Wednesday, July 23, 2008

SEC Football Links-7/23/08

Friday, July 18, 2008

My Memories of Adolph Rupp and Memorial Coliseum

Wildcats Thunder Administrator
We all have great memories as to when we became UK basketball fans. My memories go back to the early 50’s when I first entered Memorial Coliseum. After old Alumni Gymnasium, Memorial Coliseum was an amazing and beautiful basketball arena seating 11,500, but often had 12,000-13,000 in attendance. I remember selling cokes and hot dogs in the Coliseum, later I had season tickets, ….and it seems like yesterday. The concourse and restrooms were always smoked filled, especially at halftime….that I don’t miss. When the Cats came on the court before the game they ran these very precise ball handling drills which Coach Rupp had set up…. they were amazing to watch. Obviously, good basketball fundamentals were extremely important to Coach Rupp and the very serious warm-ups reflected that attitude. I remember seeing Coach Rupp and Asst. Coach Harry Lancaster watching from the bench. Harry Lancaster played a very important role in assisting Coach Rupp and in UK’s great success. At the games, Rupp would remain on the bench most of the time, but would get very animated when he was displeased. His feet would come up in the air and he would show his disgust at a bad play. It is hard to describe how great an arena the Coliseum was for UK basketball. When the Cats were running and playing well, which was very often, the crowd noise was tremendous. The amazing UK winning record at Memorial Coliseum reveals what a fantastic home court advantage it was for the Cats.

Of course, back in the 50’s, there was no internet….but everyone in Lexington wanted to know what Coach Rupp was cooking up for the next year. Although, Rupp brought in a lot of great out of state players, he always seemed to have some very talented in state players….such as Ralph Beard, Frank Ramsey, Cliff Hagan, Billy Ray Lickert, Vernon Hatton, Mike Casey, Johnny Cox and a host of others. In fact, I remember seeing some of these great UK players in the Kentucky State High School Tournament which was played at Memorial Coliseum in those days.

Adolph Rupp, ”the man in the Brown suit” was a legend…..bigger than life…feared and respected by his players. Rupp, over 42 years, laid the cornerstone for UK basketball success…..Rupp was the rock that the UK program was built on! No, UK fan should ever forget that vital truth!
Memorial Coliseum was such a very special place for UK basketball… many great games were played there…..the crowds were fantastic….and it was a very intimidating place for opponents. A few years ago, my wife and I saw a UK Blue-White scrimmage in the coliseum. I had not been in the Coliseum in many years and as I walked up the ramp into this hallowed place….I got chills as I remembered all those special memories!

Photos courtesy of Jon Scott's Site

Monday, July 14, 2008

UK Legend Wallace ”Wah Wah“ Jones turns 82

UK Legend Wallace ”Wah Wah“ Jones who was a All-American at UK turns 82 today. Jones was part of the 1948 championship team that was called "The Fabulous Five" and on UK's first NCAA championship team. Not only was Jones a member of the 1948 championship team, but Jones was also a member UK's second NCAA championship team in 1949 along with being a member of 1948 Olympic Champions team. Jones was a two sport star at UK playing basketball and football. After college Jones was drafted #9 Overall in the 1st Round of the 1949 NBA Draft by Washington. Jones, an All-America forward in basketball and all-SEC end in football, lives in Lexington. Diabetes limits his mobility. Jones jersey which is #27 is retired and hangs in the rafters at Rupp Arena along with other great players that worn the blue and white. Jon Scott has a nice profile on Wallace 'WAH WAH' Jones that list his UK stats and SEC honors.

A Fabulous First for Kentucky

Wallace Jones was clinch to play basketball at Kentucky. growing up, he and his friends used to make the drive all the way up Ivy Hill near his home in Harlan,Ky., to listen to the team's games on radio because the reception from the Louisville station was better up there. His high school basketball team played in the state tournament at Alumni Gym every year(and won in 1944). Jones had even met with coach Adolph Rupp to talk about how he would fit into the program.

And yet, if his girlfriend's father hadn't made a phone call alerting the Kentucky football coaches that Jones was on his back from a recruiting visit to Tennessee, the two-sport star might never have worn a Wildcats uniform. "They had a driver to take me to Lexington waiting at my house the next morning," recalls Jones, now 81 and living in Lexington. He would become the only athlete in Kentucky history to have both his basketball and football jerseys retired, and he played for two of the greatest(and toughest) SEC coaches of all time, Rupp and Paul (Bear) Bryant.

Jones became a starter at forward in January of the 1947-48 season, and the lineup that would soon be called the Fabulous Five was finally complete. There was Ken Rollin, a guard in his second year as a captain; junior Alex Groza, a center who had led the team in scoring the previous year; Cliff Barker, a 26-year-old forward who severed in the Army Air Corps and spent time as a prisoner or war; and Ralph Beard, a guard described in the Kentucky yearbook as "the perfect Wheaties ad, the All-American boy."

