Good evening, sports fans. Drew here, back at the KSR Lexington office after defying the odds →
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UK Hoops and other sports coverage
One of the coldest Kentucky summers on record is winding down, and hasn’t really left us with much to talk about. Coach Mark Stoops and the rest of the football staff have once again spent the summer holding out to announce the starting quarterback, while the men’s basketball team spends time in the Bahamas with new assistant coach Barry “Slice” Rohrssen. Other than that, pretty much nothing notable has happened. The UK Hoops’ offseason has also been slow from a news point of view, except for some changes to the coaching staff.
Earlier this summer in Part I, I took a look at women’s basketball news from the season’s end on March 29 up until June 3. Let’s look at what has gone on since then:
August 4: ESPN Announces Tip-Off Marathon, Features UK
At the beginning of every college basketball season ESPN shows 24-straight hours of basketball as part of the Tip-Off Marathon. This year, the event will begin with a rematch between the UK Hoops team and the Baylor Bears on Monday, November 17 at 7pm on ESPN2. Last season, Kentucky split two games with the Bears, both at neutral sites. In Jerry World on December 6, UK defeated Baylor in a 4OT thriller in the first game of the double-header with the men. The game, played in a mostly empty arena due to an ice storm in Dallas, broke a women’s college basketball record for points scored in a game, with the final score of 133-130. That was not the only record broke that night: O’Neill’s 43 points off the bench were the most in Kentucky school history. The Lady Bears were able to get revenge, though, beating UK 90-72 in the Sweet 16. The game this season against the Bears will be apart of the women’s “Pack the House” event. During the event last season, UK took on Duke in front of a sold out Rupp Arena crowd of over 23,000.
The marathon that begins with UK Hoops in Rupp Arena, will conclude in Indianapolis during the State Farm Champions Classic, where the men will take on Kansas at 9:30 on Tuesday on ESPN. Some other noteworthy games during the Tip-Off:
SMU vs. Gonzaga
UConn vs. Stanford (women)
Auburn vs. Colorado
Miami vs. Florida
Manhattan vs. UMass
Baylor vs. South Carolina
Wichita State vs. Memphis
Marquette vs. Ohio State
Texas Tech vs. LSU
August 5: Big Blue Madness Campout Set for September 17
Expecting a huge number of campers again this year, UK announces that you will be able to set up camp three days before ticket distribution. Tickets will be given out on Saturday, Sept. 20 at 7am outside of Memorial Coliseum, as usual. The Madness will be held at Rupp Arena on Friday, Oct. 17 to unofficially kickoff another basketball season in the Bluegrass.
August 13: Tamika Williams Added to Staff
Coach Matthew Mitchell announces that former UConn player, Tamika Williams, has been hired as an assistant coach. Mitchell in a statement said, “I have been a long-time admirer of Tamika Williams and her contributions to the game of basketball… Tamika has experienced success as a player, coach, broadcaster and in the business world. Her knowledge of the game coupled with the wisdom she can provide our players will be an invaluable asset to the Kentucky program. Tamika is a tremendous role model for our players and I couldn’t be happier to welcome her as the newest member of the Big Blue Nation.” As the number-one girl’s high school player in America, Williams chose to play her four years of basketball at UConn from 1998-2002, where she won two NCAA championships. She was chosen 6th overall in the WNBA draft, and experienced success during her professional career, leading the league in field goal percentage during a season. Over the past few years she has worked with nonprofit organizations as well as broadcasting for ESPN. Before that she was a graduate assistant at Ohio State and Kansas.
Williams will also be joined by new assistant coaches Adeniyi Amadou and Christian Stefanopoulos.
August 14: 2014-2015 Non-Conference Schedule Announced
With just two months until Big Blue Madness, and only three until the first regular season game, it’s time to get excited. When the conference schedule comes out and we get closer to the start of the season, we’ll preview this upcoming year, where Coach Mitchell hopes to have another deep postseason run — stay tuned!
UK Volleyball will begin the season ranked in the preseason top-25 for the third consecutive year. The Wildcats earned a No. 19 ranking in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Preseason poll. This marks the fifth time in six years the girls have been ranked under 10th year head coach Craig Skinner.
The Cats have also been selected to finish second behind Florida in the SEC by the league’s head coaches. Kentucky is coming off a ninth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and finished third in the SEC last season. They fell last year 3-1 in the second round of the tournament to Michigan State.
Junior Morgan Bergren was named to the Preseason All-SEC team. Bergren started in all 31 matches for the Cats in 2014 and led the team with 1,215 assists. She was second in team stats with 24 service aces to go along with her 192 digs, 130 kills and 77 blocks.
