UK-U of L game next season will be Dec. 27

No matter the final score of next season’s Kentucky-Louisville game, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will win. A portion of proceeds from the UK-U of L game will go to the Hall, the schools announced Monday.

Next season’s game, which will be played Dec. 27 in Louisville’s Yum Center, will be dubbed the Basketball Hall of Fame Shootout.

Kentucky leads the series with Louisville 32-15. UK beat Louisville twice last season, the second time coming in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

The tip-off time for next season’s UK-U of L game is to be announced at a later date.

John L. Doleva, president and CEO of the hall of fame, cited the quality of the UK-U of L basketball rivalry.

“It’s an honor to be a part of this event, and we are thankful for the continued support,” he said in a news release.

The donation  to the Hall of Fame by Louisville is not unprecedented.  U of L made a similar donation from a game against Memphis in 2011.

U of L spokesman Kenny Klein said the game against Kentucky next season was selected “because among our non-conference home games that were not already identified for other purposes, it was the most high-profile.”

U of L will manage the Basketball Hall of Fame Shootout as a regular-season home game, with tickets included in the Cardinals’ season ticket package.

The significant contribution from this game will help the Basketball Hall of Fame in its efforts to preserve and promote basketball at all levels, UK and U of L announced in a joint statement.  The Hall of Fame is in Springfield, Mass.

UK: Trip to Bahamas will be Aug. 10-17

Kentucky announced Friday the dates for its exhibition games in the Bahamas: Aug. 10-17. UK will play teams from the Dominican Republic, France and Puerto Rico.

UK will play the Dominican Republic national team, the Puerto Rico national team reserves and a pro team from France, Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket, twice each during the trip to the Bahamas. The games will be played in Nassau’s 2,500-seat Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium, which was renovated earlier this year.

NCAA rules allow for a foreign tour by an intercollegiate team once every four academic years. Kentucky has dubbed this trip the “Big Blue Bahamas tour.”

Kentucky will play its first game on Aug. 10 against the Puerto Rico reserves at 5 pm ET. The next day, UK will face Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket at 1 pm ET. Tuesday, August 12, Kentucky will play the Puerto Rico reserves for the second time at 1 pm ET.

After a day off on Wednesday, August 13, Kentucky will face the Dominican Republic on August 14 at 5 pm ET. The second game against Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket will be played either August 15 or 16 (date to be determined) at 1 pm ET. Kentucky will finish the tour on Sunday, August 17against the Dominican Republic at Noon ET.

“We are excited to make the trip to the Bahamas for our foreign tour,”  UK Coach John Calipari said in a statement. “ . . . My goal is for our team to grow together, to learn about one another, to have fun and to compete against teams that will stretch us out. These teams should be a challenge that will let us really see where we are at this point. But again, learning and having fun will be the emphasis of the trip. It’s another opportunity for us to fail fast.”

UK released information about how fans can sign up for travel packages. More information is available at ukfantravel.com. To book travel packages, please call 1-855-UKBBALL (1-855-852-2255). Only those who book through the Big Blue Bahamas tour travel company will have access to tickets, UK said.

Hawkins’ advice to incoming UK frosh: Be patient with Cal

When asked what advice he’d give incoming freshmen, Kentucky guard Dominique Hawkins noted Coach John Calipari’s volatility.

“I would say get ready for anything Coach Cal is going to say against you,” Hawkins said at a news conference Thursday. “Just be patient with Coach Cal. You never know what’s going to happen.”

UK called the news conference so Hawkins could talk about a recent trip to China he took as part of a team tour sponsored by Sports Reach.

Hawkins noted how he tried to play more aggressively, which he suggested was something that could please Calipari.

“Anytime I was open, I ended up shooting the ball,” he said. “That’s definitely what the fans want me to do, and it’s what Coach Cal wants me to do. I was way more aggressive on the offensive side. . . .”

Hawkins said he hoped to play a more aggressive style next season as a sophomore.

“Oh definitely,” he said. “I know what I’m capable of doing offensively, and everybody who watched me in high school knows I’m capable of scoring the ball really well.”

