UK-Notre Dame notes

Freedom Hall colors itself blue in hopes of wooing more Big Blue

jtipton@herald-leader.comDecember 8, 2010 

Arkansas Pelphrey Basketball

Arkansas head basketball coach John Pelphrey answers questions during an interview in his office on Monday, Nov. 5, 2007, in Fayetteville, Ark. Pelphrey hasn't talked much about Xs and Os since taking over as coach. Instead he's talked about attitude, intensity and an up-tempo style he hopes to bring to the Razorbacks. (AP Photo/Beth Hall)

BETH HALL — ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Kentucky State Fair Board paid for a refinishing and repainting of the court in Freedom Hall, a spokesman for the board said Tuesday.

Edward Brown, director of public relations and media, said the Fair Board paid "in the neighborhood" of $10,000 to $12,000 to switch the court from University of Louisville red to University of Kentucky blue, and change the Cardinals logo at center court to an interlocking "U" and "K."

"It's been in the works for some time," Brown said. "It didn't just occur in the last couple weeks."

UK will be part of a doubleheader in Freedom Hall on Wednesday night. The Cats play Notre Dame in the nightcap at 9:30. Arkansas plays Seton Hall in the first game.

The games are part of the Southeastern Conference-Big East Invitational.

U of L moved to the new KFC Yum Center in downtown Louisville. The Cards play San Francisco on Wednesday night at 7.

The change of the Freedom Hall court to UK colors produced "quite a bit of positive interest," Brown said. "No one said, 'Oh, no, I can't believe they put that in there' or a 'Shame on them' kind of thing."

The court trimmed in blue is color coordinated with Freedom Hall's upper-level seats, but it contrasts with the red seats in lower seating sections.

There are no plans to change the color of the seats.

"No, that won't happen," Brown said. "Those seats are just a couple years old. They'll stay as is."

Freedom Hall officials switched to blue in hopes of UK scheduling more than one game each season in the building, Brown said.

More games in Louisville?

Before UK played UNC Asheville in Freedom Hall last season, John Calipari lobbied for several games in Louisville each season. Such a schedule would help recruiting, the UK coach said. Later, Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart noted season-ticket holders in Rupp Arena were a priority.

When asked Tuesday about more games in Louisville each season, Calipari said, "You know what? I haven't spent any time thinking of it."

'Freedom Hall jinx'

An item in Notre Dame's notes to the media included a reference to breaking the "Freedom Hall jinx."

In their last four games in the building, the Irish have lost twice in overtime, once in double overtime and by five points.

"Like Coach (Mike Brey) says, we're bound to get one down there," Notre Dame forward Tyrone Nash said. "The basketball gods will hopefully tilt this one in our favor."

Pelphrey remembers

Arkansas Coach John Pelphrey, one of UK's Unforgettables, will lead his team against Seton Hall in the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader. He has vivid memories of Freedom Hall that date to family "vacations" to watch the state tournament.

"We didn't go to the beach or whatever," he told reporters in Arkansas. "We went to the state tournament."

Pelphrey said he and younger brother Jerry would not spend all their time in the stands watching games with their parents.

"They would literally turn us loose in Freedom Hall, and we'd be running around all over the place, just crazy," he said. "They never told us when to come back. I don't know how we got back, I don't know how they found us. But I can remember being in the hallway with one of my buddies, and over the loudspeaker the announcer going, 'Would Jerry Pelphrey please come to the scorer's table. We have your son.' I'm thinking, 'I'm dead. My dad's going to kill me, because my little brother was down there.'

"And if that wasn't enough, it happened twice in the same day. That's my first memory of Freedom Hall."

Shooter's gym?

Pelphrey lauded the shooting background in Freedom Hall. "The shooting background is terrific," he said. "It's very dark."

But when asked about Freedom Hall being a shooter's gym, DeAndre Liggins shrugged.

"I didn't know it was described as a shooter's gym," he said. "I never shot there well. If it is, it is."

Liggins did not play in UK's game in Freedom Hall last season. He sat out the season's first nine games for unexplained reasons.

As a freshman, he made one of four shots and scored two points against Appalachian State in Freedom Hall.

No Yum for UK?

Pelphrey told reporters he could not envision UK playing a home-away-from-home game in U of L's new arena.

"There's no way they're going to let Kentucky go into their building and set a record for the biggest crowd," Pelphrey said. "It's just not going to happen."

Etc.

■ UK freshman Doron Lamb and Notre Dame senior Ben Hansbrough are both coming off career-high 24-point games, Lamb at North Carolina and Hansbrough against Indiana State.

■ Brad Nessler and Jimmy Dykes will call the game for ESPN.

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