Sidelines with John Clay

Big Blue Links: John Calipari honored at UMass; Ohio State holds off Northern Illinois

Former Massachusetts basketball coach John Calipari, center, flanked by UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswami, left, and Athletic Director Ryan Bamford, during a banner-raising ceremony honoring the former coach Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, at the Mullins Center at UMass in Amherst, Mass.
Former Massachusetts basketball coach John Calipari, center, flanked by UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswami, left, and Athletic Director Ryan Bamford, during a banner-raising ceremony honoring the former coach Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, at the Mullins Center at UMass in Amherst, Mass. The Daily Hamphsire Gazette/The Associated Press

Big Blue Links for Thursday:

▪ ”That glimmer of hope — or at least of the glory days — arrived in the person of recent Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee John Calipari, who 20 years ago coached UMass to its greatest hardcourt achievement, the program’s only appearance in an NCAA Final Four. The 56-year-old Kentucky coach was honored at halftime of the Minutemen’s 103-95 overtime win over New Orleans before a meager crowd of 4,273 that made its most noise while the teams were in their locker rooms at intermission,” reports Jeff Wagenheim of the Boston Globe.

▪ Ohio State beat Northern Illinois 67-54 behind Jae'Sean Tate, who lead the Buckeyes (5-5) with 17 points and 10 rebounds, his second career double-double, reports Bill Landis of Cleveland.com.

▪ On Skal Labissiere: “That the real estate is yours … ,” Len Elmore, All-American at Maryland in the 1970s, told Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader about the basket area. “One thing (Labissiere) needs is to get that take-no-prisoners type of attitude down low. Obviously, as slender as he is, it’s a hard thing to enforce. It’s still a mental state.”

▪  Tai Wynard jets off to Kentucky. The 17-year-old, out of Auckland, New Zealand, has been a member of the NBL’s NZ Breakers for the past two seasons, and will join the famed Kentucky Wildcats — the No 4 ranked team in college basketball — who are currently sitting on an impressive 9-1 record, reports Fox Sports.

▪ “Now approximately one-third of the way through the 2015-16 regular season, head coach John Calipari is still searching for who will round out his rotation. He doesn’t have a set number in mind, but he certainly would like more consistency off the bench after his top six players,” writes Metz Camfield of CoachCal.com.

▪ UK football coach Mark Stoops says, “We’re fortunate to have some impact players in state and some very close,” said Stoops, who cannot comment directly on individual players until signing day in February. “That’s very nice to have that.” Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader has the story.

▪ Junior-college offensive tackle Tate Leavitt announced Wednesday morning that he has officially signed with the Kentucky Wildcats, and Coach Mark Stoops commented on the addition later in the day, reports Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader.

▪ Former University of Kentucky hurdler Kendra Harrison is one of three finalists for the Bowerman Award, which will be presented during a ceremony in San Antonio on Thursday night, reports the Herald-Leader.

▪ Louisville tested a 2-3 zone in its easy win over Kennesaw State, reports Jeff Greer of the Courier-Journal.

▪ ”The game is nine minutes old and the visitors have made one shot. The Louisville Cardinals lead Kennesaw State, 17-3, and Rick Pitino is pacing the sideline like an expectant father trying to hitch a ride to the hospital,” writes Tim Sullivan of the Courier-Journal.

▪ ”A Kansas City area lawmaker has withdrawn his bill requiring Missouri’s colleges to revoke scholarships for athletes who boycott games. Missouri Rep. Rick Brattin, a Harrisonville Republican, withdrew the proposal Wednesday, less than a week after offering the measure. Word of his bill prompted a sharp debate across the state and nation on the free-speech rights of college athletes,” reports Dave Helling of the Kansas City Star.

▪ Craig Victor, transfer from Arizona, made an impact in LSU’s win over Gardner-Webb, reports Sheldon Mickles of The Advocate.

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