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Posts from Wednesday, Oct. 7

UK, South Carolina mirror images of each other

Posted at 4:44 p.m. EDT – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relationse

Excellent column by Ron Morris of The State today on comparing the Kentucky and South Carolina football programs. The column is titled, USC looking in the mirror at UK.

I highly recommend the read. If you read my story earlier (below), you’ll notice we’re kind of talking about similar concepts. These programs are about as even as it gets right now, heightening the importance of winning Saturday’s game. Before the programs can start thinking Southeastern Conference championships, they have to worry about taking that next step.

Small excerpt below and full story at the link:

South Carolina and Kentucky could swap uniforms before Saturday's game at Williams-Brice Stadium, and most fans would not be able to tell the difference.

A case could be made within each camp for being superior. Yet outside of South Carolina and Kentucky, from a national perspective, the programs are mirror images.

Comparing USC to Kentucky in football is like comparing oranges to tangerines, a Ford Taurus to a Mercury Sable, South Dakota to North Dakota

Both programs are led by veteran coaches who staked claims to fame elsewhere in their respective careers. Both programs have experienced spotty success. Both have hit rock bottom along the way. USC's all-time record rests at .500. Kentucky is eight games above water level.

Most importantly, both USC and Kentucky have fought what seems like a never-ending battle to crack the big three schools of the SECs Eastern Division.

Read the full column here.


Parrish tabs Wall Preseason National Player of the Year

Posted at 4:10 p.m. EDT – Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

Get used to hearing these accolades until basketball season starts. Gary Parrish of has named Kentucky guard John Wall his preseason choice for National Player of the Year.

Again, folks, he’s a freshman. Even if he is the No. 1 player in the 2009 recruiting class, those are lofty expectations. Parrish, and head coach John Calipari for that matter, seem to think they’re justified.

“John is picking this stuff up quicker than Derrick (Rose) and Tyreke (Evans) did; he’s more comfortable in it,” Calipari said in Parrish’s story. “Now he’s not all the way there yet, there will be a learning curve. But he’s going to be one of the better players in the country, I would guess.”

Parrish also named junior forward Patrick Patterson to the All-America second team.

On Monday, Parrish ranked Kentucky No. 2 in his preseason poll.  


Highlights from the Tipoff Luncheon in Louisville

Posted at 3:17 p.m. EDT - Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

Head coach John Calipari spoke to fans at the Tipoff Luncheon in Louisville on Wednesday.

Just under 2,000 people attended the Tipoff Luncheon in Louisville on Wednesday, a record showing. Head coach John Calipari spoke for about 30 minutes - all of which you can see below thanks to the Courier-Journal - but here a few highlights from the engagement:

