Gran on Cats: “They’re not entitled to anything”

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky players have offered “no resistance” to new offensive coordinator Eddie Gran because of the culture he says coach Mark Stoops has built.

“This is how it is. You either buy in or you don’t. The ones that aren’t receptive aren’t going to be here. But I haven’t sensed any of that. Matter of fact, it’s been the opposite. They’re hungry, they’re excited,” Gran said Thursday.

Matthew Mitchell does not just have a fastball but now has a curve, changeup and slider to throw at teams

Vicky Graff Photo

Vicky Graff Photo

By LARRY VAUGHT

Want to know why Kentucky has been able to have such a successful season with a young team and roster depleted by preseason defections?

Let Washington coach Mike Neighbors, who sends his team against Kentucky tonight in Rupp Arena, explain in baseball terms what UK coach Matthew Mitchell has done.

“I think Matthew’s done a really good job changing the depth, taking the pressure off full court all the time and becoming a really good half-court team when he needs to be, and I think that’s made them a lot harder to play against,” Neighbors said Thursday.

Washington coach’s girlfriend is a UK fan

Amy, left, and Holly Ratliff (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

Amy, left, and Holly Ratliff (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

What are the odds of the women’s coach at Washington bringing his team to Rupp Arena to play in the NCAA Tournament and his girlfriend happens to be a Kentucky fan living in Lexington?

Well, that is exactly what has happened.

Washington coach Mike Neighbors dates Amy Ratliff, who normally works for the game day operations staff at Rupp Arena. Both Amy and her twin sister, Holly, were both wearing their Washington shirts Thursday and will be again tonight when the Huskies play UK.

Rupp Arena does not guarantee UK Final Four berth

Janee Thompson hugged coach Matthew Mitchell after a NCAA win. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Janee Thompson hugged coach Matthew Mitchell after a NCAA win. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Playing in Rupp Arena this weekend doesn’t guarantee Kentucky its first Final Four trip. Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell only has to point out last year’s home loss to Dayton in NCAA play to make his point.

Friday night UK hosts Washington and if it wins will play the Notre Dame-Stanford survivor on Sunday for a Final Four berth.

Washington won at Maryland last week to advance to Lexington, another fact Mitchell was quick to note Thursday.

Fans Invited to Cat Walk Prior to Friday’s Sweet 16 Game

Vicky Graff Photo

Vicky Graff Photo

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Members of the Big Blue Nation that wish to cheer on the University of Kentucky women’s basketball team before they depart for the arena on Friday are encouraged to gather at approx. 5 p.m. ET in the lobby of the Lexington downtown Hilton Hotel.

The Wildcats are expected to depart the team hotel for the arena at approx. 5:20 p.m. ET. The team bus will be at the Broadway entrance of the hotel and fans should gather next the fountain in the lobby.

Poythress to throw out first pitch at April 7 for Legends

Former University of Kentucky basketball star Alex Poythress will throw a ceremonial first pitch at the Lexington Legends opening-night game Thursday, April 7 at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.

“We’re really excited to have Alex with us on opening night,” said Legends President/CEO Andy Shea, “and we know the fans will be excited to see him take the mound.”

The game between the Legends and the Lakewood BlueClaws will begin at 7:05 p.m.    Gates will open at 5 p.m., and an autograph session with Poythress will begin as soon as gates are open.

Kelsey Plum will lead Washington against UK

Janee Thompson

Janee Thompson (Vicky Graff Photo)

By EVAN CRANE, UK Athletics

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 12 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team looks to take full advantage of its unique opportunity to play an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game in Lexington, Ky., when it faces seventh-seeded Washington on Friday at 7 p.m. ET inside historic Rupp Arena.

Kentucky-Washington will begin the session on Friday before No. 1-seeded Notre Dame faces off with fourth-seeded Stanford in the late game at 9 p.m. ET. UK-UW will air live nationally on ESPN2 with Dave Pasch, Debbie Antonelli and Allison Williams on the call. The same crew will call the second game on ESPN. Kentucky’s game will also be available on the UK Sports Network with Neil Price calling the action.

Matthew Mitchell: Kentucky has to outhustle Washington

Vicky Graff Photo

Vicky Graff Photo

Q. What is your biggest concern when you look at Washington for Friday’s game? What are the things you’re going to have to do really well in order to succeed?

KENTUCKY COACH MATTHEW MITCHELL: Well, you’re going to have to, I think, start on the defensive end. You’re going to have to be really, really tough. One thing that we tried to talk about for our team in this tournament, we wanted to be the team that it was visible that we were hustling more than our opponent. And you’re going to really have to outhustle Washington. They play very hard, they play very together.

Coaches want QB Stephen Johnson to keep gaining weight

Stephen Johnson (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

Stephen Johnson (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

After spending two years in junior college, quarterback Stephen Johnson has the maturity that new Kentucky quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw likes.

“Game completely different from junior college ball to SEC football, so he’s realizing right now that they run a lot faster in the secondary. He can’t hang the ball up as long as he could. I’ve got to get him to throw the ball,” Hinshaw said.

Stoops sees “improvement” in offensive line

By LARRY VAUGHT

No one has to tell Kentucky coach Mark Stoops that UK’s offensive line has struggled in recent years, just like other position groups have during his three losing seasons.

“We know we’ve had some struggles at offensive line and I think when you’re playing five of them and you’re playing against the defenses we play against and the D-linemen that we play against, you cannot have one guy here and one guy there because it blows up the entire offense,” Stoops said.