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Each Wednesday here at Cat Scratches, we're going to take a look back at the latest week's news in UK Athletics from around the web.

Best on the Net

Men's basketball: Kentucky basketball wary of 'land mines': Took wrong path in 2011 Final Four (Kyle Tucker, The Courier-Journal)

"We know we messed up," sophomore Doron Lamb said. "We slept on defense a couple times. But we can't worry about last year. We've been working since the summertime preparing for this moment. We're finally here."

That three of his top six players are making a return trip is comforting to Calipari. He chalked up a lot of last year's letdown to it being several guys' first Final Four, "and now it's the second time; they'll be fine." He hopes the veterans will teach the four freshmen, three of them starters, to "watch the land mines."


Davis is, simply put, a once-in-a-generation talent. No one is more painfully aware of that than Jayson Gee, the Cleveland State assistant coach who nearly had Davis hooked without even truly trying. If only he'd tried. If only he'd known.

"That could've been Cleveland State," Gee said. "You daydream, obviously, and you say, 'What happens if that kid waits a year to grow like that?' We could've had that. Anthony Davis is one of the most unique stories of my career."

Men's basketball: No pressure, Cal, but now is the time to hurdle Pitino (John Clay, Lexington Herald-Leader) 

You can claim that the supposed rift between yourself and Rick Pitino is overblown. We know better. In these situations, he's always been the top dog, the one coaching the better program with the better players. That's not the case come Saturday. Not on the sport's biggest stage.
As far as Kentucky fans are concerned, there's just one caveat.

You can't lose this game.

Men's basketball: Kentucky-Louisville: State rivals in Final Four (Paul Newberry, AP Sports) 

Calipari planned to tell his team not to listen to all the hype. The Wildcats have their sights on a national title, and Louisville is merely a roadblock on the way to that goal.

"I'll tell them to get off the message boards, get off Twitter and Facebook,'' he said. "Don't buy into it. We're going to New Orleans to play a basketball game. Forget about this tournament. Let's go be as good as we can be as a team.''

But it's impossible to get away from the extra significance this game has for both programs.

Women's basketball: Kentucky women's basketball team falls to UConn 80-65 in NCAA regional final (Jody Demling, The Courier-Journal) 

Seven-time national champion Connecticut used stifling second-half defense and a 21-4 run to dart past UK 80-65 in the Elite Eight before about 5,000 fans in the University of Rhode Island's Ryan Center.

"It's a difficult moment for any season to end, but it's particularly tough to see this one end," coach Matthew Mitchell said. "We had a very difficult road to get here, and I thought they showed a lot of character to get here. We wish that we could have gotten farther."

Baseball: UK beats WKU for 19th straight home victory (Mark Maloney, Lexington Herald-Leader)

The Cats, ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation (Collegiate Baseball) and No. 10 by Baseball America, extended their home-field winning streak to a school-record 19 games. UK's previous best home streak was 16 games, set in 2007 and again in 2008.

Football: Kentucky football making progress with fast-paced spring drills (Mark Maloney, Lexington Herald-Leader) 

Phillips said that he's running drills quickly in order get more plays in and, thus, get more players evaluated during the limited practice time. He said that during one 15-minute period, about 30 plays were executed. During a 20-minute "team" period, 45 plays were called.

"We're getting a lot of plays," he said. "More plays than we've gotten around here in a long time."


Kentucky (15-16) is coming off its best four-game stretch of the season with an impressive weekend on the road. UK first captured a win over Western Kentucky in Bowling Green, Ky., before taking a series from No. 18/21 Auburn in its first SEC road series of the season.

The series win over the Tigers marked just the fourth in school history and second in the Rachel Lawson era. Furthermore, it was the first time UK has claimed the series on the road as the other previous three series wins have come at home.

Former Wildcats making headlines

Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley form winning combo (Mark Murphy, Boston Herald) 

Rondo and Bradley, however, have grown to also enjoy their offensive collaboration.

Rondo, the senior of the two, has taken enjoyment in Bradley's development.

"I'm happy to play with him," Rondo said. "He's a great listener. He wants to get better each day and he's working hard. If I get a little winded I try to get Avery to bring it up. I also try to let him call some plays whenever he wants, just to give him a feel to call plays in certain situations.
Patrick Patterson scored a career-high 24 points and Earl Boykins hit four free throws for Houston late in overtime to lead the Rockets to a 113-106 win over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.
Woodyard, 25, has been a special teams dynamo for the past four seasons in Denver. While smallish (6-foot, 220) for a linebacker, Woodyard did post career highs in tackles (97) and forced fumbles (two) last year, starting 7-of-16 games. Woodyard is an undersized overachiever. He entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Kentucky.
Each Wednesday here at Cat Scratches, we're going to take a look back at the latest week's news in UK Athletics from around the web.

