Friday, March 30, 2007

UK and the Coach of Tomorrow

Marc Maggard
Wildcats Thunder Member

Let’s start with the obvious…Billy Donovan is the #1 target for the University of Kentucky ’s basketball coach. Every other candidate is an obvious distant second.

Not to take anything away from Billy the kid, but UK ’s recent string of missing on its top choice in recruiting seem to intensify UK fan’s desire to finally land our top guy. Luckily for UK , it seems there is no shortage of “second tier” coaches just waiting in the wings for Donovan’s decision. Numerous candidates have sent strong signals that they are eager for a chance to say yes to UK . Many observers would argue that UK ’s backup plans are just as likely to have success at UK as Billy Donovan. Still, UK waits for what many fans consider the “prodigal son” to return home.

But is Billy Donovan still UK ’s prodigal son? Sure, he spent 5 years as an assistant at UK under his mentor and friend, Rick Pitino, but is that still where his heart lies? Can 5 years as an assistant at “Camelot” compare with 11 seasons as the number one man at a recently elite University of Florida ? No doubt, Coach Donovan is firmly entrenched in Gainesville at this point. His wife and children enjoy Gainesville along with most of their extended family. Billy also has a high sense of loyalty to those who had the faith to hire him in the first place. Still, we are talking about UK.

Reports are circulating from both sides of the fence. It’s quite easy to see what side national media members are getting their advice from simply by the content of their reports. Some say he loves UF too much to leave, while others report the deal is close to done. The truth lies somewhere in between.

It’s almost unanimous that money is not the main factor in Billy’s decision. Sure, he would love a raise and the respect that comes with being the highest paid NCAA basketball coach in the nation, but that’s pretty much going to happen at either school. UF has committed to matching any UK offer, which ironically could mean that UF pays Billy D more than UK pays its second choice. All who are close to Billy understand that his interest in UK is not simply a ruse to raise the price. Remember, we are talking about UK.

Donovan’s public comments have done little to remove his name from consideration. In fact, his side stepping is reminiscent of MC Hammer’s “You Can’t Touch This” minus the baggy pants. Donovan has made all the requisite “I love it at UF and want to stay as long as they will have me” remarks, but has intentionally failed to remove his name from consideration. One would think that a simple “no thanks” during a final four run would be quite easy to do if that was indeed the answer. Some suggest that Billy is using the UK opportunity to simply up the ante for his UF negotiations, but those close to Billy report that the interest is legitimate.

As for the “other” candidates, there have been some strange happenings in recent days. Coaches who have always expressed interest have suddenly made comments that seem to contradict their previous interest. Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie, viewed by many as UK ’s second choice, announced just hours ago that he has agreed to a new 1.75 million contract with the Aggies ( ). This just hours after the announcement of this contract was rumored to have been put on hold so Billy G. could see what happened at UK . Those who believe Donovan is coming might suggest that Billy had the time he needed and likely determined that UK would not be needing his services. UF fans would likely disagree with that theory.

Some UK fans also seem to think the hiring of a “search firm” in some way factors into the Donovan story, but that does not seem to be the case. The firm is simply a way for UK to gauge interest from other candidates without having to request permission through numerous AD’s at various universities. It also allows UK to save face by not asking to speak to a coach who has already sent word via the search firm that he is not interested in hearing from UK.

Many are also claiming that UK has scheduled a press conference to announce its new coach next Wednesday, April 4th. For those who accept this to be true, the inference is that it gives Billy a day to celebrate if he wins the title and then make the announcement that he is coming to UK. I would suggest that those people also consider that perhaps UK also has a backup plan and if Billy remains at UF, perhaps UK already has an agreement with the #2 candidate. Personally, I don’t know if a press conference is scheduled, but if it is, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Billy is the kid (man) at UK.

My personal belief is that Billy will accept the position at UK , but it won’t be easy to do. I do know that he has a great life in Gainesville and his family enjoys it there. Still, it’s UK we are talking about. At 3 million a year, he can afford to relocate most of Gainesville if he chooses to.

Whatever happens, UK will have a top coach and will remain the top program in NCAA basketball. It’s UK we are talking about.

Apparently Only UK Has High Expectations!

Wildcats Thunder Sports Reporter

It is UK fans we learn that we are the only fans with high fact, too high expectations. So we are to believe that the fans of all other basketball and football powers are totally reasonable.....never demanding too much from their coaches and teams. WHAT A TOTAL CROCK!

We all see programs around the country firing and hiring new coaches every yr, but the sports talking heads would have you believe that it's only at UK that the fans are unreasonable......that the expectations are simply too high. Then some tell us that UK is the worst job....too much pressure, etc. PLEASE! Are we to believe that there isn't pressure and high expectations at every major basketball and football program in America!

Frankly, I believe UK fans are fed up with many of the columnists and talking heads who have obvious agenda's and bias against UK and it seems....the good people in the state of Kentucky. It appears to be lots of snobbery and looking down on UK fans!

A few columnists and sports analysts have done their homework and presented a fair picture of the state of UK basketball.......unfortunately, they are in the minority. They know that Tubby's overall treatment at UK was gosh, Tubby was at UK for 10 yrs....that's hardly throwing a coach under the bus if he doesn't reach the Final Four every yr.....but, what about 9 yrs and being unranked for 2 straight yrs while failing at recruiting. The fair analysts and columnists know that UK fans had every right to be upset with the direction of the program under Tubby these past few yrs. They did their homework, unlike most others, who simply chose to trash UK because of their anti UK bias and are more interested in fawning over Duke and their beloved ACC!

UK basketball fans have proven through the decades to be the most passionate fans anywhere. We all know that UK basketball is the CROWN JEWEL of Kentucky. We will get a new terrific coach and UK will return to it's greatness.

My only wish is that we had our greatest VOICE defending us......the great and dear Cawood Ledford......Cawood would have been a beacon of light trumpeting the greatness of UK and it's fans!!

Odd Connection with Traditional Powers

Wildcats Thunder Member

You know, this year with all of the talk about UK "not being what it used to be" and "not having quite the talent level they've been accustomed to in the past". After hearing from coaches, players and media morons how, "it's not the same league UK used to dominate" and "with the parity in college basketball there are no more dominate programs - no more dynasties".

After being told that the name “Kentucky” on the front of a jersey doesn't strike fear in the hearts of opponents anymore and listening to players insulting our history and tradition - vainly dismissing all that's been before them, tritely calling the winningest program in history, “has been” or “kitty cats”. All the while the national sports media insinuates Kentucky fans are all inbred, uneducated, unreasonable, racist tyrants! I’m tired. I find myself being defensive for other traditional powers as well. Why shouldn’t Kansas, UNC, Indiana, UCLA, even… God forgive me, U of L and Duke expect be successful?

I'm used to the same point of reference as many of you. UK basketball is part of my identity. Not because I am pathetic but because I am blessed. I’m proud of where I'm from and I like to celebrate the uniqueness of Kentucky and the unity and passion that basketball represents there. Not living in the state anymore has been both good and bad. I live fairly close to Nashville in a very small town of around 2000 people. I've been amazed at the number of people here that are UK basketball fans. Referred to as “The Blue Mist” it’s a pretty common phenomenon. Listening to fans that have never lived in KY is kind of different because it’s not an identity thing, not nearly that personal, for them it’s just an appreciation of excellence.

