. John Fox placed eighth in the same competition, posting a score of 334.10.
The score of 412.20 on the three-meter dive set a new school record for Ferrucci, passing Ben Starchuk, who held the record since 2005 with a score of 406.43 on Feb. 5, 2005.
Gymnastics: Head coach Tim Garrison
In his first meet as the head coach of the UK gymnastics team, Tim Garrison led the Wildcats to a second-place finish at the Excite Night at the Kentucky Classic event at Memorial Coliseum. A total of 3,686 fans helped open the Tim Garrison Era at Memorial Coliseum with an energetic atmosphere.
Women's basketball: Bria Goss
Scored 11 points against Arkansas on a perfect 4-4 shooting from the field, including a career-high tying three 3-pointers, to go along with five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Scored 13 points, including a career-high tying three 3-pointers for the second consecutive game, and had four rebounds and three steals vs Florida.
Shooting 6-7 from beyond the arc over the last two games.
Is 8-11 from the field over the last two games.
Third in scoring (12.0 ppg), tied for second in rebounding (4.5 rpg) and first in steals (2.5 spg) for the week.
Has reached double figures in scoring in 14 of 16 games for the Wildcats, including each of the last eight.
Has started in every game this season.
Has at least two steals in seven of UK's last eight games.
Leading freshman scorer in the SEC.
Men's basketball: Terrence Jones
Recovering from a dislocated pinkie Jones scored in double figures in back-to-back games helping Kentucky to a 2-0 mark on the week ... Shot better than 73 pct. from the field on the week, averaging15.0 ppg ... Shot over 88 pct. from the field in SEC-opening victory over South Carolina hitting eight of nine shots ... 20 points against South Carolina was most since tallying 26 against St. John's on Dec. 1
Women's basketball: A'dia Mathies
Scored a team-high 21 points vs. Arkansas, including a career-high five 3-pointers, a season-high six assists, three rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
Scored 20 points and grabbed five rebounds in 20 minutes vs. Mississippi State.
Scored 20 or more points in both games this week.
Hit three of Kentucky's program-record 14 3-pointers vs. Mississippi State.
Was 8-16 from beyond the arc in wins over Arkansas and Mississippi State.
Led UK in minutes played this week.
Has started in every game she has played this season.
Has reached double figures in scoring in 13 of 15 games she has played in.
No. 22 in scoring all-time at UK (1,166), and is just four points shy of tying Jocelyn Mills at No. 20.
No. 9 in steals all-time at UK (215), and is just nine steals shy of tying Sandy Harding at No. 8.
Gymnastics: Storey Morris
Gymnastics senior Storey Morris performed very well in her final season opener as a UK gymnasts, scoring a 9.7 or above on vault, uneven bars and balance beam. Morris started the night by sticking her landing on vault en route to a score of 9.8, while she secured a 9.7 posting on bars and led the Wildcats on beam with a score of 9.75.
Men's tennis: Eric Quigley
Kentucky men's tennis senior Eric Quigley went 2-0 in singles play at the Rainbow Warrior Challenge over the weekend, taking his career singles record to 139-43, sitting only two wins shy of tying Jesse Witten (2002-05) for second all-time in career singles wins.
Boasting a No. 23 ranking, the program's highest since 2007, Kentucky gymnastics opens its season on Saturday. The Wildcats will host Oklahoma, Bowling Green State and Wisconsin-Oshkosh at 6 p.m. in Memorial Coliseum for Excite Night at the Kentucky Classic.
UK will be led by head coach Tim Garrison, who is in his first season as head coach following a successful tenure as an assistant at Nebraska. Garrison will rely on a pair of senior co-captains in Storey Morris and Whitney Rose to anchor his first Kentucky team. The two have combined to win 21 individual event titles in their careers as Wildcats.
Garrison and the Wildcats won't have to wait long to be sternly tested this season, as the visiting Oklahoma Sooners are ranked in the top five in the preseason GymInfo Preseason Coaches' Poll.
