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Remembering “Mr. Wildcat”
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March 31, 2008 in Editorial

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from UKAthletics.comIt’s very hard to put into words what I want to say about Bill Keightley.

So I am going to say it like this and hope that my words ring true.

To me he epitomizes what is truly beautiful about being a UK fan.

My family, like so many in Kentucky, have followed and cheered the Wildcats for many many years, even though I was in high school before I was able to attend a game at Rupp. My father, well he was over 40 before he was able to see a game there. My grandfather, in his 60’s. But for years, Mr. Wildcat, equipment manager, symbolized for us the every fan. He was, at least in my mind, my representation on the UK bench.

I don’t remember ever watching a UK game on television where I couldn’t find Mr. Keightley sitting on the bench. He was behind Tubby or next to Rick, or somewhere down the line of trainers and assistant coaches behind the players. It is sad that Billy Gillispie will only get one season of having him as part of the team, but I am pretty sure it didn’t take long for Gillispie to understand Mr. Wildcat’s role for our team.

A quote that stuck out to me from Gillispie today was that even with the disparity in their ages Keightley had become one of his best friends. He apparently had that affect on everyone, even those of us who never met him felt as though he would be a good friend.

The media will tell you that UK fans are rabid. That we are all monsters who run coaches out of town and that we don’t know a good thing when we have it. People have to understand that there are always going to be some people who do give our fandom and tradition a bad name by their behavior.

There are also UK fans who after hearing of Mr. Keightley’s death walked to Memorial Hall with candles to cry a bit and honor a man that gave half his life to the program that we all love.

Some UK fans won’t discover until morning that he is gone and will have to call their family and friends to relate the sad story, probably hiding a few sniffles as they read the news reports.

There will even be fans that will go to school with a symbol on their backpacks or ribbons on their jackets to show that they understood what a single person can bring to the UK family.

But if you want to see the definition of what a true UK fan is…

Look in Wikipedia under the name William (Bill) Bond Keightley.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Bill. We will never forget you and know you will be working on pulling the strings up there to get us another Championship banner.

Thanks to Matt at KSR

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[Modesto Bee] Streaks for Chuck
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March 15, 2008 in Former Teams

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, High School
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, Kentucky
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, The 22 Game Streak
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Link

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Connected facts: The Yao-less Rockets won their 21st in a row, with help from the ultimate winner Chuck Hayes (Modesto Christian).

By the way, Hayes’ teams won 26 consecutive games at Kentucky in 2002-03, and 25 in a row at MC in 1997-98.

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    Show your Stuff
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    January 11, 2008 in D-League

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    The NBA was the last place Chuck Hayes thought he would be after his most recent D-League game.

    That was two years ago, and the Rockets forward hasn’t had to worry about the minor leagues since.

    Players looking to make the same leap Hayes did have their chance to get noticed next week at the fourth annual D-League Showcase, being held Monday-Thursday in Boise, Idaho.

    That was Hayes’ goal in 2006 while playing for the Albuquerque Thunderbirds. He just didn’t think things had worked out as he planned, especially after a four-point performance against Austin in the showcase.

    “We had two games, a back-to-back. First game, I played well, played really well,” Hayes said. “Second game I played terrible. Then the next day the Rockets called me up.

    “And after the second game I was like, ‘Oh man, I’m never going to get my call-up.’ I was discouraged. I was like, ‘Man, I had my opportunity and I blew it the second game.’ But the next day we were traveling and my layover in Chicago, (Rockets trainer) Keith Jones called me up and told me to catch a flight to Houston and I’ve been here ever since.”

    All 14 D-League teams will play two games in the event, with every game being televised by NBA TV. The NBA expects scouts or other personnel from nearly all of its teams to be at Qwest Arena.

    “They love the showcase, they love the opportunity for players to be seen by their scouts,” NBA commissioner David Stern said. “The opportunity to have that kind of exposure causes a real high number of players to stay home in the D-League so they can be seen. And that’s causing our teams to evaluate their investments in the D-League in a positive way.”

    Eleven players have been called up to the NBA this season, and somebody else can earn a shot with some strong play next week. Just ask Hayes, who has started every game this season for the Rockets.