Hawkins, who was named Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball as a senior for Madison Central High, said he surprised himself as a UK freshman by playing as well as he did on defense. He only averaged 0.8 points, making 29 percent of his shots (nine of 31), just two of 16 three-point attempts (12.5 percent) and five of 13 free throws (38.5 percent).

“I know my offense will click in for me this year,” he said. “I’m pretty confident about that.”

 

Hawkins: Reaction to twins returning/less PT was relief

With words and body language, Dominique Hawkins expressed his delight that twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison decided to return as sophomores to Kentucky’s basketball team.

“My reaction was, I was like, Yes!,” Hawkins said Thursday as he raised both hands into the air. “Because I felt like with them coming back, it takes pressure off me because I feel if they were not coming back, I’d have to play lots of minutes.”

Hawkins, who spoke to reporters at a news conference arranged by UK, acknowledged that the twins’ return meant the possibility of less playing time for himself.

“I want to play a lot of minutes .  .  . ,” Hawkins said, “but it takes pressure off me, like, where I can just come in and play relaxed.”

Hawkins called the Harrisons “good teammates” and noted how their return reflected the “brotherhood” among Kentucky players.

“I feel we have a special team,” Hawkins said of UK’s 2014-15 team. “And we’re just trying to be able to do something that we weren’t able to finish up last year.”

Kentucky lost to Connecticut in the NCAA Tournament championship game. Most of the contributing players were talked about as like entrants into this year’s NBA Draft, which will be June 26. But as it turned out, only Julius Randle and James Young entered the draft.

Other players like Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee and the Harrison twins chose to return to UK next season.

“Willie surprised me the most,” Hawkins said of the returnees. “Because everybody was telling me he was a lotttery pick. People say lottery picks should definitely leave.”

UK takes philosphical approach to loss to U of L

A.J. Reed trying to hit against Louisville’s defensive shift illustrated the frustrating night Kentucky experienced Sunday.

Leading off the sixth inning, Reed lined a laser into right field. One problem: In U of L’s shift, second baseman Zach Lucas was stationed about 10 yards into right field. The ball went right to him.

With a runner on first in the eighth inning, Reed hit a hard ground ball seemingly headed up the middle and into center field. Instead, U of L turned the unusual short-to-third-to-first double play with the third baseman turning the double play at second.

“We hit a lot of balls hard,” Reed said. “Just didn’t find any holes. That’s how our game goes sometime. Keep grinding it out. Tonight we couldn’t find the hits when we needed them.”

U of L Coach Dan McDonnell said if without the shift, Reed would have had three hits. Instead, Reed went O-for-4 in his final UK game.

UK Coach Gary Henderson saluted his team’s resolve.  Although three U of L runs in the seventh inning built a 4-0 lead, Kentucky answered with a run in the bottom of the inning and might have had more.  U of L center fielder Cole Sturgeon, who was named Most Outstanding Player, rushed in to catch a liner and then threw out Thomas Bernal at the plate to end the inning.

“We really had a good spirit about us this entire year,” Henderson said of a UK team that finished with a 37-25 record. “We fought really well. I’m really proud of them in that regard.”

UK and U of L competed.

“Typical Kentucky-Louisville athletic event,” Henderson said. “Lots of emotion.”

Emotions boiled over in the seventh. U of L’s Alex Chittenden dove at the knees of Bernal trying to score in the top of the inning. Chittenden said afterward he did not intend to go at Bernal’s knees. He just sort of found himself in that position, he said.

Players rushed out of both dugouts, but emotions did not escalate.

In the bottom of the inning, Bernal went high at U of L catcher Shane Crain in an effort to score. Bernal was ejected.

“I don’t think that’s a lack of respect,” Henderson said of the plays. “It might be heightened respect. There was a lot on the line.”

Frosh pitchers give UK baseball hope going forward

Although a 4-1 regional loss to Louisville Sunday night ended the season, Kentucky took solace in the performance of its freshmen pitchers.

Logan Salow, a freshman right-hander from Ashland, gave up only one run in a career-best six-inning stint.

“I don’t think you could draw up a better freshman starts than we got,” UK Coach Gary Henderson said. “Pretty amazing.”

Salow’s performance came the day after freshman Zack Brown pitched five innings innings in an 8-6 victory over Kansas that advanced Kentucky to the regional finals.

