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10 Takeaways from the 2015 UK Basketball Women’s Clinic


Yesterday, I made the drive up to Lexington for the UK Basketball Women’s Clinic, my fifth time covering the event. After the football team’s disappointing performance in Starkville, spending the afternoon with the basketball team and 750 basketball-loving ladies was just the medicine I needed. Here are my takeaways from three hours in Memorial Coliseum…

1. John Short was a rock star


When I walked into the clinic, the buzz in the building didn’t surround John Calipari or his players; it surrounded John Short, who attended the clinic as an invited guest. Thanks to Tina Cox, DeWayne Peevy, and the UK Media Relations staff, John Short finally got to meet Cal, an introduction a long time in the making. Tina was with John and wrote about the experience for

Cal: “Are you THE John Short?”

John: “Yes, I am.”

Cal: “What about all these women and me and you?”

John:  “Well, alrighty then.”

I got to meet John Short too, and the picture of us together is now one of my favorites:


2. It’s become an autograph session

The main draw of the Women’s Clinic (and most Calipari clinics, for that matter) is getting autographs from the coaches and players. With a record 750 attendees, autograph lines dominated the event, leaving organizers scrambling to switch up the schedule on the fly. Because the players were busy signing 85% of the time, the scheduled scrimmage had to be postponed until the event was over. In years past, the practice has been part of the clinic, giving fans an exclusive glimpse of the team and bragging rights over their husbands and fellow UK fans.

Calipari accepted the blame for this and apologized at the end of the event, taking the mic and telling everyone that because the players are currently going through two-a-days, he wanted the autograph session to be a part of the event instead of the guys having to hang around for hours before or afterwards like years past. As a consolation prize, Calipari allowed fans to stick around after the clinic to watch the team go through warm-ups for the scrimmage before moving the team to the practice gym.

3. Jamal Murray was great with fans

I’ve only had a few interactions with Jamal Murray, but my impression of him coming in was that he was a little homesick. In preseason interviews, he seemed pretty shy, talking mainly about his dad and adjusting to life away from home; he has clearly done the latter, and came out of his shell with fans at the clinic. Murray, Skal, and Humphries snuck out onto the floor during registration and took pictures and chatted with fans. Murray was one of two players that danced during his intro at the “fashion show,” and took the mic from Marcus Lee to greet fans:

4. Everyone wanted EJ Floreal to dance

The annual “fashion show” has become a tradition at the Women’s Clinic. Players show off each of the uniform and warm-up combinations and the bravest of them dance. As I mentioned, Jamal Murray dove into this opportunity head first, and after a lot of pressure from the crowd and his teammates, hype man EJ Floreal busted a move as well:

A good indicator of how young this team is? Most of them have never been part of EJ Floreal’s pregame dance circle. #perspective

Here’s the fashion show in full. Enjoy the bonus commentary from Ellen Calipari, who sat next to me.

5. Tyler Ulis is embracing his role as a leader


Leading a team like Kentucky is no easy task; UK is easily the most scrutinized team in the country with the biggest target on its back. Last season, Andrew Harrison and Tyler Ulis shared the spotlight, but now, Ulis shoulders it alone. From all the preseason talk, we know this is Tyler’s team, and he acted like it yesterday, oozing confidence and poise. Tyler hasn’t just accepted the role Calipari’s given him, he’s embraced it. I’m going into this season with tempered expectations; however, when I think about Ulis, I can’t stop thinking about March.

6. Three fans cleaned up Ulis’ locker


Before the clinic started, fans were allowed to tour the facilities, including the locker room. Three UK fans peeked inside Tyler Ulis’ locker and were floored by how messy it was. They told Tyler as much and offered to clean it for him. He accepted, and they organized the mess, throwing out weeks old Chick-Fil-A and other fast food, folding clothes, and sorting each of the 16 pairs of shoes. Check out the before and after above, and the ladies posing with the locker afterwards:


After Ulis saw the finished product, he asked if they would also clean his buddy Isaiah Briscoe’s locker. Always looking after his boy, that Tyler.

7. It was good to see Shannon Spake again

ESPN’s Shannon Spake has been a familiar fixture on UK’s sidelines the past few years and helped Jennifer Palumbo host the clinic this year. It’s always great to see Shannon, who was gracious with every fan she met. Hilariously, one fan asked if Shannon if ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith was as pompous in person as he was on TV, and, like the company woman she is, Shannon said she’d only met Smith once and he was perfectly nice to her. Shannon’s part of the crew covering the Champions Classic in Chicago next month, so get ready to see her on the sideline soon.

8. Robert Harris is already making a difference

Robert Harris with Shannon Spake, Jen Palumbo, and fans (Photo @JenNimePalumbo)

Robert Harris has been around UK Athletics off and on for years, going back to an internship with the football strength and conditioning program in 2009. He worked with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Arkansas Razorbacks before coming back to UK in 2014 as an assistant strength coach for the basketball program. Harris took over the job as head strength coach when Rock Oliver moved to an administrative role this summer, and his impact is already being felt. Several players, including Isaiah Briscoe and Charles Matthews, showed off before and after pictures on social media after a summer with Harris, who led one of the demonstrations yesterday. Harris took volunteers through some of the workouts the players do, including drills, medicine ball slams, squats, etc. He also answered questions, telling fans that because Tyler is smaller than the rest of his teammates, he eats around 4,500 calories a day. (Jealous!) Harris also joked that he and Ulis were “bite size Snickers” compared to the others because of their slight stature. I’m hoping to do a feature on him soon, so stay tuned.