    “Just do what do well,” he said. “Play to your strengths, there’s a role for you. There’s a spot here for you.”

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    First new blog post of the Year
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    January 1, 2008 in Blog Updates

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    , Former Teams
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    , Kentucky
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    , NBA 07-08 Season
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    Jan 1, 2008

    Seeking Momentum

    We’ve been pretty up and down so far this season. Sometimes we’re clicking on all cylinders. Sometimes we’re not. We have to try to build some momentum in the middle part of the season because there are a lot of teams in the Western Conference that are starting to pick away from everybody else. We got to be one of those teams that is making a case for ourselves when it comes down to the end.

    It’s very important to get on a roll right now. You want to separate yourself from the rest of the pack. You want to get into a steady flow with the team. You don’t want to constantly find yourself looking up at other teams. You want to control your own destiny and not have to hope that somebody else had a bad game.

    What’s Wrong with Kentucky?

    I’ve got to talk about my Kentucky team after that tough loss on Saturday to San Diego. We’re having a hard time. It’s just hurts as an alumnus to see my program struggling.

    The hard part is that the guys are letting me have it in the lockerroom every day. I knew it was coming. It’s just tough.

    I’ve got guys calling Kentucky a mid-major right now. My teammates keep telling me that the Wildcats aren’t making the tournament and that we’re terrible. I even got alumni in the lockerroom from Fresno State and Nevada telling me that they could beat us.

    It’s rough being in the locker room these days. My school has got to turn it around.

    Football Star

    I couldn’t play in the NFL. Don’t get me wrong. I was good at it. But I’d never last in the NFL.

    I was pretty good at football growing up. In fact, I was all-state during my sophomore year in high school. But the funny thing is that I did not like hitting that ground. Whenever there was an opportunity to run out of bounds and I had the ball, I did.

    I was a wide receiver because I used to be really skinny. But I would never run a slant. Coach would call a slant and I’d take two steps and stop. I wouldn’t keep going.

    I know I could play, but I didn’t have the mindset for it. I didn’t care for all the hits and contact. I couldn’t do it. It just wasn’t in me.

    I certainly couldn’t be a tight end now. You’re talking about blocking guys like Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher. Get in their way? Yeah, right. That’s not for me. If I ever did football, I would want a clause in my contract that I could only go deep. I also wouldn’t want to practice or block. Then maybe, I’d be fine.

    You can post a response to this blog at http://my.nba.com/forum.jspa?forumID=300018937

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    Hayes enjoys reunion
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    November 29, 2007 in Former Teams

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    , Kentucky
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    , NBA 07-08 Season
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    , Odd tidbits
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    From Kentucky to similar paths to NBA, Azubuike shares bond with Rockets forward

    OAKLAND, CALIF. — Chuck Hayes and Kelenna Azubuike always knew what the NBA didn’t. They just had to convince each other.Both believe the other belonged in the NBA. But when the NBA was missing so badly, letting the Kentucky teammates go unselected through the 2005 draft, both also knew that the events of Thursday, when they finally played against one another in the NBA, would eventually come.

    So Hayes and Azubuike did what they could to make it happen, encouraging one another through the doubts to become two of the most accomplished NBA Development League graduates ever and opponents Thursday night in Oracle Arena when the Rockets met the Warriors.

    Both went from Kentucky to the D-League to Rockets training camp. Both were cut by the Rockets. But Hayes made it back three months later, became a starter and signed a four-year contract. He also became a role model for Azubuike, as he always had been.

    “Me and Kelenna, we have a bond,” Hayes said. “I was his host when he came to Kentucky. I like to think I’m the one who got him there. When he got cut by the Rockets, he asked me, ‘Should I go overseas?’ I told him, ‘Man, you’re close. You’re right there. You’re knocking on the door. You just need the right system.’ He got called up. Next thing you know, he’s in the rotation and he’s here.

    “Too bad I couldn’t get him to Houston, but he’s found a home here in the Bay Area, and I’m happy for him.”

