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Posts from Tuesday, June 30

Senior linebacker Micah Johnson will chat with fans on Wednesday at 12:20 p.m.

Senior linebacker Micah Johnson will chat with fans on Wednesday at 12:20 p.m.

Johnson, Lindley join Cat Scratches for Wildcat Wednesdays

Posted at 1:23 p.m. EDT – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

Wildcat Wednesdays will continue tomorrow with a live chat with linebacker Micah Johnson and cornerback Trevard Lindley at 12:20 p.m.

Johnson and Lindley will join Cat Scratches for 30-45 minutes to talk about the upcoming football season, summer workouts, their expectations for this season and more. Fans can join the chat by submitting their questions and comments on the live blog, pending approval.

Wednesday’s chat with Johnson and Lindley will be the third segment of an eight-part series with UK players and coaches. Last week women’s basketball head coach Matthew Mitchell spoke with fans. To see a replay of that chat, click here.  

UK Athletics ranks 34th in Directors' Cup

Posted at 12:58 p.m. EDT - Eric Lindsey UK Media Relations

The University of Kentucky athletics department placed 34th in the 2008-09 Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings, a program that honors institutions maintaining a broad-based program, achieving success in many sports, both men's and women's.

In layman's terms, the program measures the overall performance of an athletic department during an academic year.

Kentucky has set a department-wide mandate to rank in the top 15 by 2015, one of the main goals in Athletics Mitch Barnhart's 15 by 15 by 15 Plan.  

To get there, the program will have to leapfrog multiple Southeastern Conference foes and rivals in the next few years. Seven SEC schools, including Florida (No. 3), Louisiana State (No. 9), Georgia (No. 18) and Tennessee (No. 23) ranked ahead of UK.

Archrival Louisville came in at No. 32. Stanford was ranked No. 1.


Rusin signs with Cubs

Posted at 10:32 a.m. EDT - Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

Former UK pitcher Chris Rusin has signed with the Chicago Cubs.

Former UK pitcher Chris Rusin has signed to play professional baseball with the Chicago Cubs. UK cannot release the dollar amount of the contract.

Rusin, a left-handed pitcher, went 23-11 during his career at UK, including 7-4 this past season. He posted a 4.20 ERA with the Cats in 2009 and struck out a career-high 108 batters.

The southpaw was selected with the 140th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2009 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs on June 10.

Rusin will join the Mesa Cubs, a rookie league team in Mesa, Ariz., pending the results of a physical.


Morning coffee

Posted at 10:18 a.m. EDT - Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

UK highlight of the day: When John Calipari speaks, all of Big Blue Nation listens. So although Calipari spoke for just over 11 minutes Monday on his first Southeastern Conference Coaches Teleconference, it was undoubtedly the highlight of the day for UK fans.

Since I already posted a rundown of the teleconference on Monday, here are a few links from what the local beat writers took from Calipari's comments:

Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader reports that SEC coaches say Calipari's presence raises the bar in the SEC

Tipton also writes that the Cats will make do without Meeks

Rick Bozich of the Louisville Courier-Journal says that Calipari has made the SEC relevant again

His colleague Brett Dawson writes on Cal's big 90-day impact.    

Matt May from The Cats' Pause also writes about the first 90.

Larry Vaught of the Danville Advocate-Messenger has a bunch of stories from Monday. Vaught reports on everything from the schedule, to the new attitude the freshmen bring, to the state of confidence of Darius Miller.    

I think the biggest thing to take from all these stories is that the man has only been here for 90 days. In just three months, Calipari has managed to secure the nation's top recruiting class, propel UK atop most preseason polls, restructure the roster, reignite a hungry fan base, promote the game in China, meet with Kentucky's leaders and gather nearly 300,000 Twitter followers.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Can you imagine what he'll be able to do in the next 90 days? The next 180? What about in his first year? Kentucky basketball could very well be on its way to new heights.

SEC highlight of the day: When the story on the SEC Coaches Teleconference revolves around Calipari and the impact he'll have on the league, well, you guessed it - it's the story of the SEC as well. Because we've already ran through most of those stories, I'll leave with you just a few stories from some of the SEC newspapers:

The State's Seth Emerson reports that the positive buzz returns to SEC preseason     

Tom Murphy of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette write that the SEC coaches see progress coming

 Mike Organ from the Tennessean says that SEC basketball revives itself with returning talent

Bonus SEC highlight: Amid all the basketball talk, I don't want you to miss out on an interesting series the Gainesville Sun is doing. The daily newspaper is unveiling a 25-part series of the top-25 players in the SEC.

They're only through the first five players, but no UK players have made the list so far. Who might make the list from UK? Surely Micah Johnson and Trevard Lindley have to be on there, right? What about Randall Cobb? As interesting as these types of lists are, I wouldn't expect too much respect for the Cats. UK rarely gets it in rankings like these.

National highlight of the day: Not a whole lot going on nationally, but one very big NBA player could be lost for all of next season. There are reports out of Houston that superstar Yao Ming could miss all of next season and maybe more.

(Apologies out there to those who don't care about the NBA. I'm sort of an NBA junkie from time to time.)

The reports indicate that Yao's broken left foot could be a "career-threatening" injury, according to Dr. Tom Claton, the Houston Rockets' team physician. Yao suffered a hairline fracture of the tarsal navicular bone in the 2009 NBA Playoffs.

Losing Yao would almost be a catastrophe for the NBA. Sure, it would be a devastating loss for the Rockets, but it would be a massive blow to the game. Yao has made arguably a bigger impact on the game worldwide than any other player in the NBA. Yes, even bigger than LeBron James.

His presence alone has brought in the biggest international market in China. Hundreds of millions of people in China tune into the NBA just to watch Yao play. The game has since taken off over there and those people would probably still watch without him, but losing the game's best ambassador would be a crucial blow to the NBA.