9. Isaac Humphries really likes to smell wood

And yes, I’m aware how that sounds, but there’s no other way to really phrase it. One woman asked the players to sign a cutting board in the shape of Kentucky, and when she got to Isaac, he asked if he could smell the wood. Apparently that’s a big thing in Australia. And he’s not even the one that’s the son of a woodchopper. That guy gets here in December.

10. Custom t-shirts were a hit with Cal

Over the years, group t-shirts have become a thing at the clinic, and at the end of the evening, Cal asked every group with a custom tee to come up to get their picture taken with him. Here are some of the best:


The backs of these shirts were great, and included a KSR reference:


A group of teachers showed they weren’t afraid to poke a little fun at the Louisville scandal with custom tees emblazoned with the hashtag #WillTutorNotEscort on the back: IMG_8458

When the group went in front of the crowd to get their picture taken with Cal, everyone clamored for them to turn around and show off the back. Calipari glanced at it and quipped, “No, I won’t take a picture with the back.” IMG_8470 IMG_8472

Can’t hide that smile, though.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

15 Comments for 10 Takeaways from the 2015 UK Basketball Women’s Clinic

  1. ArnoldthePig
    8:42 pm October 26, 2015 Permalink

    Great post lady! Fantastic read.

  2. Dave
    9:29 pm October 26, 2015 Permalink

    Robert Harris aka “lil rob” is the man. I played against him in high school football in Louisville and he was an absolute force

  3. Bluebros
    12:40 am October 27, 2015 Permalink

    Love it Tyler!! It must be a trip for the players to interact with all those crazy UK ladies. Cleaning out a locker?!? Too funny… Love those lady CATS!

  4. Julie
    8:11 am October 27, 2015 Permalink

    The whole event was great. The highlight for me was getting to watch the boys practice afterwards. The biggest disappointment for me was the lack of women to actually stay for the practice. It was frustrating to think that most of those women came for autographs instead of what it’s all about, the boys and the basketball they play. Of the 750 women that came about 650 of them left after the autograph session was over. Sad.

    • catdaddyd
      5:52 pm October 27, 2015 Permalink

      How much did it cost? Do they give a gift bag?

  5. UKMOM
    8:58 am October 27, 2015 Permalink

    I did think the event was good. Disappointed in how the autographs were handled, I am sure there must be a better way. It seemed like the sessions would solve the time frame problem, not sure why it was disrupted. We were unable to stay for practice since we live 2 1/2 hours away and had to get back home- I really enjoy watching the boys practice. Also, I could not believe how tacky the Teachers shirts were- how classless. And that is exactly what our fans would be saying if the situation had been reversed.

    • Gwen
      9:52 pm October 27, 2015 Permalink

      Don’t get your panties in a wad, Mom. Obviously, you’re a negative person. At least the teachers had some fun and left there thrilled to have gone. All you can do is complain. Stay 2 1/2 hours away. Lexington doesn’t want or need you.

  6. Annie
    9:16 am October 27, 2015 Permalink

    I loved the event, however, I would have loved interacting with the guys more. I didn’t like how it became an autograph session. I’ll admit, I love the autographs, but I love watching them play and learning their different personalities. I had to leave once everything was over because I have a 3 year old and I wanted to see him before he went to bed, because I had been in line since 8 am. Please do not lump people that left before the scrimmage as autograph chasers.

  7. Dude
    10:22 am October 27, 2015 Permalink

    Thanks for the great post. I just wish I could understand what they’re saying in the fashion show.

  8. Legendary Coach Don Shula
    11:14 am October 27, 2015 Permalink

    If UK is the gold standard in basketball then UL is the gold room standard!!!

  9. Kelly
    11:52 am October 27, 2015 Permalink

    I loved every minute of the event. I must admit I hate hearing all the complaints while I was there however. Coach Cal and the players do t have to make any of this possible for us and while I understand we pay money to do it I think we should be grateful that they allow us the opportunity. This was my second year attending and It was a little more disorganized than last year, but it’s awesome to be able to see the guys in that type of setting and interact with them for a few hours on that level.

  10. Ha!
    11:56 am October 27, 2015 Permalink

    Looks like the ladies had a good time… Thanks, Tyler!! 😉

  11. hmmm
    1:02 pm October 27, 2015 Permalink

    I’m a little concerned with all the syringes sticking out of John Short’s arm in that second picture with Mrs. TT….hope everything is ok.

  12. Carol Ann Morrow
    4:07 pm October 27, 2015 Permalink

    I think we women want it ALL! I expected to gain understanding of basketball strategies, moves. The autographs (for me) were really about getting up close and personal with the players. I’d like a selfie as much an autograph–and one with the whole team at once would do the trick too. I think it’s too many of us. Cut back the numbers and open it first to NEW people, instead of giving the veteran attendees an advance. That expands the knowledgeable fan base. Having the clinic before Coach Cal is needing so much time with the players (before he’s allowed) would prevent what happened on Sunday–his concern for the players spending so much time on basketball and away from their studies (right?). Another suggestion: education/demonstrations could be going on during all the signings. People circling around the gym could watch up close and those who are finished with those autographs should be marked somehow so they don’t get in line again!

  13. Cal's Pal
    2:16 pm October 28, 2015 Permalink

    Thank$ $o much for attending this year’$ clinic, ladie$!!

    Plea$e be $ure to come back for next year’$ fe$tivitie$ . . . or even $ooner if po$$ible!