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Posts from Wednesday, Sept. 9

John Wall is considered by most recruiting services to be the best freshman in college basketball this year.

John Wall is considered by most recruiting services to be the best freshman in college basketball this year.

Goodman: Wall preseason Player of the Year

Posted at 5:30 p.m. EDT – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

In the somewhat shocking category of the day, FOX Sports’ Jeff Goodman has tabbed freshman sensation John Wall as his preseason Player of the Year. Folks, we’re not talking about Freshman of the Year or a first-team All-American – we’re talking about the nation’s best player, regardless of class.

Is he capable of it? Well, yes. Am I still surprised? Big time, simply because he is only a freshman. As heralded as he may be, only one freshman has ever won the Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year Award, and that was given to Kevin Durant, who scored like a million points a game in 2007 (OK, more like 25.8 per contest).

The point is it’s a lofty prediction, one that should be taken with a grain of salt but one that will surely fuel expectations even more. Wall has the talent to win it, and if he should, UK has a major chance at cutting down the nets in April.

Also of note, junior forward Patrick Patterson made Goodman’s preseason All-America second team.

 

Watching the Cats from the comfort of your couch? Read on ...

Posted at 3:23 p.m. EDT - Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

Chances are some of you sat down Saturday to watch the game, flipped through the channels and thought, "Where is the Kentucky football game?"

After what was likely a few frustrating moments of diving through the TV guide and television schedule, you ultimately discovered that the game was on ESPNU, a channel that you might not have.


 

 

Frustrating, huh? As much as UK sympathizes with you, it's the nature of the groundbreaking 15-year Southeastern Conference-ESPN deal.

Big Blue Nation expands much farther than its Kentucky borders. Fans around the world yearn to watch Kentucky athletic events, and to make that available to everyone, the SEC's and UK's deal with ESPN was the best way to give everyone options for watching games.

In some cases, it will be make it more difficult for local fans to view games, but it's not impossible. If fans want to watch every game, those avenues are still available through their cable provider. In addition to that, fans everywhere, whether it is in Kentucky or in California, now have the option of watching more Kentucky and SEC games than ever before.

The Kentucky athletics department has received numerous complaints by phone and e-mail about the choice to televise last week's game and the upcoming Louisville game on ESPNU. The key word there is choice, because, quite frankly, it isn't UK's choice.

As a part of the new ESPN-SEC deal, ESPN has the rights to choose what games will and won't be on television and where they go. If the network feels like it has a more appealing game it would like to put on ESPN or ESPN2, the network has the rights to do so.

Kentucky would love to put every game on a local and national channel and broadcast it to the world, but it does not have the rights or the resources to do so. Because of the ESPN deal, quite simply, it's out of UK's hands.

Now, that isn't to say the ESPN-SEC deal is a bad thing, because, from an exposure standpoint, more league games, including UK's, will be on TV than ever before. If you wanted to watch every UK football or basketball game this season, there will be avenues and channels open to you to view those games because of the new deal.

Does that mean you'll likely have to pay an extra cable package to view games if they're on ESPNU? Depending on your cable provider, most likely so. But again, that isn't up to UK.

In reality, the amount of games on ESPNU, a channel shown nationally, will be outnumbered by the amount of men's basketball and football games on ESPN, ESPN2, CBS and the SEC Network. Television networks select their football coverage 12 days in advance of a game, but in terms of the men's basketball schedule, 18 games will be aired on CBS or ESPN's family of networks (10 on ESPN or ESPN2, three on ESPNU, five on CBS), in addition to the SEC Network, FS South and CSS.

The remaining games not televised could still be picked up by FS South, CSS and the Big Blue Sports Network, which will be announced soon, but those aren't of UK's choosing and will be viewable depending on your cable provider.

If nothing else, replays and highlights of each and every football and basketball game will be available on the SEC's Digital Network (registration is required, but it is free).

 

Link: Kicked around

Lones Seiber is nine points away from becoming UK's all-time scoring leader.


Posted at 11:20 a.m. EDT - Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

Had to link this great story from the Ben Jones of the Kentucky Kernel, UK's student-run daily independent newspaper. Jones profiles kicker Lones Seiber, who is a mere nine points away from becoming the program's all-time leading scorer.

Seiber has had to deal with his fair share of problems on the field, but there's much more to the story than we see on Seiber's kicks. Check out the link above to read all about it. Small excerpt of the story below:

Lones Seiber hears your boos.

UK's senior kicker has heard them with every missed field goal and botched extra point. Even Seiber admits that he has been disappointed in his career up to now.

"It just hasn't gone my way," he said, shaking his head.

UK senior kicker Lones Seiber has a tattoo devoted to his son, Jaden. Seiber is nine points away from becoming the leading scorer in UK football history.

His problems on the football field are just the beginning of what has made Lones Seiber the man he is today. From finding out he was a father after his freshman year in college to a childhood spent traveling the world with the Air Force, there's been enough change in his life already. Enough change to make him think his career won't be remembered for the boos.

Now, just nine points away from becoming the program's all-time leading scorer, Seiber doesn't want to be remembered for inconsistency. But when he does miss his first field goal at Commonwealth Stadium this year, the boos, warranted or not, will come back.

"I hear them, but really, it doesn't faze me," Seiber said. "I could care less what they think. I'm out there to do a job. If I miss, they have the right to boo and stuff, but I try not to let that faze me.

