Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
UK's junior DeAndre Liggins and freshmen Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight have declared for this year’s NBA Draft. None of the three have signed or announced plans to sign with an agent. The underclassmen have until April 24 to declare for the draft and have until May 8 to withdraw their name from the draft, provided they do not sign with an agent. The 2011 NBA Draft will take place on June 23.
Liggins, Jones, Knight and Coach Calipari comments Per UKAthletics.com:
“I’m excited about the opportunity to enter my name into the draft, putting me one step closer to realizing my dream,” Liggins said.“Growing up in a tough environment in Chicago, it’s a pleasure to have an opportunity to do something special. This is another challenge I’m looking forward to, to have my game evaluated by pro scouts and see how I rank against some of the top players in the world.”“Coach Cal and the rest of the staff pushed us all year long and helped us develop every part of our game to help prepare us for this point in our lives,” Jones said.“This will be a great chance for me to measure my skills against some of the best in the country and receive additional information on where I fit into this year’s draft.”“Playing in the NBA has always been a dream of mine and this is the next step,” Knight said.“All season long coach has been tutoring me on the fine points of being a point guard, and now I have an opportunity to put my game on display in front of NBA scouts as a result of my hard work.”
“I support the decision these three have made to take advantage of the process of putting their names in the draft,” UK men’s basketball coach John Calipari said.“They were a joy to coach this year and I would love the opportunity to continue to coach them again next season. I will always support my players in weighing their options and doing what is personally best for them and their families.”
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
UK freshman Doron Lamb has decided to return to Kentucky for his sophomore season and will not declare for the NBA Draft per UKATHLETICS.com.
Lamb and Coach Calipari's comments:
"Last season was an unbelievable run for me and my teammates, winning the SEC Tournament and advancing to the Final Four," Lamb said. "Losing the last game against UConn was tough and I don't want to end my college career with that feeling. With the guys we have coming in next year, I know we have the talent to make another run at a national title. I want to help bring a national championship back to the Big Blue Nation because I know they've been waiting too long. I've enjoyed my time at Kentucky, playing for Coach Cal and his staff and I'm not ready for it to end."
"Doron has the opportunity to improve greatly with an additional year in college," UK men's basketball coach John Calipari said. "A lot of players have opted to return to school which made it a tougher decision for him. Not only does he gain another year of maturity and school work, but he now has the chance to put in the extra work to elevate his game. I'm excited to have him back."
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Congratulations to UK Hoops and UK Hoops player All-American Victoria Dunlap who was the 11th overall selection in the 2011 WNBA Draft by the Washington Mystics in the first round on Monday. Dunlap is UK's No. 2 all-time leading scorer and rebounder, she is the highest draft pick in school history. The previous high was the 53rd pick in the third round of the 2000 WNBA Draft. Earlier Dunlap was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year by The Associated Press and SEC Defensive Player of the Year by the league coaches as one of the nation's most versatile players.
UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell comments:
"We are just so proud for Victoria," UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. "She's worked extremely hard and to be a first-round draft choice is a testament to how hard she's worked and improved during her time at Kentucky. We are proud of her. It's also a special day for our program. To have the first, first- round draft in school history is special. It's been an incredible day."
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Friday, April 08, 2011
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
“It’s just a game”. You’ve all heard this phrase after a heartbreaking Kentucky basketball loss. You’re throwing the remote, cursing at the T.V., maybe even shedding a tear or two. However it is you deal with a tough loss, your friends don’t understand. They don’t get that it’s not ‘just a game’, it is Kentucky basketball. You can’t explain it, and they would never get it, anyway.
For many of us, it started at a young age. A lot of us might have that one defining moment that really sticks out as the time that made us realize what Kentucky basketball truly meant. Whether it is the 1978 Title game with Jack Givens hanging 41 points on Duke, or falling in love with the Unforgettables in 1992, only to have your heart broken by Christian Laettner, there’s something within all of Big Blue Nation that makes this more than a game.
Being only 23 years old, I don’t remember watching the 1992 game vs. Duke. My first real memory of Kentucky basketball was the next year. The 1993 Final Four game vs. the Fab Five and Michigan. I had become the biggest Jamal Mashburn fan during this season. I wore the #24 jersey everywhere I went, but still I didn’t know why. All I knew was my mother, and brother were at home watching the Kentucky games, so that’s what I was supposed to be doing, as well.
I didn’t ‘get it’ until the week after the 1994 comeback vs. LSU. I didn’t watch the game live. Like I said, I didn’t ‘get it’, yet. I was six years old at the time of this game. It was still ‘just basketball’ to me. Mashburn was gone, what reason did I have to watch Kentucky basketball games, anymore?
This was until I went to visit my great uncle, who lived in Lexington. When he learned I hadn’t watched the game vs. LSU, and missed the greatest comeback in the history of college basketball, he couldn’t believe it. He taped every single Kentucky basketball game, so late at night, when a normal 6 year old kid should have been in bed, I sat with him, watching a game that had already been played, that we knew the outcome. I still, to this day, remember that night like it was yesterday. We watched this tape, on a T.V. in his kitchen, that couldn’t have been any bigger than 12”.
63 years old, at the time, my great uncle acted like a kid on Christmas morning every time we hit a shot during the comeback. This was a game he knew the outcome of, but it didn’t matter. Just watching a great moment in Kentucky basketball made him happy. All I wanted to do was go to sleep, but he wouldn’t let me. It was like he knew; this was going to be the defining moment for making me a true Kentucky basketball fan. And he was right. It was that night that I finally understood that this is more than just a game. This is something special to these people. This is something I wanted to be a part of.
