At the risk of being too coarse, Steven Pearl is a son of a ... coach.
That can sound like a term of disparagement. Just ask former Kentucky guards Sean Sutton and Saul Smith, sons of UK coaches Eddie Sutton and Tubby Smith. They endured much criticism for being perceived to have gotten their starting positions through heredity.
By contrast, Pearl, son of Tennessee Coach Bruce Pearl, found a formula for success that largely avoids the what's-he-doing-there grousing.
"With me, less is more," Pearl said earlier this season, "and it's worked out."
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Pearl will be among the six players to whom Tennessee says farewell on Senior Day Sunday. If there's any justice, he'll get a warm, appreciative send-off from Vols fans.
Unlike Sutton and Smith, he's not the nerve center of the team as point guard. Coming off the bench, Pearl epitomizes the "glue guy," the current basketball vernacular for selfless team-first contributor.
"The guy who does all the unheralded things," Pearl said. "All the dirty work. The things that get your teammates going and things your teammates appreciate."
Pearl does what UK Coach John Calipari seeks from his starters and reserves — no to SportsCenter highlights; yes to center-of-the-action scrappiness.
"Hustle plays," Pearl said. "Diving for loose balls. Getting what we call 50/50 balls. Taking charges. Getting five-second counts or deflections."
For his college career, Steven Pearl has averaged barely one shot a game.
"Steven has become more and more of a leader," Bruce Pearl said. "He's a tough kid. He makes us better defensively by communicating and getting guys to the right spots. He brings good energy."
The younger Pearl was a scorer in high school. When he averaged less than five minutes a game as a UT freshman and sophomore, Pearl considered transferring to Brown, where one of his friends played.
"I'm not a quitter," he said of the decision to stay at UT. Pearl adopted the glue-guy role as a means to get on the floor. It took adding weight and muscle, his weight increasing from 185 as a freshman to 235 as a senior.
Of course, his father's NCAA problems this season complicated this senior year. To the taunts of "Daddy's Boy," fans on the road have added such timely chants as "Where's the bar-be-que?"
"Yeah, it's been tough," said Steven Pearl, who graduated in December with a degree in business marketing and international business. "I've got a thick skin."
UK continues to note John Calipari's 500th college coaching victory coming last weekend even though the NCAA officially recognized it as No. 458. UK spokesman DeWayne Peevy said he asked for guidance from the NCAA but has not gotten a definitive answer.
"I've never been ordered to do anything by the NCAA," he said. " ... I haven't been told exactly what I need to do, (and) I haven't been told I'm wrong."
Last week spokesperson Stacey Osburn issued a statement saying the NCAA's judicial body, its Committee on Infractions, monitored whether schools comply with the penalties it imposes.
Schools that do not comply can receive a letter from the Committee on Infractions asking for an explanation. A school refusing to comply would risk being ordered to appear before the Committee on Infractions to explain why additional penalties should not be imposed.
Earlier in his career, Calipari's programs had been ordered to vacate 42 victories: four at UMass in 1996 and 38 at Memphis in 2007-08. Those 42 victories are to be removed from Calipari's record. With regard to the 38 Memphis victories, the NCAA ordered no mention of them in any media guide, Web site or notes to reporters.
Memphis spokesman Lamar Chance said in an e-mail he uses asterisks to note the 38 victories and Final Four appearance in 2007-08. The asterisks note the NCAA ordered Memphis to vacate the victories and the NCAA Tournament participation.
Like Peevy, UMass spokesman Jason Yellin said he had not been ordered to erase the four 1996 NCAA Tournament victories from the record. A banner hangs in the UMass gym commemorating the 1996 Final Four appearance. The school celebrated the 10th and 15th anniversaries of that Final Four and includes the 35-2 record that season in its records.
What's more, when UMass inducted Calipari in its Hall of Fame, the plaque mentioned the 1996 Final Four and his 193 victories for the school. The NCAA recognizes 189.
Going forward, Peevy said he had added a "clarification" to Calipari's biography on the UK Web site. It notes the 42 vacated victories. A similar clarification may be included in future media guides.
As for the notes distributed to reporters before each game, Peevy said he was awaiting guidance from the NCAA.
Josh Harrellson's younger brother, Matt Harrellson, leaves nothing to chance when it comes to figuring out his favorite player. When he attends UK games, he wears a No. 55 jersey.
"Because I support Josh," he said. "Most people think I'd envy him or be jealous. Josh is like my idol.
"I have no hard feelings because he's done everything he can for me."
A few bucks. A bit of brotherly advice.
"When he went out with his friends, he'd always invite me," said Matt, 19. "He was like a mentor."
Jim Prather, the aide who shoots video for the St. Charles (Mo.) High School team, gave Josh Harrellson a Kentucky connection. A UK graduate, Prather did not factor large in Harrellson's decision to come to UK, former St. Charles coach Gary Wacker said.
But Prather did give Harrellson a reference to Kentucky.
"Once you go to Kentucky, you don't ever leave Kentucky," the player's father, Doug Harrellson, said. "It never leaves your heart. Even if you leave, it never leaves you."
