One of the best things about David-versus-Goliath exhibition games is the charming story lines provided by the David.
Campbellsville, which plays a practice game at Kentucky on Monday, certainly fills the bill. The Tigers have:
■ A player who tore an ACL in high school, leading him to consider giving up basketball to pursue his dream of becoming a meteorologist.
■ A 26-year-old starting point guard playing his first college game since the 2004-05 season.
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■ A player looking to make history by becoming the first Clinton County High School graduate to play in Rupp Arena.
The would-be weatherman is Jordan Benock, a 6-foot-2 senior forward from Battletown, Ky. He tore an anterior cruciate ligament in his senior year of high school.
"It wasn't like a big, big big-time deal," he said of the injury. "I was on the fast break. I jumped and got bumped as I came down. I landed (awkwardly) on my left leg. It wobbled a little bit, and that was it."
After an unhappy attempt to resume playing for Taylor University, Benock looked for an alternative.
"I've had a love of meteorology all my life," he said. "I don't know why. Maybe because my father was a farmer and the weather plays such an important part in farming. I just always loved watching the weather."
When asked who might be his hero as a weather forecaster, Benock laughed and said John Belski of WAVE, Louisville's Channel 3, was his favorite.
But basketball was his first love. And Benock, whose younger brother Riley plays for Mississippi State, grabbed the offer to join Campbellsville's team.
The decidedly senior point guard is T.J. Bishop, a native of Boynton Beach, Fla. His college career began with two years of junior college, then one season at Missouri Western. He then transferred to Florida Atlantic to be closer to home, but a coaching change left him in limbo.
A problem with his academic transcript nixed an expected transfer to Campbellsville in 2007. He became eligible seven games into last year, but the Campbellsville coaches decided he should redshirt in order to play the entire 2009-10 season.
Campbellsville Coach Keith Adkins, a teammate of John Pelphrey at Paintsville High in the 1980s, noted that the NAIA allows players to use their four years of eligibility in any time frame. The NCAA requires the four seasons to be completed in a five-year period.
The NAIA rule makes it possible for Bishop, at age 26, to play.
"I see the game a lot differently," Bishop said. "I let a lot less distractions off the court bother me than I would normally."
Bishop said he also helps coach his younger teammates.
"We like the fact that he's older," Adkins said. "There's a little more maturity. He's a guy who is a leader. We expect him to lead on and off the floor."
Justin Vitatoe, a 6-4 sophomore forward from Albany, looked forward to being the first Clinton County High School graduate to play in Rupp Arena.
"I'm pretty sure that's true," he said of the historic footnote. "I don't know of anyone else."
Obviously, to play against a Kentucky is rare for a Clinton County native, too. Vitatoe pointed out how it can be hard to play in a big game when you live in a small town.
His moment hit a severe snag in practice less than two weeks ago when Vitatoe injured a hamstring.
"I'm kind of mad about it," he said.
Maybe the fun of watching a David-versus-Goliath game will make him feel better.
To former UK coach Tubby Smith. His father, Guffrie M. Smith Sr., died last Sunday at age 88.
The Southern Maryland News ran an enlightening story on the coach's father. Here are some highlights:
■ He was the youngest of seven children and was raised by an uncle who emphasized the importance of education. Daughter Wendy Rice-Morton told the newspaper of her memories of the 17 children putting their homework on the kitchen table each night for their father to check.
■ He and his wife, Parthenia Barnes Smith, had 17 children, 34 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren.
■ He was a pioneer black entrepreneur in southern Maryland. He owned a trailer park, laundry and barber shop. He also worked as a bus driver and bus contractor for St. Mary's public schools for 48 years.
■ He was a rock-ribbed Republican.
■ He raised vegetables and livestock for his family. He did the fix-up jobs at home and did bus repairs, including learning how to redo upholstery to fix bus seats.
■ He was "a Buffalo Soldier during World War II and earned a Purple Heart following an ambush in the mountains of Italy that took 80 percent of his troops and wounded him," the Southern Maryland News said.
"He promised himself and God if he made it back here he would do service for the community" and support his family, Rice-Morton told the newspaper.
He helped elderly neighbors by giving them chopped wood or extra vegetables.
■ He sang in the St. Luke United Methodist Church choir, was active in the St. Mary's County NAACP Chapter, the PTA, 4-H, Disabled American Veterans, Purple Heart Association and Joseph Egan Masonic Lodge 104.
■ He lived his last nine years at a nursing and rehabilitation facility, where he won a volunteer service award.
