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Sports in Kentucky

Meeks making case as SEC's best player



A riddle: How can a magazine headline be half right, half wrong?

Answer: The Sporting News, February 16. Headline: Meeks isn’t Kentucky’s

No. 1, but he’s the most efficient guy

in college hoops.

Five days after the TSN headline, Patrick Patterson watched in sweats as his efficient roommate lit up Arkansas with 45 points. As he has been this season, Meeks was marvelous from every place in Bud Walton Arena and Kentucky clamored back to the front row in a run for best seeds in the SEC then NCAA Tournaments.

It was Meeks’s seventh 30-plus points game this season.

New riddle: Who is top candidate for SEC player of the year? Nick Calathes at Florida? Devan Downey at South Carolina? Today it’s Jodie Meeks, but stay tuned. UK has travel dates to Columbia and Gainesville still ahead.

Bluegrass Home Boys

The Bluegrass Home Boys were in the news last week.

Travis Ford. Had to be a molasses slow news day somewhere between Michael Phelps and Alex Rodriquez, that Oklahoma State’s coach would be chastised for using colorful language. Ridiculous. Ford apologized.

Darrin Horn. Was stopped at halftime of the Florida game for a television reporter’s question. The coach listened respectfully then did what most veteran coaches do, ignored the question asked and answered a question he chose, said thanks, and walked on. Unlike gossipy Lexington where Billy Clyde Gillispie’s home address is newsworthy, Horn’s reply drew no attention and no commentary.

Footnote. Gamecocks are playing to packed houses and their first year coach is lead candidate for SEC coach of the year.

John Pelphrey. At Arkansas, new emphasis on discipline, character and integrity. The no-nonsense coach suspended cocky freshman playmaker Courtney Forston before a home date against Kentucky. Bravo.

Taking the high road, Pelphrey focused on Forston’s teammates, challenged them to step up their play, and asked reporters: “What more of an opportunity could you have…” than play for Arkansas, a game on CBS, against the winningest program of all time?

Dead on.

Forston looks like the target, but is instead a rally point for teammates, fans, and wanna-be Razorbacks. Team first. The payoff could come at SEC Tournament time.

A stand of this kind, not the first by Pelphrey, is a point made for what’s good about sports. Coach uses suspension to teach that humility and responsibility rate ahead of solo show time every time.

Bonus? Directors of athletics who will court Pelphrey in seasons ahead get an education also, seeing the man from Paintsville is more than a ball coach.

Summary. Careers of native sons Ford, Horn and Pelphrey give rise to optimism that a new wave of college coaches will stand for more than manipulating the truth, blowing smoke to media and prospective recruits, big money, teevee face-time and demigodgod status.

Now, about those graduation rates.

Cheers & Jeers

CHEERS. Morehead State. Been quite a climb, but Coach Donnie Tyndall’s Eagles stand atop the OVC this week.

CHEERS. Jeff Brohm launched Phase II of his career to be a college head coach. Leaving his alma mater to work for Howard Schnellenberger at Florida Atlantic is a mega break. Next head coach at Louisville could be … Brohm.

CHEERS. Florida coach Billy Donovan. Florida’s coach showed a Rupp Arena crowd and television audience how to shake hands with a winning coach while swallowing an important loss Feb. 10.

CHEERS. Notre Dame All- American Luke Harangody’s play against Louisville was good as it gets. Appropriate nickname for the Irish big man? All the way to his hair style, should be Old School.

Best Rivalries Dept.

College hoops rivalries in the Bluegrass – Kentucky-Louisville, Western-Murray State, Morehead- Eastern, Georgetown- Cumberland.

Here’s a vote for Kentucky Wesleyan and Bellarmine. The Panthers’ win over the Knights last week was the 92nd meeting dating to 1952-53. Wesleyan leads the series 71-21.

Worth Repeating

Jodie Meeks to The Sporting News: “It’s just patience. … I think it all plays a factor on the basketball court. Being patient in life and being patient on the basketball court are the same thing.”

Parting Shot

Sports is renowned for clever catch-phrases. Best one this year? Football coach Dave Elson at Western Kentucky. After wrapping up what he called the best recruiting class in school history, Elson hailed WKU’s refurbished stadium and facilities and upgrade to D-I competition as the Wow Factor in the Hilltoppers’ recruiting success.

And so it goes. E-mail Bob Watkins at Sprtsinky@aol.com

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