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Sports in Kentucky

Basketball's fourth season underway


 

 

Basketball’s fourth season in Kentucky is now under way, the recruiting season that takes place between April 16 and mid-May.

But first, Billy Clyde Gillispie’s name linked to Oklahoma State is like the newsprint and hot air spent on hyping Pyro at Keeneland and Tiger Woods at Augusta. A waste.

The Gillispie to Oklahoma State discussion brings to mind lyrics from a Doug McCloud folk tune. “You got to ‘splain that to me, ‘splain it real slow.”

Kansas coach Bill Self said he would answer if Oklahoma State telephoned. Gillispie should not accept even a text message from Stillwater.

UK has more pressing matters, as it is cost-cutting time cross the Avenue of Champions from Memorial Coliseum. Faculty and staff will get no cost of living raises, tuition is going up again and so is price for football tickets. Meanwhile, Gillispie is due a bonus for getting his team to the NCAA Tournament and UK gets a slice from eight SEC teams going to post-season.

Spring is a season to spring new idea and here’s one: With fiscal belt-tightening at hand, Dr. Lee Todd should hold a university family meeting. UK is a family isn’t it? Form a Deep Pockets Committee. Gillispie, Mitch Barnhart, Rich Brooks, Todd and a few friends who sit on front rows at Rupp Arena and Commonwealth Stadium. With Bill Keightley’s spirit looking on, show us who the genuine University of Kentucky devotees are. Dig into their pay packages to fund raises for professors and staff, make a dent in tuition increases.

Forget putting Keightley’s name on a basketball floor or a statue. Form a Keightley UK Family Help Fund dedicated to the school Mr. Wildcat loved. Headline? Mr. Bill & Dr. Lee’s shared vision and ways to make UK one of the next 20 great universities. By helping its own.

Epilogue: The Keightley Fund could be the innovation that draws attention from Oprah Winfrey, “60 Minutes” and others searching for self-help success stories in hard times.

Stay tuned.

Ty Roger$

100 grand. Quite a legacy for Western Kentucky University, made possible by a kid from Eddyville.

An NCAA one shining moment may not put jingle in the pockets of Ty Rogers, but it certainly had a trickle down effect on Western Kentucky University.

Rogers’ 3-pointer to sink Drake …

– Stopped Western’s oneand out Big Dance string.

– Helped keep Hilltopper basketball in national lime light an extra week.

– Two more games guaranteed more cha-ching in Wood Selig’s coffers when the Big Dance pie is divvied up.

– Helped get coach Darrin Horn more television face-time, raves from talking heads, and a promotion at triple the money and seven hours nearer Atlantic Ocean beach fronts than last spring.

– Finally (maybe) Western fans voted so often for Rogers’ one shining moment at CBS Sports, it put another $100,000 into WKU’s general scholarship fund.

Dis ‘N Data

– Winningest program in college basketball? Still Kentucky, but North Carolina and Kansas are closing the gap. When 2008-09 season begins, the winningest four: Kentucky 1,966, North Carolina 1,950, Kansas 1,943 and Duke 1,846.

– Travis Ford said no to Providence last week and wasn’t interested in LSU.

“Probably the number one thing that kept me here was the showing in New York from our fans. No question it made a difference,” Ford said, referring to the NIT championship game. “I took my time in making the decision and I have no doubt this is the right one. This is the right place for me.”

Solid decision. Now, how about a one year contract renewable each spring?

– Dick Vitale into the Hall of Fame? No! said two-thirds of 47,000 voters in a FOX Sports poll last week. One hall of famer quipped, “Why don’t we just let in the cheerleaders.?”

Hall of Fame voters did just that. Lowered standards too. Visit Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., and decide for yourself who belongs.

ESPN talking heads posed no questions why pal Vitale is headed to the Hall ahead of CBS’s Billy Packer. Packer made himself college basketball’s analytical voice over four decades while Vitale annoyed us with repetitive schtick and kiss-up to coaches.

SEC Down? Nah

Numbers don’t lie. SEC basketball did just fine in 2007-08.

– Eight of 12 schools sent teams to post-season play and put cash in league coffers, six in the NCAA, two in the NIT.

– Ten players were invited to the NBA try-out tournament at Portsmouth, Va. Nine more were good enough to have reviewed their NBA draft chances including Tyler Smith of Tennessee, Shan Foster of Vandy, Jamont Gordon of Mississippi State, Richard Hendrix of Alabama, and Marreese Speights and Nick Calathes of Florida.

All-conference notables – sophomore Jarvis Vanardo, Mississippi State along with freshmen Andrew Ogilvy at Vanderbilt, Anthony Randolph at LSU, Patrick Patterson of Kentucky, Chris Warren of Ole Miss and Chandler Parsons at Florida.

Total: 25. More than a third of (60) starters on SEC teams were star quality and have legitimate chance to play-for-pay.

SEC down in 2007-08? Baloney. Parity across college basketball was up.

Parting $hot

Sean Sutton will need a while to get past the humiliation of being fired at Oklahoma State. But the former UK player negotiated a dream deal. Sutton received $300,000 to leave. Then, whether he coaches again or not, over the next 10 years, Oklahoma State must pay him $20,000 a month.

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