Best on the 'net

Men's basketball: Kentucky basketball's Coach Cal downplays revenge factor vs. IU (Kyle Tucker, The Courier-Journal)

By Tuesday, though, Kentucky coach John Calipari was trying to tone down the talk of payback and focus his players on tightening up any remaining weaknesses, of which there appear to be very few.

"He's the youngest freshman in the country," Calipari said of Kidd-Gilchrist, who recently turned 18. "They say stupid things. I don't ever teach anger, because the physiology of that is really close to fear. So if you try to make your team angry ... and it doesn't go right, it turns into fear within their own bodies. So I don't do that.
"We're worried about us being our best."

Men's basketball: Four key factors led to Kentucky's loss at Indiana (John Clay, Lexington Herald-Leader)

Most everyone remembers Christian Watford's shot -- ESPN has made it impossible to forget -- and Terrence Jones' no-show and the raucous, red-clad Indiana faithful storming the home floor at the end of the Hoosiers' upset of No. 1 Kentucky earlier this college basketball season.

"That was four months ago," UK Coach John Calipari said Tuesday.


Predictably, the question came to John Calipari the other day about his interest in the suddenly vacant New York Knicks job. And, just as predictably, Calipari repeated the line he's been using for the past few weeks: "I've got the best coaching job at any level of basketball. Why would I want another one?"
Why indeed?

Women's basketball: Kentucky women's basketball avoids total collapse against Green Bay (Mike Malloy, The Courier-Journal)

Behind the clutch play of Keyla Snowden, the second-seeded University of Kentucky avoided a stunning collapse in a 65-62 win against Green Bay in the second round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament .

The win puts Kentucky into the Sweet 16 for the second time in three years. Kentucky will face No. 11 seed Gonzaga (28-5) on Sunday in Kingston, R.I.

Women's basketball: Kentucky women's one-for-all mentality has carried them to NCAA Sweet Sixteen (Jennifer Smith, Lexington Herald-Leader)

"As a coach, there wasn't much you could do," Mitchell explained. "There's no play you can run against that defense. You just have to trust your players that they can make enough plays to win a game like this."

"Trust" was the exact word he wrote in big, bold letters on the dry erase board before the game.

But the players already had that, they said, thus the show of unity as they walked into Hilton Coliseum on Monday night.


The Kentucky baseball team's undefeated start to the season, including a three-game sweep of two-time defending champion South Carolina this past weekend, landed them the No. 2 spot in the Collegiate Baseball poll and the 16th spot in Baseball America's rankings, both of which were released on Monday.

The Wildcats (21-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) trail only Florida in the Collegiate Baseball poll and advanced from 16th last week. They weren't ranked in the previous Baseball America poll.

Baseball: Baseball sweeps shakes up rankings (Eric Sorenson, ESPN.com)

This choice is almost as big of a no-brainer as could be found in college baseball. The Wildcats played a series of cream puffs prior to welcoming in two-time defending national champion South Carolina and then summarily vanquished the Gamecocks in three straight games: 4-3, 4-3 and 6-3. Yep, nobody saw this coming, especially after the Wildcats' rich recent history of incredible starts followed by horrible finishes.

Football: Kentucky football coaches excited about young talent (Mark Maloney, Lexington Herald-Leader)

"... The way we played at Georgia, which came up short (a 19-10 loss), and also the way we played against Tennessee (a 10-7 win), the thing that makes you really excited is seeing those young guys out there flying around. When you look out there, there was a ton of young, true freshmen that were making plays for us on both sides of the football. The majority of them were on defense, but just getting back to see some of the young guys."


While most in the commonwealth are consumed with the University of Kentucky basketball team's march through March Madness, today also marks the beginning of an important period for the football team: spring practice.

UK is coming off a 5-7 season. Thanks to graduation and offseason dismissals, Kentucky will spend this spring - and preseason camp in August - trying to find replacements for six starters on defense, five on offense and one of the nation's top punters.

