Pitino urges UK fans to be patient

It has been nearly two decades since Rick Pitino first took the reins of a UK basketball program sinking into the depths of probation and embarrassment.

In the 1989-90 season, Pitino’s first year at UK, the Cats limped to a 14-14 record, but success was soon to follow in the 1990s as UK put together one of the more dominant decades in college basketball history.

Now, 19 years after taking the UK job and a decade after leaving Lexington for the NBA, Pitino promised Cats fans that the program would bounce back, as it did for him, under Gillispie’s guidance.

“Don’t get discouraged,” Pitino said. “He’s a terrific coach. What you saw last year with a hot team in Texas A&M, he’s going to get that type of talent in here. He’s a tireless worker and a great recruiter. This is going to be a journey for him, but just stay positive and you’re going to have a program like the old days.”

Gillispie’s tenure is off to a rough start.

The Cats are 6-7 and suffered embarrassing losses to mid-majors Gardner-Webb and San Diego and archrivals Indiana, Louisville and North Carolina.

Gillispie acknowledged his team’s talent deficiencies before the season when he said UK’s talent level “wasn’t where it needed to be,” but the Cats have failed to live up to expectations that were already lower than normal.

Pitino even told UK fans not to give up hope for this season.

“Kentucky now will get healthy,” Pitino said. “The SEC hasn’t been as strong; they’ll get healthy. They can not only do well in their conference but they’ve got their conference tournament at the end of the year when they’ll really be rolling.”

For now, Pitino said, UK fans need to relax and ride out the storm.

“Everybody panics too much,” he said.

Tempers flare during “Dream Game”

UK senior guard Ramel Bradley and Louisville forward Terrence Williams took the “Dream Game” rivalry to a new level during the second half Saturday when Bradley’s hard foul on U of L center David Padgett nearly led to a brawl.

Bradley’s foul sent Padgett sprawling across the floor, and though the UK senior appeared to make an attempt to help Padgett, Williams took exception to the foul.

Williams pushed Bradley from behind, but Padgett pulled Williams out of the melee before it could escalate farther.

Williams was charged a technical foul. Bradley received only a personal foul after initially being assessed an intentional foul.

“It’s basketball,” Gillispie said of the scrum.

Ryder Cup captain visits Rupp

Professional golfer Paul Azinger, the captain of the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup team, was in Rupp Arena for the UK-U of L game. Azinger was in Kentucky to promote the Ryder Cup, which will be held at Louisville’s Valhalla Golf Club in September.

“We’re looking forward to coming down here,” Azinger said. “We’re looking forward to the great fans of Kentucky being our 13th man. We’re going to try to get them fired up.”

The Ryder Cup is a four-day, match-play tournament that pits the 12 best American golfers against the 12 best golfers from Europe.

Three Kentucky natives have a chance to qualify for the team.

Franklin native Kenny Perry is the most experienced Kentuckian on the PGA Tour, and Campbellsville’s J.B. Holmes and Covington’s Steve Flesch are also Tour members with chances to make the team.