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Erik Daniels escapes political turmoil in Ukraine

Erik Daniels escapes political turmoil in Ukraine

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In case you haven’t been watching the news, there’s some serious stuff going down in Ukraine. No, not Cal skipping the press conference in South Carolina, the actual war in Ukraine. Russian troops have taken over the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, throwing the entire country into political turmoil.

Former Cat Erik Daniels is playing pro ball over in Ukraine for BC Odessa. On Saturday, Daniels tweeted that due to the political problems in the country, BC Odessa decided to send all import players home, leaving Daniels without a team. Earlier today, he posted that he didn’t feel safe in the country, and “Wednesday couldn’t come fast enough.” Fortunately, it looks like Daniels has found a way out of the chaos, and is now on his way back to the States:

Hopefully Daniels arrives home safely to be with his family, including his daughter who just had a brain tumor removed. She seems to be recovering well, with the help of some Katy Perry. Safe travels, Erik.


Looking on to Alabama

How opposing teams are viewing Kentucky

As I said earlier the game against Alabama has no become one that the Cats simply must win. With a victory they will lock up the SEC two seed.  If they lose then a loss at Florida would send them into the pack of teams competing for places 2-10 with no telling where they would finish. Luckily, for the boys in blue and white Alabama will enter Rupp with a losing record and underwhelming talent. If there is one thing that is certain that hasn’t stopped teams from making things too close all season long. Here’s what you can expect the Crimson Tide to bring to Rupp Tuesday night:

Competition

Alabama has played some good teams close this season but has never found a way to get over the hump and claim a signature victory. Unbeaten Wichita State has only won games by 5 points or less 3 times this year and one of those games came on the road in Tuscaloosa. The Tide also played Florida pretty close both times and kept their game against Duke in MSG respectable. The Tide have played the fifth toughest strength of schedule which has left them with a record of 11-17. All season long though they haven’t really been blown out and you can expect them to keep things close in Lexington. Especially with the help of senior guard Trevor Releford.

Trevor Releford

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

How long has Mr. Releford been playing at Alabama? Well as you can see in the photo above there is evidence of him getting blocked by Josh Harrellson, who it seems like was a Cat an eon ago. Releford is now a senior and is the lone bright spot on a subpar Bama squad. Releford is averaging 18.8 points per game which is good for fifth in the SEC. If Releford does have any help it’s in the form of junior guard Levi Randolph who is capable of going off for a big game. Over the weekend he went 4-6 from downtown against Auburn and finished with 24 points. UK will need to shut down the guys on the perimeter in order to contain the Tide’s offense.

After a troubling past 4 games that burned the Cats 1-3 (with the lone win coming courtesy an OT putback) hosting Alabama could be the perfect chance for the Cats to right the ship. As Wilder broke down earlier the Cats usually play pretty well following an upset loss and perhaps the USC loss will bring things back into focus. I mean it can’t really get much worse.

How do you think the Cats will react this Tuesday?


UK Fans of the Day Want a Couple of Notes From the Road

UK Fans of the Day Want a Couple of Notes From the Road

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Drew and I are currently sitting in the media room at the University of Pittsburgh, having just eaten a tasty meal (that included an overweight man throwing a piece of chicken at Drew) and headed to a 9 pm tip versus NC State. We just shot the KSR Minute on Drew’s iPhone (we are nothing if not high class) and are trying now to formulate posts for Foxsports.com. It is a fun night and before it gets too wild, a couple of thoughts:

— I was very pleased to see John Calipari say that he would be coaching slightly differently as this week goes along. He noted that he needed to do what the team needed and if this meant letting the guys play a bit more freely, that was what he would do. I like seeing that flexibility from Calipari and the fact that he said it (and will hopefully do it) is not surprising. He has in the past, adapted his strategies to his players and had much success doing it. This year, I think it has taken him a bit longer because he truly believed the team was close even as the results slipped away. The hope is that this move takes the team to another place, although I am sure we will all believe it when we see it.