Track/cross country: Monaca's Nadzam has been a character study (Mike Bires, Beaver County Times)

The latest honor for Nadzam, a 2007 graduate of Monaca, was his recent nomination as one of five finalists for the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup. The award, named after UCLA legend John Wooden, recognizes a student-athlete's leadership, character and contribution to sport and society.

"He has never fallen short of the standard of excellence he has established for himself," UK track coach Don Weber said. "He excels in every facet of the ideal student-athlete. He is driven to perfection in everything he does. He has absolutely no chinks in his armor. I marvel at him, I really do."

Former Wildcats Making Headlines


"The most important thing about this bottle is that the proceeds from it will go to help my fellow Kentuckians fight and win the battle of heart disease - especially in eastern Kentucky," Couch said. "Winning this is very near and dear to my heart and more important than any football game. My father passed away from heart disease, and everyone has a family member that this terrible disease has affected."

Postgame notes: KG praises Cousins (Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston.com) 

While Garnett is often limited in his praise of younger players, especially ones that tend to spar with him on the floor (say, Chicago's Joakim Noah), Garnett was highly complimentary of both Cousins and the Kings as a whole after Friday's loss. 

"Man, you know, he's crafty," Garnett said of Cousins. "He's better. His antics and all that stuff, that come with him, it's just part of the game. He was aggressive, he got looks with being aggressive. The times when he had a chance to score, he took advantage of them.

Collin Cowgill's on-base streak ends at 11 for A's (Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle)

Collin Cowgill is riding such a hot streak, it appears it has lifted him onto the Opening Day roster.

"Without tipping my hand, I don't know how he's not on the team at this point," manager Bob Melvin said after Cowgill extended his streak of reaching base safely to 11 plate appearances before lining out in his final at-bat Friday.

News from UKAthletics.com


 




Video of the Week - Final Four court time lapse



Each Wednesday here at Cat Scratches, we're going to take a look back at the latest week's news in UK Athletics from around the web.

Best on the 'net

Men's Basketball: Jay Bilas: Anthony Davis lives up to early potential (Jerry Tipton, Lexington Herald-Leader)

"I was standing under the basket and saw a pass headed right at my head," Bilas recalled Tuesday. "I was just ducking when all of a sudden two big hands come out of nowhere and grab the ball like it was tossed. I mean, this was a bullet, and I was sure it was going to hit me."

Davis caught the ball and scored.

"Holy (Toledo)," Bilas recalled thinking. "That was one of the best catches I can remember."

Men's Basketball: Kentucky's Coach Cal asks Cats to turn it up (Kyle Tucker, Courier-Journal)

After winning all 16 of its league regular-season games by an average of 16.4 points, UK won by a combined 12 points against LSU and Florida -- two teams the Cats had previously throttled -- in the SEC quarterfinals and semifinals. Then they collapsed over the final five minutes against the Commodores.

"I'm a little bit of a perfectionist. I want them to dominate people," Calipari said. "It may not be fair, but that's how I view these guys -- trying to get them to that next level, trying to make sure that they understand you're going to have to outwork the other teams."

Men's Basketball: Western Kentucky earns a date with UK (Jerry Tipton, Lexington Herald-Leader)

With President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron seated in the front row along one baseline, this so-called "First Four" game of the 2012 NCAA Tournament ranked first only chronologically until a improbable Western Kentucky rally made it memorable.

Western came back from 16 down in the final five minutes to win 59-58.

Men's Basketball: Ex-Cat Delk recalls late loss helping '96 title team (John Clay, Lexington Herald Leader)

He talked then about how that SEC tourney loss motivated that team.

"It was a game where I thought that was the best loss we could have had," said Delk, who was a senior in 1996. "Because going into the tournament, you didn't want to be too high.

"If we had won that game, it could have been, 'OK, we're going to cruise through this and we're going to win easily.' We could have gotten knocked off early. We re-focused ourselves."

Men's Basketball: Where does John Calipari rank among best coaches without a title? (Jeff Eisenberg, YahooSports.com)

Calipari certainly appears to have succeeded based on that method of evaluation. Kentucky (32-2) enters the NCAA tournament as a clear title favorite after being one Christian Watford buzzer-beating three away from an undefeated regular season.

If Calipari does not cut down the nets with this Kentucky team, the pressure on him to win his first ring will only intensify. Here's a look at where Calipari ranks on my list of college basketball's best all-time coaches who did not win a championship.

Women's basketball: Kentucky women sweep AP SEC awards (Paul Newberry, Associated Press)

Kentucky has pulled off another sweep of the awards, this time for The Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference women's basketball team.

