By LARRY VAUGHT
10:25 AM EDT, March 15, 2013
NASHVILLE — He still calls his two years at Kentucky working on Billy Gillispie’s coaching staff a “good experience” but today Tracy Webster says he is “all orange” and enjoying life on Cuonzo Martin’s staff at Tennessee.
“It’s a good situation. A great place to be. Good players, good staff. My wife likes it. What more can you ask for?” said Webster Thursday after Tennessee beat Mississippi State to advance to Friday’s quarterfinal showdown with Alabama.
Webster and Martin played against each other in college when Martin was at Purdue and Webster at Wisconsin.
“Basketball players enjoy being around basketball players. I was always a friendly guy. He was always a great guy. We are around the same age, so it is a good fit,” Webster said.
He had hoped Kentucky would be a “good fit” when he joined Gillispie. However, Gillispie was fired after the second season.
“It was a good experience. You had a chance to see what another school was like. A lot of things were great. I have not put too much thought into it. But it was a great experience for me and my wife,” Webster said. “I text that old staff at times. We talk on the phone a little bit. It is tough to do that during the season because we are all ripping and running.”
Webster says Calipari — who watched his team lose by 30 points at Tennessee last month — has done a “great job” in his four years at Kentucky. “He’s had NBA guys he has coached up well and he won a championship. That’s what is expected at Kentucky,” Webster said.
He’s been happy to see the success former Cats Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks have had in the NBA.
“They were good players. They worked hard, too, and they both are really good guys,” Webster said.
Meeks had a career game Jan. 13, 2009, when he scored 54 points in a 90-72 win at Knoxville with Webster on the UK¿bench.
“When he calls me and says something about it, I think about it,” Webster laughed and said. “Right now I am here and I am Tennessee orange. You work the job you have and try to do a good job. Jodie will call every now and then and, not that he would brag about it, but someone else will bring it up and he will call on 3-way and talk about it a lot.”
Campaigning: Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings wore a blue tie Thursday night when his Commodores beat Arkansas 75-72 to advance to play Kentucky in the quarterfinals.
“I wore this intentionally because I was hoping – it’s kind of like a political vote with the undecideds – I was hoping the undecided Kentucky fans would cheer for us, so I wore the blue (tie) just in the event I could get the undecided vote,” he said.
Memorable wins: Georgia freshman Charles Mann couldn’t keep his team from losing to LSU here Thursday, but he would not deny that a regular-season win over Kentucky was one he’ll remember.
“Just beating Kentucky, the defending champion, was a great feeling. We played well and had some tough losses but that showed us we can play with anybody when we can handle Kentucky like that. It’s a game you don’t forget,” Mann said.
Mann said he knew UK’s freshmen from playing against them in AAU games in high school.
“I played against all of them. I played Archie (Goodwin) a lot. He is a good player. A slasher/score. Just a good competitor like he is now,” Mann said. “It’s no surprise what he is doing at Kentucky this year. I knew he was capable of putting up numbers and doing what he is doing because he’s always done that.”
Tennessee senior guard Skylar McBee said the Vols’ 30-point home win over UK “definitely” was memorable for him.
“It is one of those things that Kentucky is an opponent we respect, but it is a rivalry,” McBee said. “It is one of those things where you really want to beat them when we get to play them. Doing that the way we did is definitely one of the games I will remember the rest of my career.”
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