Patrick Patterson had his world rocked last week. Someone told him Kentucky basketball's majesty includes only one triple-double performance.
"That just blows my mind," he said.
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To further boggle Patterson's mind, a freshman achieved UK's lone triple-double. Chris Mills, a quietly efficient player more famously associated with the $1,000 Emery Air Freight package, scored 19 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and got credit for 10 assists against Austin Peay in Freedom Hall on Dec. 27, 1988.
"I figured a bunch of people got triple-doubles," Patterson said.
Maybe UK's usual collection of quality players makes it unnecessary for one player to shoulder a triple-double load. Maybe there were triple-doubles in the days before 10-10-10 gained significance. Maybe a triple-double reveals a team overly reliant on one player.
Southeastern Conference schools have produced only 18 triple-double performances (see list). Two came earlier this season: Tyler Smith of Tennessee and Courtney Fortson of Arkansas.
UK Coach Billy Gillispie would welcome a triple-double. "I've never seen it associated with a team not doing well," he said.
Gillispie singled out one of his current players as capable of 10 or more points, rebounds and assists in a game.
"I'd think DeAndre Liggins could be a triple-double guy," the UK coach said. "That's one of the things I've thought about with him over the last three, four, five days. He's capable of getting 10 rebounds a game. I think he can get 10 assists and it looks like he's going to be able to score in double figures on a consistent basis."
Patterson flirted with a triple-double against Longwood: 28 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. He said he'd want the third double in assists rather than blocks because the assist connotes team play.
Gillispie playfully noted that Jodie Meeks came close to a dubious triple-double against Kansas State: 37 points, 8 rebounds and nine turnovers.
"Not one you're looking for," the UK coach said of a triple-double that includes turnovers. "But if you get 37 points, you could live with it."
Coincidentally, North Carolina has had three triple-doubles: Billy Cunningham against Virginia in 1964-65, Brendan Haywood against Miami in 2000-01 and Jason Capel against Buffalo in 2000-01.
As for the SEC's two triple-doubles this season, Fortson became the second player in Arkansas history to achieve one.
Fortson, a 5-foot-11 freshman, scored 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out 11 assists in a 98-70 victory over North Carolina Central on Wednesday.
The only other Razorback to fill up a box score like that was All-America guard Alvin Robertson, who had 23 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 70-66 victory at Texas on Jan. 19, 1984.
"It's an honor because Arkansas has a great tradition and has had a lot of great players come through here," Fortson said after the game.
After his first seven college games, Fortson led the Razorbacks in scoring (15.4 ppg) and assists (6.4 apg) and ranked third in rebounding (5.4 rpg).
"He's got a lot of God-given ability," Coach John Pelphrey said. "He likes playing. He's a competitor."
Tennessee had no triple-doubles in 100 years of basketball until Smith scored 12 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out 10 assists in an 87-69 victory over UNC-Asheville on Dec. 3.
The Thompson-Boling Arena crowd of 19,391 gave the forward a standing ovation when the achievement was announced.
"With so many great players coming through this university, to be the first player to do it in history is an honor to me," said Smith, who did not play in the final seven minutes.
Recording a triple-double is something Smith thinks about, he admitted, mostly because it would help his teammates.
"I want to set my teammates up," he said. "The rebounds and the points, I try to get those all the time. But my assists aren't always going to be that high. I was lucky to get it."
Tennessee had played 2,338 games before Smith recorded the first triple-double.
"I'm happy for Tyler and happy he is a Tennessee boy," Coach Bruce Pearl said. "He came home to do this. He is one of the most productive players in college basketball."
We'll give the final word on triple-doubles to Seth Davis, who doubles-up his coverage of college basketball as a reporter for Sports Illustrated and CBS.
"I don't care how good or bad a team is, if a player gets a triple-double, that is a significant accomplishment in my mind," Davis wrote in an e-mail. "And it's not easy to do, or else why haven't more guys done it?"
In his two seasons as Arkansas coach, John Pelphrey has suspended 10 players for various infractions. Three suspensions came early this season.
"As you go through this thing, you figure out that it's so hard to win anyway, and you have no chance if you're not disciplined," Pelphrey said. "I think holding players accountable is part of my responsibility. I think if we can learn some lessons now, maybe we won't have to learn them later.
