More on the future of the Kentucky and Indiana rivalry

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On Monday, we wrote about a story that has been festering on the Kentucky and Indiana message boards but hadn’t exactly seen the light of day nationally quite yet.

Well, that changed Tuesday, as the potential disbandment of the Indiana-Kentucky rivalry — a game that has been played annually since the 60’s and has existed since the 20’s — went viral. CBS, Yahoo! and ESPN wrote on the topic, and the general consensus is obvious: we understand the issues, but we want you to fix them and figure out a way to keep this game on the schedule.

“The Kentucky game is still being talked about worked on, but it’s not set in stone because, as many of you know, Kentucky doesn’t want to play on our campus anymore and that’s certainly not our first choice,” Crean told the Associated Press on Friday. “Keeping it on campus is without a doubt our first choice and always has been since I’ve been here.”

Can you blame Kentucky?

Indiana is one of the best teams in the country heading into the 2012-2013 season and coming off of a year where they won 18 of 19 games at Assembly Hall. Why would Kentucky opt to play in that gym? Why would they want to enter that environment? With an expanded conference schedule (18 games), non-conference games against North Carolina and Louisville and a spot in the Champions Classic event, do the Wildcats really need another tough road game?

Coach Cal knows how to schedule and he knows when he is putting his team into a bad situation with too many difficult games.

And while Kentucky is the one that comes out looking selfish in this situation, keep in mind that the reason that Crean wants to keep the games being played on campus is the precise reason that Coach Cal doesn’t: Indiana is a dangerous team in front of their own fans. Why would Crean make the decision to give up that home court advantage against a rival?

And, of course, there’s the money.

“It has to be a win-win for both, and no one here is excited about taking it off campus,” Crean said, “but that doesn’t mean it won’t get done. It’s gotta be, no question, it’s gotta be a way two-way street. No one here ever had any intention of moving off campus, and obviously the finances play a part of it.”

Of course they do.

The bottom-line is this: Crean and Calipari don’t have the final say in this matter (that comes down to the Athletic Directors), but they do have quite a bit of sway. They’ve also spent a grand total of seven years at their respective posts; Calipari won the national title in his third season with Kentucky while Crean got Indiana back into the NCAA tournament in his fourth season in Bloomington.

This rivalry has been played every season since 1969, when Calipari was 10 and Crean was just three.

There is a historical significance to this game, which only makes the rivalry that much more intense given that Kentucky and Indiana are currently sitting on top of the college hoops world.

Hopefully, these Calipari and Crean — Pennsylvania and Michigan natives, respectively — recognize that.

We’ve already lost so much in college sports due to money and greed. The Border War between Kansas and Missouri may never be played again after Missouri bolted for the SEC’s money. Syracuse and Pitt were so concerned about the implosion of the Big East that they jumped the gun exiting the league, heading to the ACC where they will no longer wage conference battles against Georgetown and West Virginia, respectively.

Please, don’t let an argument about money end this rivalry.

Because, with the direction the two programs are headed, this is rivalry is about to become a top three regular season game. Every year.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.