A'dia Mathies was named player of the year Tuesday, Matthew Mitchell claimed the coaching award, and Bria Goss picked up newcomer of the year. On Monday, the Wildcats took all three awards for the men's team.

Women's basketball: UK Hoops travel to NCAA Tournament for third consecutive year (Luke Short, SurfKY News)

The No. 2 seed is the second in school history for the Wildcats, and ties their highest seed ever in the tournament. Kentucky was also a two seed in 1982. The other first-round matchup in Ames, Iowa, features No. 7 seed Green Bay (30-1) and No. 10 seed Iowa State (18-12).


"It's a really historic night for us, and we're so excited," UK Hoops head coach Matthew Mitchell said. "It's the first time in our school's history that the women's program has been to three straight tournaments. It's the first time we've ever gotten a seed this high (since 1982). It's a great night for us and we couldn't be more excited about advancing to the tournament and getting a two seed and having a chance to compete for a national championship. It's a real, real exciting night for our program."


Freshman A.J. Reed pitched six dominating innings and had three hits, including a home run, and three RBIs to power the 16th-ranked and unbeaten University of Kentucky baseball team past Wright State 9-1 on Tuesday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

The 6-foot-4, 235-poound Reed (3-0) became the first player in UK's modern-era history (1979-present) to start a game on the mound and at the cleanup batter. He allowed seven hits and the run, throwing first-pitch strikes to the first 21 batters.

Former Wildcats making headlines


Courtney Lee and rookie Chandler Parsons each scored 21 points, Patrick Patterson blocked Serge Ibaka's point-blank putback attempt in the final 2 seconds, and the Rockets charged back from an 11-point deficit in the last 3 minutes to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 104-103 on Tuesday night.


One person didn't view Brandon Knight's breakout game on Saturday night as a breakout: Knight himself.

Knight jumped out like a rocket in the Pistons' blowout win over the Toronto Raptors, atoning for two low volume performances in wins against the Lakers and Hawks (six points, seven assists total). He scored all 19 of his points in the first half and finished with seven assists.


Forward Tayshaun Prince became the sixth player in franchise history Saturday to play in 700 career games with Detroit. Prince, a 2002 draft pick, has played at least 78 games in seven of his nine seasons. The only players who have played more games in a Pistons uniform are Joe Dumars (1,018), Isiah Thomas (979), Bill Laimbeer (937), Vinnie Johnson (798) and Lindsey Hunter (703).

News from UKAthletics.com








Women's Golf: Kentucky Finishes Seventh at the LSU Golf Classic

Video of the week




President Barack Obama made his NCAA Tournament picks with Andy Katz of ESPN. He has UK advancing to the national championship game.


Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/03/13/2108483/bilas-anthony-davis-lives-up-to.html#storylink=cpy

Each Wednesday here at Cat Scratches, we're going to take a look back at the latest week's news in UK Athletics from around the web.


Best on the 'net


Men's Basketball: Kentucky basketball's Anthony Davis named Player of the Year by Sporting News (Kyle Tucker, Louisville Courier-Journal)


The 6-foot-10 Davis swept the SEC's three major awards -- Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year -- was named District IV Player of the Year by the United States Basketball Writers Association and earned his first national honor as Sporting News' College Basketball Player of the Year.


Fellow UK freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist earned first-team All-SEC honors and joined Davis on the league's All-Defensive Team. He, too, made the 10-man All-District IV team, which considers all Division I players from the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. Kidd-Gilchrist, averaging 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks, also made Sporting News' All-America second team.

That's hardly the end of the list for the Cats. John Calipari won SEC Coach of the Year for the first time, and senior Darius Miller earned the league's Sixth Man of the Year award. Sophomores Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb were second-team All-SEC picks.


Men's Basketball: Kentucky basketball senior Darius Miller is 'glue' for No. 1 UK (Kyle Tucker, Louisville Courier-Journal)


But this year, as a senior on a team that starts three freshmen and two sophomores, Miller has found his "eye of the tiger." While embracing a new role coming off the bench -- tonight will be just his 10th start in 30 games after starting 71 times over the previous two seasons -- he's also welcomed a leadership role at the ends of the Cats' closest games.

Kentucky has had 10 games in which it entered the final 10 minutes, the unofficial "fourth quarter" of college basketball, leading by five points or fewer, or trailing. Miller has been on the floor for 80 of 100 minutes in those "crunch time" situations, and in that time he's hit 15 of 20 field goals (75 percent), 5 of 8 3-pointers (62.5 percent) and 13 of 14 free throws (92.8 percent).


