I’ll admit, up until the past few days, it’s been hard for me to muster up a lot of hate for Indiana. I grew up in Central Kentucky in the days when Hoosier hate had mostly died down and been replaced by loathing of all things Laettner. My dad and I went to a few Indiana/Kentucky games when they played at the RCA Dome and it was always a good time, especially since we won most of the time. Along with America, I laughed at Mike Davis’ ridiculous meltdown back in 2002 (“Head on, apply directly to the forehead!”), and made merciless fun of Bobby Knight and his grumpy old man act. I was even happy for them when they hired Tom Crean and thought he would be their savior. I can even see a little bit of our former selves in the Hoosier nation right now, spurned by mediocrity, living in the past and desperate to regain former glory. If anything, prior to this week’s trash talk, I thought of Indiana as Kentucky’s “Bless their little hearts” rival, and treated them with a mixture of pity and indifference.
That was until I started reading some of the Hoosier trash talk going around the interwebs. Each fan base has its rotten apples, yes, but what I want to know is, what is all of this boisterous bravado based on? An 8-0 record with wins over Savannah State, San Francisco, and–stop the presses–NC State? That’s cute. So are those little “Beat Kentucky” shirts you made for tomorrow. It’s all adorable, silly nonsense that you hope will culminate in a David over Goliath revival of the Crimson and Cream, but guess what: this ain’t Hoosiers. Reality is, Indiana will pit their five guys (Jordan Hulls, Verdell Jones III, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, and Cody Zeller) against our five guys (Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, and Anthony Davis). I like our chances.
With that in mind, let’s go over some notes from the day:
— Oddly, the biggest news of the day wasn’t about tomorrow’s game, it was Calipari’s comments about his future at Kentucky. In an interview with Dan Patrick, Cal said that he doesn’t think he can last ten years at Kentucky due to the stress of the job, but he did believe it would be his last coaching job. Cal expanded on those comments during his time with the media this afternoon, saying “it took me 20 years to get here, so I’m not in a hurry to leave.” We’re not in a hurry either, Coach.
— The only advantage Indiana will have tomorrow is the crowd. This will be Kentucky’s first true road test, and it will be a tough one. Cal said that it is crucial that Marquis Teague, a passionate player even without the added drama of his Indiana homecoming, not let his emotions get the best of him and engage in a personal duel with the IU players. But Marquis Teague don’t care, Marquis Teague don’t give a crap:
“I’m going to get a lot of boos. I already know. They did it to me in my (high-school) all-star game. I’m prepared. It doesn’t bother me. I try not to listen to it.”
— Don’t think that the hostile environment has the Cats running scared, though. Darius Miller says the team is ready to have some fun with it:
“I already told some of the guys it’s going to be the toughest environment we play in. It’s going to be loud, the fans are going to be crazy and the team’s going to be pumped up. It’s going to be a great experience. I think it’s going to be fun for all of us. They’re going to be ready to go, so we have to too.”
— Feeling sorry for the Hoosiers yet? Really?! Here’s a prime example of their misguided elitism, courtesy of Kent Sterling. It’ll get you rowdy for a Hoosier beatdown like nothing else. In fact, I want to go out and buy a dartboard, hang it up, print out Kent Sterling’s picture, and throw darts at it all night long. Meet you at Walmart.
See you in the morning. Until then, enjoy another masterpiece from Brice Fox and Daniel Weber:
They make it so easy…