John Calipari and Tom Crean did not rule out a revival of the Kentucky-Indiana series. But both coaches said schedules in the immediate future cannot accommodate a UK-IU game.
Noting the rivalry with Louisville along with on-again, off-again series with North Carolina and Kansas, plus the SEC-Big 12 Challenge, Calipari said, “We should play everybody?”
He then facetiously added, “Why don’t we all play everybody and we’ll just do a round robin ... and that will be our non-conference schedule?”
Speaking at a formal NCAA Tournament news conference Friday, Calipari said, “I’ll go for it if everybody else does. Well, I’ll have my hand up by myself.”
The UK coach noted Kentucky’s participation in the CBS Classic and Champions Classic. Kentucky will also play in the Bahamas next eason.
“And we have a couple other games that are home-and-homes,” he said, “and we got that Challenge (with the Big 12), which I can’t stand. January, had to go to Kansas. Come on!”
Kentucky and Indiana ended the series in the 2011-12 season. It had been played every season since 1969-70. The series ended when the two sites could not agree on a site. UK wanted neutral sites. IU wanted home-and-home.
IU offered a compromise: a four-year deal with two games at neutral sites and one each on the teams’ homecourts. UK said no.
Calipari said he spoke to former UK Coach Joe B. Hall about the Kentucky-Indiana series. He said Hall told him the game had “always” been played at neutral sites when Bob Knight was the Hoosiers’ coach.
Knight coached Indiana in 32 games against Kentucky: 14 at neutral sites, nine in Bloomington, six in Lexington and three in the NCAA Tournament.
Crean said he never considered a revival of the UK-IU series a dead issue. But the Indiana coach said the Hoosiers also had other scheduling commitments in the immediate future.
“I don’t think there is any door closed that couldn’t be opened again,” he said. “Put it that way. Make sense?”
Rivalry? What rivalry?
Questions about a Kentucky-Indiana rivalry seem to puzzle current UK players.
“I feel like nobody really knows anything about the rivalry,” Tyler Ulis said. “I know I don’t. The only rivalry we know about is Louisville.”
Even Dominique Hawkins, who grew up in Madison County, did not seem excited about Kentucky playing Indiana.
“As a player, it doesn’t mean anything to me,” he said. “If I was a fan, it’d probably mean a lot to me.”
Hawkins was familiar with the history, especially the racehorse game in the 2012 NCAA Tournament that Kentucky won 102-90. He liked the idea of another face-paced game on Saturday.
Indiana point guard Yogi Ferrell also downplayed the rivalry angle.
“I don’t want to get into the rivalry too much,” he said. “It’s just going to be another game for us.”
UConn guard Rodney Purvis is shooting free throws much more accurately in recent games. He made only two of seven in the Huskies first five games this season (14 of 29 in the first eight games).
Purvis made all three free-throw attempts against Colorado Thursday. That made him 11 of 11 in the last five games, and 15 of 17 in the last eight.
“I think I was in my head about it too much,” he said. “And it’s really just a mental thing, stepping to the line, being confident, knowing you’re going to make the shot rather than going up to the line and not for sure you’re going to make it.
“So my mindset changed. ... It was ... a hump that I had to get over mentally.”
When asked if UConn players liked being an underdog against Kansas, Jalen Adams said, “We’d like to be the No. 1 seed in the bracket.”
More than one reader pointed out the need for a correction in a story for Friday’s Herald-leader.
A story about the afternoon games here Thursday wildly exaggerated the frequency of fouls and free throws. The point was that NCAA Tournament games can be called more tightly than regular-season games.
Here’s the correct numbers: In the Colorado-UConn and Kansas-Austin Peay games, a foul was called, on average, every 48.9 seconds. A free throw was shot, on average, every 41 seconds.
In the Kentucky-Stony Brook and Indiana-Chattanooga games, a foul was called, on average, every 73 seconds. A free-throw was shot, on average, every 66.7 seconds.
The UK Alumni Association will hold a pep rally beginning at about 1:30 p.m. CDT Saturday outside the Court Center Building in Des Moines. That’s between 2nd and 3rd Avenues on Court Ave.
In case of inclement weather, the rally will be moved inside to Beer Can Alley, which is on the 3rd floor of the Court Center Building.
Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill and sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson will call the game for CBS.