Friday, March 30, 2012

Bluegrass rivalry ‘just pure hatred’


— Although the bracket was set up for it to happen, second-seeded Missouri’s loss to Norfolk State in the second round in Omaha, Neb., ended all hope of one more Border War showdown between Kansas University and arch-rival Mizzou.

But that didn’t keep the topic of college basketball’s greatest rivalries from coming up at the Superdome on Thursday.

As top-seeded Kentucky prepares to face No. 4 seed Louisville in the first of two national semifinals Saturday, Louisville coach Rick Pitino shared his unique perspective on the rivalry between Kentucky and Louisville and its place in the conversation.

“People always ask me what the best rivalry is,” Pitino said. “Purists will say it’s North Carolina-Duke because they are in the same league. I have a different perspective. You all watched ‘Glory Road.’ It all started with the racial lines in Louisville, Ky. We are the minority university. They (Kentucky) are the university of the privileged, so to speak. That’s where the rivalry really started. It was thrown out of the window when Tubby Smith became the first African-American coach (at Kentucky). The hatred wasn’t based on race any longer. That was over. I did everything humanly possible to recruit Louisville to end those lines because I didn’t like it. The lines are no longer racially motivated. It’s just pure hatred.”

During his legendary coaching career, Pitino has been the head coach at Kentucky and Louisville, along with Boston, Providence and various stops in the NBA. His 1996 UK team won the national championship, defeating current Kentucky coach John Calipari’s UMass team in the Final Four.

With the two marquee coaches squaring off once again, the rematch from their meeting in the regular season as well as the hot-and-cold nature of their friendship were both prominent topics Thursday. Still, the UK-UL rivalry seemed to draw as much attention as anything.

“It makes it a little bigger for the state,” Louisville senior Kyle Kuric said. “Fans get into it a lot more than they usually would. It’s just another game for us, and we’re going to look at it like that and play as hard as we would in any other game.”

As for the rivalry’s importance Saturday, that’s up for debate.

“It isn’t that hard for us (to focus),” Kentucky guard Darius Miller said. “It is something that we have been doing all year. We don’t really pay any attention to any outside sources. We know it is a huge rivalry. It is huge for the fans, but we aren’t looking at it like that. This is just our next game, and we are going to continue to prepare just like we have all year and have fun with it.”

Here’s a look at some more colorful quotes from the two other teams at this year’s Final Four:

n Louisville point guard Peyton Siva, on Kentucky forward Terrence Jones: “I’ve known Terrence since the fourth grade. I talk to him a lot. He is a real good guy, a real good friend and a great person.”

n Calipari on his Wildcats’ chances of beating an NBA team: “This team could not beat one NBA team, not one. The worst one in the league, we could not beat. The whole point of this is getting a group of players to play together. People ask me if it’s hard to get those players to play together. I tell them what’s hard: coaching bad players. Coaching good players, if they are good-hearted people, they will (play together).”

n UK forward Terrence Jones, on how much pressure is on the Wildcats: “As much pressure as it would be if it was anyone. Being in the Final Four is pressure enough. With being the No. 1 team and having the target on our back that we have had all year, it just adds pressure as it is.”

n Louisville freshman Chane Behanan, who was recruited by Pitino and Calipari, on the similarities between the coaches: “They were pretty much the same and told me the same things. They both said that if I work hard, I will earn what I put into it. They are both Italian. They both are tremendous coaches and passionate about what they do. They are very experienced and love to win.”


nuleafjhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Seems like we used to have a "pure hatred" rival once upon a time.......

I dunno - can't remember. Must have been a dream.

ku_foaf 8 years, 4 months ago

To quote Cyndi Lauper, it's all in the past now. Money changes everything.

Ben Kane 8 years, 4 months ago

Matt, you should have interviewed me for this article as a jayhawk living here in lexington.

this rivalry doesn't even compare to ours with mizery in my opinion, but is much greater than our rivalry with kstink.

Kentucky fans feel like this championship is already theirs which blows my mind. their arrogance is the most annoying thing about them (well and their coach).