    Azubuike, who became the excess guard in the Rockets’ 2006 training camp after the late addition of Bonzi Wells, is flourishing in the Warriors’ high-speed style, averaging 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds. In the seven games when Stephen Jackson was suspended, he averaged 17.1 points on 47.7 percent shooting.

    Just three seasons after no NBA team drafted him, he has the option to become a free agent next summer and could be a coveted acquisition once back on the market.

    “No, he won’t get a cut,” Azubuike said of Hayes. “He’s not all the way responsible. But he helped me out.

    “He was my host on the (recruiting) visit. He showed me a good time. He talked to me later about playing in the D-League. I guess it’s pretty accurate. He is responsible.”

    It was not a surprise that Hayes, a 6-6 power forward who did not score, was not drafted. Azubuike was something of a surprise to be in the draft at all, leaving Kentucky early and then missing most of the draft workouts and camp with a groin injury.

    “I was watching for him as well and I felt bad that he didn’t get drafted,” Hayes said. “I knew all he needed was an opportunity. He had to go through a couple teams, but he’s found stability here in Golden State.”

    Said Azubuike: “They thought of him as undersized, but I knew he’d make it.”

    It turned out both were right, at least about the other.

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    On UK’s loss to Gardner-Webb
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    November 9, 2007 in Former Teams

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    , Kentucky
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    , Opinions
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    , Quotes
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    ‘It just looks bad,’ Hayes says of upset
    EX-CAT RECALLS LIVING THROUGH LOSS IN LEXINGTON

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    The loss to Gardner-Webb surprised former Kentucky star Chuck Hayes. When asked what he knew about Gardner-Webb before Wednesday, he said he would have thought it was a children’s book.

    The Associated Press asked Hayes, now in his second season with the Houston Rockets, about the Kentucky loss. Here are highlights:

    Question: How big a loss was it for Kentucky?

    Answer: It’s really bad, because in March, when they stack up wins and losses and who you lost against, this one is bad. It’s a long season. But it just looks bad, man. If it could’ve been anybody else, I would’ve been fine with it. It just looks bad.

    Q: Is it as bad as Appalachian State beating Michigan?

    A: The only thing that makes the Michigan game a little bit worse than this one is Michigan was top-5. Still, the programs are the same. I’m going to make a phone call or two down to Lexington.

    Q: How do you think the media up there will treat Kentucky Coach Billy Gillispie?

    A: I’m pretty sure his e-mail is pretty stacked up. I’m pretty sure the guys didn’t want to go to class today. When you lose in Lexington, it’s like the whole world is looking at you and pointing the finger at you like, “How could you? You don’t lose at Rupp.”

    Q: What was your worst experience at Kentucky with a loss?

    A: We lost to Louisville my junior year at Rupp. Me and a couple of guys went out to eat afterwards. The service was terrible. It went like an hour and a half just for my appetizer. You lose at Rupp — and we lost to Louisville — that was bad.

    A couple of guys probably didn’t go to class today. They probably did not want to show their face in that psychology class because people are going to ask them, “What happened? How could you?”


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    Checking in with the Alma Mater
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    October 5, 2007 in Former Teams

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    , Kentucky
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    Bit of recent UK news…

    Porter out with concussion

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    LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky guard Michael Porter will miss at least a week after sustaining a concussion during workouts on Monday, said coach Billy Gillispie.

    Porter was diving for a loose ball when he was injured. Gillispie said he hopes Porter will be available when Kentucky begins practice on Oct. 12. Porter, a sophomore, averaged 1.5 points in 29 games last year for the Wildcats.

    Porter joins three other Wildcats on the injury list. Senior Joe Crawford underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in late September. Junior Jared Carter required surgery in early June after re-injuring his right shoulder and sophomore Derrick Jasper underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee in June.

    All three have been limited in their conditioning work, but are expected to be cleared in time for the start of practice.

    Billy Clyde cancels Blue White Scrimmage

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    The change new Coach Billy Gillispie brings to Kentucky basketball will begin in the pre-season. For the first time in memory, there will not be a Blue-White Scrimmage.

    UK spokesman Scott Stricklin said the Oct. 31 date for the first exhibition game contributed to the decision to use all available time for practice.

