UK, which just wrapped up a record-setting, 45-win season, can expect to lose juniors Brian Adams and Luke Maile. Both were selected in the eighth round, high enough to all but guarantee both will sign with their teams.
Calipari mildly confesses he's happy he doesn't have to deal with being asked why he hasn't won a national title. Got one now, after this past season. And he could care less who wants to take a pot shot at how he won it -- with an influx of freshmen on a yearly basis who, thanks to the NCAA and NBA rules, must stay one year then can bolt for the pros.
"I've said the same thing over and over," he said. "It's not my rule and I don't like it at all. I even have solutions for it that I've put out publicly. But the national media want to play that negative card. They don't want to put out there what I'm saying."
After introducing his new fantasy camp for fans at a news conference Tuesday, Calipari opened it up for more general questions. It didn't take long for the topic of scheduling and the Hoosiers to come up. Calipari answered the initial IU question with a 585-word rant -- and he was hardly done after that.
"Schedule for America!" he said he hears from angry fans. "I'm not scheduling for America. I'm scheduling for us."
Opinions vary somewhat among the scouts interviewed this week. Davis' lack of experience doesn't give scouts much to evaluate. He played just one season at Kentucky and was a 6-1 shooting guard only four years ago.
But two longtime NBA scouts say Davis will develop into a perennial All-Star and could become a franchise player if he continues to develop. Both
say he's far more likely to boom than bust.
"I don't think (being an All-Star) is too much to anticipate or consider," the Eastern Conference scout said. "He has tremendous physical ability and such a great work ethic. He has a tremendous upside."
Pitcher Chanda Bell, from the University of Kentucky where she was the only pitcher in school history to strike out more than 200 in each of her four seasons, made her first appearance as a member of the Bandits after being the only pitcher chosen from 44 total recruits.
"Saturday, the recruits played against the Bloomington Lady Hearts (against SIU players Katie Bertelsen and Allie VadeBoncouer)," Bell said. "My coach had been contacted by the Bandits, and after I saw I hadn't got picked up in the draft and I wanted to continue playing I said, 'Heck, yes, I will tryout for the defending champs.'
Despite Rondo's befuddling performance, the Celtics managed to battle back to take the lead until the Heat responded with a 9-0 run to take a 78-72 advantage with 6:17 left.
It was then that Rondo decided to use his unusually large hands to place his imprint on the game. It began with hustle, when he didn't quit on the ball after Wade swatted Brandon Bass's dunk attempt, sending the crowd into the frenzy. Rondo ignored the potential momentum swing, leapt high and tapped the loose ball to Mickael Pietrus behind the 3-point line. Pietrus calmly converted to cut the deficit to 3.
There haven't been many Oklahomans play college baseball at Kentucky.
No, not before I got there, but then we had a couple. There was another kid from Tulsa the year after I left that was there for two years that I hosted on his recruiting trip (Tulsa Union's Gunner Glad) and then there was another kid from Owasso, Kevin Thulin, who went there. I split my time now between the Tulsa area and in Lexington, Ky.
Williams' troubles might give Woodyard the chance to have much more than a rotational role in Denver's 4-3 scheme next season, especially early on.
Woodyard, whose role has increased every year in Denver since the Broncos signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Kentucky in 2008, parlayed his outstanding 2011 season into a two-year, $3.5 million contract over the winter.
University of Kentucky center fielder Austin Cousino was named Southeastern Conference baseball Freshman of the Year, and the Wildcats' Gary Henderson was honored as the league's Coach of the Year on Tuesday.
Cousino, catcher Luke Maile and pitcher Corey Littrell were named to the All-SEC second team, and first baseman A.J. Reed was selected to the All-Freshman team along with Cousino. Cousino also made the All-Defensive Team. Voting was conducted by the league's coaches.
Finished? Good. Because the only thing Kentucky can do is embarrass the NCAA committee with its performance. It is a winnable regional packed with cold-weather programs -- Purdue, Kent State and Valparaiso. The Wildcats are positioned to advance to the super regional at the University of Oregon. Go do it.
Obviously, Kentucky coach Gary Henderson and his Wildcats need to have a much better attitude about all of this than I do as they prepare to tackle a field that includes the above-mentioned Purdue (44-12), along with Kent State (41-17) and Valparaiso (35-23).
