♦ Recruiting footprint: Looking at the recent rosters, Kentucky tends to recruit their players from Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois and Indiana, California, Georgia, plus random players from SC, OR, WA, OH, UT, CO and Quebec
♦ Gary Henderson named SEC Coach of the Year (SECBaseball, 5/20/12)
"There are a few things and one is that you have to have a group of returning players that want to have a better experience," Henderson said. "You've got to have someone in that returning group that wants to provide leadership from inside the program. We were fortunate that we had the group of guys and those types of individuals that wanted to provide that leadership.♦ One-on-one with Kentucky’s Gary Henderson (yahoo.com, 2/23/2010)
"The next thing you do is you do the best job you can at bringing in enough pitching. If you can't pitch out of the bullpen in this league, you are not going to win. That is not an opinion. That is a proven fact. We did everything we could in the recruiting process to bring in guys that could help immediately."
On offense Kentucky ranked first, second or third in virtually every category. UK led the league with 117 doubles and 847 total bases and ranked second in slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs scored, home runs and RBIs. In SEC play, UK led the league with 13 saves and ranked fourth in earned run average and total wins.
"Another thing that we really benefited from was playing so many freshmen last year. We have a lot of sophomore in the lineup. We really benefitted from having those guys get the experience last year and now they are very, very solid as sophomores. I think those are three things.
You can’t say Kentucky coach Gary Henderson hasn’t seen the lay of the land.♦ Weaker bats fit Cats’ style (kykernel.com, 2/14/11)
The second-year skipper for the Wildcats has coached for programs on both sides of the country, including Pepperdine, Oregon State, Florida and now Kentucky.
Henderson arrived at UK six seasons ago with the idea of helping John Cohen turned the Wildcats into a consistent winner in the Southeastern Conference.
Henderson knew accomplishing that goal would be incredibly difficult. However, the Wildcats made a huge statement in 2006 by earning an SEC regular season title.
Just two years later, Cohen decided to head to Mississippi State, and Kentucky made the decision to promote Henderson to head coach. It was his turn to direct the program.
“I think some of the complaining from some of the coaches in our league is a bit overblown,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said. “You can still hit a home run, but you’ve got to hit it. You can’t cap it, you can’t get jammed, you can’t be out in front. You’ve got to hit it on the sweet spot.”♦ More mature lineup has UK optimistic (catsillustrated.com, 2/18/2010)
Henderson has always prided his teams on pitching and defense, and this philosophy stands to benefit the Cats when the new bats are introduced to live action this season.
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Henderson remains adamant that pitching and defense are what wins ball games, and that the new bats won’t have a major effect on his job as a coach.
“The game calling won’t be affected,” Henderson said. “That part, I think- that shouldn’t get in the way, that piece of it … The feel is it’s going to be much, much tougher to get a five spot when you’ve just given up some. I think that- to me as a coach, that’s what I think of. You’ve got to be able to throw strikes, you’ve got to absolutely do whatever you can to keep the freebies to a minimum.”
Having a year under their belts with hitting coach Brian Green should also begin to pay large dividends. Green arrived after former head coach John Cohen left for Mississippi State and brought with him an offensive style predicated a little more on small ball than trying to fill the bases and pop a three-run home run. While Henderson wants that to still be part of the Cats' arsenal he and Green have strived to construct a more balanced attack.
"What it means to me is an offense that can win a game more than one way," Henderson said. "Don't get me wrong, I'm on record as saying I'm a big fan of the three-run homer but the reality of it is about once a weekend you're going to have a really hard time hitting a three-run homer, minimum, and it's called Friday night. Three-run homers are hard to come by so you really want an offense that has multiple weapons.
"I want to be able to beat someone in a game where you don't leave the yard and have our kids know they can manufacture a run late. By no means does that mean that's the only way we want to score but the teams that do well pitch well, play great defense and have the ability to manufacture runs when they need to. There is more to offense than just clobber it."