With all that said, I have found myself in a strange state of mind this year. I have been... not a fan, but someone who has gained some respect, an appreciation for other schools that have great traditions and “demanding” fans. Call me crazy but I'm sick of hearing how the tournament is not worth watching this year because there is no "mid-major never-was" putting on the Cinderella slipper!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

NEW Billy D Info and other Coaching Candidates

Wildcats Thunder Basketball/Recruiting Analyst

First off let me say that Billy Donovan's agent and UK have talked. His agent has been in town twice to talk with UK.There is a contract offer on the table. Now for the question, has Billy D agreed to this contract. I have been told a couple different things on this. I have heard its a done deal, but I have also heard that its just been discussed between the two parties.

Now for what I think will happen from what I have gathered from my sources. I feel that Billy D will be th next coach at UK. I have been told this by my #1 source and I trust him greatly. I have been told by my source that everything is in place and all it is waiting for is Billy D's name on the dotted line. Now does this mean that he will sign the deal and end up at UK 100%. NO. Sometimes things happen and make people change their minds. But I don't think anything like that will happen and I expect Billy to sign the deal 24 hours after Florida's final game of the year.

Now for the contract numbers. I have been told that the money is for 7 years closer to $32 million. It would be close to $4 million a year with a $4 million bonus, if he stays all 7 years. This is what I have been told folks and I trust my sources with everything in me. So I believe its as close to being a done deal as it can get with out Billy D signing the contract.

Now I was told by a couple of my(lesser connected) sources that they didn't think it was agreed to yet and didn't think it would be. They told me that UK has contacted Wright and Few as there plan B and C candidates. Wright is suppose to interview Friday and Few Saturday from what they hear. Now do I think they will come to Lexington and interview, sure. But I think it is just a back up plan in case Billy D backs out. I have heard Wright and Few are th B and C plans from all my sources so I trust that the top 3 is Billy D, Wright and Few in that order. But hopefully we only need plan A. But I would be happy with B and C also.

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Will Mitch Get It Right?

Wildcats Thunder Sports Reporter

This decision for Mitch is beyond is a career maker or career breaker! Mitch knows that the great and passionate UK fans deserve a coach that will take this program back to it's elite status. Getting Donovan is a no brainer as far as getting the right coach.....Donovan would bring incredible excitement and success back to the UK program. Donovan, is very likely, the only coach who's very hire would jump start the program with exciting top rated recruits. In short, Donovan is a slam dunk as a coaching choice. There is no doubt in any one's mind that Billy is Mitch's number one target......a huge contract will be offered. Mitch will do everything possible to lure Billy to UK.......and I mean everything!

But, what happens if Billy says no......personally, I'm 50/50 as to whether we get Billy. If UK does....then Mitch is a hero to UK fans.
The hiring of Billy would be the highlight of Mitch's career. But, if Billy says no then Mitch must travel a very dangerous road. Other coaches on the list are not slam dunks. There are pluses and minuses to every other candidate. Understanding that Billy might very well say no, Mitch is already exploring and trying to find the coach for UK that has the best chance of restoring UK to a top ten program again.

Posters on message boards have weighed in on those coaches that would be unacceptable and those they favor. Unfortunately, no other coach enjoys the total support of a Billy Donovan. So Mitch is faced with trying to come up with a 2nd, 3rd or 4th choice if need be....depending on Billy's decision and other coaches on the list who also might thank you.

The decision is primarily in Mitch's hands....although he obviously is getting lots of advice from a variety of sources. As a UK fan, we can only trust that if it isn't Billy.....that Mitch has selected a coach who will restore UK's glory in basketball.

All UK fans..... say to Mitch......Do everything to get Billy....but, short of that.....please choose wisely......get us a coach we can unite behind.....who will bring success and excitement back to UK basketball! "Get er done, Mitch"

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The UK Coaching Search

Wildcats Thunder Member

Here at UK we don’t do this very often. We’ve only had 4 coaches in the modern era of basketball. But, we are in the throws of a big time coaching search now. And it’s national news. No matter what anyone wants to tell you this is one of The 4 jobs in college basketball that command this type of respect. That respect comes from the fact that 3 of those 4 coaches have won national titles while at UK, our fan base is the most passionate in the sport, we have the most wins, most tournament appearances, most tournament victories and second most national titles in the country. This is the big time. As a UK fan these are exciting yet nerve racking times.

We’ve just finished a 10 year stint with a coach that was good but not great which divided the fan base in half. The choice for our next coach is huge for both the fan base and the media coverage that surrounded the former coach’s resignation. Will this vindicate the UK fan’s expectations for greatness, or give more ammunition to those who claim our expectations are unreasonable? Billy Donavon is the number choice of the administration, the big money boosters, and the fan base. There are also a host of names that have been mentioned for the position such as Crean, Few, Barnes, Izzo, Calipari, Gillispie, Wright, Ford, Pelphrey, D’Antoni and even Bruce Pearl. These are all great coaches but only Billy Donavon brings the clout to silence the media and unite the fan base immediately.

The idea of Billy Donavon has been done to death. You know that story. I want to talk about the rest of the coaches. Apparently Billy Gillispie and John Calipari have taken themselves out of the running so I’m not going to discuss them either. So who will Mitch Barnhart go to if Billy D turns us down? I don’t know, but I have opinions on them all.

First, let’s start with the guys that I don’t think should get the job and the guys I don’t think would take the job. D’Antoni is most likely an NBA guy, I don’t see him stepping into the college ranks, even for Kentucky. Tom Izzo is a loyal Michigan State guy, and while I’m sure an offer from Kentucky would warrant consideration at the end of the day I think he stays at MSU. Mark Few, Tom Crean, and Rick Barnes are all great coaches; however, I don’t think they’re good fits for this opportunity. It’s really not a knock on them as coaches, but UK is a different breed and I don’t believe they’d fit the job. Pelphrey is my sentimental favorite. And while I believe he will one day be the next Billy Donavon, I don’t think he’s the best candidate for plan B.

That leaves us with two candidates for plan B, Jay Wright and Travis Ford. Wright has the better resume. He’s taken Villanova to the S16 and Elite 8 both years without his best post presence, Curtis Sumpter due to injury. And this year, after losing 4 players to the NBA he made the tournament again. Sending 4 players to the league in one year proves that he can recruit. And after his first two years (I believe you always should throw out a coaches first 2 at any program when analyzing production) he’s only had one season that didn’t’ result in a tournament appearance, year 3. His resume is actually stronger then a candidate many would endorse, one Billy Gillispie.

Travis Ford is more of a gut choice to me. His resume is somewhat light, but he has improved every program where he’s been, from Campbellsville, to Eastern Kentucky and now to UMass. He doesn’t have the tournament resume or even the recruiting resume that some other candidates have, but I don’t think that should stop Mitch from considering him. First off, he played here and he knows what Kentucky basketball is all about. As a player he used an incredible work ethic to overcome a lack of size and athletic ability. That work ethic is reported to be evident in his coaching career. He plays Kentucky basketball as taught by Rick Pitino. He’s passionate about the sport and as driven and single minded as all the great ones. Basketball is in his blood. Don’t forget, when we hired our last coach everyone thought Billy D wasn’t ready, he wasn’t proven. Sometimes you have to look beyond the record to look at not what a prospect has done, but what is he capable of doing. I believe his ceiling is extremely high. I believe that Travis also has something that the UK desperately needs the ego that says, “I’m the best at what I do and no matter how much effort it takes I’m going to prove that to the world.” I honestly believe that is the most important trait of our next coach.

