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.
Rifle - Behind gritty performances from veterans Heather Greathouse and Ethan Settlemires, the Kentucky rifle team won the overall national title at the 2010-11 NCAA Championships. After UK won the smallbore NCAA Title on Friday in the first day of competition, the Wildcats held off West Virginia's charge in air rifle on Saturday to secure the first national championship in program history, finishing with a 4700 team total score. - Kentucky entered the final day of competition on Saturday owning a seven-point lead. UK claimed its first-ever NCAA Championship in smallbore on Friday, totaling a 2336 team score, led by Settlemires and Greathouse. Settlemires won the NCAA individual championship on Friday with a 590 in smallbore, becoming the first individual NCAA Champion in smallbore in program history.
Men's basketball - Kentucky won its league-leading 27th SEC Tournament championship, defeating Florida 70-54 in the championship game. Darius Miller was named the tournament MVP and the Wildcats placed Miller, Josh Harrellson and Brandon Knight on the SEC All-Tournament team. - UK will be making its NCAA record 51st appearance in the NCAA Tournament, taking on Princeton in the second round of the tournament in Tampa, Fla.
Women's basketball - The No. 17/16 Kentucky women's basketball team earned its eighth bid to the NCAA Tournament with a No. 4 seed in the Spokane Regional. UK will play 13th-seeded Hampton on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in Albuquerque, N.M. - It is the eighth overall NCAA Tournament berth for the Cats and their first back-to-back appearances since the 1982-83 seasons. UK is 7-7 all-time in the Big Dance, including a 3-1 mark under Matthew Mitchell.
Softball - Behind a pair of comeback victories, the 23rd-ranked softball team defeated No. 7 Tennessee in two out of three games to capture the series to begin SEC play. It marked the first time since 2000 UK had won the series with its border-state rival. - Senior Megan Yocke batted .556 on the weekend, which included a three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings in the rubber match between the two teams. She was then intentionally walked in the bottom of the 10th to set the stage for Kara Dill's walk-off RBI-single.
Baseball - The Wildcats posted four wins on the week, totaling a staggering 1.40 ERA as a team in 45 innings pitched, walking just 13 and striking out 45. UK got stellar starting pitching during the week, including quality starts from four of five starters a complete-game shutout from junior Alex Meyer on Saturday. - Kentucky has been a well-rounded team, totaling a .295 batting average and a 3.51 team ERA, fielding at a .978 clip. The Wildcats have been led by center fielder Brian Adams, who has hit .368 with five doubles and five RBI.
Gymnastics - The gymnastics team scored three wins over the weekend, defeating William and Mary on Friday and North Carolina and George Washington on Sunday. Kentucky was led in both meets by senior Phylicia Reshard, who won the all-around against William and Mary and finished second in the all-around in Sunday's quad-meet. - The Wildcats defeated William and Mary on each event, with junior Storey Morris winning the uneven bars title, Reshard winning the vault title, seniors Jasmine Minion, Andrea Mitchell and Reshard winning on floor, and Mitchell grabbing event honors on beam.
Men's tennis - The Wildcats were led by impressive play in doubles, taking the doubles point from both Tennessee and Georgia. Against Tennessee, Kentucky got upset wins at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles with senior Alberto Gonzalez and freshman Tom Jomby taking down the 55th-ranked doubles tandem in the nation, while junior Alex Musialek and sophomore Anthony Rossi defeated the 52nd-ranked team. UK was equally impressive against Georgia in doubles with junior Eric Quigley and senior Brad Cox knocking off the sixth-ranked doubles team in the nation and Gonzalez and Jomby posting a win over the 36th-ranked doubles team. UK dropped the overall matches to nationally ranked Tennessee and Georgia. - In singles, Musialek led the UK charge with a convincing win over No. 24 Javier Garrapiz, while Rossi and Jomby also posted singles wins.
Swimming and diving - Freshman diver Greg Ferrucci and senior diver Lisa Faulkner earned spots in the men's and women's NCAA swimming and diving championships, respectively, thanks to their performances in the Zone C Diving Championships. - Ferrucci recorded a score of 339.60 in the preliminaries and finished with a mark of 716.35 in the finals to finish in second place on the men's one-meter and earn his spot in the NCAAs. Faulkner earned a score of 296.35 in the women's one-meter preliminaries and finished with a score of 581.15 in the finals to finish in fifth place and earn a spot in the NCAA championships.
Track and field - Kentucky track and field junior Keith Hayes capped off an incredible three-week run leading up to the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships with a seventh-place finish in the finals of the 60-meter hurdles, grabbing two points for the Wildcats. - Hayes earned his first All-America honor for his top-eight performance in the finals Saturday.
