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Photo Credit: Matt Jones

The New Rupp Arena’s Wednesday News And Views


Despite an all-around good day in college basketball, it was relatively a slow UK news day. Other than reaction to last night’s game and remembering Senior Day, the biggest UK news we brought to you today may have been UK’s plans to sign a long-term lease with Rupp Arena. This means that the University supports the plan to redesign Rupp into the palace you see above, and renovation plans can take a major step forward once the lease is officially signed. There have been too many renderings, announcements and press conferences to remember concerning this project, but it looks like it’s finally about to become a reality. The next time a press conference is called, it will likely be to announce that the school has officially signed the lease. The last remaining hurdle will likely be figuring out how the new Rupp will be paid for.

The night following Kentucky’s bounce-back win over Alabama on Senior night proved to be a significant one in college basketball. Most notably, No. 4 Duke lost by 10 points to a bad Wake Forest team (16-14, 6-11 ACC). No. 17 Saint Louis also fell at home to Dayton, losing its third straight. The Billikens had won 19 straight games since losing 70-65 to Wichita State on December 1st. This follows a night where No. 7 Syracuse lost its fourth in five games, falling at home on Senior Night to Georgia Tech (14-16, 5-12 ACC). The theme in college basketball of late is that a lot of really good teams keep losing. Well, everyone except Wichita State. But the Cats aren’t the only talented team struggling down the stretch, and this is another reason to be on #TeamJanice.

Also, Indiana lost to Nebraska at home on its Senior Night and our own Matt Jones and Drew Franklin were on the scene while on their college basketball road trip with Fox Sports.

Photo Credit: Matt Jones

Photo Credit: Matt Jones




–Matt and Drew are killing it on the road trip, and here are their latest works:

Michigan – The most interesting team in the world, by Drew Franklin

Stauskas’ closeup, UI alum’s Olympic bronze, by Matt Jones

And more soon from Bloomington!


–ICYMI, here are all of the Cats’ latest NBA draft projections:

(for links to the complete projections, click here)

Draft Express 2014 mock draft (updated 3/5)

4. Julius Randle
14. Willie Cauley-Stein
23. James Young
36. Alex Poythress

Draft Express 2015 mock draft (updated 3/5)

18. Dakari Johnson
26. Aaron Harrison
31. Andrew Harrison 2014 mock draft (updated 2/25)

4. Julius Randle
22. James Young
24. Willie Cauley-Stein 2015 mock draft (updated 2/25)

7. Marcus Lee
11. Karl Towns
27. Andrew Harrison
33. Alex Poythress
36. Aaron Harrison
49. Dakari Johnson

Also, James Young’s stock somehow improved after last night’s game in Chad Ford’s Mock Draft 3.0. It’s an Insider, but that’s the word on the street.

Who will stay and who will go?


–The UK baseball team deserves some love for whipping up on Cincinnati, sweeping the Bearcats in a doubleheader by scores of 7-0 and 11-4. KSR’s David Mulloy has the recaps for you right here.


–I’ll leave you with Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson’s senior day ceremony, because it’s worth viewing again and again:

Cats Sweep Doubleheader Against Bearcats

Cats Sweep Doubleheader Against Bearcats

Photo by Chet White, UK Athletics

Photo by Chet White, UK Athletics


Game 1: UK 7, CIN 0

With the first game of the series pushed back a day due to the weather, sophomore Dylan Dwyer wasted no time asserting himself and pitched the first complete game shutout since first round pick Alex Meyer did it verses top ranked Vanderbilt in 2011.  Dwyer allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out eight on 113 pitches.

Offensively the Cats were led  by sophomore Ka’ai Tom and freshman JaVon Shelby adding two RBI each with Shelby hitting his first career homerun.



Game 2: UK 11, CIN 4

In the nightcap the Cats again wasted no time jumping on the Bearcats, scoring nine runs in the first three innings behind a 3-for-5 game by Austin Cousino.  A.J. Reed knocked in three runs and extended his NCAA RBI lead to 24 and has his hitting streak to 15 games.

Juco transfer Andrew Nelson made his first start as a Wildcat, working four innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and struck out three before giving way to a bevy of relievers.  Fellow Juco transfer Spencer Jack earned his first win at UK, working two and a third scoreless innings out of the bullpen.