“Makes me feel good about the direction of our program, where our pitching is headed,” Henderson said.

Ace A.J. Reed, who is expected to be a high pick in this month’s major league draft, echoed the sentiment.

“We have a lot of upside in the future,” he said. “We have a lot of young guys who can hit. And we definitely have some arms in the freshman and sophomore classes.”

With a first-round loss to Kansas stressing UK’s pitching staff, Henderson said he hoped Salow could give Kentucky “three-clean,” meaning three effective innings. Instead, Salow, who had not pitched more than three and two-thirds innings this season, threw 95 pitches. He credited the defense, which turned two double plays behind him.

“They stepped up huge for me in tight situations,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for more.”

Said Henderson of Salow: “He made pitches. I was really proud of him. That’s going to help him. To do it against a club like Louisville is significant.”

Henderson noted how Salow and Brown executed pitches under post-season pressure against top teams.

“For (Salow) to be able to execute those skills and repeat the delivery the way he did, 95 pitches worth, I was very impressed,” the UK coach said. “. . . That’s going to propel him.”

And, UK hopes, propel UK.

“When you pitch well in a regional, that sticks with you,” Henderson said.

Kansas coach calls UK-U of L matchup a contrast of styles

Kansas Coach Ritch Price saw his team lose to Louisville on Saturday and Kentucky on Sunday in the NCAA baseball regional in Louisville. So he has fresh insight into the UK-U of L matchup in the finals.

“You know, it’s a really interesting contrast of styles,” e said. “. . . Louisville is that team that’s got obviously tremendous team speed. They try to accentuate that speed and use it as a plus. And then Kentucky’s got two or three guys that are plus-runners in their lineup. But they’re really physical.

“So it’ll come down to keeping the ball in the ballpark. I think if Kentucky is physical with the bat, they’ve got a chance to win today if they can put up some crooked numbers.”

Coming out of the losers’ bracket, Kentucky will have to beat Louisville twice to win the regional. The start of Sunday afternoon’s game was delayed by weather. If UK wins, the teams would play again Monday evening (6 p.m.) for the right to advance to a super regional.

Coach: Regional title game(s?) vs. U of L will test UK pitching depth

After Kentucky beat Kansas Sunday afternoon to advance to the NCAA baseball regional finals, Coach Gary Henderson acknowledged his team will use a pitching-by-committee approach going forward.

“It’s going to be the bullpen,” Henderson said of UK’s pitching plans against Louisville in the finals. UK listed freshman lefty Logan Salow as the starter against U of L later Sunday. Thereafter, “You’re going to piece it together,” Henderson said. “It’s what happens when you go through this path.”
UK fell to the losers’ bracket because of a Friday night loss to Kansas.  Kentucky stayed alive by beating Kent State Saturday and then Kansas on Sunday.

Of UK’s resilience, Henderson said, “It’s not coach-speak. It’s the kids.”

Before the Sunday game against Louisville, Henderson made no promises of a triumphant march to the regional title.

“We’re going to go out here in about an hour and do the best we can,” he said.

Salow,  a native of Ashland, pitched against Louisville in both regular season games. He was the winning pitcher in the game on April 15, giving up five hits but no runs in three and two-thirds innings. In his last seven appearances, Salow pitched a total of six innings, giving up 16 hits and 13 runs (12 earned).

Henderson has ruled out using ace A.J. Reed against Louisville. Reed pitched a complete-game victory over Kent State on Saturday.

“If we can get through this one (the Sunday game against Louisville), we’re in a little better shape (Monday) night,” Henderson said. “You roll those guys back from Friday.”

Freshman Zack Brown comes through as UK beats Kansas

LOUISVILLE — Kentucky beat Kansas 8-6 Sunday afternoon to advance to the championship game of the NCAA baseball regional here. The Cats will play Louisville later Sunday facing the task of having to beat the top-seeded team twice to advance to the super regional.
If Kentucky beats Louisville later Sunday, the Cats will need to beat U of L again Monday evening to win the double-elimination regional.
With each team having already played two games in the regional and plumed the depths of its pitching, Kansas Coach Ritch Price advised to anticipate unpredictable baseball
“We all know anything can happen when you start pitching your third guys or fourth guys in ballgames,” he said.
One surprise was how well freshman Zack Brown pitched for Kentucky. Making his fifth start, Brown limited Kansas to two singles through five innings. He picked up his first college victory.
“It means everything,” Brown said of his clutch performance. “I knew the team needed it.”