"As I tell the players, I don't believe you or we can be as good as we need to be unless you fully give yourself to the basketball team and what's going on.
Sportswriter Bob Holt of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette noted how Pelphrey practiced tough love earlier in his career even at the risk of losing games.
When three South Alabama starters missed curfew two years ago, Pelphrey suspended them for the next game against Louisiana-Monroe. Pelphrey didn't care that the game matched Sun Belt Conference division leaders and would be televised by ESPN.
"I was down in John's office, and I wasn't going to tell him what to do, but I said, 'John we've got 10,000 seats in our arena out there, those kids can run a lot of steps at 5 o'clock in the morning,'" South Alabama Athletic Director Joe Gottfried told Holt. "He just smiled and said, 'No, we're going to do it this way.'"
Without suspended starters Carlos Smith, Demetric Bennett and Daon Merritt, South Alabama won 64-57 and went on to win the Sun Belt regular-season title and play in the NIT.
"I think some other coaches in the same situation might have looked the other way and done it differently, found a way around it and played those kids John suspended," Gottfried said. "But the point about John Pelphrey is, he's going to do it his way, and he's going to be an excellent disciplinarian."
The head-to-head collision between Ramon Harris and Michael Porter raised a question: how many concussions are too many concussions?
Porter, who had several concussions as a high school player and then another last fall, said he did not suffer another concussion when he knocked heads with Harris. But his father, Gary Porter, acknowledged his concern whenever his son absorbs a hard hit.
It's hard to know when concern is appropriate. Dr. Alexis Chiang Colvin, an assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedics at New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine, said that concussions remain largely mysterious.
Colvin's comments included:
Medicine is moving away from the notion that a certain number of concussions raise concerns.
"There is no black-and-white way to treat a concussion."
Symptoms can range from headaches to problems paying attention to disrupted sleep.
Concussion (a word derived from Latin meaning to shake violently) involves non-structural damage to the brain.
And what kind of long-term damage can concussions cause?
"That's a million-dollar question," Colvin said. "There's been a lot of speculation. The bottom line is we just don't know and anything right now is speculation. There are no long-term studies on it."
Casey roots for KG
Former UK player and assistant coach Dwane Casey must be happy with the Boston Celtics starting this season with a franchise-best 21-2 record. He cheered for Boston to win the 2008 NBA championship.
Casey isn't an especially keen Celtics fan, but his days as coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves made Casey a fan of Kevin Garnett.
"One of the hardest-working men in the NBA," Casey said this fall in a talk to the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches. "My biggest job was getting him out of the gym late at night. I was so happy he won the championship."
In talking about DeAndre Liggins' refusal to re-enter a game, Lamar Athletic Director Billy Tubbs recalled how he handled such a case.
His captain, All-American Wayman Tisdale, refused to enter a game while Tubbs coached for Oklahoma.
How did Tubbs punish Tisdale in Oklahoma's next game?
"He got to play 40 minutes, but he damn sure wasn't captain," Tubbs said with one of his trademark Jack Nicholson grins.
To UK Unforgettable Deron Feldhaus. He turns 40 on Tuesday.
Of the four Unforgettables, Feldhaus has kept the lowest profile. That figured, given how quietly he went about playing for Kentucky during a tumultuous time (1988-92).
While Richie Farmer launched a political career (Agriculture Commissioner) and John Pelphrey (Arkansas) and Sean Woods (Mississippi Valley State) became college head coaches, Feldhaus returned to his hometown of Maysville. He and his father and stepmother operate a golf course, where he does everything from mowing grass to giving lessons.
Feldhaus, whose handicap is in the low single digits, married a Maysville native. He and Amy have a 15-month-old son, Jake William.
"He keeps me young," Feldhaus said of his son.
Of his birthday, Feldhaus said, "the big 4-0, I guess. Time flies. Forty is fine. It's just a number."
Feldhaus is part of a family of coaches. His father, Allen Sr., a former UK player, led Mason County to state championships. Brothers Allen Jr. (Madison Central) and Willie (Russell County) are high school coaches.
An education major at UK, Feldhaus expected to teach and coach. But deep down, he had had enough of life in a gym.
"I'm a big, big, Kentucky fan," he said. "I don't make it back to too many games, but I don't miss any on TV."