  • Calipari started off by telling everybody how proud he was to be the coach at the University of Kentucky. "Let me start by telling you I am so proud and humbled to be the Commonwealth's coach, I can't begin to tell you. The winningest program in the history of our sport and I'm having an opportunity to coach this program."
  • Repeatedly Cal told the fans everywhere about how crazy and nuts they were for their dedication. Of course, it was in a "loving way," as he described it.
  • Calipari said his book, "Bounce Back," gave him the great opportunity to meet the state. He said he was blown away by how many people love this basketball program. He said he figured out by about the fifth city how big the Louisville game was. "What if we lose to Louisville by 15 and win the national title? Are you alright? Look, you've got people saying, `No, I'm not alright.' You're crazy."
  • Calipari said he wanted to be UK's basketball coach two years ago. He said he'd go to his office every day and call home to his wife, Ellen, and ask if Kentucky had called yet. He said he was depressed, mad and sad at the time. However, looking back, he said if he would have gotten the job two years ago, he wouldn't have been able to live the last two years of his life at Memphis, which were wonderful years, plus he would have had to follow Tubby Smith. "Two years later, you all need me. Truth be told, I needed you."
  • This year's year team has a big mountain to climb, Calipari said. He said he's got six players who think they "poop ice cream," and another six returners who think naturally that it's their turn. He said he's got to get those players together, they've got to trust each other, respect each other and over a period of time that has to turn into affection. "If we're really to climb that mountain that you all think and the pundits think we can climb, that affection's got to turn to love because love means you care more about the other person than you care about yourself, you care more about yourself than your teammate. If we can get to that point, we're going to be alright."
  • He said the dribble-drive is unlike anything the players have ever learned. He related it to teaching it to a bunch of martians. Calipari said he's trying to get this team to think like it's 12.
  • Calipari said he's got newcomers who think they can win all 40 games, yet he's got some players who have been beat up a little bit that they're not thinking big enough yet. "They're not dreaming those big dreams that I want them to go for." Calipari said they have to create their own happiness, though. They can't have it created for them. Calipari said he's going to have fun. "I'm the coach at Kentucky. I'm going to have a ball. Now you can have a ball with us, and that's my challenge to you - have fun with us. If we by 12 don't say, `We should have won by 30.' We won. Next game. It's about the path as much as it's about the prize. I say this to you, if I'm having fun and you're having fun, do you think my team will be having fun? Yeah."
  • Calipari again warned that it's going to be bad at first, but it's about development and eventually you're going to see a team that is unleashed and see players doing things that no one has ever seen them do before. He said it's about living in the moment.
  • "This seat that I'm in, I can feel the importance to this state. I've been all over the state and I respect that and I'm humbled by it. All I can tell you is I'm going to do the best job I can to make you proud, our players are going to do the same and we're going to have fun."
  • Cal was then asked by a fan who, in addition to Patrick Patterson, will be a leader on the court. Calipari started by praising Patterson, but added that Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins have looked really good. Of course, he said freshman sensation John Wall has been a great leader. He said he had the best grade point of average of all the freshmen.
  • He was also asked if Patterson, DeMarcus Cousins and Daniel Orton can be on the floor at the same time. Calipari said he's trying to figure out a way to put Cousins and Orton on the floor at the same time. He said he also has to figure out a way to play Wall and Eric Bledsoe at the same time. He said if they're two of the teams better players, they deserve to be on the floor together. He said Bledsoe has been dunking on the centers in practice and that he's the fastest player on the team.
  • And finally, Calipari was asked what he plans for playing in Louisville. Calipari said he is hoping to move the Indiana game to Louisville. When they play in Indiana, he is hoping to play Indianapolis. He also mentioned flip-flopping Notre Dame with Indiana every other year as well. He said he'd like to play Kansas in St. Louis in the football stadium in front of 70,000 fans and play Duke in front of 70,000. Calipari said they'd like to have a package in games in Louisville since the Cardinals are moving to a new arena. "We're going to have (Freedom Hall) to ourselves. That thing will be painted blue now." Calipari asked why they don't move three games there now? He also mentioned Nashville and Cincinnati, but at the same time, they have to protect games back in Lexington as well.
  • "This city (Louisville) is vital to this state, would you say? It is; it's vital to this state. That university (U of L) is vital to this city, which means it's vital to this state also. We're not asking anybody not to support Louisville, we're just saying support us too. Come to our games. I've gone through this city and you know this. I've been back here 10 or 15 times. I think (Louisville Athletics Director) Tom Jurich is a little mad at me because I'm running in and out of the city so much. I'm saying the same thing - support Louisville because they're big for the city. Just come to our games and be here. We want to be in this city in the worst way, but we're not doing it to infringe on anybody. It's that we're the Commonwealth's team. We are the Commonwealth's team."


Tipoff luncheon

Posted at 11:57 a.m. EDT - Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

I'm unable to make it down to the Tipoff Luncheon in Louisville today, but the Courier-Journal is live streaming the event. You can view the action below, which is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. EDT.


South Carolina game could define season

Defensive tackle Corey Peters called the South Carolina game the most important of the season.

Posted at 11:47 a.m. EDT - Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations

As the weather turns cooler, the leaves start falling off the trees and passionate, albeit crazy, basketball fans camp out around Memorial Coliseum, we're all reminded that basketball season is quickly approaching.

Exciting, I know, but it's not the most important thing going on this week. Not by a long shot.

While two straight losses might have killed any buzz that a 2-0 start to the season may have generated, the UK-South Carolina game this weekend is huge, ladies and gentlemen. H-U-G-E.

It could very well be this season's defining game - a turning point, if you will.

"I think it's the most important game of the season, especially with the way things have turned out this past week," defensive tackle Corey Peters said. "I think it's important to go down there on the road and really have a good showing and come out with a victory."

It's important because it could swing the season one way or the other. It's important because it's the first road test of the season. It's important because we still don't know exactly who this team is.

It's important because it will determine if the Cats are ready to make the next step in the Southeastern Conference or not.

"I feel like this is a huge game in terms of getting on the winning track," offensive tackle Zipp Duncan said. "We start another tough stretch of games here. South Carolina is obviously a team that has had our number in the past, so to get over the hump and start trying to move up the SEC rankings, this is a game we have to win."

South Carolina, more specifically, Steve Spurrier has had UK's number for decades. The Ol' Ball Coach has had it in on speed dial since his days at Florida.

Critics are always quick to point the losing streak to Tennessee (24) and Florida (23), but the streak to Spurrier might be the biggest pain in the side of UK fans because of its importance. To get to the next level, UK has to knock down the 10-story barrier standing in its way.

