Men's basketball - Kentucky won its 13th straight game and fourth straight on the road, traveling to Baton Rouge, La., and collecting a 74-50 win over LSU. - Terrence Jones had his strongest game of the season, scoring a season-high 27 points and narrowly missing a double-double with nine rebounds. Jones also blocked a game-high tying three shots. - Anthony Davis posted a double-double, his 11th, tallying 16 points and 10 rebounds to go along with three blocks and two steals. Darius Miller also scored in double-figures, finishing with 13 points. - UK held LSU to 39.6 pct. from the field, the 14th time this season the Cats have held its opponent below 40 pct. Women's basketball - Kentucky improved to 20-2, 9-0 SEC with wins over Auburn and Alabama last week. This is the first time in program history UK has started conference play 9-0 and UK's 20-2 start ties its best start in program history through the first 22 games. Kentucky's best start to a season was in 1982-83 (21-2). The Wildcats have also won a school-record 12 straight SEC games dating back to last season, including seven in a row at home. - UK defeated Auburn on the road last Thursday 66-48, paced by junior A'dia Mathies' team-high 20 points and sophomore Samarie Walker's career-high 15 rebounds. UK forced the Tigers into 30 turnovers, the most in league play in the Matthew Mitchell era. - On Sunday, Kentucky earned its third consecutive 20-win season with an 82-68 win over Alabama. The balanced scoring effort was led by senior Keyla Snowden with 14 points, while Mathies and freshman Bria Goss added 13 and 11 points, respectively. UK forced the Tide into 25 turnovers, resulting in 29 points for the Wildcats. - UK's current 17-game home winning streak is the fourth longest in program history. The Wildcats will play host to Ole Miss on Thursday before hitting the road for three straight away contests.
Gymnastics - The youth-filled Kentucky gymnastics team continued to show its improvement over the weekend when it earned a dual-meet victory against Illinois-Chicago on Saturday with a season-high score of 195.05. The high mark was the best in a regular-season dual meet on the road since the 2011 squad went 195.05 at Ohio State. It is also the highest team score in a dual-meet road victory since March of 2010. - Kentucky posted season-high team scores on bars and beam, earning a 48.825 on bars to crush the previous season high of 48.5. On beam, Kentucky earned a team score of 48.975, which is tied for the 12th-highest beam score in school history and the highest since the 2009 team posted a 49.1 on March 15 in Alaska. UK's gymnasts did well on every event, setting or tying 17 season highs and 14 career highs in the meet. - Three Wildcats took home event title honors. Sophomore Holly Cunningham finishing first on vault with a 9.825, while junior Caitlyn Ciokajlo and senior Storey Morris finished first on uneven bars and balance beam, respectively. Sophomore Audrey Harrison and freshman Alexis Gross competed in the all-around competition and both earned career-high marks. Harrison scored a 39.0, while Gross posted a 38.875.
Men's tennis - Kentucky kicked off its home portion of the 2012 spring schedule with a very successful week, going 4-0 overall with three wins over teams ranked in the top 60 in the nation. - The Wildcats started the week with a 7-0 win over No. 29 Indiana in its home opener before taking down in-state foe Eastern Kentucky 6-0. Over the weekend, UK hosted the ITA Kickoff Weekend, where they defeated No. 57 North Carolina State 4-0 and No. 22 Tulsa 4-1 to earn a spot in the National Indoor Championships for the third consecutive season. - Senior Eric Quigley was the headline of the week early on, as he became the school's all-time winningest singles player with his 145th singles win on Tuesday against EKU. Quigley, who now owns a 147-44 career record, passed former UK great Paul Varga, who played from 1982-85, and ended his career with a 144-80 record. - Sophomore Alejandro Gomez was the star for Kentucky on Saturday as he clinched the decisive fourth point in UK's win over Tulsa. With the Wildcats holding a 3-1 lead and the remaining three singles matches in the third set, Gomez posted a 6-0 third-set win at No. 5 singles to seal the UK victory. The win moved UK to 47-9 at home since the start of the 2009 season and was the Wildcats' 20th victory over a top-25 team since 2009.