Kentucky will face five preseason ranked teams including Southern California, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina and Creighton. Kentucky opens this season against Wichita State on August 28 as part of the Bluegrass Battle at Memorial Coliseum. The tournament will feature four teams.
After an amazing performance last night, the Astros announced that AJ Reed was promoted to their Class-A affiliate, the Quad Cities River Bandits. Reed went 9-20 with three doubles, a home run and five runs batted over the six away games.
— Tri-City ValleyCats (@ValleyCats) July 27, 2014
Reed was promoted after he hit a moon shot grand slam to help the Tri-City ValleyCats win their game. Congrats AJ!
Congrats to UK slugger AJ Reed, who won the Golden Spikes Award this morning, giving him a clean sweep of the National Player of the Year awards. In addition, Reed was named the Southeastern Conference Male Athlete of the Year, SEC Player of the Year, and the winner of the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award.
Reed is now the third all-time SEC player to earn unanimous national player of the year honors, joining Dave Magadan (1983) and David Price (2007). Reed is the sixth SEC great to win the Golden Spikes Award and the first since Florida catcher Mike Zunino.
Reed was drafted by the Houston Astros with the first pick in the second round. Reed’s career at UK was so impressive that SEC Commissioner Mike Slive included him in his “brag bag” during the opening remarks of Media Days.
Keep making us proud, AJ.
Whether you like soccer or not, you can’t deny that the World Cup has been the major sporting event of the summer. Yesterday’s Brazil/Germany game was the most tweeted about single sports game EVER, with 35.6 million Twitter users chiming with their opinions on Germany’s epic beatdown of host country Brazil.
In case you were wondering what a professional UK soccer kit (jersey) would look like, Auburn fan Kevin Ives put together a mock-up for all of the SEC schools. Enjoy it above.
Gotta say, I like them than UK soccer’s current threads:
By Aaron Perkins on ©11:55 pm
On Friday, Nick Anderson won the Junior 110m hurdles in Eugene, Oregon. He finished first with a time of 13.37 seconds; a personal best and 7th fastest in his age division in the world this year. He will represent the United States at the 2014 IAAF World Championships that will be held July 22-27.
On the morning after hitting his first home run for the Houston Astros organization, A.J. Reed was named Male of Athlete of the Year by the Southeastern Conference in a voting by the league’s athletics directors, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive announced today.
Reed becomes the University of Kentucky’s sixth male athlete to win the award, joining Anthony Davis, Tim Couch, Jamal Mashburn, Kyle Macy and Jack Givens, who sent a golf ball flying by my face yesterday.
Congrats to A.J. Reed and good luck to whoever is building his trophy case.
3 Track and Field Cats Finish in Top 10 at the USOC, 2 More Win Medals at Canadian Championships over the Weekend
By Aaron Perkins on ©10:13 pm
On Friday, the Kentucky Track and Field teams competed at the United States Outdoor Championships. Three wildcats, Sha’keela Sanders, Kendra Harrison and Andrew Evans finished in the top 10.
- Sha’keela Sanders finished 7th in the long jump with a best mark of 21-075/6.42
- Kendra Harrison finished 7th in the 100 m hurdles final with a time of 12.92
- Andrew Evans finished 8th in the discuss with a throw of 195-7/59/61
Both Sanders and Harrison also qualified for the U.S. team that will compete in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean Under 23 Championships in August.
On Saturday, two more Wildcats; Raymond Dystra and Keffri Neal, won medals at the Canadian Championships that were held in New Brunswick.
- Raymond set a new school record in the javelin throw with a distance of 257 feet 9 inches
- Keffri placed 2nd in the Canadian 800m with a time of 1:46.91
University of Kentucky senior women’s soccer player, Arin Gilliland, will receive the Honda Inspiration Award tomorrow night on the CBS Sports Network at 8 p.m. It was announced late May she was selected for the award by the Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA) committee.
The Honda Inspiration Award is given each year to a female student-athlete who has overcome hardship and who was able to return to play at the collegiate level. Gilliland rewrote record books at UK, including placing herself fifth all-time at UK with 77 career points in her three seasons. However, it was not an easy path.
In the spring of 2011, Gilliland’s mother, Letita, died after battling cancer in the summer of her sophomore season. However, Gilliland continued to push forward in her career and even was selected to play soccer for the United States National Team, as well as at Kentucky. In 2011, Gilliland tore her ACL in the SEC Tournament quarterfinal against Tennessee and had to miss the rest of the season.
University of Kentucky athletic director, Mitch Barnhart, said he was proud Gilliland had won the award.
“Being awarded such a prestigious honor like the Honda Inspiration Award is something that Arin has absolutely deserved in her time at Kentucky. Since she stepped foot on campus three years ago, her passion and love for her team and school has been one of the driving forces in our recent women’s soccer success. Arin has overcome a lot of obstacles in her life and has handled them exceptionally well. We are elated for Arin and could not be more proud of her for receiving this honor.”