"You're disappointed in a lot of things in athletics," Henderson said this week. "I fumbled against Marshfield High School in October of '78, cost us a touchdown. I'm disappointed about that, but you move on and that's all you can do.
The NCAA released the identities of the 16 regional hosts on Sunday without UK's name on the list despite a 43-16 record and 20-13 record against Southeastern Conference opponents. On Monday, the Wildcats learned they would be the No. 2 seed in the Gary, Ind., regional and will face Kent State in the first round. Purdue is the No. 1 seed in the regional but is hosting in Gary due to ongoing renovations to their home stadium. Valparaiso is the No. 4 seed in the regional.
"I know the people that are in baseball that actually play the game are pretty dumbfounded," Maile said. "Obviously those aren't the people that make the decisions."
Quigley ended the best season in UK history at 54-8. He joined Jesse Witten (2002) and Carlos Drada (2000) as the only Cats ever to play in an NCAA singles finals. No UK player has ever won the title.
"I don't even know where to begin, it has been the best four years of my life," Quigley said upon completing his career at Kentucky. "I never dreamed of accomplishing half the things that I was able to accomplish here. I really owe a lot to (coaches) Cedric Kauffmann and Dennis Emery for all they have done for me. I don't really have words to describe the last four years. It's been a dream."
National champion Kentucky lost most of its talent from a season ago. One guy back to keep an eye on is Kyle Wiltjer. He showed glimpses during limited playing time and John Calipari will call on him to be a difference-maker in the season ahead. He can go inside or step out and shoot the jumper.
On Wednesday, a national faculty group called the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics issued a denunciation of Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari for being a leading agent in the professionalizing of college athletics.
Cal's sin? Not the mass use of one-and-done players. Not his $4 million-plus salary. Not even his two vacated Final Fours.
Nope, what had a group that is comprised of faculty senate members from FBS schools agitated was Calipari's having come out in favor of playing some non-conference games at neutral sites.
To which one response seems appropriate: Oh, c'mon.
When center Nazr Mohammed played for the San Antonio Spurs in 2005-06, he came in to do extra work on off days and often found himself casually chatting with the team's director of player personnel at the time.
A 29-year-old kid named Sam Presti.
It's no coincidence both men are now with the Thunder.
And with the 11th pick in the sixth round of the NFL Draft, the Seahawks selected ...
A safety? Really? A team that already has the Pro Bowl tandem of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor - the third-year tandem of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor - selected a safety?
Well, it wasn't just any safety. It was a safety - Winston Guy from Kentucky - that the coaches feel can step in and be the third safety in the big nickel package that has served the defense and the team so well in its first two seasons under coach Pete Carroll.
A couple of great Canadian family volleyball traditions are also being continued on the team with Rebecca Pavan, sister of Sarah Pavan being chosen for the squad, and Taylor Pischke, the daughter of Garth Pischke the legendary head coach of the University of Manitoba Bisons. Taylor's brother Dane was also chosen for the men's national B team earlier this month. Thirdly, Alicia Perrin was selected, brother of men's A team squad member Gord Perrin, both of Creston, BC.
Reed (5-2) had only three hits in his previous 22 at-bats going into the game, but he gave himself the only run he needed when he launched a drive over the right-field fence for a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. It was his fourth home run.
"I have been struggling a little bit the past couple of weeks," he said. "Going out there and having some success on the mound built my confidence. It also showed me that my team still trusts me, and Coach (Gary Henderson) gave me a second chance to come out and perform well."
"I thought it would be a gamble to go the other way," Henderson said. "... I wasn't confident that Rogers would be strong enough on a short rest to give us six (innings), and I was very confident that he would give us three or four. And if he was going to give us three or four, I wanted them in the middle so it didn't feel like we were taking a starter out before we had five. Sometimes that's a little bit of a letdown for your club.
The Dublin, Ohio native ranks second in the SEC in runs scored (56), doubles (19) and at-bats (227) this season. He also ranks third in total bases (123) and plate appearances (264) seventh in hits (75), eighth in home runs (9) and ninth in slugging (.542).
"I had a good fall with the team and with the players around us and previous SEC players, I knew we would be able to compete and I hoped that I could play with some of the best players in the country," Cousino added. "That is what I set my expectations for and I wanted to come out here and prove myself.
