UK hoops notebook: Calipari makes club's day

Coach will speak to Bluegrass Kiwanis Club on October 1

Herald-Leader Staff WriterMay 31, 2009 

While the basketball world wonders if John Calipari will become the first coach to have two Final Four appearances vacated, the Kentucky coach can be assured of making a more uplifting bit of history this year.

He's agreed to become the first UK basketball coach to speak to the Bluegrass Kiwanis Club.

Member Paul Bimschleger's competitive spirit led to this bit of history. He noticed that Calipari had agreed to speak to the Lexington Rotary Club in the fall. The next morning, Bimschleger called the UK basketball office.

"We were going to raise our hand and say we're not chopped liver," he said.

The Lexington Rotary Club has about 400 members, which dwarfs the Bluegrass Kiwanis Club's 45 members. Yet, Bimschleger felt fair was fair. So he called to invite Calipari to speak in either September or October. But deep down, Bimschleger had little hope of the UK coach accepting the invitation.

"No one from the basketball office has ever come," he said. "I'm talking even a trainer."

So when Bimschleger answered the phone a few days later, he was surprised to hear someone say it was the Kentucky basketball office.

"I almost fell off my chair," he said. Then he heard the person say, apologetically, that Calipari could only accept the invitation to speak on Oct. 1.

"That was it," Bimschleger said. "I couldn't believe it. I had to make sure I was talking to the right people. Things just don't go that easy."

Now, the Bluegrass Kiwanis Club is planning to move to a bigger meeting room at Lexington's Campbell House. Invitations will go out to other area Kiwanis clubs. Bimschleger's son, Dave, is coming from New Hampshire. His daughter, Chris, is coming from Dallas.

"It's historic for us," Bimschleger said, "and a great, great honor."

Help wanted

Former UK guard Dale Brown, a starter on the 1993 Final Four team, is now coaching Dillard University, a NAIA school in New Orleans.

Brown is seeking to play Kentucky in an exhibition game this upcoming season. His cash-strapped program needs the funds from such games to keep afloat. Hurricane Katrina compounded the school's financial stress.

When asked how his basketball program could use the money earned in an exhibition game, Brown said, "For equipment, mainly, because we don't have an equipment budget."

Dillard basketball's overall budget needs help, too. The program could afford only three scholarship players last season.

Brown has already spoken with former UK teammate John Pelphrey, now the Arkansas coach, about an exhibition game. Arkansas played Dillard in an exhibition last year.

And Brown has lined up an exhibition with South Carolina, coached by Lexington native Darrin Horn.

Now Brown would like to add exhibition games with UK and Mississippi.

Good luck to Brown, a good guy facing a Herculean task of building a basketball program at Dillard.

No rush for Stewart

Former UK player A.J. Stewart is in no rush to find a new college.

"He's taking his time," his mother, Dinah Stewart, said. "He wants to make sure this time he chooses a place that's good for him and gives him playing time."

Stewart played sparingly at UK. I always thought he was miscast as a low-post player. Rex Morgan, who coached Stewart in high school in Jacksonville, Fla., agreed.

"I always thought he was a three (small forward or wing)," Morgan said. " Because he can guard a three."

Morgan did not think Stewart was strong enough to play around the basket at the major college level.

Stewart touched on that theme in his most productive scoring game. He had a career-high 11 points at Vanderbilt last season mostly playing on the perimeter. But then UK Coach Billy Gillispie noted the team need when he called Stewart's scoring, "Definitely helpful ... but I really don't need a 6-9 two-guard. I need a 6-9 bruiser."

Stewart, never a bruiser, apparently got some mileage out of that performance at Vandy. Morgan said coaches mentioned that game in inquiring about Stewart since he began looking to transfer.

"There's a ton of interest," Morgan said. " ... Not all of it at the NCAA level. There's an awful lot of mid-majors who'd love to have an athlete and player like him."

Tweet of week

You could go snow blind reading through the blizzard of "tweets" in an effort to find one that resonates. But we'll bear that burden to launch a new Tweet-of-the-Week note each Sunday.

This week's award goes to UK Coach John Calipari, a dedicated user of Twitter. His audience now surpasses 110,000.

The Tweet of the Week arrived on Tuesday, after former UK walk-on Landon Slone — his basketball options in limbo — voiced his disappointment in not being able to meet with Calipari.

"Sorry to Landon Slone," Calipari tweeted. "Heard he waited to speak to me in my office, but I didn't know. Really sorry. We are still trying to get organized!!"

Then on Wednesday, Calipari tweeted, "In order to be a complete person u must think of others and then find ways to give of yourself to them. And giving can take on many forms."

Slone said Saturday that he enjoyed his visit to Morehead State on Friday and that he is "real close" to committing to the Eagles.

Slone said one factor in Morehead's favor is that the Eagles are scheduled to open at Kentucky the next three seasons. That's a plus not because he thirsts for revenge, but because he likes the idea of playing basketball in Rupp Arena, Slone said.

LS-whew

It's tiring just to look at former LSU guard Marcus Thornton's schedule of workouts for NBA teams.

According to the Web site Hoopshype.com, Thornton has upcoming workouts scheduled with the Warriors (June 1), Kings (June 6), the Hornets (June 8), the Pistons (June 10), the Hornets again (June 16) and the Lakers (June 17).

Players have until June 15 to withdraw from the June 25 NBA Draft. Of course, UK fans will be most interested in whether Jodie Meeks decides to stay in the draft or return to Kentucky for his senior season.

