March 22 Edition on News Stands Wednesday!

March 22 Edition on News Stands Wednesday!

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Kentucky Basketball — Mauled in Memphis

Mauled in Memphis—By John Huang

I’ve made no bones about the fact that I do not like the University of North Carolina. Everything about the dreaded Tar Heels reeks of high-browed elitism. All the rhetoric about keeping their coaching fraternity “in house,” the hubris of “the Carolina Way,” and jokes about God being a Carolina fan because he made the sky “Carolina blue”—it’s all enough to make any Wildcat fan immediately upchuck. Throw in the fact that back in the 80’s, Kentucky and Carolina jockeyed back and forth for supremacy in total NCAA victories and you can see why Carolina is public enemy number one in my book. Ask anyone over forty and they’ll be sure to agree.

That’s also why this most recent mauling in Memphis has nearly sent me over the edge. It’s bad enough that this much-anticipated season has ended and we suddenly realize there are kids to attend to, jobs to refocus on, and grass to mow. But to lose in that fashion to the most hated team in powder blue is enough to trigger unexpected kidney stones. It’s painful, purulent, and just NOT possible. Someone please wake me up!

The reality is that North Carolina defeated Kentucky 75-73 in the finals of the NCAA South Regionals, avenging an earlier regular season loss in Las Vegas. The Wildcats, coming off an impressive 86-75 victory over UCLA in their Sweet Sixteen rematch just a couple of days earlier, were victimized by some brutal officiating. De’Aaron Fox was saddled with two early fouls and fell 26 points short of his record setting performance from the other night. Malik Monk also picked up two quick fouls in the first half and subsequently ended his career with a whimper.

The game wasn’t quite the Ali versus Frazier that everyone expected. It was simply another tournament loss against a talented and experienced team that beat the Wildcats badly on the boards. “This is the end of the year now,” Coach John Calipari said presciently before the start of the tournament. “This is like when you lose, you fall off the cliff.” Kentucky fell off the cliff.

It’s always difficult writing these season-ending columns. Only four times in my fifty-plus years of fandom has there been anything other than bitter disappointment. Emotions remain high, nerves are frayed, and passion still overflows. What one pens immediately after a heartbreaking tournament loss may not mirror thoughts garnered after an adequate time of reflection. Any True-Blue fan always thinks that this is the year, and when the year surprisingly vaporizes before your very eyes, who knows what words can suddenly leak out of your mouth.

This year was the best of times and yet, it was the worst of times. An Elite Eight appearance is never anything to sneeze at. The team was young, but it got better over the course of the season and they were one of the legitimate championship contenders as the tournament wound down. They overcame issues such as trust, discipline, toughness, and empowerment to bond together as a cohesive unit and make us all proud. Kentucky seniors Derek Willis and Dominique Hawkins rose to the occasion and did everything True-Blue fans could have asked of them. Game after game, Fox and Monk formed one of the most formidable back-court dynamic duos in the history of the program and Adebayo showed throughout the year that he has the chops to play in the NBA. Coach Cal didn’t just roll the ball out in practice, he actually coached them up in games as well.

And yet, for the second straight year, Kentucky fell short of the championship weekend. Calipari’s remarkable run of Final Fours has hit a definitive speed bump and we owe it to ourselves to question why. No longer can BBN blindly subscribe to his “one-and-done” recruiting philosophy.

I’m not advocating for Calipari to quit recruiting elite talent. I, more than anyone, love the yearly unbridled expectations of the #1 recruiting class coming together and winning the championship. I cherish being in the hunt every single year and certainly don’t take winning for granted. I like getting the best players. But Cal has only one title to his credit and that was when he had Anthony Davis—a transcendent player many regard as the greatest to have donned the Kentucky uniform.