Tickets to the event are available by calling the UK Ticket Office at (859) 257-1818 or toll free at 1-800-928-2287. Fans in attendance will have numerous chances to win prizes, including a family four pack of tickets to see Shrek the Musical on Feb. 19. Junior Wildcat Club members who show their badge will receive free admission to the event and a special gift. After the meet, the entire team will sign autographs.
Men's basketball - The Wildcats open the 2012 calendar year, playing their annual game at Freedom Hall Tuesday night, hosting the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans. - UK closed out 2011 riding a career-game from freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, to a 69-62 win over in-state rival Louisville. - Kidd-Gilchrist tallied his second-career double-double with 24 points and 19 rebounds, both career-highs and was named the Bluegrass Sports Commission MVP of the game for his efforts. - Anthony Davis also tallied a double-double, his seventh, with 18 points and 10 rebounds to go along with six blocked shots. Women's basketball - Kentucky bounced back from a tough road loss at Middle Tennessee after the holiday break by capturing a hard-fought 59-56 win at Florida on Sunday in the SEC opener. It marked UK's first SEC-opening win since 2008 and its third-straight win over Florida. - Junior guard A'dia Mathies, who scored a team-high 14 points, was crucial to the Wildcats' win over the Gators. With UK trailing by two in the first half, Mathies nailed back-to-back 3-pointers, grabbed a rebound and took a charge in the final 60 seconds to give Kentucky a four-point halftime lead, and the Cats would never trail again. - Freshman guard Bria Goss also was a key catalyst as she scored 11 points all in the first half and added four rebounds and two steals. Goss has now scored in double figures in 12 of 14 career games, including six in a row. - Sophomore Samarie Walker added eight points and seven rebounds in her first SEC contest. - The Wildcats return to Memorial Coliseum on Thursday, Jan. 5 against Arkansas in the first of three consecutive SEC home games.
Tuesday, Jan. 3 Men's basketball vs. Arkansas-Little Rock - 7:00 p.m. (Louisville, Ky.) Men's tennis at Hawaii Warrior Invitational
Wednesday, Jan. 4 Men's tennis at Hawaii Warrior Invitational
Thursday, Jan. 5 Women's basketball hosts Arkansas - 6:00 p.m. Men's tennis at Hawaii Warrior Invitational
Friday, Jan. 6 Men's tennis at Hawaii Warrior Invitational Saturday, Jan. 7 Men's basketball hosts South Carolina - 4:00 p.m. Gymnastics hosts Oklahoma/Wisconsin-Oshkosh/Bowling Green - 5:30 p.m. Men's tennis at Hawaii Warrior Invitational
Sunday, Jan. 8 Women's basketball hosts Mississippi State -3:30 p.m. Men's tennis at Hawaii Warrior Invitational
First, he sat down with UK baseball head coach Gary Henderson for a series of questions and answers. In it, Henderson talked about the fall, playing in the nation's toughest conference and some of his players' success in summer leagues. Make sure to read the full Q&A, but here are a couple highlights:
SEC Digital Network: What do you believe your strengths of your team this upcoming year?
Gary Henderson: "I think it's early, but I'm really hopeful that infield defense and depth on the mound are going to be some things that we can rely on. We're going to hit again, that part's pretty clear. We knew that coming in that we were going to have another good offensive club. How good, you don't know; just exactly how well balanced you're going to be, you don't know, because some of the younger guys have got to prove it first. We'll be another good offensive club, as are most clubs in our league and then it comes down to how well you play infield defense and how much pitching depth you have. It always comes down to that."
SEC Digital Network: What do you feel are the unique strengths of the University of Kentucky that benefit your baseball program? Gary Henderson: "Kids love to go to school here. Lexington is a great town; we would argue that it's the best town in the league and there are some people that would agree with us. It's a great place to go to school. The academic experience that our kids have here on campus is second to none. We love the town. [Athletics director] Mitch's [Barnhart] commitment to an overall department is fantastic and there is a tremendous sense of community and a tremendous sense of being a Wildcat on campus."
