LOUISVILLE-KENTUCKY NOTES

Pitino sure to get Big Boo treatment in Rupp

sex scandal not 'out-of-bounds' to E-Rupp-tion zone

jtipton@herald-leader.comJanuary 2, 2010 

Kentucky Coach John Calipari repeated his request that fans treat Louisville Coach Rick Pitino will respect during Saturday's game.

"Fans at Kentucky have always been the classiest fans in the country," Calipari said on Friday. "Always."

Always?

In 2004, UK fans chanted "Walsh is gay" at Florida player Matt Walsh, which prompted Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart to write a letter of apology to Gators Coach Billy Donovan.

In a 1984 NCAA Tournament game in Rupp Arena, a fan threw a quarter that hit U of L Coach Denny Crum in the head.

Sheray Thomas and Rob Lock were among UK players targeted for boos in home games.

At a news conference on Friday, Pitino said he was not concerned about fan reaction.

"It's no different than Pittsburgh, no different than West Virginia," he said. "No different than any place. I think you all (the media) make too much of that. It is a very strong home-court advantage. It gets the defense excited, it gets the rebounders excited. It's not going to affect the way we have to play to win. Fans can't score points. But they can create more emotion in a game."

Before Kentucky's game against Hartford on Monday, fans in the E-Rupp-tion Zone sounded eager to be brassy, not classy. The rivalry, plus the sex scandal involving Pitino that erupted earlier this year, were too good an opportunity to miss.

"It's the biggest rivalry game we play every year," said Jay Lawless, a UK sophomore majoring in journalism. "And with the scandalous stuff over the summer, it's time for payback."

Louisville has won the past two games and will be seeking an unprecedented third straight victory over Kentucky.

Dustin Dussex, a freshman from Winchester majoring in chemistry, said he had heard that 650 pictures of the woman involved with Pitino might be distributed in the E-Rupp-tion Zone.

When asked if there should be a limit to jeering, Dussex said, "There is no out-of-bounds in the E-Rupp-tion Zone."

Michael Kearney, a freshman from Winchester majoring in mechanical engineering, noted that Pitino had made himself vulnerable to taunts.

"That's easy to target," Kearney said. "Now we have something on him."

Bledsoe/Siva

Calipari said freshman guard Eric Bledsoe will be available to play after sitting out the Hartford game to rest an ankle.

Meanwhile, U of L could be without one of its freshman guards.

Pitino said Peyton Siva was doubtful because of a stomach flu. Siva will make the trip but has missed three practices this week. Siva, a McDonald's All-American as a prep senior, is averaging 4.6 points per game off thee bench.

No revenge

UK players dismissed the suggestion for a revenge motive after Edgar Sosa's three-pointer with 2.8 seconds left gave U of L a 74-71 victory last season.

"I really don't think it will have an effect on this game," Darius Miller said of Sosa's shot. "We were pretty mad and upset with the loss, as always. But I don't think we'll try to put that into this game."

Cal on Pitino

"I respect him," the UK coach said of Pitino. "We've gone nose-to-nose many times, in the NBA and college. And they were all good games.

"They were all wars, and I'd expect this will be the same."

Calipari said the focus should be on the players for both teams, not the coaches.

Pitino on Cal

On relationship with Cal:

"We're friendly," the U of L coach said. "We've been in rivalries before. Memphis and Louisville was a big rivalry. We've been in two rivalries, competed, and we've never had moments where we get angry. We've never had a John Chaney, that type of thing. We've never had that.

"I was telling somebody yesterday that I've known him since he was 15 years of age as a young camper. I've been fond of him all my life and respect the job he did at my alma mater, which is very important."

No secrets

Calipari has a 4-8 record coaching against Pitino on the college level. As UK coach, Pitino won four of five meetings against Calipari's Massachusetts teams. Pitino won four of seven games when he coached Louisville and Calipari coached Memphis in Conference USA.

"He knows how I coach, and I know how he coaches," Calipari said. "There are no surprises."

On the big screen

The Kentucky Theatre on Main Street in Lexington will show Saturday's Kentucky-Louisville basketball game live beginning at 3:30 p.m.

Admission is free.

Men at work

Tony Greene, Doug Shows and John Cahill will referee the game. ... Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellogg will call the game for CBS.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service