    Joe B. Hall, whose UK coaching career began as an assistant in 1965 and ended after 13 seasons as Adolph Rupp’s successor in 1985, could not remember the last time the program did not hold a public scrimmage in the pre-season.

    “It’s up to his discretion,” Hall said of Gillispie. “Practice time for a new coach is certainly important.”

    UK has used public scrimmages to raise funds for charity. Until the NCAA outlawed it, UK staged public scrimmages in the state each fall.

    “What I loved was doing it out in the hinterlands,” Hall said. “The public (in the small towns) had not seen the Cats play.”

    In Hall’s mind, the scrimmage gave fans a preview of the team. “Fans could get acquainted with the younger players,” he said. “Everybody wants to see Patrick Patterson and Alex Legion in action.”

    The scrimmage also gave the players a taste of live action.

    “It makes for a real good simulated scrimmage,” Hall said. “It gives the players more incentive to give a good effort.”

    Gillispie’s reputation and public comments suggest he will provide the players with plenty of incentive to give a good effort each day in practice.

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    Hayes at home in Houston and Lexington
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    August 26, 2007 in Former Teams

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    , Kentucky
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    , News
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    , Off-Season
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    The travel hasn’t yet started to wear on Chuck Hayes.

    The former UK forward likes the hotels, loves the room service and enjoys seeing the country as a member of the NBA’s Houston Rockets.

    Now he has a new reason to stay home.

    Hayes averaged 5.6 points and 6.7 rebounds in 78 games for the Rockets last season and had a 12-point, 12-rebound performance in Game 2 of a first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz.

    But Hayes’ fondest memory of the season came on the first day of the playoffs, when son Dorian Hayes was born.

    “Just knowing that he looks at you and smiles and has the same facial expressions that I do?” Hayes said. “I wouldn’t change a thing about him.”

    This month Hayes signed a four-year contract with the Rockets.

    Hayes — who said the first words he uttered to teammate Yao Ming were, “I’ve got your rookie card at home” — said he’s grown close to his teammates, especially former Illinois guard Luther Head, whom he constantly reminds of his resemblance to former UK point guard Cliff Hawkins.

    But while he’s making a home in Houston, Hayes keeps Kentucky roots.

    He visited UK last week for pickup games with current Wildcats and stopped by UK’s football practice with former teammate Ravi Moss, whose younger brother Austin is a sophomore defensive lineman.

    Hayes said he spoke with new UK basketball coach Billy Gillispie in July and spent last week getting acquainted with the current Cats. He said the team has “a lot of athletes.”

    One in particular — freshman forward Patrick Patterson — made an impression.

    “Patrick covers so much space because of his length,” Hayes said. “He can alter your shot if you’re over there and he’s way over here because his length is phenomenal.”

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    [Modesto Bee] Join Chuck at Camp! (or dinner)
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    August 21, 2007 in Appearances

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    , Former Teams
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    , News
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    HAYES AT SLAM-N-JAM CLINIC, REUNION DINNER — The following are on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Modesto Christian High:

    Modesto Slam-N-Jam Basketball Clinic featuring former Modesto Christian star and current Houston Rockets player Chuck Hayes. Session I 9-11:30 a.m. for grades 3-6. Session 2 noon-2:30 p.m. for grades 7-12. $50. Call Bobby Cole at 543-9520. …

    Modesto Slam-N-Jam 20-year Celebration Dinner at 7 p.m. If you were a member of a Slam-N-Jam travel team and haven’t received an invitation, call Cole at 543-9520. … Modesto Basketball Reunion Dinner featuring Hayes. Celebration of city of Modesto’s basketball accomplishments. For all ages. $30 adults, $15 for ages 10 and under. Call Cole at 543-9520.

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    CHF.net UK Years Wallpapers
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    August 11, 2007 in Former Teams

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    , Kentucky
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    , Photos
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    , Teams
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    , Wallpapers
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    So I had a bit of time last night to play with photos and graphics and I created a couple of Chuck Wallpapers for the site. Full sized versions of this photo and a 1024 x 768 version is also available in the photo album
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