SEC Digital Network: How much does the support that you receive from your administration help your program moving forward?
Tim Garrison: "The support from our administration is unparalleled from what I've seen and from what I've heard from talking to other people. When you've got our athletic director and associate athletic directors coming into the gym to watch workouts, and come to our competitions, they are willing to give us everything we need to be successful and they've said that. The support is unreal."
SEC Digital Network: You still have a few months before your season begins in January, but how much excitement do you sense there is on your team for the start of competition?
Tim Garrison: "I don't think they know how excited they should be right now because they're in the grind, they're in the trenches of working hard. They're tired, they're sore and I think they've got a little bit of blinders on at this point because, right now, they're all those things and they don't see the product. They don't see the finish line just yet, which is great. The thing is, we're throwing curve balls at them all the time; they're going to be so ready for competition that I really think them understanding exactly where we're headed and what we're going to do is huge. When they get in a facility where there's 10,000 people watching and there's pressure and we're trying to qualify for something or beat a team that just opened the door for us, we're going to be able to do that. We're going to be able to walk right through that door."
Move over Tonys. Take a backseat Oscars. The Scratchies (again, not a skin disease) are back.
I know it's been an unbearably long and grueling six-month wait since we introduced the Scratchies, but fear no more, it's time to introduce the 2011 spring semester winners.
Not to be confused with ESPN's Herbie Awards or UK's end-of-the-year CATSPY Awards - although I must confess, many award winners will repeat the CATSPYs - the Scratchies offer no actual hardware or glitzy awards show. Instead, these honorees have earned the appreciation of a lowly blogger trying to pass the beginning weeks of a long offseason.
A couple of the award names have changed, but the objective is the same - to look back at another semester of UK Athletics. Remember, these award winners only constitute the spring semester of UK Athletics action. The fall winners can be found here.
Please feel free to disagree and comment on who you think should have won in the comments section below. Keep in mind, this is all for fun.
Without further ado, here are the semiannual Scratchies:
MVW (Most Valuable Wildcat) Brandon Knight, men's basketball - There were a lot of candidates for this semester's awards. There is Eric Quigley, who guided the men's tennis team to a national quarterfinals berth and finished the season ranked No. 7 in the nation. There is Megan Yocke, the heart and soul of the record-setting softball team. And let's not forget about Ethan Settlemires' clutch performance in the rifle national championship. But it's hard to ignore what Knight did in this year's NCAA Tournament. Knight's dramatic game winners against Princeton and Ohio State were the highlights of a Final Four run that fans will never forget. Stepping into the gargantuan shoes of John Wall and the sensational freshman class of 2009-10, Knight and the 2010-11 team proved it could play a little basketball as well. Next week, Knight is expected to be a top-five pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Honorable mention: Megan Yocke (softball), Eric Quigley (men's tennis), Ethan Settlemires (rifle), Victoria Dunlap (women's basketball)
The Dream Team (team of the semester) Rifle - Much like the previous award, this could have gone to a number of squads, including the men's basketball, men's tennis and softball teams. But the rifle team won a national championship. You know, that ultimate goal that every team sets out for at the beginning of the year that only a select few ever win. Ethan Settlemires didn't know it at the time, but his last shot in air rifle - the final shot of the match - would determine the national championship. Settlemires needed at least an 8.0 to capture the elusive title. The junior came through in the clutch with a 10.7, winning the program's first national championship. Honorable mention: Men's basketball, men's tennis, softball
Harry Mullins has been the one constant staple in the success of the UK rifle program over the last three decades. (UK Athletics)
The Adolph Rupp Award (coach of the semester) Harry Mullins, rifle - As sweet as that rifle national championship was, it was even sweeter for Mullins, the longtime coach and most important figure in program history. Since 1982, Mullins and the UK rifle team have been one in the same. In his journey from a former student-athlete to a part-time coach to the symbol of the program, Mullins has taken the rifle team from its infant stages and built it into one of the nation's top programs. Year after year, Mullins and the rifle team came agonizingly close to winning the whole thing, only to fall short with seven top-three finishes. Whether it was by a string of fate or pure coincidence, Mullins finally won that coveted national title in the same town where his late father served as a sergeant in the military and raised his family. Honorable mention: Rachel Lawson (softball), John Calipari (men's basketball), Dennis Emery (men's tennis)
