Rondo keeps talking to make sure Kings hear his message
A voice at Sacramento Kings practices constantly gives directions. It doesn't belong to Coach George Karl. It belongs to Rajon Rondo. Even on a day at training camp when he sat out because of an injury, Rondo couldn't be still or keep quiet. He walked around the court at UC San Diego's Rimac Arena, pointing out spots on the floor where David Stockton might be able to better execute a play.
After Saturday's practice, Rondo asked assistant coaches to help him show teammates how to run a set properly.
The Kings signed the four-time All-Star and former University of Kentucky player to a one-year deal to help them solidify the point guard spot and boost an offense short on players adept at passing. Rondo already has taken the reins as a vocal leader, something the Kings have lacked for years.
"He's a guy who just talks, talks, talks and tries to make the team better," said forward Rudy Gay, who has known Rondo since high school. "That's what you need out of your point guard."
Rondo said communication is vital to the Kings' chances for success. He also thinks his talkative ways can be contagious. Ideally, Rondo's voice won't be the only one heard on the court.
"No doubt," Rondo said. "I'm talking to Cuz (DeMarcus Cousins) every day to try to get him to open up."
The Kings don't need talking just for the sake of talking. If all the players want to be heard, that can be a problem, too.
"You've got to know a little bit about the game," Rondo said. "You just don't want guys out there saying anything. It's also learning the game, continuing to teach the game to these young guys but getting them to talk."
Karl welcomes Rondo's approach, not just his constant chatter but his overall attitude toward the game. Over the last few seasons, the Kings' locker room did not foster an environment rife with professionalism. Players talked more about getting their shots than winning. Karl wanted more leaders, and many of the young players who dominated the locker room culture have been swapped out for the likes of Rondo.
"He's been a strong leader," Karl said. "There's no question he's a very veteran, no-nonsense, do-it-the-right-way guy. And this team probably needed some of those guys."
Asked if being talkative was always his nature, Rondo said, "I guess I would say that."
College BasketballKentucky State promotes assistant coach
Darnell Williams was named the new head coach of the Kentucky State University men's basketball team on Monday. Williams has spent the past three seasons as an assistant at KSU under Antwain Banks.
"It's my opinion that we are very fortunate to have a young man of Darnell's caliber available to lead our team on its trek to respectability," Dr. William K. Head, Kentucky State's athletics director, said in a news release. "He obviously comes from good beginnings and hopefully will give our athletes the strength of character to persevere."
Kentucky State is coming off a 9-18 season in 2014-15. Williams' time as a Thorobreds assistant also included the 15-12 team of 2012-13 and the 15-14 squad the following season.
"It's a great opportunity," Williams said of his first college head coaching job. "It's great to be able to take over a program that has had such a great and successful history. We're going to try to get the program back to where it was."
Kentucky State won three consecutive NAIA national championships from 1970-72.
"I'm very optimistic," Williams added in the school's news release. "We've got a young team, and we're a little undersized. We're going to have to work hard, but I think we're going to be the better conditioned team. My goal is for this to be not only one of the most well-conditioned teams, but one of the most disciplined teams, both offensively and defensively."
Williams played collegiately at Xavier, where he earned All-Atlantic 10 honors, was named an honorable mention All-American, and became a member of the school's 1,000-point club. After graduating from Xavier, Williams played professionally, both in the U.S. and overseas through 2005.
Pair of UK soccer stars earn weekly honors
■ After scoring the golden goal with 86 seconds remaining in double overtime to give the Kentucky men's soccer team a 1-0 win at No. 20 New Mexico on Sunday night, sophomore Stefan Stojkovic was named Conference USA's co-offensive player of the week. A native of Sweden, Stojkovic's goal was his fourth in the last three matches.
■ Katelyn Jensen, the Kentucky women's soccer team's freshman goalkeeper, was named the Southeastern Conference's defensive player of the week after Friday night's 1-1 draw at No. 12 Florida. Jensen made a career-high 13 saves on another career-high 27 shots faced by the Gators. Her 13 saves were the most saves in a single match for any UK goalkeeper since 1998.
■ Campbellsville's Jacob Russell (Anderson County) was named the NAIA's football player of the week. The senior led his team to a 59-50 win over then-No. 3 Faulkner (Ala.). He broke his own single-game touchdown record with six and finished with 379 yards on 30-for-53 passing. Russell was also named the Mid-South Conference's offensive player of the week.
The NAIA also named Cumberlands' Wendall Williams its special teams player of the week, and he earned the same honor from the Mid-South Conference. Williams scored his fourth special teams touchdown of the season in the Patriots' 59-7 win over Bethel (Tenn.). He returned a 75-yard kick return for a touchdown.
■ Transylvania's Erin Romito (Scott) was named the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Association's player of the week for volleyball. The senior outside hitter hit .385 for the week with 46 kills as Transy beat Manchester 3-1 and Anderson 3-0.
■ Kentucky Wesleyan senior goalkeeper Kate Dishion (Henry Clay) was named the Great Midwest Athletic Conference's athlete of the week for women's soccer. Dishion earned a pair of shutouts against Trevecca Nazarene and Brescia.
The last word
On Sunday, Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Domata Peko leveled Kansas City's Alex Smith, popped up to his feet and started dancing. The tackle rubbed both hands across his belly while gyrating his wide hips. He hadn't done that one before. Peko, who had two of his team's five quarterback sacks in a 36-21 victory, said:
"The belly dance? I'm hungry. Just a big man moving around."