Sidelines with John Clay

Big Blue Links: Washington women’s basketball celebrating before trip to Kentucky

Washington forward Talia Walton (3) reacts after hitting a three-pointer in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Maryland in the second round of the NCAA tournament, Monday, March 21, 2016, in College Park, Md. Walton contributed 20 points to Washington's 74-65 win.
Washington forward Talia Walton (3) reacts after hitting a three-pointer in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Maryland in the second round of the NCAA tournament, Monday, March 21, 2016, in College Park, Md. Walton contributed 20 points to Washington's 74-65 win. The Associated Press

Big Blue Links for Wednesday:

Washington women soaking in good vibes before UK game, reports Larry Stone of the Seattle Times. “They could have flown directly from the Washington, D.C., area to Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, and started preparation for their Sweet 16 showdown on Friday with much less hassle. And much more rest. That would have been the logistically logical thing for the Washington women’s basketball team to do, anyway. But coach Mike Neighbors wanted his players to savor their stunning upset of Maryland with their own people in Seattle, to reap all the psychic rewards of a victory that turned all eyes on their program.”

UK wants quarterbacks to be comfortable at being uncomfortable, says my column. “How are they doing? Too early to tell. Hinshaw said all five are at the same learning level. Barker and Johnson are getting the most reps. Johnson has gained 18 pounds. He’s at 187 after arriving at 169. Considering he enrolled early, Hoak has done well. Hinshaw bragged on Mattingly’s Tuesday practice.”

Mark Stoops was pleased with his team’s return from spring break, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader. “I was impressed with practice being that we had the long layoff with spring break, so kind of figured it would be a little slow, a little sluggish, need to prod them a little bit, but they came in with a good attitude. Had a good practice, were sloppy from time to time as you could expect from having that many days off with spring break, but they really have been consistent in their approach to practice and I’ve been impressed with that.”

UK recruiting news and headlines at Next Cats

Devin Hairston is happy he landed with Louisville, reports Megan O’Brien of the Herald-Leader. “I wanted to play basketball at UK when I was about 8 years old,” Hairston said with a smile. “I stopped growing when I was in seventh grade, and everyone else got taller so I knew I had to make a switch and play baseball. I would go to the basketball games at Rupp after baseball practice. A lot of stuff that I did growing up centered around UK athletics.”

UK’s Meagan Prince pitches third no-hitter, reports Herald-Leader. “Junior lefty Meagan Prince became the first player in Kentucky softball history to throw three no-hitters in one season when she pitched a 9-0 gem against Northern Kentucky at John Cropp Stadium on Tuesday. Prince, who no-hit South Dakota on Feb. 20 and Winthrop on March 5, did not walk a batter and struck out three in the five-inning game.”

Remembering these Cats is complicated, writes Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal. “John Calipari’s first six teams at Kentucky are easily packaged and labeled for rapid recollection. His 2009-10 squad got the party started with John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and NBA draft history. Then Brandon Knight’s leadership and Josh Harrellson’s jean shorts turned the 2010-11 squad into Final Four party crashers.”

Louisville parts ways with 2016 signee, reports Jeff Greer of the Courier-Journal. “Louisville basketball and 2016 signee Frankie Hughes have agreed to part ways, Rick Pitino confirmed Tuesday afternoon. Hughes, a 6-foot-3 shooter from the Cleveland area, signed with Louisville in November, but the school agreed to let him out of his letter of intent and pursue other opportunities.”

Pitino blogs he’s glued to the tournament, reports Eric Crawford of WDRB. “Pitino said he got ‘completely immersed in every game, with the exception of Indiana vs. Kentucky. I attended the Pacers-Thunder game (coached by Billy Donovan) at the same time.’”

Baseball Cats ready for Florida after beating Morehead, reports Chris Angolia of Kentucky Kernel. “UK Baseball won its third straight game Tuesday, picking up a 10-5 victory over the Morehead State Eagles. The Cats jumped on the Eagles early, plating four runs in the first inning. Riley Mahan, Luke Becker and Zach Reks each picked up RBI in the inning.”

Florida hangs on to beat Florida Atlantic, reports Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun. “The Gators managed only four hits, but six pitchers stifled No. 19 Florida Atlantic as No. 1 Florida won 2-1. In front of a crowd of 3,792, Florida won its school-record tying 24th straight home game in improving its record to 22-1. FAU dropped to 15-4.”

ACC is 12-1 in NCAA Tournament play, reports Aaron Beard of the AP. “Atlantic Coast Conference teams aren't taking anyone lightly in the NCAA Tournament because of their status as Power 5 schools. Maybe that's why they're rolling along with a record number of teams in the Sweet 16. The ACC went 12-1 in the tournament's opening weekend and put an NCAA-record six teams in the regional semifinals: No. 1 seeds North Carolina and Virginia, No. 3 seed Miami, No. 4 seed Duke, No. 6 seed Notre Dame and No. 10 seed Syracuse.”

Indiana’s Robert Johnson iffy for North Carolina, reports Zach Osterman of the Indianapolis Star. “Whether Indiana’s backcourt can reach full strength in time for Friday’s Sweet 16 game against North Carolina is questionable, according to coach Tom Crean. Sophomore guard Robert Johnson’s high ankle sprain, which caused him to miss four games and then drove him out of last weekend’s round-of-32 win over Kentucky, has left him a game-time decision.”

Kansas guard has strong band with cancer survivor, reports Jesse Newell of Kansas City Star. “Look closely during warmups Thursday, and you will notice only one Kansas player goes through shoot-arounds wearing wristbands. On Wayne Selden’s right wrist is a white-and-pink band, a reminder to be strong — and of a friend he’s kept close for the last three years.”

North Carolina’s defense might not tell whole story, reports Andrew Carter of the Charlotte Observer. “On paper, at least, it looks like a clear mismatch, perhaps the one of greatest concern for North Carolina entering its game against Indiana on Friday in an NCAA tournament East Region semifinal. The Hoosiers are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country, and they make 41.6 percent of their attempts. The Tar Heels, meanwhile, rank in the 200s nationally in 3-point field-goal percentage defense, and opponents have made more than 35 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc against UNC.”

NCAA TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

Thursday

  • 7:10 - South: Miami vs. Villanova (CBS)
  • 7:37 - West: Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma (TBS)
  • 9:40 - South: Maryland vs. Kansas (CBS)
  • 10:07 - West: Duke vs. Oregon (TBS)

Friday

  • 7:10 - Midwest: Iowa State vs. Virginia (CBS)
  • 7:27 - East: Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame (TBS)
  • 9:40 - Midwest: Gonzaga vs. Syracuse (CBS)
  • 9:57 - East: Indiana vs. North Carolina (TBS)
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