By LARRY VAUGHT
Mark Pope got so angry once that he jerked off his sports coat Friday. Quickly the Utah Valley regained his focus Friday night in Rupp Arena against Kentucky.
He tried to fold his jacket up neatly and then went back to coaching his team — which put a scare into UK before losing 73-63.
Pope played at Kentucky for Rick Pitino and was a starter on the 1996 national championship team.
So how did he feel about his return to Rupp Arena?
“You know, a little bit confusing probably, because I’m not going to lie to you. I love this place. This is, in all sincerity, for me and my little tiny slice of life, this is hallowed ground here,” Pope said.
“It’s an incredibly extraordinary place and had a huge impact on my life and I love the people here. With that said, that was a real driving force in wanting so badly to win this game because, I haven’t told the guys this, but I don’t know that I’ve lost in this building very much.
“It probably hurts just as bad now as it did one or two occasions maybe that we lost in here as a player.”
Utah Valley guard Kenneth Ogbe said Pope was too humble to talk about his UK career, one reason players respect him so much.
“He doesn’t brag about anything ever. I have to look him up to see how good he really was (as a player) because he never brags to us about his career, but we all know as a team how great he was and how much he can teach us,” the Utah Valley player said after the game. That’s why we look up to him. “