No plea by Wall

From the words-matter file: The attorney representing Kentucky recruit John Wall wants it known that her client did not plead guilty to a misdemeanor breaking and entering charge. Nor was he sentenced.

Attorney Anna E. Smith of Raleigh, N.C., said that an agreement for dismissal of the citation was worked out with the District Attorney's office. That agreement was part of North Carolina's First Offenders program. Typically, the person agrees to perform community service and pays fees and costs.

After performing 75 hours of community service and paying $321 in fees, Wall can have the citation removed from record. He has to perform the community service within six months.

Smith wanted it known that The Associated Press mistakenly reported on Wednesday that Wall pleaded guilty. There was no plea entered nor a sentence made, she said.

'UK's No. 1 fan'

Former UK All-American Kenny Walker noted the obvious last week when he said Kentucky would be linked to the allegations of wrong doing by Memphis because the school hired John Calipari. This brought some adverse reaction from UK fans. So Walker wanted to set the record straight.

"The thing I want people to understand more than anything is I'm UK's No. 1 fan," Walker said. " ... I support the University of Kentucky, and I support Cal.

"It's going to be a story. I would assume everything stays in Memphis and let's focus on what we have to do. I think Coach Cal is the perfect coach for Kentucky."

Camp Cal

John Calipari is accepting applications for his summer basketball camps. Information on the camps is available by calling (859) 257-1916 or online at www.ukathletics.com/camps. Fans can also contact UK's Jason Walberg at jason.walberg@uky.edu.

The camp schedule is: Father-Son Camp June 19-20; Overnight/Day Sessions June 21-24 and July 26-29; Wildcat Serious Skills Camp July 19-22. The latter will feature instruction by former UK stars Tony Delk and Scott Padgett.

Camp Tayshaun

For the third straight year, former UK star Tayshaun Prince will hold a basketball camp. It will be June 9-11 at the Kentucky Basketball Academy.

Players ages 7 through 11 work out from 9 a.m. to noon each day. Players 12 to 18 go from 1 p.m. until 4.

The Tayshaun Prince Camp partners with the Urban League of Lexington-Fayette County to provide area underprivileged youth the opportunity to attend this year's camp.

Fans can go to www.TayshaunPrinceCamp.com for more information.

Congratulations

To former UK staffer Kyle Moats. He was named Director of Athletics at Missouri State last week.

Moats is completing his fourth year as Associate Athletics Director for National Marketing at the University of Louisville.

Moats began his career in athletic administration at UK in 1989. He went from graduate assistant to Coordinator of Promotions and Special Events to Director of Marketing, Promotions and Licensing to Assistant Athletics Director for Marketing. He also served as tournament manager for the 1993 NCAA Golf Championships and the 1996 and 1998 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament events in Lexington.

Condolences

To Michael Stone, the UK staffer who monitors the basketball players' academic performance. He also gives the program a constant presence of good cheer.

His father, James R. Stone, died on Monday.

Happy birthday I

To Florida Coach Billy Donovan. He turned 44 on Saturday.

Donovan spent his birthday on a boat near Seal Island off the coast of South Africa. He went there last week to watch great white sharks.

Sportswriter Antonya English of the St. Petersburg Times wrote a story about the trip. Its genesis was how Donovan and his 12-year-old son Bryan watch the Discovery Channel's Shark Week each summer. Father and son talked about someday seeing — and maybe even swimming — with the sharks off Africa's coast.

"My wife (Christine) said: 'I'm tired of all the talk. You guys talk, but you don't do anything,' " Donovan told English. "And she got on my calendar and said, 'You're free for these days.' So she booked the whole trip."

Donovan's mother and two family friends joined the Florida coach and his son on the trip to Cape Town, South Africa. From there, the party planned a four-day excursion in the Kruger National Park.

"Every August, Bryan always wants me to watch (Shark Week)," Donovan said. "He loves animals, he loves birds, he loves sharks, he loves fish, he loves everything. So to be able to go with him and share something like that with him is unbelievable."

Donovan, who has never scuba-dived, expected to go in cages amidst the sharks. The experience fits his often-stated belief in making the most of life.

That message got re-enforced when a friend of Christine's died four months ago of brain cancer. Donovan spoke of the death while being honored at the recent Dick Vitale gala, which raises money for cancer research.

Happy birthday II

To David Roselle. The former UK president turned 70 on Saturday.

When he led the University of Kentucky in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Roselle was a model for school presidents who want to balance education and athletics.

Although soft-spoken, Roselle acted boldly. He reacted to allegations of rule breaking by calling for an independent investigation of the basketball program.

And when UK hired Rick Pitino to guide the program's resurrection from NCAA sanctions and public shame, Roselle went so far as to politely scold the new coach for associating with particular boosters.

These good deeds did not go unpunished. Political pressures led Roselle to accept an offer to become University of Delaware president.

Now retired, Roselle serves as Director of Winterthur Museum and Country Estate. On its 1,000 acres in the Wilmington, Del., area, Winterthur includes 64 acres of gardens, the largest and best collection of American antiquities and a library dedicated to American decorative arts.

"Winterthur is a one-of-a-kind, remarkable and great place," Roselle wrote in an e-mail, "and I hope that ... lots of your readers visit."

Roselle, who declined an invitation to discuss athletics' place in the academic world, also included a note about his family.

"On the personal side, our grandchild count is five, the right number for the basketball team I have in mind," he wrote.

Jerry Tipton covers UK basketball for the Herald-Leader. This article contains his opinions and observations. Reach him at jtipton@herald-leader.com.

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