The Josh Harrellson Award (most improved player) Josh Harrellson, men's basketball - Harrellson's turnaround his senior year was so significant and so inspiring that we've renamed the award after him. Before this year, Harrellson had played a total of 403 minutes and scored 151 points for Kentucky. By the end of his senior year, Harrellson had transformed himself into the nation's most improved player and one of the best big men in the NCAA Tournament. Transforming his body and work ethic after the legendary tweet about his head coach, Harrellson went on to average 7.6 points and 8.7 rebounds this year, including an 11.0 scoring average in the NCAA Tournament against some of the nation's top post players. Harrellson's spirit and leadership were just as valuable to the team's Final Four run as his presence in the paint and unpredictable production. Harrellson's storybook season will be remembered decades from now. Honorable mention: Alex Musialek (men's tennis), Meagan Aull (softball), Samantha DeMartine (softball)
The Butler-VCU Award (surprise team) Women's golf - In her first year as head coach, Golda Johansson Borst wasn't expected to do much with the Kentucky women's golf team. After all, the program had been to just one NCAA Tournament since 2000. But with just one senior on the team and a wealth of midseason injuries, including two to the top two players, Ashleigh Albrecht and Betsie Johnson, UK returned to the NCAA Tournament for the 16th time in school history. With most of the team returning next year, the future is bright for women's golf. Honorable mention: softball
One Shining Moment (best moment) Annie Rowlands and Meagan Aull's hits send softball to Supers - The Kentucky softball team went to its third straight regional appearance with bigger expectations and higher hopes. The coaches and players talked about making it to their first Super Regional in program history, but as the third-ranked team in the Ann Arbor Regional and with the second-ranked team in the nation in the same regional, the reality of advancing was pretty slim. And yet, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, with one win over No. 2 Michigan standing in the way of a historic march, Kentucky entered the bottom of the seventh trailing 1-0. With Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Jordan Taylor dealing a gem and the nation watching on ESPN, Meagan Aull belted a changeup over the fence in right field to tie the game. Five batters later, with one out and the bases loaded, senior Annie Rowlands, a sub-.150 hitter, came through with the biggest hit in program history, a game-winning single over the first baseman's head. The RBI bloop advanced UK to its first Super Regional, which the school would go on to host. Honorable mention: Brandon Knight's game-winning layup vs. Princeton; Knight's game-winning shot vs. Ohio State; Ethan Settlemires' winning shot to capture the national championship; Alex Musialek's match-clinching win vs. Louisville; gymnast Andre Mitchell's 39.550 score in the all-around, UK's highest score in 15 years
The "Band is Out On the Field" Award (best game/match) Men's tennis vs. Louisville in the NCAA Tournament - What happens when you combine your archrival with postseason play? You get some edge-of-your-seat theater. That's what the Kentucky-Louisville men's tennis match brought in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. After UK grabbed the doubles point, the singles matches went back and forth in front of a raucous crowd at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex. Every 10 minutes it looked like the match was going to go a different way. With Kentucky holding a 3-2 lead and courts No. 1 and No. 2 split in a 1-1 tie, everyone raced to the center courts to watch the decisive matches. Eric Quigley, UK's top player, dropped his match in three thrilling sets to tie the match 3-3. Moments later, though, after dropping the first set 5-7, Alex Musialek won the third set in dominating fashion, 6-0, to clinch the match and send UK to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive year. Honorable mention: softball's win over Michigan in the regional finals; men's basketball's upset of No. 1 Ohio State
Brandon Knight hit a game-winning jumper over Ohio State's Aaron Craft with seconds remaining to send UK to the Elite Eight and eventually its first Final Four since 1998. (photo by Chet White, UK Athletics)
