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March 6th, 2015

Behind Enemy Lines: Stegeman Coliseum

(Photo via onlineathens.com)

Over the past few seasons, I’ve been fortunate enough to cover some of UK’s SEC road games for KSR. Along the way, I’ve also been reviewing the venues across the SEC, and earlier this week, I visited Georgia’s Stegeman Coliseum for the second time. The first time was in 2013 to see Kentucky lose pitifully, and I was too depressed to review the gym. The results were a little different this time around. Before we get rolling, here are my past reviews:

Vanderbilt’s Memorial Coliseum
Auburn Arena
Alabama’s Coleman Coliseum
Ole Miss’ Tad Smith Coliseum
South Carolina’s Colonial Life Arena
Florida’s O’Connell Center
Mississippi State’s Humphrey Coliseum

Stegeman Coliseum

Built: 1964
Seating capacity: 10,523


Exterior: 5

From 2010-2011, Stegeman underwent a major $13 million renovation in which the old facade was removed and replaced with a beautiful glass front. Like a lot of SEC arenas, Stegeman is small but classically designed, and I really love that the architects kept the original bones of the building while modernizing it. The effect is striking, and at night, lights illuminate a huge UGA mural:

This may be the best exterior renovation of an older gym I’ve ever seen.

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Interior: 4

The inside of Stegeman has a great retro feel to it thanks to the unique patterned ceiling, which has thankfully remained intact throughout multiple renovations. The arena is small, with a capacity of only 10,523, and in turn, there are no bad seats. Interestingly, Georgia’s website says the Coliseum is actually two structures: the roof and the building beneath it. “The only connection between the two is an aluminum bellows which seals the joints and permits the rise and fall of the roof with temperature change.”

Neat.

Flow: 4.5

The 2011 renovation expanded the concourses, giving the arena an easy flow, even with a sellout crowd. In fact, sometimes there seems like there is too much room in the lobbies, but that’s never a bad thing. Throughout the concourses, there are trophy cases, large murals, and displays highlighting past and present Georgia legends.

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Concessions: 3.5

Nothing spectacular, just standard fare of pizza, hot dogs, smoked sausage, BBQ, nachos, etc. I will give them half a point for offering an “extra cheese cup” for $1 because sometimes you just need extra cheese. Also, because South be the South, there were “bottomless” options for popcorn and soda.

Hot dog price: $3.50

Popcorn: 3 (incomplete)

Confession time: I did not sample the popcorn. Between the late tip, the press meal, and all of the distractions, I didn’t have time to get popcorn, so I’ll give it the industry standard 3. I noticed the popcorn was in bags, not boxes, so props for that.

Signature food: 2.5

I didn’t really see one. I guess boiled peanuts? That’s a Georgia thing. You can get that for $4.50.

Bathrooms: 2.5

Not impressed. The one I visited was small, had broken locks on the bathroom doors and the paper towel dispenser was broken.

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Scoreboard: 2

What do Rupp Arena, the O-Dome, and Stegeman Coliseum all have in common? None have a center-hung scoreboard. Despite all the renovations to Stegeman, there is no big pretty scoreboard, just a cluster of speakers; in fact, there is only one large video board, and even it looks outdated.

PA System/announcer/music: 3.5

Typical pop/hip-hop blend, but I appreciated the old school hip-hop, which got the crowd even more hyped. Georgia must have known Charles Barkely was coming, because they had a whole clip reel ready. Sadly, they used ones that weren’t really that funny, which is kind of a crime because Barkley is hilarious.

Fun stuff: 3

Even though their scoreboard sucks, Georgia had plenty of “cams”: Kiss Cam, Dance Cam, etc. Lots of free t-shirts, giveaways, etc. Actually, Georgia’s t-shirt guns were the most impressive I’ve seen, sending some tees bouncing off the roof.

Pep band: 4

Great blend of new stuff and old stuff. They even did a rendition of “Uptown Funk” that made me really, really happy.

