UK basketball notebook: Fan who made Bahamas trip chose UK over UCLA

Herald-Leader staff writerAugust 23, 2014 

UK fan Karin Brennan came from San Diego to the Bahamas to watch UK play.

KENTUCKY.COM

Karin Brennan was riding in a shuttle bus taking Kentucky fans from the Atlantis resort to the gym in Nassau when a street sign caught her eye.

"Did anyone notice what street we're on?" she asked her fellow passengers. "It's Duke Street. Let's get off this street."

Brennan and the other passengers laughed.

It turned out that Brennan might have traveled farther than any other fan to watch Kentucky play six exhibition games in the Bahamas this month. She came from San Diego, and it wasn't the first time she's traveled a long distance because of UK.

Brennan began her college education at UCLA, where her parents and a brother got undergraduate degrees. She transferred to UK for love.

She said she met her first husband when both were serving in the military. He was from southern Ohio. After being in the military, he decided to study forestry at UK. She decided to join him.

"I think my parents had to go through therapy," she said, smiling, of the transfer from UCLA to Kentucky.

Unlike UK basketball, love was not triumphant.

Husband No. 2, Dennis Randall, accompanied Brennan to the Bahamas more as a devoted spouse than rabid basketball fan.

"He couldn't spell basketball," she said of her husband's expertise or even interest in the sport. He attended UC Santa Barbara. "We're known for beach volleyball," he said.

Brennan will not have split loyalties when Kentucky plays UCLA in Chicago's United Center on Dec. 20 (a new double-header event called the CBS Sports Classic. Ohio State plays North Carolina in the other game).

She termed her transfer from UCLA to UK as "what a wonderful thing to do." So no surprise that Brennan will be rooting for Kentucky.

But not in person. A day or so before UK plays UCLA, she and Randall will have just returned from a trip to Tahiti. An immediate trip to Chicago seemed too much.

Her brother, Mike Brennan, the UCLA grad, will be at the game. He lives in Chicago and runs a fitness sales company.

He's baaaack

Bruce Pearl's three-year show-cause penalty ended at midnight Saturday. He now can talk to recruits and their coaches and parents for the first time since Auburn hired him as coach this spring.

Although he's free to hit the recruiting trail, Pearl is expected to spend his first day of freedom at Auburn.

Four-star prospect Horace Spencer has scheduled a visit to Auburn this weekend.

"I'm looking forward to finally talking to him," Spencer said of Pearl in an interview with CBSSports.com. "And I want to hear what he has to say about my recruitment, too."

Also from the not-so-coincidentally file: Auburn begins its elite camp (for about 80 players) Sunday. CBSSports.com said that multiple recruiting targets in the classes of 2015, 2016, 2017 and maybe 2018 are expected to attend.

Until now, Pearl has watched video of prospects while assistant coaches did the recruiting legwork.

People who follow recruiting say that, even on a limited basis, Pearl affected Auburn's talent level. The class of 2014 included Cinmeon Bowers, one of the top junior-college players in the country, and freshman T.J. Lang.

Auburn also added three transfers: Kareem Canty from Marshall, one-time Kentucky recruit K.C. Ross-Miller from New Mexico State and Antoine Mason from Niagara. Mason is the son of 14-year NBA strongman Anthony Mason.

And on Friday night, four-star prospect Danjel Purifoy committed to Auburn for the class of 2015. A 6-foot-6 guard, he chose Auburn over Alabama, UAB and Maryland.

World Cup

Although his team beat Kentucky in the Bahamas, Orlando Antigua did not express runaway optimism about the Dominican Republic making a big splash in the upcoming World Cup in Spain beginning next weekend.

"It's going to be tough," he said. "It's the best 24 teams in the world. We know it's going to be a huge challenge. I think we're going with the mind-set of just trying to improve every day."

Reform by convenience

ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas saw a "disingenuous side" to the NCAA's recent support for such reforms as paying players and removing limitations on food.

"A few years ago, no one was saying we should do this for the athlete because athletes were not getting enough," he said. "They were saying the athlete was getting more than enough.

"Now, it's changed all of a sudden?"

Bilas said the reforms are in response to such factors as the so-called Ed O'Bannon suit, the move by Northwestern football players to gain the right to unionize and, perhaps most importantly, schools in the five most prestigious conferences breaking away from the NCAA.

"They feel the pressure," Bilas said of the NCAA.

Break a leg

Dale Barnstable sent an email message in which he reminded us that he played on UK's Fabulous Five. He said he was an alternate for the 1948 Olympic team. If any of the starters got hurt, he would be on the team.

"Coach (Adolph) Rupp said, 'Barney, you might like one of the guards to break a leg,'" Barnstable recalled. "I said, 'A bad sprain would be OK.'" Barnstable noted that the late Jim Line and Joe Holland were also Olympic alternates.

"I am the only living member of that ... team that won 2 NCAA and 4 SEC titles," he wrote.

'Harlan Hurricane'

Kentucky's recent farewell to the late Wallace "Wah Wah" Jones triggered memories for Bourbon County native Billy Mason. Mason, who will turn 90 on Sept. 22, said he attended the famous exhibition game played by the Fabulous Five against the Phillips Oilers at UK football's former home, Stoll Field.

It was the only time Mason saw the Fabulous Five play.

Mason also recalled that when Jones first came to UK, he was known by some as The Harlan Hurricane.

Even Tennessee?

Earl Chapman, whose Jackson-based monument business sells a UK-themed tombstone, said he could also offer tombstones for fans of Louisville, LSU and Florida.

When asked if he'd get a tombstone for a Tennessee fan, Chapman paused to grimace before saying, "Yeah. It's not hard to make a 'T.'"

To explain the pause, he said, "You can't say 'yes' right off the bat."

Happy birthday

To former UK standout Jodie Meeks. He turned 27 on Thursday. ... To Van Florence. UK basketball's longtime Man Friday turns 68 on Tuesday. ... To ex-Cat Todd Tackett. He turned 35 on Friday. ... To Richard Williams. The former Mississippi State coach turned 69 on Friday. ... To Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart. He turns 55 on Wednesday. ... To ex-Cat Kent Hollenbeck. He turns 64 Sunday.

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

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service