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Indiana (God’s Country)

The big college basketball question today…

No, the question on college basketball fans has nothing to do with tonight’s national championship game. Instead, it’s focused on published reports that Bob Knight has expressed interest to officials at Nevada-Las Vegas about its head coaching position, which opened when Lon Kruger bolted for Oklahoma.

Bob Knight, who left his team midway in 2008 and hasn’t coached a team since, back coaching at 70?

Bob Knight, whose legacy is secure as one of the game’s great coaches, yet is sure to fall to second all-time in wins as his prodigy Mike Krzyzewski shows no signs of slowing down?

Bob Knight at Nevada-Las Vegas? The same Bob Knight who seemed to be a perfect fit in quiet Lubbock, the same guy who personified Indiana basketball, the same man who built his coaching legacy wanting the position at Nevada-Las Vegas??

The UNLV of Jerry Tarkanian, Stacey Augmon, Larry Johnson, Wayne Newton? The UNLV of constant NCAA inquiries?

Las Vegas and Bob Knight? Really?

Egg on his face

As I noted yesterday, Matt Painter had little reason to leave Purdue for Missouri. It didn’t really add up. But the St. Louis Post Disptach’s Bernie Miklasz seemed to have the story nailed. Yesterday, things just looked very good for Mizzou. Today, Miklasz wrote that Painter took the job and was going to West Lafayette to say goodbye to his team.

Except he wasn’t. In fact, Painter did consider the Missouri deal, but it just wasn’t enough to lure him away from his home state and his alma mater. Painter signed a contract extension through 2018-19.

There’s a lot to be excited about right now with Purdue basketball. We are moving into our new offices and locker room complex over the next couple of weeks. Our program is built on hard work, and we are ready to get back to improving as a team and a staff. At the end of the day, my heart is at Purdue, and this is a place where I want to win a national championship.

Oops.

For Miklasz’s part, the crow eating is in progress. Miklasz went so far as to suggest Painter would make an appearance at the Cardinals’ opener at Busch Stadium tomorrow. Sounds like someone gone overboard with some anonymous sources.

Is Bernie red-faced? Well, yeah.

At Lafayette’s Journal and Courier, the sports staff should celebrate. They did enough on-the-record reporting and showed the patience not to report something as fact even when other, larger organizations were reporting it. They trusted their instincts and didn’t rush to be first, only to be right.

Good job.

Painting the town… oh nevermind

Tomorrow will bring dread or relief in West Lafayette, Ind., as Matt Painter will announce his intentions. He will either stay head coach of the men’s basketball team at Purdue or he will accept the same position at the University of Missouri.

Logic says that Painter is simply trying to get leverage for himself and his assistants, and Mizzou is a willing accomplice. If Painter were really on his way out, Cuonzo Martin might not have jumped at the Tennessee opening. After all, as the Lafayette Journal and Courier notes, Martin and Painter share an agent.

Indiana fans remember quite well the dalliance Bob Knight had with New Mexico in the Spring of 1988. Knight reportedly was headed back to Bloomington to say goodbye to his team and to then-AD Ralph Floyd. Only thing was, he stayed, and he remained in Bloomington for 12 more seasons.

But, that was then. This is now. That was Bloomington, Indiana, back when it was on par with Chapel Hill, Durham, Lexington and Westwood as the centers of the basketball universe. Purdue might have a nice program, and West Lafayette might be a nice place to live, but it’s not that many rungs above Mizzou and Columbia.

Add a strained relationship between Painter and his AD, and maybe this makes a little more sense than once thought. I know Purdue is going to give a longing look towards Brad Stevens at Butler (not sure if he’d take the job) and towards Shaka Smart at VCU, but how do you recover from a rising star leaving what he said was his dream job?

Bernie Miklasz says it looks good for Missouri. And while Miklasz is wildly optimistic (he is a bit of a homer, and I don’t know how good his connections are in the college hoops world), some of this makes sense.

Purdue came back today with a sweetened contract that would also bump up the pay of his assistants. Miklasz said Painter was not overly impressed. It’s going to take something to convince him to stay. At least the Purdue students are rallying in support of Painter.

Eleven students? Eh, it’s a start.

It seems so tedious now…

I was going to write something about how we’re all poorer with Indiana a non-factor in college basketball, which they really have been since the 2002 national championship game.

