Men's Basketball

UK basketball notebook: Ex-Cat Krebs scripting Hollywood capper to UK career

Kentucky basketball player Mark Krebs spoke to reporters during a media opportunity at the Joe Craft Center at The University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009.  Pablo Alcala | Staff
Kentucky basketball player Mark Krebs spoke to reporters during a media opportunity at the Joe Craft Center at The University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009. Pablo Alcala | Staff HERALD-LEADER

Three years after completing his Kentucky career, Mark Krebs is an aspiring screen writer who's currently working on three scripts: An action thriller, an action comedy and a television drama he likened to a "Friday Night Lights of college basketball."

Of course, his still young life (he turns 27 on Oct. 10) already includes plenty of scene-chewing fodder. Abandoning a scholarship at Thomas More College. Playing as a walk-on for three distinctive UK coaches: the familial Tubby Smith, the mercurial Billy Gillispie and the just-like-any-other-coach-only-more-so John Calipari.

Heart-tugging poignancy came in June following Krebs' senior season when his mother, Terri, died at age 49 after a nine-year battle with breast cancer.

Krebs always liked to write. What attracted him was "how the art of it is formed," he said. "How the stories are formed."

Of course, Bob Knight once famously put down sportswriters by saying, "All of us learn to write in the second grade. Most of us go on to greater things."

Krebs noted the difference between writing in terms of mastering sentence structure as opposed to the power to transport readers to another level of understanding. He dismissed Knight's view of writing as "a juvenile way to think."

Krebs' interest in writing became known publicly with a book about his family dealing with Terri's illness. A book tour to promote Beyond a Dream led to a part in the movie Thunderstruck, which led to speaking with a writer/director who encouraged him to try writing a script.

"He said, basically, if you can write a book, you can write a script," Krebs said.

The friend gave him one of his scripts to read and familiarize himself with the form.

"Reading, reading, reading," Krebs said of his preparation to write scripts. "Everybody else thought I was trying to act. I want to do it all: writing, produce, act."

Writing a book about his mother's death gave Krebs confidence in being able to formulate a story from start to finish, how to create a plot and move it to conclusion.

"I have ideas just like anyone else," he said. "It's just now I have the confidence that I can get on my computer and just write all these what-ifs and turn them into works of art."

Krebs is scheduled to pitch his scripts at a Hollywood meeting next month. As Woody Allen wryly noted in the movie Annie Hall, such meetings are where someone might have "just a notion, but with a bit of backing ... turn it into a concept, and then an idea."

Krebs faces stiff competition. A spokesman for the Writers Guild of America, West, said that more than 70,000 proposed writing projects are filed with the agency each year. Only a relative handful become movies or TV shows.

"There's a Catch-22," Krebs said. "In order to get someone to believe in your work, you have to have a history. They have to trust you. You have to make something before they'll believe you can make something."

For Krebs, the aptly titled Beyond a Dream is the potential entry into screen writing.

"I have a lot of cool ideas in my head," he said. "If I don't write them, no one will."

Cal, Rick and (BS)

During a 40-minute talk at the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches on Friday, John Calipari said:

■ UK will play more of the dribble-drive style. "I've got some beasts on this team. ... The better the players, the more space you give them."

Freshman Dakari Johnson will push sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein. "Dakari Johnson is better than I thought. Willie better step on the gas."

Sophomore Alex Poythress has improved. "Alex is so much better. Head up all the time. Body language better."

Freshman Dominique Hawkins' hustle gives Andrew and Aaron Harrison a challenge. "Dominique is first in everything he does (pause) but those twins are really good."

Rival recruiters claim they can give players Kentucky-like exposure. "We get more exposure than the Lakers. I don't know what they're talking about."

"My tombstone will not have my record on it. ... I will not coach till I'm 70." He is 54.

He was fired as an NBA coach. "Rick (Pitino) also got fired. Don't let him (BS) you."

Star power

A story and editorial that appeared in the Herald-Leader last weekend identified Richie Farmer as a former UK basketball "star." This reference — which gives added heft to the fall-from-grace storyline of a former basketball hero now facing a prison sentence — prompted a bit of reflection.

What constitutes a basketball star? Is it purely production on the court? The more points, rebounds, assists or blocks, the brighter the star power?

By that measure, Farmer does not qualify as a star for UK. At that time, Jamal Mashburn was the Kentucky star with teammates like moons reflecting his light.