Men's Basketball: Wooden Award finalists named (ESPN News Services)


Freshmen Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of Kentucky and Austin Rivers of Duke are among 15 finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, announced Tuesday morning.


Frontcourt players represent 10 of the 15 finalists, led by Sullinger, McDermott, Kidd-Gilchrist, Davis, Robinson and Zeller.


Men's Basketball: Kyle Wiltjer serves as Kentucky basketball's ready reserve (Kyle Tucker, Louisville Courier-Journal)


Although he averages just 13 minutes, 5.6 points and 2.1 rebounds, and he's not even the first option off the bench, Wiltjer has become an increasingly valuable weapon for the Wildcats. He's just the kind of guy -- able to add a spark in short bursts -- that a team needs at some point during the long march through March.

Wiltjer hit 16 of 31 threes in SEC play, a percentage (.516) that would lead the league if he had enough attempts to qualify. He seems to get better, and more accurate, each week. He's made 11 of his last 16 attempts from deep.


Men's Basketball: Teague brothers point the way for Kentucky, Hawks (Chip Towers, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)


There are some other advantages as well. Namely, his close relationship with Jeff has helped make Marquis (pronounced MAR-cuss) into one of the more talented young point guards in college basketball. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound freshman has started every game and played a team-high 32.1 minutes for No. 1-ranked Kentucky (30-1). The Wildcats carry an undefeated conference record (16-0) and heavy-favorite tag into this week's SEC tournament in New Orleans.

"It's been pretty good," Teague said of his first season in college basketball. "We're winning a lot of games. We're playing pretty good. We're coming together as a team right now and playing well. I'm having a lot of fun and we're having a lot of success, so I can't complain."


Baseball: Unbeaten Kentucky baseball team moves into rankings (Herald-Leader Staff Report)

The University of Kentucky, owner of the best record in NCAA Division I baseball at 11-0 this season, is ranked No. 23 in the Collegiate Baseball poll released Monday. Kentucky is off to the fourth-best start in the more than 100-year history of the program. Kentucky and Gonzaga (10-0) are the only two remaining undefeated teams in Division I.

Football: Singing more praises for Bluebird QB (Adam Turer, Cincinnati Enquirer)

That humility was recently on display, when Towles teamed up with former Highlands and University of Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen in a pizza eating contest to raise money for the Brighton Center. After a long run to another state championship and with his football scholarship to UK already in hand, Towles still honored his commitment to the Bluebirds' basketball team and helped lead Highlands to the Ninth Region tournament.

Towles's leadership on and off the field have left a lasting mark on the Bluebirds program. Despite all the accolades, Towles remains down to earth and does his best to represent Highlands to the rest of the state and the country. He will continue his journey next year at the University of Kentucky.

Former Wildcats making headlines

WR Johnson gets contract extension from Bills (Associated Press)

"It's a good day for us," he said. "Our football team got better. One of our philosophies coming in is that we wanted to keep our good players here. We were able to do that with Steve Johnson. It goes without saying what he's done the past two years, and I think it's just going to get better."

After being selected in the seventh round of the 2008 draft, Johnson emerged in 2010 when he led the Bills with a career-high 82 catches for 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns. He followed that up this past season with 76 receptions, and became the first player in team history to record consecutive 1,000-yard receiving campaigns.

Rajon Rondo Overcoming Maturity Concerns, Performance Being Fueled by Recent Trade Rumors (Luke Hughes, NESN)

Throughout his six year NBA career, Rondo has had a number of outstanding performances including a 24-assist effort against New York early last season and of course nearly averaging a triple-double throughout the entire 2009 first-round playoff series with the Chicago Bulls. But none were quite as impressive as Sunday's incomparable 18-20-17 triple-double against the Knicks.


With the feat, Rondo became just the third player in NBA history with at least 15 points, 20 assists and 15 rebounds in a game. The only others to achieve that eye-popping stat line were a pair of Hall of Famers in Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson -- talk about elite company. Not even the ever-heralded Magic Johnson, widely considered the best rebounding point guard of all time, was able to accomplish that.

DeMarcus' Mentoring: Chris Webber Teaching Cousins (Brett David Roberts, Yahoo.com)

"I have the utmost respect for C-Webb, he's a real person," Cousins said of the relationship. "He went through similar situations... I guess you can say a big brother looking over me."