— I understand much of the negativity we have seen from the fan base, as we all were frustrated by the game on Saturday. Predictably there are some idiots who are calling for Calipari to go, but we all know those people are insane. I have however seen some who suggest that if Calipari leaves on his own (a suggestion that got a lot of play today from Mike Wilbon), that would be ok. I couldn’t disagree more. Replacing Calipari will be VERY hard, not just from a coaching standpoint but in terms of finding the right coach. There are no obvious candidates that are can’t-miss and there is not anyone I think that is really on Calipari’s level that I think would take the job at this time. Kentucky needs Calipari and Calipari needs Kentucky. The VAST majority of fans realize that and unlike some speculating otherwise, I believe Calipari knows that as well.

— A quick story from our travels. At Virginia, you may have read about Drew Franklin’s witnessing of Jim Boeheim’s explosion at a security guard. But a bit before that, I had my own Boeheim/security guard moment. As the coach was about to walk on the court, I was asked not to move so that he could have a path to the floor…no harm, no foul. But then just as Jim started his trot through the tunnel, a UVA security guard (in fact the one pictured below), came running towards me, put me in a rebounding position box out, and stuck his ass into my body and knocked me back. It was literally as if Mr Mustache was trying to prevent me from hitting the offensive glass, not touching a coach that was a good 30 feet away from me. After he did it, I looked at him and said, “was that really necessary? Did you really have to block me out when I was standing here minding my own business?” And Mr Mustache just looked at me and said, “that is what we are taught to do with very important people are about to be in proximity to the public.”

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So there you go…Boeheim is a “very important person” and if you happen to be in his proximity, at least at UVA, expect a rear end to hit you near the pelvic area.

For this and more excitement, take a second and follow our FOX SPORTS COLLEGE BASKETBALL ROAD TRIP blog on FoxSports.com. Click on the link and you can read all of our various adventures and enjoy some articles we have worked really hard on. I hope you will get a chance to visit.

And if you miss the radio show while we are traveling, you can listen on our Archive page. Drew and I are doing the show from the road and today’s (after the technical difficulties) had some Funny stuff and good callers involved. See you tomorrow morning on radio from Columbus, Ohio.


Harsh, Siri. Harsh.

Harsh, Siri. Harsh.

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I thought this was total BS until I tried it on my own phone. Harsh, Siri. Harsh.


Behind Enemy Lines: Colonial Life Arena

Behind Enemy Lines: Colonial Life Arena

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Last season, I went on the road to cover UK’s SEC road games. Ice storms have kept me from going to all of their road games this season, but I made the trek to Columbia, South Carolina, and even though the Cats laid an egg, I reviewed Colonial Life Arena. 

Vanderbilt’s Memorial Coliseum
Auburn Arena
Alabama’s Coleman Coliseum
Ole Miss’ Tad Smith Coliseum

Colonial Life Arena
Built: November 2002
Seating capacity: 18,000

Exterior: 5

I was suprised by how nice Colonial Life Arena is. Built in 2002, the arena has been well-preserved over the years, and with a contemporary brick and glass facade, fits in nicely in Columbia’s downtown area. Because there’s nothing South Carolina loves more than palmettos, it’s flanked by the state tree and has a nice fountain outside the main entrance.

Colonial Life Arena is actually the largest arena in the state of South Carolina, and was built to host NCAA Tournament games, but right before construction began, the NCAA banned South Carolina and Mississippi from hosting events because of protests by the NAACP, who objected to the presence of a Confederate battle flag flying near a soldier’s memorial at the nearby Statehouse grounds.

Baseball on the jumbotron because of course

Baseball on the jumbotron because of course

Interior: 3

The inside of the arena is nice, especially the concourses, which are wide and flooded with natural light. There are 41 suites, four “entertainment suites,” and the Frank McGuire Club, a full-service hospitality room. All 18,000 seats have chair backs, site lines are good, and the suites are pretty standard, albeit a bit dated. All in all, the interior of the arena is pretty generic.

Flow: 3.5

The concourse circles the arena, although it narrows towards the back of the arena near the Frank McGuire Club. The main entrances are easy to navigate, and from what I could tell, there were no major traffic issues.