Track and field - Freshman sprinter Keilah Tyson broke the women's indoor 60-meter dash freshman school record Saturday with a time of 7.36 at the Rod McCravy Memorial meet. Tyson's race tied the third fastest time in program history. - Senior Terri-Ann Grant won the high jump, setting a personal record in the event, eclipsing 1.82m/5-11.50, the second best high jump mark in program history. - Freshman Terence Boyd had a strong weekend at the Rod McCravy Memorial, recording the seventh best mark in UK history in the long jump Friday, and the eighth best mark in UK history in the triple jump Saturday. - Junior Luis Orta finished second in the men's 3,000m run with a time of 8:10.58, a career-best for the Caracas, Venezuela native, and the eighth best in school history.
Swimming and diving - Behind wins in 25 of 32 events, the University of Kentucky swimming and diving teams defeated the University of Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday at the Lancaster Aquatic Center with the men claiming a 192-101 win, and the women claiming a 169.5-116.5 win. - Tyler Reed led the Wildcats again on the men's side, swimming his best-ever time in a dual meet in the 50-freestyle, pacing the field with a 20.53 in that event. Also, in the 200-freestyle, Reed recorded a 1:38.95. - Greg Ferrucci posted a 418.65 in the one-meter competition, smashing his own school record by over 20 points. Ferrucci finished first in the one meter, and three-meter competitions, pacing the field with a 423.75 in the three-meter. The 423.75 was just six points shy of the UK program record, which Ferrucci owns.
Rifle - UK rifle competed in a pair of matches over the weekend, including a 4635-4566 win over Morehead State on Sunday at UK's Barker Hall. UK also shot in the Withrow Invitational, hosted by Murray State, on Friday. - In both matches, UK shot with a new starting lineup, featuring primarily freshmen and newcomers. In the win on Sunday, freshmen Elijah Ellis and Jonathan Pinkel led the way, with Pinkel setting new career highs in both guns. - Kentucky returns to its grueling spring semester road schedule, traveling to Morgantown, W.Va., for a pair of conference matches to conclude the regular season. UK will face West Virginia on Saturday, Feb. 4, before facing off with North Carolina State on Sunday, Feb. 5.
Thursday, Feb. 2 Women's basketball hosts Ole Miss - 7:00 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 3 Swimming and diving at Louisville - 2:00 p.m. Gymnastics at LSU - 8:00 p.m. Track and field at Notre Dame Meyo Invitational Saturday, Feb. 4 Women's tennis hosts Purdue - Noon Men's basketball at South Carolina - 6:00 p.m. Rifle at West Virginia Track and field at Notre Dame Meyo Invitational Sunday, Feb. 5 Men's tennis hosts Pepperdine - Noon Women's basketball at LSU - 3:00 p.m. Women's tennis hosts Miami (OH) - 4:00 p.m. Men's tennis hosts Abilene Christian - 6:00 p.m. Rifle vs. NC State (Morgantown, W. Va.)
Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, Jan. 15:
Men's basketball: Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis helped lead the Wildcats to a 2-0 mark on the road this week, the only team in the league to win a pair of games on the road this week ... Davis tallied eight blocks on the week moving him to within one block of the UK single-season record after only 18 games ... Leads the league in blocks and field goal percentage ... He did break the UK freshman record for blocks this week ... Davis helped lead the Cats in a come-from-behind wins at Auburn and at Tennessee, scoring game-high 14 points at Auburn and a game-high 18 points at Tennessee ... Scored in double-figures in seven-straight games and eight of the last nine.
Swimming & diving: Greg Ferrucci
Greg Ferrucci led the Wildcats on the diving platforms this weekend, winning three of the four events he competed in. The reigning Southeastern Conference Freshman Diver of the Year scored a 327.98 on the one-meter, leading Kentucky. Ferrucci finished second in the three-meter competition, recording a 334.43, only falling short of fellow teammate John Fox who won the event with a 351.08.
Ferrucci won both the three-meter and the one-meter competitions in Atlanta, Ga., against Emory University, recording a 429.90 on the 3m, and a 405.30 on the 1m.
Women's basketball: A'dia Mathies
Scored a career-high 34 points vs. No. 6/7 Tennessee, and grabbed nine boards, one shy of tying a career high. Also dished out two assists, blocked two shots and had two steals.