All that being said I think the list should be, Billy D., Jay Wright and then Travis Ford. The Big Blue Nation is waiting on pins and needles to find out who is going is going to steer the ship. If that next coach comes from that list I think we’ve have a very happy ending. In any event although it will feel like a lifetime, the ride will be relatively short. Within 2 weeks we should have the answer to that question. And until then we will all listen to and read the rumor mill, yes we’ll probably over-react and give the media and rival fans plenty of ammo to take their shots. But I believe that UK is about to rise again. She’s never stayed down for long, and this will not the exception. Hopefully, we get the guy that can unite the fan base again and we can start focusing on the opposition instead of each other. And who knows, maybe Billy Donavon is walking through that door, but if he doesn’t there are others who can bring us back to the elite again

Excitement in the Air about UK Basketball

With excitement in the air over the UK mens basketball program. What other way to keep your BLUE BLOOD a rushing then reading some of our archives on Cawood Ledford and checking the Tribute to Cawood and listening to him call a few UK games. We hope you enjoy the clip of Cawood Ledford and be prepared for those Goose bumps and chills to flow.

A Tribute to Cawood Ledford
A nice short documentary about the life of our great past legendary broadcaster. Enjoy!

Cawood Ledford "The Voice of the Wildcats" Memories

Today -- with ESPN, the deuce, Classic, CBS, Fox, ABC and special packages to purchase – it’s pretty simple to make sure we can catch our beloved Wildcats on the gridiron and hardwood.

For many of us, we didn’t grow up with all of that. For years autumn afternoons meant that we had ABC -- and one game, maybe two. In the winter, we had one college basketball game on Saturday and one on Sunday. If you were fortunate enough to live in “God’s country” or in the SEC TV market, you were able to see the biggest basketball draw in the SEC play on TV more often than not, and be covered by John Ferguson and Joe “String Music” Dean. If UK wasn’t on that Saturday, you could tune into either UK’s network for a delayed telecast in some cases.

If you weren’t one of those lucky ones and didn’t live in the Commonwealth anymore -- more than likely you were driving in your car at night, up on a mountain in the Carolinas, or an old country road or an interstate somewhere in order to hear Cawood Ledford call the game
Read the rest in the Blog archives.[Click Here]

Cawood Ledford "The Greatest College Basketball Announcer Of All-Time"[Tribute to Cawood Link]

"They're coming to the wire, and its all Kentucky! I can almost smell the roses at Churchill Downs!"

Cawood Ledford-as UK defeats Alabama in the '92 SEC tourney

A Day in the Life of a Kentucky Boy

Wildcats Thunder Member

"The Kentucky Dream"

The rooster begins to crow and the alarm clock sounds, signaling the beginning of another morning. Sadly, it is another school day. The mist begins to move from the bluegrass to the hilltops as the sun begins to peek out from behind withers of fog surrounding the mountains. Yeah, this is home. Kentucky is home. A quick change to blue jeans and a t-shirt and a short tooth-brushing session and it is time to hurry out to the bus stop. The all too familiar smell of diesel surrounds the bus as it churns to a stop at the edge of the driveway. He is growing up fast now, his parents say—he will be in 8th grade next year, starting high school soon. The day goes as typically planned, cramming all that can be crammed into a young man’s head in one day. There are but few thoughts that pass thru the young boy’s head though, because he is pre-occupied with one thing—getting home from school to play. The final bell rings, signaling the end of another school day. After a sunny bus ride home, he cannot wait to get thru the door of home. A quick snack and a warning from momma about not being late for dinner and he is gone; adorned with a old pair of basketball shoes he managed to trade his buddy for. He just knows he is going to be late; all of the guys are probably already there, starting without him. He pedals as fast as his legs will pedal his bike; he has to hurry so he can get in on the action. When he skids his bike to a halt in the dust of the late afternoon sun, all of the guys are already there, waiting patiently on him to get there. This is a special place indeed, a place where dreams are formed, a place where everyone is equal, a virtual superstar. He looks across the dirt court as the dust flies around in the evening wind; today is going to be a good day indeed. This is a much needed practice for each of these young men. Next fall will be basketball team tryouts, and each one must hone his skills to make the team. He just has to make the team, he just has to. This is the stuff legends are made of, this is where everyone starts, and this is the place where dreams are created. He thinks of those posters on the wall as he fights thru the picks and around the screens. Those posters adorn his wall, the great ones, those who have paved the way before he was even born. He has dreams, ambitions; he wants to follow the path so many have followed before. His mind begins to drift as the evening sun begins to go behind the mountaintops—he sees a sea of blue and white in his mind—he wants to be there, he wants to play there, more than anything. This is his hope, his greatest dream, to don the blue and white, to see the letters of the greatest college basketball team in the entire world. To bring honor to the banners hanging in that great circle, that great hall called Rupp Arena. As nighttime falls and he crawls wearily into bed he dreams of being a wildcat. The sound of an alarm clock and the light of a rising sun begin his day again. This will be another day filled with hope. Someday, he will be a wildcat……."

This is every Kentucky boys’ dream! To do his state and school proud! To proudly wear with honor the special blue and white!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Regarding Billy Donovan and the bidding war

Wildcats Thunder Member

I have said several times that the University of Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley can afford to match or beat any financial offer Mitch Barnhart can make to Billy Donovan. And that is 100% true.

It is also true that Foley has the backing of key boosters who want to keep Donovan happy in Gainesville.

This morning, speculation is emerging in the Florida instate sports media that Foley might be able to afford to double Donovan's current $1.75 million salary. That is also essentially true.

However, there is one important caveat. I have not mentioned this previously, because it came from someone that I wish to keep

Although Foley prioritizes excellence in every sport, and although he does not view UF as a "football school" per see, the Gators are the defending NCAA Champions in football as well as basketball. Foley's difficult and complicated history with Steve Spurrier, and the hiring of Urban Meyer when Foley outbid Notre Dame a few years ago, have left Foley in a scenario that would require an immediate and substantial raise for Meyer if he doubles Donovan's package.

Foley can afford all of this, but there are internal political considerations. While UF's Administration and boosters are willing to pay generously for the stellar success of their athletics department over the last year, there is a difficult precedent issue with giving everyone a raise whenever one coach gets recruited by another school.

In other words, Foley can afford to match what Mitch offers Donovan, but there are other interesting coaches out there who would love to work for UF. So Foley might prefer to sign another coach like Billy Gillispie, Mark Few, or Jamie Dixon for $1.5 - 2 million for 4-5 years, rather than matching a $3 million eight year offer by Mitch to Billy Donovan. Foley can hire any of those candidates.

There is now evidence that Foley is already compiling a list of candidates. Thus, Donovan may end up at UK without a counteroffer from Foley. Not saying this will happen, but it might.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Clarifying the scenario with UK and Billy D

Wildcats Thunder Member

There are all kinds of speculative internet rumors out there right now. Many people are in a dither. Here, I will clear all of this up.

A lot of people believe Mitch and Billy D have already had a meeting. Some people believe Billy D has already made a secret agreement with Mitch. One guy thinks Billy D has already bought a house in Lexington.