No glory seeker
Doug Harrellson, a construction worker, did not pretend to know a great deal about basketball. Baseball and football were his sports. When he went to work, hunting and fishing became his outlets.
The elder Harrellson deferred to coaches like St. Charles (Mo.) High's Gary Wacker and AAU coach Buddy Halsell when his son Josh Harrellson evolved into a Division I prospect.
"When (Billy) Gillispie came to St. Charles, he was there for a week," Doug Harrellson said. "I didn't talk to him.
"I don't take credit I'm not due."
Credit for Gillispie
Josh Harrellson nodded when asked if his season playing for former UK coach Billy Gillispie was difficult.
"It was definitely a really hard year for all of us, all 18 of us on the team," he said, an unintentional quip that caused reporters to erupt in laughter.
"I've got to give a lot of credit to Coach Gillispie," Harrellson added. "Without his 'boot camp,' I probably wouldn't have been able to do all the conditioning Coach Cal (John Calipari) made me do for tweeting."
Job well compensated
John Wolff, a retired former director of various UK programs, sent an e-mail objecting to the contract extension and six-figure pay raise outgoing president Lee Todd gave Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart.
Rather than complain about a big raise when faculty must do without any pay increase, Wolff objected for another reason.
"Barnhart rewarded for clean program equals 'Professor rewarded for not selling grades,' " Wolff wrote. "Neither one makes sense. It's their job!"
Not long after the Louisville cheerleader drew a technical foul for stepping onto the court and throwing the ball into the air seconds before the end of a victory over Pittsburgh, UK cheerleaders got a warning.
Sandy Morgan, assistant to Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart, sent a note to UK cheerleader coach Jomo Thompson. He also received a video showing the incident and an article describing the consequences.
"You could tell the guy was just excited," Thompson said. "He's probably just a big basketball fan."
But, adding the obvious, a cheerleader does not want to adversely affect the team's chances of winning.
Thompson noted the "real classy" way U of L Coach Rick Pitino handled the situation.
On his Louisville-based radio show last week, Bob Valvano noted the lasting first impression Kentucky made on his brother, Jim Valvano.
Jim brought his Iona team to Lexington to play UK on Dec. 23, 1977. He came with a toothache. Not only did then-UK Coach Joe B. Hall meet the Iona team at the airport, he arranged for Valvano to get relief from a Lexington dentist.
"Jim said he never forgot that courtesy," Bob said.
"Of course, then they went out and blew them up by 900."
Actually, Kentucky won 104-65.
The game also made a lasting impression on Jim.
"He was struck by the fact there was no joy on the faces of the (UK) players," Bob said. "It was, like, 'That's over with. When only a bad thing could come if we lost that game.' "
Fast forward more than 30 years and reflect on current UK coach John Calipari reminding fans to enjoy the journey.
Valvano suggested UK fans should enjoy this season's team and accept that the problems — like losing road games — are typical for a freshman-oriented team that lacks depth.
"They're a top-20 team and a four- or five-seed," he said. "It strikes me that they never enjoy the journey like they should."
SEC to salute Grevey
For the past 12 years, the SEC has recognized a "Basketball Legend" from each of its 12 member schools during the league tournament.
All-American Kevin Grevey will be Kentucky's "Legend" at the tournament later this week in Atlanta.
Grevey was a consensus All-America pick in 1975. A two-time SEC Player of the Year (1973 and '75), he still ranks seventh on Kentucky's all-time scoring lists with 1,801 career points.
As a senior, Grevey led the Cats to a share of the SEC Championship and a runner-up finish in the 1975 Final Four.
The 2011 class of "Legends" includes Robert Horry, Alabama; George Kok, Arkansas; Jimmy Fibbe, Auburn; Craig Brown, Florida; Walter Daniels, Georgia; Howard Carter, LSU; Bob Weltlich, Ole Miss; Darryl Wilson, Mississippi State; BJ McKie, South Carolina; Jimmy England, Tennessee; and Jeff Turner, Vanderbilt.
Mike Rogers, the man who operates the game clock for UK home games, was the target of criticism after the Cats played Florida. It seemed the clock that viewers saw did not mesh with the action on the court.
Rogers wanted it known that the clock on the TV screen is run by production people in the truck. "They do try to link the clocks together, and most of the time they are real close," Rogers said.
In addition to his basketball commentary for ESPN, Dick Vitale continues to raise money for cancer research. His latest venture is a children's book, Dickie V's ABC's and 1-2-3's.
The book, the first in Vitale's Children's Literacy Initiative, is targeted to help educate children ages 2-6. It is intended to help children learn the alphabet and count.
Vitale began the series of books (there are five more planned) because he is a grandfather of five kids and wanted to give something back, and at the same time raise funds for Pediatric Cancer Research.
The book is $14.95. All proceeds go to Pediatric Cancer Research at the V Foundation. Vitale hopes to raise more than $1 million from sales.
Readers can find the book at most local bookstores, or can order at Amazon.com.
To Tom Leach. UK basketball's radio play-by-play man turned 50 Thursday.