Sidelines with John Clay

Meet the head coaches of Kentucky basketball’s 2016-17 non-conference opponents

Steve Alford’s UCLA Bruins knocked off Kentucky last season in Los Angeles. UCLA visits Rupp Arena on Dec. 3, 2016.
Steve Alford’s UCLA Bruins knocked off Kentucky last season in Los Angeles. UCLA visits Rupp Arena on Dec. 3, 2016. Associated Press

In a slow rollout that took most of Monday, UK announced through Twitter its men’s basketball non-conference schedule for 2016.

It might be too early for scouting reports on each team, but here’s a look at the coaches of the 13 teams Kentucky will play outside the Southeastern Conference.

Kyle Keller, Stephen F. Austin: The giant-killing Lumberjacks came within a basket of reaching the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 last season, upsetting West Virginia in the first round before falling 76-75 to Notre Dame. Not surprisingly, head coach Brad Underwood soon found himself with a new job, replacing Travis Ford at Oklahoma State. Keller, a former Texas A&M assistant, has big shoes to fill. Stephen F. Austin went 89-13 over the last three years and lost five seniors off the team that went 28-6 last year, including a perfect 18-0 record in the Southland Conference. A Dallas native, Keller spent the last five seasons under Billy Kennedy in College Station.

Reggie Witherspoon, Canisus: The ex-Buffalo coach replaces Jim Baron, who retired at the end of last season. Baron went 73-59 in four seasons as the Canisus coach, including 14-18 last season. Witherspoon went 197-22t at Buffalo and was fired after going 14-20 in 2012-13. The four years before that, however, Witherspoon’s teams were 78-46. He was replaced at Buffalo by another coach who faces Kentucky this year - Arizona State’s Bobby Hurley.

Tom Izzo, Michigan State: The newest member of the Naismith Hall of Fame in Springfield, Izzo is 524-205 in 21 years as the Michigan State coach. His teams have reached the Final Four seven times (1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2015) with a national title in 2000. The Spartans went 29-6 last season, but fell to Middle Tennessee 90-81 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Izzo is 5-2 vs Kentucky, including a 78-74 win over the Cats in the 2013 Champions Classic.

Jim Ferry, Duquense: The 49-year-old Ferry is in his fifth year as the Duquense coach. His teams have gone 50-75, but improved to 17-17 last season, including a loss to Morehead State in the quarterfinals of the CBI Classic. Ferry was 82-11 in three years at Adelphi before continuing on to Long Island, where he was 150-149 in eight seasons.

Gary Waters, Cleveland State: The 64-year-old Waters broke on the scene in the 2001 NCAA Tournament when his Kent State team upset Indiana 77-73 to reach the second round. After going 92-60 in four years at Kent, Waters moved on to Rutgers, where he was 79-75 over five seasons. He moved to Cleveland State in 2006-07 and has gone 185-150 there with an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2009. The Vikings slipped to 9-23 overall and 4-14 in the conference last season. His Cleveland State team lost 73-49 to UK in 2009-10.

Anthony Stewart, UT-Martin: Stewart was named head coach when Heath Schroyer resigned to join Mark Gottfried’s staff at North Carolina State. Schroyer went 41-28 in two seasons at Martin. A former assistant at Ohio U., Stewart was the associate head coach at UT-Martin.

Bobby Hurley, Arizona State: The former Duke guard had a rough go in his first year in Tempe. The Sun Devils went just 15-17 overall and were 5-13 in the Pac-12. Before that, Hurley was 42-20 in two years at Buffalo, including an NCAA Tournament bid in 2015. Hurley expects ASU to be better in 2016-17 with the help of junior guard Torian Graham, a transfer who sat out last season, was suspended in January but has been re-instated to the team. Hurley is 0-2 versus UK, losing 71-52 at Buffalo in 2014-15 and 72-58 at Arizona State last year.

Steve Alford, UCLA: The Bruins’ win over Kentucky last December was pretty much the highlight of the season in Westwood. Alford’s club was just 15-17 overall and 6-12 in the Pac-12. The coach even took back a contract extension. That brought Alford’s record to 64-37 in his three years in Los Angeles. Before that, he was 78-48 in four years at Southwest Missouri State; 152-106 in eight years at Iowa and 155-52 in six years at New Mexico. In all, Alford’s teams have reached the NCAA Tournament nine times. He is 2-2 versus Kentucky as a coach -- 1-1 at Iowa and 1-1 at UCLA.

Joe Mihalich, Hofstra: The veteran coach has gone 54-47 in three years as the Hofstra coach. Before that, he was 264-203 in 15 years at Niagara. His teams there reached the NCAA Tournament twice. The ex-LaSalle guard began his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater for 17 years under Dave Ervin and Speedy Morris.

Matt Lottich, Valparaiso: An assistant at Valpo the last three years, Lottich succeeded Bryce Drew, who is the new head coach at Vanderbilt. Drew went 124-49 in five seasons as the Crusaders coach. Valpo went 30-7 overall and 16-2 in the Horizon League, but lost 99-95 in overtime to Green Bay in the conference tournament. Valpo reached the NIT final before losing 76-60 to George Washington.

Roy Williams, North Carolina: The Hall of Fame (2007) coach will start his 14th season in Chapel Hill this October. Williams has gone 365-108 in his 13 years as the North Carolina coach, including national tiles in 2005 and 2009. Before returning to his alma mater, Williams was 418-101 in 15 seasons at Kansas. He’s 8-8 versus Kentucky, including three wins in the last four meetings.

Rick Pitino, Louisville: Kentucky fans know all about their former coach. To review, Pitino was 91-51 in four years at Boston University; 42-23 plus a Final Four in two seasons at Providence; 219-50, plus a national title in 2006, at Kentucky. The NCAA is still investigating U of L’s so-called “Stripper Scandal,” but Pitino will enter his 16th season as the Cardinals coach. His U of L teams have gone 391-132, including a national title in 2013. Pitino is 5-12 against Kentucky, but has lost his last four games against John Calipari.

Bill Self, Kansas: The 55-year-old Self is surely headed to the Hall of Fame. His teams have gone 385-83 in 13 years at Kansas, including a title in 2008 when the Jayhawks beat John Calipari and Memphis. Self started out at Oral Roberts, where his team went 55-54 in four years. He was 74-27 in three years at Tulsa before going 78-24 in three years at Illinois. Self is 4-4 against Kentucky, including the 90-84 overtime win over UK in last season’s SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Before that, Self had lost three straight to the Cats, including the 67-59 loss in the 2012 national title game.


(Home games in capital letters)

Oct. 14: BIG BLUE MADNESS (SEC Network)


Oct. 30: a-CLARION, 7 p.m. (SEC Network)

Nov. 6: a-ASBURY, 7 p.m. (SEC Network)


Nov. 13: b-CANISIUS

Nov. 15: c-Michigan State

Nov. 20: b-DUQUESNE



Nov. 28: d-Arizona State

Dec. 3: UCLA


Dec. 11: e-Hofstra

Dec. 17: f-North Carolina

Dec. 21: at Louisville

Jan. 28: g-KANSAS

a-Exhibition; b-Bluegrass Showcase; c-Champions Classic (Madison Square Garden in New York); d-Atlantis Showcase (Atlantis Resort in Nassau, Bahamas); e-Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival (Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.); f-CBS Sports Classic (T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas); g-SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

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