Halftime show: 3.5

The popular “Quick Change” act yet again. In case you haven’t seen it before, here it is at a Milwaukee Bucks game a few years back:

Meh. Maybe I’ve just seen it too many times, but they have nothing on the Firecrackers.

Souvenirs: 3

Posters and free t-shirts for the student section to promote their blackout.

Ticket price: 5

$15 for all seats, even for the Kentucky game. That’s a deal, my friends.

Ushers: 5

Very nice and helpful.

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Press area/meal: 4

The press meal was fried chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes, which I’ll never complain about. Sweet tea, water and cookies were also available, and there was a Coke fountain in the press room. God bless Georgia’s Coke monopoly.

Student Section: 3.5

The students got their early, and when the doors opened, they stampeded into the gymnasium:

They also heckled the players throughout warmups:

 

Oddly enough, I don’t think they used the cheers they came up with for the game, maybe because Drew publicized them on the site. While I was taking pictures of the students, one saw my KSR pullover and yelled “HEY, WHERE’S THAT DREW FRANKLIN” at me. “Because of him, I got cussed out by hundreds of UK fans.” Sorry, dude.

There was an older man in the crowd that obviously wasn’t part of the student section, but did jumping jacks for nearly the entire game in a crazy red and black sweater. He seems to be a bit of a celebrity at Stegeman, and someone in the student section even made a fathead of him that they showed on the jumbotron. I’d love to hear his story.

BBN Effect: 5

Kentucky fans always travel well, but they were out in force in Athens. There’s a big contingent of UK fans in Atlanta, and the Alumni Club even presented the MVP of the game, Andrew Harrison, with the Bill Keightley Mr. Wildcat Award. I met David Shelton, the past president of the Greater Atlanta UK Alumni Club, and he wanted me to spread the word about their campaign to get a UK license plate for Georgia. To help them out, visit ukfan.net.

Back to the crowd. From tip off on, Kentucky fans made their presence known with several LOUD “Go Big Blue” chants. Here’s one of them:

At the end of the game, Andrew Harrison and Tyler Ulis motioned to the crowd to thank them for their support, and a large group of Kentucky fans stuck around to send the team bus off from Stegeman Coliseum. I’ve already written about this, but Kentucky fans across the South have flocked to see this team play, and being able to witness the BBN presence at road games has been one of my favorite parts of this season.

GBB chant count: 10

Campus/town: 5

Athens is right up there with Oxford as my favorite SEC town. In fact, it may have passed it on this trip. Downtown Athens has plenty of great bars and restaurants, along with an excellent music scene (it is the home of REM and the B-52s, after all). My favorite haunt is Trappeze Pub, which has excellent food and tasty craft brews. Over lunch, I sampled Creature Comforts Tropicália, an IPA brewed right across the street. Two thumbs up.

Georgia’s campus is gorgeous as well, all brick and pine trees. It’s pretty much the ideal setting for a big school in the South, and if you haven’t been there yet, put it on your bucket list.

Overall atmosphere: 4

Stegeman was buzzing for Tuesday’s game, and at times in the second half, the atmosphere seemed prime for an upset; however, this Kentucky team was once again just too good. Props to the Georgia crowd for bringing it and the Georgia team for giving Kentucky a serious scare.

As for the building itself, the renovations to the exterior and the concourses are gorgeous, the perfect model for updating older small arenas without sacrificing character. Once Stegeman gets a new scoreboard, it will be one of the nicer arenas in the SEC. Combine that with an ideal college town like Athens and you’ve got one hell of a road trip.

Total score: 75.5/100

Previous scores:

Auburn Arena: 84/100
South Carolina’s Colonial Life Arena: 77.5/100
Alabama’s Coleman Coliseum: 76.75/100
Florida’s O’Connell Center: 74/100
Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gymnasium: 71.5/100
Mississippi State’s Humphrey Coliseum: 69/100
Ole Miss’ Tad Smith Coliseum: 68.5/100


“Wildcat Legends” to honor Kevin Grevey tomorrow

GREVEY FINALweb

The “Wildcat Legends” Fine Art Series will unveil a new tribute print this Saturday, when 2-time Kentucky All American Kevin Grevey will be on hand to autograph his new art print for fans.