Men's golf - Behind impressive final rounds from sophomore Chase Parker and freshman Cody Martin, the UK men's golf team moved up four spots on the leaderboard to finish 13th in the Cleveland Golf Palmetto Intercollegiate. Martin (80-70-69-219) and Parker (78-72-70-220) led the Wildcats, posting solid scores on the final day to earn a top-25 finish. - Martin carded the lowest UK round of the day Tuesday, earning a 1-under-par 69 to move 36 spots up the leaderboard. He finished the tournament in a tie for 21st, totaling a 9-over-par 219 after a 10-ove-par 80 in the opening round and an even-par 70 in the second round.
Women's golf - The Cats competed in the LSU Tiger Golf Classic and finished in 18th place with a final score of 95-over-par 959. - Sophomore Heather Lott led the Wildcats with a final score of 12-over par to finish the tournament in a tie for 31st among the 111 competing golfers.
Women's tennis - The Cats dropped a pair of SEC road matches over the weekend to Tennessee and Georgia. The Wildcats fell 6-1 in each match. - Freshman Khristina Blajkevitch won a thrilling victory over UT's Kata Szekely 7-5, 4-6, 1-0 (12-10). Senior Megan Broderick topped Chelsey Gullickson of Georgia after the 48th-ranked player had to retire.
Tuesday, March 15 Baseball hosts Murray State - 4 p.m.
Wednesday, March 16 Softball at Arkansas (DH) - 5 p.m. Women's tennis at Baylor • 5:00 p.m.
Thursday, March 17 Men's tennis hosts Notre Dame - 1 p.m. Women's tennis at TCU - 2 p.m. Men's basketball vs. Princeton - 2:45 p.m. (Tampa, Fla.) Men's tennis hosts Butler - 7 p.m. Women's swimming and diving at NCAA Championships (Austin, Texas)
Friday, March 18 Baseball hosts Tennessee - 6:30 p.m. Softball at LSU - 7 p.m. Women's swimming and diving at NCAA Championships (Austin, Texas) Men's golf at Schenkel Invitational (Statesboro, Ga.)
Saturday, March 19 Women's tennis at Texas Tech - 10 a.m. Baseball hosts Tennessee - 1 p.m. Men's tennis hosts Alabama - 1 p.m. Softball at LSU - 4 p.m. Women's basketball vs. Hampton - 6:30 p.m. (Albuquerque, N.M.) Men's basketball vs. West Virginia/Clemson/UAB - TBA (Tampa, Fla.) Gymnastics at SEC Championships (Birmingham, Ala.) Women's swimming and diving at NCAA Championships (Austin, Texas) Men's golf at Schenkel Invitational (Statesboro, Ga.)
Sunday, March 20 Baseball hosts Tennessee - 1 p.m. Softball at LSU - 2 p.m. Men's golf at Schenkel Invitational (Statesboro, Ga.)
In his 26-year tenure as head coach of Kentucky's rifle team, Harry Mullins has accomplished a great deal. The program produced All-Americans and Olympians. His teams won conference championships and perennially contended on a national level.
With four second-place national finishes and four third-place finishes, saying that his tenure had been successful would have been an understatement, but something was missing.
At the 2010-11 NCAA Championships in Fort Benning, Ga., the Kentucky Wildcats gave Mullins that title he had been seeking for so long.
"To be able to explain it is kind of tough," Mullins said of UK's national championship, the first in school history. "We've put ourselves, the last few years, in contention to win national championships and fallen short. For this group to be able to achieve that, it's hard to find words to try to explain how that feels, just the pride in them."
The Wildcats delivered that national title in grand fashion. Their overall team score of 4700 is the highest ever recorded in the NCAA Championships. In the air rifle portion of the competition on day two, the Wildcats held off the top-ranked and hard-charging West Virginia Mountaineers.
UK was headlined by smallbore national champion Ethan Settlemires, whose score of 590 also set a NCAA Championships record, but it was a true team effort that brought the crown to Lexington.
"We don't dwell on the numbers as much as the performance," Mullins said. "That's why I'm so proud of the group. They really believe in themselves. It's about having that trust that, if I'm putting myself out there and giving 110 percent, we will be successful."
Mullins views the championship as a culmination of the efforts of all of the people involved in the program over the past quarter century. The program has come a long way in that time, but one tipping point came when Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart arrived at UK in 2002.
Upon Barnhart's arrival, Mullins' duties as head coach were only part time. Mullins worked as a bartender to supplement his income, but Barnhart quickly realized what Mullins was building and made a full-time commitment to him and the program.
There was never any doubt about whether the commitment to Mullins and UK rifle was worthwhile, but winning a national title is a testament to just what it has meant.
"If Mitch had been there, I would have given him a great big hug," Mullins said. "Mitch and (UK President) Dr. (Lee) Todd and the administration on both sides, as far as academics and athletics, does nothing but give great support to all the sports, but especially to us."
That support has helped the Wildcats build an unprecedented following. In the final moments of the competition, Mullins said he was forced to put his cell phone out of reach because of the constant stream of texts, calls and tweets from all around.
If you were on Twitter at all today, you likely saw evidence of that outpouring of support, which was particularly clear immediately after the Wildcats won the title. Barnhart, John Calipari, Matthew Mitchell and countless other UK coaches and athletes offered congratulations. The meaning of those gestures is not lost on Mullins.