None of the above is true. Not even close.

It's interesting that so many people still believe Tubby Smith is a "class guy", but they don't understand Mitch is actually the "class guy". Tubby just took a $1.5 million "loyalty bonus" (with a clause that prevents him from making anymore public comments about UK, BTW....which is the real reason for the payment), then bolted for Minnesota without telling his employer what he was doing. Mitch found out about Tubby's new employment contract in a TV report sourced from Minnesota, then had to chase Tubby down through his agent to learn the truth from this "class guy"....

Kentucky will take its time to replace Smith

However, Mitch is a "class guy". Mitch will not talk to Billy D until he has asked and received formal permission from UF AD Jeremy Foley. Mitch will not request permission to talk with Billy D until UF's basketball season is over. If UF goes to the FF, this could take another couple of weeks. In the meantime, Mitch will not talk directly with Billy D.

Meanwhile, of course, Billy D is aware that he is UK's #1 choice for the vacant coaching job. For one thing, Billy D can read. For another, informal contact has been made by two former UK basketball players. These contacts are not improper in any way, since both individuals already have relationships with Billy D. One of them is a coach, who lives in Florida. The other is an attorney. Both contacts have already been reported in the media, although not widely. You can figure it out.

The important thing is that Billy D is welcoming UK's call. I mention this because I have been skeptical about UK's chances of hiring Billy D. Now it is time to clarify.

Contrary to what you may hear from posters who don't know what they are talking about, UF can easily afford to outspend UK. UK has lots of money, but UF has more. That won't be the defining factor.

Mitch and Foley are similar in their management philosophies, in that both ADs want their universities to excel in every competitive sport, from football to tennis to swimming. Foley understands that Donovan is special to UF, and he will do whatever it takes to keep Mr. and Mrs. Donovan happy in Gainesville.

Texas coach Rick Barnes has already publicly ruled out any interest in the UK job. Although Barnes would not have been any better than Barnhart's #4 or #5 choice, this is still significant because it meant Barnes already knew the UK job would be open a week before Tubby actually bolted. If Barnes knew, Billy D also knew. And so did Foley. The reasons aren't important now.

Here's what is important. You can expect the following. Florida will make another deep run into the FF. Maybe the Gates will repeat, maybe not.

When the FF is over, Mitch will ask Jeremy Foley for permisson to talk with Billy D, and Foley will grant permission if Billy D has asked him to do that. Foley and Billy D are personal friends, and Foley has already assured Billy D that UF will match any offer UK makes.

Nonetheless, Billy D will talk with Mitch. Billy D is intrigued by the opportunity to out-do his old mentor febuk at UK. (Remember....febuk was the last person to call UK the "best job in basketball" in public. No one has explicitly said that since.)

More importantly, Billy D is also intrigued by an opportunity to coach in front of 24,000 fans every night out. (UF basketball attracts half that many.) Still more importantly....whereas many in the media and the coaching business view UK as a pressure cooker, Billy D sees the UK job as an opportunity to accomplish great things in a place where great things have been accomplished previously. This shows that Billy D has the heart and the ambition needed to be successful at UK....which is admittedly not common in the coaching biusiness.

However, none of this means Billy D will take the UK job. On the contrary, it only means he will listen. Billy D is an icon in Gainesville. He is on top of the basketball world right now, and he does not need to make a move to stay there. Even though his best players may be about to bolt to the NBA, he has a loaded roster of young talent around which to rebuild, including star guards Taurean Green and Nick Calathes (whom Tubby could not pry away from Billy D) and F Dan Werner (ditto). Billy D already has an excellent class coming to Gainesville, and will probably add Pat Patterson if he stays.

As mentioned earlier, Foley will match or beat any offer Mitch makes to Billy D. And if Billy D turns down UK, this gives UF an even-bigger recruiting advantage over UK than Donovan already enjoys.

Some have suggested Billy D could instantly bring Pat Patterson to Lexington with him. But Billy D can sign Patterson in Gainesville.

Since Mrs. Donovan is happy in Gainesville, and in view of the fact that Foley will do whatever is necessary to keep Donovan happy, I still believe Mitch's chances of signing Billy D are no better than 50-50. However, they are a lot better than I thought a couple of weeks ago, because Donovan has indicated privately (and suggested publicly) that he will sit down and listen seriously to Mitch.

In the end, this will boil down to Mitch's salesmanship and Donovan's concept of the "ultimate job" in his profession. Right now, you should not believe anyone who is talking about "done deals" and that kind of thing because, in reality, the negotiations will not even begin for several weeks. But if this is what Billy D wants, an agreement will be announced fairly quickly after they begin.

OTOH, if Billy D wants to stay in Gainesville, Mitch will be working the rest of his list before long. And the rest of his list is not what you are reading on the internet (although there is some truth to speculation regarding Matta and Gillispie).

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Here is my point of view on Tubby's resignation

Wildcats Thunder Member

For one simple reason, I am compelled to cite my March 5 post on this board....

Here it is...Could be the news you are waiting for

....because it underscores the fact the inside information can still be acquired on campus if you get it from (1) UK's Board of Governors, (2) President Todd's inner circle, and/or (3) a select group of former UK players who are still connected. OTOH, you simply cannot believe what you hear in the media, or on the big internet websites. It is essential to understand that the LHL went for Mitch Barnhart's jugular when Mitch first arrived in Lexington in 2002. After that, Mitch shut down all the traditional leaks in UK's Athletics Department. This has put some media types (e.g., Oscar Combs) essentially out of business, while others (like LHL columnists Tipton, Story, Cosby, and Clay) are now reduced to getting their "information" the same way you get surfing the net.

These days, members of the LHL staff cannot interview an employee of UK's Athletics Department unless a UK public relations officer has approved the interview in advance and provided talking points. Failure by any UK employee to disregard these guidelines is a termination-level offense. Leaking will get you axed by Mitch (just ask Alvis Johnson). In essence, this means LHL columnists can no longer acquire raw information from within UK's Athletics Department. Several years ago, BTW, John Clay attempted to hide inside a garbage can at the Nutter Center. While Clay didn't learn much about UK football with that ploy, the event did serve as a tacit admission that Clay is garbage.

All of this underscores a lesson that should be learned from the events of the last several weeks. Don't believe anything you hear about Mitch Barnhart, or about his plans, unless it comes from Lee Todd, or from key members of UK's Board of Governors, or from the handful of former UK players who are still connected. (BTW, Cam Mills is not one of those.)

Moving right along....this morning's tsumani of news contains some interesting tidbits, along with an onslaught of other garbage that is substantially untrue.

Here are the nuts and bolts. Throughout a decade at UK, Tubby Smith has effectively utilized a two-track strategy. While Tubby has been the face and the voice of UK basketball, his agents have combed the national marketplace for other professional opportunities. They have talked turkey with the University of South Carolina, the University of Virginia, the Atlanta Hawks, the Carolina Bobcats, the Philadephia 76ers, and several other organizations. For years, Tubby and Donna have been playing good cop/bad cop at cocktail parties with UK officials. Maybe not intentionally, but that's how it looked to too many important people. In the inner sanctum of UK athletics, Tubby has been considered a ticking time bomb. When Larry Ivy tried to isolate Tubby from the scheduling process and define Tubby's latitude and responsibilities, Tubby responded by talking with the University of South Carolina, the Reverend Louis Coleman, and LHL columnist Merlene Davis. When Coleman and Davis bashed UK publicly for "mistreating" Tubby, Tubby sat silently with his multimillion contract and let his employers twist in the wind.