The Doug Flutie Hail Mary Award (best play) Brandon Knight's game-winning jumper vs. Ohio State - Once again, there was plenty to choose from, but Knight gets the nod on this one given the magnitude of the situation. Against the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament and with the game tied 60-60, Knight pulled up from just inside the arc and drilled a jumper with five seconds left to send Kentucky to the Elite Eight and eventually the Final Four. For a team that failed to close during the regular season, it was an unforgettable moment in an unbelievable season. Honorable mention: Brandon Knight's game-winning layup vs. Princeton; Ethan Settlemires' winning shot to capture the national championship; Brittany Henderson's game-winning layup vs. LSU
The Jimmer Fredette Award (breakthrough player) Alex Meyer, baseball - Alex Meyer's first two years in the at UK were defined by potential and upside. In 2011, Meyer broke through with the type of year that everyone expected years earlier when Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein showed up on his doorstep at the end of Meyer's high school career with a lucrative multi-million dollar contract. Meyer, with big-league stuff, finished the year as the Southeastern Conference leader in strikeouts, complete games and complete-game shutouts. Two weeks ago, Meyer was selected by the Washington Nationals with the 23rd overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, UK's highest draft pick since Joe Blanton went No. 24 in 2002. Honorable mention: Meagan Aull (softball), Greg Ferrucci (swimming and diving)
All-Calipari Team (all-freshman team) Greg Ferrucci, swimming and diving - Named SEC Male Freshman Diver of the Year and advanced to the NCAA Championships Terrence Jones, men's basketball - Tabbed SEC Freshmanof the Year after averaging 17.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in his first year Doron Lamb, men's basketball - Not to be overshadowed by Knight and Jones, Lamb averaged 12.3 points, hit a team-high 38 3-pointers and poured in a then-freshman record 32 points in December Emily Holsopple, rifle - Appeared on the fall semester's list, but she certainly qualifies again after earning first-team All-America accolades and winning a national championship Bernisha Pinkett, women's basketball - On a team with talented freshmen, averaged 7.0 points in just 18.7 minutes of action
All-Up-and-Comers (non-freshmen on the rise) Jessica Stiles, women's tennis - Led a rebuilding women's tennis program with 11 wins Darius Miller, men's basketball - Came on late in the season to win SEC Tournament MVP Chanda Bell, softball - UK's all-time strikeout leader will enter her senior season as one of the top pitchers in the nation Thomas McCarthy, baseball - Ranked third in the SEC with .371 batting average, including 19 doubles and 39 RBI Brittany Cervantes, softball - UK's career home-run leader will be the centerpiece of next year's offense
All-Wildcat Team (the Scratchies equivalent of the All-America Team) Brandon Knight, men's basketball - Replaced No. 1 overall pick John Wall by averaging 17.3 points and leading UK to the Final Four, plus first-team Freshman All-America honors Victoria Dunlap, women's basketball - Program's No. 2 all-time scorer led the team to its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance and became the highest WNBA draft pick in school history Eric Quigley, men's tennis - The nation's No. 7 player finished the year with a school-record-tying 45 wins Megan Yocke, softball - Heart and soul of record-setting softball team became just the second player in school history to earn All-SEC accolades all four years Colin Boevers, track and field - Won the SEC discus title and was one of nine student-athletes to advance to NCAA Outdoor Championships
All-Rex Ryan Team (when you need a sound bite, these are your go-to guys) Josh Harrellson, men's basketball John Calipari, men's basketball Matthew Mitchell, women's basketball Harry Mullins, rifle Amber Smith, women's basketball
Stacey Eden of the UK track and field team (second from the left) confessed that he's owned the jacket he wore to the 2011 CATSPY Awards since middle school. (photo by Chet White, UK Athletics)
The Craig Sager Award (best/worst dressed) Stacey Eden, track and field - Depending on your taste in style, Stacey Eden of the track and field team was either the best dressed of the year or the worst. One thing is for certain: he caught people's eyes at this year CATSPY Awards. Eden (pictured to the right) attended the annual end-of-the-year awards show with a shiny gold suit, a patterned button-up, blue bowtie and sunglasses. Top that, Craig Sager
The Streak (strangest stat or streak) Men's basketball in the clutch - Before the NCAA Tournament, the Cats couldn't hit a shot to save their lives. UK entered the tournament 1-6 in games decided by five points or less, which included missed last-second shots that could have won or tied the game against Florida, Arkansas and Ole Miss. But when the season was on the line and the stakes mattered most, Kentucky - particularly Knight - came through with game-winning shots against Princeton and Ohio State.