UK Coach Gary Henderson called Brown’s performance the “story of the day.”
Price acknowledged his surprise.
“I’m actually surprised he can have a .360 opponents’ batting average as good as his breaking ball was,” the Kansas coach said. “That young man took a big step forward for them.”
Kansas starter Robert Kahana, whom Price said possessed the “best arm” on the staff, struggled.
With Kansas’ help, Kentucky took an early 3-0 lead. The Jayhawks committed two errors and Kentucky twice scored on wild pitches in the first two innings.
Kentucky had fallen behind 3-0 and 2-0 in the first innings of its first two games in the regional. Against Kansas on Sunday, UK led 2-0 after one inning. A.J. Reed drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly. The second scored on a wild pitch.
Kentucky added a run in the second half when a hard-charging Kansas right fielder Connor McKay dropped JaVon Shelby’s short pop fly. Shelby went to third on Austin Cousino’s single and scored on a wild pitch.
Kentucky added four runs in the fourth inning. Again, Kansas helped. Lead-off man Matt Reida reached first when he was hit by a pitch. Two bunt singles loaded the bases. Max Kuhn’s triple to the right-center field gap cleared the bases.
Reed’s second sacrifice fly of the game scored Kuhn to make it 7-0.
Kansas gave Kentucky a chance to add on in the inning. Micheal Thomas’ single got past the left fielder, which allowed the UK catcher to reach third. But Storm Wilson flew out to end the inning.
Kentucky used aggressive base running to add a run in the sixth. Austin Cousino singled to open the inning, then stole second and third. He scored on a ground out to increase Kentucky’s lead to 8-0.
Brown limited Kansas to two singles through the first five innings. Then Kansas got to him the sixth. The first four batters singled. Brown departed after a career-high 84 pitches with an 8-1 lead.
Reliever Taylor Martin, who had given up 10 earned runs in 14 1/3 previous innings this season, did not quell the rally. Jacob Boylan lined a two-run double down the left field line. Two more runs scored on a sacrifice fly and groundout. UK now had an 8-5 lead to nurse through the final three innings.
Kansas made it a two-run game in the eighth when catcher Ka’iana Eldredge hit his first home run of the season.

Kansas: ‘Plenty of pitching’ to throw at UK Sunday

Although Kansas lost 6-3 to Louisville Saturday in the NCAA regional baseball tournament, the Jayhawks claimed a victory of sorts. Starter Frank Duncan threw all nine innings, which gave Kansas the sense that it has enough pitching to use against Kentucky in Sunday’s elimination game.

“You have to make sure you can save pitching” in the regional double-elimination format, Duncan said. “I pride myself in getting deep into games. . . . We still have a lot of pitching left.”

Kansas Coach Ritch Price said junior Robert Kahana will pitch against Kentucky in a game that has a scheduled noon start. The winner will play Louisville at 4 p.m. Louisville won it first two games in the regional, meaning UK or Kansas must beat the Cardinals twice to win the regional. A second game, if necessary, would be played Monday at 6 p.m.

On Friday, Price said Kahana had the “best arm” of any Kansas pitcher. Kahana, a 6-foot right-hander from Ewa Beach, Hawaii, throws a fast ball in the 91-to-94 mph range, the Kansas coach said.

“We all know Kentucky takes that fastball away pretty good,” Price said. “You play in a BCS conference, you learn to hit power pitching. He’s going to have to locate. (Kentucky is) one of the better fastball hitting teams we’ve seen.”

In his last 35 innings, Kahana has given up 42 hits and 14 runs (12 earned).

UK Coach Gary Henderson did not name a starter for the game. UK ace A.J. Reed pitched nine innings in a victory over Kent State earlier Saturday.

That means Kentucky and Kansas probably will need pitching depth to win Sunday’s game and the regional.

“We all know anything can happen when you start pitching your third guys or fourth guys in ballgames,” the Kansas coach said.