When Mitch arrived in Lexington, he saw an opportunity to lock up Tubby with a contract extension and bring peace to the UK-Tubby relationship. After all, most people would be happy with the highest-paying contract in their profession, 2.4 million/year, and a strong endorsement from the employer. Mitch reasoned this would bring Tubby's focus back to improving UK's basketball program. At the time, it was a reasonable calculation on Mitch's part, and it allowed Mitch to focus on UK football and baseball. The results with those two sports have been impressive, to say the least.

However, Tubby's attention continued to straw away from UK basketball, and UK's recruiting showed the impact of this. Then, after Tubby was able to put together the heralded Morris/Rondo/Crawford/Bradley class, the team simply underachieved. Rondo left in a huff for the NBA, and the rest is now history.

The result has been two consecutive unranked seasons, six straight losses to Florida, and four-straight losses to Vandy. This season, the Cats went 0-7 against ranked opponents, and 4-6 against SEC East opponents.

So while some fans and media types will point to Tubby's overall record, the fact is that UK basketball has been on a steady, demonstrable decline for several years, if not longer. This has been articulately pointed out in a number of recent columns in the public media, such as....

UK's Smith should leave before he's eventually fired

Mitch Barnhart and Lee Todd are in a tough spot here. They did not hire Tubby Smith. (The guy who actually hired Tubby has a football stadium named after him on UK's campus, and is currently basking in a comfortable retirement right in the shadow of another SEC school....Bama....with a vacation home in the Bahamas that was financed by UK boosters. Go figure.) But Barnhart and Todd are stuck with the fallout. Various public relations disaster scenarios notwithstanding, UK's basketball program simply could not be allowed to continue to drift, rudderlessly, outside the national polls while other regional D-1 programs like Ohio State, Florida, Tennessee, and UL prospered.

Mitch Barnhart is a candid, forthright man. One year ago, Mitch gave Tubby the benefit of a candid assessment of what needed to be done to stop the slide. What happened? Tubby ignored his boss in a very public fashion. Then, Tubby finished the 2006-07 basketball season by losing seven of UK's last eleven games, including a pasting by Kansas in the finale last Sunday on national TV.

Now, here is the truth about the past week, and about yesterday.

While Tubby was publicly saying "Let's put it this way...I expect to be back"....his agent was negotiating with the University of Minnesota. Nobody who truly understands Tubby Smith's prior behavior should be surprised by that.

After collecting a $1.5 million "loyalty bonus" from UK, Tubby has now signed a seven year contract with the Gophers that maintains him indefinitely as one of the nation's highest paid college basketball coaches. Tubby did this the day before he was scheduled to meet with Mitch to answer for his performance. The rule of thumb in such matters is "follow the money". So if one wishes to interpret these events literally, one can conclude that money is the most important parameter to Orlando Tubby Smith.

We know this much. Tradition is not what's important here. If it was, Tubby could have prolonged his tenure at the nation's top traditional college basketball program by respecting its traditions, and by taking his boss' advice.

Let's be clear here. Although tens of thousands of UK fans were ready to help Tubby and Donna Smith pack, Tubby's boss has been as supportive as the circumstances allowed him to be. Mitch signed Tubby to the most lucrative contract extension in his profession. Mitch gave Tubby endorsement after endorsement. Mitch even participated actively in recruitment of HS athletes for Tubby's program. When fans were in open revolt, Mitch pleaded for patience. When the media blasted Mitch over the fine details of his endorsements, Mitch issued more endorsements. WHAT MORE COULD PEOPLE EXPECT FROM THE MAN? The crown jewel of UK's athletics portfolio was going south fast on his watch, but Mitch continued to lend whatever support he could lend to a combative, uncooperative Tubby Smith under the circumstances, even as UK fans were starting to call for Mitch's scalp. Meanwhile, Tubby was all over the talk shows, selfishly spinning his side of the story and implicitly making his employer look bad in public.

What now? Don't look for any quick fixes.

There will be a brief media storm, while the LHL and certain elements in the national media try to trash UK. This is predictable. This morning, the LHL had eleven columns ready to publish about Tubby's departure. Does anyone believe all eleven were written in the last 12 hours?

Our basketball program has drifted a lot farther in the wrong direction than most of you realize. Unranked for two years. Losing record in the SEC East Division. 0-7 against ranked opponents this season. A new coach will need several recruiting classes to address this.

The first development to watch is Randolph Morris' decision. I have said before that Morris is gone. That was based on the assumption that Tubby would stay. Morris thought so little of Tubby that the kid did not even consult Tubby before declaring for the NBA draft two years ago. Many UK fans assume that Tubby's departure assures Morris will leave. I believe the opposite. Morris is probably still headed for the NBA, but Tubby's departure is the only chance UK had to keep him another year.

If Morris leaves, next season will be bleak indeed. Jared Carter is not an SEC caliber basketball player, and don't try to tell me about Roy Williams liking Carter. Roy has athletic forwards to put around a slow center. We don't. Meanwhile, Mike Williams is another "project", who may renege now anyway. The only SEC caliber baseline athlete on UK's 2007-08 roster will be Perry Stevenson, and he weighs 180#. UK is loaded again in the backcourt, but several years of bad habits will need to be coached out of Bradley and Crawford. The simple fact is that Perry Stevenson, Jody Meeks, Derrick Jasper, Mike Porter, and AJ Stewart are now "the future of UK basketball".

Jai Lucas might have signed with Tubby, but Jai will now take a careul look at the new UK coach before turning elsewhere. Pat Patterson was not going to sign with UK, so please don't take his mother's eulogies of Tubby seriously now. In fact, the only chance UK has, or ever had, to sign Patterson rest with the new UK coach, whomever it is. I would not yet totally discount UK's chance to sign either kid although, obviously, there will be a difficult burden on Mitch, and on UK's new coach, to keep the lines of communication open.

Who will it be? The first two calls go to Pat Riley and Billy Donovan. Riley is not actually a candidate for the opening, but his advice is valued. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, agrees Donovan is the first choice. Riley might be able to help with Donovan's recruitment, but I have said many times (and will say again now) that I see no reason for Donovan to leave Gainesville. It won't be money. UK has money, but UF has more. Whatever UK offers Donovan, Jeremy Foley can afford to match. It won't be tradition, because Billy has built his own tradition in Gainesville. I see only one scenario that would bring Donovan to UK. That's if Riley, Barnhart, Bret Bearup, and his old mentor febuk simply talk him into it. That won't be easy, because Billy's wife is happy in Gainesville. And, having lived in northeast Florida, I can personally tell you that it beats the heck out of Lexington. Not even close.

So, let's assume for the sake of discussion that BD says no. Despite what uninformed fans may say, you can forget about febuk, Bill Self, and John Calipari. Febuk has burned all of his bridges with UK's inner circle. In essence, febuk is a traitor and a liar, who will never be forgiven. For different reasons, Self and Calipari also have too much baggage for Mitch.

I believe Tom Izzo and Mark Few are unlikely. Izzo will never leave East Lansing. Few is a west coaster for life.