"It means so much to the kids," Mullins said. "There are people out there that care just as much about what we're doing as we do. That's a great feeling to have."
While so much of Mullins' satisfaction comes from seeing his athletes perform in the way that they did, this championship is very meaningful to him personally.
His father, Alger, was Kentucky through and through before passing away six years ago.
"He was a Kentucky boy," Mullins said of his father.
Alger Mullins shared with his son a great love of rifle and had a chance to see him build a program at the university they both loved.
"He was always proud when we would finish in the top four or five," Mullins said. "He understood the competitiveness of it and the effort, drive and dedication you have to have."
The site of the NCAA Championships was meaningful as well for Mullins. Alger Mullins was a sergeant in the military and eventually settled with his family in Fort Benning, Ga., where Mullins competed in rifle for the prestigious Fort Benning Junior Club.
"There was a little soft spot in my heart with being able to win a national championship where I got started," Mullins said.
Mullins hopes that a national championship tradition at UK will eventually be able to trace its roots back to the area.
"Hopefully we'll be able to continue that streak of starting things in Fort Benning," Mullins said, ever mindful of continuing to build the program he has led for so long.
Men's basketball - UK extended its home winning streak to 33 games, which is the second-longest streak in the country. The 33-game winning streak is tied for the longest streak in Rupp Arena history and the third-longest streak in program history. John Calipari is 32-0 at Rupp Arena as Kentucky's head coach. - Over the last four games Darius Miller is averaging 18 points and 5.5 rebounds. He's made 25-of-47 shots for 53.2 percent, including 12-of-24 3-pointers. He's also blocked 10 shots. - Kentucky will celebrate Senior Night on Tuesday, hosting Vanderbilt. The Wildcats are 84-6 all-time on Senior Night.
Women's basketball - Senior Victoria Dunlap recorded a team-high 19 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks in a 76-62 win over Auburn in the final game of the regular season. UK improved to 22-7 overall, 11-5 in league play, which tied the school record for SEC wins set last season and tied the school mark for SEC road wins (five) set in 2005-06. - UK has earned a No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament for the second consecutive season and is preparing to square off with the winner of LSU (No. 7 seed) and Alabama (No. 10 seed) in the quarterfinals.
Softball - Kentucky went 3-1 at the Stanford Nike Invitational behind the play of Megan Yocke. Yocke batted .615 in front of her hometown and charted two hits in every game. - Junior pitcher Chanda Bell tossed the second no-hitter of her career in a 7-0 win over Colorado State. The history didn't stop there as Bell also topped her own single-game record with 16 strikeouts, besting her previous high of 15. Additionally, she became the school's all-time career leader in strikeouts thrown, passing Keary Camunas for first on the list. - Kentucky has matched its best start in program history winning 11 of its first 14 games.
Baseball - Kentucky rebounded from three losses during the season-opening weekend by winning four of five games last week, including picking up a series win over the University of Illinois Chicago over the weekend. - UK has posted a .307 team batting average through its eight games in 2011 totaling five homers and 45 RBI. On the mound as a team, UK owns a 3.99 ERA with a pair of saves and 65 strikeouts in 70 innings. - Individually, catcher Luke Maile leads UK at the plate with a .419 average with four doubles and five RBI. Shortstop Taylor Black, named this week's SEC Player of the Week, is coming off a monster week that saw him total nine RBI and a .529 batting average. On the mound, UK junior Alex Meyer has posted a 1-1 record with a 3.00 ERA through his first two starts in 2011. Meyer has struck out 20 in 12 innings, allowing only six hits and a .158 opposing batting average.
Gymnastics - UK defeated LSU on Friday with a season-high score of 195.575. UK has now defeated the Tigers for the second consecutive season after posting its first win over LSU in 31 tries last year in the Lady Luck Invitational in Las Vegas. Kentucky has now posted back-to-back wins over an SEC opponent for the first time since defeating Auburn in 2005 and 2006. The victory in a SEC dual meet is the first for the Kentucky program since it took down Auburn on Jan. 12, 2008. - Kentucky finished third at the event, defeating Bowling Green 194.65-189.45, while No. 7 Nebraska won the four-team meet with a 196.5 and No. 15 Iowa finished second with a 195.5. Seniors Andrea Mitchell and Phylicia Reshard finished second and third in the all-around competition, respectively, with Mitchell earning a 39.25 and Reshard a 39.075. - The meet wraps up a stretch of four meets in 10 days for UK, with Kentucky showing major improvements during the difficult stretch. The Wildcats faced five top-25 teams the last two weeks, defeating No. 20 LSU with its season-best score of 195.575. Kentucky also scored a 195.05 at then-No. 14 Ohio State and finished off the 10-day stretch with a solid-road score of 194.65 Sunday at the Masters Classic. UK's best improvement throughout the last two weeks came on beam, where Kentucky improved its season-high mark from 48.375 to 48.7.
