Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Some Things You Need To Know If You're Going To The Final Four



In order to enhance public safety, the NCAA has implemented a clear bag policy for the 2015 Men’s Final Four. The clear bag policy will be in effect at all Lucas Oil Stadium events, including the semifinal games on Saturday, April 4, and the National Championship on Monday, April 6. In addition, clear bags will be required at Final Four Fan Fest at the Indiana Convention Center and all three days of the NCAA  March Madness Music Festival at White River State Park.

“We are committed to ensuring the safety and security of basketball fans at Final Four events,” said JoAn Scott, NCAA managing director of Division I men’s basketball championship. “The clear bag policy is a standard practice at major events across the country and we have extended it to not just the games, but also our fan events.”

NCAA-provided clear bags, other clear bags not exceeding the size of the NCAA-provided clear bags, and one gallon clear plastic storage bags will be permitted at the aforementioned events, in addition to purses smaller than 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches (please see the attached diagram). 

Clear bags will be provided by the NCAA for free and can be found at downtown Indianapolis hotels, the Indiana Convention Center and most entrances and exits at events where clear bags are required.

The NCAA implemented the clear bag policy at Final Four events in North Texas in 2014. The policies are similar to procedures in place for NFL games in stadiums such as Lucas Oil Stadium.

All individuals will be subject to a search upon entry. All individuals, regardless of age, must have a valid event ticket to access Lucas Oil Stadium on game days. Failure to comply with event or venue management will result in denial of entry.

For a full list of security policies and procedures, please visit www.ncaa.com/finalfour/champgame

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Kentucky to Hold Open Practice on Friday in Indy




Members of the Big Blue Nation have the chance to watch top-ranked Kentucky practice inside Lucas Oil Stadium ahead of the Wildcats’ national semifinal rematch with Wisconsin. The Wildcats will take the Final Four floor for their open practice on Friday beginning at approximately 3 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 11 a.m.

Michigan State will have the first open practice session from 12-12:50 p.m., Duke will take the court from 1-1:50 p.m. and Wisconsin will practice from 2-2:50 p.m. 

Fans who attend the Final Four open practices on Friday will have the opportunity to hear from each head coach after their sessions and engage in on-court promotions. The day concludes with the College All Star-Game tipping off at 4:30 p.m. in Lucas Oil Stadium.

Friday’s open practice will be one of many events for fans to experience in Indianapolis other than the Final Four games themselves. 

The NCAA will also host the March Madness Music Festival on Friday and Saturday with acts such as Rihanna (Saturday), Imagine Dragons and Weezer (both on Friday) scheduled to perform at White River State Park. Admission is free.

Saturday’s pregame events include the Road to the Final Four 5K, with the race beginning at 8 a.m. at the NCAA Hall of Champions. The NCAA will also host youth basketball clinics at local gyms and at Final Four Fan Fest at the Indiana Convention Center with check-in beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Fan Fest will take place from noon to 8 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets for Fan Fest are on sale now.

Here is a list of events and their times for your information. This is going to be a fun weekend and if you are lucky enough to attend, you should try to take in all the festivities you can.



Calipari Named NABC National Coach of The Year



For the third time in his career, John Calipari has been named National Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

Calipari moved into second place alone for the most all-time NABC Coach of the Year honors. John Wooden earned the award five times.

Calipari previously won the award in 1996 while at Massachusetts and in 2009 at Memphis. Tuesday’s announcement marked the first time Calipari has garnered the honor while at Kentucky.

Calipari has led UK into a second straight Final Four this season, and the fourth in the last five years on the back of a 38-0 record. Kentucky is the first team to enter the Final Four undefeated since 1991.

Calipari’s 2014-15 Wildcats tied his 2007-08 Memphis team and his 2011-12 national championship Kentucky team’s NCAA Division I record for single-season wins (38) with Saturday’s Elite Eight win over Notre Dame on Saturday.

Kentucky also set the school record for home wins with 19 this season.

Kentucky has spent 19 straight weeks at No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25 this season, tied for the fourth-longest streak in NCAA history. UK now owns the NCAA Division I record for most appearances at No. 1 in the AP poll in a single season at 19.

Calipari was named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year for the second time in his career earlier this season. He was also Sporting News National Coach of the Year, and is one of four finalists for the Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year.

He is also one of 12 finalists eligible to go in to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September. The Class of 2015 will be announced on Monday at a press conference in Indianapolis, prior to the national championship game.

Kentucky PRE-Final Four Press Conference QUOTES



#2, Aaron Harrison, G
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On if it bothered him of how people’s perception of their lifestyles in the classroom and having fun on the court at the same time changed over time ... “It didn’t bother us because we knew it wasn’t the truth. We know a lot of people say things about us and make their own theories about us, but it’s not true. We’re just student athletes like everyone else. We are required to go to class and make the grades. We’re just like every other program in that sense.”