Hit the game-winning shot vs. Tennessee with 4.2 seconds left to snap Tennessee's 36-game conference winning streak, give UK its first 4-0 start in conference play in program history, and give UK its third win over a top-10 ranked opponent this season, the first time the program has done that since 1982-83.
Her 34 points vs. Tennessee are the most points scored by a UK player since Dec. 20, 1987, when Bebe Croley scored 40 points vs. Morehead State.
First player to score 30 points in a game since Dec. 7, 2010 (Victoria Dunlap, 30, vs. Tennessee Tech).
Tied a career high with three blocks at No. 24/RV South Carolina, while also getting three steals.
Led UK in minutes played this week.
Has started in every game she has played this season.
Has reached double figures in scoring in 14 of 17 games she has played in.
No. 16 in scoring all-time at UK (1,208), and is just seven points shy of tying Stacy McIntyre at No. 15.
No. 9 in steals all-time at UK (220), and is just four steals shy of tying Sandy Harding at No. 8.
Track and field: Keffri Neal
Finished with the second-fastest collegiate time in the men's 800m run at the Kentucky Invitational.
Has the third fastest freshman time in the SEC in the 800m run.
Ran the third leg of the 4x800-meter relay, helping lead the team to a second-place finish.
Track and field: Luis Orta
Ran a career-best time in the one-mile run of 4:09.59.
Finished in second in the one-mile run.
Has the fastest time in the mile in the SEC.
Has the 32nd fastest time in the country in the mile.
Men's tennis: Anthony Rossi
Kentucky men's tennis junior Anthony Rossi claimed the SEC Coaches' Indoor Championships singles title on Monday with an impressive win against No. 10 Sadio Doumbia of Georgia. The win helped Rossi become 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 event.
- 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
In her first year as a competitive runner, Megan Broderick has emerged for UK's cross country team. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
For four years, Megan Broderick was the best player on the Kentucky tennis team. She played No. 1 singles each season, winning 64 matches and ranking as high as No. 55 in the nation before concluding her tennis career in the spring of 2011.
At that point, most athletes would be ready to call it a career, but Broderick just isn't built that way.
Instead, Broderick opted to take advantage of an NCAA rule that allowed student-athletes a fifth year of eligibility in a second sport, joining the cross country and track team for the 2011-12 season. The same competitiveness and determination that propelled her to a decorated tennis are what ultimately drove her to her second Division I career.
"Growing up, I played a lot of different sports and I've always had that competitive spirit in me," Broderick said. "It wasn't really a thought of mine whether I was going to fail or succeed. I just really wanted to do it. I thought that I could help the team in cross country and track."
To say Broderick has helped the team in her first two months as a competitive runner would be an understatement. In four races as a member of the cross country team, she has emerged as one of UK's top runners, finishing no worse than third among her Wildcat teammates.
"It's definitely a little bit of a surprise to me how well I'm doing right off the bat," Broderick said. "I owe a lot of that to the girls. They've really accepted me onto the team and the coaches and trainers have all done a great job working with me to allow me to be comfortable in the new environment."
Don Weber, head cross country and track coach, sees things a bit differently. He learned a great deal about Broderick's willpower and talent before taking her on the team, and had an inkling this kind of success would be on the horizon, but maybe not so quickly.
"I'm not really surprised she's doing well based upon what I know about her," Weber said, "but she's doing better than I thought she would do."
Chance training room meeting starts it all
Broderick was already planning on returning to UK for a fifth year. She had one class to finish up before her planned graduation in December and had heard about and researched the rule that would ultimately allow her to participate in cross country and track. Coaches don't often find themselves recruiting current college seniors, but that's exactly what Weber did when he ran into Broderick.
"Last year, sometime during the school year we bumped into each other in the training room and I knew she was a fourth-year senior," Weber said. "I asked her if she had any school beyond this. She said she did and I said 'Would you consider running in your fifth year?' "
Broderick didn't think too much about the possibility at first, but there were a few classes she knew she would like to take other than the one she needed to graduate. Weber continued to talk to Broderick about joining the team, appealing to the passion for running she had always had even during her tennis career. Ultimately, Broderick gave Weber the "yes" he was looking for.
