Kentucky-Notre Dame Notes

UK notes: Meeks, Patterson undecided on draft

Both stars say there's plenty of room to improve their games

jtipton@herald-leader.comMarch 26, 2009 

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — After a season-ending loss at Notre Dame Wednesday night, Kentucky's two stars talked about improving their play.

Whether that improvement includes an entry into the 2009 NBA Draft remained somewhat less than conclusive.

"As of right now, I want to come back," big man Patrick Patterson said. "I'm focusing on next season and making my game better."

In the first minutes after a 77-67 loss to Notre Dame, guard Jodie Meeks was not ready to make declarative remarks about his future.

"I really don't know right now," he said.

The possible firing of UK Coach Billy Gillispie would not change his thinking about the NBA, Patterson said.

Before the season, Gillispie spoke of his hope that Patterson played well enough to make an entry into the draft a "no-brainer."

Patterson did not seem over-whelmed by his performance this season.

"I played pretty well," he said before adding, "Not (as well) as I wanted to. My performance was pretty OK. Overall, I'm satisfied with it. I had a lot of fun."

Patterson's favorite moment was playing in the game at Tennessee when Meeks scored a school-record 54 points.

Meeks said he wanted to improve.

"Just my overall game," he said. "My ball handling. My shooting. Keep my condition up."

Liggins ambivalent

Freshman DeAndre Liggins said he wanted to speak with his family before deciding whether to return to UK next season.

He called this season a "learning experience."

Liggins acknowledged that he had hoped to contribute more as a freshman.

Harris suffers mild concussion

Forward Ramon Harris sustained a mild concussion when he collided with Notre Dame's Zach Hillesland in the first half.

Although UK announced the concussion during the game, Gillispie used the injury to jab at reporters who began his post-game news conference with questions about his job status.

"Ramon's got a concussion," Gillispie said, "if anybody wants to know or is concerned about it."

It's a girl

Guard Michael Porter's wife is expecting a baby in the summer, the player told reporters.

It will be a girl. Porter and his wife have picked out a name, but he said they wanted to tell their parents first.

The subject came up when Porter talked about returning for next season.

"I want to play," he said. "I have to sit down and think. A lot of things are happening."

Bus trip home

Kentucky got on a bus for a ride home. The Cats did not expect to reach Lexington before 3 or 4 a.m.

NIT rules require teams to travel by bus if the distance to a game is less than 350 miles. South Bend is 324 miles from Lexington.

UK fans flock

Notre Dame's star big man, Luke Harangody, had 30 points and 11 rebounds. That marked his 24th double-double of the season and 49th of his career.

Afterward, Harangody noted the large contingent of Kentucky fans.

"And they brought their band and cheerleaders like it was a high school game," he said. "It was kind of fun with the fans going back and forth. It was neat. It was a good crowd out there, and we were excited to see people here."

The crowd was announced at 7,636.

Teammate Kyle McAlarney noted the excitement of having Kentucky as the final opponent in the Joyce Center.

"Probably the most storied program in college basketball," he said. "To get a W, it felt like a Big East game out there."

Etc.

The renovation of the Joyce Center will not begin until after Notre Dame's graduation. The commencement speaker is President Barack Obama. . . . Kevin Galloway had a career-high five turnovers. That helped fuel Notre Dame's 17-2 advantage in points off turnovers.

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