Senior guard Chanell Lockhart leaves WKU Lady Topper program

Former WKU guard Chanell Lockhart

Former WKU guard Chanell Lockhart

Western Kentucky senior guard Chanell Lockhart has left the Lady Topper program, the school confirmed Tuesday.

WKU declined to comment beyond confirming Lockhart’s departure.

Lockhart averaged 4.5 points and 4.1 rebounds in 19.2 minutes per game as a junior in her first season with the program. She joined the Lady Tops from Odessa (Texas) College.

The Chicago native known for her defensive tenacity started 16 games last season, including 15 against conference opponents. She started the final five games of the Sun Belt Conference regular season and the last two contests in the conference tournament.

Lockhart’s departure leaves WKU with 13 players on its 2014-15 roster – three seniors, two juniors, four sophomores (one redshirt) and four freshmen (one redshirt).

 

 

Join the Daily News in making “Gridiron Guessers” football picks this season

High school football is nearly upon us, my good people.

And in the spirit of football’s imminent return, I want to get you folks involved.

The Daily News staff has traditionally predicted 10 games each week in our Gridiron Guessers feature in the Friday edition. We’ll continue that, beginning this week, but I also want to hear from you on Twitter.

If you visit my Twitter page at twitter.com/zach_greenwell, you’ll find that the top pinned Tweet will be the 10 games we’ll be picking each week. I challenge you to Tweet me your predictions for those games, and let’s see who can out-pick our staff.

While I’m sorry to say I can’t offer you a monetary prize for your picking prowess, I do offer this: Each Monday, I write a notebook story looking back at the previous weekend’s high school football action. The Twitter user who guesses the most games correctly will get a shoutout in the Monday story with their Twitter handle published in the print and digital editions.

We also guess scores for these games in the paper, but no need for you folks to do that unless you’re feeling extra feisty.

I will ask for the total points scored in one game each week – it will be South Warren/Warren East for the first week – to use as a tiebreaker.

Keep in mind that your Twitter name will have to be something clean to run in print! 

As the season moves along, some of these games to be picked will be college and NFL, with a healthy dose of high school leading the way. Feel free to use this as a chance to beat us, mock us and throw rotten vegetables at any of the other reporters other than me.

Good luck!

Michelle Clark-Heard discusses Lady Toppers’ 2014-15 schedule

I had the chance to talk today with Western Kentucky women’s basketball coach Michelle Clark-Heard about the Lady Toppers’ 2014-15 schedule, which was released Tuesday.

You can see more about the schedule and the way the opponents stack up based on last year’s RPIs and records here.

Here are Heard’s comments about the schedule:

MICHELLE CLARK-HEARD

Schedule as a whole: “I think it’s a lot of challenges, but I’m super excited going into this season with the upperclassmen that we have. I feel like we’ve grown over these past couple of years. I’m really excited to be playing in the Preseason WNIT and the challenges that will bring. It should show us where we’re at and where we need to go.”

Was it time for this program to take on some challenges, both with opponents and traveling? “One of the things that the staff and I talked about was trying to be able to play and go on the road and play teams, and just be one of those teams where we could compete at the highest level. We’re still working to get to that point, but I felt like with our upperclassmen and our senior class, it was something we needed to try to put in place right now so we could build for the future.”

Is it getting more difficult to find teams to face you guys? “I credit Jeff Walz and teams like that, with the contracts we started. We want to be put in that position. Teams like Middle Tennessee and those types of teams have done that and been able to go different places and play and help their program grow to the point where they were last year, in the top 25. It happens that way, but I think you have to be realistic where you’re program’s at at that time.”

Conference USA slate: “I think this conference is going to be unbelievable. I’m excited to see how our kids step up to the challenge with our nonconference, because ultimately, it’s to get you prepared for conference. There is going to be a ton of competition and great coaches in this league.”

Thoughts on conference’s ‘mirror scheduling’ with the men’s games: “Every conference has to do what’s best for that conference in general. … It’s just like anything. Something’s you can’t control, and with the men’s schedule, it’s just how it worked out.”

By the numbers: First glance at WKU Lady Tops’ 2014-15 schedule

The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team released its full 2014-15 schedule Tuesday. You can check out the schedule as it stands – still with a few blanks for the Preseason Women’s NIT – below this post.

When the schedule comes out, I usually try to take a quick look at how it shapes up based on last year’s final RPI rankings and records.

Now, a few things to note with this process: First off, these are obviously last year’s results, so it’s hard to say what they mean for the year to come. But it does at least give us a look at where these programs are coming from, which is especially helpful for conference play as WKU dives into Conference USA.

Secondly, there are at least two – if not three – more games to pop up on the schedule in the Preseason WNIT. The Lady Tops open their season at home in that event against Central Arkansas, and they’re guaranteed at least three games. If they continue to play well and advance to some of the top talent in the field, that will obviously help these RPI/record numbers.

Lastly, WKU doesn’t know its second opponent in the Hofstra Thanksgiving tournament, but it will be the host Hofstra or Northern Iowa. For the sake of looking at numbers, I averaged those teams’ RPIs and records from last year into one potential opponent. They weren’t that far off anyway.

