By KEVIN HARRIS
On Tuesday during a press conference announcing a University of Kentucky fantasy basketball camp, Kentucky head men’s basketball coach John Calipari took a few verbal shots at Indiana University after the two schools did not renew their annual basketball series for the 2012-13 season.
On Wednesday night, it was IU head men’s coach Tom Crean’s turn to fire back at his friend and rival. Crean addressed Calipari’s latest remarks during the IU Tailgate Tour’s stop at Huber Winery.
“I look at it this way — if it‘s a rivalry, it‘s a two-way street. And the scheduling of a rivalry should be a two-way street,” Crean said at a press conference on Wednesday. “We definitely tried to do that and it didn’t work out that way.”
Calipari said in Tuesday’s press conference that he told Crean in a recent conversation that it was time to move on.
“What I told Tommy (was) ‘Tommy — move on, we have our schedule and you have your schedule and our schedule is tough,” Calipari said.
But Crean gave a somewhat different rendition of the conversation.
“I saw where he said that he told me to move on,” said Crean, whose Hoosiers beat the Wildcats last year at Assembly Hall (73-72) and then lost to Kentucky in the NCAA tournament (102-90). “But I remember us talking about that we should all move on. But I also said to him, ‘Let it go. Pick your next fight.’ It’s interesting reading and I’m sure it’s interesting for you guys to cover. But I don’t have much more to add to that.
“It’s obviously not going to happen. In my opinion, I don’t think he wants to come to Bloomington anymore. I don’t think that’s a secret. But it is what it is.”
An hour later, Crean addressed the approximately 1,000 Hoosier fans about the latest verbal battle with Calipari and the Kentucky faithful by having some fun with the situation.
In the opening moments of his speech, Crean poked fun at Calipari’s lack of knowledge about the locations of some sites in Indiana.
On Tuesday, Calipari addressed the last proposal for the continuation of the IU-Kentucky series, which was two games being played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for two years and then followed by a two-year, home-and-home series at each school’s home arenas. IU athletic director Fred Glass did not like the proposal because the two Lucas Oil Stadium games would not give several IU students the opportunity to attend the game.
“They’re only two hours away. Are they that poor?” said Calipari, who was unaware that the 55-mile drive between Bloomington and Indianapolis only takes an hour. “They couldn’t get to that building? Our students are going. Ours would go up there.”
Crean fired back to that particular comment, telling the fans at the tailgate tour, “I asked John Calipari to come up here tonight and he asked, ‘What is that, about 12 hours away?’”
Crean then took another jab at Calipari when he tried to influence Hoosier fans to attend other IU sporting events.
“Could you imagine that teams didn’t want to come back to our place because it’s too ‘hostile?’” Crean said, signaling quotation marks with his fingers as he said hostile.
Even tailgate tour emcee and the radio voice of IU football and men’s basketball Don Fischer took his shots at Kentucky. Before Crean, IU head football coach Kevin Wilson and new IU head women’s basketball coach Curt Miller spoke to the crowd on Wednesday, Fischer gave the Hoosier faithful a fictional Kentucky scheduling proposal.
“The agenda of the proposal is, No. 1, Kentucky picks the arena and the date,” Fischer quipped. “No. 2, the Kentucky alumni officiates the game. And No. 3, no upperclassmen can play.”
On a serious note, Crean said in Wednesday’s press conference that he has put IU-Kentucky scheduling controversy behind him.
“I don’t have to have a press conference every couple of days to talk about scheduling,” Crean said. “It’s over and done with.”