The funeral service was Thursday. Memorial contributions can be made to the Alzheimer's Association, Southern Maryland regional office.
Two takes on the Board of Trustees approving a $7 million donation on the condition that the money be used to build a new home for the basketball team and that the structure be named Wildcat Coal Lodge:
■ Reader Gregg Wagner found the idea an insult to former UK Coach Joe B. Hall, whose name graces the existing lodge. By the way, Hall said he had no objections.
"Coach Hall is way too classy to say it bothers him, but you know it does," Wagner said in an e-mail. "I am greatly disappointed in UK and a huge fan."
Wagner, 46 and a realtor in Louisville, objected to UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. and the Trustees not letting students voice their views. The Trustees largely ignored a sheet of student comments distributed moments before the vote.
"I never knew Todd would be a sellout." Wagner wrote. "I am a longtime fan and disgusted that UK has decided to sell its soul to the highest bidder. The example set by Dr Todd of not listening to differing viewpoints is very sad. ... I know money is important, but if the university teaches kids that is all that is important in life, they are setting a very low bar for students."
■ Bill Hanna, a former Herald-Leader editor, offered a thought. "Don't fret over a name for the new basketball dorm," he said. "There is a way to keep it simple and also honor the donor ($7 million) and the traditional (Joe B.); Just call it Coal Hall."
Ah, a two-way pun on "Coach Hall" and "Coal Haul."
UK spent about $300,000 on its Big Blue Madness celebration, according to documents provided by the school through an open-records request.
The expenses included:
■ $1 rental fee charged by Lexington Center Corp.
■ $87,900 for the video presentations, easily the most expensive item.
■ $55,560 for lighting.
■ $51,625 for labor.
■ $27,500 for pyrotechnics.
■ $26,400 for rigging.
■ $24,400 for audio.
■ $4,748.13 for security.
■ $2,290 for catering.
Music artist Drake did not receive a fee for being introduced and waving to the crowd.
Former UK walk-on Landon Slone has put on hold his effort to rejoin the team.
Slone, a former star at Paintsville High, transferred to Morehead State after not being able to meet with new UK coach John Calipari. He left Morehead State after three days and re-enrolled at UK, where he made no secret of his wish to become a walk-on.
"I'm just going to school," Slone said last week. "I haven't pursued it like I probably should."
Slone acknowledged that it probably was not the best time to see if he could rejoin the team. He's thinking of trying again in the spring.
"I'm trying to do things the right way," he said. "I don't want to distract them in any way."
Hayes guides team
Because the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is closed for repairs, the Houston Rockets took a ferry to their recent game against the Golden State Warriors. Player Aaron Brooks took photographs of his teammates during the 20-minute trip across San Franciso Bay.
"You know, our first boat ride together, you want to make a memory," Brooks said, according to a story by The Associated Press. "I feel like I'm part of the city. Now I feel like I'm from San Francisco and Oakland.
"This had to be a first. We always see the boats. It was different. I never imagined being in the NBA I'd take a ferry to a game. It was nice, scenic."
Former UK standout Chuck Hayes, a native of Oakland (the family later moved to Modesto), pointed out the sights.
"We had a great tour guide in Chuck, even though Chuck doesn't know where the Golden Gate Bridge is," Brooks said. "It was still cool nevertheless."
UK No. 5
That's No. 5 in number of former players on NBA rosters.
According to crackerjack Arizona basketball spokesman Richard Paige, UK and Arizona each have 10 former players on NBA rosters. The leaders are Duke and UCLA with 14 each. UConn and North Carolina are tied for third with 13 each.
As for conferences, the Big East led Paige's count with 55 NBA players. The ACC was second at 53 followed by the Pac-10 with 50, the SEC with 40, the Big 12 with 36 and the Big Ten with 32.
UK compliance director Sandy Bell and the NCAA e-mailed a list of do's and don'ts involving fans interacting with prospects visiting a campus.
There was no mention of fans' chanting the name of a prospect. So let the chanting continue. Even better, Patrick Patterson said such chants can really make a great impression with impressionable high school players.
My earlier question about the propriety of such chants was incorrect.
Here's the do's and don'ts:
■ A member institution shall not publicize (or arrange for publicity of) a prospect's visit.
■ The prospect may not participate in team activities that would make the public or media aware of the visit.
■ A school may not introduce a visiting prospect at a function such as a game or banquet that is attended by the media or open to the public.
Violations of these bylaws do not affect a prospect's eligibility and are considered school violations.
To former LSU coach Dale Brown. He turned 74 Saturday.