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Concessions: 5

This is where the Colonial Life Arena shines. Instead of several standard concession stands, each concession stand specializes in a different food or cuisine, from Little Caesars to BBQ to oriental asian food to the beloved Carolina chain Bojangles. There are also unique food booths in the concourses to sell smoothies, pretzels, Dippin’ Dots, etc. The prices are pretty typical, with a “Sabrette Hot Dog” going for $3.50.

Popcorn: 4.5

With the Cats playing their worst basketball of the year in the first half, it was going to take something really special to cheer me up at halftime. The food gods heard my plea and answered in the form of free popcorn, cookies, chips, and Diet Coke in the media room. I only had eyes for that red and white striped box, and it definitely revived me. Light and buttery with just the right amount of salt, and if not for a bit too much grease, it would have gotten a perfect score.

Bojangles AND smoothies?!?!

Bojangles AND smoothies?!?!

Signature food: 5

There wasn’t really one signature food at Colonial Life Arena, but because of the plethora of options (egg rolls at a basketball game? #WhyNot), I’ll still award full marks. Have you ever had Bojangles? It’s delicious.

(more…)


Cal compares skipping the press conference to war in Ukraine, takes jab at Pat Forde

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John Calipari just finished up his call-in show, in which he finally adressed why he didn’t do the postgame press conference at South Carolina. Cal said that had he known him skipping the press conference would create a scandal similar to the war in Ukraine, he would have done it:

“If I would have known that me not going to a press conference would cause an international incident in the Ukraine, I probably would have gone. …If I knew we would have been going to war with the Ukraine because I did not go to that press conference, I would have sat there with John Robic and said I can’t talk about the officiating, and I don’t know, I didn’t see it, but John talk about the last ten minutes, and then I would have left.”

Cal added that they had John Robic do the press conference because he was the one who coached the last ten minutes, which he says he didn’t even see. In fact, Cal said that he’s been scaling back on his media obligations because he’s doing too much as it is, and also wants to give his assistants the experience.

Back to the presser. “Holy cow, dudes lose their minds,” Cal said of the media’s reaction, going as far to say that some used it as an excuse to write a story they’ve been waiting to write for a long time:

“Or is it, ‘there’s our chance to go CRAZY. WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR FOUR YEARS TO GET OUR CHANCE!’ And I’m the one losing my mind. Right?”

That subtle jab at Pat Forde turned into an uppercut seconds later:

“They know they can tweak you fans, so they tweak you. And you go bonkers. See, I love it though, because then I don’t have to say anything. It’s like you’re an army for me. All they do is tweak me, tweak the program, tweak a guy, and all of a sudden, army ants are coming at you and here they come and they keep coming.

But, some of it is to get your eyeballs on their site. Don’t do that. Don’t give them your eyeballs now (website hits). Some of those people, those nasty dudes, don’t give them your eyeballs. Paste it, and everybody read the paste. Don’t give them your eyeballs. The guy will be in the soup line in another six months. Don’t give them the eyeballs.”

After rambling about selling pencils, Cal said that all of this drama is why he goes to church every day.


South Carolina has to Cough Up $25,000

I’m sure you’re sick and tired up this video by now (I am too), but the University South Carolina will have to pay for their actions…literally.  South Carolina’s court storm will cost the university $25,000.  The SEC is the only conference in the country with a policy that reprimands schools for entering the playing field; the first offense is $5,000, the second is $25,000 and the third is $50,000.  The policy reads as follows:

‘Access to competition areas shall be limited to participating student-athletes, coaches, officials, support personnel and properly-credentialed individuals at all times. For the safety of participants and spectators alike, at no time before, during or after a contest shall spectators be permitted to enter the competition area. It is the responsibility of each member institution to implement procedures to ensure compliance with this policy.’

South Carolina’s last offense also happened against Kentucky, when Devan Downey and the Gamecocks handed Calipari his first loss as the leader of the Wildcats.


PTI’s Michael Wilbon thinks Cal is NBA Bound

PTI’s Michael Wilbon thinks Cal is NBA Bound

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Coach Cal and the Kentucky Wildcats were third on the list of today’s topics on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption.  Michael Wilbon predicted that after this season Calipari will head to the NBA.  Cal has never been one to shy away from the media, but after the ejected coach skipped his postgame press conference, the PTI pair labeled his behavior as bizarre.  They believe the pressure has become too overwhelming; Kornheiser believes it will take two or three years, Wilbon “this year.”