It’s not so much Cal’s “players first” mentality that rankles so many, but the thing that gets everyone’s goat is his stubborn insistence on putting NBA contracts ahead of teamwork, Kentucky pride, and national championships. He claims they’re not mutually exclusive but it’s unrealistic to expect players to focus solely on “team” when their coach is always referencing their future NBA riches. Who cares about Devin Booker scoring 70—please focus more on Isaac Humphries and Dominique Hawkins saving your bacon.

I’m sure it’s all part of his recruiting pitch, but Calipari needs to tone down the NBA rhetoric. After all, he’s paid to coach college basketball, not–as he claims–to end generational poverty. Five first-round draft picks do not constitute the biggest day in Kentucky basketball history. No, when Kentucky wins National Championship #12 and supplants UCLA as the all-time leader, that will be by far the biggest day. You know it, I know it, and now let’s all hope that John Calipari knows it. See you next season.

Final note to NCAA: Please get some new refs.

This blog posting was originally submitted as a UK Basketball Column for Nolan Group Media publications.

If you enjoy my writing, please continue to visit me at www.huangswhinings.com and follow me on Twitter @KYHuangs.

 

 

 

Kentucky Basketball — Bruins Ruined!

Bruins Ruined!—By John Huang

As a kid growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, the mere mention of UCLA basketball would immediately invoke in my mind a magical sense of awe and wide-eyed wonder. In my own imaginary world, Coach John Wooden would pencil me into his starting lineup alongside Lew Alcindor, Lynn Shackelford, Curtis Rowe, and Henry Bibby. Together, our team would win a slew of consecutive national titles and become the envy of every competing college program in the land.


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Spring turkey hunting

Spring turkey hunting is slipping into position before daybreak and sitting still as the sun eases over the hills. It is breaking the silence with a call and getting a response that sends a shock of excitement down your spine. It is coaxing a love-struck gobbler closer and keeping your wits as it struts into range. In Kentucky, the 2017 season is right around the corner. Hunters ages 15 and younger are first up. The youth-only season is the weekend of April 1-2. The general statewide season opens April 15 and runs through May 7.


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100 Days in Appalachia

Vanda Rice and Margy Miller of Clay County were featured in the blog ‘100 Days in Appalachia’ and their story ‘100 Days, 100 Voices’. Author Nancy Andrews presents photographs depicting the diversity of voices across Appalachia. These portraits strive to show the varied faces, passions, issues and opinions from around the region.


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Three arrested on drug charges

Three Manchester residents have been arrested after Laurel County Sheriff Deputies found them in a vehicle in possession of suspected crystal meth, two loaded needles, digital scales, marijuana, rolling papers, a .40 caliber handgun and a .38 special handgun. Sam Wooton, age 73, of Wooton Drive Robert Hubbard, age 30, of South Hwy 11 and Robert Wooton, age 49, of Wooton Drive were charged with drug trafficking. Robert Wooton was also charged with possession of a handgun by a convicted felon and possession of marijuana.


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Cattlemen’s Association

The next Clay County Cattlemen’s Association Meeting will be on Tuesday evening, April 25, 2017 at 6:00 pm at the EXCEL Building. John Chism, Director of Marketing for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and Travis Gabbard, Marketing Specialist for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, will be with us that evening. John and Travis put together the weekly Kentucky Livestock and Grain Marketing Report. They will give a presentation on how cattle are graded and how prices are determined. I think that this will be a very informative meeting and one that you will enjoy. We hope that you will make every effort to attend this important meeting. As always, give us a call at 606-598-2789 to register so that we will plan enough food. If you wish to invite other cattlemen, feel free to do so. Just make sure that you register them!


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Foot Care for the Diabetic

Foot Care for the Diabetic will be on April 20th at 6:00 pm at the Clay County Extension Office. If you are a diagnosed diabetic, you can purchase one pair of shoes a year and your insurance will pay for them. We will have a representative here on April 20th for you to order your shoes. She will measure and make molds of your feet for a good fit. She will also do a program on how important foot care is for the diabetic. The program is FREE, but you must call 606-598-2789 to register to attend.


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