SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - It will be a game of lasts when Kentucky
plays Notre Dame in a National Invitation Tournament game on
How many lasts is the question.
Kentucky fans want to know if it will be Billy Gillispie's last
game as coach of the Wildcats. Notre Dame fans want to know if it
will be Luke Harangody's last game with the Irish. This much is
known: It will be the last game at the Joyce Center as it is
currently configured, as the arena that opened 41 years ago
undergoes a $34 million renovation.
"I think it's exciting that UCLA opened this building in 1968
and a program like Kentucky's will close it," Fighting Irish coach
Mike Brey said Tuesday.
Gillispie, who has a 40-26 record in two seasons at Kentucky,
was asked after the Wildcats beat Creighton 65-63 on Monday whether
he was worried speculation about his job might be distracting his
"You never know how that's going to affect anyone," he said.
"I have no idea if those guys listen or read or whatever. I have
Jodie Meeks, Kentucky's leading scorer at 23.8 points a game,
said the players are simply trying to win.
"We try to do what he tells us best we can. We've improved
dramatically over the season and especially in this tournament,"
Gillispie said he's not concerned about the speculation.
"I've been focused on the things I do control," he said.
"I've not worried one second about any of that stuff."
Harangody, who leads Notre Dame with 23.3 points and 11.9
rebounds a game, said he hasn't thought much about whether to skip
his senior season and enter the NBA draft.
"Talking with the seniors, sure you have to think about that.
But I haven't really got into the thought process of what I'm going
to do yet," he said. "After the season is over, (I'll) just sit
down with coach and just talk things out."
When the Irish return to the Joyce Center in October, it will
have a different look. Capacity will be about 9,200, down from the
current 11,418. The renovation includes replacing 5,763 bleacher
seats with chairs, and fans will be closer to the court. A
three-story atrium that will include an expanded retail store and
ticket offices is scheduled to open in January. An overhead
scoreboard will be added in 2009-10.
The game Wednesday night also will be the last time the Irish
seniors play at home, the fourth time this year they've faced that
"I've had so many last game potential moments it's kind of
routine almost," forward Zach Hillesland said.
Brey said his message to the team is that aside from possibly
earning another trip to Madison Square Garden, the Irish have a
chance at ending a 10-game losing streak to the Wildcats, who are
41-17 all time against the Irish.
"It kind of tells you their program has owned our program. We
can't mince any words there," Brey said. "I think I'll talk to
the guys a little bit about that. Maybe it's time for us to get one
in this series."