Rifle - Despite getting strong performances on Sunday from newcomers Emily Holsopple and Henri Junghänel in air rifle, the Kentucky rifle team posted a 4672 total team score to finish second at the 2010-11 Great American Rifle Conference Championships. - Holsopple and Junghänel led UK in air rifle, with both newcomers totaling a 591. Ethan Settlemires finished with a 588, while Megan English had a 590 and Heather Greathouse - who led UK in smallbore on Saturday - totaled a 578. - The Wildcats, who won the regular-season title with an unbeaten slate, finished with a 4672 total team score, with No. 1 West Virginia winning the GARC Championships with a 4704 team score.
Track and field - Junior Precious Nwokey launched herself to the 2011 SEC pentathlon championship with the third-highest point total in the NCAA this season, Friday in Fayetteville, Ark. With her performance the junior also broke her own school record with 4,185 points. - Junior Keith Hayes took home the silver medal in the men's 60-meter hurdles with a career-best time of 7.78. Hayes' time ranks second on UK's all-time 60m hurdles list, only trailing former Wildcat star Mikel Thomas at 7.74. - The women's team equaled their 2010 point total of 38 points but finished one spot higher in eighth place at the conclusion of the 2011 SEC Championships on Sunday. - The men's team finished ninth with 20 points and had contributions from Keith Hayes (eight points), Josh Nadzam (three points), Colin Boevers (two points), the 4x400m relay (four points) and the distance medley relay (three points).
Men's golf - The men's golf team scored the lowest team round of the tournament to finish in second, while sophomore Chase Parker finish tied for second at the final day of the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate. - Kentucky (293-302-279-874) was extremely impressive in the final round, posting a 9-under-par for the lowest 18-hole round of the season en route to the lowest 54-hole tournament score of the year of 874. The final round of 279 was the eighth-lowest mark during the Brian Craig Era. - UK was led in the event by Parker (73-69-70-212), who finished in a tie for second place for his best collegiate finish.
Women's golf - The Cats began play in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate Golf Championship in New Orleans on Sunday. Kentucky was led by sophomore Ashleigh Albrecht who shot a 3-over par, 75. Kentucky, competing in one of the most competitive tournaments of the spring season, finished the first round with a 17-over par, 305.
Women's tennis - The women's tennis team got wins at Nos. 1-3 singles, but fell to No. 37 Indiana at home on Saturday. Senior Megan Broderick, sophomore Jessica Stiles and freshman Caitlin McGraw each earned their fifth wins of the season in singles play.
Swimming and diving - The men's and women's swimming units competed in a last chance meet in Knoxville, Tenn., on Friday and Saturday. The Kentucky men and women had 200-free relay teams earn NCAA (B) provisional times.
Monday, Feb. 28 Women's golf at Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate (New Orleans)
Tuesday, March 1 Men's basketball hosts Vanderbilt - 9 p.m. Women's golf at Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate (New Orleans)
Wednesday, March 2 Men's tennis hosts Murray State - 1 p.m.
Friday, March 4 Men's tennis at Ole Miss - 3 p.m. Women's basketball vs. Alabama/LSU • 3:30 p.m. (Nashville) Women's tennis hosts Ole Miss - 4 p.m. Gymnastics hosts George Washington and Bowling Green - 7 p.m. Baseball vs. Rice - 8 p.m. (Houston) Track and field at Iowa State Qualifier
Saturday, March 5 Softball at Southern Illinois • 1 p.m. (Carbondale, Ill.) Baseball vs. Houston • 4:30 p.m. (Houston) Women's basketball SEC semifinal game - 4/6:30 p.m. (Nashville) Softball vs. SIUE - 7 p.m. (Carbondale, Ill.) Track and field at Iowa State Qualifier Swimming and diving at Last Chance Meet (Columbus, Ohio)
Sunday, March 6 Softball vs. Wright State - 10 a.m. (Carbondale, Ill.) Women's tennis hosts Mississippi State - 11 a.m. Baseball vs. Utah - noon (Houston) Men's basketball at Tennessee - noon Men's tennis at Mississippi State - 1 p.m. Softball vs. Purdue - 2 p.m. (Carbondale, Ill.) Women's basketball SEC championship game - 5:30 p.m. (Nashville)
Men's basketball - Terrence Jones averaged a double-double on the week with 17.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.5 blocks en route to being named SEC Freshman of the Week. - Brandon Knight went for 20 points against Vanderbilt, his 10th 20-point game this season. It is the most 20-point games by any UK freshman in school history. - Terrence Jones tallied his eighth 20-point game this season, tied for fourth among UK freshmen in program history.
