Mark Story: UK-IU rivalry too good to jettison

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistApril 9, 2012 

Indiana Hoosiers guard Victor Oladipo (4) dunked over Kentucky Wildcats guard Darius Miller (1) finishing with 13 points as Indiana beat #1 Kentucky 73-72 on Saturday December 10, 2011 in Bloomington, IN. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff

MARK CORNELISON — Herald-Leader Buy Photo

Fast-break points from the March Madness hangover:

21. Quick quiz for Kentucky fans: Name the five most memorable games from UK's 2011-12 NCAA championship season?

20. The answer: If most took truth serum before replying, I think the answer would be the two Louisville games, the two Indiana games and the meeting with North Carolina in Rupp Arena.

19. Moral of the story: Rivalry games just mean more. Which is why the following news is so potentially disappointing.

18. UK-IU in jeopardy? Indiana Coach Tom Crean told ESPN.com that the future of the Cats and Hoosiers, who have played every year since 1970, is up in the air. Indiana may add Kansas to its schedule and won't play both UK and KU. Remember, this came after Kentucky Coach John Calipari ran an Internet poll last winter asking fans whether they preferred that UK stop playing either IU, U of L or UNC?

17. Post-General letdown. In the 1970s and '80s, UK-IU was as good a rivalry as college basketball had. But once Bobby Knight was ousted in Bloomington before the 2000-01 season, the UK-IU series lost a lot of juice.

16. Series roaring back to life. Last season, Kentucky and Indiana played twice, and both games crackled. The first meeting, decided in Indiana's favor by Christian Watford's buzzer beater, was arguably the most-talked about game of the college regular season. The NCAA tourney contest, a 102-90 Kentucky revenge victory, was the most entertaining Big Dance game I've ever seen in person.

15. No time to stop. So after the rivalry finally is on the verge of returning to the level of its 1970s and '80s glory days, the schools are going to let it end?

14. Memo to Crean and Cal: For the sake of college basketball, don't let UK-IU stop.

13. Kentucky basketball "Triple Crowns": As has been much commented upon, when UK won the 2012 NCAA crown, Cats forward Darius Miller joined Darrell Griffith as the only males in our state's history to play for a high school basketball state champion, win Mr. Basketball honors and play on a men's Division I NCAA hoops champ.

12. What about the females? In recent days, several readers have inquired if any girls basketball players from Kentucky had achieved "the triple?" Two have.

11. Lisa Harrison. The 6-foot-1 forward led Southern High School to the 1988 state title as a junior, was named Kentucky Miss Basketball in '89 and was a sophomore on Tennessee's 1991 NCAA champions.

10. Ukari Figgs. As a senior in 1995, the guard led Scott County to the state title and earned Miss Basketball honors. Figgs went on to star on the 1999 Purdue team that claimed the NCAA crown.

9. Figgs' "quadruple": Taking her basketball achievements even a step higher, Figgs also played for the Los Angeles Sparks when that team won the 2001 WNBA championship.

8. Rick Pitino. Went 6-2 against Louisville as Kentucky head coach; is now 4-8 against Kentucky as Louisville head coach and has lost seven of the last nine head-to-head meetings with the Cats.

7. Tom Jurich coaching hires. In the three most visible sports, coaches hired by the U of L athletics director are now 20-18 against UK (8-6 in football; 4-8 in men's basketball; 8-4 in women's basketball).

6. Mitch Barnhart coaching hires. In the three most visible sports, coaches hired by the UK Athletics Director are now 11-13 against U of L (4-5 in football; 4-2 in men's basketball; 3-6 in women's basketball).

5. Kentucky-Louisville football. The game is the season opener in 2012, and ESPN announced Monday that it will telecast Cats-Cards live after having kickoff moved to Sunday afternoon (Sept. 2) at 3:30 p.m.

4. Moving the game around the schedule. Starting in 2007, UK, at the insistence of former head coach Rich Brooks, ended the modern tradition of playing Louisville as the season opener when the game is in Lexington. U of L has continued to play UK first in its home games.

3. TV exposure when the game is the opener: Kentucky-Louisville on the first weekend has been on ESPN (2006), ESPN (2008), ABC (2010) and will be on ESPN (2012).

2. TV exposure when the game is not the opener: Kentucky-Louisville on weekends other than the season's first has been on ESPN Classic (2007), ESPNU (2009) and ESPNU (2011).

1. Should be the opener: If one of the goals of playing the UK-U of L football series was to promote the pigskin sport in our basketball-obsessed state, it is now inarguable that the Cats-Cards game lands on more prominent TV networks on the first week.

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230. Email: mstory@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @markcstory. Blog: markstory.bloginky.com

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