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Posts from Monday, Feb. 16

Junior Jodie Meeks has already raked in multiple Player of the Week honors following his performances from last week.

Junior Jodie Meeks has already raked in multiple Player of the Week honors following his performances from last week.

More honors, more hoops

Posted at 7:21 p.m. ET – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

No surprise here – junior Jodie Meeks has earned another Player of the Week honors. This time it comes from, which named Meeks Player of the Week for the second time this season. The guard from Norcross, Ga., is the only player to achieve that feat this season.

Before leaving for Vanderbilt, UK Coach Billy Gillispie spoke to the media for a brief news conference Monday afternoon. Here are a few highlights from what was said:

  • I know you all want to hear a definitive answer about Patrick Patterson, but according to Gillipsie, there is nothing more to report. Gillispie said Patterson remains day-to-day after spraining his right ankle during the Florida game. He did practice for a few minutes during Monday’s session.
  • Gillispie continued to rave about Meeks’ performance on Monday by saying that what he’s been doing is “unbelievable.” Gillispie said he’s put UK on “his shoulders since day one” and has masked some of UK’s deficiencies by making shots.

  • Still, Gillispie said the rest of the Wildcats need to be more aggressive on offense: “I want them to make the right decision when they have the ball, regardless of how anyone else is playing,” Gillispie said. “You definitely don’t want anyone to force the issue, especially when Meeks is playing well. One guy is not good enough, no matter how well he has played. It takes more than one guy. … I think what they are starting to do better is accepting responsibility.”

  • Gillispie didn’t shy away from answering questions about the unique behind-the-basket bench position in Memorial Gymnasium, calling it a “major advantage” for Vanderbilt. “I think it is an advantage the more experience you have and the better you are at the lead guard position,” Gillispie said. “I think inexperienced teams that struggle at the point guard position are at a disadvantage because they may depend upon more instruction during possessions. The major advantage for Vanderbilt is that they’re used to it. It happens to their opponents once a year but happens to them 16 to 18 times a season.”

  • But Gillispie definitely wasn’t blaming the gym setup for UK’s 41-point loss to the Commodores in Memorial Gymnasium last season. Gillispie said people overlooked just how good Vandy played that night. “They could have beaten anyone else in the country by a large margin that night,” Gillispie said. “They were unbelievable. One of the best performances I’ve seen.”

  • A lot of the talk among the UK fan base over the last couple of days has been the lack of playing time Kevin Galloway received Saturday against Arkansas. Galloway played just three minutes after notching career highs in points (six), rebounds (eight) and assists (nine) against Florida. Gillispie said Galloway has played great of late but “the most important thing for Kevin and for us is to win,” Gillispie said. “There will be some days when he plays more than other games just like everyone else.”

  • Gillispie also said that he has to consider how other players are performing on a given day: “You have to look at the guys that are playing in front of him,” Gillispe said. “Ramon Harris played as good as you can possibly play. Whoever does get upset, I don’t think that they want me to take Jodie out. I thought Darius (Miller) played great and I thought Mike (Porter) played great, so those guys played the majority of the minutes. That’s not an excuse, but I think sometimes those kinds of things you don’t really look at.”

UK fan base stands alone

Posted at 6:40p.m. ET - Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

The UK men's soccer team ranked in the top 25 in average attendance for the 2008 soccer season, according to NCAA statistics.

The Wildcats came in at No. 25 overall, averaging 1,001 fans in their nine home games this season.

With the Wildcats' top-25 attendance ranking, UK becomes the only school in the nation to rank in the top 25 in attendance in men's basketball, women's basketball, football, baseball and men's soccer for the 2008 athletic year.

Men's basketball notes: Meeks named SEC Player of the Week; Patterson update

Posted at 12:02 p.m. ET - Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

Kentucky guard Jodie Meeks has been named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week for his performances last week.

Meeks, a junior from Norcross, Ga., led UK to a pair of victories over Florida and Arkansas last week. In the victory over Florida on Tuesday night, Meeks hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds of the game to snap the Wildcats' three-game losing streak.

Meeks followed the thrilling Tuesday night game with a Bud Walton Arena record 45 points on 17-of-24 shooting, including 7-of-12 from behind the 3-point line, in the win at Arkansas on Saturday. In all, Meeks averaged 34.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in the two games.

During his record-breaking game Saturday, Meeks became the 56th UK player to reach the 1,000-point milestone, finishing the week with 1,037 points.

Also, UK Coach Billy Gillispie was just on the SEC Coaches Teleconference and had a small update on sophomore Patrick Patterson. Gillispie said Patterson is still day-to-day with a sprained right ankle, but added that the injury is actually allowing time for Patterson to rest his injured finger.

"I saw an injury report this morning and that was an indication (that his finger is getting better)," Gillispie said. "You don't want to have him out because we definitely need him - he's so central to everything that we do - but his finger wasn't getting any better. Our trainer put on the report that this time has been very, very helpful for his finger, and he was talking about some differences and how he's going to be able to treat it to where it's not nearly as cumbersome of a bandage as he's been putting on it in the past, so maybe it's going to be a postive in that respect."

Kentucky Baseball Preview: Part 2 of 5

Posted at 10:35 a.m. ET - Brent Ingram and Evan Crane

This Kentucky baseball outfield preview is part two of a five-part series that and Cat Scratches will run before No. 19 Kentucky's season opener Friday against Troy in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Tuesday we will look at the catchers, Wednesday the starting pitchers and wrap things up with the relievers on Thursday. Cat Scratches, the official blog of UK Athletics, will start its live chat segment with the baseball team today, featuring infielders Chris Wade and Chris McClendon starting at 2 p.m.


