Whitesburg KY

Ulis deserves the praise

Sports in Kentucky



That Tyler Ulis is first team All- American is as surprising to Kentucky fans as the Commonwealth’s Republican caucus outcome.

If John Wooden were here he might say, “Ulis is my guy. Knows how game should be played!”

With attitude as a starting point, Kentucky’s starting point (guard) is embodiment of why we watch this game, shout at the TV, referee it, dissect it, discuss it, record it.

Ulis is a 160-pound, 5-feet-9 presence who takes us away from political pontificates, show-off coaches and analysts who call a basketball a rock. I hate that, don’t you?

Tyler Ulis is “us.” He and we can walk across a parking lot unnoticed. But then, between lines at Rupp Arena, he ain’t us. In a tall man’s game he analyzes, times a gear-change (don’t blink) and zip.

“Guys play well off me,” platoon leader said the other day (but if you want the ball, then move!).

After dealing 14 assists and as many points in last game at Rupp, one thing more gratifying than honors for Ulis would be if he stayed in college another season.

Guard Tyler Ulis scored on LSU’s Ben Simmons in UK’s win last week. ESPN analyst Dick Vitale said Ulis won him over and calls him and Jamal Murray the best backcourt in the nation. (Photo by Vicky Graff )

Guard Tyler Ulis scored on LSU’s Ben Simmons in UK’s win last week. ESPN analyst Dick Vitale said Ulis won him over and calls him and Jamal Murray the best backcourt in the nation. (Photo by Vicky Graff )


• Wooden Award credentials? 16.7 points, 7.1 assists, 3.6 assist to turnover, scored 20+ points in 11 of last 19 games and … goes to class. Tyler Ulis.

• Alex Poythress’s last hurrah at Rupp Arena was nice. Seven shots, made six and three rebounds. Best part? Fans gave the Academic All- American ovation for a lifetime.

• Spoiler. John Calipari let his tongue flap too long again. “… our fans are the best. And you know what, they love senior night in this state. It’s a big deal. Senior night’s a big deal.”

Full stop? Calipari: “Bigger deal for our fans than those players. They’d rather have been drafted already. If you want me to lie, I’ll lie. And then come back and get their degree.”

• Rick Pitino. Had no inkling Andre McGee was up to no good, but yes, he is responsible. And team made scapegoat is shameful.

• Whether or not he will return to UofL next season Pitino said recently, he “left the cupboard full” when he left Kentucky and same applies at Louisville.

• Ben Simmons. On a Thursday, a media projection – his first shoe contract may be worth $100 million. On a Saturday, asked about being disqualified for the Wooden Award? LSU’s seven-month rental shrugged, said he knows he is the best college player for 2016.

• Tweak? Calipari stratagem to tweak his team, he won’t say, but seems to be “pass the ball to Poythress on first or second possession before pout sets in.

• 2016 Wooden Award Legends of Coaching Trophy goes to Dr. Orlando ‘Tubby’ Smith. Presentation at ESPN Awards Show April 8.

• LSU’s bunch was reminiscent of Pete Maravich at LSU 1970. It’s ME and you guys can play too.

Coach Johnny Jones might as well have said in October, “… our season is about one thing, showcasing Ben Simmons.”

• Kentucky and Texas A&M should not have tied for SEC regular season title. UK-A&M game was decided by a referee. And, how did the Wildcats lose to Auburn?

• Kentucky’s first 3-pointer Saturday (Derek Willis) pushed its streak of a triple-a-game to 970.

• John Calipari’s son Brad will walk-on at Kentucky next season. Interesting to see if Big Blue Nation’s reaction is as scathing as criticism leveled at Eddie Sutton then Tubby Smith when their sons played for dad.

• Lionized for much of their careers, Larry Brown, Jim Boeheim and Rick Pitino have been re-defined as NCAA symbols for: “you as coach are responsible for all that goes on in his program.”

This is new? Logic (and pay grade) tells us captain of the ship, business CEO, or ball coach, is fully responsible.

• Beyond Ulis and Poythress, brightest sparkle in Kentucky hoops galaxy this season has been Derek Willis.

• Makayla Epps, All American? Kentucky’s star guard averaged 16.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 29 games.

• Worth Repeating Dept. Villanova’s coach. “Jay Wright has done this without professionals. We haven’t done enough as a basketball community to recognize what Jay has done. When you start talking about, ‘Well, Kansas does it this way, Arizona this way,’ Jay has done it for years without pros. He had a first-team All-American, Scottie Reynolds, (who) wasn’t a pro. That’s phenomenal. It just absolutely blows my mind how good he is at what he’s doing.” – Phil Martelli, St. Joseph coach.

And so it goes.

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