I've spent most of my time ignoring them and just worrying about the game in front of us but half me is torn in wanting kentucky lose to louisville and wanting to be the team to take them down. in the end it doesn't matter as long as the jayhawks win it all.

go hawks!

Ben Kane 8 years, 4 months ago

forgot to mention that the only reason this is even considered a rivalvry is that louisville hates kentucky's arrogance and kentucky hates that their former coach went there.

JayhawkinLexington 8 years, 4 months ago

Chuck, I'm In lexington too. Can you imagine how unbearable it will be to be here if UK wins it all. Are you going to the alumni watch party?

Ben Kane 8 years, 4 months ago

i didn't know there was an alumni watch party here. where is it? and i don't want to even think about what will happen around here if they win it all.

hawksince51 8 years, 4 months ago

You cannot compare an intrastate rivalry with the Border War. Who ever heard of UK and U of L before the Civil War? How many raids were conducted by these two cites on one another? How many were killed? C'mon, get serious. Kansas v. Missouri is a rivalry born of real bloodshed and as such stands alone among rivalries. The fact that MU chose to join their slave state buddies in the SEC only reinforces this reality.

ku_foaf 8 years, 4 months ago

Do you really believe that? I do not. The Civil War stuff was started mainly in 2007. It was not even mentioned when I was a student in the early 80s. I think it developed from the basketball rivalry, when it seemed to come down to Missouri or Kansas that was the champ.

There used to be a bar in Lawrence called Quantrill's....

Texacali_Hawk 8 years, 4 months ago

I don't remember that bar, but I remember a bar called Quentin's. Not sure if it is still there.

Brad Farha 8 years, 4 months ago

oh, I absolutely believe it, and I absolutely know it. I went to school in the early 90s, and the pre-Civil War stuff was huge. My dad went to KU in the 50s, and it was big to him too. 2007 just made that Civil War stuff appear on ESPN because of the importance of the football game that year.

hawksince51 8 years, 4 months ago

Glad you know your history better than some above. Of course the pre-civil war stuff and Quantrill's raid on Lawrence was real and so was John Brown. The main st. in Lawrence is so-named for the many anti-slavery people from the state of Mass. who came to Lawrence in support of the free-staters. Like your Dad I went to KU in the 50's and this stuff was always brought up before the football games.

John Proctor 8 years, 4 months ago

It wasn't a bar, it was a flea market, around the corner of 8th and New Hampshire. I used to go there all the time in the late 80s - I believe the owner (or just someone who worked there) was the one who told me about Quantrill's Raid.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 4 months ago

Actually..the fans from both teams are all related and all have the same last name!!

onetonhand 8 years, 4 months ago

This is just Patino posturing. This really doesn't deserve a story. There is a rivalry but it is not even close to KU MU rivalry. I am personally glad to see MU go they beat us more often than they should have. It was the the only game they really cared about.

Travis Shinkle 8 years, 4 months ago

I like how the national media has their complete attention on that game plus most already are making plans for a Kentucky-Ohio State championship game. KU gets the least amount of press simply, what I believe, because they're too much of a team versus a bunch of one-and-dones or Jared Sullinger or Jared Sullinger or Jared Sullinger or, I think they like to talk about Jared Sullinger and Jared Sullinger.

It kind of reminds me of 2008 when UNC and their all-American, big guy Hansborogh was going to run us out of the Alamo Dome...

Nothing quite like flying under the radar....

And yes, Missouri still stinks...with or without Jared Sullinger.

ccurr 8 years, 4 months ago

While technically accurate, I hate reading that MU lost in the 2nd round. It sounds better than it is. They lost their first game to a 15 seed in the biggest upset in the history of the NCAA tournament.

justinryman 8 years, 4 months ago

Did anyone hear about the two fans that got into a punching match?

They were both elderly men, one a UK fan the other a UofL fan.

The best part of it was they were at a Kidney Dialysis going at each other.

Don't believe me?

Tony Bandle 8 years, 4 months ago

It was actually Pitino and Calipari!! :)

FoCoCoHawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Real rivalries have body counts. Deep down inside, I'll miss Mizzou. NOT! When they play Kentucky in conference play, I suppose I'll be rooting for an errant tornado to hit.

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