I’ll spare you the trite garbage. It was garbage too. My life isn’t as enjoyable, watching teams I largely don’t care about. I will root for Vanderbilt, as it will make for a happier home. The Commodores are playing good basketball, but if they get cold shooting like they did in the last three minutes against Florida Saturday, it’ll probably be the end of the line for them.

As for Indiana, Tom Crean has one year to make the tournament, and probably a max of two years to make a run. My patience has run thin.

As for this year, you read it here first:

East

Texas-San Antonio over Alabama State; Ohio State over UTSA; Villanova over George Mason; UAB over Clemson; UAB over West Virginia; Kentucky over Princeton; Marquette over Xavier; Syracuse over Indiana State; Washington over Georgia; UNC over LIU; Ohio State over Villanova; Kentucky over UAB; Syracuse over Marquette; North Carolina over Washington; Kentucky over Ohio State, North Carolina over Syracuse; North Carolina over Kentucky.

Southeast

Duke over Hampton; Tennessee over Michigan; Arizona over Memphis; Oakland over Texas; Missouri over Cincinnati; Connecticut over Bucknell; Temple over Penn State; San Diego State over Northern Colorado; Duke over Tennessee; Arizona over Oakland; UConn over Missouri; SD State over Temple; Duke over Arizona; UConn over SD State; Duke over UConn.

Southwest

Kansas over Boston University; Illinois over UNLV; Vanderbilt over Richmond; Louisville over Morehead State; USC over Virginia Commenwealth; USC over Georgetown; Purdue over St. Peter’s; Texas A&M over Florida State;  Notre Dame over Akron; Kansas over Illinois; Vanderbilt over Louisville; Purdue over USC; Texas A&M over Notre Dame; Kansas over Vanderbilt; Purdue over Texas A&M; Purdue over Kansas.

Southwest

Arkansas-Little Rock over North Carolina-Asheville; Pitt over Arkansas-Little rock; Butler over Old Dominion; Utah State over Kansas State; Wisconsin over Belmont; Gonzaga over St. John’s; BYU over Wofford; Michigan State over UCLA; Flordia over California-Santa Barbara; Butler over Pitt; Wisconsin over Utah State; Gonzaga over BYU; Florida over Michigan State; Butler over Wisconsin; Florida over Gonzaga; Florida over Butler.

Final Four

North Carolina over Duke; Purdue over Florida; North Carolina over Purdue.

And that’s a Final Four I would not watch.

Disgusting

In Elkhart, Indiana, a high school basketball coach was arrested for driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license the night before his Elkhart Memorial team was set to take on Valparaiso in the Michigan City Regional Semifinals. He wasn’t bonded out of jail until after noon the next game, roughly the same time his team tipped off.

He made it there for the final few minutes of the Regional semis, which Memorial won, and then coached the Regional final, a loss to Munster, that night.

Later this week, it came out that coach Mark Barnhizer made it to the game via police car. The Elkhart Community Schools Superintendent asked the police department to get him to the game. Michigan City is a good 45-minute drive from Elkhart.

It’s troubling, but in some parts of Indiana, school districts are little more than minor league sports franchises that do classes on the side. The athletic director said that he didn’t want the actions of one ruin the season fdor the rest of the team. Interesting. Mark Barnhizer might or might not be guilty, but treating him as indispensable, especially when the stakes are just high school basketball, doesn’t exactly send the right message to students.

Meanwhile, last night in Peoria, North Lawndale Prep in Chicago was ready to tip off against Champaign Centennial in the Class 3A semifinals, when the officials — at the bequest of the IHSA Administrators — called a technical on North Lawndale Prep for a uniform violation. Centennial made the technical free throw, got the ball immediately after, and went on to win by 1.

North Lawndale has played with the same uniforms all year. Apparently, the vertical stripes on the jersey are too long, but not once all year was the team assessed with a technical foul. Tonight, North Lawndale wore the same jerseys in the third-place game, and was served a technical again.

This is the case where the mistakes of one (the AD, maybe) shouldn’t ruin it for the team.  It was an inadvertent mistake. An obscure rule. Let it go.

Or was the IHSA not too keen on having two Chicago Public League teams win state titles (Whitney Young, the Class 4A favorite, beat Waukegan tonight to win the 4A title)?