Women's basketball - Kentucky snapped a two-game losing streak Sunday with a thrilling last-second win over LSU in front of a season-high 7,646 fans in Memorial Coliseum. A'dia Mathies found Brittany Henderson open in the paint with 1.1 seconds remaining, giving UK a 49-47 win over the visiting Lady Tigers. It marked UK's first win in Lexington over LSU since 1994. - Mathies recorded a game-high 16 points and four steals in the win, her third-straight game with 16 or more points. - All-America candidate Victoria Dunlap added 15 points, a team-high four rebounds and a game-high three blocks. She also had three steals, which moved her to eighth on UK's single-season list.
Softball - UK began its 2011 season with a 4-1 mark at the FIU Combat Classic which included an upset of No. 22/24 Ohio State on opening night. It marks the second straight season UK has began the year with an upset of a ranked opponent. - Freshman Emily Jolly set a UK single-game record with three doubles in a win over DePaul.
Men's tennis - The men's tennis team swept all three doubles matches to claim the doubles point and then continued its momentum into singles by claiming all six singles matches to take down No. 38 Miami (Fla.) 7-0. Kentucky also defeated Cleveland State 6-1 to complete the doubleheader sweep. - Kentucky was impressive in both matches, winning 11 of the 12 singles matches and all five doubles matches that were played Sunday. The Miami match marked the sixth time this year that UK has faced a top-50 team, with UK holding a 4-2 mark in those matches. - UK claimed the doubles point against both Miami and Cleveland State. The Wildcats are now 4-0 this season when they win the doubles point. - Junior Eric Quigley paced the Wildcats all week, winning three matches, including one over the 11th-ranked player in the country.
Track and field - Sharif Webb locked in UK's first NCAA automatic qualifying mark of the year, running the 800-meters in 1:47.91, Saturday at the Husky Classic in Seattle. - Webb was one of 10 Wildcats who claimed personal-best marks with at least one occurring at each of the three meets UK attended. In preparation for the conference championships that begin in two weeks, schools send split squads across the nation in search of the best competitions in each event area. Kentucky sent sprinters, jumpers and vaulters to the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., distance runners to the Husky Classic and mostly throwers to the Akron Invitational. - Shelby Kennard won the women's pole vault at the Tyson Invitational as the only athlete to clear 12-09.50/3.90 meters. The win marked Kennard's first during her young career and moved her up to second on UK's all-time indoor pole vault list. - Precious Nwokey came away with personal-best marks in two crucial events, the 60-meter hurdles and long jump, that will help her make a championship run in the pentathlon at the SEC Championships. Nwokey won the women's long jump on her first jump of 20-02.50/6/16 meters and moved up to fifth on UK's all-time indoor long jump list. The junior also set a personal-best time in the women's 200 meter with a time of 24.50.
Rifle - Newcomers Emily Holsopple and Henri Junghänel had standout performances in air rifle, leading the Kentucky rifle team to a 4675 total team score in the NCAA Qualifying Round, held on Saturday at UK's Barker Hall. - Kentucky shot the qualifying round on Saturday, along with in-state foe Morehead State. UK's 4675 total team score clinches a berth in the NCAA Championships. - Junghänel led the way in air rifle with a 595, while Holsopple contributed at 593 in air rifle. Heather Greathouse added a 582 in air rifle, with Ethan Settlemires and Logan Fox each tallying a 582 in air rifle. In smallbore, Junghänel led the team with a 584, with Greathouse totaling the second-best score on the club, a 582. Holsopple added a 579, with Fox contributing a 578 and Settlemires a 574.
Swimming and diving - Kentucky concluded a strong start to the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships with three to-seven finishes by freshman diver Greg Ferrucci and three top-nine finishes by senior diver Lisa Faulkner. Ferrucci was named the SEC Male Freshman Diver of the Year after the SEC Diving Championships finished Sunday evening. - Ferrucci now ranks in the top three all-time in UK history on every board, including the second-best mark on the three-meter board and the second-best score on the platform. - Faulkner's score of 347.60 on the three-meter board is the second-best score in school history.
Women's golf - The Kentucky women's golf team opened its spring season Sunday in Sorrento, Fla., at the UCF Challenge with the second-lowest team score in program history since records began being kept in 1987-88. Sophomore Ashleigh Albrecht led the way for UK with an opening-round, bogey-free 6-under-par 66. Albrecht's 66 is the second-lowest individual round in program history and put her in a tie for first after day one.
Women's tennis - The women's tennis team finished its opening road trip, which included five of its first six matches away from the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex, with a 4-3 loss to No. 31 Ohio State, 7-0 loss at No. 19 Northwestern and 5-2 loss at No. 53 Purdue. - Senior Megan Broderick and sophomore Jessica Stiles went 2-1 in singles play for the week, and Broderick was a part of two wins in doubles play as well.
Monday, Feb. 14 Women's golf at UCF Challenge (Sorrento, Fla.)
Tuesday, Feb. 15 Men's basketball hosts Mississippi St. - 7 p.m. Women's golf at UCF Challenge (Sorrento, Fla.)
Wednesday, Feb. 16 Swimming at SEC Championships (Gainesville, Fla.)
