From Comcast SportsNetGAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- If there were any questions about Florida's status in the Southeastern Conference following a loss at Arkansas last week, the Gators put those to rest Tuesday night.With another lopsided win in league play.And against defending national champion Kentucky, which had freshman star Nerlens Noel go down with a knee injury.Scottie Wilbekin had 14 points and eight assists, Pat Young recorded his sixth double-double of the season and No. 7 Florida handled the 25th-ranked Wildcats 69-52.The Gators (20-3, 10-1 SEC) snapped a five-game losing streak in the series and improved to 12-0 at home.This one solidified Florida's spot atop the SEC."They're an outstanding basketball team," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "They were last year, they are this year. They're well coached, they're talented, they're very physical. Their guards are just jerking balls out of our guys' hands. We couldn't get near the basket on Young. He just physically took away the rim. And they're very active."The Wildcats (17-7, 8-3) lost for the first time in six games, and it may have been costly.Noel, the nation's leading shot-blocker, injured his left knee in the second half and was taken to a campus hospital for tests.Noel, a forward who averages 10.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.5 blocks a game, landed awkwardly on his leg with about 8 minutes to play. He screamed in pain as trainers rushed to his side. Teammates carried him to the locker room. After the game, trainers pushed him through the halls of the O'Connell Center in a wheelchair and with his left leg in a brace."I'm physically sick right now for him," Calipari said. "What I'm hoping is it's not the extreme. I'm hoping it's some sort of twist, but we don't know."Florida had a comfortable lead before the injury.The Gators opened a double-digit lead, 31-19, in the first half on consecutive 3-pointers by Wilbekin, Mike Rosario and Kenny Boynton -- backbreaking shots that frustrated Calipari and had his players looking dazed and confused.Florida extended it to 16 points on Rosario's layup. It was the biggest deficit the Wildcats had faced all season.And they did little to erase it.Young and fellow big man Erik Murphy, who was in early foul trouble, carried the load in the second half.Young made a basket with a nifty, up-and-under move, had a reverse layup and added a sweet, left-handed hook. He finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks."When he gives incredible effort and plays with a really good motor, he's capable of getting double-doubles every night," said Florida coach Billy Donovan, who improved to 2-7 against Calipari. "He rebounded. He made great effort plays, kept balls alive. He did a really good job."Murphy drained a 3-pointer after taking a charge on the other end. He also had three blocks.The Gators needed big games from Young and Murphy considering they played a second game without forward Will Yeguete and were undersized against the Wildcats.Nonetheless, the difference was guard play.Wilbekin sliced through the lane at will, creating open shots for teammates and getting Kentucky's players out of position. Noel, Archie Goodwin and Willie Cauley-Stein spent time on the bench in foul trouble."I really thought he played an all-around, very, very good game," Donovan said of Wilbekin, who was benched to start Saturday's win against Mississippi State.Fellow guard Rosario finished with 12 points for Florida, which has won every conference game by double digits. Murphy chipped in 10 points, and Casey Prather added 12 points and two blocks and took several charges, proving again to be a capable replacement for Yeguete.Cauley-Stein and Julius Mays led Kentucky with 10 points apiece.The Wildcats shot 42 percent from the field and had 17 turnovers."We just played soft, scared, uptight," Mays said. "We let the pressure get to us. Usually, we're really good with the press. I don't know what it was today, but we just weren't tough enough."Calipari warned reporters Monday that beating Florida would be a difficult task, especially since the Gators have played so well at home and have a much more experienced roster.The most significant disparities came in the paint and off turnovers. The Gators scored 36 points in the paint and 20 points off turnovers; the Wildcats had 26 points down low and just five off Florida's 11 turnovers.Afterward, though, all the talk was about Noel's injury."I don't know what ended up happening, but it was clear from him moaning in pain that he was struggling," Donovan said. "I admire the way he plays and I admire his energy. I don't know how badly he's hurt, but the energy came from a hustle play. It kind of embodies who he is as a player. He's a hustle-play guy, and you just feel sad if there's any kind of length or duration that he's out because everybody admires in this league, coaches-wise, how he plays the game."