Come one guys, salt on the wound.

 


Polson and Hood pose with Coach Cal and academic advisor Michael Stone after they received their diplomas. (@UKCoachCalipari)

Polson and Hood Prepare for Senior Night

Polson and Hood pose with Coach Cal and academic advisor Michael Stone after they received their diplomas. (@UKCoachCalipari)

Polson and Hood pose with Coach Cal and academic advisor Michael Stone after they received their diplomas. (@UKCoachCalipari)

Two of Kentucky’s finest will play their final game at Rupp Arena tomorrow night against Alabama.  Their careers haven’t always been in the spotlight of Big Blue Nation, but nonetheless they have been extremely successful playing with more than a dozen NBA players in multiple Final Fours while taking a National Championship back to the Bluegrass.

“It seems like yesterday I was working out with John (Wall), Eric (Bledsoe) and DeMarcus (Cousins),” Hood said earlier today, “it’s been the best five years of my life. It’s just hitting me that it’s coming to an end.”

Both Seniors have had to overcome adversity to reach this point: Polson had to hear fans scream “SHOOT” during every late game touch early in his career, while Hood had to take a redshirt season to rehabilitate a torn ACL.  Hood gained a much greater appreciation for the game after the injury, “It made me look at things in a different way. It helped me develop my sense for basketball and my love for basketball in a different way, a new light, and it made me respect the game a lot more.”

The Seniors aren’t done facing adversity, and they certainly aren’t done proving people wrong, “They think we’re done for. That’s kind of what we’re rallying around: us against the world. We’re gonna prove everyone wrong,” Polson said.  Building off Aaron Harrison’s comments following Saturday’s loss, the team has met multiple times with each other and with Coach Cal to get on the same page, “We’re writing our own story from here on out… our spirits are better than people think they are,” Polson said. 

Hood and Polson will both be in the starting lineup tomorrow night, but for Hood it has never been about stats and playing time, “It doesn’t really matter what role I played, a wins a win.”  Tomorrow night the Cats need a win more than ever.  With the pressure increasing on the team and Coach Cal everyday, Polson knows it’s time to perform, “it’s on us.”


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Kentucky opens as a 13.5-point favorite over Alabama

swimdaily.si.com

swimdaily.si.com

Vegas has given the Cats a 13.5-point advantage over the Crimson Tide for tomorrow night’s Senior Day at Rupp Arena.  Surely the Cats won’t drop a third game in a row, but can they cover?

In other news, Katherine Webb is really, really hot.


John Wall was last week’s Eastern Conference Player of the Week

Two filthy points from Wall's 17 pt. 16 ast. night against the 76ers. (Photo from AP's Twitter)

Two filthy points from Wall’s 17 pt. 16 ast. night against the 76ers. (Photo from AP’s Twitter)

John Wall has been named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the second time this season, the third of his career.  Wall led the Zards to a 3-0 record while averaging 25 points, 10.7 assists and 2 steals while shooting 59.2% from the field.  

Wall’s best performance came against the 76ers where he helped Trevor Ariza score 40 points after dishing out a career-high 16 assists.  That amazing performance happened on the same night his childhood hero, Allen Iverson, had his jersey retired.  Wall said after the game, “That’s the player I looked up to, more than anybody else, in my era. A role model, why I enjoyed watching basketball. I looked up to him, being a small guard. That’s who I took a lot of my game from.”  Needless to say, Wall picked a good night to have a career-best performance.

You can read more about Wall’s relationship with Iverson, including the meeting the two had before Wall signed with Iverson’s shoe company, Reebok.


