UK building impressive stable of coaches

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistFebruary 24, 2010 

John Clay

Random notes:

■ I mentioned in Monday's column that UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart had gotten one right in hiring Matthew Mitchell to head the women's basketball program after Mickie DeMoss's surprising resignation.

Also wrote, "And that's not the only one."

I wasn't kidding.

John Calipari's booster shot to men's basketball has the Cats 26-1 overall, 11-1 in the Southeastern conference and ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls.

In his third season, Mitchell has guided women's basketball to a 23-4 record. UK is in second place in the SEC with an 11-3 mark and ranked 16th in the latest AP poll.

Coach Mo Mitchell's gymnastics team is ranked 12th by Gyminfo, as of Monday.

Coach Craig Skinner led the volleyball team to a Sweet 16 finish in the NCAA Tournament and a No. 12 final Bison/American Volleyball Coaches Association ranking.

Coached by Rachel Lawson, women's softball is ranked 26th, or the first among "also receiving votes" in the current ESPN.com/USA Softball Rankings.

Monday's rankings by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association placed Gary Henderson's team in the 29th spot.

Lest we forget that in Rich Brooks' final season before retirement, the football team reached its fourth consecutive bowl game.

Other coaches hired by previous administrations and retained by Barnhart have also found success.

Longtime men's tennis coach Dennis Emery has his squad in the No. 8 spot in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings, released Tuesday.

Coached by Don Weber, men's indoor track is ranked 21st by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches' Association.

Coached by Gary Conelly, men's swimming is 21st in the Jan. 21 College Swimming Coaches Association of America rankings. The women's team, also coached by Conelly, is listed under "others receiving votes."

■ Things are not going quite so well up in Bloomington. With a 9-17 overall record, including a 3-11 Big Ten mark, you have to wonder just how far off schedule is Tom Crean's Indiana revival. The Hoosiers were hurt by the injury to Maurice Creek, but I doubt most expected them to be drubbed by 28 points at Wisconsin and 23 points at Minnesota. The Hoosiers have lost eight straight.

■ Kentucky fans aren't the only ones upset with Bob Knight. WHB Radio in Kansas City has started a petition to get the former IU coach off ESPN's Big 12 Big Monday broadcasts. Go to www.byebyebrentandbob.com.

■ Tiger Woods' public apology last week came off as a rehab requirement. The next steps he takes are more important. I thought he would be back for the Masters. I don't think so now.

■ How many coaches would have admitted that taking a timeout with 2.5 seconds left was "stupid" as John Calipari did at Vanderbilt on Saturday?

■ It is impressive that Kentucky leads the nation in rebounding margin, but it's not an important stat. Offensive-rebound percentage is more important, and the Cats are claiming 42.6 percent of the available rebounds off the offensive glass. Consider that Kentucky's 1996 national title team claimed 38.7 percent of those rebounds.

■ The other day, as we were inside the Craft Center waiting to interview DeMarcus Cousins, "Boogie" and Bradley Calipari were trying to shoot basketballs off the top of the shot clock and down into the goal. As Calipari says, "DeMarcus thinks he's 12."

■ Former Calipari assistant Tony Barbee has done quite a job as a fourth-year head coach at UTEP. The Miners have won 10 straight to reach a 20-5 record. Under Barbee, UTEP has gone from 6-10 to 8-8 to 10-6 to now 11-1 in Conference USA.

■ If Michigan football was 8-16 while not complying with NCAA practice restrictions, how are the Wolverines going to do now that they have to follow the rules?

Reach John Clay at (859) 231-3226 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3226, or jclay@herald-leader.com.

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