Mark Story

Allen Edwards, Mark Pope are leading the pack among ex-Cats turned college coaches

Utah Valley Coach Mark Pope, the former Kentucky center, has the Wolverines off to a 12-5 start.
Utah Valley Coach Mark Pope, the former Kentucky center, has the Wolverines off to a 12-5 start. AP

Fast-break points from the post-Golden Globes Oprah presidential boomlet:

21. Ex-Cats as college head coaches. For the second-straight year, there are five former Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball players serving as NCAA Division I head coaches.

20. Allen Edwards. In his second season as Wyoming head coach, the ex-UK swingman has the Cowboys 11-5 overall and 2-1 in the Mountain West Conference, with a Pomeroy Rating of No. 106 in the country.

19. Wyoming’s most impressive result. Came last Saturday, when the Cowboys rallied from 16 points down at halftime to beat Boise State 79-78 in overtime.

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Ex-Kentucky swingman Allen Edwards has Wyoming off to an 11-5 start, 2-1 in the Mountain West Conference, in his second season as Cowboys’ head coach. Alan Rogers Associated Press

18. Mark Pope. After going 29-35 combined in his first two seasons as Utah Valley head coach, the ex-UK center has the Wolverines off to a 12-5 start,1-0 in the Western Athletic Conference, with a Pomeroy Rating of 116.

17. Utah Valley’s most impressive result. It was leading Kentucky 34-25 at halftime in Rupp Arena in the season opener — before Pope’s alma mater rallied to beat his current team 73-63.

16. Travis Ford. In his second year as Saint Louis head man, Ford has directed the Billikens to an 8-8 start, 1-2 in the Atlantic 10 Conference, with a Pomeroy Rating of 182.

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Former Kentucky point guard Travis Ford has coached Saint Louis to an 8-8 start that includes a 77-71 upset of Virginia Tech of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Saint Louis University Athletics

15. Saint Louis’ most impressive result. In the third game of the season, Saint Louis stunned Virginia Tech — a veteran ACC team that was in the NCAA Tournament last year — with a 77-71 upset.

14. Steve Masiello. After coaching Manhattan to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2014 and ’15, the going has been tougher for the ex-UK ‘human victory cigar.’ Since the two NCAA tourney trips, Masiello and Manhattan are 30-49.

This year, the one-time Kentucky walk-on guard has the Jaspers at 7-9, 2-2 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, with a Pomeroy Rating of 217.

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Former Kentucky guard Steve Masiello coached Manhattan to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments in 2014 and 2015, but the Jaspers are a combined 30-49 since, including 7-9 this season. Lexington Herald-Leader file photo

13. Manhattan’s most impressive result. Pulled out a 63-61 win over Hofstra, which is currently 9-7, on Dec. 20.

12. Scott Padgett. In his fourth season as Samford head coach, the ex-UK power forward has the Bulldogs at 6-10, 2-1 in the Southern Conference, with a Pomeroy Rating of 259. Three of Samford’s losses are to Power 5 conference foes Arkansas, LSU and Clemson.

11. Samford’s most impressive result. With 18 seconds left in the game, Padgett and Samford had a 64-60 lead over Tubby Smith and Memphis. However, Tubby’s Tigers scored five straight points in the final 18 seconds to pull out a 65-64 win and deny Padgett a defining victory over his former UK head coach.

10. Kentucky proud. The top three-ranked Kentucky men’s basketball teams in the NAIA’s Mid-South Conference are a combined 47-0 to start this season.

9. Georgetown. Coach Chris Briggs’ Tigers are 16-0 and ranked No. 1 in the NAIA after rallying past Campbellsville on Saturday by ending the game on a 17-4 run in a 97-93 road victory.

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Coach Chris Briggs, right, has led the Georgetown Tigers to the top seed in the NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament that starts in Kansas City next week. Matt Goins

8. Pikeville. Coach Kelly Wells’ Bears are also 16-0 and ranked No. 6 in the NAIA after opening Mid-South play with an 88-84 win over Shawnee State on Saturday.

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University of Pikeville Coach Kelly Wells has the Bears off to a 16-0 start and ranked number six in the country in the NAIA Division I men’s basketball poll. Lexington Herald-Leader file photo

7. Lindsey Wilson. Coach Paul Peck’s Blue Raiders are 15-0 and ranked No. 8 in the NAIA after holding off Cumberland (Tenn.) 67-65 on Saturday.

6. Not unbeaten, but no slouches. No. 15 Campbellsville (15-2) and No. 24 Cumberlands (13-2) are also off to stellar starts in 2017-18, so this shapes up as a wonderfully interesting season in Kentucky small-college hoops.

5. The eyes of the women’s college basketball world. Will be on Louisville on Thursday night when Jeff Walz and the No. 3 ranked Cardinals (18-0, 4-0 ACC) face No. 2 Notre Dame (15-1, 4-0).

4. Wes Strader. Think a good thought for the long-time former Western Kentucky Hilltoppers radio play-by-play announcer (1964-2000), “the Cawood Ledford of Western,” whose health has taken a turn for the worse.

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Wes Strader, right, was radio play-by-play voice of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers from 1964 through 2000. A University of Kentucky graduate, Strader hosted a syndicated post-game radio call-in show after UK football and men’s basketball games from 2001 through 2008. His partner on the show for most of those years was former Kentucky basketball All-American Kenny Walker, left. Robert Hall

3. UK ties. For all his identification with Western, Strader is a University of Kentucky graduate. He hosted a syndicated radio talk show that followed UK football and men’s basketball game broadcasts from 2001 through 2008 on several stations around the state.

2. Tom Dowling. Condolences to the family of Dowling. The former head football coach at Georgetown College (1973-76) and the University of the Cumberlands (1985-95) and ex-Mid-South Conference Commissioner (1995-2002) passed away Sunday after a battle with cancer.

1. Bobby Brockman. Best wishes to the family of the long-time sports editor of the Central Kentucky News-Journal in Campbellsville, who passed away in his sleep early Sunday morning at age 61.

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