"We were a fast-pace team", said Jones, who earned the nickname Wah Wah because his younger sister hadn't been able to pronounce his name. A one-point loss at Temple and a 64-55 loss in front of a rowdy crowd at Norte Dame were the only blemishes on the Wildcats' record going into the NCAA tournament, held in New York City. The Fabulous Five first beat the Columbia Lions 76-53 to set up a meeting with Holy Cross, the '47 NCAA champions, in the semi's.

Thanks in part to an outstanding defensive effort from Rollins, who held future NBA great Bob Cousy to three points, the Wildcats beat the Crusaders 60-52 and went on to defeat Baylor 58-42 to win UK's first NCAA title.The team received a grand reception when it returned to Lexington: Thousands of fans lined Main Street cheering the national champions, who had only begun to build Kentucky's program.

Article by Elizabeth McGarr SI Kentucky Basketball 2007 Special Issue

Happy 82th Birthday Wallace 'Wah Wah' Jones.

UK Coach Cyprien, UK commit Dominique Ferguson and Coach Gillispie to be on KSR

(Pictured left to right: Coach Cyp, Ferguson and Coach Gillispie)

Matt Jone of KSRadio is scheduled to have a big radio show this week. Monday Matt is set to kick off at 8pm and around 8:25 UK Assistant Basketball Coach Glenn Cyprien is scheduled to appear and to be followed at 8:40 with 2010 UK Commitment Dominique Ferguson. Ferguson joins KC Ross-Miller and Dakotah Euton in the 2010 class. As for Wednesday at 8:25 UK Head Coach Billy Gillispie is scheduled to appear along with others. You can listen to Matt Jones Show live stream feed here and remember to bookmark the site so you can tune each week to listen to some crazy comments and interviews with UK recruits.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Remaining 2008 AAU Tournament Schedule

Here's the remaining schedule for the 2008 AAU basketball circuit.

  • Peach State Summer Showcase Aiken, S.C. July 11

  • Nike Peach Jam Aiken, S.C. July 12-15

  • Reebok Summer Championships Las Vegas, Nev. July 22-26

  • Main Event Las Vegas, Nev. July 22-26

  • Adidas Super 64 Las Vegas, Nev. July 22-26

My take on the Lebron James Skills Academy

Wildcats Thunder Member

Billy Gillispie is in the house! The two games that were played first in the jar were the Celtics vs. Piston and Cavs vs. Magic. He was watching the Celtics vs. Pistons which consisted of Wall and Orton on opposing teams. Orton looked impressive even though his team consisted of 10 players and they subbed 5 in and 5 out. Wall did not impress me very much for it being my first time seeing him play. The good news is though on the other court Gerardo Vilarino was making a play every time I looked over. It was a little hard trying to watch both games and look at rosters the whole time. Sorry, I couldn't give you much information.

The other two games were being played in the rec center. The Spurs vs. Lakers and Jazz vs. Hornets.

They are at dinner right now and the games pick back up at 6:45. I will be going back to watch later and I am going to try to watch the same games as BCG so I can let you guys know what is going on.

Tonight all the games are in the jar. The spurs vs Jazz and Lakers vs. hornets are at 6:45. The Celtics vs. Cavs and Pistons vs. Magic are at 8:15.

Rosters are at this link. If someone could split them up by team it would be a lot easier for you guys to know who is on which team when I say what teams are playing.

Ok. Gillispie sat in the middle and watched a little bit of both games for both sets on this one. I mainly watched the game with Orton, Vilarino, and Cousins. When they were both in (which was very limited due to the numbering system the coaches are using) the match up between Orton and Cousins was a good one. Orton was more skilled and had a soft touch inside, while Cousins was more physical but complained when he got fouls called on him. GJ didn't have as good of a game as he did earlier. He likes to jump when he passes and it gets him in trouble a lot. I didn't watch the other game with Wall but I did here some ooos and ahhhs and when I looked over it was him under the basket so I'm guessing he did something. Roscoe Smith had a decent game. Painter had an average game. Xavier Henry played really well. Andre Dawkins played well. Harrison Barnes stuck out a lot too.

OK round 2!!!

I was talking to Coach Cyprien about Orton, Wall, and he also asked me about Marcus Jordan who is playing very well.

Orton looked like his girlfriend just broke up with him in this game. One minute he would be playing hard and a second later he'd have his head down and walking around. He fouled out (6 fouls) 2 mins into the second QUARTER. He would still be top on my list from this camp.

So then I walked over to the other court and watched Wall and GJ. Wall finally played like what I had been reading about. Very exciting to watch him play. He didn't really shoot the ball but he got to the whole when he wanted to and had some nice passes, and fast break dunks.