She said what? (quote of the semester) Rachel Lawson, fighting back tears after losing to Cal in the Lexington Super Regional - "I feel really good about the future of the program. But I feel best about the fact that this group was - nobody thought they could win. I love (Samantha) DeMartine and (Meagan) Aull, (Megan) Yocke's OK. I know (Annie) Rowlands, for her to be able to come up with that big hit. I wanted them to go to the World Series. So far I'm the only one who's been there and I'm tired of having the upper hand on them."
The Best Dougie (best dance/celebration) Jarrod Polson, men's basketball - In 2009-10, the John Wall Dance was the unofficial celebration of the Wildcats. This past year it was, without question, The Dougie, a dance made famous (or infamous) by Matthew Mitchell at Big Blue Madness. Jarrod Polson continued the craze on national TV after Kentucky defeated North Carolina and advanced to the Final Four. Check out his rendition below.
Tim Garrison, an assistant coach at Nebraska, has been named the new head coach of the Kentucky gymnastics team. UK announced the hiring Thursday.
Garrison comes to Kentucky after five years at Nebraska, where he helped the Cornhuskers annually compete for national championships as the Huskers' vault, floor exercise, and strength and conditioning coach. The program went to two NCAA Super Six appearances and won two Big 12 Conference championships with Garrison on board.
Fans can read the full release of Garrison's hiring here.
Cat Scratches had the chance to talk with Garrison on Thursday about the hiring process, his coaching philosophy and his vision for the UK gymnastics team. Here is the Q and A from the interview:
Question: This is your first opportunity as a head coach on the collegiate level. Can you talk about the opportunity you have been given to fulfill a dream I'm sure you've had for quite some time? Garrison: I am extremely excited. I was a head coach for a club program out in California for 10 years, but when you move to college, you are in a completely different arena. Getting to be at Nebraska and spend some time there under head coach Dan Kendig was an amazing opportunity, but I am excited to put my name on a program like Kentucky and make it grow.
Question: How did you initially get into coaching and when did you know you wanted to do this for a living? Garrison: I just started coaching just like most gymnastics coaches, with a club team. That's how I initially got into it. I went to Cal State Fullerton and I was a part of their men's program as an athlete. After my first year, they actually dropped the program. They had a women's collegiate program and the head coach knew that I had coached before. I was currently coaching a club team and so he asked me if I wanted to come coach with him, and so I ended up coaching there. I had two years of coaching experience there and I then went on to pursue the dream of coaching elite talent. I did that for 12 years, and then on to Nebraska I went.
Question: What did you know about Kentucky before you decided to pursue the job? Garrison: Well, I have a friend who works there in (current assistant coach) Chuck Dickerson. He is a good buddy of mine and he has just praised this program and athletic department as being a great family. It seems like everybody is pulling for each other and that is a great feeling to have. Not only that, but being in the SEC as well. The SEC is the best gymnastics conference in the country. There are a lot of great teams out there, but when you look at the conferences, top to bottom, it's the best conference there is. To be able to get a head coaching job in that conference is really exciting.