That may be all Cousins needs. He always has seemed more like someone that needed to mature and receive good mentoring and guidance, not a lost cause head case that can never pan out as a player or as a person.

News from UKathletics.com

Baseball: No. 23 Baseball Extends NCAA Longest Winning Streak

Men's Golf: Kentucky Finishes Third at USF Invitational

Men's Soccer: Men's Soccer Announces 2012 Spring Schedule

Men's Tennis: Men's Tennis Jumps to No. 7 in Latest ITA Team Rankings

Softball: Joiner Named SEC Freshman of the Week

Track and Field: Orta, Neal Named to Indoor Track and Field All-SEC Teams

Video: Snowden, Riley, Smith before Senior Night

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Fast forward to the 8:30 mark of the video above for an entertaining interaction about Kentucky's pregame dancing ritual.

Web Wednesday: One more day edition

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Each Wednesday here at Cat Scratches, we're going to take a look back at the latest week's news in UK Athletics from around the web.

Best on the 'net

Football: Ukwu welcomes playing on his 'home' field (Greg Sullivan, The Tennessean)

There was a time, though, when it didn't look like Ukwu would wind up on such a big stage. He always had promising height, but initially the Wolverine star lacked the size to attract top college recruiters.

These days, the junior boasts the body of a top-tier SEC defensive end.

"Now when I'm walking on campus people say that I play for the football team just by seeing my size," Ukwu said. "I've added 15 pounds just since the offseason, and it's all muscle so I'm feeling pretty good."

Football: Dreams fulfilled Thursday in Nashville (Sean Cartell, SEC Digital Network)

Second-year UK head coach Joker Phillips was a standout wide receiver for the Wildcats from 1981-84 and directed his squad to a 6-6 regular-season record a year ago and the team's school-record fifth consecutive bowl game. He's ready to take his team to the next level when this season kicks off tomorrow night at 9:15 p.m. ET.

"We're excited about playing," Phillips said. "We've been beating up on each other for a month now. It's game week and you can feel it around our place with our players, especially our older players. It's starting to rub off on some of these young kids that understand how to handle themselves and prepare themselves for game week."

Men's basketball: Cal, Dominicans stun Venezuela with fourth-quarter comeback (Eric Lindsey, CoachCal.com)

On Wednesday, Calipari showed his late-game magic isn't bounded by the United States' borders. Leading the Dominican Republic National Team in its second game in the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship, Coach Cal's team pulled off a double-digit, fourth-quarter comeback to stun Venezuela 92-89 in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

The Dominicans trailed Venezuela 49-41 at the half and 74-63 after three quarters, but Calipari's team tightened up its defense and outscored the Venezuelans 29-15 in the final period. The victory essentially assures the Dominican Republic will make it out of group play.

Football: Danny Trevathan adds team leader to his UK resume (Kyle Tucker, Louisville Courier-Journal)

Trevathan admits that initially his new role is out of his comfort zone, but said Phillips helped convince him that it would be a key to UK's success this fall. While the prospect of "coming at grown men" didn't seem like his idea of a good time -- "guys have attitudes; guys don't like to be corrected" -- Trevathan has come around.

"I'm putting those pieces together," he said. "I'm finally seeing that I've got to be that man. Sometimes you've got to step out of your element and just try to help the young guys. Me being more vocal is going to help us be a better defense."

Football: Kentucky relying on 'big guys' to stuff the run (Jerry Tipton, Lexington Herald-Leader)

Turner called the defensive line the foundation to a defense. UK Coach Joker Phillips echoed his assistant by calling defensive tackle a key position to watch when the Cats open the season Thursday night against Western Kentucky.

If WKU tailback Bobby Rainey can duplicate last season's 184 yards and two touchdowns against UK, the opener might be more interesting than Kentucky would prefer.

"For us to stop the run, you have to have some big guys inside," Phillips said.

Former Wildcats making headlines

Chris Matthews big on potential (Steve Doerschuck, Canton Repository)

Here's one thing they can't hide: Matthews is 6-foot-5, rare height for a wideout. Browns camp is full of tall ones. Matthews is easily the tallest. He grew up thinking with each acrobatic dunk that the NBA was for him. He was a small forward, a bit too small, it turned out, for that dream. Yet, it's easy to tell when you talk to him that his NFL dream is very big, and very real to him.

Matthews exudes confidence. He plans to stay. It's not up to him.

