UK basketball notebook: Website seeks to correct Calipari's record

Herald-Leader Staff WriterFebruary 16, 2013 

Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari and Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan talked before the game as the University of Kentucky played the University of Florida in the O'Connell Center in Gainesville, Fl., Tuesday, February 12, 2013. This is first half action. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff

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In a week that John Calipari surely needed a supportive pat on the back, a friend launched a website that touts the Kentucky coach's "real" win-loss record.

The site's founder, former Stetson Coach Glenn Wilkes, said he was motivated by a sense of fairness.

"It was unfair for the NCAA to take away his actual wins for something he has not been convicted of," Wilkes said. " ... I just felt strongly it was wrong, and decided to do it."

Wilkes noted the NCAA did not vacate victories for Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski when it was discovered that Corey Maggette took improper benefits prior to joining the Blue Devils in the late 1990s.

Nor did the lawsuit filed last year by New York jeweler Rafaello & Co. to recover the unpaid portion of a bill owed by Duke player Lance Thomas lead to sanctions. According to the suit, Thomas made a $30,000 down payment on a jewelry purchase with the remainder due within 15 days — but never presented the rest of what was owed. The suit was settled out of court.

Yet, the NCAA twice ordered victories vacated from Calipari's record.

Wilkes, 84, said he got permission from Calipari about three weeks ago before launching the site.

"He said he was glad for me to do it and he appreciated it," Wilkes said.

Because of NCAA sanctions, Calipari's official record does not include 42 vacated victories. Those excised victories reflect NCAA sanctions against Calipari-coached UMass in 1995-96 and Memphis in 2007-08. Calipari was not directly implicated in either case: Marcus Camby receiving improper gifts as a UMass player, and a testing agency declaring fraud in Derrick Rose's entrance score before he enrolled at Memphis.

So Calipari's official record going into Kentucky's game at Tennessee on Saturday was short the 42 vacated wins. But the website, wwwCalipariRealRecord.com, listed the UK coach's record as 566-161 going into Saturday.

Wilkes coached for Stetson from 1957 until 1993. He compiled a record of 551-436.

In the Rose case, the NCAA cited "strict liability," a term that essentially means Memphis and Calipari should have been wary about playing Rose even though he had been declared eligible.

That seems like a stretch.

Meanwhile, Wilkes said he once tried to hire Calipari when the future UK coach was a graduate assistant at Kansas. Calipari interviewed for the position, but then took an assistant coach's job at Pittsburgh.

The two remained friendly.

Wilkes did not appeal directly to the NCAA.

"I do not think they would change (the win-loss record)," he said before adding, "I would hope they would."

NBA perspective

Although Nerlens Noel's torn ACL impacts Kentucky's season, it shouldn't adversely affect his NBA Draft status. That's the opinion of DraftExpress.com analyst Jonathan Givony, who kept Noel as the first overall pick.

"I don't think that an ACL tear is the end of the world," said Givony, who saw no way Noel falls out of the top five. "We've seen a lot of players in the past have it happen to them and still make a full recovery and not have any lingering effects. Considering his age, I don't think this is going to be a major setback for his career — barring something unknown."

NBA teams will look at Noel as a long-term investment.

"So they're going to do as much as they can to make sure that he gets healthy and that when he comes back he's ready to play," Givony told the Herald-Leader's Ben Roberts.

A reputation as a hard worker should help Noel.

"It's huge," Givony said. "He's going to need that. It's a really long process and it takes a lot of hard work. And it's not like fun work. It's not like going and shooting in a gym or playing five-on-five with your buddies. That's fun. Rehab is not fun."

Leo Papile, once Noel's AAU coach and front-office man for the Boston Celtics, proposed a possible positive from the injury.

"He's got those pencil legs," Papile said. "But, I think, through this injury it could be an opportunity for him to focus on that.

"In some ways, the ability to work on his lower body and strength and conditioning. ... I think it could actually end up benefiting him."

Safety equipment

A mild tempest erupted on the Internet because Florida did not have X-ray equipment in the O'Connell Center.

After tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament, Nerlens Noel was taken to the on-campus Shands Hospital, which is less than a mile from the arena. That's where an X-ray revealed no fracture occurred.

Lexington-based surgeon Ben Kibler dismissed the importance of X-ray equipment at an arena.

"It is certainly not a requirement for treatment," he wrote in an email. "It is nice to have ... if there is a question about a fracture. But it would probably not help the determination of a return to play. ... You can initiate first-aid treatment based on what you see and what you can examine, then transport if needed, especially if it as close as they have it.

"It is more important to have a good emergency plan for treatment than to have an X-ray."

