January 23, 2010
Knight welcomed back with open arms
Who ever would've thought the day would come where Bob Knight was greeted warmly in Mackey Arena.
However, that's exactly what occurred today as the former Indiana coach was more popular than he could've ever dreamt with the sellout crowd of 14,123.
Prior to the Michigan game, Knight posed for pictures with Purdue fans, signed dozens of autographs and had a lot of fun with the Paint Crew.
During the ESPN telecast, the Hall of Fame coach and Brent Musburger talked about the reception Knight received as video of Knight interacting with the Paint Crew rolled.
"An old villain in West Lafayette returns and the youngsters here just welcomed him with open arms," said Musburger on-the-air before the start of the second half. "It was amazing and Coach Knight went over and said, 'I want to remind all you youngsters that your mothers and fathers used to boo my butt off in this building."
Knight responded, "Now remember I preceded that with what a group of people supporting the Purdue team that they are and always have been. I mean they've always been great support for the basketball team here. They had a much greater reception for me than their moms and dads did."
Knight's praise wasn't just reserved for the Boilermaker faithful as he had plenty to say about the product on the floor.
Needless to say liked what he saw from Matt Painter's team, particularly in the first half when it built a 43-27 lead at the break and led by as many as 27 at one point in the second stanza.
In fact, Knight asked Musburger if he was doing anymore Purdue games this season. Musburger told him he would be returning to Mackey for Thursday night's Wisconsin game.
"I may tag along with you," Knight said. "I just enjoy watching them (the Boilermakers) play."
Knight continued saying, "You get away from coaching like I have for a couple years and when you see a team that really executes at both ends of the floor as well as the Boilermakers are playing right now (in the first half), it's something for an old coach you really enjoy watching."
Musburger followed those statements up with, "You and I were talking and you said you think Matt Painter and Purdue sort of accomplished in the state of Indiana what you had going for a long time in Indiana and that's the fact that youngsters now in the state of Indiana and certainly during your time, they grew up thinking about both you and Gene Keady, but now Purdue has sort of established itself as the team in Indiana where youngsters think about going."
Knight said, "I think that's true to a certain degree, but I think what's happened is Matt Painter is playing the kind of basketball that allows kids to play the game and play it well for being observant, playing hard, not necessarily being tremendously gifted with athletic talent. Basketball players can play well in the system that Matt Painter plays."
Some of Knight's comments on Purdue were aired again this evening on College Gameday prior to the Duke-Clemson game.
Through the beauty of text messages media members were aware of what Knight was saying during the telecast so one of the scribes asked Painter asked him what it meant to have one of college basketball's greatest coaches of all time speak so highly of his program.
"What we wanted to do right as we started at Purdue was to get people to compliment us for playing as hard as Coach Keady's team," Painter said. "That was the one thing that we wanted. I think we've been able to go in that direction. I still don't think we're at that point. I think we can play harder so for someone like Coach Knight to give us praise, our blueprint is really through Coach Keady and what he's been able to do here. Both of those guys' competitive nature and their success raised the level of basketball in this state and really set the bar high. That's all we're trying to do on our end is try just to play hard and play together. I think when you play together and play hard and you're unselfish, people enjoy watching you.
It's nice to hear compliments about your team, but we just have to stay on edge and keep plugging."
Some of Knight's compliments for Purdue and its players came off-air.
Prior to tip-off and at halftime, Knight spoke with Chris Kramer's mother, Susan.
According to Susan, Knight's message to her was if he had still been at IU, he would've recruited Kramer out of Huntington North High School and made him one hell of a player. Knight wasn't saying Kramer hasn't become a hell of a player, but he was simply pointed out that he would've loved to have the opportunity to have coached him.
Kramer's mother thanked Knight for the kind comments and didn't have the heart to tell him he would've had his work cut out getting him to go to IU instead of Purdue.
"I don't know if I would've gone there No. 1, but being from Indiana and knowing everything he's accomplished, for him to say those things about me is definitely very intriguing," Kramer said.
So as Knight departed Mackey Arena early this evening, he has to be eagerly awaiting a return trip to the place where he used to be as hated as any figure ever in the history of college basketball.
My how times change.
Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2010. All Rights Reserved. Reproducing or using editorial or graphical content, in whole or in part, without permission, is strictly prohibited. E-mail GoldandBlack.com/Boilers, Inc.
Check out GoldandBlack.com on | |
...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now for a FREE Trial