Rick Barnes must be viewed now as improbable. Last week, Barnes publicly announced he is not a candidate for the UK job. That means Barnes already knew Tubby was leaving. So either Barnes had already been passed over by Mitch behind the scenes at that point....leading to his "withdrawal" to save face....or else he is posturing for a negotiation. Since everyone in American knows BD (not Barnes) is the first choice for the job, I think it is the former. If it was the latter, Barnes could have put himself in line for a nice contract extension from Texas by staying quiet. (See Rich Rodriguez/Bama vs. UWV.)

This brings us to a more rational discussion of what happens if BD says no. Everyone wants to see the "list". Here is the list:


Billy Donovan


Billy Gillispie
Tom Izzo
Thad Matta

Other notables:

Tom Crean
Mike D’Antoni
Mark Few
Travis Ford
Jay Wright

Among the "other notables", Few, Wright, and Crean would be the first to receive consideration. Few has done very well out West, but has no recruiting network in the East. D’Antoni probably could not be lured from the NBA without a concerted recruitment. Wright and Crean have the backing of a few UK boosters, but aren't ready for the SEC upper echelon. Ford is viewed as a bright young coach who isn't ready yet for UK's meat grinder.

I wouldn't worry too much about the "other notables" at this point, because the probabilty is so high that Donovan, Gillispie, or Matta will take the job before the discussion gets around to them. It looks more like Matta or Gillispie to me, but Mitch will do everything in his power to lure Donovan first.

For more info click here, but you'll have to's quick and FREE!!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Morris Signs with the New York Knicks

Wildcats Thunder Administrator

Kentucky junior center Randolph Morris signs a 2-year free-agent contract with the New York Knicks, Friday worth $1.6 million, a day after Coach Smith resigns to take the University of Minnesota's Head Coaching job.

Morris who averaged 16.1 points and 7.8 rebounds for the Wildcats this season and was named first-team All-Southeastern Conference. Morris will now join the Knicks who are trying to make the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs, but word has not been said for sure when he will suit up and join the team.

While this comes as no surprise to many UK fans as they knew that Morris wanted to play in the NBA. Many fans along with the UK Athletics Department were hoping that Morris would wait and see who the NEW UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY Head Coach would be. But if you have a dream and the opportunity knocks you have to strike while the iron is "HOT"and that is what Morris did.

Good Luck Randolph Morris in the NBA and thanks for all you did while you were here at UK you will be missed.

Lady Cats Season Comes to a End to Wisconsin

Wildcats Thunder Administrator

The University of Kentucky Lady Wildcats fall to the Wisconsin Badgers 61-67 at The Kohl Center in the round of sixteen in the Women's National Invitational Tournament. This was Kentucky's thrid straight season for UK to play in the post season.This season was the second straight 20-win season for Coach DeMoss and the Lady Cats as they finish the year at 20-14. The Wildcats have now posted back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since the 1989-90 and 1990-91 campaigns. Good things lay ahead for Coach DeMoss and the Lady Cats as they now must focus on improvement and getting the help they need for next season.

Congrats Coach DeMoss and Lady Cats on another good season.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tubby Smith Resigns as UK's Head Coach

Wildcats Thunder Member

Well, it’s over. Tubby Smith has resigned to take the job in Minnesota. Let me start by saying thank you to Coach Smith. The man won a national title and multiple conference titles. He represented the University with class and by all accounts was a well respected individual. I wish him the best of luck.

I also believe that Minnesota will be a very good fit for Coach Smith. His playing style really is geared toward the Big 10. The controlled tempo, set up the offense with post player and defense first mentality is tailor made for that conference. I also believe he will be able to win 20 games per season and take them to Sweet 16 and the occasional elite 8. And I honestly believe that Minnesota fans will take to him very quickly. And there is little doubt that he will exhibit the same class at Minnesota that he consistently showed Kentucky.

Now, what happens with our beloved program. First, with any coaching change there be uncertainty. There will be recruits that choose other schools and possibly player transfers. Randolph Morris will probably receive a pro contract and take his game to next level. While I sincerely wish that Morris, and all the Cats would stay, that’s probably somewhat unrealistic. Which will probably leave us with a skinny roster next year. And this will present a challenge to our next coaching staff. But we all know that Kentucky basketball has survived and even thrived in such situations before.

The key, as is always the case in college sports, is making the right coaching hire. I’m not going to attempt to delve into the mind of our AD and guess who that will be. But I will take a minute and list some characteristics that I believe the new coach needs. First, they need to understand the tradition and prestige of the University of Kentucky and embrace our large and fickle fan base. They need to be able to recruit top notch athletes consistently. Another very important factor is that need to be able to effectively use the media to promote the program and themselves. Kentucky basketball should be a national venture, not simply a regional one. They should be able to accomplish these things while competing with class and within the rules as well. And we need someone that coaches an entertaining style of basketball that young people today are looking for, and that the fans can get excited about. But the single most important characteristic that our new absolutely has to have is the passion and belief in being the best. I want someone who believes good is not good enough. Like Avery Johnson said, “A great season is winning the championship anything less is just good.” That’s the spirit we need infused back into the program.

That’s a tall order without a doubt. But those type of individuals are out there. And if you make the right hire, they can minimize the short term attrition and maximize the long term success. Our current players will mostly be concerned with the type of person we hire and how they will fit into future plans. The right person will be able to communicate the vision effectively enough that many will want to stay. And they will be able to recruit well enough that we will be back on track in short order. Kelvin Sampson appears to be doing that at IU and I believe the right coach will have similar results.

Once again, I wish Coach Smith all the best. He had a good 10 year run at U.K. But I believe this situation is best for all concerned. Minnesota is getting a coach that will make them very happy, and Kentucky is getting a much needed fresh start in attempt to jump start a stagnant program. Hopefully, everyone comes out ahead and we get back to playing Kentucky basketball in short order.

And I believe that hope is back in force for the Kentucky Faithful.

UK's Athletic Director Mith Barnhart & UK President Lee Todd release statements on Coach Smith's Resignation

After Coach Tubby Smith decided to resign as the UK Head Coach, UK Athletics Director and UK President releases statements wishing Tubby Smith and his family happiness and thanking them for their time here at the University of Kentucky.

Below are the statements that were released to the media.

Statement from Mitch Barnhart, Athletics Director, University of Kentucky

On behalf of the University of Kentucky, I’d like to express sincere appreciation to Tubby Smith, his family and his staff. Tubby has always put a priority on the growth of the student-athlete while representing the Commonwealth with class, and we thank him for that. We wish him the very best at the University of Minnesota. They are getting a solid coach and a great person.

Our focus now is on finding the best possible person to lead the winningest program in college basketball history. President Todd has asked me to lead the search. Our strategy does not involve a search committee. Obviously, I will utilize the opinions of experts in this business. We will also lean on people who understand and are committed to the success of Kentucky basketball.

This search will be exhaustive, comprehensive and focused. Throughout that time, I will keep Dr. Todd informed during the process.

As you know, Coach Smith signed two players last fall. Those young men now have something to deal with in that the coach they signed with is no longer at the university to which they made their commitment. We have to be sensitive to them and stay in constant communication with them and their families.

We also have some scholarships still available for next season and have been pursuing individuals for those scholarships. It is our hope that any young man interested in playing at the University of Kentucky before Coach Smith decided to leave would wait until a new coach is in place before making any final decisions about their college future.

