(Ed. Note: The Emmys were last night, and the Funkhouser crew was on hand to →
Other UK Sports
UK Hoops and other sports coverage
A sad note from the UK Hoops family: Samantha Drake has decided not to play her senior season after tearing the ACL and meniscus in her left knee last November. She will instead focus on her academics and graduating in the spring. The former Nelson County star played in 88 games and started 23. She issued a statement thanking Mitch Barnhart, her team, and her coaches:
“I would like to thank Mr. Barnhart, all of my teammates and coaches for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this amazing women’s basketball program at UK,” Drake said. “I was given the chance to show my talent and be a part of a lot of success during my four years. Although I won’t be playing anymore, I’ll still be the biggest cheerleader for the team. I am going to turn my focus on academics and walking across that stage in May to receive my degree.”
Matthew Mitchell also issued a statement in support of Drake and her decision.
“We support Samantha and her decision to forego playing her senior year,” UK Hoops head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “Samantha contributed to so many victories during her career and we are grateful for her efforts. We will continue supporting her any way we can as she works toward graduation.”
Tough, tough news. Best of luck to her going forward.
The Annual Bluegrass Battle begins Friday at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington at 4 p.m featuring four squads from across the country: Butler, Virginia Tech, Wichita State and Kentucky.
The Bluegrass Battle will feature six matches Friday and Saturday, with Kentucky playing in three. The Wildcats will face Wichita State at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Butler at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The Wildcats will close out the tournament against Virginia Tech at 8 p.m.
The roster is heavy with upperclassmen this year. Kentucky returns three seniors (Lauren O’Conner, Jackie Napper and Alyssa Gergins) and four juniors (Shelby Workman, Kayla Tronick, Sara Schwarzwalder and Morgan Bergren). The rest of the roster is rounded out by two sophomores and a whooping five freshmen.
It might be the beginning of the NCAA season for the Cats, but it isn’t the first time the girls have seen action. Over the summer the team became the first SEC volleyball team to play in China while they faced off against Chinese teams. Last week, Kentucky Wildcats TV released a 20 minute video, UK Volleyball Goes to China, on the Cats trip which was full of volleyball, culture shock and excitement from the Volleyball team.
The Cats open the season in the top-25 for the third consecutive year, at No. 19. Something that will be different for Kentucky Volleyball this season will be the number of people who see the team play. A total of 27 matches will be televised for the team this year including every home contest and all SEC road matches.
As the 2014-15 athletic season starts up again, its nice to see that the UK women’s soccer team are getting the Wildcats on the board in the win column early. After losing 4-1 to Washington in the team’s first game of the year, the ‘Cats took down Seattle University 2-1 in OT earlier this evening.
The winning goal came in the 97th minute off the foot of junior Cara Ledman, who also assisted on the other goal scored.
The overtime win for Kentucky was its first since Nov. 9 of the 2012 season, when UK defeated UT Martin in an extra frame in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Kentucky will return home for the first time next weekend to christen the new Wendell & Vickie Bell Soccer Complex in Lexington, Ky., with a Friday/Sunday weekend featuring matches against Francis Marion (Fri. Aug. 29, 7:30 p.m. ET) and Ohio University (Sun. Aug. 31, 2 p.m. ET).
The first live broadcast produced by @KYwildcatsTV for the SEC Network will be tonight’s Men’s Soccer exhibition against Georgia State at the new Wendell & Vickie Bell Soccer Complex. UK christened the SEC Network last weekend with their game against the Dominican Republic in the Bahamas being the first game broadcast live on the network which was handled by ESPN crews.
The game will be on the SEC Network Plus which is similar to ESPN3 with Neil Price providing the play by play. If you get the SEC Network through your cable or satellite provider, you get the SEC Network+, you simply have to enter your account information when prompted, similar to the WatchESPN app.
In fact, all home Men’s and Women’s Soccer and all home Volleyball matches (as well as all SEC Road games) will be broadcast online in addition to the games previously selected for the SEC Network. The men’s team had to receive special permission for the broadcasts as the team plays in Conference USA since the SEC does not sanction men’s soccer.
Tonight is just the start as nearly every UK sport that can be put in front a camera this season will be broadcast. We are truly living in modern times.
— KYwildcatsTV (@KYwildcatsTV) August 21, 2014
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.