"It's just stupidity when they boo, because I want to see one person out of the stands try to do what I just did. That's how I feel about it."

More at the Kernel

 

From English prison guard to the UK Soccer Complex

Posted at 10:13 p.m. EDT - Brent Ingram, UK Media Relations 

He has a beard. He speaks in a deep, mature voice. His play on the field is not that of a freshman. Leadership comes naturally.

Oh yeah, and for the last year, he worked as a prison guard in England.

When asking Kentucky men's soccer coach Ian Collins about freshman midfielder Matt Lodge, the 16th year head man has a hard time containing his excitement.

"He is quality, that is the only way to put it," Collins said of his 19-year old standout. "If you asked me right now, who is the best player on our team, he is the best player. That is quite a statement about a guy who has been here for a month and a half. Just the quality he brings every day, the effort level, the intensity, the competitiveness. All of those things are very good and he is just very good."

Freshman Matt Lodge scored UK's first goal in the win Sunday over BGSU.


A native of Rossington, England, Lodge spent the summer working as a prison guard in England. Defined as a "blue collar" worker and player by Collins, Lodge developed a toughness and fearlessness rarely found in college freshmen. While most incoming freshmen do typical summer jobs like lifeguarding, mowing lawns and waiting tables, Lodge was dodging prison riots and escorting criminals to their cells.

"It was a pretty laid back job to be honest," Lodge said. "I wasn't dealing with prisoners as much as I could have been. I pretty much just escorted them in and out of their cells, to and from their work places and guarded equipment."

While the prison was not holding the fiercest of criminals in England, it was defined as a "Category C" prison holding, among others, drug dealers and thieves.  While dealing with the prisoners, Lodge was often the victim of verbal abuse but that just added to his tough exterior.

"I suppose growing up where I am from; it is a tough environment," Lodge said. "My big brother toughened me up more than anything."

While Collins was recruiting Lodge, the head coach scheduled a phone call with him to discuss the program and some of the possibilities. But, while working in the prison, Lodge was trapped in the midst of a full prison lockdown, keeping him from the call.

"I couldn't get out tocall him," Lodge said. "There was a prisoner on top of the roof. They had to do what they call a lockdown. So they locked everything down and no one could leave or come in. I ended up missing the call."

Thankfully for the UK soccer program, that obstacle did not keep the dynamic talent from coming to Lexington.

THIS GUY IS GOOD

In December of 2008, Collins and UK recruiting coordinator Matt Wilkerson traveled to England to watch a trial of amateur players. While watching the trials, Lodge kept standing out as a player just oozing with talent.

"I didn't know about him before we went over to England," Collins said. "A lot of the guys that we look at internationally are recommended to us or come from friends of mine. I have a pretty good network in England, in terms of scouting players. Wilko and I showed up at a game where we were looking at a bunch of players and he was heads and shoulders above everyone else, and it was a good group of players. Right away, we got pretty enthused about recruiting him and right away, we found out that he was very intelligent and he had a real strong desire to come over (to America)."

It took Lodge all of three weeks of practice to solidify himself as a potential star, coming off the bench in the first exhibition game of the season against No. 18 Dayton to fire a team-high three shots - including two on goal. In the second preseason tune-up at Marquette, Lodge scored the go-ahead goal in the first half. Lodge's goal at Marquette was truly world class, collecting the ball at midfield, firing from over 40 yards away and beating a leaping keeper in the center of the net.

Then, when the exhibition season was over and UK opened the 2009 campaign in the annual UK Invitational, Lodge started both of UK's wins in midfield, netting his first career goal to get scoring started in a 4-1 win over Bowling Green Sunday. Lodge's goal was extremely impressive, securing the ball inside the box in traffic and beating his defender and the keeper with a hard hit, low-lining shot.

While interviewing Lodge's teammates, one word kept standing out about the freshman - intensity.

"Lodge is a great player," senior midfielder Chad Hagerty said. "He brings intensity and bite to our team that may be a bit more then we are used to, but it is definitely not a bad thing. He has a great shot and he is a leader, he leads by example. He is very vocal and for a freshman that is rare. He is definitely going to help us become a more successful team."

"He is intense, he gets forward well," senior co-captain Jason Griffiths said. "He shoots a lot, which is good. He should score a lot of goals this year."

ADJUSTING TO KENTUCKY

Sometimes the transition to American college soccer can be difficult for an international player, but Lodge has adjusted well. With fellow English players Griffiths and David Harrison, as well as an English head coach, the transition had been made a bit easier.

"It is a lot easier having English people around," Lodge said. "A lot of people don't understand my accent and it helps to have them translate a few things for me. It makes me feel a lot more at home. The hardest thing for me has been the heat and the humidity for training. I am used to playing in only cold weather, so this has been an adjustment."

While Lodge adjusts to playing college soccer in a new environment, Collins maintains high hopes and expectations for his freshman midfielder. And after spending his last few months guarding prisoners across the pond, Lodge welcomes the challenges associated with being a top-tier collegiate player.

"He is just a great kid, a funny kid," Collins said. "He gets along great with all of our team, he is very humble and he loves to play, go to school and do well. He represents the program very well. The people who watch him play for us are going to love him. He doesn't stop, he plays every minute, plays with an unbelievable engine, just a great player. I am really anticipating how far he can go.

"It is early, so early in his career, probably too early for me to make statements about him, but if he continues at this curve, he is going to be unbelievable."
 

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