University of Kentucky two-sport athlete Brian Adams has decided to give up his final two seasons of football and focus on his baseball career.
Adams played in 11 football games as a sophomore last season and caught five passes for 46 yards. He was listed as the No. 2 outside receiver on the UK depth chart entering spring practice but decided to stay with the baseball team this spring as it made a run at a Southeastern Conference title.
As for UK, if the SEC is eventually going to add two more teams, it should pass on Virginia Tech and Maryland (though both would be solid additions) and go for North Carolina and Duke.
Neither would enhance SEC football, but SEC football needs no enhancement. Add Carolina and Duke to the SEC, and the best football league would also become clearly the best men's basketball league. Bringing on Duke and UNC would also add the Charlotte and Raleigh/Durham TV markets to the SEC footprint and give the league a boost in academic cachet (which it needs).
Adding North Carolina and Duke to the SEC would also happen to be good for Kentucky. It would at long last bring into the league some basketball competitors who can look UK dead in the eye in terms of hoops tradition and emphasis. It would also add two football programs the Cats can 1.) beat regularly (Duke); 2.) compete with evenly (Carolina).
USA Basketball's Olympic preparations will be peppered with plenty of University of Kentucky flavor this summer. On Monday former Wildcats John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins were officially added to the 13-man USA Men's Select Team that will train against the USA National Team from July 6-12 in Las Vegas.
"Brandon is an extremely smart kid - and not just 4.0 academic smart," Joe Dumars told me after that game. "He picks up common sense things really well. There is nothing that can take the place of being out there and having to figure it out on the fly in an NBA game, NBA speed, when the lights are on. That's when you learn and grow. That's what he's talking about. You have to be out there, you have to be in a position to make those split-second decisions and that only comes with experience on the court."
Knight becomes the first Piston named to the All-Rookie first team since Grant Hill 17 years ago, a fitting parallel in temperament and character. Frank talked as the season wound down about his experience with young players growing as leaders in Summer League, where Knight will undoubtedly be the point guard and run the show for a Pistons entry that will include their 2012 lottery pick, two second-rounders and, quite likely, 2011 second-rounder Kyle Singler.
But in these NBA playoffs, it's Bledsoe showing star qualities. He scored more points than Blake Griffin, Chris Paul or any of the Clippers' starters in their 108-92 loss at San Antonio in the opener of the Western Conference semifinals.
The 23 points tied Bledsoe's career high. Credit him also with five rebounds, four assists and three steals in his third consecutive solid game. He totaled 22 points in the final two games of the first-round upset of Memphis.
Trevathan made a ton of tackles at Kentucky, but his size could keep him from filling a similar role in Denver. He's just 6'0″ and 237 pounds, a bit small for an every down role although his motor and competitiveness will mean that he puts up a good fight for one. Special teams figures to be his ticket to the final roster and his ticket to getting a shot at anything more than that as his career unfolds.
Trevathan gives the Broncos four draft picks under contract. There are three draftees still unsigned as the team continues their Organized Team Activities.
Credit a four-run fourth inning rally for changing the vibe Sunday, and in particular, Collin Cowgill's hard collision into Tim Lincecum when Cowgill scored from second on a wild pitch. Cowgill said he wasn't trying to hit Lincecum, and I believe him. But that play signified a shift in mentality during the series. The A's became the aggressors and started taking it to the Giants, and they finally came out on top.
When it comes to "best players," there has been a lot of that this year with UK men's sports. At present, Kentucky ranks second behind North Carolina in the Capital One Men's Cup standings for the best overall athletic program.
If Emery's squad could find its way into the Final Four this weekend, that may clinch the Cup title for the Cats.
"Thanks for telling me that," said Emery, smiling.
The rematch is a chance for UK to rinse their mouths of that ill-tasting loss.
"We definitely want to get some revenge," said senior Eric Quigley, the 2012 SEC Player of the Year. "They're definitely a good team but I think we can play a little better. But it's not going to be easy. Stanford's a great team, and Stanford's always good, every year."
Revenge is not the Wildcats' primary goal, just a step in the process of bringing home a national title, a feat the team has fallen short of the past three seasons.
Next up, UK will close the Southeastern Conference regular season with games Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Mississippi State.
From Starkville, the Cats will travel to Regions Park in Hoover, Ala., where the SEC Tournament will take place May 22-27. The better they do in the 10-team, double-elimination tournament, the longer their stay will be in suburban Birmingham.
