From the it's-a-small-world file comes this: One of the walk-ons for Kentucky this coming season is the son of a high school coach who played collegiately for Eddie Sutton.
Brian Long, one of UK's walk-ons, played for his father at River Dell High School in New Jersey. His father, also named Brian, played for Sutton at Creighton in the 1972-73 and 1973-74 seasons.
"Playing for him, I learned a lot," the elder Long said of Sutton last week. "I took in what I could take in from him. I thought he was a great coach."
The elder Long did well himself. In a 32-year high school coaching career that ended with his youngest son's graduation this spring, he won more than 600 games and was inducted into the New Jersey High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
When asked what made Sutton an outstanding coach, the elder Long said, "We were able to beat teams with better ability than us."
"Well, he played a pretty disciplined style of play," Long said.
In four seasons as Kentucky coach in the 1980s, Sutton's disciplined style showed itself most famously when he instituted a seven-pass rule. He ordered his trigger-happy UK players to pass at least seven times before shooting, the better to create a higher-percentage shot.
UK fans, who thought basketball should only be played at a racehorse pace, grumbled.
"It was 15 (passes) for us," Long joked.
Actually, Creighton played well for Sutton without him having to institute a pass-first rule, Long said. In his final season at the school, when Long was a little-used sophomore, Sutton guided the Blue Jays to a 23-7 record and a 77-61 NCAA Tournament victory over Texas before losing 55-54 to Kansas in the second round.
"Most of the guys on our team knew their limitations," Long said. "What he always preached was be a role player. Do what you do best.
"He was pretty much a disciplinarian."
In his own career, Long tried to borrow from other coaches. He played for Hall of Fame coaches on the high school (Dan Buckley, LaSalle Academy in New York City) and college (Sutton) levels. In his junior season, Long's LaSalle team won the New York City championship.
"It was a great experience," Long said of his playing days. "I learned the game from some great coaches."
Long counts UK Coach John Calipari among those influences. Long and Calipari met at the famed 5-Star Camp as coaches.
"We just became friends," Long said.
When asked what clicked between the two, Long mentioned similar personalities. Pressed to elaborate, Long finally said, "We want to win, man."
Long noted Calipari's passion and generous spirit with fellow coaches.
"He's just a great guy," Long said. "A guy that embraced people. We shared ideas. I always say, he's a better person when you get to know him than he is a basketball coach, and he's a great basketball coach."
The younger Brian Long is the third son to play for his father. Eldest son Keith played for his father when the father achieved his 300th coaching victory. Then Keith became a walk-on at UNLV in the late 1990s.
Middle son Travis helped his father achieve victory 400. Then he played for Calipari at Memphis.
Brian was a player when his father's victory total reached 500.
The elder Long was philosophical about retiring after 32 years as a high school coach this spring.
"Coaching is like riding a motorcycle," he said. "The more you're in it, the more you're apt to fall off it."
On his weekly public radio commentary earlier this month, Frank Deford saluted Dick Wessels.
Wessels, a labor lawyer based in Geneva, Ill., had visited the college football stadiums at San Jose State and Fresno State on Aug. 4. In and of itself, no big deal.
Then Deford noted that the visits completed what Wessels calls a "56-year quest" to see every stadium used by a Division I team.
Wessels first saw a college football stadium on Nov. 13, 1954. He saw Purdue play visiting Ohio State and star Howard "Hopalong" Cassidy (ask your grandparents, kids).
By the mid-1990s, Wessels, who attended Knox College, became a booster of Northern Illinois. While on a trip with the Northern Illinois team, he had an epiphany.
"I thought, 'Man, I've been to a heck of a lot of stadiums,'" he said. "I realized, if I make a concerted effort, I can see all of them."
Wessels counts any stadium he sees. He does not have to see a game.
That's how he saw Commonwealth Stadium on March 11, 2006. While on a trip from Amelia Island to Chicago, he also saw the stadiums at Georgia Tech, Georgia and Clemson. (He saw Ohio U, Virginia and South Carolina on the Chicago-to-Amelia Island leg of the round trip.)
"I remember it very well," Wessels said of seeing Commonwealth Stadium. "That day was a rainy day. I think it was unlocked. A great, old stadium."
Wessels emailed a copy of the records he's kept on the quest. He saw the Astrodome in 1973 and saw Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in the battle-of-the-sexes tennis match.
He saw Louisville's old Cardinal Stadium in 1972, then saw Papa John's Stadium in 2007.
A 1982 trip to Auburn made an impression. "Memorable event at Auburn is twice seeing Charles Barkley as a freshman basketball player for Auburn, including a defeat of Kentucky," Wessels wrote.
He saw Hawaii's stadium on a 2003 vacation trip with his wife, Wendy. On a 1997 trip to Duke, Wessels spoke with Mike Krzyzewski while taking a look at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Wessels has been to several college basketball arenas, but has no interest in making it a "quest" to see them all.