On people seeing their close games this year as them being vulnerable ...
“There’s been great teams, obviously, and I think every great team has been in close games. Nobody has run through a whole tournament, series or anything. You have to prove how to win tough games, to be a great team. The close calls that we’ve had this season helped us win the last game and other close games before that. I think it’s made us a stronger team.”

On his thoughts of motivation from losing last year in the championship game and how he thinks Wisconsin is using their loss to Kentucky last year as motivation ... “When you get this close into the Final Four, everyone is motivated. I think that we have a chip on our shoulder and have a lot to prove. I’m not sure how other teams feel, but I know we’re as motivated as we’ve ever been and even more. We’re just going out and trying to win games, make statements, and play as hard as we can.”

On how this Final Four feels compared to last year’s ...
“I think last year we were just excited to be there. This year we’re not going to be satisfied with just the feeling. We’re just going up there to win.”

On the development of Tyler Ulis this season ...
“It’s tough being here overall and Tyler, being the small guy, is obviously tough. Everybody knows he’s a tough kid. He’s overcome so many people saying he’s too small and things like that. He’s a big reason we’re in the Final Four and a big part of our team. He’s a great player.”

On Willie Cauley-Stein playing in the game vs. Wisconsin this year as opposed to being hurt last year ...
“Having Willie on the floor is obviously a huge help. He’s probably the best defender I’ve ever seen in person. He’s a big help.”

On how it’s tough being here at Kentucky ...
“Just in general. Everything you do is under a microscope. You’re just overly criticized. It’s tough being a young man here, but it’s not a bad place to be obviously. We have a great amount of fun.”

On how late in games you have to shift from unselfish play to a ‘I have to score’ mentality ...
“It’s a role you have to play. Karl (Towns) had it going obviously. Nobody could stop him. We just kept feeding him. For me, I had the feeling that my team needed a momentum change so I wanted to be that. That’s just what you do when you have a lot of great guys that can do that. It’s the benefit of being on a great team with other great players.”


#44, Dakari Johnson, C

On the definition of Kentucky defense ...
“Playing with energy and just helping each other out on defense and just having each other’s back.”

On which game felt the closest to getting away (losing) ...
“Probably just the last game (vs. Notre Dame) and you know it being so close you know guys just stepped up and made plays.”

On if the talk earlier in the year of Kentucky ruining college basketball bothered you and how you feel now its swinging the other way with making grades and playing unselfishly ... “We weren’t bothered by it because we knew what really what the deal was. We did everything everybody else does basically. We just stayed together and didn’t listen to it.”

On the philosophy of the rotations when Coach uses different combinations based on matchups and situations and how you have adjusted ... “That’s what makes him such a good coach. He knows what’s best for us. He’s going to do everything for the team to win. He’s going to put the guys in there that are going to battle and just compete.”

On going into this final four compared to last year ...
“Last year it wasn’t expected. This year it’s expected from us so you know we are going out there to win and last year it kind of just felt like we were happy to be there.”

On playing against this matchup last year without Willie Cauley-Stein and how having him this year will change things or do differently ... “It’s going to be great. He matches up well with the guys they have on the floor. It gives us just another weapon that we didn’t have last year.”


#12, Karl-Anthony Towns, F

On your definition of Kentucky defense ...
"Energy. (Everything) starts with energy and just make sure that we get contested shots at all times, no open shots, and just help each other out as much as possible."

On the problems that Frank Kaminsky creates for opponents ...
"Kaminsky is a great player and it is going to be just one competitive game. I really can't wait to play."

On staying poised and winning close games throughout the year ...
"I think it's implemented in us through our years of playing basketball. It's just always trying to win every game that we possibly play at any given cost. I think it has also been learned this year a little bit in learning to find ways to win by out smarting opponents in clutch time. I think that’s what we've done a great job of this year is when the game gets really tight, we step up as a team and we come together instead of falling apart from each other."

On the journey of where this team was in October to where this team is now ...
"In October it is hard to think of being 38-0 in the Final Four. It's never been done before and obviously coming in I knew my brothers had a great amount of talent but we never knew we were going to gel so well and the season was going to go the way it went. We are blessed for this opportunity and we want to try to end the season with no regrets and that is what we are trying to do." 

Willie Cauley-Stein Named John R. Wooden All-American



 Kentucky junior forward Willie Cauley-Stein, already considered a consensus All-American by the NCAA, was tabbed a 2015 John R. Wooden All-American on Monday. Cauley-Stein was one of 10 Wooden All-Americans announced on a 30-minute show on ESPNU on Monday.

Selected by nearly 1,000 national college basketball media members and the former award winners, the Wooden All-American team is made up of the 10 student-athletes who were the top vote-getters for the John R. Wooden Award, given annually to the top player in college basketball. Voting took place from March 16-23 and voters could take the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament into consideration.

All 10 players are considered finalists for the Wooden Award, which will be presented April 10 on ESPN2 from Club Nokia in Los Angeles on the first-ever ESPN College Basketball Awards Show.