UK, No. 4 in the latest Baseball America poll, will have a first-round bye at stake when it meets Mississippi State and former Wildcats Coach John Cohen.
Kentucky has the best record in the league by half a game over South Carolina (17-9), which had its series finale against Georgia canceled last weekend due to weather, and a full game over LSU (17-10). The Gamecocks and Tigers close the regular season with a series against each other.
The Cats, who lead the nation in wins and already have their second-most victories in school history, are looking for just their second SEC regular-season title. They can also clinch a bye in the SEC Tournament by finishing with the East Division's best record. Once UK leaves for Paducah today, it won't return until it has been eliminated -- or has won -- the league tournament.
This is the most exciting and up-for-grabs regional in the entire tournament. And the regional I will be covering starting Friday at 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2. You have three teams in this regional that could advance in almost any regional, and they are all together. Louisville has the best record in the tournament with only three losses. However, the Cardinals have yet to be challenged with teams from the stronger conferences (Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC). This will be the biggest challenge of the year for them as they face an SEC team in Kentucky that made it all the way to super regionals last year and a former national champion in Michigan. The first matchup between Kentucky and Michigan will be the most anticipated, as these teams faced off in last year's Ann Arbor regional with Kentucky walking away with the upset.
Finding more playmakers: Coach Joker Phillips feels like he has more firepower to work with on offense again. After struggling mightily to find consistent playmakers on offense in 2011, Phillips left spring with more confidence about players he felt he could rely on going forward. The biggest standout was receiver Demarco Robinson. He became one of the most consistent players at practice and caught nine passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game. Also, freshman receiver Daryl Collins surprised coaches with his playmaking ability. Tight ends Ronnie Shields and Tyler Robinson also stepped up and should help take pressure off of Kentucky's running game.
Former Kentucky basketball player Joe Crawford tore a knee tendon Sunday while playing for a team in Israel. The ill-timed injury, which is expected to sideline him for four to six months, comes as interest from other teams, including some in the NBA, has grown, the player's agent said Tuesday.
"It's a setback," agent Aaron Mintz said. "But if there's anyone who has shown time and time again he'll get through this, it's Joe."
Regardless of what happens in Thursday's quarterfinal against fourth-seeded Georgia, the fifth-seeded Wildcats are eligible for the NCAA tournament and will enter that event with a winning record. That's quite a feat considering that after three one-run losses in a row against Mississippi State, they went to bed on April 22 with a 23-26 record and just seven games to play, including three at Florida and three at home against LSU, teams comfortably ahead of them at that time. After a win out of conference against Morehead State, they took two of three from the Gators in Gainesville, accounting for half of Florida's home losses for the season, and then swept LSU, capped by senior Chanda Bell's no-hitter.
UK senior pitcher Chanda Bell pitched a no-hitter Sunday, helping the Cats finish off a three-game weekend sweep over the No. 22 LSU Tigers.
"Oh my goodness," Bell said when asked about her emotion following the final out, which was a strikeout to secure the no-hitter, the UK 1-0 win and the series sweep. This was Bell's fourth career no-hitter.
Santos played for Mitchell at Florida when Mitchell was an assistant with the Gators. She spent the past two seasons at Illinois State.
"Danielle is a versatile coach with many talents, but it's her high character that stands out and makes her immediately valuable to our program," Mitchell said in a news release. "Communication and strong relationships are absolutely essential in our program. Danielle is an excellent communicator and a strong builder of relationships."
As a junior at UK in 2011, Meyer, a 6-foot-9 right-hander, led the Southeastern Conference in strikeouts with 110.
Meyer is 2-3 with a 4.28 ERA for the Suns. He has 33 strikeouts and 12 walks in 271⁄3 innings. He pitched seven innings, gave up one run four hits and had six strikeouts in his most recent outing, a win against Augusta.
Former Henry Clay High School and UK outfielder Collin Cowgill was 2-5 with one home run, one RBI and two runs scored for AAA Sacramento. The performance extended Cowgill's current hitting streak to 10 games.
University of Kentucky sophomore Trevor Gott and junior Luke Maile were named to the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List Tuesday.
Making the 60-man watch list puts the Wildcat duo in contention for the most prestigious award in college baseball. USA Baseball has honored the top amateur baseball player in the country with the Golden Spikes Award since 1978.