Question: Can you explain the process a little bit of deciding to pursue the job and when you became interested in it? Garrison: Obviously, in October, there were some changes made and it was clear that there was going to be a new head coach hired. Going through the year, having the success that we have had (at Nebraska), it actually took me a while to decide. I really wanted to be a head coach, there is no doubt about it. It was just the when and the where. Having great success at Nebraska had a great role in it. The more I thought about it, the more I told myself I was going to go for this job and do my best to get it.
Question: I'm sure a big part of the decision was leaving Nebraska. How tough was it leaving a place you've called home for some time? Garrison: You develop relationships with people in the department, you develop relationships with people in the community and you develop relationships with athletes. It's tough. When I had to say goodbye, that was a tough day, and it worried me a bit. But you look ahead and move forward. I am really excited about the future of this program. We are going to get these athletes excited. We are going to go to competitions and we want them to know that they are going to come out successful. That for me made it easier to look ahead and see what we can achieve.
Question: Have you met with the team, and if so, what have you told them? Garrison: I have not since I was hired. I have scheduled meetings with all of them after their finals, that way I can get a direction of the team, what the framework will be like, how I will be in the gym, how I expect them to be in the gym and some of the goals. There is going to be a lot of changes. We will get them on board and we will get them to see the benefit of the changes that will be made.
Question: When you get back to Lexington, do you have some sort of plan of how you want to start things and build? Garrison: I will get into town next Tuesday. It will be more than likely next Thursday or next Friday when we will have our block meetings with each athlete individually, get to know them a little bit and kind of outline where we are headed. I have a good idea of how we are going to get started. From there it will be day-to-day in the maintenance. I have a plan as far as strength and conditioning and what is to be expected. We can't require them to do anything, but I can tell them what will be required when they come back to school and where we are going to go from there. Yes, there will be a plan in place. I will suggest things to them to get ready for next year. I think they are ready to go to work, and from what I understand, they are a very motivated group.
Question: You've mentioned that you want to take Kentucky to the next step. How exactly do you do that? Garrison: Once you get a framework in place and you raise the expectations of the athletes themselves, we will work hard to get to where we want to be at. We will train every day and stay healthy. All of those things are going to happen, that way when we walk into competitive environments, we are confident. Success breeds motivation. Once you get a little success going, you start to get wins against some SEC teams that we are going to be seeing. That's how you take those steps. I'm not saying it's going to happen overnight. To be able to move up in the ranks is going to take some time, but I feel we are capable of doing it. We will be very diligent and smart and we will be successful.
Question: You were obviously at a national championship competing program at Nebraska. Can you take any of that experience there and use it here? Garrison: It all goes back to expectation level. When you walk into a program like Nebraska, you look through the media guides and you look up at the walls of all the national champions. You see this many trips to nationals and all of the conference titles. There is a certain expectation level. You walk into the gym and you say, 'I have to raise my expectation level.' I plan on changing our expectation level. I want them to know, regardless of the competition level, that we have a shot at them. When we get on that bus after a meet, I want them happy. I want them excited because they just did awesome; they just did their best. I think it really comes down to expectation level. We need to get a good coaching staff that is pulling everyone in the right direction. We need to have quality planning and good athletes. If we can have the right mixture of those things, we can turn this thing around and make it successful. It will take a little time, it will take a little recruiting, but we can get it done.
Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, April 3:
Kentucky Gymnastics team
Behind a season-high score on balance beam of 48.9, the University of Kentucky gymnastics team posted its highest team score at a NCAA Regional in school history with a 195.175 in a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional on Saturday. Kentucky's team score at the meet surpassed its previous NCAA Regional high mark of 195.150, which helped UK earn a fourth-place finish in the 2001 NCAA Regional. The Wildcats had not scored a 195 team score of above since the 2001 season. The Wildcats were impressive on all four events at the meet but earned its highest event score on balance beam, posting a season-high score of 48.9. Junior Storey Morris led all UK gymnasts on the event with a 9.85, surpassing her career high of 9.825, while freshman Audrey Harrison scored a 9.8 for her highest career mark.
