First things first: just who is Kentucky playing in its first exhibition game? It's a good question because there is some confusion.
"I had somebody from Indiana reach out to me because they thought we were playing Indiana University," said Ottawa University Coach Aaron Siebenthall, who felt the need to declare, "We are in Kansas."
The men's basketball team from the University of Ottawa, which is in Canada's capital city, plays an exhibition game at Indiana on Tuesday.
Ottawa University, which plays Kentucky on Monday night, is an NAIA school 54 miles southwest of Kansas City. It's a private liberal arts school affiliated with the Baptist Church. And, not so coincidentally, it's the alma mater of UK Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart.
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Because Barnhart had been named 2015 Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, DeWayne Peevy thought it would be nice to play Ottawa in one of Kentucky's two pre-season exhibition games. UK could use the occasion to salute Barnhart.
So Peevy, who as UK's deputy director of athletics works on men's basketball scheduling, sent an email to Siebenthall asking if Ottawa would be interested in playing.
"I don't know if he believed me or not at first," Peevy said with a smile. "They were thrilled."
Siebenthall (pronounced See-ben-thall) canceled a previously scheduled game for Tuesday against MidAmerica Nazarene. The MidAmerica Nazarene coach understood Ottawa could not turn down this once-in-a-lifetime to play on such a grand stage.
"Unless an NBA team wants to schedule us, I don't think we'll find any tougher competition," Siebenthall said. "... We're thrilled at the opportunity to play against these guys in Rupp Arena. I told our guys you can watch the NBA Draft next year and say, 'I guarded him,' 'He dunked on me' or whatever it is, and have a good laugh at it."
Siebenthall is in his first year as head coach. He had been an assistant coach at the school the past nine seasons. So, he said, "Kentucky will be my second game."
His team played NAIA rival Baker on Saturday afternoon in Ottawa, losing 82-74. Then the players and coaches boarded a bus Sunday morning for what Siebenthall said would be an 11-hour trip to Lexington. Upon arrival, the team was scheduled to go to Commonwealth Stadium for a dinner organized by Barnhart and his wife, Connie, also an Ottawa alum.
The game will be Ottawa's first against a Southeastern Conference school. It will mark the second time the Braves have played a Division I team in the past four years. The first was a 109-56 loss to Oklahoma State.
Siebenthall said Ottawa has a history of competitive basketball at the NAIA level. The team coming to Rupp Arena is experienced. Only one player is not a junior or senior. The team is deep. "Six or seven guys capable of putting up 20" against NAIA competition, the coach said.
The team is not big. The tallest regular is 6-foot-8.
"We don't have any 7-footers or anything like that," Siebenthall said. "We're not midgets, by any means. But we're definitely not as big as Kentucky. Then again, not many people are."
Kentucky gets the usual benefit from an exhibition game: a chance to play another team.
"It's about that time ... ," said assistant coach John Robic, who substituted for John Calipari at Friday's news conference. "It'll be good for us as coaches to see the entire team on one bench, to see the flow of the game, substitutions, who is playing well with who, as opposed to just going after each other."
As a bonus, the game can clear up any confusion about Ottawa University and the University of Ottawa.
One of UK's Canadian imports, Mychal Mulder, said he's been asked if he had inside knowledge about the Ottawa Braves.
"They think it's all close," Mulder said of the questioners. "They wonder if we know people from Ottawa."
Ottawa, the Canadian capital, is about 500 miles northeast of Mulder's hometown of Windsor, Ontario. Or about the distance from Lexington to Washington, D.C.