INDIANAPOLIS — Several Kentucky players expanded the definition of Go Big Blue in this NCAA Tournament by wearing shoes that appeared to be green.
"It's a type of blue," Willie Cauley-Stein said. After grasping to describe the exact shade of blue on the shoes, he said, "It's kind of seaweed."
Cauley-Stein acknowledged "some lime" in the coloring and "highlights" in yellow.
Of course, the Cats remain true blue. The color had nothing to do with why some UK players, including James Young and Cauley-Stein, wear the shoes.
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"Super comfortable," Cauley-Stein said of Nike's Kobe 9 model.
'One of the greatest'
During Thursday's formal press conference, a reporter asked UK Coach John Calipari about senior Jon Hood.
"I can't begin to tell you how much he's grown," Calipari said. "From a young man that felt overwhelmed. Think about it. He played against 17 NBA players in his time. Seventeen. And they tried to kill him. ...
"He went from overwhelmed to a little angry to one of the greatest kids I've ever coached. (A player who) understands, is playing with joy, which is what we try to teach. You can't have the weight of the world on you. That when he goes in, he's not afraid to play."
As he did during the regular season, Calipari touted Hood as a future coach.
"He would make a great coach, if that's what he chooses," Calipari said. "Right now, he's coaching."
Much speculation swirled about Cuonzo Martin remaining Tennessee's coach beyond this season. During a season in which the Vols began 7-7 in Southeastern Conference play, a Bring-Back-Bruce petition circulated. That was a reference to former UT Coach Bruce Pearl.
"I hated the whole petition thing and the whole 'Bring-back-Bruce,'" forward Jarnell Stokes said. "I didn't like any of that talk at all."
Stokes stopped short of saying the Vols rallied down the stretch, winning eight of the last nine going into Friday night's game against Michigan, in an attempt to save Martin's job.
"I can tell you he's probably less stressed out," Stokes said of Martin's anxiety as a coach. "But I don't think any of that stuff got to him. Coach Martin didn't let any of that stuff get to him. Coach Martin doesn't really show emotion when it comes to things like that."
Martin, who had a three-year record of 63-40 at UT going into the Michigan game, received a $50,000 raise after last season. He is believed to be the 11th-highest paid coach in the SEC.
From time to time, Calipari questions the motives of reporters. Stokes did the same.
"Certain guys from the Memphis media love when I have a bad game," said Stokes, who is from Memphis. "They love to report that."
Sportswriter Brendan Quinn brought an unusual perspective to the Michigan-Tennessee game. Last season, he covered the Vols for the Knoxville News-Sentinel. This season, he covers Michigan for MLive Media Group, a cooperative of eight Michigan-based newspapers.
"In November, I thought both of them would end up in the NIT," he said.
Both the Vols and Wolverines lost four of their first 10 games.
Knoxville, Tenn., and Ann Arbor, Mich., are "two different worlds," Quinn said. The Vols in Knoxville "are the college team, the pro team all day-every day.
Pro teams from nearby Detroit dilute the plenty-strong interest in Michigan.
Mike Strange, a columnist with the Knoxville News-Sentinel, was part of a group that visited the high school gym in Knightstown, Ind., on Thursday. Scenes from the movie Hoosiers were shot in the town, which is about a 40-minute drive east of Indianapolis. The local high school gym served as home court for fictional Hickory High.
Strange noted that in 1967 he played for the Franklin County Flyers' team that won the 11th Region title.
■ ESPN college basketball analyst Dan Dakich attended the Michigan-Tennessee game. His son, Andrew, is a freshman guard for Michigan. The elder Dakich said his rooting interest did not extend beyond his son and the Wolverines. He planned to leave Lucas Oil Stadium after Michigan played Tennessee and not watch Kentucky play Louisville.
■ Tennessee guard Jordan McRae turned 23 on Friday.