"Based on how impressed I was with her, how much want-to she had and her very keen interest in doing this, I decided to invest in her and we'll see where it goes," Weber said.
Developing a plan
There was still the small matter of Weber actually seeing his newest runner in action. As soon as she finished the tennis season, Broderick went on a run with Weber looking on. Fortunately, the investment Weber had decided to make in her immediately looked like a good one.
"I was relieved and impressed that she could run pretty well," Weber said. "She looked pretty good and the pace she was running for those three miles was pretty good. After that run, we came into the field house and she did a couple of 200's to get a sense of her speed and how she might run on the track. That was impressive too."
The next step was to begin training. Broderick wasn't in Lexington for much of the summer, but she stayed in close contact with Weber throughout. He assigned her specific workouts with one preeminent concern in mind.
"I didn't have a whole lot of concerns because I was so impressed with her, but the biggest concern was regarding training," Weber said. "Since she had a relatively limited background in running, I didn't want to have her do too much too soon and her body not be ready for that."
The first race
When the season opening race, the Belmont-VU Opener, rolled around, Broderick expected her nerves to be jangling. She had participated in "one or two" races on the cross country team in high school, but this was another level. To her surprise, she was relatively calm on the course, mostly thanks to all her experience on the tennis court.
"I really thought I was going to be more nervous than I was," Broderick said. "Playing a tennis match, you're out there by yourself and everyone's watching you while in a cross country meet, you're running in a pack so eyes are not directly on you as much."
Her debut was an unmitigated success. She finished in 16th place overall and third on the team with a time of 14:53.73. In some ways, it's what she doesn't know that allowed her to start so quickly.
"She's not afraid of hills, she's not afraid of distance, she just competes and attacks," Weber said. "Other people who have done cross country longer, they know those things are additional challenges and, instead of freely accepting them, there's a measure of intimidation. She doesn't have any of that."
As the season has progressed, Broderick has only gotten better. In the team's last race, she turned in her best performance. The Panorama Farms Invitational two weeks ago was UK's longest race of the season so far (6K) and, for the first time in her career, Broderick was the first Wildcat to finish. With a time of 22:28.51, she finished 23rd overall in a strong field.
Broderick's precociousness would suggest it all comes easily for her, but she's gotten a firsthand education in what makes running competitively so different from running to stay in shape.
"I think the biggest difference is the amount of mental toughness it takes," Broderick said. "During my four years of playing tennis at UK, I became a better athlete, not only physically, but also mentally. When you're running races, it's painful and what gets you through is the ability to overcome that pain and be mentally tough."
Cross country season has 'flown by', track on the horizon
With all regular season races completed, UK's focus now turns to the postseason, which begins with the SEC Championships on Oct. 31 in Maryville, Tenn. The brief season has gone by very quickly for Broderick, though she knows there is a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks.
"It's flown by," Broderick said. "Every race, there's a lot of pressure to compete as best you can because there aren't many. We have SEC's and regionals coming up so hopefully we can perform well."
Broderick is optimistic about her and her team's prospects in the postseason, but she admits she doesn't know quite what to expect. Whenever the season does end, though, she'll jump right into training for track. Weber said he expects Broderick to focus on middle distances races such as the 800-meter and mile and he looks forward to seeing her compete in the more intimate atmosphere of track. Weber, though, called every day a "discovery" with Broderick, but there's one thing he knows he can always expect.
"I expect it to be a whole lot of fun working with her and it will be inspiring to see what she can do," Weber said. "The one thing I know for certain is we'll get her best, because that's the way she is." 'You run the way you do because of the way you are'
Megan Broderick was a standout in tennis at UK for four years before joining cross country and track. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Broderick may not go on to set any records or win any national titles during her one year as a runner, but she has come to represent everything Weber looks for in an athlete.
"I've done this for a long time and in terms of attitude, enthusiasm and personal stake in it, she's one of the best we've ever had in that respect," Weber said. "We have a saying around here: 'You run the way you do because of the way you are.' I think she's a pretty good example of that."
She isn't ready to start thinking too much about her legacy or just how unique she is for participating in two Division I sports at such a high level, but Broderick expects to feel graciousness more than anything else when she does reflect on her time at UK.