Thursday, Feb. 17 Women's basketball at Georgia - 7 p.m. Swimming at SEC Championships (Gainesville, Fla.) Men's tennis at National Indoors (Seattle)
Friday, Feb. 18 Softball vs. Georgia Southern - 10 a.m. (Tallahassee, Fla.) Softball vs. Middle Tennessee St. - 12:30 p.m. (Tallahassee, Fla.) Baseball at College of Charleston - 5 p.m. Gymnastics at Alabama - 8:30 p.m. Swimming at SEC Championships (Gainesville, Fla.) Men's tennis at National Indoors (Seattle)
Saturday, Feb. 19 Women's tennis hosts Miami (Ohio) - noon Softball at Florida State - 12:30 p.m. Men's basketball hosts South Carolina - 4 p.m. Baseball vs. Marshall - 5 p.m. (Charleston, S.C.) Women's tennis hosts Eastern Kentucky - 6 p.m. Swimming at SEC Championships (Gainesville, Fla.) Men's tennis at National Indoors (Seattle)
Sunday, Feb. 20 Baseball vs. Miami (Ohio) - 11 a.m. (Charleston, S.C.) Women's basketball at Vanderbilt - 2 p.m. Gymnastics at Ohio State - 3:30 p.m. Men's tennis at National Indoors (Seattle)
Success is not a new thing for the Kentucky rifle team. During Harry Mullins' 26-year tenure as head coach of the program, high national rankings, conference championships and competing for national titles have been commonplace.
This season has been no different. In defeating top-ranked West Virginia in the final match of the regular season, UK wrapped up the Great American Rifle Conference championship. Kentucky now heads into postseason play looking to reach the one achievement that has eluded Mullins in his time leading UK rifle: a national championship.
"That's why we're in the business, to win championships," Mullins said. "It's something that's on my mind every single day."
While the next step for the program is a national title, the next steps for this team are the NCAA Qualifying Round (Feb. 12 in Lexington) and the GARC Championships (Feb. 25). If UK performs as expected, the Wildcats will likely garner one of eight bids to the NCAA Championships on March 9.
With Kentucky losing four seniors to graduation after the 2009-10 season, it may have looked on paper like UK would not quite be ready to compete on the level to which it had been accustomed. However, the emergence of newcomers Emily Holsopple and Henri Junghänel as contributors has helped UK to a 10-1 regular season and one of the deepest rosters in the history of the program.
Holsopple and Junghänel have consistently been among UK's top performers in both air rifle and smallbore, the two components in rifle competition. With that said, making up for the loss of All-Americans like Thomas Csenge, Leslie Angeli and Ashley Jackson has fallen on the shoulders of the team as a collective unit.
"I think the whole team overall really stepped up to the challenge," Mullins said. "We lost four seniors but we were not going to take the attitude that it was a rebuilding year.
Mullins cited the improvement of returners like Heather Greathouse and Logan Fox as vital to the team's growth.
"Heather Greathouse, a sophomore, has definitely developed in posting the scores that she is capable of doing," Mullins said. "She learned a lot from a tough freshman season. Logan Fox, he's a senior and last year he was fifth and sixth in smallbore, but he has moved himself up in the top three or four consistently."
UK's top performers will be in contention for All-Americaa honors when the time comes, but it's Kentucky's balance as a team that allows them to win any match they enter.
Take, for example, UK's recent win over West Virginia. The Mountaineers have reigning world champion Nicco Campriani (who has recorded a perfect 600 air rifle score this season) on the roster, but what Kentucky has is a complete team that has the ability to overcome individual mistakes with a combined effort.
"We didn't have anybody shoot a phenomenal number, but what we had was a collective team effort," Mullins said. "Individual mistakes are OK as long as they aren't repeated. We're going to live and die by what we all do."
Mullins said the team concept to a sport that can often be perceived as highly individual helps combat some of the pressure members of the team, especially the newcomers, may feel.
"We may only have one or two people going to the NCAA championship that have ever been there before," Mullins said. "It becomes a very mental game, so that part in itself puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the athletes. We've tried to get our guys to understand that 600 is the maximum, so even if somebody is struggling, you can't shoot a 610. The focus should only be on what you can do."
The result of that team approach has been a season during which UK's average team score has exceeded the highest individual match score that Kentucky recorded all of last season. Against West Virginia, UK set a season high of 4696 in a phenomenal team effort.
Since UK will almost certainly face off against the talented Mountaineers twice more this season at the GARC and NCAA Championships, the Wildcats will be called on to replicate or improve upon that performance. On the day following its loss to Kentucky, West Virginia posted a score of 4704, an NCAA high not only this season, but in the history of NCAA competition.
"On paper, (the Mountaineers) are an awesome team, but we feel we're a pretty good team too," Mullins said. "When the two get together, I think we both try to prove we're the better team."
Rifle is a unique sport in that no defense is played. That is to say that a team is in control of only its own score, meaning UK could post a season-best score in an effort to win a national title, only to be bested by an even better effort by an opponent.