Baseball Notebook: Kentucky cracks the Top 25

Baseball Notebook: Kentucky cracks the Top 25

Kentucky Baseball

After going 4-0 last week, the Kentucky Wildcats have found themselves back in the friendly confines of the college baseball top 25 polls. The last Kentucky found themselves in any of college baseball’s major polls was back on April 29,2013 after taking a three-game series at then No. 16 Ole Miss. This also marks the first of hopefully many more weeks that see the cats labeled as one of the best teams at the sport. With that said, it’s on to the first KSR Baseball Notebook of the year. Let’s get it:

Results:

Tuesday: Kentucky (7) – Wright State (1)

Friday: Kentucky (8) – Eastern Michigan (2)

Saturday (Game 1): Kentucky (9) – Eastern Michigan (5)

Saturday (Game 2): Kentucky (13) – Eastern Michigan (2)

 

Rankings:

Baseball America: #23

Collegiate Baseball: #23

Perfect Game: #22

 

Player of the Week:

Junior Austin Cousino gets POTW honors this week after his performance helped spark the cats to a perfect opening week at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The center fielder from Ohio hit a cool .500 during the four-game span, which helped expand his hitting streak to six games. Cousi also racked up three doubles, one triple, four RBI, and three steals as well. On the year, Cousino has an average of .438 as well as one home run to go alongside his eight RBI. So it’s definitely been a great week for the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List member if I say so myself.

 

The Look Ahead:

Tuesday: at Cincinnati (4:00 p.m.)

Wednesday: vs Cincinnati (4:00 p.m.)

All-Time Series Record: UK leads 56-29-2

Last Meeting: Kentucky won at home 7-0 on April 17, 2012.

Both games will be broadcast as always on the UK IMG Radio Network. Fans can listen to the action in the Lexington area on WWTF 1580 AM, or online at UKathletics.com.

 

Make sure to keep it over here on KSR for all of your Kentucky Baseball coverage.


Image via SJU.edu

SEC Bubble Watch

 

 

Image via SJU.edu

Image via SJU.edu

 

Ah, the SEC. Such a mystery, isn’t it? Seven teams are between 9-7 and 7-9 in the league, Florida is one of the best teams in the nation, Georgia is in third place (!), Arkansas has decided it can win on the road, and then… well, um, then there’s Kentucky. The “new fab five,” the “Undefeatables,” whatever positive nickname you wanted to call them, it doesn’t matter. None of that matters anymore. The fact is the Cats are struggling. They haven’t played well against anybody but Mississippi since February 1st. You know this, I know this, every member of BBN knows this, and Pat Forde surely knows this.

 

But does this mean the Cats are in danger of missing the NCAA tournament? Nope. And that’s what I’m here to mainly discuss. So let’s get it crackin’ in this week’s Bubble Watch:

 

Locks: Florida (27-2, RPI 3, SOS 24), Kentucky (21-8, RPI 17, SOS 6)

 

In my opinion, Florida is two more wins away from locking up a number one seed. However they attain those two wins doesn’t really matter, but if they are (at a minimum) 29-3 heading in to the big dance, they’ll be on the top line. Kentucky, though, is in a much more peculiar situation. They still have very strong RPI and SOS numbers (especially non-conference SOS), and their Sagarin PURE_ELO (strong measure of resume) is 38th, which, although not particularly strong, isn’t terrible either. I truly believe with the strength of the Cats current computer numbers that they can lose out (which isn’t going to happen) and still make the tournament. The bubble is weak, and the Cats did enough early on to solidify a bid I believe.

 

Right side of the bubble: Arkansas (20-9, RPI 53, SOS 77), Tennessee (17-11, RPI 48, SOS 13)

 

A week ago, I didn’t think Arkansas had much of a chance. They were presumed to be one of the worst road teams in the conference and hey, the Cats don’t lose at Rupp too often. Welp, after beating the Cats in Rupp, and after taking care of an improved Georgia squad in Fayetteville, I lean towards the Razorbacks being in at this point. They have strong wins over Kentucky (twice), SMU, Minnesota (neutral site) and Clemson, and they only have lost one game against a team ranked outside of the RPI top 100 (@TAM). The weak non-conference schedule is something to keep an eye on, but they certainly pass the “what have you done for me lately” test too.

Last week Tennessee was probably just on the outside looking in, but after handling both Mississippi State and Vandy this past weekend it’s time to slide them back in. The computer numbers have always been there for the Vols, but they are still a team that is better than their resume. Unfortunately for the puke orange, the committee looks at the best resumes and not the best teams, or UT would be safely in. The wins over Virginia and Xavier are nice, but getting swept by the SEC bubble killing Texas A&M Aggies definitely doesn’t help their case. If Tennessee can get to 20 wins (and I think they will), they I think they will get a bid.

