Though a Kentucky basketball icon, Kyle Macy can still be objective. He saw questionable officiating at the end of the first half of UK's game against Mississippi State. The Cats benefited, but Macy had the courage on his post-game radio show to question how the officials handled the sequence.
Of course, the call came in the final seconds of the first half. State, which had a foul to give, put Brian Bryant in the game to intentionally foul UK's Brandon Knight, not once, but twice. Anticipating the fouls, UK Coach John Calipari ordered Knight to go into the shooting motion on contact.
"That's a pretty good coaching move," Macy said later in the week.
What happened thereafter was ripe with second-guess possibilities.
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Referee Mike Nance called a non-shooting foul on Bryant. As Calipari held up three fingers to signal a preference for a shooting foul and Mississippi State Coach Rick Stansbury applauded approval of how Bryant executed the quasi-intentional foul, referee Jamie Luckie came running across the court. After a consultation, the referees ruled a shooting foul had occurred.
Stansbury recoiled in disbelief, a reaction Macy and ESPN studio analyst Mark Gottfried understood.
"The problem I had if I was Stansbury is the fact that the official standing right there making the call froze," Macy said. "And the guy came running across the floor to make the call, and that's not his call, I didn't think."
Gottfried, a former Alabama player and coach, basically saw the sequence the same way.
What happened next made the officiating even more questionable in the eyes of Macy and Gottfried. As Stansbury signaled his disagreement with the shooting foul call, Luckie hit the State coach with a technical foul. A moment later, Luckie put his whistle back in his mouth seemingly in anticipation of calling a second technical foul on Stansbury.
"The tech was bad," Gottfried said later in the week. "After the call (on Bryant) was made, there was confusion, and all the action was close to the Mississippi State bench. There are times officials just need to walk away. ...
"That was always my beef. You can't penalize me for reacting when you are doing the same thing I am doing in reacting."
Macy put the technical on Stansbury in the context of a long, difficult season for Mississippi State. Suspensions. Fight in the stands in Hawaii. Now throw in Kentucky native who would like to make good back in his home state. Not to mention the two games of last season in which officiating played a big role in UK's two overtime victories.
"That stuff wears on you," Macy said. "(The shooting-foul call), to me, might have been the straw that broke the camel's back. I might have been watching the second half from the locker room."
Gatton questions moves
Tennessee businessman Carol Martin "Bill" Gatton donated the money that made possible the Gatton College of Business and Economics at UK. So when he speaks, people listen.
Last week, Gatton questioned the wisdom of UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. giving Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart a contract extension and six-figure salary increase. Gatton thought Barnhart's original contract, which allowed for year-to-year extension, was flawed.
"I don't think it should have been something that got extended every year," he told Herald-Leader reporter Cheryl Truman.
While applauding Barnhart's hires of John Calipari as basketball coach and Rich Brooks as football coach, Gatton questioned the process in hiring Billy Gillispie three years ago. At that time, while on the UK Athletics Association Board of Directors, Gatton was at home one night when he took a call asking him to be in Lexington by noon the next day so the board could approve the Gillispie hiring.
"They needed a quorum to approve what they had done in the middle of the night," Gatton said.
Joe Peek, a faculty representative on the UK board of trustees, offered this missive about Barnhart's contract extension in a newsletter he distributes:
"I was disappointed to learn that Mitch Barnhart is the hire that President Todd "is most proud of." I can understand why it wasn't someone from the UK English department, given that they have not been able to cure President Todd of ending sentences with prepositions. Still, it would have been nice to find out it was someone in the academic wing of the university (unimportant as it may be). Had President Todd consulted with me, I could have called out a few names (I am good at name calling).
"Notably, with only five years left on Barnhart's contract, an extension was so urgent that President Todd didn't have time to consult with the Board of Trustees. When questioned, spokesman Jay Blanton said that "the UK president has the authority to unilaterally negotiate contracts with staffers such as the athletics director." I don't think so, Jay. And as Churchill (kinda) said, this is the sort of arrogance up with which we should not put. This action flies in the face of a long tradition at UK whereby important matters are brought to the Board of Trustees for an in-depth, transparent rubberstamping. Perhaps because President Todd's tenure (as UK president; as a faculty member is another story) is running short, he felt he didn't have time to go through that particular charade. Please, President Todd, don't make me totally irrelevant like the rest of the faculty on the central campus: Give me my rubberstamp back!"
When John Jenkins scored 32 against Kentucky last weekend, he became the first Vanderbilt player to get 30 or more points against UK since Mike Rhodes in 1980.
By the way, Rhodes led Vandy in scoring in 1979-80 with an average of 18.4 points. He grew up in Tennessee and considered playing for Kentucky. A snowstorm prevented him from making a scheduled recruiting visit to UK.