Over the years, there has been moments that have continued to fuel the fire and passion that I’ve developed for Kentucky basketball. Some ups, and some downs. The 1996 championship team was obviously one of the good times. Watching Kentucky put a dominating team on the court that we knew we were better than anyone we would face was an incredible feeling. Seeing my brother, 19 years old at the time, so excited to be on top of the college basketball world, that he drove around at Midnight on a Monday night, proudly waving his Kentucky flag out of the window of his truck was surreal to me.
Then comes the next year, an overtime away from a repeat. Watching Miles Simon and Arizona take that away from us was heartbreaking. Most basketball fans might be upset about it for a day or two, and then get over it. But we aren’t most basketball fans; we still to this day hate Miles Simon, and wonder “What if Derek Anderson had played?” 14 years later, and most of us still aren’t over it, and just seeing the name Miles Simon makes us feel like someone punched us in the stomach. This game would be the final game for Rick Pitino on the sidelines for Kentucky. Losing Pitino to the Boston Celtics hurt as much as losing that game to Arizona. The man who brought us back from the dead was gone.
The next year brings Tubby Smith in as our coach. The Regional Final game would prove to be another defining moment for myself in Kentucky basketball history. I remember the game like it was yesterday. I had been playing an AAU basketball tournament in Indiana, and we stopped on the way home to watch the game. We were at a Frickers in Indiana. Down 17 with 9:30 left in the game, it looked to be another crushing loss to Duke. But, it was time for a little payback. I can still remember hearing the announcer yelling “Huge! Huge! Kentucky 84-81!” During the Scott Padgett 3 to put us up for good in that game. I remember being a nervous wreck when Duke was inbounding the ball with 4.5 seconds left, and thinking “Please, not again”. To this day, the image of Padgett holding up the four fingers after the final shot missed is one of my favorite images ever in Kentucky history. Of course, we’d go on to beat Utah in the Finals this year, but it was the Duke game that stands out in my mind.
Fast forward to 2003, Kentucky is on the verge of a Final Four. This was the day after I lost my grandfather. Me and my brother sat and watched the Elite 8 game vs. Marquette at his house, we just knew we were going to the Final Four; we were on a collision course with Kansas. But, Dwayne Wade killed those dreams. 29 points, 11 assists, 11 rebounds, and the season ended in another heartbreaking loss.
2005 brought the end of the career to one of my all-time favorite Cats, Chuck Hayes. Kentucky was heading for a showdown with Duke in the Regional Finals, but that was spoiled by Michigan State in the Sweet 16. We were playing Michigan State instead. Another great Final Four opportunity, that we let get away. A double Overtime loss ends a great opportunity, and the career of Chuck Hayes.
Fast forward past the final two years of the Tubby Smith era, and the two years of the Billy Gillispie era, and enter John Calipari for the 2009-2010 season. My great uncle had passed away in September of 2007, so my first thought when Calipari was hired was “My God, how excited would Rusty be right now?” Calipari brought the excitement, and swagger back to Kentucky basketball! We were back, we were hated by everyone, again, and it felt great!
Calipari brings the #1 recruiting class in America, and one of the best of all time in his first year. We storm through the regular season and look like the team to beat come tournament time. But, a cold shooting performance stops us dead in our tracks, and we lose to West Virginia in the Regional Finals, pushing our Final Four drought to 12 years.
Onto this year, we’re looking to be a Final Four contender again, and it feels great to be eye to eye with the North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, etc. again. This is what Kentucky basketball is supposed to be like! Then, before the season even starts, we lose a star in Enes Kanter due to eligibility issues. In the eyes of the media, we go from a National Title contender, to a ceiling of a Sweet 16 appearance. It looks to be another “wait ‘til next year” type of season. But, that would prove to not be the case. This is the year our Final Four drought would end. After squeaking past a pesky Princeton team, and getting our revenge against West Virginia, we face tournament favorite Ohio State. Our season is supposed to end here, Ohio State is the best team in the country, they are going to win the title. But, a great performance by Josh Harrellson, a clutch shot by Brandon Knight, and a phenomenal gameplan by John Calipari sends the Buckeyes home. This was by far my favorite game of the season. We go on to beat North Carolina and make our first Final Four in 12 years! Of course, it ends in a tough, hard loss, to eventual champion Connecticut in the Final Four, but this was the year we weren’t supposed to be there. This team overachieved, and did what no one thought they could do.
When it comes to Kentucky basketball, if you aren’t a fan, then you don’t understand it. Kentucky basketball isn’t just a game, it’s a way of life. There’s something different about a Kentucky basketball fan. There’s something in us that makes us still have hatred towards Christian Laettner, Miles Simon, Dwayne Wade, West Virginia, and now UCONN. There’s something in us that makes us still hope that the Laettner shot is going to miss, or that the Liggins shot in the UCONN game goes in. We know it’s not going to happen, but it’s these irrational thoughts that make this fanbase so special. There’s something in us that makes us emotional when we see the footage of Calipari hugging Liggins after the 3 against North Carolina, or the picture of Chuck Hayes waving goodbye to the crowd after his final game.
There’s something about Kentucky basketball that brings people together. Whether you’re talking about family, a friend, or just a fan that you’ve never met, there’s a special bond within Big Blue Nation. Big Blue Nation isn’t just a fanbase, it’s a family, and if you aren’t in it, you won’t understand. So, the next time someone tells you “it’s just a game”, don’t try to explain it to them, they won’t get it, anyway.
*Dedicated to Rusty Shearer (1931-2007)
Monday, April 04, 2011
Sunday, April 03, 2011
Some links on UK's 2011 Final Four lose: