May 2018 archive

Former UK coach Joe Hall attends celebration for Larry Stamper

The Stampers with former UK coach Joe Hall Monday.


WINCHESTER — There’s a lot of different ways to spend Memorial Day, but Royetta Stamper came up with a way to make the day extra special for her husband, former Kentucky basketball player Larry Stamper.

Larry Frost painted a portrait of Stamper, including his time at Lee County High School until now. It included images of Kentucky coaches Joe Hall and Adolph Rupp.

Under Larry Stamper’s name, Frost put the player’s college nickname — “The Enforcer.” Lee was a physical player in high school and an even more physical player at Kentucky who backed down from no one.

Rhyne Howard Named to Team USA U18 Roster

LEXINGTON, Ky. – After a three-day trail over the weekend in Colorado Springs, Colo., incoming University of Kentucky guard Rhyne Howard has been named to the 12-member roster for the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team.

The team members will return to Colorado Springs for training camp on July 20, before the team departs for the 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, which will be held Aug. 1-7, 2018, at a location still to be announced. Athletes eligible for this team must be U.S. citizens who are 18 years old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 2000).

UK Baseball: When good is not good enough

By KEITH PEEL, Contributing Writer

Sometimes in life you hear someone try to explain a confusing situation and you have to stop, shake your head and say, “what, wait a minute, did they just really say that?”  That was my feeling while reading the statement made by NCAA Division 1 Selection Committee Chairman Ray Tanner as he tried to explain why the University of Kentucky Baseball Team was not selected for the NCAA Baseball Tournament.
The University of Kentucky team that was 16-16 against Top 50 teams. The same UK team that won weekend series against No. 8 Georgia, No.11 Texas Tech, No. 21 Auburn and No. 24 South Carolina and split with No. 25 U of L. That team.
The one that had a No. 30 RPI and had a road record of 15-13.  The one that plays baseball in the most difficult conference in the country — the SEC.

By the way the SEC placed 10 teams in the tournament and four of the top eight seeds are SEC schools. That means almost 20 percent of the teams playing in the NCAA Baseball Tournament are from the SEC.

Now for the head shaking, confusing part of this whole story. Ray Tanner — the Ray Tanner that is the former Baseball Coach and current Athletic Director at South Carolina — said that UK did not get selected as an at-large participant because they were 13-18 in the SEC. They had a losing record. Nothing about poor RPI, weak schedule, not enough wins against Top 50 schools or poor road record.
No, even though UK hit every metric one would think would be meaningful to judge a team’s overall performance by, he decided to pull out its SEC record as a final determining factor. A losing record in a league that has eight teams ranked in the Top 25, ten teams in the tournament and makes up almost 20 percent of the tournament field. And it’s not like Tanner is unfamiliar with the difficulty of an SEC baseball schedule. He used to coach there.

So what happened? Why would a group of otherwise intelligent committee members that know baseball – headed up by a former SEC baseball coach – come up with a boneheaded statement like this to explain why they would make such a poor decision.
The statement in question was, “So there were some things that weren’t perfect, (referring to UK’s overall resume) but the sub-.500 stood out to the committee, (not all of UK’s otherwise good attributes) and you know, had it been a game or two, it might not have made much difference but it ended up being in total four in the regular season and five if you include the tournament.” The logic here is incredible. It goes like this. “UK is a very good team. They had all the metrics. But they had a losing record in the SEC.”
OK. Doesn’t seem like a viable reason to leave them out but they are the committee and they get to decide. But then he says, “but the sub-.500 stood out to the committee, and you know, had it been a game or two, it might not have made much difference but it ended up being in total four in the regular season and five if you include the tournament.”
How is that logical? If you have a losing conference record then, ok, you have a losing record and you don’t get in but to go on and say if it was only a losing record by one or two games that is acceptable but it was four or five it’s not. Makes a person wonder if UK had only been three games under .500 do they get in? How does a team overcome that incredibly poor logic. If the committee has a standard – no conference losing records – then stick with it. Don’t say maybe only two games under .500 gets you in but not four or five under. 
Tanner also had this to say in reference to Northeastern, a team in the Colonial League, that was selected as an at-large team even though their record against Top 50 teams was 3-9. He said, “Well, there’s emphasis put on your overall body of work, and you know, Northeastern didn’t have the same opportunities or the same body of work maybe comparing them to an ACC or an SEC team but they won the regular season and they played in the conference championship.”  
What? How does that make sense. The logic here is that Northeastern got in because even though they had a worse RPI at 35 and performed poorly against tournament caliber competition at 3-9 and lost in their conference championship game to UNCW they had a winning record in the Colonial Conference so that trumped all of UK’s positive attributes. Really?
That argument didn’t hold water last year for Mt. Saint Mary’s when they were left out of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The logic of the basketball selection committee then was Mount Saint Mary’s overall and conference record was good but they didn’t have enough wins against Top 50 competition. The committee said they should have scheduled more difficult out-of-conference games.
But in a complete about face according to the baseball committee’s logic each team that plays in a weak conference but has a good record should get in because they play in a weak conference. The baseball committee is penalizing teams for playing a difficult schedule – and winning – because after all UK’s overall final record was 34-22. Northeastern’s overall record was 36-19 playing in the weak Colonial League. 
This just shows once again the wishy-washy logic the NCAA uses to make it’s selections for at-large tournament participants… in any sport. At some point the leadership of the NCAA needs to quit flip-flopping on every decision they make – from at-large selection criteria to sanctions against schools that violate the rules – and develop criteria for decision making that is both logical and consistent. Until then college sports fans will have to continue to suffer through head-scratching decisions like the one we saw on Monday.
 By the way Ray Tanner’s school – the South Carolina Gamecocks – received a three-seed in the East Carolina Regional. They finished the season with an RPI of 43. Thirteen places below UK. Their record against the Top 50 was 16-18. Go figure. 

By UK’s standards, there’s nothing easy about 2018 schedule

\ (Vicky Graff Photo)


Athlon Magazine has rated the Kentucky football schedule as only the 11th hardest in the Southeastern Conference. One would think that should bode well for the Cats to have a schedule that an unbiased college football analyst would not rank as one of the toughest in the powerful SEC.

Athlon calls the UK non-conference slate underwhelming. Louisville seldom is an underwhelming foe for UK. Middle Tennessee has been ranked higher in some preseason polls than UK and has a high octane offense led by former UK offensive coordinator Tony Franklin. Central Michigan features one of the nation’s best dual threat running backs.

LeBron James: “But I just kind of reset my mindset and said, OK, this is the season and let’s try to make the most of it.”

In case you missed it, here is what LeBron James had to say Sunday night after helping Cleveland stun Boston and get him back to the NBA Finals again.

NCAA Tournament chairman says UK’s sub-500 SEC record kept Wildcats out of tournament

Nick Mingione (Vicky Graff Photo)

NCAA Division I Baseball Committee chairman Ray Tanner tried to explain today why Kentucky was left out of the NCAA Tournament among other things during a conference call.

Q. Along those same lines, how do you balance that between northeastern — Kentucky has got to be wondering how they would finish. Did you have that discussion and how did that play out?
RAY TANNER: That discussion is very difficult to have. I mean, that’s — you play in a different conference, different areas of the country. We know Kentucky has a very good team as it stands. They were 13-17 in the regular season. Going to the SEC tournament, they had a chance to enhance their resumé. They were unable to do that.

Nation-leading 10 SEC teams in NCAA — but not Kentucky

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (May 28, 2018)—–A nation-leading 10 Southeastern Conference teams were selected to compete for the 2018 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship, it was announced Monday by the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee. Four teams from the SEC – Arkansas, Florida, Georgia and Ole Miss – were selected as national seeds.

The top eight national seeds in order are Florida, Stanford, Oregon State, Ole Miss, Arkansas, North Carolina, Florida State and Georgia.

SEC schools earning bids include Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. This ties the record for the most SEC teams in the NCAA Tournament. Ten SEC teams earned bids to the NCAA Tournament in 2014.

What is minimum win number in 2018 for Stoops to keep job in 2019?

Mark Stoops. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT contributor Richard Cheeks has a way of analyzing statistical information that I truly cannot comprehend. But he also has a realistic approach for being such a die-hard UK fan.

Recently he sent me this email that I definitely thought was worth sharing:

“I would be curious to see a poll of UK football fans:  What is the minimum number of wins UK must get in 2018 for coach Mark Stoops to retain his job in 2019, because I believe the last two seasons have unreasonably  elevated expectations, but particularly last season,” Cheek wrote.

Chris Souder leaving Mercer County to become assistant coach at Indiana State

Coach Chris Souder and his players after they won their second straight state title. (Danielle Mays Photo)


For the last 19 years Chris Souder has done everything possible to make the Mercer County High School girls basketball program one of the state’s elite programs.

The Titans have been to the last five 12th Region title games and won the last four regional championship. They won the state championship in 2017 — the first in school history — and repeated this year when Seygan Robins was named Miss Basketball. Robins signed with Louisville and two other players — Emma Davis and Emmy Souder — also signed Division I scholarships.

“Tough day” ends Danica Patrick’s career

In case you missed it, Danica Patrick crashed on lap 68 of the Indianapolis 500 Sunday to end her racing career.

It was her last race before her retirement and first Indy 500 since 2011. After that she switched to NASCAR.

Patrick was not happy after the crash as shown by her short time in the interview room.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you for coming in, Danica. We appreciate it.

DANICA PATRICK: I didn’t really want to.