Having just honored Tony Delk as part of his Jersey Retirement Ceremony two weeks ago, Grevey’s ‘Art Release Ceremony’ will be held this Saturday, March 7th in the Rupp/Lexington Center mall foodcourt from 12 noon – 1:30, immediately before the 2:00 UK-Florida game. Kevin will autograph this beautiful new print & other memorabilia for all fans, regardless if they have tickets for the game or not.

Both an All-American and SEC Player of the Year in 1973 and 1975, and 7th on UK’s all-time career points list, Kevin is looking forward to seeing the fans again this Saturday. “I am excited and honored to be a member of the ‘Wildcat Legends’ Fine Art Series,” Grevey said. “Having seen and enjoyed the artwork for the previous honorees, I’m sure these prints will be coveted by our incredible fan base that makes Kentucky basketball so special.”

Featured “Wildcat Legends” this initial season are Mike Pratt, Tony Delk and Kevin Grevey. Next season’s “Wildcat Legends” honorees are expected to include Cotton Nash, Dan Issel, Kenny Walker, Kyle Macy and Jack Givens. (More will be announced at a later date.)

“Wildcat Legends” is a collectible series of Fine Art prints from original, individual player paintings, highlighting living UK stars from the 60’s through the 90’s, and features a compilation of action poses of the star during his time on the court. Fans may choose to collect any one or all.

Reasonably-priced at $35 signed ($20 unsigned), the 11” X 17” high-quality Limited Edition fine art prints will be numbered and signed by Grevey; only 250 commemorative prints of him will be produced.

Co-produced by “Your Frame of Mind Galleries” in Lexington, get additional details and upcoming release dates on their website, www.YourFrameOfMind.biz, or on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/yourframeofmind (The series will also be carried by Kennedy Bookstore in Lexington.)


Boston Globe gives outside perspective on how ridiculous UK is treated

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Call me crazy, but it seems like lately the usual hatred for Kentucky has dissolved slightly as the Cats get closer to making history. Last year we were reading articles on how Calipari needed to lie in the bed he made and today there are articles popping up daily praising Calipari and the way he has handled this season. Now, you still have your trolls popping up here and there, but that’s expected when you’re on top.

Some of this could be because of all the negative happenings going on in other schools like UNC and Syracuse. Media always keeps a close eye on Kentucky, but sometimes that means they miss what’s going on in other places.

One article in particular caught my eye from the Boston Globe, especially when Chris Gasper used ‘Robert Montgomery Knight’’s full name when talking about the last team to go undefeated. (Side note: What did Robert do to tick off Chris? I’m pretty sure the last time someone used Bob Knight’s full name was the last time his mother was upset.)

The column titled “Undefeated Kentucky basketball isn’t the root of all evil” puts it best. This has been a slow, low-scoring and not very fun overall basketball season outside of what the cats are doing.

“This has been a season to hit the snooze bar. The game is not being played in an aesthetically pleasing manner. As Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis pointed out, scoring is the lowest it has been since 1952. There is not a Kevin Durant or a Jimmer Fredette to capture the average fan’s imagination. Both Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky are commendable players, but they don’t constitute must-see TV.”

After that, Chris basically tells everyone to sit down and shut up in the most elegant way possible.

“To some basketball purists, rooting for Coach Cal and his latest band of hoops Hessians is anathema. They look at Kentucky’s NBA assembly line and assemblage of talent and see everything that is wrong with college basketball. If you feel that way, too bad. Hold your nose and root the Wildcats on with the alacrity of Ashley Judd because college basketball needs undefeated Kentucky. College basketball’s anti-heroes have to save the day and the season.”

You can read the entire piece here, but I think we should make Chris an honorary wildcat fan for the way he was able to summarize an outside view on how ridiculous the way Kentucky is looked at by some this season as the Cats go for an undefeated season.