2009 Kentucky Outfield Preview


A look at the 2009 roster shows that the Wildcats will be without two first-team All-Americans - Cowgill and Sawyer Carroll - and a bevy of veteran pitchers. However, UK, fresh off a season that saw the Wildcats lead the conference in ERA and rank second in fielding percentage, will be anchored by a potentially dominant pitching staff and an impressive defensive club.


In the outfield, the two All-American's are gone, with Keenan Wiley the lone returning starter for the Wildcats. The center fielder has been a fixture in the lineup since cracking the rotation as a redshirt freshman. Considered one of the best defensive outfielders in the SEC, Wiley has hit .327 in both of his first two seasons, primarily hitting first or ninth in the order. A speedy left-handed hitter, Wiley totaled 13 doubles, two triples, two homers and 38 RBI last year, before earning Cape Cod League All-Star honors. Wiley also hit a walk-off home run against Louisville last year, sending a ball clear over the high right field wall at Cliff Hagan Stadium. 


"Keenan is going to be as good as anybody's center fielder, he is as good a defensive center fielder as there is," Henderson said.


Competing for the corner outfield posts will be a host of players, with returners Troy Frazier and Bryan Rose expected to provide some experience. Frazier functioned as UK's extra right-handed bat in 2008 and hit .256 with five doubles, three homers and 26 RBI, while playing excellent defense, typically in right field. Last year, Frazier played in 46 games for the Wildcats starting 30. Frazier also showed he has a big bat hitting a home run in the NCAA Regional win at Michigan.


Rose had some breakout moments as a redshirt freshman in 2008, including a two-homer game at state rival Louisville, a home run in his first collegiate at bat, and a 4-for-5 outing against SEC Tournament Champion LSU which included a homer and a double. Rose played in 46 games for Kentucky starting 20 times. He hit .290 on the season with seven doubles, two triples, four homers and 21 RBI. 


"The other spots at left and right are open and at this point, we are really pleased that we have some good candidates," Henderson said. "Troy Frazier, Bryan Rose and Brock Wright have the experience, but Chad Wright, Cory Farris and Navarro Hall are all going to push for playing time."


Freshmen Navarro Hall, Cory Farris and Chad Wright will all have an immediate impact, with each bringing different skill sets to the outfield. Hall, an athletic 6-foot-1, left-handed hitter, is considered to be a defensive weapon in center field after redshirting in 2008.


Farris, a high school All-American from Florence, Ky., is a power threat as well as a good athlete. As a senior, Farris hit .469 with 42 runs, nine doubles, nine homers and 33 RBI. Chad Wright, brother of junior outfielder Brock Wright, had a stellar fall, showcasing an ability to step in and have an immediate impact. As a senior in high school, the two-time first team All-State selection hit .418 with 51 runs, 15 doubles, five homers and 34 RBI.


Outfield depth could also come from several other players on UK's roster. Gunner Glad, the versatile six-foot junior could compete for one of the corner-outfield spots. Glad was one of the top junior college recruits in the country, setting school records for home runs in a career and season during his time in two years.


"The positives of having such good competition for starting jobs are obvious - you have to show up every day and it creates a sense of urgency within the group," Henderson said. "We have several jobs open and that creates a very positive, healthy environment."


Weekend wrap-up

Posted at 9:50 a.m. ET - Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations


Cat Scratches has a busy afternoon ahead for you all, but before we get to that let's take a look back at the weekend that was:

  •       A week ago they were supposedly reeling. Now they're streaking. The UK men's basketball team (18-7, 7-3 Southeastern Conference) won its second game in a row, defeating Arkansas 79-63 on Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark. In what's become almost the norm, junior guard Jodie Meeks went off again. Meeks hit 17-of-24 shots, including 7-of-12 from 3-point range, to set a Bud Walton Arena record with 45 points.
  •       Everybody knew the softball team was going to be much improved from last season. What they didn't know is just how far ahead of schedule the Wildcats really are. Playing in the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic in Las Vegas, the Wildcats proved they can play with the nation's best teams. The Wildcats went 3-2 in their season-opening weekend, defeating the likes of Oregon, Hawai'i and UNLV. In the win over UNLV, freshman pitcher Chanda Bell set a school record for strikeouts with 15. The Wildcats had a huge weekend offensively, scoring 34 runs in five games.
  •       The rifle team posted a season-best 4671 overall score in NCAA qualifying thanks to strong performances from Tom Csenge, Andrew Roland and Jen Pason. Csenge posted a school-record 595 in air rifle and a 580 in smallbore while Roland scored a 588 in smallbore, which was believed to be the top score in the nation during qualifying weekend.
  •       If it seems like the track and field team is breaking records every weekends, well, it's because it is. This time it was senior Mikel Thomas and junior Heather Smith at the Iowa State Classic. Thomas broke his own 60m hurdle varsity record with a time of 7.74, and Smith threw a distance of 62-10.75 to topple the old mark in the women's weight throw.
  •       The No. 31 men's tennis team cruised to a pair of victories on Saturday. The Wildcats swept Morehead State 6-0 in the first match of the day before toppling No. 64 Indiana 6-1 later on in the day.
  •       There is no letup for the UK gymnastics team (2-5, 0-5 SEC) as it took on its fourth top-10 opponent of the year on Friday. The Wildcats dropped the match to No. 3 Georgia but managed to hold onto their undefeated record (10-0) against non-conference teams in the regular season with a 195.150-187.350 win over Centenary. UK stuck a season-high score of 48.575 on the balance beam.