Uk-CIN 2

The Cats will put their nine game winning streak on the line this weekend against Ball State, who will come to town for the final series before SEC play.  First pitch is 4pm on Friday.

Two Lexington football players talk about their paths to becoming special teams walk-ons at UK and UL

(Ryan Betlach in the UL sweatshirt, Jake Ryan in the UK sweatshirt)

When I set out to interview two high school seniors about their journey to becoming special teams walk-ons at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, the two biggest schools in their home state of Kentucky, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t know if I would have to pull answers out of them, or what the story would amount to in the end. What I discovered were two very humble young men (both big fans of Jacob Tamme due to family ties in Danville), each set to take different paths at rival schools… yet both of whom were making childhood dreams come true in a way they might never have expected.  Jake Ryan and Ryan Betlach are both set to graduate from Tates Creek High School here in Lexington in June. The destination couldn’t be more different for the two seniors– with Ryan heading to Kentucky and Betlach venturing down the road to Louisville– but the journey and excitement about the opportunity that lies ahead strike eerily similar chords for both Ryan and Betlach. What I found when sitting down for the interview, was that both UK and UL are inheriting the kind of guys you would hope to have in your locker room. Both are mature for their age, well-spoken, gracious for the chance they’ve been given, hungry to succeed, and proud to be a part of their home state’s university. I couldn’t have been more impressed with either. Neither will be the most heralded name when glancing down the rosters they both hope to eventually make, but Ryan and Betlach are just the kind of guys you want to root for…

Ryan will be attending Kentucky to be a walk-on punter, while Betlach will be going to Louisville as a walk-on to be a long-snapper. Ryan nearly set the state record for the longest punt in Kentucky history earlier this season, with an 82-yarder against Henry Clay (The state record is 82 1/2 yards). Interestingly enough, Betlach was the long-snapper on the punt, and was the one to recover the ball in the end zone. Betlach was ranked as the #2 long-snapper (based on speed/accuracy) in the country after attending a pro-camp during his sophomore year. Ryan is currently ranked as the #42 punter in the country.


Q: Give a little background on your football careers and how you came about to be a kicker/punter (Ryan) and a long-snapper (Betlach).

Ryan: “I played quarterback my freshman year, and in and out my sophomore through senior year. I’ve kicked since my freshman year, and started punting my sophomore year. I went to a couple camps (for kicking), but it just kind of came naturally to me. Sometimes after practice, some of us would just kind of mess around and kick around. Lot of guys that can’t kick try to kick. It’s a lot of fun. I played soccer when I was younger, but it’s a lot different. I always kind of really wanted to kick in college, and my sophomore year when I started punting I thought– wow I’m not too bad at this. It’s been a process though to become better at it.”

Betlach: “I’ve played since I was 7 years old. I’ve played all kinds of positions. As I got into middle school and high school I focused more on defense. But when I was in elementary school, my Dad taught me how to long snap, so I’ve been a long-snapper ever since for every team that I’ve been on. I’ve been to a couple camps as well.


Q: Did your Dad teach you long-snapping in the backyard just for fun, or was it because he thought that special skill could be a ticket to college football down the line?

Betlach: “It was for fun, but he knew that long-snapping could be my ticket to college. He said, ‘You could go to a D-I school and long snap.’ I didn’t know how seriously to take him until a couple weeks ago when I got the call saying, ‘You have the opportunity to go to Louisville.'”


Q: When you were growing up, did you ever dream/imagine that you would be going to a Division I school to play college football?

Ryan: “I’ve grown up in Lexington, so I’ve always been a fan of UK. I couldn’t really see myself going there, cuz I’ll probably still be the smallest guy there. But it’s almost surreal at this point. I mean I know I’m going and I know I’m going to be there, and it’s going to be an awesome experience– but growing up I didn’t really see myself going to a D-I school. I saw myself going to a smaller school, maybe like Centre. D-I always just seemed like a dream really.