 

@Sealey_KSR


KentuckyOne Health Anywhere Care’s Friday Evening Notes

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KentuckyOne Health Anywhere Care at home, at the office and everywhere. Anywhere Care is a 24/7 service that lets you see or talk live to a primary care provider by phone or video chat… even from the comfort of your own couch. Click here to learn more or get care now.”

****

Hey guys, Drew here, winding things down at the KSR office for the day. Allow me to share a few evening notes as we await 31-0 tomorrow. Cats.

 

— Willie Cauley-Stein insists Kentucky isn’t thinking about perfection. Today he told reporters, “That’s how you get beat.” Willie said the team has to take it a game at a time and “let nature take its course.” Dakari Johnson added, “We just gotta treat it like every other game. We know that Florida’s going to come in here with a mentality to beat us. So we just gotta go out there and play hard.”

— Coach Cal elaborated on his ‘need more turnovers‘ comment yesterday on The Herd. “You’ve got to go try it in the game. You’re going to make some mistakes,” he explained. “You’re going to turn it over some. We went back over our stats, and in our lowest-turnover games our points per possession were our lowest. And as our turnovers went up a little bit – now they can’t be 25 – but where they’re in that range I’m talking about – 11, 12 maybe 13, 14 – we had our highest number of points per possession. That’s just how it is. I don’t want my team to have seven turnovers. That means that we’re not being aggressive enough. We’re not trying. Go play. I’m not holding back. Now I don’t want you to leave your feet, one-handed catches, look-away passes, crazy stuff. But I’m saying be aggressive and make plays.”

Michael Frazier is expected to play tomorrow. Florida’s leading scorer missed the last seven games but Billy Donovan will take Frazier to Lexington and he expects the guard to contribute. Frazier averages over 13 points per game this season. He suffered the right ankle injury in UK’s win in Gainesville last month.

Kentucky is ruining college basketball. Meanwhile, Syracuse, Kansas and North Carolina are in trouble with the NCAA, and Duke and Louisville are dealing with sexual assault claims. But Kentucky is ruining college basketball. Shame on you, Kentucky.

— Nashville is going to be awesome next week. Not to jump too far ahead and look past Florida, but next week has the potential to be an all-timer. The weather looks great, the basketball looks better, and Nashville is one of the best cities for housing and entertaining Big Blue Nation. I have several friends with bars and restaurants down there and they’re all excited to get UK fans in town. They’re excited — and fully stocked. So see you at Tin Roof.

— Did you read the Dominique Hawkins piece in the New York Times? It’s really good.

— Also, take a second to watch this week’s Campus Report:


Give me Kentucky at -14.5 tomorrow

The Cats are currently favored by 14.5 in tomorrow’s home game against Florida, the final contest of the regular season. The line opened at -16 and shifted to -14.5 this afternoon, according to VegasInsider.com.

I’ll take Kentucky to cover, please. I’ll also take a date with any of the three girls pictured above.


Cauley-Stein, Johnson and Ulis before today’s practice

dakari

Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson and Tyler Ulis answered questions from the media earlier today before practice. Watch below as they talk perfection, Florida and being awesome.


DraftKings and KSR together for a $10K contest

We’re back again with lots of money to give away on DraftKings.com and I’d love for you to win and spent it at the SEC tourney next week. This contest is for tomorrow’s games and has a $10,000 prize pool. That’s a lot of money.

The top 1,150 finishers will earn some form of payment, while the winner will walk away with $1,000.

First time players will receive free entry into the contest, as well as a 100 percent bonus up to $600 on the first deposit.

Action begins tomorrow at noon.

Click this link: ​https://www.draftkings.com/gateway?s=429029222


Grantland: “Towns is Godzilla and college basketball is Tokyo”

© Dale Zanine

© Dale Zanine

The good people at Grantland.com have a must-read piece for Big Blue Nation on the website today. It’s called Karl-Anthony and Cauley-Stein: Kentucky’s Two-Headed Monster Is the Future of the NBA.

