2-21-18 Edition on News Stands Wednesday!

2-21-18 Edition on News Stands Wednesday!



Kentucky Basketball — Blitzing Bud Walton

Blitzing Bud Walton—By John Huang

(FAYETTEVILLE, Ar.) — I’ll be honest, I’ve never been to Fayetteville, Arkansas. In my mind, there was only one good reason, anyway, to visit this city of 75,000 tucked away inconspicuously in the northwestern corner of the state. Never mind that it was once named the third best place to live in the United States, or one of the best places to retire in the South, or the 24th-best city for business and careers. For me, the ONLY reason to drive ten and half hours to Fayetteville in the middle of a winter monsoon is to attend a University of Arkansas basketball game at Bud Walton Arena—especially when the Kentucky Wildcats come a calling.

OK, I’ll admit that the Kentucky versus Arkansas basketball series isn’t anything like it used to be. Gone are those days when the Hogs boldly challenged the Cats for conference supremacy—when Nolan Richardson and his “forty minutes of hell” pumped unparalleled excitement into a rivalry that began when Arkansas first joined the league back in 1990. During that time, the Razorbacks not only finished either first or tied for first in the conference an amazing 6 out of 7 years, but the newcomers from Fayetteville also happened to win a national championship along the way, barely missing out on rare back to back titles. Plus, they did it all in a fashion that challenged Kentucky’s status as king of the SEC hill. They pushed the bully to the brink, taunting BBN with a fast paced, in-your-face brand of basketball that had Cat fans licking their wounds on a yearly basis.

So here I find myself finally in Bud Walton Arena, another bucket list item dutifully checked off, waiting to witness first-hand the frenzy and passion of “Woooooooo, Pig ! Sooie!” It’s a much bigger venue than I had imagined—like a well-stocked Walmart with over 19,000 red tinted seats—filled to the rooftops with long-time fans who still love Bill and Hillary and despise Malik Monk. Looking up, the retired jerseys of Sidney Moncrief, Corliss Williamson, Nolan Richardson, and Eddie Sutton flutter hauntingly from the rafters. Looking down, the huge mid-court hog logo appears disturbingly oversized, as if compensating for those bygone days when the Razorbacks ruled the roost.

There’s high drama at Bud Walton this evening as the theatrical script calls for two lead actors to pose as respectable college basketball coaches. To put it bluntly, John Calipari and Mike Anderson don’t like each other– their shared animus palpably obvious from the opening tip. As the curtain opens on this particular performance, Kentucky looks to get run out of the gym as Arkansas jumps out to a quick 11-0 lead. The Wildcats battle back impressively though, tying the game at 20 and actually taking an improbable 33-32 lead shortly before intermission. As Red Panda performs her halftime magic, the two teams are tied at 43.

The second half starts nip and tuck with both teams attempting to garner breathing room. At the 13-minute mark, when Arkansas guard Anton Beard hits a three to put Arkansas up 61-56, the sold-out Bud Walton Arena takes on a life of its own—morphing into a virtual cauldron of reverberating claps, earth-shaking stomps, and ear-splitting shrieks that could surely deafen your dog. Looking around the arena, the delirious Arkansas student body appears at times demon possessed, as if momentarily purging the monotony of boring classes and killer exams with brief euphoric respites commandeered from these insane Razorback runs.

But this newly rejuvenated Kentucky team doesn’t fold. When Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit back to back threes, the Wildcats suddenly find themselves up 78-65. From there, it’s death by a thousand paper cuts for the Bud Walton faithful as Kentucky keeps a comfortable double-digit lead until the final horn sounds. The box score shows that Kentucky wins the rebounding battle 46-29 and limits themselves to eleven total turnovers for the game.

At the end of the day, two evenly matched teams left the court exhausted and expended with the difference having nothing to do whatsoever with the singular home court advantage. Kentucky (19-9, SEC 8-7) prevails 87-72 over Arkansas (Overall 19-9, SEC 8-7) despite playing in Bud Walton Arena. “I’m proud, to be able to come in here–this is a hard place to play,” Coach Cal said after the game. “The environment—thank God it rained like it did. Probably kept some people away. For us to do this as a young team…”

I left Bud Walton Arena with an eerie sense of fulfillment. After all, I came, I saw, and I conquered. I’ve discovered that regardless of the opponent, each of these conference venues has a distinct personality of its own. With its imposing fan base and accomplished tradition, I would characterize Bud Walton Arena as “arrogantly aggrandizing.” For visiting teams, it’s still one of the toughest places to eke out a win. For a basketball fan, it also happens to be one of the best environments to simply watch a game. Watching a young Kentucky team grow up right before my eyes made my visit here all that much sweeter.

John Huang is a columnist for Nolan Group Media. If you enjoy his writing, you can read more at www.huangswhinings.com or follow him on Twitter @KYHuangs.




CCHS student arrested for threatening classmates

School authorities reacted quickly Tuesday in the arrest of a 19-year-old Clay County High School student that made threats to three classmates.
Matthew Charles Collins, 19, of Annville, faces three counts of terroristic threatening 2nd degree.
According to the arrest citation filed by school resource officer Gary Harris, Collins was talking with three other students and told them not to come to school tomorrow because there was going to be a shooting and told them they would be the victims.
Students reported the threat immediately and school personnel reacted quickly in apprehending Collins.
You can read more about this arrest in the Wednesday, February 21st edition of The Enterprise.

Kentucky Basketball — Grading Calipari

Grading Calipari—By John Huang

(LEXINGTON, Ky.) – After Kentucky’s  81-71 win over Alabama on Saturday, Wildcat basketball coach John Calipari tossed out a pointed appeal to all media covering the team. “Is anybody attacking me?” he asked. “I don’t know because I don’t read it. But if you are (attacking), be mad at me. Don’t be mad at the kids. I recruited them. I’m coaching them.” I’m never in much of an attacking mood after a satisfying victory, but in an effort to comply with his request, let’s take a peek back at Coach Cal’s report card.

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