Tonight, Dan McHale will return to the sidelines at Rupp Arena, this time as the head coach of the Eastern Kentucky Colonels. From 1997-2001, McHale was a student manager for the UK Basketball team, taking part in UK’s 1998 Championship run, along with three SEC Championships under Tubby Smith. From there, McHale served on staffs at Louisville, Manhattan, Iona, Seton Hall, and Minnesota, where he was Richard Pitino’s top assistant. In April, he got his chance to return to the Bluegrass for his first head coaching job, right down I-75 from where it all began.
In his first game coaching at Rupp, McHale will honor his roots, leaving the first seat on the bench open for Bill Keightley, the former equipment manager who was his boss during his time at UK.
“I’m going to leave the first seat open for Mr. Keightley because if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” McHale told KSR yesterday. “I don’t think he’ll sit there — we all know he wouldn’t sit on the visitor’s bench at Rupp Arena — but I’m going to leave it open, hopefully he can give me some words of advice and make sure I’m doing okay. It’s a tribute to him.”
What an awesome gesture. Welcome home, Coach McHale.
Still ten hours to burn before game time, so let’s get to it.
Kentucky’s a 24-point favorite tonight
The line opened at 22.5 yesterday and quickly moved to 24. With Tyler Ulis healthy, I expect the Cats to cover that, although there is some question about whether or not Marcus Lee will play (more on this in a second). Here’s a fun stat: UK is 27-6 under John Calipari following a loss, and UK hasn’t dropped back-to-back games since losing to Arkansas and South Carolina in 2014. EKU’s RPI is currently 133, so I don’t think we’ll have to worry about that tonight.
Will Marcus Lee play?
Calipari told reporters yesterday that Lee hadn’t practiced since suffering a head injury in the UCLA game, and on his radio show, Cal said Lee was only able to go through conditioning drills in practice. Head injuries are a tricky thing these days, so if doctors don’t feel 100% comfortable letting Lee play, there’s no use risking it. Plenty of other big guys need the minutes.
You should check out this great article about Reese King
You may have remember us mentioning Reese King before. King is a 13-year-old UK fan with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) who, since learning of his diagnosis three years ago, has dedicated his life to helping other children with life-threatening diseases. The Voice Tribune’s Remy Sisk put out a great article about Reese last week describing his latest mission: using his wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation to form his own charity, “Reece’s Wish to Raise $1 million,” to help other teens with cancer.
On Friday, the day after Reese’s last chemo treatment, Macy’s and the Make-a-Wish Foundation will host “Reese’s Wish Day” with a pep rally at his school (Anchorage Public School in Louisville), followed by a special presentation at Macy’s at Oxmoor Center in Louisville. For more information about this great event, check out the article in the Voice Tribune or reecemakesawish.org.
Congratulations to our own Ally Tucker
Ally’s been contributing her unique blend of sass and wit to KSR for years, and yesterday, accepted the job as head girls soccer coach at Tates Creek, a dream several years in the making. We know a thing or two about dream jobs here at KSR, so join us in congratulating Ally, who will kill it at Tates Creek. You got this.
Your feel good video of the day: Radar comes home
LEX 18 caught this awesome reunion between a family and their lost service dog on camera yesterday, and if it doesn’t make you smile, you don’t have a heart.
KSR is back in studio in one hour
No more marching bands! Hooray!