By SAM KEGLEY
Coaching basketball is not rocket science; however, it is obviously a highly valued endeavor. One needs only to check the salaries of the college coaches. I credit Rick Pitino when he came to Kentucky for raising the bar on all coaches salaries, including the best in the business, Coach Cal- John Calipari, now at Kentucky.
Kentucky’s 2012-2013 season was a disaster and an internet poster says that Cal may have inadvertently recruited four-year players this past season rather than anybody close to the “one and dones” he is jealously coveted for by other college coaches. This past season’s team was not very good with respect to past teams of the Kentucky basketball tradition.
The loss to Robert Morris in their tiny gym was as attributable to a bad Atheltic Administration decision as much as anything in my opinion. Traditionally more highly respected teams get home court advantage in the NIT tournament. UK’s administration claimed “not enough man-power to host the NIT due to their hosting the NCAA”. I have great respect for UK’s Athletics Director, Mitch Barnhart, who kindly considered to a wonderful interview story in my “Acquaintances With Integrity II” book (2011).
I wouldn’t trade him for Jurich in a NY minute. Mitch has great integrity! A traditionally outstanding UK team would win anywhere, but this team was not of that ilk. Could not one gym in the area, Rupp, Memorial, The Chicken Coop, Eastern’s, Transylvania’s, whatever, have been arranged?
Take nothing away from Robert Morriss’ team or coach. They performed exceedingly well like any Division I team in a small home town gym might have. We should not have been there.
I am only a spoiled old UK basketball fan, but that is my humble opinion of this opening game NIT tourney loss. This UK team was young and relatively inexperienced, but the adminstration, including the coaches, could have thought a little harder about the venue.
I’m 80 now and a UK alumnus in retirement. Like all UK fans I have strong feelings about the Wildcats and have had a lifetime of great entertainment, but watching that team go down Tuesday night, and not believing they had “IT” to come back, was saddening for my old heart.