Although his high school career was incandescent, Farmer made 41.5 percent of his shots and averaged 7.6 points for UK. Both are the most modest career numbers posted by any of the four "Unforgettables" (Sean Woods, Deron Feldhaus, John Pelphrey and Farmer). Among that foursome, Farmer also had the lowest career average of minutes (17.4), starts (27) and assists (184).

At the time, UK described Farmer's contributions in less-than-stellar terms. The 1992-93 media guide recalled him as a "popular player who worked his way into the starting lineup and started the last 18 games (of his senior season of 1991-92)."

But when celebrity is weighed into the consideration for a star label, then Farmer was luminous. Many UK fans considered him an enduring one-of-us icon, He first was an irresistible David-versus-Goliath figure for Clay County High. Forever after, like Pele, Madonna, LeBron and a few other figures, he could be identified with one name: Richie.

A story by The Associated Press reported that "a once-beloved University of Kentucky basketball star" pleaded guilty to two counts of misappropriating government resources while overseeing the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Farmer faces a sentence of up 27 months in prison and payment of $120,500 in restitution.

While "once-beloved UK basketball player" seems an ahhh-just-right description of Farmer at UK, his star power is impossible to deny.

'The Freak'

In describing Julius Randle, Kenny Walker referred to Jevon Kearse. This was one unusually gifted player appraising another by referencing a third.

For those who don't recall, Kearse starred for the University of Florida's football team in the 1990s. He was the Jadeveon Clowney of his time.

Kearse's nickname described his athletic presence: "The Freak."

Kearse, who turned 37 on Sept. 3, is now retired after an 11-year career in the NFL. In his prime, he stood 6-4, weighed 265 pounds and reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds,

Only three years into retirement, Kearse's story has taken on the feel of a cautionary tale. Reportedly, he is facing foreclosure on his Pompano Beach, Fla., home, a 6,064-square-foot oceanside dwelling he bought in 2004 for $6.05 million.

In making the comparison to Kearse, Walker was noting how Randle is blessed with eye-catching athleticism and talent. Apparently, it's unmistakable.

On second thought

In describing how athletic participation complicates academic pursuits, former UK walk-on Dick Bass said last week that Adolph Rupp did not allow players to bring books on road trips in the 1971-72 season.

This prompted more than a few players of that era to say that wasn't true.

"There was nothing like that," said Bob Guyette, perhaps the quintessential student-athlete in UK basketball at the time. Now an oral surgeon in Arizona, he caught his teammates' eyes as a studious person as well as a productive player. That applied on the road as well as at home.

"They wanted us to do well," Guyette said of Rupp and the assistant coaches. "They wanted us to go to class. They made an effort to make sure we all went to class."

Not that it was easy balancing athletic and academic pursuits. Guyette called playing basketball for UK while taking such subjects as chemistry and biology "the hardest thing I ever did."

Bass originally noted that difficult chore. Upon reflection, he said he had been wrong to also say that Rupp did not allow players to take books on road trips.

"I obviously did not remember things correctly," he wrote in an email message last week. "Too many people I respect and who were closer to the situation than I disagree. I stand corrected and apologize for the confusion I caused. I did not intend to imply in any way the coaching staff hindered academic achievement."

Need opponents

When he became Texas Tech coach, Tubby Smith retained former UK player Derrick Jasper as the assistant video coordinator.

Jasper, who transferred to UNLV after an ill-fated season playing for Billy Gillispie, had been on Billy G's staff at Tech. He was the contact person on the website Basketball Travelers Inc. Tech is looking for an opponent in a so-called guarantee game in the 2014-15 season.

By the way, the same website notes that Kentucky and Grand Canyon are looking for three teams to be part of a so-called "Multiple Team Event" in November, 2014. If interested, contact DeWayne Peevy.

Happy birthday

To Dakari Johnson. He turns 18 Sunday. ... To Derrick Hord. He turned 53 on Thursday. ... To Rodrick Rhodes. He turns 40 on Tuesday. ... To Jared Carter. He turned 27 on Friday. ... To Adam Williams. He turned 28 on Thursday. ... To Jack Givens. He turned 57 on Saturday. ... To Matt Heissenbuttel. He turns 32 on Tuesday. ... To Cliff Berger. He turns 67 on Wednesday. ... To Tennessee Coach Cuonzo Martin. He turns 42 on Monday.