This year’s 10 Wooden All-Americans are, alphabetically: Ron Baker (Wichita State), Malcolm Brogdon (Virginia), Cauley-Stein (Kentucky), Jerian Grant (Notre Dame), Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin), Jahlil Okafor (Duke), D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State), Seth Tuttle (Northern Iowa), Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga) and Delon Wright (Utah). Cauley-Stein, Grant, Kaminsky, Okafor and Russell have been invited to the awards show in Los Angeles.

To qualify as a Wooden All-American, all student-athletes must prove to their universities that they are making progress toward graduation and are maintaining at least a 2.0 cumulative grade-point average.

Cauley-Stein became Kentucky’s 25th consensus First Team All-American on Monday after the Associated Press and National Association of Basketball Coaches selected the 7-foot junior as a first-teamer. The NCAA recognizes the Sporting News, AP, NABC and United States Basketball Writers Association All-America teams in considering consensus All-Americans. Cauley-Stein was named a First Team All-American by the USBWA and Sporting News earlier this season.
Cauley-Stein has been one of the main forces behind Kentucky’s historic 38-0 season. Averaging 9.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.7 blocks per game, UK is the first team in NCAA Division I history to post a 38-0 record.

One of the nation’s most effective defenders, Cauley-Stein leads the nation’s top-ranked field-goal percentage defense in steals (46) while ranking second in blocked shots (65).

Cauley-Stein’s value has shined brightest in UK’s most difficult games. Against ranked competition, the Olathe, Kan., native leads UK in scoring average (10.6) and rebounding average (8.1).

In addition to the aforementioned All-America honors, Cauley-Stein has also collected the following honors:

·         SEC Tournament MVP
·         NCAA Midwest Regional All-Tournament Team
·         All-SEC First Team (coaches and AP)
·         SEC Defensive Player of the Year (coaches)
·         USBWA Oscar Robertson Trophy finalist
·         Naismith Trophy finalist
·         Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award Finalist
·         USBWA District IV Player of the Year

Monday, March 30, 2015

Willie Cauley-Stein Named First Team All-American



Willie Cauley-Stein became Kentucky’s 25th consensus First Team All-American on Monday after the Associated Press and National Association of Basketball Coaches each selected the 7-foot junior as a first-teamer.

The NCAA recognizes the Sporting News, AP, NABC and United States Basketball Writers Association All-America teams in considering consensus All-Americans.

Cauley-Stein was named a First Team All-American by the USBWA and Sporting News earlier this season.

Now with 25 consensus First Team All-American selections in its history, Kentucky tied Purdue and North Carolina for the second most consensus First Team All-Americans all-time. Kansas has the most with 28.

Karl-Anthony Towns was also named to the AP and NABC’s Second Team on Monday. Towns became a consensus Second Team All-American as he was also a Third Team All-America selection by the Sporting News.
                                                                             
Cauley-Stein has been one of the leading contributors throughout Kentucky’s 38-0 season so far. He averages 9.1 points per game to go with 6.5 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.7 blocks.

Cauley-Stein is the first AP first-team All-America selection to average less than 10 points per game.

In nine wins over ranked opponents he averaged team highs in points (10.6) and rebounds (8.1).

One of the nation’s most effective defenders, Cauley-Stein leads UK in steals (65) while ranking second in blocked shots (65) on the nation’s top-ranked field-goal percentage defense.

This season Cauley-Stein has been a First Team All-Southeastern Conference selection and SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He was also the SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player, and was named to the Midwest Region All-Tournament Team.

Averaging 25.8 minutes per game as part of UK’s platoon system, Cauley-Stein’s numbers are more impressive when viewed on a pro-rated basis, as he averaged 14.2 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 1.9 steals per 40 minutes.

Capable of guarding all five positions, Cauley-Stein is the only 7-footer in the country to rank in the top 215 nationally in steals per game. His length came into play in Saturday’s Midwest Regional Final when he altered multiple Notre Dame shots down the stretch.

Earlier this season, Cauley-Stein became the first player in school history to collect 200 or more career blocks and 100 or more career steals. He's also one of eight players in program history to have 500 or more rebounds, 100 or more blocks, and 75 or more steals.

Towns leads UK with eight double-doubles this year. Having averaged 10.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game, Towns stepped up his scoring down the stretch in the Elite Eight scoring a career-high 25 points while also notching career highs in assists (four) and steals (two) in what to-date was the biggest game of his career.

Towns was named Midwest Region MVP last weekend.

He was also SEC Freshman of the Year, First Team All-SEC and a member of the SEC All-Freshman Team.

Anthony Davis was UK’s last consensus First Team All-America selection, in 2012.

Julius Randle was a Third Team All-America selection by the AP and NABC last season.

Since 1984, the NCAA has applied a standardized point system to those teams designated as "major" All-American teams to determine consensus teams. The point system consists of three points for first team, two points for second team and one point for third team.

The top five totals plus ties are first team and the next five plus ties are second team.