He has been to every major-league baseball park and might try to see every minor league park.
It was during a minor league game between teams from Ogden, Utah, and Billings, Mont., that Wessels happened to strike up a conversation with Ogden-based psychiatrist David Carrington.
"Over a couple of beers, I explained my quest and my concern that it was becoming obsessive," Wessels wrote in a recent report on the quest. "Dr. Carrington asked me one question: 'At these stadiums, do you have to do things like cut up a piece of sod?'
"When I answered that I definitely did not, he gave me a clean bill of health."
Hard to please
The ebullient one, Dick Vitale, noted recently how hard to please college basketball fans can be.
Vitale ruffled UK fans when he made the Cats his No. 2 team going into the 2011-12 season (He picked North Carolina No. 1).
"If you don't pick Kentucky No. 1, they go bananas," Vitale said.
This recalled a time in the 1980s when Street & Smith picked Kentucky No. 2 in its pre-season poll. Editor Jim O'Brien said at the time that UK fans flooded his office with inquiries.
O'Brien said the UK fans wanted to know, "How can you pick us so low?!"
Fast forward to this late summer and Vitale annoyed North Carolina fans by picking Kentucky to beat the Tar Heels this coming season.
"They're playing in Rupp Arena (so) you've got to give the edge to Kentucky," Vitale said he told UNC fans.
The fans wanted Vitale to elaborate. That inspired a reference to UK Coach John Calipari.
"Very simple, my friends," he said. "Cal doesn't lose in Rupp."
Led by Mayor Jim Gray, groups from the Arena, Arts & Entertainment District Task Force visited Columbus, Ohio, and Indianapolis in August to see such districts in other cities.
After the trip to Indianapolis, Gray said, "What is so valuable about a trip like this is the people who are involved are actually able to, in a sense, kick the tires."
Gray now expects the question of whether to re-invent (the term the mayor prefers) Rupp Arena or build a new arena to enter a new phase soon.
Within the next week or so, Gray said he expected "all the pre-planning to start coalescing into a public dialogue."
Gray does not necessarily buy into the accepted wisdom that any renovation — or re-invention — of Rupp Arena would mean decreasing the seating capacity.
Noting that different engineers and designers can reach different conclusions, Gray said it was plausible that a plan for Lexington "may be one that says we can have our cake and eat it, too."
Issue taxes reader
The talk about UK basketball's future home court led reader Stephen Stinson to go all Grover Norquist in an email. Stinson strongly feels that taxpayers should not pay for any "re-invention" of Rupp Arena nor construction of a new arena.
"People that get free seats at Rupp seem to be all hot to get a replacement," he wrote. "Even a remodeling with luxury boxes will remove seats from taxpayer fans who, incidentally, paid for it.
"If any Lexington official votes to spend any taxpayer money to replace Rupp or remove seats, I will go door to door to assure that they become unemployed. That goes for any state legislator who supports taxpayer contribution for a replacement."
Stinson, 76, is retired. He said he had two undergraduate engineering degrees and a master's in business.
"I have lived/worked in all but four or five states," he wrote. "I live in Lexington by choice. I have no UK connection, (except) as a football (men's sport) fan."
Hopson to Greece
Kolossos Rhodes, a pro team in Greece, signed former Tennessee (and Hopkinsville native) Scotty Hopson to a contract, The Knoxville News-Sentinel reported last week.
"This deal gives me an opportunity to jump-start my career in a great place," Hopson told The News-Sentinel.
Tops in tweets
UK tweeted Friday that it was one of only five schools with 20,000 twitter followers.
Those five schools are Florida (28,390), Alabama (24,601), Oklahoma (23,442), UK (22,732) and Nebraska (20,144).
Friday marked what would have been the 110th birthday of Adolph Rupp.
"It's hard to believe," said son Herky Rupp, who found his own age of 71 a bit jarring. "It seems like he was just here yesterday."
The younger Rupp noted the blessing that comes with his father being such a public figure.
"We're fortunate," he said. "We have a lot of things we can look back on. Photographs. Tapes. We're lucky because we have those things to look back on and remember. ...
"He's still very much alive in our memory."
By the way, Thursday marked what would have been his parents' 80th wedding anniversary, Herky Rupp said.Happy birthday
To Jim Andrews, who was Adolph Rupp's last and Joe B. Hall's first starting UK center. He turned 60 on Thursday.
To former UK guard Bo Lanter. He turns 52 today.
To John Wall, freshman All-American in 2009-10. He turns 21 on Tuesday.
To Dale Brown, defensive stopper on the 1993 Final Four team. He turns 43 on Tuesday.
To Steve Masiello, a reserve in the Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith eras. He turned 34 on Friday.
To Nazr Mohammed, a contributor on three Final Four teams. He turns 34 on Monday.