The NFL draft is hardly the last chance college football players have to make their professional dreams come true. In the 24 hours that follow every draft, a frenzy of rookie free-agent signings happen - and several Kentucky players were part of that mad dash to snatch up less-heralded talent this year.
Along with the Wildcats' two draft picks - safety Winston Guy to the Seattle Seahawks with the 181st pick and linebacker Danny Trevathan to the Denver Broncos with the 188th pick, both in the sixth round - five former UK players have signed rookie free-agent contracts.
University of Kentucky's Eric Quigley, who has set the school record for most wins in a season (47 and counting), has been named the Southeastern Conference Tennis Player of the Year by league coaches.
Quigley is the second player in UK history to earn the title, joining former UK All-American Jesse Witten (2005).
The sixth-ranked University of Kentucky men's tennis team, which won the Southeastern Conference regular-season title with an undefeated record in league play, has received an at-large selection into the NCAA Tennis Tournament, the NCAA announced Tuesday.
The University of Kentucky basketball team is headed to the White House, by invitation of President Obama, and the Wildcats had better hurry up and pack. Word of the invitation came Tuesday -- with the visit scheduled for Friday.
UK's players and coach John Calipari will be honored by the president at 4:50 p.m. Friday for winning this year's NCAA championship, the program's eighth.
University of Kentucky senior and National Champion Eloy Vargas will conduct five area youth basketball camps during the month of May.
Vargas, who helped the University of Kentucky men's basketball program capture its eighth national championship earlier in the month, will hold five camps in as many days May 14-18. The Nation of Blue Championship Camp featuring Eloy Vargas will tip off on Monday, May 14 at Belfry High School. Each camp will be held from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
UK women's basketball coach Matthew Mitchell said he was the program's spokesman this year because he sees himself as a teacher first and a coach second. But Mitchell didn't know that he would be among those honored as a teacher who made a difference.
Mitchell was presiding over the recognition ceremony at the UK Student Center when one of his players, senior guard Keyla Snowden, walked in to surprise him, representing the team.
It was somewhat easy to forget amidst the controlled chaos that was the Clippers' 28-3 run to close Game 1 in FedEx Forum. But Bledsoe's hustle play along with several other moments from the second-year guard playing his first career playoff game, were essential to the 99-98 victory.
Or as Paul said about Bledsoe and the rest of his teammates efforts prior to Monday's practice at the arena, "Each one of those plays had to be made in order for us to have a chance to win."
Right now, Kentucky is the best team in that conference. The standings say so. Both the Cats and Tigers entered the weekend leading their respective divisions, yet tied for the overall lead at 11-4. Kentucky exited 13-5; LSU 12-6.
Remember, this is a UK baseball team that was 25-30 overall last year and 8-22 in the SEC. It had gone three straight years with a losing conference record.
Our projected field of 64 at the midway point features a trio of surprising No. 2 seeds in New Mexico State, Auburn and Oregon--none of whom projected as regional teams heading into the season. Kentucky was included in our preseason NCAA tournament projection, but the Wildcats have jumped from the last SEC team in our preseason field to a national seed in our midseason field. No one could have expected the Wildcats to sweep their SEC-opening series against defending champion South Carolina and win their first 22 games en route to a 27-2 start, which also includes back-to-back road series wins at Tennessee and Georgia.
After belting two homers and hitting .462 during a four-game week, Kentucky junior catcher Luke Maile has been named Southeastern Conference Co-Player of the Week, it was announced on Monday afternoon by the league office.
A native of Crestview Hills, Ky., Maile won his second SEC Player of the Week of the year after helping lead UK to its first series win over a No. 1 ranked team in program history last weekend as the Wildcats bested LSU.
A 2-1 series victory against LSU this past weekend pushed Kentucky's baseball team back to No. 1 in the Collegiate Baseball poll. The Cats were also ranked No. 2 by Baseball America and No. 3 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll.
The Southeastern Conference-leading Wildcats, who were ranked No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball earlier this season, are fourth in the NCAA RPI, and have a 10-5 record against top-25 foes.
The trip to GABP was one of many stops Calipari has made in the three weeks since UK beat Kansas 67-59 in the national championship game April 2.