Kentucky holds a special place in college basketball. We have the best facilities and tradition in the sport, but most importantly, UK has a fan base which for decades has committed immense financial and emotional resources into Wildcat basketball. It truly is the Big Blue Nation, and it is what sets the University of Kentucky’s basketball program apart from every other school.

I’m confident we can find the right person to embrace this tradition and lead Kentucky basketball into the future.

Statement by Lee Todd, President, University of Kentucky

I greatly appreciate the service Tubby Smith has given to this university. He is among the best as a coach and has represented this university with class and professionalism. Tubby and Donna will also be greatly missed as members of this community to which they have given so much. I wish him every success, except if they ever play us, in this new chapter in his coaching career.

Mitch Barnhart and I have talked extensively about the process for hiring a new coach of Kentucky basketball. Mitch has a proven track record of bringing quality coaches to Kentucky that have immediate success and positive impact. I have every confidence in his ability to hire the right person for Kentucky and I am excited about moving our program forward.

Morris ..Will he Leave UK?

Wildcats Thunder Administrator

UK junior center Randolph Morris will now set down and decide on his future between a NBA career or returning to UK for his senior season. In four games in the Southeastern Conference Tournament
and the NCAA Tournament, Morris averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Most feel that Morris will leave UK and play professional basketball.

Morris who entered the NBA Draft after his Freshman season went undrafted in the 2005 Draft and now Morris is
a free agent and can sign with any NBA team at any time.

But this time before making any decisions, Morris will set down and discuss his options with his parents and Coach Smith this time around, if Morris decides to leave UK for the NBA. Morris also will consider playing for a professional European team, if the offer is right.

Lady Cats in WNIT Round of 16

UK Lady Cats 20-13 will play Wisconsin 20-12 in the WNIT Round of 16 Thursday at Madison, Wisconsin 8:00pm. This will be the Lady Cats third WNIT game on the road after winning the first two. However the Cats have played two Big 10 teams earlier in the season and have come away with a lost, but hopefully the Lady Cats can pull out a win in this game so they can return home and host the next WNIT game.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tubby's situation as of 3/19/07 as "I hear it"

Wildcats Thunder Basketball/Recruiting Analyst

I have been on the phone most of the day and have found out a couple tidbits about "The Tubby Situation". I was told that Tubby and the brass(Mitch and Todd) will sit down sometime this week probably Thurs. or Fri. and discuss the problems with the program. At this meeting the brass will inform Tubby that 2 for sure and probably all 3 assistants will have to be replaced. Tubby will either accept this or resign. I have heard that Tubby has already said he will not fire any assistants. I ask a source and he said he expects Tubby to step down sometime soon after the meeting. He was told that no one will be fired but all will step down including Tubby. Thus ending the often painful to watch ten years of Tubby at UK.

Now for who will replace Tubby. First let me say that from what I have heard Tubby will not be back at UK next year, just a statement from what I have been told nothing concrete yet but possibly soon. I have been told that UK has 5 coaches they will look at hard. Coach Gillespie, Calipari, Self, Wright, and Matta. Not sure of the order, but I was told these are the 5 guys that a new UK coach would come from. I would be totally happy with either. So this is what I have heard and I think will happen from my sources so "take it for what its worth" and have a nice day.

UK....A Program Held Hostage!

Wildcats Thunder Member

Virtually all UK fans know that for UK to move forward in regaining it's elite status....UK must have a new coach! However, UK is in effect held hostage by the sports media which would launch World War III on UK if Mitch fires Tubby. All that negativity would seriously hurt UK in obtaining the coach it wants and would hurt recruiting as well.

So Mitch is faced with two, he insists that Tubby make significant staff changes and keep Tubby for next yr. The second solution is for Tubby to understand that his coming back next yr would produce another horrible yr and his reputation and value as a coach would suffer greatly!

Unless Tubby walks away, which is unlikely.....then the UK program will be held hostage next yr.....a program in serious decline....with no impact recruits coming on board.....a "lameduck" coach who will not be able to attract not asst coaches or top rated recruits.

I think most everyone expects Morris to leave....few expect Patterson or Lucas to sign with a "lameduck" coach.....I doubt Tubby would have got them anyway with his terrible past recruiting failures....a possibility of a transfer.....a lackluster 07 recruiting class coming in with not one single impact recruit. How any coach in America could look at this situation and think that he can achieve success next yr is beyond me, but..."we all know that Tubby is in denial as to just how much trouble the UK program is in"!

So, unless Tubby walks away.....UK fans will probably suffer through an even worse season next yr.....likely an NIT team, if that! At the same time, UK fans see a Louisville team with lots of talent that will clearly be superior to UK next yr......we see all the terrific teams in the NCAA with lots of talent.....we see an SEC conference that has teams surpassing UK in talent!

Yes, UK is held hostage.....if Tubby truly cares about the UK program.....he will call a press conference and say that Mitch asked him back, but he feels that it is time for he and his family to move on and accept new challenges. He will thank UK for the honor and privilege of being the UK coach, but feels that a change is needed. That would be a tremendous WIN/WIN for UK and Tubby!

If Tubby made that decision he would always be remembered fondly by UK fans and he would have his reputation intact and likely get some good job offers. If he chooses to come back as coach next is a LOSE/LOSE for both UK and Tubby.

UK fans can only hope that Tubby chooses to leave and free up the UK program to move forward with a new coach!

Monday, March 19, 2007

UK falls to Kansas in 2nd Rd in NCAA Tournament

Wildcats Thunder Sports Reporter

It has been a unusual season filled full with turmoil, losses, and whatever else, you name it. But it would all come to a screeching halt today as the number 1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks surged past the Wildcats.

The Cats hung in the game in the first half. It was a VERY close game before halftime and the Jayhawks came roaring out of the gates in the 2nd hlaf leaving UK behind in their tracks!

Today was Bobby Perry's, Sheray Thomas's, and WOO's last game in the big blue and white. It has been a joy watching those 3 play for the past 4 season of their respective careers! I hope they go on out of UK and have a very good and prosperous lives for they will always be remembered as a Kentucky Wildcat!

Morris finished the season with a 22 points 8 rebounds 2 blocks and 1 steal performance against the Jayhawks. The majority of his 22 points came at the free throw line. He has had a great season and hopefully he will comeback for his senior season next year!

Jodie Meeks finished his freshman season with a 10 points 4 rebounds 2 assists and 1 steal against the Jayhawks. He has had a EXCELLENT freshman season for the blue and white. He will defiantly be a great player here and I for one can't wait to see him!

The Cats had another early exit out of this years big dance. We went 0 for 7 against ranked opponents this season. Hopefully this will be the final straw for Tubby and hopefully he will part ways with the University of Kentucky for UK's sake!

Go Big Blue!!!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The FUTURE of UK basketball

Wildcats Thunder Member

I understand that everyone is excited about playing Kansas this afternoon. That's natural. When two of college basketball's legendary programs play one another, everyone should get excited.

Once in a while, a game comes along that can fill in the blanks in indisputable fashion. This UK team is 0-7 against ranked opponents, but some fans still believe UK can beat Kansas today. And in truth, no game is over until the final buzzer. So UK has a puncher's chance today if Randolph Morris plays the game of his life, AND if UK's perimeter shooters play their best game of the season, AND if UK can control the pace of the game. The chances are not particularly good that UK can control those three game parameters, but it isn't absolutely impossible. Stranger things have happened.