An excerpt:

Cauley-Stein is quick enough to cover insane amounts of ground on defense and stick with college players half his size, and he’s long enough to bother every shot within 10 feet. Karl-Anthony is big enough to ruin shots at the rim, and his offense is somehow dominant and raw at the same time. Seven-footers always have value, but given where the NBA is going, guys like these will be priceless. That’s what’s coming in June.

Until then, they’re college basketball’s problem.

Stop what you’re doing and go read it.


Of course Willie was a star kickball player in high school

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This may be the most Willie Cauley-Stein nugget ever…

According to Coach Cal, Willie was a star kickball player in high school. Cal was telling reporters about how he never saw Willie play basketball in high school, and then he dropped this gem: “I watched him play kickball. You could not believe.”

“He would spin ‘em,” Cal said, while flailing his arm.

Badminton was another sport Willie played. Because of course.


LIVE: John Calipari previews Florida


If the SEC Tournament started today…

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…we’d be watching Kentucky take on the winner of Vandy and Alabama. Here’s the bracket based on the latest standings. Because the SEC is a mess, only Kentucky (1), Arkansas (2), and Missouri (14) have clinched their spots so far. With one game left to go, a lot could change.

Meanwhile, here is the latest weather forecast for Nashville:

Not too bad, right?


The latest KyWildcatsTV pump up video is awesome

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No “Uptown Dunk,” but I’M READY TO RUN THROUGH SOME WALLS. GIVE ME A SNOW SHOVEL BECAUSE IMMA DOMINATE THAT DRIVEWAY.


NCAA hands down penalties to Syracuse, Boeheim

After a ten-year investigation, the NCAA just handed down its penalties to Syracuse and Jim Boeheim for multiple infractions including academics and extra benefits. The NCAA suspended Boeheim for nine conference games next season and is taking away twelve scholarships, three a year for four years. Penalties also include a five-year probation and vacation of wins in which ineligible student participated. That does not include Syracuse’s 2003 title.

“During the 10-year period of violations, the head basketball coach did not promote an atmosphere of compliance within his program and did not monitor the activities of those who reported to him as they related to academics and booster involvement,” the NCAA said of Boeheim.

The NCAA did not hand down a postseason ban, although Syracuse self-imposed one for this season. According to Syracuse.com, the scholarship ban will keep Syracuse from adding Thomas Bryant, a 2015 big man that John Calipari and Slice Rohrssen have also been recruiting.

Ouch.

[NCAA]
[Syracuse.com]


Jay Bilas raves about UK’s attitude in close games

Jerry Tipton is on a Twitter spree this morning, tweeting out several quotes from a conversation with Jay Bilas. To read all of the quotes, check out Jerry’s Twitter feed, but I had to share a few of my highlights. Once again, Bilas raved about the Cats, whom he got to see up close in Athens on Tuesday.

“Best team and best team by a pretty good margin. But I don’t feel like they’re unbeatable,” Bilas said, praising Georgia for getting Kentucky’s bigs away from the basket; however, Kentucky’s depth was just too much for the Dawgs, who Bilas said ran out of gas. “They’re not going to knock you out, but you’re going to feel it in the end.”

Most interesting to me were Bilas’ remarks about Kentucky’s attitude in close games. For a team that’s undefeated, Bilas said the Cats were remarkably relaxed when they went to the locker room tied with Georgia at the half.

Kentucky looked like they were playing a game in the park. They had smiles on their faces,” Bilas said. “They weren’t afraid of losing. I’m not a psychologist, but it was a very, very interesting view of things.”

More were that came from on Jerry’s feed.


NCAA looking into whether or not Cliff Alexander’s family got benefits from an agent

Kansas’ Cliff Alexander has already sat out two games because of eligibility issues with the NCAA, and last night, Pat Forde reported that the NCAA is specifically investigating whether or not one or more of Alexander’s family members received benefits from an NBA agent.

Alexander won’t be allowed to play until he’s interviewed by the NCAA and they decide whether or not the benefits were impermissible. The Big 12 tournament starts on Wednesday, which means the clock is ticking for the Jayhawks.

[Yahoo]