Betlach: “When I started when I was 7, I always said I was going to go to the NFL. That’s always everyone’s dream. But as you slowly progress through the years and see everyone’s talent, you say to yourself, ‘Okay maybe I’ll just go D-I.’ And then maybe after that, ‘Maybe I’ll just try to play in college.’ So it’s always been a dream of mine to go D-I, but as I slowly progressed through my career, my dream was more to play college football at any level. But when I got the opportunity to go D-I I was shocked. It was awesome.”


Q: Both of you had opportunities to play at smaller schools. What was it that made you decide to pass on those opportunities to walk-on at Kentucky and Louisville?

Ryan: “I think definitely playing for your home university was my biggest thing. When Coach Harmon (TC coach) told me I had an offer, I was like, ‘You don’t have to contact anyone else.’ It’s been really fun. I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s just awesome that UK is giving me this opportunity to play.”

Betlach: “I had a couple of different options, especially Division 3 schools. I was really struggling to make a decision. The smaller schools were a lot more expensive. But I got accepted to Louisville’s Speed School (Engineering program) and it’s one of the top programs in the country. When Coach Harmon found that out he contacted Pete Nochta at Louisville. He’s in charge of the long-snappers at UL. He made that connection, and told Nochta my times and that I was a good snapper. So he gave me that chance. And I took it.”


Q: How exactly did the recruiting process go about to get you all to Kentucky and Louisville?

Ryan: “I didn’t personally get a call but Coach Harmon did. And it was right before the dead period so we had to wait a few weeks. Then I met with Neal Brown at a basketball game one afternoon. It was like right after Matt Elam signed, so he was running all over the place. That was the extent of my recruitment. He didn’t really have to recruit me. I was set on going there.”

Betlach: “Once I found out I had the opportunity, there wasn’t much recruiting involved. I was really excited and it’s always been my dream to go D-I in any position.”


Q: Both Kentucky and Louisville football have a lot of excitement surrounding the the programs right now, with blockbuster recruiting classes at UK ignited by a new staff, and a returning successful head coach in Bobby Petrino at Louisville. Talk a little bit about what it’s like and the excitement you’ve felt as you head into those programs…

Ryan: “Personally, I’ve been watching the recruitment process by Coach Stoops and his staff. I’ve been a fan my whole life. The excitement around the program is great. I’m excited for the program as a fan, and he’s doing a great job bringing in talent. But I try to stray away from telling people I’m walking on to UK. If they ask, I’ll tell them. But I don’t walk around telling everyone.”

Betlach: “Louisville just got into the ACC and got a new coach. They have one of the hardest schedules in college football this year. It’s an exciting time for Louisville, too.”


Q: Betlach, is it a little strange to go from being a lifelong Kentucky fan growing up in Lexington, to now being part of the Louisville program?

Betlach: “Yeah, I grew up in Lexington. My room was all decked out in UK. It’s been a bit of a transformation. A lot of my friends jokingly call me a traitor. But I’m excited about the opportunity, and I guess I am a Louisville fan now.”


Q: Have you all thought about a moment when you all take the field at the same time, on opposing sides, as former teammates?

Ryan: “Yeah, and I’ve talked about it with my family. Actually, my stepmom and his Mom went to high school together in Danville. They are just like ‘Ah man, you and Ryan are gonna be on the field at the same time.’ Some of our friends have talked about us jogging out to midfield and shaking hands.”

Betlach: “Yeah, we have thought about it. Coach Harmon has said he can’t wait til we are both playing on the field at the same time. Well, obviously not at the exact same time.”


Q: You two had to have had a chemistry on the field as the punter and long-snapper. Does that make it even more special for the two of you to see each other reaching your goals?

Ryan: “I’m excited for him and I’m excited for myself. I mean, without him, I couldn’t do anything. When I heard about him going to Louisville, I actually pulled him out of class and we talked about it for a few minutes. It’s pretty awesome for one program (Tates Creek) to have 2 guys going D-I, at opposing schools in the same state. It’s pretty fun.”

Betlach: “Yeah, Jake was actually one of the first people to say something to me. He found out the same day I did. Like he said, he pulled me out of class. I guess Tates Creek is known for its special teams. Obviously, David Akers.”


Q: What are you all most excited about when it comes to playing at Kentucky and Louisville?