"I'm really thankful that (head tennis) coach (Carlos) Drada and (assistant tennis) coach (Kevin) Calhoun were able to develop me as a tennis player and to have the success I did in that," Broderick said. "Then, to run across Coach Weber and to have this awesome opportunity is amazing. I'll just really be thankful for all the people, all the experiences and all the competition I was able to enjoy."
Russ Pear needs a clone. At the very least, he could use another two or three hours in a day.
Pear, senior associate athletics director for facilities and operations at Kentucky, unofficially owns the title as the busiest man in the UK Athletics Department this summer. Pear and Scott Clark, as the two officials heading UK's numerous facility projects this summer, haven't had much time to enjoy the offseason.
"The schedule has been really hectic," Pear said. "Every year Scott Clark and I say, 'If we can just get through this year, there is no way it can be this busy next year.' "
But few - if any - summers have been as busy as this one for Pear and Clark as they march through the heart of their most important season to date.
In an ongoing effort to upgrade and renovate UK's facility infrastructure, Pear and Clark are leading five major facility projects this summer, in addition to planning for future developments and maintaining the current foundation.
The five projects include:
The installation of two Daktronics high definition video boards, light-emitting diode ribbon boards and a new sound system at Commonwealth Stadium
A brand new $12 million track facility
A new playing surface at the UK Soccer Complex
An interior renovation of the Shively Training Facility
The Commonwealth Stadium upgrades, which will include new sod, are expected to be ready for the home opener against Central Michigan on Sept. 10.
With the addition of the video and sound system, which is expected to cost close to $6 million (demolition and installation included), UK Athletics has invested more than $14 million in renovations and upgrades to football facilities at Commonwealth Stadium, Nutter Training Center and Nutter Field House over the last six years.
Last year, Pear and his crew renovated the Nutter Training Facility, revamping the football team's weight room, locker room and meeting rooms. Where folding chairs used to sit in small rooms, expanded meeting rooms, similar to miniature theaters, have been refurbished.
"When you've got six or eight offensive linemen in a room that's smaller than this office, it's just not very functional," Pear said of the previous meeting rooms.
Also, a main meeting room, equipped with projection screens and "smart" technology, has replaced old racquetball courts in Nutter. The room can be used for team-wide film sessions, presentations or recruiting purposes.
Even if the upgrades aren't just a case of keeping up with the Joneses of the Southeastern Conference, the additions were imperative for a program that's trying to rise in the nation's strongest league.
"I don't see us engaging as much in the arms race as much as I see us getting things functional and up to date for today's athletes," Pear said. "That doesn't mean we weren't paying attention before, but if someone builds one for $2 million, that doesn't mean you go build one for $3 million."
One might raise an eyebrow at the upgrades to football if they were the only additions going on, but Pear has had his hands full with plenty of other sports and facilities.
The front facing of one of the two old scoreboards at Commonwealth Stadium is nearly complete. The installation of the new Daktronics video boards is expected to start in early August. (photo by Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
"We know what keeps the overall ship afloat, but every sport is important," Pear said. "Mitch (Barnhart) started that attitude from an overall operations standpoint. We place just as much importance in our softball program, our baseball program and our gymnastics program, just like we do with our football program."
Case in point: Pear's biggest project this summer is the $12 million track facility being constructed between the old Shively Track and baseball's Cliff Hagan Stadium. As Pear termed it, it's a "complete redo" of the facility.
Nothing more than a smoothed dirt field at the moment, the new track facility is expected to be operational for the spring 2012 season. Without an outdoor track facility for the next few months, the track and field and cross country teams will use the Nutter Field House as its practice facility. Other designated areas around UK's campus will be set up for track and field's throwers.
The construction is an inconvenience for the teams during the building process, but the previous facility was bordering on unusable. Last year, Barnhart tabbed the existing track's conditions as "unacceptable."
"We've basically had a track that's been non-functional from a collegiate competitive standpoint," Pear said.
Pear is hopeful the foundation of the actual track will be completed before winter arrives, allowing the team a means of outdoor practice while the stadium seating, concourse and other structures are built around it.
The hope is to host six to eight collegiate and high school meets a year, including the Southeastern Conference Championships and the state high school track meet, but no events have been scheduled for the 2012 spring season as a precaution for potential construction delays.