"My wife asked why I keep doing all of these appearances, and I said, 'You know what? What keeps you going is you're making people feel good,' " Calipari said. "Yeah, it takes a lot of your time and it takes a lot of effort, but you just think about putting a smile on someone's face, someone who has never met the coach of Kentucky and they've lived there their entire life."
But his visit was upstaged when Clinton, who was in town to give a speech to area students at Rupp Arena, popped in on the Cats and took pictures with UK players and coaching staff -- and the trophies collected as NCAA champions.
Coach John Calipari wrote about Clinton's visit on his website, coachcal.com, saying the former president told the team: "Problems in the world and problems in the United States can only be solved by teamwork. That's it. This team has taught us the lesson that the higher the mountain, the more the team must be connected."
Some of the more impressive plays in the spring game came from wide receiver Demarco Robinson, who caught two Maxwell Smith passes for touchdowns of 69 and 21 yards.
He finished the day with nine catches for 146 yards.
"His acceleration is ridiculous," Smith said of his favorite target of the day. "You get the ball in his hands and he can take off and just lose the guy in no time. Demarco has really good feet, he's like a ballet dancer."
UK senior right-hander Rachel Riley participated in her 16th start of the season, going the distance and allowing only three hits while striking out seven.
"She was great for us today, in a game like this where both teams bring their A-game you have to have a player to keep everyone calm," UK head coach Rachel Lawson said, "and that's what Rachel did today."
"It is a matter of earning your stripes and earning respect from other guys and doing what is best for the team," Knight said. "That is something that is earned over time and I definitely will embrace it and be more vocal.
"You've got to approach it the right way. As long as they know it is coming from the right place and as long as they know it is best for the team and you guys have good relationships. You have to be bold and be able to do it out of respect being basketball players rather than one guy being above the other."
These Wildcats played the game the way basketball purists dream for it to be played: Intelligently, fairly, aggressively and, now more than ever, selflessly.
Six-time NBA champion Scottie Pippen once said, "Sometimes, a player's greatest challenge is coming to grips with his role on the team." Among the 2012 Kentucky Wildcats, senior Darius Miller gave up a starting job because it made sense to bring his scoring ability off the bench; Davis refurnished his house with trophies despite taking the fourth-most shots among the Wildcats, and Jones took fewer 3-point shots because these loaded Wildcats didn't need him to force offense.
These Wildcats buried those myths just like they buried Western Kentucky. And then Iowa State. And then Indiana. And then Baylor. And then Louisville. And then Kansas in the national title game to prevent Bill Self from winning his second championship in five years at Calipari's expense. They finished 38-2 while going undefeated in the SEC and inside Rupp Arena. Along the way they shattered everything some people -- simple-minded people, but people nonetheless -- thought they knew about this sport, and they gave Calipari eternal credibility with young players because love him or hate him there's no debating this anymore: His way works.
You can win it all in college as a player his way.
You can reach your NBA dreams and secure riches as a player his way.
This is the new reality that John Calipari has wrought - piecing together nearly new teams on an annual basis and making runs at the championship. He has rewritten the title timeline, and never more successfully than this season. This was his greatest team, a 38-2 juggernaut that rarely was challenged during its stampede through the season.
These five, plus senior sixth man Darius Miller, will be drafted in June. That is what Calipari is selling to players, and selling it better than anyone - the express lane to NBA riches.
All five seemed sad at times -- Kidd-Gilchrist and Jones each choking up at least once -- but all beamed when the subject turned to their lifelong dreams of becoming pros. And the wealth that comes with it, which one reporter reminded Davis.
"That's right," said a grinning Davis, "I am going to be rich."
Today, I met Darius Miller the human being. I'm still not sure which amazes me more. After observing Darius for four years in the blue and white, there was nobody I was happier for when the confetti began falling from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome rafters than the SEC Sixth-man of the year. He has won more games in Rupp Arena than any player before, has given his heart and soul to the state of Kentucky and its most acclaimed institution, and finally had the pleasure of delivering the University of Kentucky banner number eight. But none of this came to mind when his 6'7 frame came through my door. Suddenly, Room 492 was the place to be in all of the hospital.
Kentucky (30-4, 9-3 SEC) is one team that may find itself among the final eight at the CWS in June. The Wildcats boast the second-highest team batting average (.328) in the country and are 9-3 in the stacked Southeastern Conference. However one deceiving thing about their record is that the Wildcats have yet to play some of the tougher teams in the SEC such as LSU, Florida and Arkansas. The opportunity is there for the Wildcats to prove themselves against these powerhouse teams and ride the momentum of the school's recent victory in basketball all the way to the CWS.