So away we go.

BEST NONCONFERENCE OPPONENT: Louisville — RPI: 8; last year’s record: 30-4

WORST NONCONFERENCE OPPONENT: Alabama A&M — RPI: 344 (of 347); last year’s record: 6-24

AVERAGE RPI OF NONCONFERENCE FOES (10 known so far): 186

WKU’S FINAL RPI LAST SEASON: 107

TOTAL RECORD OF NONCONFERENCE FOES LAST YEAR: 158-151

BEST CONFERENCE USA OPPONENT: Middle Tennessee — RPI: 17; last year’s record: 29-4

WORST CONFERENCE USA OPPONENT: Marshall — RPI: 270; last year’s record: 11-20

AVERAGE RPI OF CONFERENCE FOES: 148

TOTAL RECORD OF CONFERENCE FOES LAST YEAR: 220-186

AVERAGE RPI OF ENTIRE SCHEDULE: 165

TOTAL RECORD LAST YEAR OF ENTIRE SCHEDULE: 378-337

The Lady Tops will face some good competition in Conference USA, especially at the top with MTSU, Southern Miss (30 RPI) and UTEP (59). Two of the league’s best teams last year, East Carolina and Tulane, have departed, but WKU will still face Tulane in the Hofstra event.

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Kenny Perry caps final-round 68 at Valhalla with emotional birdie on No. 18

PGA Championship GolfLOUISVILLE — Kenny Perry finally had his moment on No. 18 at Valhalla Golf Club on Sunday.

The hole that caused Perry one of his greatest heartbreaks – a bogey that led to a playoff loss in the 1996 PGA Championship – yielded a birdie on his final hole in this year’s PGA in what is likely his final appearance in a regular-tour major.

After a dismal drive into the left rough on the 18th – nearly the same drive he hit in 1996, Perry noted – the Franklin resident punched out and stuck a 4-iron hybrid to within 4 feet to roaring applause.

Perry, who turned 54 on Sunday, was treated to the last of about five choruses of “Happy Birthday” from the gallery Sunday as he approached the 18th green for the final time.

He made the birdie putt to finish with a 3-under 68 – his best round of the tournament – and complete the event at 6 under overall, which was tied for 28th as of 5:15 p.m. CDT.

After the round, Perry spoke with the media, and I also talked with his wife, Sandy, and his caddie, Fred Sanders – who is also a Kentucky native.

Here are their comments:

KENNY PERRY

Final hole: “I thought that was pretty neat. I hit the same drive I hit in the ’96 PGA – dead left, and I’m thinking, ‘That’s the same shot I hit in the 72nd hole.’ At least I could get it back into the fairway, and then I hit 215 (yards), I hit the prettiest little 4-iron hybrid I’ve hit all week. … I could’ve used that 20-something years ago. That would have made my life a big game-changer.”

Happy Birthday chorus: “I’ve never heard ‘Happy Birthday’ sung so many times. Every hole. Poor Luke (Donald) was like, ‘Did you tweet out that it was your birthday, or what? How’d everybody know?’ But it was pretty special. All the people were behind me, and I had huge galleries. Pretty neat way to go out.”

Rain delay on No. 7: “I was playing nicely, and then when I had to sit down and wait an hour, my game wasn’t nearly as good. I fought it around. I didn’t make a bogey today, which I thought was pretty neat. Fifteen pars and three birdies.”

Door closing on PGA Tour? “I’m glad. I’m ready for it to. Thirty years of trying to make 3-footers, I’m ready to do something else. It’s been great. I had my time and my chance and my opportunities, and it was awesome. I enjoyed every bit of the ride.”

Upcoming schedule: “I’m taking eight weeks off after today. I’m looking forward to two months of just nothing. I’m not gonna really do anything, and then I’ll play the last four. I’ll play the two in the Carolinas, defend at the AT&T and play the Schwab Cup in Scottsdale. I’ve already played 20 events up to this point, a combination of both tours already this year, and our season on the Champions Tour is really kicking off. … I’m going to skip all those and go home and enjoy the family.”

More on final round: “It’s a dream way to end your career. If I could’ve scripted it, this is how I would’ve scripted it.”

His week as a whole: “I’m probably going to finish around 25th. That’s about as good as I can do. I told my caddie I didn’t really make too many mistakes out there. I just didn’t make enough birdies. It’s a big golf course for me. I hit a lot of hybrids this week. … I was looking where those other guys were hitting it. They’re hitting 7- and 8-irons, I’m back there hitting a hybrid. It’s time to move on.”

FRED SANDERS

Experience this week: “It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve got a lot of friends and family out here, too, so I’ve got a lot of relatives here. It’s been a lot of fun. I don’t look up when they yell my name. You get a little embarrassed.”

I saw you pointing to a few people in the crowd: “Yeah, well you pretend like you know who you’re talking to, but you could be pointing at anybody. It’s been fun. It’s been a good ride.”

