Report: Bill Simmons leaving ESPN

This should get interesting. Not a big fan of Bill Simmons on the air, but love Grantland and his devotion to pro basketball. He changed the game. Where will he land?

Update: Here’s a statement from ESPN

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Anthony DeSclafani experiencing control problems

In Cincinnati’s 7-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Thursday night, Reds’ starter Anthony DeSclafani walked four batters in five innings, which continued an alarming trend.

After exhibiting good control over his first three starts, DeScalfani has been wild in his last two. Acquired from Miami in the Matt Latos trade, the right-hander walked six batters in his first four starts, covering 26 innings. In his last two starts, the 25-year-old DeSclafani has walked nine in 10 innings.

“I put myself in a lot of jams,” said DeSclafani after Thursday night’s loss. “Definitely wasn’t happy with this outing. I kind of felt like I was fighting myself mechanically and I wasn’t getting ahead of hitters at all.”

Here is a look at the former Florida star’s starts this season.

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Related link: Cincinnati Reds 2015 results and schedule in spreadsheet

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BBL: Caleb Swanigan back on open market

Big Blue Links for Friday:

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SEC: Florida hires Mike White as basketball coach

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SEC links for Friday

Photo of new Florida coach Mike White by Ethan Hyman/McClatchy

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Big Blue Links: Kentucky baseball, softball both fall

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Big Blue Links for Thursday:

Mistakes made the difference as UK baseball lost 5-2 to No. 2 Louisville on Wednesday night, reports Mark Maloney of the Herald-Leader.  “We had plenty of opportunity to score some runs,” UK Coach Gary Henderson said. “But we weren’t able to take advantage of it.”

Kentucky softball loses in walk-off fashion to Tennessee in the first round of the SEC Tournament. It was Kentucky’s third walk-off loss to the Vols in the span of a week. Kentucky dropped to 29-24 for the season.

Kentucky women’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell provided an off-season update on Wednesday, reports Jennifer Smith of Herald-Leader. Makalya Epps has been suspended after her alcohol-related charge. Janee Thompson is progressing well in her rehab from leg surgery.

My column says coaches who want to change the graduation transfer rule are upset they’ve lost control over players. And, of course, the coaches are being hypocritical.

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Two encouraging signs for the Reds

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Cincinnati’s 7-1 win at Pittsburgh on Tuesday night pulled the Reds back to 13-13 for the season. It also provided Bryan Price’s club a couple of positive signs for the immediate future.

One was starting pitcher Michael Lorenzen. Making his second start since Homer Bailey was placed on the disabled list and then had Tommy John surgery, the No. 38 pick in the 2013 major league draft allowed just three hits and one run over six innings to get the win. In two starts, Lorenzen has allowed 11 hits and four runs over 11 innings. He has walked four and fanned nine.

Tuesday’s second bright spot was left fielder Marlon Byrd. The free agent signee hit his fourth homer of the season, his third in the past six games. The 37-year-old veteran got off to an excruciatingly slow start, hitting .115 through April 22. Since then, Byrd is 11 of 36 (.306) with two doubles, four homers and nine RBI.

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Big Blue Links: UK baseball faces No. 2 Louisville

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Big Blue Links for Wednesday:

Kentucky baseball hosts No. 2 Louisville on Wednesday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The Cats lost a 2-1 heartbreaker in 10 innings at U of L last week. A win over the Cardinals would certainly help Gary Henderson’s team in its quest for an NCAA bid.

My notes column leads with a discussion of the possible motivation behind John Calipari’s post on Coachcal.com in which he explains why he used the platoon system last season and why he probably will never use it again. The platoons have received a lot of scrutiny as possible reason why Kentucky has failed in its pursuit of top-notch recruits of late.

Skal Labissiere finishes No. 1 in the final Scout prospect rankings for 2015, reports Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader. So for all the hand-wringing over Kentucky’s recent recruiting whiffs, the Cats still have the top freshman signee in the nation.

John Gasaway of ESPN ranks Skal Labissiere as the ninth-best player in college basketball going into the 2015-16 season. It’s an insider (pay) article ranking the top 25. LSU freshman-to-be Ben Simmons ranks No. 1.

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Report: Arizona State might be coming to Rupp next season

According to the Arizona Republic, Arizona State is in negotiations to play a basketball game at Rupp Arena against Kentucky in 2015-16.

The Sun Devils are now coached by Bobby Hurley, the former Duke guard who brought Buffalo to Rupp last season. Hurley’s club led Kentucky 38-33 before losing to the top-ranked Cats 71-52 on Nov. 16.

According to the Republic, after playing a 2015-16 game in Lexington, the two schools would each other on a neutral site in 2016-17. That site could be in the Bahamas.

“No contract has been signed, but the two sides appear close to making it happen,” the Republic reported.

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John Calipari: ‘We may never platoon again’

With Kentucky unexpectedly losing out on some top previously undecided recruits of late, one of the most discussed topics is whether the platoon system used last season hurt the Cats in recruiting.

John Calipari doesn’t address that subject directly, but in a post on Coachcal.com, he says he will not platoon next season.

I’m also excited about who we have coming back and who we have joining us next season. I think how you will see us playing going forward will be closer to how we have always played. That won’t be platooning.

Calipari also appears to address possible concerns from future recruits about the number of shots UK players might be expected to get.

As it has always been in my career, I played the best players the most each game, and the best scorers shot the most. That has been my history, even with the platoon. This season, Aaron, Devin and Andrew were our leading shot takers, and as Karl improved, he moved into that group. Normally, we will average five guys in double figures, whether I’m playing five, six or seven. We will have four or five guys score 25 or more points in a game every year because if you have it going, we’re going to let you go. Those things didn’t change this past year, nor will they in the future.

Considering all the questions about recruiting, don’t think this post is a coincidence.

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NCAA names new coordinator of basketball officials

The NCAA has named J.D. Collins its new national coordinator for men’s basketball officiating. He replaces John Adams, who retired after the Final Four in Indianapolis. Adams had held the position since 2008.

Collins has been the coordinator of officials for the Mid-American Conference and the Summit League. He was an official himself for more than 20 years and worked two Final Fours.

“I am humbled and honored to be selected to fill this position,” said Collins, who is a 1992 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University. “Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of working with and being trained by some of the best officials, coordinators and leaders in the sport. That experience has prepared me for this exciting opportunity.”

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