Whitesburg KY

UK’s top villain

Bob Watkins Sports in Kentucky

Bob Watkins Sports in Kentucky

Any “villains list” created by University of Kentucky basketball fans would include Billy Clyde Gillispie, Eddie Sutton, whoever coaches at Tennessee and Louisville at the time, and a handful of others.

Top name on The List — Bob Knight, of course. The former Indiana coach has criticized, antagonized, polarized and energized Big Blue Nation. Fun, isn’t it?

Scorn for college basketball’s winningest coach has its own season and it came around again a fortnight ago. As high school hoops all-star games wound down and the NBA prepared to rob college basketball again, Knight picked a small town in middle- America and a slow news day to jab Big Blue Nation.

Wabash, Indiana has two motels, one bowling alley, a drive-in theater, and a college with an auditorium. Knight filled it the other night and took students’ questions. When an audience laughs it intoxicates any guest speaker, also emboldening him or her. So, in the approving air of Hoosier land and oblivious to cell phones with cameras, the General preached to the choir and included John Calipari and UK basketball.


The fun part – right and wrong, the old coach can still draw a crowd, still make folks laugh, and be mad including his favorite, Big Blue Nation. As always, Knight’s remarks sent media people into a self-righteous frenzy, scurrying to keyboards and microphones to rant about his mistakes, his arrogance, bombastic temper, and bully nature.

Truth is, Knight’s opinions poke the boys on Liar’s Bench at the local eatery to hot conversation. His remarks cause Internet blogs to go clickety-click. Knight is still “good copy.” So, in “right and wrong” format, what exactly did Knight do to cause a flap that made ESPN convince him to apologize?

RIGHT. One-and-done is not healthy for college basketball.

WRONG. Single out University of Kentucky for general exodus of college underclassmen to professional basketball. More than three dozen have applied this spring alone.

RIGHT. Criticize John Calipari for get-you-to-NBA-ASAP recruiting approach.

WRONG. To single out Calipari. Only makes him a martyr.

RIGHT. Force UK Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart to defend. When he invoked the outrage of parents of student-athletes in good academic standing, Barnhart’s retort was made hollow when two more UK freshmen, Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones, announced they would stand for the NBA Draft. If they leave, will be six in one year on Barnhart’s watch.

WRONG. Kentucky had five players in 2010 who did not attend a class after the NCAA Tournament.

RIGHT. Bring to public forum any discussion of athletes and academics. If Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has his way, college teams with weak graduation rates will face “not ineligible for the NCAA Tournament,” let alone compete for a title.

WRONG. Fail to comment on the mockery of UConn junior Kemba Walker admitting he has read one book.

RIGHT. To say “I should not have made it personal to Kentucky and its players and I apologize.”

WRONG. ESPN telling Knight to apologize. Reminded us of General Eisenhower telling George Patton to do same in Sicily in 1943. Knee jerk, silly and nobody took it seriously.

RIGHT. Bringing attention to one and done may have caused at least one daily newspaper to report last week, Kentucky basketball’s grade point average 2.8, fourth best in the SEC.


“My overall point,” Knight said, “is that ‘one and dones’ are not healthy for college basketball.”

Right you are, General.

Embry, McDaniels In, Lickert Snubbed Again

Randy Embry and Jim Mc- Daniels will be inducted into the KHSAA Hall of Fame next spring.

Mr. Basketball in 1961, Embry starred at Owensboro High School, played for Adolph Rupp at Kentucky, then returned to Owensboro High as assistant baseball coach for two state title teams. He coached the basketball Red Devils to 445 wins, 1980-1999. In 1971 he coached Daviess County to a state baseball title.

McDaniels was Mr. Basketball 1967. His KHSAA induction is more a Johnny-come-lately embarrassment for KHSAA Hall of Fame selection people since Big Mac is already a member of the Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame in Louisville for having been an All- Stater at Scottsville, All-America at Western Kentucky, and played professionally.

Demonstration of its politics as usual image, the KHSAA committee continues to ignore Billy Ray Lickert. A high school All-American at Lafayette High, Lickert was Mr. Basketball 1957, an All-SEC player at Kentucky where he led in scoring two seasons, and was drafted by Los Angeles.

UK ‘Gold Standard’

Latest from Planet Barnhart – UK’s director of athletics says Rupp Arena must be the gold standard. “It can be nothing less than that.”

Warning. First sign of another ticket price increase.

Nation-best attendance year after year demonstrates UK fans already make Rupp Arena the gold standard. Barnhart’s real problem is Yum Center in Louisville has luxury boxes and Rupp Arena does not.

Faithful Kentucky fans had better realize if Barnhart has his way and executive suites are installed at Rupp something has to go. If your seats are at front of the upper decks, kiss them good-bye.

Worth Repeating

Doron Lamb, Darius Miller and probably DeAndre Liggins will return to Kentucky’s roster next season. Most notable was Miller’s father Brian making a role modelworthy remark to the Lexington Herald-Leader, “(Darius) likes school. … He wants to accomplish more things.”

And so it goes.

You may reach Bob Watkins at Sprtsinky@aol.com.

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