Jenkins' 32 points were the most scored against Kentucky since Sam Houston State's Corey Allmond had 37 in Rupp Arena on Nov. 19, 2009. Allmond now plays for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBDL. Going into this weekend, he was averaging 7.7 points for the Mad Ants.
No SEC opponent had scored as many points as Jenkins did against Kentucky since Florida's Nick Calathes had 33 in Rupp Arena on Feb. 10, 2009.
Last weekend, John Hampton was part of the officiating crew at the Texas A&M-Baylor game. His brother, Brent Hampton, was one of the referees working the Rhode Island-Temple game.
John was on ESPN, while at the same time Brent was on ESPN2. That marked the second time this season the brothers officiated different games at the same time. On Jan. 22, John worked the Kansas-Texas game on CBS while Brent helped call Xavier-Temple on ESPN.
John said his father can give a remote control a workout watching both games his sons officiate.
And the brothers' mother, Patsy Hampton?
"Mother was definitely watching my brother," John said. "That's her baby."
'Bruin Road Show'
With how to pay for a new arena a daunting challenge, here's one big question hanging over the option of an extensive renovation of Rupp Arena: Where would UK play its home games during the renovation?
Another college basketball dynasty faces that question. UCLA expects to announce this week where it will play "home" games in the 2011-12 season while Pauley Pavilion undergoes a $136 million facelift.
What's being called the "Bruin Road Show" will see the UCLA team play "home" games in several arenas, including the Valley View Casino Center, which is more than 100 miles off campus in San Diego.
UCLA officials had hoped to play all its 2011-12 home games in The Forum, the former home of the Los Angeles Lakers. But that idea got shelved when owners of Madison Square Garden bought The Forum and announced plans to convert it into a smaller concert hall.
The Staples Center is a thought. But how would UCLA schedule games after the Lakers, Clippers and L.A. Kings penciled in their dates?
Meanwhile, UCLA sent order forms to its season-ticket holders. UCLA also sent a survey to fans who had regularly bought tickets going back to 2007 asking what venues they would pick for home games.
The Sports Arena, the former home court of rival Southern Cal, offered to stage every UCLA home game. John Wooden won two national championships in the Sports Arena, which was UCLA's home court before Pauley Pavilion.
But now it's identified with Southern Cal.
"I don't know if I want to be that close to SC," UCLA freshman center Anthony Stover told The Los Angeles Times.
Pauley Pavilion is an on-campus arena. So whatever arenas UCLA chooses for next season, the school will face the question of how to transport its students to the home games.
Mark Harlan, UCLA's senior associate athletics director for external relations, noted the school plays its home football games 26 miles off campus at the Rose Bowl. So UCLA has experience with a bus system that gets students to games.
By the way, UCLA's women's team is expected to play in the 2,500-seat Wooden Center on campus while renovations are made to Pauley Pavilion.
Home away from home
About 10 years ago, California also needed a temporary home court because of a renovation of its arena. The Bears used the Oakland Coliseum, which was near the Berkeley campus.
Actually, the Oakland Coliseum was just down the freeway across the bay from San Francisco. Because the public transit system has stops at the Cal campus and the Oakland Coliseum, students had no problem getting to games.
Cool vs. grit
Columnist Mark Story's list of the 25 "coolest" athletes in last Sunday's Herald-Leader prompted an e-mail from reader Tom Atkinson.
"After reading about the coolest athletes at Kentucky, for some reason I got to thinking about the players who appeared to play with the most intensity," he wrote. "The first to come to mind is Winston Bennett.
"I would have loved to see him go against (DeMarcus) Cousins and others of these one-and-doners. He wasn't that big, but to me he showed more get-up-and-go than these one-year wonders. And I think he would have run some of them out of the lane."
Atkinson is a graduate of Paris High School and Morehead State. After coaching high school football for eight years, he joined the United States Probation office in Lexington.
Now retired, he and his wife, Sue, live in Lakeland, Fla.
Billy G and Wyoming
Amid speculation that he might be a candidate for the coaching job at Wyoming, former UK coach Billy Gillispie sent an e-mail to the newspaper in Casper, Wyo.
"I never comment on my interest in any potential position whether real or perceived," Gillispie said in an e-mail to the Star-Tribune. "I would like to return to coaching at some point but only when I have what I believe is a chance to go to the Final Four!!! That is my goal."
"It seems from afar that the (Wyoming) is a great place to coach basketball because of the tremendous passion of its vast fan base and the tradition that great players and coaches have achieved," Gillispie added. "(I'm) sure there will be a lot of great coaches who would appreciate the chance to rebuild that tradition at the university."
To former UK point guard Rajon Rondo. He turns 25 on Tuesday.