OSCAR L. COMBS
CATS' PAUSE EDITOR/PUBLISHER
'Cats need win against Indiana in the worst way
Enough is enough, so let's talk about something positive for a change.
It would be easy to look back and dissect the Bowling Green disaster It would be just as easy to say Kentucky could have lost to Marshall in the consolation game of the UKIT.
And you wouldn't have been wrong on either count.
But everyone has heard enough of that.
Let's talk about (he future, a future that will be history by the time some of you read this column later in the week.
First on the agenda will be Kentucky's date with Indiana Tuesday night at Rupp Arena. !t won't be just another game and 1 don't care what Bobby Knight says to the contrary.
Five times the General has walked into Rupp Arena with his Hoosiers and five tunes ihe> ha\e left losers. If he's ever going to turn the tables, this year is his opportunity
And they should. But will they?
Yes. it appears the Hwsiers are headed in the right direction and the 'Cats are headed south, even after rallying back to beat Marshall Saturday.
Knight could never be in better position for a victory here. But never has Eddie Sutton needed a shot in the arm like he needs Tuesday either.
First of all, a victory over Indiana would be a much-needed boost for confidence and morale for both the team and its fans. Nothing is enjoyed so much by Wildcat fans as a victory over the Big Red (unless it's a victory over another variety of Big Red)
The game will also be televised nationally by ESPN with one Dick Vitale as the color analyst. We don't have to explain further on this matter.
The mountain being challenged by Sutton and his staff seems to be higher as the da>s go b\
Being such a \oung team, this club will bounce from tune to tune, and that can be expected of a team which sometimes has three Freshmen and two sophomores in the lineup.
The upset loss to Bowling Green was a devastating one and the emotional fallout of that one came close to playing a critical role in the following game.
Such is the emotion of young players. And just as a loss can create a mental letdown, an emotional victory can create confidence for a young team.
That's why a victory over Indiana is so important. It can have far-reaching effects on Kentucky's game with Austin Peay next week and in turn would have the 'Cats eager for a Louisville challenge or seeking a rug to crawl under if UK should suffer back-to-back losses.
Victories over Indiana and Austin Peay would give UK a 6-5 mark (the first time this year UK would be over .500) and guarantee the 'Cats of an even record as Kentucky begins Southeastern Conference play next week.
That, in itself, would be an accomplishment for a team which counts seven of its
top nine players as either freshmen or sophomores.
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In a move which figures to add a great deal of credibility to the UK athletics department, acting athletics director Joe Burch plans to hold a monthly press conference to discuss topics concerning UK athletics with the media.
Last Friday, Burch was available for an hour-and-a-half session with local and state media at Wildcat Lodge. Everything from the current NCAA investigation to monitoring of athletes' academic progress to his interest in the permanent athletics director's job was discussed rather frankly with the media.
Burch told the media he is in the process, ot making several important decisions, including one which will result in the hiring of additional personnel in academic areas designed to help UK athletes get a better education at UK.
At the meeting Burch:
?Said UK will admit guilt to some minor violations to the NCAA but said final decisions have not yet been made on the major allegations.
?Said each and every UK coach (in basketball) would be heard before the uni\ersit\ submits its finding to the NCAA at the end of January. He also said UK should have no problem in meeting the new extended deadline.
Said he believes the athletics department should become more involved with the rest of the university's community so everyone will feel they are more of a UK family.
*Dlnsisted the last in-house investigation by UK (one which was triggered by the Lexington Herald-Leader's Pulitzer Prize-winning stories) was a thorough one but one which was hampered by the newspaper's articles. He said those identified in the articles refused to confirm what was quoted in the newspaper articles. Burch was an intregal part of that UK investigation.
?Admitted he had thought of how few basketball players might be left at Kentucky next season if the NCAA should level a heavy hammer on the UK basketball program.
Because of the length and depth of the press conference, we believe the entire press session will be of interest to you. Because of our holiday schedule and the UKIT, we won't be able to bring that to you this week. The entire text will be published in the next issue of TCP, dated Jan. 7.
