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A Look Inside UK Basketball

Yesterday I mentioned in my tardy post game thoughts that there was a legitimate reason why I needed Wink to cover me and recap UK’s loss to Mississippi State, so here’s my reason why:

I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with DeWayne Peevy, UK Associate Athletic Director and the media relations go-to-guy for Men’s Basketball. Even though I’m working in a job outside of sports, my ultimate goal is to be involved in athletics, and Mark Coyle, another Associate AD, was kind enough to put me in contact with DeWayne to schedule this behind the scenes look at UK basketball. It was a chance for me to see what working in media relations is all about, and see if it’s something that might be right for me. It was extremely valuable to me for my career goals, but it was also pretty cool for me as a fan, and that’s what I thought might interest my readers.

First, I met DeWayne in the amazing Craft Center athletic offices, where I spoke with him for a while about his career path and some of the things UK is working on. First he told me about W2K, a promotion that UK is just starting that is going to coincide with UK’s march to 2,000 wins. UK is at 1,982, and it’s not possible for UK to reach that mark this season (UK could win a maximum of 17 games the rest of the season), so it’s likely something that will be achieved in late 2009 or early 2010. W2K is going to honor the tradition of Kentucky basketball that we are all so aware of, and it’s going to help us countdown to big number 2,000. It’s not a race with North Carolina, but I sure would like to beat them. UNC is at 1,970 wins right now, and the lead is shrinking. Look for W2K to really get going the beginning of next season, but during last night’s game, a goose bump inducing video of the legendary UK-Duke game of 1998 was shown as part of the promotion.

Joe Craft Center-courtesy uky.edu

DeWayne also talked a lot about the blog that was just recently started by UK Athletics called Cat Scratches. Athletic Departments in general have not made much of an entry into the blogosphere due to concerns over maintaining objectivity, but I praise UK for taking a chance. There is such an appetite for information among UK fans that I think it’s going to be very successful, and they have done a great job with it so far. They are in a unique position because they have access to players and coaches even more so than traditional media, so the opportunity is there to really improve upon the already strong UK brand.

Just look at how they handled National Signing Day. They had a 4 hour long live blog from 9 am to 1 pm in which they reported faxed letters from prospects the second they came in. Not only that, but they made coaches available to fans for questions and comments (I even got one of my questions answered!). Who else has that kind of access?

Also, yesterday I met the guy, Eric Lindsey, who is in charge of Cat Scratches. I was in the same room as him for about 5 minutes, and he looked very familiar. Eventually, I asked him if he was from Louisville and he said “yes”. Then I asked him “did you play for Coach Knadler’s MRA basketball team in 8th grade?” He said “yes” again! Turns I played ball with the guy who runs Cat Scratches, small world, huh?

 Cat Scratches

One more cool thing about yesterday: I drove with DeWayne Peevy to Rupp Arena at about 3:45 to get set up for the game. We walked into the arena at floor level with the court dimly lit and the stadium completely empty, except for two other media relations staffers, John Hayden and Jamie Holloway. I got to walk out on Cawood’s Court, sit on UK’s bench, and walk under the baskets, which was really unbelievable. Such a surreal feeling to be in that building with it so quiet.

I hope you guys enjoyed hearing about what I saw, because I definitely enjoyed seeing it.  All in all, it was a great day (at least before tip-off).

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