Wesley Woodyard gets opportunity on defense
(Lee Rasizer, Sporting News)

Woodyard at 6-foot, 222 pounds seemed particularly miscast as an inside linebacker in Denver's 3-4 scheme the past couple sesaons. But with D.J. Williams out possibly a month with an elbow injury, and Denver's new 4-3 scheme featuring speed and attacking principles, Woodyard gets a chance to be an every-down contributor and could be a good fit.

Stevie Johnson wants to share leadership role (Rodney McKissic, Buffalo News)

With Evans gone, Johnson now becomes the No. 1 option and the unquestioned leader of the Bills' receiving corp, although it sounds like Johnson would like to share the leadership responsibilities.

"Why can't there be more than one? Who said there can't be more than one leader?" he said on Tuesday. "That's what I'm trying to build. Obviously the attention is on me but I feel like as a leader I want to create other leaders and not followers."

News from UKathletics.com


Men's soccer: Tyler Riggs named to National Team of the Week

Baseball: Collin Cowgill named PCL Rookie of the Year

Women's soccer: Gilliland named SEC Freshman of the Week


Video of the week


Coming to UK from the Cincinnati Bengals before the 2010 season, UK strength and conditioning coach Rock Oliver has garnered quite the reputation for his tough workouts. The conditioning of last year's team improved significantly and it showed in the way UK was able to finish games. Here is a video that shows some of UK's training over the summer.

Web Wednesday: First day of class edition

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Each Wednesday here at Cat Scratches, we're going to take a look back at the latest week's news in UK Athletics from around the web.

Best on the 'net

Track and field: Josh Nadzam no stranger to adversity (Erin Holaday Ziegler, UKNow)

Senior year in high school, Nadzam lost his best friend in a car accident, coming back from Spring Break at the beach. The small community of Monaca, Pa. was devastated and so was the town's premier athlete.

After graduation, Nadzam was looking for a way out of a self-described dysfunctional single-parent home in the projects outside of Pittsburgh.

While sports had always provided strong and steady support for the basketball and football player, at the end of Nadzam's high school tenure, he found his true path sophomore year on the track. And that path has changed his life.

"In high school, when we'd run the mile, I never really got tired," he explained. "Some of my friends told the new track coach about it, and that kind of got me into the sport."

Football: Ukwu now fits profile of SEC defensive end (Kyle Tucker, Louisville Courier-Journal)

Ukwu was 6-4 and 205 back then. He looked like a wide receiver maybe, but certainly not a Southeastern Conference defensive end. He was rated a two-star recruit by Rivals.com and had committed to Middle Tennessee State.

But Phillips saw a frame that could easily add more weight. He saw athleticism and instinct and a guy who set a record at his high school with 43 career tackles for loss.

"We want guys that are long and lean," Phillips said. "Throw them in the weight room and just see what they become."


Men's basketball: John Calipari's first season at UK the best of last decade (Steve Megargee, Rivals.com)

When Calipari arrived at Kentucky from Memphis, the nation's all-time winningest program was coming off season in which they had finished .500 in SEC competition and had settled for an NIT appearance. Calipari quickly transformed Kentucky into one of the nation's most feared programs again with his recruiting prowess. Before he ever coached a game for Kentucky, Calipari had made his presence felt by signing a recruiting class that featured future lottery picks John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe. That trio helped Kentucky go 35-3 overall and 14-2 in the SEC in Calipari's first season. All the Wildcats lacked was consistent perimeter shooting, which doomed them in an NCAA East Regional final loss to West Virginia.

Football: Cats go through dress rehearsal (Matt May, CatsPause.com)

The Cats wore their full game uniforms - which will be new this season - and went through all the paces, from pregame warm-ups to sudden change situations.

"It was a pretty good mock scrimmage, and that's what it was," Phillips said. "We don't get to have preseason games and that's what this was, a preseason game for us to try and make sure we get the game day organizations (right). How we stretch. How we take the field. The whole nine yards.

"I thought we were pretty sharp and fresh. We got a lot of different situations we went over and a lot of different personnel groupings we went over, a lot of different kicking situations and sudden changes."

Men's basketball: Jones, Lamb named to Vitale's All-Solid Gold teams (Dick Vitale, ESPN.com)

Football: 'Solid group' of running backs ventures into void (Jen Smith, Lexington Herald-Leader)

There are plenty of options available and the combinations of options are endless, the coaches say.