Softball: Meagan Aull
Senior Meagan Aull simply had the best weekend of her career in helping guide UK to it's first-ever sweep of No. 5 Florida. Aull was 5-for-10 at the dish with all five hits coming in the extra-base magnitude. Aull entered the series with just six career homers and blasted four in three games against the Gators in leading UK to just the second series win in school history over Florida.
Aull connected with a three-run long ball to help propel UK to a run-rule in the opening game of the series. She then led off the second game of the series by taking the first offering of the bottom of the first over the center-field fence. It marked the first time in her career she had back-to-back games with a homer. Aull then proved to be a difference maker late in the game with an RBI double that led to a four-run inning for UK to recapture the lead en route to a 7-6 win to take the series.
Finally, in the last game of the series, Aull blasted a leadoff homer for the second consecutive game to begin an eight-run charge for the Blue and White. After UK having batted all the way around the order, Aull came back to the plate in the bottom of the first with a runner on second and charted her second long ball of the game. It is the first time in her career she has totaled two homers in a single game and just the 15th time in school history the feat has been achieved. It is the first time in school history that a player hit two homers in the same inning.
With five hits this weekend, Aull moved into ninth place all-time with 184 career hits.
Aull has a hit in 23 of UK's last 25 games with hitting streaks of eight, 10 and a current five-game run. In 12 of those games Aull has multiple hits.
She currently leads the SEC with 20 hits in league action and ranks seventh with a .408 batting average.
Softball: Chanda Bell
Junior pitcher Chanda Bell helped catapult the Blue and White to a series sweep of No. 5 Florida. Bell was terrific in the opening game of the series working a complete-game effort and striking out 11 batters. It marked the 30th time in her career she has totaled 10 or more strikeouts in a game -- and the first against Florida.
With the win over the Gators it marked the first career victory over Florida and the second victory over a top-10 ranked opponent in the SEC this season.
In the final game of the series, Bell entered the game in relief and worked two innings allowing just one hit and striking out three to preserve the sweep. For the series, Bell worked 8.0 innings, allowed just six hits and struck out 14 to a Gator attack that entered the series batting .357 as a unit.
Bell has held SEC opponents to a staggering league-best .119 batting average and given up a league-low 15 hits. Angel Brunner of Auburn is the next closest with a .171 batting average. She ranks second behind Alabama's Kelsi Dunne with 63 strikeouts tossed, despite pitching 10 less innings than the league leader.
Softball: Emily Jolly
Freshman Emily Jolly put together the best SEC series of her young career in helping propel UK to a sweep of the Gators. The freshman second baseman totaled a .444 batting average on four hits and three runs scored. She totaled a pair of her team-best six doubles, including a two-run two-bagger in an eight-run opening inning in the final game of the series. Jolly was also masterful in the field recording a pair of putouts and three assists.
Men's tennis: Tom Jomby
With the match tied 3-3 and the final singles match in a decisive third-set tiebreaker, University of Kentucky freshman Tom Jomby earned arguably his biggest collegiate win of his young career by defeating Andrew Butz to give No. 14 Kentucky a 4-3 win over No. 15 Florida. With the win, Kentucky its first victory over the Gators since the 2002 season and its first win in Gainesville, Fla., since 1992 when Wildcats took down Florida in the NCAA Tournament. The Kentucky freshman fell in the first set 6-4 and trailed in the second set before turning the match around by fighting back to earn a second-set victory. In the third set, Jomby earned a quick break to go up 3-1 before Butz would respond to take a 5-4 lead. Jomby, who was named SEC Freshman of the Week two weeks ago, earned a key win behind 6-5 to send the set into a tiebreaker. After falling behind 2-0 in the breaker, Jomby turned up the pressure again en route to a 7-4 tiebreaker win, clinching the UK victory.