A quick check via email suggested that most SEC schools do not have X-ray equipment in their home arenas. Of the 12 schools that responded to a question about X-ray, 10 said they did not have such equipment on site. The 10 were Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, LSU, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Auburn and South Carolina. All noted that injured players could be quickly transported to a hospital and/or X-ray technology. All said that medical staffers and defibrillators were on site.

The two schools that have X-ray equipment at their arenas are UK and Texas A&M.

Bill Owen, the CEO of Lexington Center Corp., said Rupp Arena has 12 defibrillators and about 75 trained staffers on site at every Kentucky game.

Vanderbilt spokesman Andy Boggs recalled that medical personnel saved the life of a player, Davis Nwankwo, who collapsed at practice in the spring of 2007.

ACL facts

The term "ACL" gets bandied about a lot. Alas, this hit home when Nerlens Noel tore his left anterior cruciate ligament Tuesday night at Florida.

Here are a few facts about the ACL, as provided by Ben Kibler, the medical director of Lexington Clinic Sports Medicine Center:

■ The ACL is about the size of a person's pinkie finger. It averages from eight to 14 millimeters in width.

■ It is a white, roughly cylindrical structure that functions like two bands, each winding around the other and tightening in different positions of knee flexing and extension, thus providing stability in the entire motion.

■ "It is a very strong structure, but it's not a huge structure."

■ In initial attempts to repair a torn ACL, surgeons would sew the ligament back together. This proved unsatisfactory.

"Kind of like sewing together wet spaghetti."

■ Now doctors implant a tendon from another part of the body, usually the patellar tendon (connecting knee to shin) or a piece of the hamstring (back of leg near ankle) or a tendon in the quadricep area of the thigh.

■ There's a "very high" likelihood that an athlete will return to competition, perhaps within six to 12 months of surgery.

■ The surprise would be that more torn ACLs don't occur. The knee is "the weak link in the system of the leg."

'Coaster Cats?'

Via email, reader Pamula Guthrie sent in her idea of a nickname for the 2012-13 UK team.

"'Up-and-down Cats' is a good concept but not very catchy ... ," she wrote. Then she hit on a better nickname. "How about 'Coaster Cats?'"

Guthrie, 60, is an Indiana native. She received her Ph.D from UK in 1992.

"I am a past president of the Central Indiana UK Alumni Club, and am now living in Madison, Ind.," she wrote.

Guthrie works as a psychologist at Madison State Hospital.

Musical Commodore

Kedren Johnson is not only Vanderbilt's only player with a double-digit scoring average (14.1 ppg). He's also the Commodores' resident musician.

Johnson credited "a whole bunch of family members" for his musical talent. His specialties are hip hop and rhythm and blues.

"When I was 10, I started getting into it for real," he said before UK played at Vandy last month. "At 16, I was a little better at it. Now, I have a pretty good grasp on what I want to do music-wise."

When asked to describe his musical talent, Johnson said, "I produce music. I sing. I can rap really well. But I'm not like gangsta rapping. You know, I go to Vanderbilt. I'm a smart kid."

Vandy's genteel persona aside, Johnson said he could relate to hip hop culture. Some of the themes of his music touch on growing up in Lewisburg, Tenn., which apparently has its share of obstacles to overcome.

"Most people are unlucky," Johnson said of the immediate neighborhood he knew as home. "There's really not anything to do. People get caught up in drugs."

Johnson tries to convey a message of hope in his music.

"There is a way out of all that, whether it be basketball or music or anything," he said. "You don't have to resort to gang-related stuff or drugs. You don't have to feel like you're being drowned by it."

His music gets a positive response, he said.

"My teammates love it. People back home love it."

'Beer muscles'

UK Coach John Calipari used the term "beer muscles" to describe the confidence Elston Turner gained by getting off to a good start in Rupp Arena last month.

"You're a weakling, but you get beers in you and you want to beat somebody's brains in that's a monster," Calipari said in defining the term.

When a reporter noted his preference for white wine, Calipari said, "I grew up in Pittsburgh. It was Iron City beer and a shot."

In doing his recruiting checks, Herald-Leader reporter Ben Roberts got confirmation from Mike Bariski. He's the coach and athletic director at Lincoln Park Charter School in Midland, Pa., which is 20 miles from where Calipari grew up.

"He might be bragging about it, but that is absolute (poor) beer," said Bariski, who played against Calipari in college. "Up here, the steel mill guys would drink a shot and a beer when Cal was growing up. That was the big thing. But when you drank Iron City, you would drink the beer first and then chase it with the shot, because Iron City is some nasty stuff."

Happy birthday

To Ray Edelman. He turned 61 on Valentine's Day. ... To Al Robinson. He turns 75 Sunday.

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Email: jtipton@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com

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