I hope and believe UK will make a good effort today, but I sit and wonder when UK fans will finally insist on more than that.

That said, it is much more likely that UK fans will painfully (again) rediscover the difference between unranked teams and #1 seeds this afternoon. For UK fans, the true value of today's game is as a yard stick. If you want to know what it takes to be a top five team, watch Kansas. After this game is over, perhaps we will be able to agree on that.

My thoughts on UK/Kansas Matchup

Wildcats Thunder Member

I have watched every Kansas game this year and I have a tough time seeing us matching up against them on Sunday:

Jasper v. Robinson - Neither scores very much, but Robinson is at least a threat to knock down a three when he is open.
I say kind of a push.

Bradley v. Chamers: Chamers can be lights out at times. According to Self, Chamers is the guy he wants with the ball at the end of games. He was at the top of the list for steals per games in the Big 12. Bradley can get hot and knock down threes, and be solid on defense, but he turns the ball over too much and could be 1-8 from deep.
Edge: Kansas

Crawford v. Rush - Both tend to disappear when their teams need a big bucket. Rush is more consident from behind the arc and plays better defense.

Perry v. Wright - Wright is a future top five pick in the league. Out of control at times, but then dunking on three people. Perry, well . . . see above re Wright.
Edge: Kansas

Kaun v. Morris - Morris has the clear edge. Kaun can be a solid rebounder and provide points, but Morris has been playing great lately and is the more skilled big man.
Edge: Kentucky

Bench: Collins/Aurther v. Meeks/Thomas - Meeks is a scorer. Good first step and we always look better offensively when he is on the floor. Thomas has been playing better and grabbed some nice boards on the offensive glass today, he still is not a big offensive threat. Collins is one of the best freshman points in the country. In crunch time he is on the floor, not Robinson. He gets going to fast sometimes, but just kills people going to the rack while also shooting 41% from behind the arc. Aurther reminds me of a young Morris. He is skilled offfensively and goes hard to the basket, but he can't guard anybody. He is a foul away from one hard dribble to the basket.
Edge: Kansas

I think that we have to play out of our minds on Sunday, and like someone else said, no more stupid turnovers.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

UK vs Kansas in 2nd Rd. NCAA Tournament

2007 Men's Basketball NCAA Tournament - 2nd Round

Kentucky and Kansas are two of the most winningest programs in College Basketball. Kansas has giving UK fits in their last last two meetings with Kansas winning both games.

Coaches: UK: Tubby Smith, 10th season (263-82), 16th overall (387-144);
Kansas: Bill Self, 4th season (103-28), 14th overall (310-133).
Series record: UK leads 19-5.
Last meeting: Kansas defeated UK, 73-46, on Jan. 7, 2006.
Season Record: (8) Kentucky 22-11 vs (1) Kansas 31-4
Sunday, March 18
Time: 5:05 p.m. ET
Where: United Center - Chicago, Ill.

SEC East, 4th placeConferenceBig 12, 1st place
6-8Record vs. Tourney Teams5-3
3-2Record vs. Common Opp.2-1
73.3 | 67.1PPG | OPPG79.3 | 61.2
Randolph Morris (15.9)Scoring LeaderBrandon Rush (13.6)
Randolph Morris (7.8)Rebound LeaderJulian Wright (8.0)
Ramel Bradley (3.6)Assists LeaderRussell Robinson (4.5)

KANSAS Probable Starters

Player Ht. Yr. Stats
FJulian Wright6-8So.12.1 ppg, 8.0 rpg
CSasha Kaun6-11Jr.6.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg
GRussell Robinson6-1Jr.6.8 ppg, 4.4 apg
GMario Chalmers6-1So.14.5 ppg, 3.1 apg
GBrandon Rush6-6So.13.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg

KENTUCKY Probable Starters

Player Ht. Yr. Stats
FBobby Perry6-8Sr.8.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg
CRandolph Morris6-11Jr.15.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg
GDerrick Jasper6-6Fr.4.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg
GRamel Bradley6-2Jr.13.8 ppg, 3.7 apg
GJoe Crawford6-5Jr.14.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg

Cats advances to the Second Round with Win 67-58

Wildcats Thunder Administrator
The Kentucky Wildcats (22-11) a #8 seed beat the Villanova Wildcats (22-11) a #9 seed in Round One of the NCAA Tournament West Region with a final score of 67-58. Kentucky was the only #8 seed to advance to Round Two with a win, making it the 16th straight year UK has advanced past the first round.

UK went to the inside with Morris against Villanova with Morris height and basketball talent it game Villanova fits all night long on the inside which had no one to match up with him. Villanova tried several tactics trying to stop Morris, but nothing Nova did would stop Morris on the inside. Morris finished the game with 19 pts.,11 Rebs. and 3 Blocks. Morris has stepped his game up during the post season. Morris has had 65 pts., 37 rebounds in the last three post season games averaging 21.6 pts and 12.3 rebounds a game. Morris has stepped up game "Big Time" and put the team on his back to be the leader.

Morris had help from teammates Jodie Meeks 12 pts., Ramel Bradley 11 pts. and Joe Crawford 10 pts. also finished in double figures. Also Senior Sheray Thomas had 7 pts., 6 rebounds and 1 assist. Even though Senior Bobby Perry didn't start the game, because of a coaching error Bobby still finished the game with 6 pts., 2 rebounds, 2 assist, 2 blocks and 2 steals. Overall a good "TEAM EFFORT".

Coach Smith made the right decisions in a hard fought win against Villanova. Coach Smith did some of his best coaching last night against Villanova. Guess Coach Smith was saving his best for last the post season.

Congrats Cats on a good hard fought win.

Kentucky must put this win behind them and prepare for the overall #1 seed Kansas, who has giving the Cats fits the last two years in the regular season.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Does Meeks = Mashburn?

Wildcats Thunder Football Recruiting Analyst

IMO Jamal Mashburn has been the single most important recruit in the history of UK basketball. He was the one guy who took a chance, “to be the man” when things were bleak for UK basketball.

UK was struggling after probation and Pitino was able to sell ‘Mash on the thought of being “the player” that UK could ride back to their rightful place among the basketball elite.

While nowhere close to the probation era UK basketball IMO is going to struggle next season after Morris bolts for the NBA. The roster needs a HUGE influx of talent and athleticism. The best part of the equation is the STUD is already on campus.

I think a new coach will be in place next year ready to install a system that will “beg” for players such as Jodie. I hate to use the word “sacrifice” but that is what we will be doing next season for the betterment of the program. The younger kids will able to learn the new system and by the time Jodie is a junior with a year in the system he will be ready to take it to the next level.

A talented and athletic group of freshman will be in place for the 2008-09 season and while having some growing pains, UK basketball will begin the ascent back up the mountain!!! Jodie will have tremendous season and talk will begin about him being an All-American his senior season.

Fast forward to 2009-10. The 2008-09 freshmen are now sophomores and Jodie is the team leader on and off the court. The preseason All American earns SEC POY Honors as well as making 1st team All-American. All the while UK has cemented themselves as a Top 10 team and cap the season and Jodie’s career with a trip back to the Final Four!!

The young man will rank with ‘Mash as an all-time favorite at UK based on his ability to raise his game and help UK reclaim their spot on the mountain top!!