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It’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
Jan 1, 2008
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.
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.
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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.
Well, I guess I got in the way of a Hall of Famer. I’m sure you’ve seen it by now, but in the first quarter of Tuesday’s game against San Antonio, I got elbowed over my right eye by Tim Duncan.
He swung his elbows through to get position on me just as I put my head in front of him. Five stitches later, I’ve got a puffy eye to show for it.
It hurt at the time and threw me into a daze for a minute. But I’m fine now.
The most interesting thing is that I couldn’t open up my eye on Wednesday morning because it was so swollen. It was fat. My son, Dorian, kept wanting to play with it. He noticed something was wrong with it so he kept wanting to grab it and touch my stitches. If he had gotten ahold of my eye, I would have needed a few more stitches.
Honestly, though, I’m used to having these puffy eyes. I’ve got scars over each of my eyes in the same location. It’s normal getting stitches between my eye lashes and eye brow because I play so tight on centers and power forwards and they tend to swing their elbows. This is the fourth time I’ve needed stitches. I’ve had two over each eye. It just happens.
Could I wear a mask to protect myself? No. I can’t play with a mask. If get stitches, so be it.
I can’t believe Kentucky, my alma mater, lost to Gardner Webb. Gardner Webb? I thought that was maybe a children’s book before we laid an egg against them.
It just doesn’t look good when you’re one of the top programs in the country. Even if we do have a successful season, that loss is going to show up on our NCAA Tournament resume. It looks bad.
The guys in the locker room have been letting me have it. Before that upset, none of us even knew where Gardner Webb was at. Now, we all know it’s in North Carolina. The guys are saying that Kentucky might not even be an NCAA Tournament team this year. We might have to go to the NIT. I’m getting it from all angles.
I’m even hearing we’re a football school now. But I don’t believe that. We’re still a basketball school.
more at Rockets.com
‘It just looks bad,’ Hayes says of upset
EX-CAT RECALLS LIVING THROUGH LOSS IN LEXINGTON
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?”
Bit of recent UK news…
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.
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.
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.”