"I don't think we have one back that's head and shoulders above the rest of them," Phillips said. "We'll have two, three, maybe four backs that play for us. Because they're so talented, we'll probably (travel with) five, maybe even six backs to play special teams for us."

Former Wildcats making headlines

Enes Kanter may be simply unlucky (Wendell Maxey, Deseret News)

Kanter is focused on playing for Turkey, who won a silver medal over the United States at the 2010 World Championships. They return the majority of an NBA packed roster that includes Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu, Ersan Ilyasova formerly of the Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago's Omer Asik, and Semih Erden from Cleveland.

"Playing for the Turkish National Team, there is a lot of pride at stake. You are playing with and against some real pros and I've learned a lot. It is really good for me. I'm feeling good and am just trying to get into game shape right now," said Kanter.

John Wall: 'I'm back' (Michael Lee, Washington Post)

John Wall smiled late Saturday night as he explained the relentless, aggressive, high-leaping, trash-talking model of himself that has been popping up on YouTube videos all summer. It was all over the floor at Trinity University -- where Wall scored 28 points and helped the local Goodman League defeat the Los Angeles-based Drew League, 135-134, in an East-West summer league showcase for bragging rights.

"I'm back. I'm back, man. I'm back to myself," Wall said after an electrifying performance. "Now I feel I can do whatever I want to do again, blow past people, get to the basket. I think those things that I started the season with last year, I got that back. It's coming back. You're going to see some stuff this year, it's just whenever -- hopefully the season starts as soon as possible. The main thing is just working on my game."

Randall Cobb could be out for Packers' opener (Tom Silverstein, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Green Bay Packers rookie Randall Cobb listed his prognosis as "day to day," but when asked whether it was a given he would be ready for the regular-season opener, he couldn't answer yes.

It might be that it's just difficult for Cobb to know how quickly he'll heal, but his doubts also might indicate the severity of his injury. He is listed as having contusions to both knees after getting slammed during a kickoff return Friday night against the Arizona Cardinals.

When asked whether he had bruises on both knees, he said, "It's an injury. But it won't be anything that will hinder me and (make) me miss a lot of time. We're taking it day by day right now and trying to get better each day."

Stevie Johnson serious about new top threat role (Wall Street Journal)

Ready or not, Johnson enters his fourth NFL season having suddenly ascended into the role as the Bills' prime receiving threat. And with that, he assumes the position of leader of what remains a relatively untested group of receivers on an offense that has a reputation for stumbling.

"Obviously, the attention's on me," Johnson said. "As long as I'm in this league, I'm going to have to prove myself over and over."

Alfonso Smith ready for opportunity (Seth Pollack, SBNation)

With rookie running back Ryan Williams down for the season, the spotlight now falls on undrafted free agent Alfonso Smith. Smith was with the team in camp last summer and on the practice squad during the season.

Smith said that he's been in this position before both in high school and college so he knows what it's like to take over for an injury player ahead of him in the depth chart. In college however, he felt he didn't take advantage of the situation and as a result didn't get enough carries and therefore wasn't drafted.

Alfonso has no intention of letting that happen again, "This is a dream come true. I'm going to come out here and work because this is for me, this is definitely for my family and my future so I've got to seize the opportunity."

News from UKathletics.com

Women's soccer: UK wins dramatic home opener

Football: Wildcats break camp, begin class Wednesday

Track and field: Dabbs named sprints coach

Women's basketball: UK announces 2011-12 schedule

Video of the week

New students arrived on campus last Friday and this weekend they gathered on the field of Commonwealth Stadium. In a feat of coordination and patience, the massive group was organized into a giant K and the video below is a time lapse of the entire process. Note how much more quickly the K disintegrates than comes together.

Recent Comments

  • Pat Heitz: Wonderful story and I hope ending is as great as the beginning. Best of luck to all involved with Dr. read more
  • Rick Squires: I have to say I have totally enjoyed this team. Yes like the rest of us that would love to read more
  • Guy Ramsey: The website is www.TheNewCWS.com. read more
  • harley: Hey! Could not find the web site. and OBTW CWS is a well know acronym for "College World Series" which read more
  • Guy Ramsey: Alaska is very good, coming into this weekend's match ranked No. 2 behind UK. read more
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  • Jim Harris: Can't tell. Did the excitement and cold of Alaska make for some "down" shooting by our Cats or is the read more
  • Ron Caudill: Jarrod it has been a pleasure over the last few years to watch you play and with the heart you read more
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