 

Wrong side of the bubble: Missouri (20-9, RPI 49, SOS 88)

 

The Tigers are definitely still in the thick of it for a bid, but they are probably just a touch outside at the moment. Losing by 15 at Georgia isn’t the best way to impress the committee, with such little time remaining before Selection Sunday. The Tigers are now just 2-6 on the road in SEC play and they still have to travel to Knoxville next weekend in a game with huge bubble implications. Could it be a “winner gets in” type of game? Possibly. But there’s still basketball to be played and Tigers need to start messing around if the SEC is going to get more bids.

 

@BWardKSR

 


1978 NCAA Champs print commissioned by Goose Givens to be unveiled at signing event tomorrow night

1978 NCAA Champs print commissioned by Goose Givens to be unveiled at signing event tomorrow night

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As a continuing part of the celebration of UK’s 1978 Championship team’s 35th anniversary, the MVP of that game, Jack “Goose” Givens, has commissioned beautiful new artwork to help commemorate the victory — and it will be unveiled tomorrow night.

Givens has announced the “Kentucky Wildcats’ 1978 Championship Fine Art Series” kick-off event, where he and other teammates will be on hand to autograph posters of the new art!  The event will take place before the Alabama game from 7:00 p.m. — 8:30 p.m. in the Lexington Center Museum and Gallery, on the 2nd floor of The Shops at Lexington Center adjacent to Rupp Arena.

Givens will be joined by teammates James Lee, Mike Phillips and Jay Shidler to sign the stunning new art – and as a bonus – Coach Joe B. Hall is scheduled to be on hand to pose for pictures with all who get their poster signed!

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The cost of the poster signed by all four players & the artist is only $35.00, an incredible opportunity for the avid UK fan!  Pre-Sell tickets will be honored first from 7:00 – 7:45, and then a Public signing will take place until 8:30. Pre-Sell tickets are available online at www.YourFrameOfMind.biz , or you can purchase them before the event at Your Frame of Mind Galleries in the mall’s first level.

After seeing the highly-acclaimed Fine Art created for Coach Calipari by Lexington native David Bryan Blondell that celebrated UK’s 2012 Championship, Givens commissioned the freelance artist for the NBA’s Orlando Magic to do the same for his squad – and for Coach Hall. “It’s just an unbelievable honor to do this for Coach Hall and this team,” Blondell said after completing the project, which took more than 6 months. “I idolized them as a kid, and was in high school here when they won it… and to now be asked to be a part of their celebration all these years later is, as a True-Blue fan, just amazing and very humbling.  I hope the art meets the high standards of the adoration & love that fans continue to hold for this team.”

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Givens, in fact, thinks the art turned-out to be pretty amazing.  “I love it. David’s done just a wonderful job capturing our likenesses and the spirit of winning the Championship,” Givens said. “His portrayal of Coach Hall, his leadership, and of our love for him is just spot-on. It’s already my favorite rendition of the team, right along with LeRoy Neiman’s famous painting of us.”

Created in oil paint on an oversized canvas, Blondell’s composition centers around the victory embrace of Coach Hall, and uses UK’s 1978 NCAA Trophy as the background to feature all the players on the team in action poses – including James Lee’s final dunk vs. Duke that put the icing on that Championship cake!

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At tomorrow’s kick-off event, in addition to the poster version of the art, fans will also have the opportunity to purchase in advance a high-end, Fine Art Limited Edition gicleé print – this one signed by ALL team members and Coach Hall that will be released at a later date. There will be only 78 of them produced, and all the certified numbered prints will come beautifully framed as well; more details at the event.  You may also learn more about the creation of this painting by going to Facebook at www.facebook.com/blondellart , or go on Twitter @blondellart – special announcements about this on-going celebration are to come!

So get there early, beat the crowd, enjoy spending time with these Kentucky Legends, get a picture with Coach Joe B. Hall, relive the glory of that championship season, and go home with a treasure that will be cherished by any Big Blue Fan.