What that means for Mullins is that he focuses only on his own team.
"Do I feel like this team has the capability of winning (the national championship)? Yes, but I felt that way on a lot of these," Mullins said, pointing to the seven second- or third-place NCAA trophies sitting atop his desk. "We're striving to break that 4700 mark. If we can do that and someone comes up and beats us, then we'll walk right up and shake their hands."
UK rifle wants desperately to bring home a national championship, but Mullins won't allow himself wallow in defeat if it doesn't come this year.
"Should (losing the national title) be a disappointment?" Mullins asked. "You should be disappointed you lost, but there still was that great road and process to get there."
Rifle - The rifle team rode a school-record team score to a 4696-4680 win over No. 1 West Virginia, clinching the 2010-11 Great American Rifle Conference regular-season championship on Saturday at UK's Barker Hall. - Kentucky completed an undefeated season in conference action with the win, besting the 2008-09 NCAA Champion Mountaineers, who also entered the match undefeated in league play and needing a win over UK to clinch the title. - With the win, UK has clinched its fourth all-time regular-season GARC Championship and its first since the 2008-09 season. - Kentucky's 4696 total team score eclipsed the school record set earlier in the year when the Wildcats totaled a 4691 win over Memphis in Oxford, Miss., on Jan. 21.
Men's basketball - The Wildcats dropped a 70-68 heartbreaker at Florida over the weekend. After falling behind by 13, the Cats battled back to take a one-point lead late in the game, but a last-second 3-pointer by Brandon Knight fell short. - UK hosts Tennessee on Tuesday. The Wildcats have posted a 160-51 (.758) record against SEC East teams since the league split into divisions in 1991-92. Kentucky is 5-1 in games following a loss this season. - John Calipari is 28-0 at Rupp Arena as the UK head coach. The Wildcats have the second longest home winning streak in the country at 29.
Women's basketball - Kentucky put together an impressive win over Auburn on Thursday for its seventh consecutive victory. The Cats defeated the Tigers 69-38 in Memorial Coliseum, marking the largest margin of victory in SEC play in school history. It also marked the first time UK has held an SEC opponent under 40 points in school history. - Sophomore Brittany Henderson led the winning effort with a career-high 13 points while also grabbing seven rebounds. - Senior Victoria Dunlap collected her second consecutive and sixth double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds. She has now eclipsed the 1,000-rebound mark (1,007), becoming just the second player in school history to chart more than 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her career.
Gymnastics - Senior Andrea Mitchell took home the all-around title with a career-high score of 39.275 and the University of Kentucky gymnastics team posted season-high marks on balance beam and vault, but fell short in an upset bid at No. 22 Auburn 194.625-194.450. - Mitchell was spectacular for the Wildcats, scoring season highs on vault, uneven bars and beam to post a career-high score in the all-around. The all-around win for Mitchell was the first individual all-around title for UK on the road in the SEC since 2006. - Kentucky defeated Auburn on vault with a season-high post of 49.2 while also scoring a season-high mark on beam with a 48.375. UK took home event honors at three events with Jasmine Minion winning event honors on vault and Mitchell claiming honors on bars and beam.
Men's tennis - The men's tennis team could not repeat its historic upset last season against Virginia, losing to the top-ranked Cavaliers 7-0 in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday. - Virginia, which boasts two top-10 ranked doubles teams and six top-105 ranked singles players, took control of the match from the beginning, winning the doubles point and all six singles matches. - Kentucky took two first sets in singles against the Cavaliers.
Track and field - The track and field team wrapped up competition at the Virginia Tech Elite Meet with a win by junior Walter Luttrell in the men's 5,000-meter run and placed six other student-athletes in the top six of their respective events on Saturday in Blacksburg, Va. - Luttrell secured his victory with a personal-best and SEC-leading time of 14:29.50 in the men's 5,000-meter run, claiming the Wildcats lone win of the day. The junior is now the two-time defending champion and record holder in the event at the VT Elite Meet, previously winning with a time of 14:41.65, Feb. 5, 2010. - Senior Mary Angell recorded her third consecutive top-six finish in the women's shot put with a throw of 50-07.25/15.42 meters. The senior's season-best mark of 51-01.75 currently sits second in the conference. - Junior Keith Hayes ran his second-fastest 60-meter hurdle race this season, in 7.82, approaching his season-best time of 7.80, which currently ranks ninth in the NCAA. - Freshman Kyron Joseph recorded two top-five finishes Friday, claiming fifth in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.82 and third in the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.58. Joseph was followed closely in the 200-meter by fellow freshman Kadeem Kushimo who grabbed fifth in 21.79.
Women's tennis - The Kentucky women's tennis team fell to No. 7 Michigan 7-0 on Saturday at the Varsity Tennis Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. - Kentucky will host Ohio State on Wednesday at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Center for its first home match of the season. Matches will begin at 1 p.m.