"It brings people to campus both from a competitive standpoint for recruiting but also just to our campus," Pear said of the advantage of a new track. "A lot of the things we've done over the years with state high school tournaments, there are probably only a select few that may be SEC-caliber athletes, but the bottom line is you get people on campus who say this is a nice place and they want to come to school at the University of Kentucky."
Just down the street, Pear and his crew are about to embark on a $950,000 interior facelift of the Shively Training Facility, which houses the locker rooms and weight room of several Olympic sports, including the baseball and men's and women's track and field teams.
Pear said the bare basics of the facility - the heating, the ventilation and the structure - are still in good shape, but the complex is in need of some updates. Beginning in about a week, new drywall, new ceilings, new floors - the "whole bit," as Pear described it - will be laid at Shively, specifically in the locker rooms of each team.
By the completion of the project, which should end in November, the goal is to give Shively the look and feel of a modern facility.
"The hallways, we're going to transform those so that when you walk in to Shively, you don't know if you're walking into the Craft Center or into Shively Sports Center," Pear said.
The new field at UK Soccer Complex is perhaps the smallest project that Pear and his crew are managing this summer, but right now it's the most critical to get finished in preparation for the Aug. 23 women's soccer home opener. A construction crew dug up the old field months ago, but a freak weather year has delayed the crew from laying the new sod.
"It's been one of those crazy years for weather," Pear said. "It wasn't like we had rain for two weeks straight, but we would get rain for two days straight and it would be so wet that you'd have to wait. By the time you were about to get back on it, it would rain again. We're just at a critical point right now at trying to be ready for the first game."
Pear said the renovation of the field isn't just new sod. Old drains are being repaired and the base of the field is being reconstructed. Because of the draining problems of the old soil, the new soccer field will be a sand-capped surface with moisture sensors in the field that will allow the Sports Turf department the ability to monitor soil moisture levels and reduce overwatering. Six inches of sand will sit on top of the base of the soil and then Bermuda grass will grow on top of that.
Other minor renovations will be made to the UK Soccer Complex in addition to a permanent tower to shoot film.
Of course, with all these projects going on, many might ask when a new baseball stadium might come or what the update is on a new basketball arena. The city of Lexington is currently studying the feasibility of redesigning and renovating Rupp Arena and the Lexington Center.
Future projects that are on the docket include moving the fences back at the UK Softball Complex and the addition of a new video/scoreboard. Pear also said men's tennis coach Dennis Emery is working hard to get some supporters to the table to fundraise an expansion at Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex. That renovation, which is still in the planning stages, would include an expansion of four courts to six courts in the indoor facility, plus updated locker rooms.
Pear has a giant board in his office to organize the numerous projects going on and to help him look to the future. Prioritizing what needs to be done for an aging infrastructure can be a difficult job, but Pear said they have to look at UK's facilities situation as a need-to-need basis.
"We've gone around and looked at everything and said, 'That would be nice, but that's not exactly what we need. What we need is this,' " Pear said. "Mitch has made it a priority now to make sure that when he retires, that part of the department is in good shape to where another AD won't have to worry about it."
Fundraising, of course, also factors into prioritizing the facilities projects, as does the year-to-year fiscal budget. The list can change on a frequent basis, and capital dollars must also be allocated to Kentucky's normal facility operations, like painting and sprucing up UK's current facilities.
"You want a plan of the things we're looking at down the road and try to attack those in order of whatever priority you set them in," Pear said. "Sometimes the priority changes because of certain circumstances. If a donor comes forward and says, 'I'd like to do this and here's what I'd like to do,' you need to listen. Unless we're going to get in a capital campaign, this is how we have to do these things."
It's made for one busy summer for Pear and his crew.
Although it's been a relatively quiet summer in terms of news, it's been an active summer for UK Athletics facilities.
In an effort to strengthen and improve Kentucky's athletic infrastructure, several of UK's facilities are undergoing renovations or complete overhauls. The facility projects include Commonwealth Stadium, a new track facility and the UK Soccer Complex.
I decided to drive around to each facility today to snap a few pictures of the process. For those of you that aren't in Lexington, it should give you a better idea of the kind of activity going on this summer on UK's campus.