Could he still compete out here? “We could come out here and make some pretty good money, but he just doesn’t want to go through the grind. It’s a pretty good life out there. It’s a little more relaxed. We could still spend a couple years out here and do some damage. I mean, we played two majors and finished 28th in both of them, so far. That’s not too bad.”

Is it really that he just doesn’t want the practice grind anymore? “He used to practice until his hands would bleed. I saw a lot of that, gauze taped around his fingers while he was playing golf. That’s not him anymore. He has two grandchildren and one more on the way, and he’s gonna have some fun. He said, “I’ll see ya in two months.’ I said, ‘OK.’ My schedule changes every day.”

Will he play a full Champions Tour schedule? “I think he’ll still play a full schedule out there, because it’s fun. He doesn’t have to – I do the course, so he doesn’t have to show up until Wednesday night. … I know the courses pretty well, or I will, and we’ll get it all figured out before he tees up. He’s able to stay three days at home.”

SANDY PERRY

This week: “It’s so special. It’s brought tears to my eyes several times, to just feel the love.”

The Happy Birthdays: “We had it like five times. It was so funny, before we got to the first tee, I said, ‘It would be so cool if they sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him. Ten seconds later, they started singing. So I was like, ‘Oh, they heard me.'”

Play halted at Valhalla; Perry on No. 7, 4-under for tourney

LOUISVILLE — So far, Kenny Perry’s 54th birthday has been a washout.

The Franklin resident’s final round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club was suspended around noon CDT Sunday after a torrential downpour drenched the already rain-soaked course.

Perry was set to hit his approach shot on the par-5 seventh hole when play was called and the players were removed from the course. Play was scheduled to resume at 1:40 p.m. CDT.

Perry is wrapping up what he’s said will likely be his final PGA Tour major appearance. He has five pars so far today, as well as a brilliant birdie on the par-3 third.

Perry nearly holed his tee shot on No. 3 but settled for a tap-in birdie. He’s at 4 under for the tournament.

Rory McIlory leads the tournament at 13 under but has yet to tee off today. His tee time with playing partner Bernd Wiesberger has been pushed to 3:19 p.m. CDT, which will make it a close call for the leaders to finish before dark.

Kenny Perry, Ryan Moore after Perry’s 2-under 69 in third round of PGA Championship at Valhalla

LOUISVILLE — Kenny Perry had a few opportunities to go very low Saturday at the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club, but the end result was another solid 2-under 69 to move him to 3 under for the tournament.

Perry had a wild first six holes that included two birdies, two bogeys and an eagle on No. 4. He shot even par on the back nine and drove the green in two on the par-5 18th, but three-putted to settle for par.

I spoke after the round with Perry and his playing partner for the third straight day, Ryan Moore. Their comments:

KENNY PERRY

On his round: “I played nicely. I struggle on (No. 2 and No. 6). Those are two hard holes for me out here, but I eagled 4. I drove it on the green. That hole’s going to have a lot of fireworks today. All in all, the score’s are really good. … It’s going to be a good day. There are a lot of scoring opportunities, which is kind of typical. Saturday’s usually the day they set it up and give us a chance to score. Tomorrow, you’ll see dead opposite. You’ll see really severe pin placements. It’ll be a severe test tomorrow.”

On being announced as ‘Mr. Kentucky’ each day on the 18th hole: “That’s quite a statement. I don’t know about that one. It’s pretty cool, though. I don’t consider myself Mr. Kentucky by no means. But I am a Kentuckian and proud of it.”

Looking forward to 54th birthday Sunday? “Not really. At my age, you don’t look forward to birthdays. Hopefully it’s just another nice day, I go out there and have a good round of golf. We’re going to have a good time tonight. They’ve got a big party for me tonight over at Mark Page’s house, so we’re going to have a good time tonight, enjoy this and come out tomorrow and have a good day.”

Thoughts after driving green on No. 4, then getting eagle: “I was thinking I needed that one 28 years ago, in 1996. That’s the drive I needed. That’s the exact thought that hit my head.”

Have you given the fans the show you wanted? “Oh yeah, by far. Shoot yeah. They’ve shown me a lot of love, and I’ve shown them a lot of love. … To be able to end it here in Kentucky, it couldn’t be any sweeter.”

Best memory of this week so far: “I felt like Tiger Woods or a rock star. I really did. In my whole career, I’ve never felt like that. Everybody on every hole was, ‘I’m from Bowling Green or Glasgow or Hopkinsville.’ Somewhere near Franklin, Ky. It’s been pretty incredible, to tell you the truth.”

RYAN MOORE

Perry said could be some fireworks in afternoon. That so? “It’s possible. It’s soft, and there’s not a lot of wind. There are some pins in some very accessible spots, and there could definitely be some good scores. It’s still Saturday at a major, and you still have to hit a lot of fairways and hit good shots and make putts. That’s never easy in a major.”

Perry’s reception after playing with him for three days: “He’s one of my favorite people to play with probably of all-time. I’ve always enjoyed playing with him. He was on tour for my first five or six years out here. He was always fun to play with. Obviously he’s loved and welcomed into every tee box, every green – everything out here. It’s kind of fun to see someone that’s that appreciated in his home area.”

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