Mark Story: Barnhart's contract, Rupp renovations

Suites, chair backs would cut capacity

mstory@herald-leader.com,Mark StoryFebruary 11, 2011 

Fast-break points from the Valentine's Day candy line:

21. Lee Todd. The out-going University of Kentucky president assumed that job on July 1, 2001. Nine months and four days later, he presided over a change in UK athletics directors when Larry Ivy resigned under presidential pressure.

20. Mitch Barnhart's contract extension. May well be the right thing for UK athletics, but wouldn't it have been better form to leave such a major, long-term personnel decision to the incoming Kentucky president?

19. Ex-Files: Kevin Galloway. The former Kentucky guard, now a senior at Texas Southern, might have the most interesting individual stat line in college basketball. He is averaging 11.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists — and a whopping 5.6 turnovers a game for the Tigers (11-10).

18. Rupp Arena. As I see it, there are two problems — one that affects the high rollers, one that impacts Joe and Jane Average Fan — with our city's aging, primary basketball venue.

17. Luxury suites. In the ever-escalating financial arms race that is big-time college sports, UK is leaving big money on the table by not having basketball suites available to sell to fat cats.

16. Upper-arena, chair-back seats. If you've sat in the bleachers in Rupp's second level as a fan (and I have fairly recently), it is not an enjoyable spectator experience. The fans in the upper deck deserve better.

15. Rupp renovation talk. Color me deeply skeptical that you can upgrade the current Rupp to both add a significant number of luxury suites and put in chair backs in the upper level without significantly reducing overall seating capacity.

14. Ex-Files: Mark Coury. The former Kentucky forward, now a senior at Cornell, is averaging 3.9 points and 3.5 rebounds for the Big Red (5-15).

13. Victoria Dunlap. The play Monday night where the UK women's hoops star soared through the air to block a three-point attempt by Tennessee's Shekinna Stricklen was one of the most athletically impressive feats I've ever seen by a Kentucky basketball player, male or female.

12. Ebony Rowe. The freshman forward from Paul Laurence Dunbar is tearing it up (17.3 points; 10.2 rebounds; 60.7 percent field-goal shooting) for the Middle Tennessee State women. Perhaps some of our in-state schools should have put more of a recruiting emphasis on Rowe?

11. Kenneth Faried. The Morehead State men's basketball standout (and national media darling) plays his final home game Saturday against Southeast Missouri State. "I'm trying not to even think about it," MSU Coach Donnie Tyndall says of his star's final days in blue and gold.

10. Ex-Files: Sean Woods. After a 1-11 start against a brutal road schedule, the former Kentucky guard, now head coach at Mississippi Valley State, has the Delta Devils (9-15, 8-3) third in the SWAC.

9. NBA draft speculation. Most recent 2011 mock from nbadraft.net has Enes Kanter No. 5; Terrence Jones No. 6; Brandon Knight No. 16; and Kenneth Faried No. 20.

8. Anthony Grant. Based on what he did at VCU and what he is doing at Alabama, I think the former Billy Donovan assistant is going to be a major coaching star.

7. Rick Pitino. Has done a very good coaching job so far this winter.

6. Ex-Files: Dakotah Euton. The Billy Gillispie-era Kentucky basketball commitment from Scott County, now a freshman at Akron, is averaging 1.3 points and 0.9 rebounds for the Zips.

5. Chuck Smith. I felt sorry for the UK football recruiting coordinator and former Boyle County High School coaching legend last week when Boyle star Lamar Dawson picked USC over the Cats.

4. Smith's reaction. I asked Smith if not getting a player from the high school that he coached to five state titles hurt his feelings. "It really doesn't," Smith said. "It's a business. I'm just concerned with the guys who are coming to UK and that's all I care about."

3. The Boyle County reaction. Current Boyle coach Larry French said he hasn't spoken to Smith since Dawson's decision. "I think some of our coaches have," French said. "I know Chuck tried everything he could think of to get Lamar to pick Kentucky. Lamar just felt like SC was the best fit for him."

2. Venom over recruiting. A year ago, people on Louisville Cardinals Internet message boards teed off on Central linebacker Tim Patterson when he picked UK over U of L. This year, it was many on Wildcats message boards savaging Dawson.

1. Moral of the story. Seeing a teen demonized over picking or not picking a certain college always bothers me. Ultimately, it's the recruit's life and they don't have to justify to anyone outside their immediate circle how they choose to live it.

Reach Mark Story at (859) 231-3230 or 1-800-950-6397, ext. 3230, or mstory@herald-leader.com. Your e-mail could appear on the blog Read Mark Story's E-mail at Kentucky.com.

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