New track facility
The new UK track facility is expected to be completed by the spring 2012 season. Situated between Cliff Hagan Stadium and the old track facility, the new facility will include will include a practice area, team meeting and storage building, meet administration building, stadium seating, plaza and concourse, in addition to the track, pits and throwing lanes.
Commonwealth Stadium has been re-sodded for the upcoming 2011 season. The field will continue to use Bermuda 419 grass.
The front facing of UK's two scoreboards, located at the end of each end zone, are scheduled to be removed over the next month. Two new high definition Daktronics video boards, measuring 37 feet high by 80 feet wide, will be installed in their place. The project, which will also include LED ribbon boards and a new sound system, is expected be completed by the season opener on Sept. 10.
UK Soccer Complex
The UK Soccer Complex is getting a new playing surface for the 2011 season, which will continue to feature Bermuda grass. The field will have a new baseline irrigation system that will have motion sensors in the field, which will allow the Sports Turf department the ability to monitor soil moisture levels and reduce over-watering.
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.
After a fantastic (and much-needed) vacation, I'm back in the saddle for a little bit, at least until I take another vacation in the coming weeks. A big thanks goes to Guy Ramsey for filling in for me while I was gone. It looks like he kept everyone up-to-date on the Southeastern Conference meetings in Destin, Fla., as well as kicked off the "Where are they now" series with a great story on Dicky Lyons Jr.
Here are a few notes that we didn't get around to that should catch you up on everything going on around Big Blue Nation:
- Alex Meyer became Kentucky baseball's highest MLB Draft pick since 2002 when he was chosen by the Washington Nationals with the 23rd overall selection Monday, but the draft is far from over for current Wildcats. Rounds 2-30 will take place Tuesday, starting at noon, followed by rounds 31-50 on Wednesday. Current Wildcats Chad Wright, Thomas McCarthy, Jordan Cooper, Braden Kapteyn, Michael Williams and Taylor Black could all hear their names called over the next couple of days. Wright, McCarthy, Cooper, Kapteyn and Williams are underclassmen and could return to UK next year.
- One thing that wasn't mentioned on here last week from the SEC meetings was the new oversigning limit for football scholarships. The presidents and chancellors of the league voted unanimously last week to cut the number of scholarship players a school can sign from 28 to 25. It was a pretty fair compromise between the SEC coaches, who didn't want any restrictions on how they manage their rosters, and the critics of the critics of oversigning. Jon Solomon of The Birminghman News has a pretty good recap on the new limit here.
- Former UK women's golfer Mallory Blackwelder will play in her first U.S. Open on July 7-10 after qualifying for the major tournament this past weekend. Blackwelder, the daughter of former Kentucky coach Myra Blackwelder, finished third out of 69 players in the qualifying event with a 14-over-par 156 total. The U.S. Open will take place at Broadmoor East in Colorado Springs, Colo., the same course where Blackwelder qualified.
- Men's basketball head coach John Calipari continued his "State of the Cats" series last week on his website, CoachCal.com. In last week's address, he talked about UK's draft-eligible players and gave his opinion on each. You can read his full thoughts here, but the most interesting part, I thought, was that Enes Kanter would be his No. 1 pick if it were his decision. Here is an excerpt of what Calipari had to say:
This one is so hard for me because as more and more people see what we saw all year at the Joe Craft Center with Enes, I can't help but think how much more special last season could have been if our big teenager had been able to join us for our Final Four run! He just turned 19 a few weeks ago. There is a strong possibility that Enes could be the No. 1 overall pick. If it were my decision, Enes is who I would pick at No. 1. Here's why: he can truly be a dominating kind of player; he can be a Karl Malone-type big man. As the league gets smaller (size-wise) his ability to dominate his position will grow. He's got a position and a true size. If he doesn't go No. 1 he will go shortly thereafter and the teams that passed on him will look back and wince at that decision. I'm biased because I love him, but I'm also talking in pragmatic terms.
- The final UK Athletics event of the 2010-11 athletics year takes place this week in Des Moines, Iowa, for the NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. Sean Hilen is traveling with the team and should have the full details of the event later Tuesday in a release. The championships begin Wednesday.