Don’t look now (ok, go ahead) but Mike Davis’ resignation seems to have lit a spark under what previously seemed like a fundamentally challenged, defensively inept Indiana team. With today’s victory, Indiana have now won 4 in a row ; the comeback over Penn State, last week’s upset of Michigan State, and road wins against Purdue and Michigan.
The Wolverines, led by Daniel Horton’s 34 points, blew a ten point lead after intermission, keyed by a 14-3 I.U. run midway through the 2nd half.
If the selection committe put any weight in giving the no.2 team in the country a good game at home, Louisville’s 84-80 loss to Connecticut would mean something. As it stands, the Cardinals will probably need to win at least one game in next week’s Big East Tournament to clinch an NCAA berth, possibly two. If Juan Palacio’s breakout performance this afternoon is any indication, they ought to be up to the task.
(Eric Hicks gets a hug from a guy he can’t quite recognize, contemplates calling security)
Cincinnati might well have punched their ticket to the Big Dance with with Saturday’s 78-75 win over West Virginia, and it’s hard to find fault with what interim coach Andy Kennedy has accomplished in the wake of the Bearcats’ assorted glug-glug-glug issues, injuries and whatnot.
CBS Sportsline’s Greg Doyell — pointing out that UAB or Ole Miss might well want to interview Kennedy — claims that Kennedy’s close ties to the disgraced Bob Huggins might prevent the former’s ascension to the permanent position.
The only thing between Kennedy and the Cincinnati job is Huggins. UC leaders loathe Huggins. Right, wrong, that doesn’t matter anymore. It’s a fact, and the crowd’s reaction to his return was one more reminder to Zimpher that UC is spelled H-U-G-G-I-N-S.
They are completely different, but Kennedy is attached to Huggins. Even so, this job belongs so much to Kennedy that for the first time in my life I would encourage those left behind during any coaching transition — in this case, freshman Devan Downey and junior Cedric McGowan — to transfer if Kennedy is not promoted.
That would require some serious loyalty on their part, but Kennedy has earned it. And he’s a loyal guy himself. Huggins is the strychnine in his coffee, yet Kennedy walked across the court before the tip and gave his mentor a hug in front of God and Nancy Zimpher.
Then after the game, after James White grabbed West Virginia’s unanswered prayer from half-court and ran the ball over to Huggins, after someone handed Kennedy a microphone and the crowd hushed to hear his words, Kennedy started with the obvious and ended with the words he had to know could crush his UC career:
“This has not been an easy year,” Kennedy told the crowd. “I appreciate you giving this team the opportunity to earn your support.”
And then Kennedy looked across the court, at Huggins.
“Huggs,” Kennedy said. “We love you, brother.”
Terry Bollea, unavailable for comment.