Offensive coordinator Randy Sanders complained after last weekend's scrimmage that his group started out sluggish and lacked the mental focus that he expects.
It was a different story Saturday as Smith directed a 13-play, 70-yard drive against the starting defense to open the scrimmage. He capped it with the 21-yard touchdown to King, who finished with seven catches for 76 yards.
Undefeated. That is what the seventh-ranked University of Kentucky men's tennis team is in Southeastern Conference play this season, clinching its first SEC Championship since 1992. Kentucky completed its historic run to the SEC title with a dominating 6-1 win over No. 43 Vanderbilt on Saturday at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington, Ky.
The Wildcats earned the championship after posting an unblemished 11-0 record in SEC matches, becoming the seventh team since 2000 to go undefeated throughout the SEC regular season. This is the first time in school history that UK has gone undefeated in league play. UK's previous best start was 8-0 in 1988.
Common wisdom tells you that all NBA participants, whether they're on the end of a bench or starting for the All-Star team, were go-to players at some point in their career. That they dominated in grade and high school before moving on to mostly starring roles in college or overseas. It's the NBA, and that spot on the end of the bench, that humbles. Orlando Magic center Daniel Orton is turning that old adage upside down.
When Brandon Knight declared for the 2011 NBA Draft, there was little doubt that he'd succeed in the National Basketball Association, despite spending just one season with the Kentucky Wildcats.
And by all accounts, that one year at Kentucky may have been a waste of the 6-foot-3, 189-pound point guard's time, because this kid can flat-out play with the big boys. He was a man-child terrorizing defenses in college, and he's on track to become one of the top scoring guards in the NBA.
Hailed as perhaps the best recruiter of the modern era, Calipari's greatest challenge during his first national championship season was how to get some of the most talented players he has ever coach, almost all underclassmen, to sacrifice individual scoring totals for team accomplishment.
All season, Calipari challenged players by asking, "How do you help us when you are not scoring?" And in the most significant game of Calipari's career, no one better illustrated his point than Davis, who dominated the national title game in every way except scoring.
A brief survey of some former UK players and coaches produced a variety of opinions.
Former coach Joe B. Hall, who won the 1978 championship, puts this team way up the charts.
"They pass the ball like the Rupp's Runts, they run the break like the Fabulous Five, they shoot it maybe like my '78 team and they're talented and can play any style like Rick's (Pitino) '96 team," Hall said. "They're extremely talented, and they're so much a team. It's been fun to watch them put this together."
Hereafter, a player who declares for this year's NBA Draft forfeits any remaining college eligibility. So if Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb and/or Marquis Teague enter the draft later this month, there's no playing again for Kentucky even if one or all should change his mind and exit the draft.
Of course, any or all can return and play for UK next season provided they don't enter this year's NBA Draft.
As is the nature of an intrasquad game, every positive comes with a catch. Coach Joker Phillips said the defense did a good job pressuring the quarterbacks, but that means the Wildcats' retooled offensive line needs work.
The first-team defense recorded six sacks against the first-team offense. UK is replacing three starting linemen, including both tackles, and Phillips singled out the baby-faced left side of the line as an area most in need of improvement. True sophomore tackle Darrian Miller and redshirt freshman guard Zach West are the new starters on that side. Phillips said those two are "having a huge learning curve in understanding the speed at which the game is played."
When University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari said it, the hyperbole made sense. "We're everybody's Super Bowl" became one of his most familiar refrains as the Wildcats, ranked No. 1 most of the season, marched toward a national championship this season.
UK baseball coach Gary Henderson hardly started out this season with the same rallying cry. In his first three seasons in charge, the Cats went 84-81 overall, just 33-57 in Southeastern Conference play. They missed the NCAA Tournament all three years and, understandably, began this year unranked.
Fresh off a conference series win over South Carolina that was full offensive firepower, UK (21-18, 5-7 SEC) led by the senior bat of Brittany Cervantes will return to the field midweek in a double-header against Arkansas (19-18. 3-14 SEC) Wednesday.
The Razorbacks, much like UK recently, have used the long ball to find success on the diamond.