Gilliland is the first soccer player to win the award and the first athlete from the University of Kentucky.
You can watch the event at 8 p.m. Eastern on the CBS Sports Network.
Matthew Mitchell and his crew accepted the Cold Water Challenge this week, and fortunately for us, KyWildcatsTV was there to capture it all. For those of you who don’t know (or in the case, don’t have Facebook), the Cold Water Challenge is social media campaign to raise money for charity, in this case, the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.
So…how do I score an invite to Matthew Mitchell’s next pool party?
After over 40 hours of travel, Morgan Bergren arrived back in China to play with the U.S Collegiate National Team after being selected as one of 12 players to represent the USA.
The roster comprises of players representing 12 different schools and was organized by Bring It Promotions. The players trained for a week at the University of Southern California before leaving for China to face off against Chinese collegiate and adult teams in six different matches.
Bergren was one of four UK players who tried out for different USA Volleyball teams this past February including Jackie Napper, Anni Thomasson and Emily Franklin. This is not the first time Bergren has tried out for the US Collegiate team. Last year the junior setter tried out, but did not make any of the teams.
“It’s always an awesome experience went last year, just to get a feel for things, and going back this year, training hard throughout the spring, getting stronger, I felt like a totally different player going back this year. I felt pretty good and confident about it. It’s always fun getting to play with the top players in the U.S., so I’m really excited to go to China with them.”
Her arrival comes just two weeks after the Kentucky volleyball team and staff returned from China where they visited five cities and played seven matches. Bergren has already settled back into her Chinese surroundings and even tweeted her favorite thing about staying in China.
The great thing about eating Chinese Oreos is that I can't read how many calories I'm eating 👍
— Morgan Bergren (@morgs_6) June 19, 2014
Matthew Mitchell picks up his third class of 2015 commitment Wednesday afternoon from Batouly Camara out of Blair Academy High School in New Jersey. For most of her high school career it was believed that UConn was the frontrunner to sign the 6’2’’ forward, but thanks to a late push by the Kentucky staff the Cats to finally beat the Huskies in something.
Although the UK Hoops program has never experienced success like it has recently, Coach Mitchell takes a lot of heat for being unable to beat the elite programs late in March, failing to reach the elite 8 four out of the last seven seasons. Much of his criticism is based upon fans unhappy with his dedication to playing “small ball”, oftentimes with four guards and a big on the floor. Camara, the No. 2 forward in the country, size and loads of skill to the Kentucky roster in 2015, along with future teammates Maci Morris and Morgan Rich, both top-100 players. The future looks bright in Lexington.
Today is the third and final day of competition at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship in Eugene, Oregon and in true Wildcat fashion, 3 UK athletes have brought home medals in their competitions.
Kendra Harrison got the Silver medal in the 400m hurdles with a time of 55.55 in a race that saw the SEC claim 6 of the top 7 spots. Keffri Neal was awarded the Bronze medal in the 800m after he finished with a time 1:46.39, a new University of Kentucky and Personal Record in the event. While Harrison and Neal received their medals yesterday, Raymond Dykstra added to the total again today when he got the Silver medal in the javelin, setting another UK record at 76.72m.
Congratulations to these Wildcats on a great job!
Accolades keep flowing in for now former UK baseball star A.J. Reed, who is fresh off signing a $1.35 million dollar contract as the 2nd round pick of the Houston Astros. So it should be no surprise that the National College Baseball Writers of America awarded Reed with the Dick Howser Trophy, given to the most outstanding player in college baseball. Past winners of the award include current and former MLB stars such as Stephen Strasburg (SDSU-2009), Buster Posey (Florida State-2008), David Price (Vanderbilt-2007), Mark Teixeira (Georgia Tech-2000), Mark Prior (USC-2001), and Todd Helton (Tennessee-1995).
Reed, the SEC’s Player and Pitcher of the Year went 12-2 with a 2.09 ERA on the mound this year for the Wildcats while also batting .335 with 23 HR’s and 73 RBI’s. He became the first player in SEC history to lead the league in pitching wins and HR’s and also joined Rafael Palmeiro in 1984 as only the 2nd player in SEC history to win the conference’s Triple Crown (league leader in BA, HR, and RBI’s).
All in all, Reed is also a favorite to win the Golden Spikes Award which would give him a clean sweep of the NPOY awards and cement his legacy as the best player to don baseball’s version of the Blue and White. Here’s to a bright future in the Astros’ organization for the GOAT.
Plus, shout out to Reed’s hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana, a short drive from where I grew up in the bustling metropolis of Vincennes, Indiana.