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while giving The Walking Dead credit for delivering a pile driver to me as a TV viewer last night. I did not see all of that coming.
*Plenty of questions and answers about the Calgary Flames as they’ve looked a little shaky in the early going this season.
*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough has the Edmonton Oilers straightening things out after the brutal loss to Buffalo.
*NHL captains like Steve Stamkos carry the heavy weight of tradition on their shoulders as they go about their business.
*The Hockey News wonders if Patrice Bergeron is the best defensive forward to ever play in the NHL. I’m certain he’s in the conversation, but that’s a big, bold statement that deserves some heavy consideration. After all, he never had to defend Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Mike Bossy, Gordie Howe or any other number of offensive stars. I certainly think he should be in the select club he would join if/when he wins his fourth Selke Trophy.
*Minnesota D-man Matt Dumba was nearly scratched by the Minnesota Wild, and he says that he’s never going to let that happen again.
*The Anaheim Ducks placed Simon Despres on long term injured reserve as they try to stay afloat salary cap-wise, and avoid dealing off a player in-season.
*For something completely different: The Boston Celtics break ground on a new practice facility adjacent to the new Bruins place.
BRIGHTON, Mass. -- When it comes to finding ways to attract the best talent, colleges and universities often seek to upgrade their training facilities as an enticement to prospective players.
So why should it be any different at the pro level?
The Boston Celtics had a groundbreaking ceremony Monday morning for The Auerbach Center at New Balance Headquarters.
“When you think he was hired in 1966 and they’re still honoring him, it’s very humbling,” said Randy Auerbach, Red’s daughter.
New Balance officials echoed similar sentiments about the legendary Red Auerbach, the architect of arguably the greatest dynasty in professional basketball.
“Red Auerbach was a true entrepreneur whose passion for winning and dedication to the sport of basketball and the Boston Celtics was equally matched with his commitment to people and his local community,” said Jim Davis, Chairman and Owner at New Balance. “New Balance is extremely proud to join with the Boston Celtics in honoring his professional achievements and personal values through ‘Red’s House’ at our Boston world headquarters.”
Celtics president Rich Gotham cited several benefits to moving the team to a state-of-the-art practice facility closer to Boston.
Among the reasons given was the potential for the practice facility to be a potential enticement for free agents.
“Players spend more time in the practice facility than they do in the arena they play in certainly, and maybe more than they do at home,” Gotham said. “So having a place where they feel comfortable, a place where they want to spend time to improve themselves across the board … it’s all coming together in a pretty big way. The best players know it’s integral to their success that make sure that support is there, that infrastructure is there. So when we’re out talking to a player, we’re going to be talking about this practice facility we’re building. Because we do think it’s an important part of our story.”
Some of the features of the new practice facility will include:
· Two state-of-the-art parquet floor basketball courts where the team will practice
· Leading edge audio-visual technology throughout the facility
· Expanded strength and conditioning, training, and recovery facilities
· Best-in-class locker rooms and players’ lounge
· Physical therapy areas including hydrotherapy pools
· Sports science and nutrition facilities
· Expanded media work room, press conference and broadcast facilities
· A flexible hospitality area designed for community relations activities, partner gatherings and other guest events
· Work space for the team’s coaching and basketball front office staffs
While the facility will have all the bells and whistles you would come to expect in a new facility, Gotham said there will be a balance of sorts struck between that and the franchise’s longstanding history.
“What will be clear is it will be … at that intersection of, which is a strange intersection, of innovation but honoring our tradition,” Gotham said. “This will be a building that’s state-of-the-art, moving forward. But at the same time, I think one of the things we’re lucky to have is this treasure trove of great guys who came before us who left great wisdom and great quotes. You can see a lot of that built in. Coach Stevens is big on having motivational phrases around for the guys to see every single day when they come in for practice. If those come from Red Auerbach and Bill Russell, all the better. You’ll see us incorporating those kind of things.”