"Arkansas is a good team, they do a nice job of swinging the bats and they've played an awesome schedule," UK head coach Rachel Lawson said.
Rajon Rondo posted double-digit assists for the 18th straight game, extending the NBA's longest such streak in 20 years with an 18-point, 15-assist effort. Brandon Bass added 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Avery Bradley scored 11 for the Celtics, who shot a season-high 61 percent and survived two possessions where Miami could have tied the score in the final quarter.
Here is today's minor-league report. The biggest news is the strong 2012 debut of heralded lefty James Paxton, who picked up the victory with 5 2/3 scoreless innings for the Double-A Jackson Generals. Paxton struck out 10, gave up just two hits and didn't walk any in Jackson's 2-1 win over Birmingham.
In much happier news for the Nationals, Alex Meyer, the 23rd pick of last year's draft, made an excellent professional debut with Class A Hagerstown. Meyer a 6-foot-9 flamethrower, allowed two hits and no walks in five shutout innings while striking out four.
It was about Kentucky. It was always about Kentucky, into January when the Wildcats jetted to the top of the SEC and stayed there, into February when Anthony Davis jetted to the top of the national player of the year conversation and stayed there, and into March when someone else won the SEC tournament. Any idea who won it? Nah, I bet most of you don't recall, because it wasn't news that Vanderbilt won the SEC title game. It was news that Kentucky lost it.
He was right. Kentucky is, indeed, a tremendous machine.
And Calipari knew it. He knew he had the best thoroughbreds in the barn, an amalgamation whose talent is only outdone by its unexpected unselfishness.
Yet for a week, at least publicly, the Wildcats coach has stubbornly insisted that winning a national championship would do nothing for him, that his first trophy wouldn't rubber-stamp a career 30 arduous years in the making.
Capping a season that had a feeling of inevitability, Kentucky finished with a flourish, beating Kansas 67-59 in the NCAA championship game Monday night.
OK, so maybe it was the last time we'll see many of those future millionaires in blue and white. At least they'll go out as heroes after bringing home an eighth national championship to Big Blue and giving John Calipari the one missing piece to his resume.
This, though, was his signature moment and embodied what he has been all about since his arrival in Lexington. In what will likely be his final collegiate contest, Davis was unquestionably the most dominant player on the floor for the first 20 minutes.
Without scoring a single point.
"It didn't matter to me," Kentucky's endlessly long and talented 6-foot-10 freshman said moments after winning the national title. "I told the guys, 'I'll defend and rebound. You score the points.'"
Lamb was the most offensive of any player wearing white Monday night.
He finished with 22 points, making three 3s and becoming the type of player who wins titles -- the one who is left open and seems to be the least discussed during all the pregame talk.
"You saw it,'' said Calipari Monday night. "At shootaround he was unbelievable. I told him and the team that he was going to have 25, you watch. And he went about it the right way and prepared to play great and he did.''
It was a joyous curtain call for a team led by an immensely talented group of freshmen and sophomores. The NBA likely beckons next for many of them.
Each team member was introduced to loud ovations as players and coaches took the stage in the middle of the arena. Senior Darius Miller, a basketball net draped around his neck, toted the NCAA championship trophy to a table. Coach John Calipari pumped his fist and raised his arms in triumph as he basked in the cheers.
"It is an honor to be ranked No. 1, but no one gives out regional bids for where you are ranked on April 2," UK Coach Gary Henderson said. "We are just three weekends into the toughest 10-week grind in college baseball, and our guys have really enjoyed competing. We have a lot of things to improve on and can't wait to get out to Cliff Hagan on Wednesday for a five-game homestand."
As Rod Thorn waited outside Cleveland's locker room for coach Byron Scott to finish addressing his team, the Sixers general manager had a good idea what was being said in the postgame speech: How could the Cavs let recently-benched Sixers guard Jodie Meeks get a career-high 31 points.
"I don't think anyone in the building expected Jodie to go for 31," Thorn said. "But he played great tonight, didn't he? Darned near broke the game open himself. But I tell you what. We'll take that every night the rest of the way.
"Missing a big chunk of last year makes you feel better to go out to the mound again," Blanton said after retiring the first 10 Pirates batters Monday in the Phillies' 4-3 win. "You have a different sense about yourself, a little extra pep in your step in appreciation of being healthy."