GJ handled the ball well and didn't really look to score, but he is on a very selfish, complaining team and they have really bad chemistry. Walls team won by 20 or so.

I also asked coach if we were going to get anybody else THIS year and he said, we might and that there is a couple kids still floating around.

Well, I'm headed back to the JAR. BCG is down in Cincy today but is coming back for tomorrow.

Nothing special happened during the night games. Wall was making plays, Orton looked a little better than earlier but not his normal self. He has been reminding me of Randolph Morris. He plays with very little enthusiasm and excitement. Just that straight face all the time and seems down.

From what I have seen out of GJ Vilarino he can handle the ball, but he looks to me like he would be a good back up pg which is what we will need, so all is good with him.

I don't know what is going on with Marcus Jordan recruiting wise, but he is a solid player. Hes hustling all over the place getting steals, rebounds, driving, and knocks down the open 3. He hasn't shot the mid range jumper, but everything else looks good about his game. I think he would make a great role player off the bench.

Wall and Orton seem to be the only guys the UK coaches are watching at this camp, so lets hope we get them.

Billy was back in town today. He was in the jar where Wall, Orton, Jordan, Barnes and others were playing. I was not be able to make it back to the night game, so that is all I have from here in Akron.

Wildcats Thunder thanks jtweeder20 for taking the time and providing us a short run down on the Lebron James Skills Academy.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Some Thoughts on rankings/ratings of recruits

Wildcats Thunder Administrator

Like most all UK fans, I find it always interesting to view the various rankings of recruits...whether it's Rival, Scout or another ranking. Obviously, we all want to see UK getting in on highly rated recruits.....we want 4 and 5 star recruits. However, while we as fans can often get too caught up in an individual recruits ranking, we need to remember that Billy Gillispie, like most other coaches, consider far more than where a player is ranked in offering scholarships. I was recently thinking back to the "Unforgettables" who achieved so much with one truly great player, "a 5 star player", in Jamel Mashburn, but who was surrounded with, as I recall" 2 and 3 star players. Certainly, Pelphrey, Feldhous, Farmer, Woods and the others were not highly rated players, but WOW....look at what a tremendous team this became. Obviously, there are many other examples over the years in college basketball of teams succeeding without a lineup of 5 star recruits..

Don't get me wrong....I'm not against having highly rated players, but, as fans, we need to remind ourselves that putting together a great team is like cooking a great meal. You need a variety of the right ingredients. What are some of these ingredients? I strongly suspect that Coach Gillispie and his staff are looking at the following when considering scholarship offers: 1) What has been his work ethic in high school/AAU and elite camps? 2) What has been his attitude on the court? 3) What has been his relationship with his teammates? 4) How coach able has this recruit been? 5) Is he a team player? 6) What are his ball handling skills? 7) How athletic is he? 8) What are his shooting skills? 9) Has he shown a willingness to play defense? 10) Has this recruit been improving in high school? 11) Does this recruit appear to have the potential for improving his overall skills in college? 12) Is this recruit tough minded? 13) How is this recruit doing academically? 14) Will this recruits parents or other influential persons be a problem? 15) Has this recruit had on and/or off court problems? 16) Will this recruit be a good fit for team chemistry? 17) Will this recruit fill an important role on this team?

Now the above ingredients, criteria or questions that Coach Gillispie would need answers to are by no means complete. I'm sure I've missed other important ingredients.....also, they are in no particular order. In addition, Coach Gillispie will assign difference degrees of importance to all these questions regarding a recruit. However, my guess is that Gillispie places far less importance on the ranking of various recruits than the fans! Billy Gilispie knows that recruit rankings are not always accurate or even close, in many instances, of capturing the true worth or potential of a recruit.

Having said all this, I know that Gillispie is doing everything possible to increase the overall talent level at UK and we are already seeing great evidence of this in Gillispie's recruiting. My point is that as UK fans we shouldn't get overly concerned or look down on a recruit if some recruiting service has him at 87th or 114th. If Billy is offering a scholarship to a recruit who is ranked out of the top 100, it's because Billy is satisfied that that recruit has the necessary attitude and talent....and is necessary for filling a particular team need.

Lastly, not to worry....Billy Gillispie will get more than his share of outstanding recruits, but there will be some recruits who fall out of the top 50-75 range.....when that in Billy.......he knows exactly the type and mix of players, "ingredients" if you will, to make UK a top 10 team again!

Friday, July 04, 2008

UK gets 12th commitment for 2009

Anthony Kendrick from Katy, Texas a 3-star 6-foot-4, 220-pounds WR/TE commits to play football UK. Kendrick is the twelfth commitment for Coach Brooks in the 2009 Class. Kendrick is considered to be the best recruit for UK so far in '09 class.