From 1978 – 1986, the best college basketball was played in the Kentuckiana Triangle. With the University of Louisville, Indiana University and the University of Kentucky combined for 5 NCAA Men’s Championships and four other trips to the Final Four, there simply wasn’t a better area in the country for top flight college basketball. And then, their combined fortunes changed. The late 80s saw the scandal at , and subsequent probation for, the University of Kentucky and Head Coaches Bob Knight and Denny Crum somehow lost their touch at their respective schools. UK was the first to rise from the ashes and hire a brash young coach to return the program to its accustomed glory by winning the 1996 NCAA title and leading the Cats to the 1997 championship game. It took a lot longer for the Hoosiers and Cardinals to find coaches poised to return both programs to their championship-caliber level. And here we sit, a month away from the start of the second coming of the Kentuckiana Triangle.
With the Wildcats, it’s obvious that a coach has been found that both understands the unique pressures of the job and embraces them. As I’ve heard man fans say over the past three years, “Cal gets it.” From his fire and brimstone State of the Union style speeches at Big Blue Madness, to his unparalleled savvy on the recruiting trail and, yes, to his two Final Fours and 2012 NCAA Title, Head Coach John Calipari is riding high. And deservedly so. He’s taken on the most passionate and demanding fan base in all college basketball and, relatively, placated them. And with top recruits seeming to fall over themselves for a chance to wow him, it appears that Coach Cal has the Cats poised to stay at or near the top, challenging for Final Four berths and championships for years to come.