By LARRY VAUGHT
It was about five years ago that former Indiana coach Bobby Knight infuriated Kentucky basketball fans with the shots he took at coach John Calipari at the UK program.
“We’ve got a coach at Kentucky who put two schools on probation and he’s still coaching. I really don’t understand that,” Knight said while speaking at a ceremony for the Indiana Basketball Hall Of Fame in 2009.
Obviously, the comments, and some others he made about UK and Calipari, went national and created quite a controversy among the pro-Calipari and anti-Calipari factions.
Now Knight is coming back to Rupp Arena for Thursday’s UK-Arkansas game. He will be working the game for ESPN along with Rece Davis, who does play by play. This will be Knight’s first time in Rupp since he blasted Calipari.
Remember he also said that UK’s 2009-2010 team that included Patrick Patterson, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins lacked academic integrity.
“Kentucky the year before last started five players in the NCAA tournament games that had not been to class that semester,” Knight said. “That’s that one-and-done philosophy.”
Both Patterson and Cousins went on Twitter at the time to correct Knight and UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart also defended the basketball program. Eventually Knight had to admit he was wrong.
“My overall point is that ‘one and dones’ are not healthy for college basketball. I should not have made it personal to Kentucky and its players and I apologize,” Knight said then.
A couple of years ago in an interview with WLEX-TV in Lexington, Knight was asked about his thoughts on Calipari. He had changed his tune — or at least he did in that interview.
“I think one of the things that John does that is really important is he coaches hard. He coaches to make kids play hard. He coaches to make kids give him everything they’ve got at both ends of the floor and that’s why his teams, among other reasons, have been difficult to play against,” Knight said.
Now he’ll be asked to offer an impartial analysis of Kentucky’s play and Calipari’s coaching from his front row seat in Rupp Arena Thursday night.
What kind of reception do you think he’ll get — and what kind of reception should he get?