"I don't know that any one (streak) is bigger than the other because streaks are streaks," head coach Rich Brooks said. "All I know is that South Carolina and Kentucky are in the bottom to the middle of the food chain in the SEC east, and if either one of us want to climb that ladder, we have to beat each other. Having said that, if we end up beating South Carolina, we end up climbing that food chain a little bit higher. If they beat us, they climb it higher."

Whether it's references to moving up the food chain or climbing the SEC mountain, the next step up the conference ladder is through South Carolina. Talent wise, the Gamecocks have been about on par with the Wildcats for years, but for one reason or the other (namely critical mistakes down the stretch), UK has faltered and lost nine straight games to South Carolina.

"Since I've been here, I've always felt like we've been in positions to win that game, we've just gave it away every year," Peters said. "For some reason (against) South Carolina, it seems like we make more big mistakes that makes it impossible to win the game. It's a game that I feel like every year I come from it extremely upset, feeling like we could have won that game, we should have won that game. This year we want to come from it happy. We're right there talent wise. We can compete with anybody on our schedule."

But before the Cats can start talking about competing with any team on its schedule and taking two steps forward, it has to take one. People can talk all they want about playing with the big boys of the SEC, but UK has to take care of the pecking order before it can start talk about competing with the Floridas, the Georgias and the LSUs.

"I think what we're trying to do as a program is make that next step in the SEC," Peters said. "I think that's the team that's pretty much been right above us the past couple of years. This year we're going to have to try to take that step over that program."

If nothing else, Saturday's game, regardless of a win or a loss, should show us the guts and grit of this team.

It's easy to criticize a team with a knee-jerk reaction after a double-digit blowout just as easily as it is to praise a team after a 42-0 win over Miami (Ohio). But the truth of the matter is we still don't really know who this team is.

The Cats first two opponents are a combined 1-8 on the season. The last two are a combined 9-0 and ranked No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, in the nation. I'd hardly qualify that as two equal two-game stretches.

So who is this team? Is it the one we saw getting dismantled the last two Saturdays? Or is it the team we saw the first two weeks, one that looked like it was ready to make that next jump in the SEC?

“They’re a very good team that has had the misfortune of playing Florida and Alabama the last two weeks,” Spurrier said. “Almost anybody in the country would be 2-2 if they had to play those two teams.”

We'll know a lot more Saturday.

"This is a big challenge, and this is a game that is critically important if we want to move up in the SEC East standings," Brooks said. "It is important to South Carolina as it is to us. They are 1-1 and we are 0-2. This will go a long way for the final rankings in the SEC East, so it is a big, big game."

It's H-U-G-E.

WARFORD OUT: Head coach Rich Brooks announced Wednesday at practice that cornerback Paul Warford would miss Saturday's game vs. South Carolina with a quad injury. UK will face the Gamecocks without its top two cornerbacks. Trevard Lindley is also out with a high ankle sprain.

Linebacker Danny Trevathan missed Wednesday's practice with flu-like symptoms.


Response to Big Blue Madness Ticket distribution

Head coach John Calipari handed out pizza to Big Blue Nation as fans camped out for Big Blue Madness tickets.


Posted at 9:35 a.m. EDT - Eric Lindsey, UK Media Relations


The following letter from UK Athletics is in response to the unprecedented demand for this year's Big Blue Madness:


Thank you for your correspondence regarding Big Blue Madness ticket distribution. Once again, the Big Blue Nation lived up to its reputation with an unprecedented response to Big Blue Madness tickets.


We are pleased to announce that everyone in the record crowd of campers at Memorial Coliseum and the Joe Craft Center received a ticket. The faithful crowd was able to visit with head coach John Calipari and the team as they handed out snacks, were entertained by the UK marching band and had the opportunity to stay inside Memorial Coliseum when the rain arrived early Friday morning. It was a festive environment and we appreciate everyone's effort to keep it safe and orderly at all times.


Thousands of tickets online were distributed within a few minutes via Ticketmaster, illustrating the incredible demand for this exciting event.


Because of this demand, we were not able to assist all fans with tickets. With that said, we distributed significantly more tickets than we did five years ago when the event was held in Memorial Coliseum.


This is a free event for our fans, and like many of you, we are disappointed that tickets end up on eBay, StubHub and other secondary ticket Web sites. Our intention has always been to provide a free and unique, one-of-a-kind event for the Big Blue Nation. Unfortunately, we cannot control what people do after they receive a ticket.


We will review our current Big Blue Madness ticket distribution system and will identify ways to improve it for future years. We are appreciative of your patience and support as we look to continually improve on our interaction with our fans.


Again, thank you for your correspondence and go Big Blue!


-UK Athletics




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