Ryan: “I really want to say the clothes. (laughs) But I know that’s not the right answer. Just the people that I’m going to be around. I like being a part of a team, and I miss hanging out with my teammates every day, and weight lifting and joking around and seeing everyone. Being part of a team and the road trips and all of that, that’s the part I’m looking forward to the most. Creating memories with teammates. Stepping on the field is going to be cool– seeing thousands of fans. I mean we have season tickets, but we are waaaay up there. It’s going to be unreal. I don’t even know how to explain it yet, but I’m really looking forward to that.”

Betlach: “Like I said, it’s always been my dream to play Division I football and now it’s a reality. I’ll get to play against some of the best teams in the nation and be on one of the best teams in the nation. I’ll be excited to go play at places like Notre Dame. That’s one of the most traditional stadiums and programs.”


Q: Who’s your favorite UK/UL player of all time?

Ryan: “Do I have to pick a special teams person? Actually, when I go to UK games I’m like, ‘Landon Foster! He’s so good.’ I tell my friends that all the time, and they make fun of me. (After going on a tangent about Johnny Football)…Or I guess Randall Cobb.”

(Betlach interupts): “I’m surprised you didn’t say Jacob Tamme.”

Ryan: “AH! That’s who it is! I have a pair of Jacob Tamme signed gloves because he went to Boyle County and my stepmom knows his Mom. Okay, he’s my favorite.”

Betlach: “I guess I would have to go with Teddy Bridgewater. I think he’s a great quarterback and a great guy. I hope he goes #1 in the draft. As far as UK guys go, Jacob Tamme. My Aunt’s a counselor at Boyle County, so that’s a connection. I mean I don’t have any signed gloves like he does or anything.”


Q: Jake, you know UK’s special teams guys are a pretty funny group. They have their own Twitter account and everything.

Ryan: “I guess I have to be come a little bit funnier so I can become a part of that team.”


Q: Have you guys talked a little trash to each other yet about the rivalry?

Ryan: “I don’t know if I can talk trash now since I have a good friend on the team. I mean I really want to, but I feel like it’s going to be difficult.”

Betlach: “Obviously it’ll be a little tough to talk trash about UK.”


Q: Last but not least, what are your academic plans at UK and UL? (Both are very strong students)

Ryan: “I want to go into chemical engineering or pharmaceutical work.”

Betlach: “I got accepted to UL’s Speed School , which is very exciting. It’s a 5-year program, but you get your master’s in 5 years. It’s a very difficult program, but I’m hoping I can get through it.”


Good luck to both guys as they head to Kentucky and Louisville in the fall to make the rosters. As you can tell, Ryan and Betlach are both grateful and excited about the opportunity they are being given at their home state programs.

Oh, and the guys both have Twitter and they asked me to score them a couple of followers. So do your thing, BBN. Just don’t make any Sixteen Candles jokes toward Jake Ryan. “She pretends like she didn’t know, but I think my Mom did it on purpose.” He has a flip phone though, so he probably won’t see your Tweets until a few days later. See if we can’t get these guys to 800 followers, BBN. 




The Best Faces on the Rupp Arena Fancam

The Best Faces on the Rupp Arena Fancam

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If you were at last nights’ game, odds are you’re in the HD picture taken by the Rupp Arena fancam before the game. I spent a ridiculous amount of time zooming around the picture today to bring you some of the best snapshots.

As always, we’ve gotta start with Johnny Short, who’s dutifully listening to the last few minutes of the pregame show with Oscar Combs and Dave Baker:

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What a great American. Hey, look, it’s KSR’s favorite tweeter, Lonny Demaree!

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Lonny just wants to know why there was a chicken in the opening scene of “The Hangover.”

What do you think Jimmy Dykes and Brad Nessler are talking about?

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Some people were ready for the fancam:

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…While others were clearly more interested in eating Rupp ice cream:

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(There were hundreds of these.)

These three thought they were going to a Mardi Gras party:

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This guy snuck in a pregame nap:

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Hey look, it’s Ryan Lemond, his son, and Kyle Macy!

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Light up peepers looked a bit evil in the upper deck:

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And this woman is really into traveling. Or hosting. Or hosting travelers:

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Even Eli Capilouto got in on the fun:

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Well, kind of.