Maurice Davis was the latest basketball star to blossom on the Southside of Chicago. Long, lanky, equally adept at scoring and rebounding the athletically built 18-year-old senior was an honor student, captain of the Englewood Technical High School basketball team and on the radar of Division I-A college scouts. He was going to score a rare victory over the streets. And then, in the flash of a gun's muzzle, he was gone. Another victim of the struggle. DeAndre Liggins was just 14 at the time, another youngster trying to steer clear of the violence and drug war that claimed so many of his friends and neighbors.
John Calipari said it again. "What we know is that we're good enough to win," the Kentucky coach said Saturday night, standing in the back hallway of the O'Connell Center. And yet, Kentucky can't seem to win. Not on the road. Not in a close one.
John Calipari's back-to-back magic is snapped. Chomped, you might say. Florida's 70-68 win Saturday night at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center capped an 0-2 week for the University of Kentucky and gave Calipari his first back-to-back losses since he dropped four straight at Memphis in 2005.
Kentucky had so much talent and depth last season that it had a much greater margin for error than John Calipari's second team does. That's why UK's 70-68 loss at Florida Saturday night -- Kentucky's fourth two-point loss this season and second in five days -- was so close to a huge, huge win for the Wildcats.
Former Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodsonadmits it hasn't been easy accepting that his football playing days are over. But coaching is something Woodson believes can help him cope. Woodson and ex-UK receiver Glenn Holthave joined Joker Phillips'staff as student assistants. Both have enrolled at UK for the spring semester. Woodson said he's about two semesters away from a degree in kinesiology, and Holt expects to get his sociology degree in December.
Despite pitching well his senior season, Meyer's commitment to the Wildcats was so strong that he fell to the Red Sox in the 20th round in the 2008 draft. Boston went all-in with their signings that year and made a hard push to pry Meyer away from Kentucky at the deadline. Meyer said turning down the Red Sox was the toughest decision of his life, but he never second guesses himself.
Drumming up interest for their 11th season, the Lexington Legends did something at their annual publicity "caravan" Thursday that they'd never been able to do before -- introduce a Kentucky Wildcat who very well could be on their opening-day roster. "That would be a cool thing," Marcus Nidiffer said. "I'm ready to be the first."
Matthew Mitchell pondered the question for just a millisecond. On a scale of zero and Armageddon, where does No. 16 Kentucky's Monday evening showdown with No. 5 Tennessee rank? Pounding the table for mock emphasis, Mitchell said with a smile "gotta go with Armageddon. This is big. Game of the Century." OK, maybe not. But it is going to be big.
The Kentucky rifle team road a school-record team score to a 4696-4680 win over No. 1 West Virginia, clinching the 2010-11 Great American Rifle Conference regular-season championship, on Saturday at UK's Barker Hall. "I was really proud of the team, they really did great," UK head coach Harry Mullins said. "This was the first step in our journey this year."
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the extreme competitiveness and impressive football character Cobb and Locke display, which contribute to their rising stock. Kentucky's defense was just okay in 2010 and the quarterback and offensive line were average at best, but the Wildcats hung around in a lot of games because of these two players. Locke could be seen lowering his shoulder while Cobb continued to make tough catches over the middle no matter the situation or score, and scouts notice that.
But social media is here to stay, and it's all over the news. In Egypt, Facebook and other forms of social media are being used by people on all sides of that nation's crisis to spread information and show solidarity. Back here in the U.S., Twitter has been responsible for three of the biggest stories in the NFL postseason.
Tim Masthay had an exit plan. Eighteen months ago, the punter for the Green Bay Packers was newly married but also out of a job. The Indianapolis Colts had sent him to the scrapheap of NFL specialists. And suddenly Masthay, then 22, had to confront the possibility that his future -- and his income -- would not be that of a professional athlete.
By the end of his stellar career with the Kentucky Wildcats, Masthay was well known to fans for his booming punts that so often flipped field position. Now in his rookie year with the Super Bowl-bound Green Bay Packers, Masthay is again being talked about for all the right reasons.
If you've ever wondered what it looks like to see a team collectively hold its breath all at once, watch the Kentucky gymnastics team during its beam routine. Historically an area of concern for UK, beam, one of four routines in a gymnastics meet, is once again the proverbial mountain to climb that separates the Cats from moving up the Southeastern Conference ladder. At season's end, the team will likely look at beam as either the team's key to a successful season or the anchor of disappointment.
The Kentucky rifle team shot school-record score of 4,696 to defeat No. 1 West Virginia on Saturday. The victory clinched the 2010-11 Great American Rifle Conference regular-season championship, the school's fourth GARC title.
The question now, with NCAA qualifying next weekend, is how good is this year's team? Mullins' squads routinely compete for the national championship, posting seven top-three finishes in Mullins' tenure, but the team has yet to actually win one. Is this the year the Cats can finally do it? How does this team compare to the ones that came so close to winning it all over the years?
I will explore some of those topics with Mullins in a feature later on in the week as the team gets ready for its national championship run.