Mark Story

Mark Story's notes: Feldhaus doesn't recall shove of Laettner that led to 'the stomp'

Duke's Christian Laettner shoots the game-winning basket in overtime over University of Kentucky's Deron Feldhaus to win the NCAA East Finals in Philadelphia March 28, 1992. Duke beat Kentucky 104-103. (AP Photo/Charles Arbogast)
Duke's Christian Laettner shoots the game-winning basket in overtime over University of Kentucky's Deron Feldhaus to win the NCAA East Finals in Philadelphia March 28, 1992. Duke beat Kentucky 104-103. (AP Photo/Charles Arbogast) Associated Press

In viewing the ESPN documentary I Hate Christian Laettner, I learned something about the former Duke star's (in)famous foot stomp of Kentucky's Aminu Timberlake.

It was an act of misplaced retribution.

The documentary showed second-half footage from the epic 104-103 Duke overtime victory over UK in the 1992 NCAA Tournament round of eight that led up to Laettner's stomp.

You see Laettner being shoved out of bounds from underneath Duke's defensive basket. When he turns around, the closest Kentucky player to him was Timberlake.

So, as Laettner explains in the documentary, when he subsequently saw a prone Timberlake lying in the lane on the opposite end of the court, he decided to give the guy he thought had pushed him a little "foot message."

Except, as the video clearly showed, it was not Timberlake who sent Laettner flying out of bounds.

It was Kentucky forward Deron Feldhaus.

For me, at least, that was a surprise. I had no memory of that.

Had the polarizing Duke star done something to provoke the UK forward? Or was Feldhaus, 6-foot-7 and a well-built 210-pounds in his playing days, delivering a message to the 6-foot-11, 235-pound Laettner that Kentucky would not be pushed around?

From Maysville, where he watched I Hate Christian Laettner, Feldhaus said seeing himself launch Laettner off the playing floor had been a surprise to him, too.

"I have no recollection, no memory of that at all," Feldhaus said last week. "I have never watched the complete video of that game, so I don't remember that at all. Having seen it, I guess I was lucky I didn't get a foul, too."

Noting how much bigger Laettner was than he, a laughing Feldhaus said "I think maybe there was some acting there. He was a big, big boy, had some weight on me. I don't know that I was such a 'He Man' that I could have thrown him off the court like that."

For the record, Feldhaus says he does not hate Christian Laettner.

"Nah, I can't hate the guy," he said. "I think you have to respect what he accomplished as a player, whether you like him or not."

A 'Happy' 500

When Kentucky Wesleyan beat Central State 82-65 in the semifinals of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference Tournament on March 7, it produced a career milestone for Panthers head coach Happy Osborne.

It was the 500th victory for Osborne as a college head coach. Since KWC fell to host Alderson-Broaddus the next day in the tourney finals, the former longtime Georgetown College head man now boasts a 500-101 career mark. In two seasons at Wesleyan, Osborne is 44-17. From 1996-2011, he went 456-84 and won the 1998 NAIA Division I national championship at Georgetown.

When he replaced his mentor, Jim Reid, as Georgetown head man, Osborne said it would have never occurred to him to aspire to 500 wins.

"Does anybody think about something like that?" Osborne said. "I just wanted to recruit really good players who were also people I enjoyed being around, and then try to win some games and have a lot of fun. I don't think anybody goes into coaching thinking about anything but trying to win enough to keep your job."

In the same game where Osborne got his 500th win, sophomore guard Ken-Jah Bosley (17.6 ppg) became the 40th Kentucky Wesleyan player to go over 1,000 career points. The 2013 Madison Central Sweet Sixteen hero is the fourth fastest player to 1,000 points in Wesleyan's rich basketball history.

"Ken-Jah Bosley is everything we want a Kentucky Wesleyan basketball player to be," Osborne said.

The 100th Sweet Sixteen

When the Kentucky boys' high school state championship basketball game finishes Sunday afternoon in Rupp Arena, the 98th Sweet Sixteen will be in the books — and we will be two years from a big moment in the sports history of the commonwealth:

The 100th boys' state basketball tourney.

Before the 2015 state tourney began, I asked Kentucky High School Athletic Association Commissioner Julian Tackett what was being planned to celebrate the centennial of the boys' Sweet Sixteen. Tackett said the KHSAA has appointed a committee to start planning.

"One thing it will not be is a big blowout focused only on boys' basketball," Tackett said. "Whatever we do, it will celebrate all sports that have been part of the Association's 100 years."

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