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HITS AND MISSES . . . Only a couple thousand basketball fans turned out for the Thoroughbred Classic last Saturday, but those who did show up saw an exciting 42-point exhibition from New Albany (Ind.) Floyd Central's Pat Graham, but it was Lafayette's Generals who once again pulled the big upset. In
other action, Tates Creek beat a Japanese all-star team while Bryan Station upset Chattanooga (Tenn.) Brainerd 77-71 in double overtime and Williamson (W.Va.) High turned back Henry Clay 61-55. I think it would be safe to say part of the reason for the low attendance was the fact the four-game classic had no UK-bound players in it, at least at the moment. Two players UK was interested in at one time, Graham and Brainerd's Malcom Mackey, have already committed to other schools. And the NCAA cloud over the UK program has just about eliminated any recruiting talk among Kentucky fans . . . Down the road in Louisville, former UK assistant Leonard Hamilton and his Oklahoma State Cowboys pushed Denny Crum's Cardinals to the final wire before bowing 92-90. Johnny Pittman. the seven-foot Texas prep star who originally signed with UK. played just three minutes and did not score. A number of Lexingto-nians made the trip to Louisville to watch Hamilton's first game in the commonwealth as a head coach. Among those at Freedom Hall were ex-Wildcats James Blackmon and Ed Davender . . . Attending the first session of the UKIT last week with former ex-Wildcat Roger Harden was his father. Al Harden, who was in town to catch a glimpse of another son who played a pair of games in the commonwealth over the weekend. The Hardens' youngest son. Rodney Harden, plays for Liberty University which defeated Eastern Kentucky Saturdav and plaved Morehead State on Monday night .
For you readers who live outside the state, check your local television listings as to when the Kentucky-Louisville game will be played. It will be played on either Dec. 31 or Jan. 1. depending on the playoff schedule of the NFL. CBS Sports will be televising the game and the network will announced the day and time of the game after this weekend's pro football playoffs . . . UK officials estimated the attendance at the Friday session of the UKIT in excess of 20.000. but I'd be willing to bet everything I own that the actual turnstiles' count isn't even close to that figure. In light of all the other problems around the campus, you'd think they wouldn't be so absurb to insult the intelligence of those in attendance by suggesting such a number ... To say UK coach Eddie Sutton was upset with the 'Cats' performance Friday night would be stating the obvious. The locker room was closed for almost one hour after the game. The game ended at approximately 11 p.m. and it was very close to midnight before reporters, most of them working on deadline, were allowed in. In fact, it was the first time in my memory that a player wasn't even made available for the postgame "Star of the Game" show on the UK radio network. Later. Sutton said the players used the time to speak out and get some things off their chest. He termed the session very beneficial for the team's morale and future . . . You talk about pressure, had UK lost the consola-
tion contest to Marshall, it would have made history in a number of ways. It would have been the first time in the history of Rupp Arena that the 'Cats had lost back-to-back games. It would have been the first time that UK had lost both
"I Because of the holidays, we will not be publishing next week. TCP will resume printing with the Jan. 7 issue.
games in the UKIT. It would have been the first time UK had lost three games at home within an 11-day period at Rupp Arena. And a loss would have given the Cats a 3-6 record, the worst start since they moved to Rupp Arena in 1976 and the school's poorest start since Kentucky began the 1926-27 season by losing eight of its first nine games en route to a 3-13 overall record . . . Kentucky coaches have been on the recruiting trails recently. UK assistant Dwane Casey took in the King of the Bluegrass tourney at Louisville Fairdale last week. Although there's been very little mention of recruiting of late, looks like Kentucky's best shot of going after talent is going to be the junior college route and working ahead on underclassmen . . . While the Wildcats went through a two and half hour workout on Thursday prior to the UKIT. coach Sutton was able to make only the final 30 minutes or so. He was meeting up with his attorney. Terry McBrayer. along with UK acting athletics director Joe Burch and UK's hired legal counsel. Jim Park. They were discussing the NCAA investigation and going over material compiled by the university . . . Isn't it nice how some schools can skirt around the rules, like the University of Georgia football team? According to a wire service story over the week, two Georgia football players will be ineligible to attend Georgia next semester, but they will be allowed to participate in the Gator Bowl later this month. Seems as though the Bulldogs are going to a technicality of an appeal process to keep the players eligible. The players reportedly do not have the necessary grade-point average to be allowed to stay in school. For a program which has experienced such an academic scandal, you'd think officials wouldn't even consider such an appeal, but one has to wonder if the fact it's Yince Dooley's last game and that one of his top stars (running back Tim Worley) happens to be involved, perhaps, just perhaps. Georgia officials are turning their heads to this one. And I thought Jan Kemp was still on campus . . . Staying on the subject of right and wrong, can Kentucky fans be anything but pessimistic after what happened to the Houston football program last week? The Cougars were hit with a three-year probation which includes a ban on post season bowls for two years and no live television for one season. The Cougars will also have their scholarships cut in half (jo 15) (Continued on page 25)