Bobby Knight was
sitting in his office one day last week when a couple of matrons came in
bearing dishes covered with aluminum foil. "What've you got for me
now?" growled the Indiana University basketball coach. The women, Grandma
and Jean Smith, former proprietors of Smitty's South Side Cafe in Bloomington,
Ind., still ply their favorite ex-customer with goodies. Knight peeked under
the foil and said, "I'll eat anything but that raisin-and-coconut stuff you
brought me last week. I thought you were Kentucky fans or something."
A few minutes
later Knight eased his 6'5" frame into a chair at his "new spot,"
an eatery named Kilroy's. He was in a carefree, almost ebullient mood, and
after bantering with the waitress, he turned his thoughts to the upcoming game
against Kentucky in-Lexington's Rupp Arena. His No. 1-ranked Hoosiers had just
run their record to 4-0 with a difficult, but impressive, 76-69 win against
Georgetown. Nevertheless, Indiana had yet to play a game on the road, or to
face a team with the talent and depth of Coach Joe B. Hall's sassy young
If Knight was
uptight about meeting Kentucky, it didn't show. It wasn't that he was so
confident of winning. Not at all. It was just that Knight considers ratings
meaningless until the end of January, when teams have had the chance to jell.
He also thought the polls were overrating his team. And he knew that the
Hoosiers wouldn't be at full strength against Kentucky. Steve Bouchie, a
6'8" freshman forward, hurt a foot in Indiana's opener and hadn't played
since. "He's doubtful for Kentucky," Knight said, "and without him
we can't do nearly as many things." Moreover, sophomore Guard Randy Wittman
told Knight after a poor performance against Georgetown that he had injured his
left ankle in an earlier game against Texas-El Paso.
fretting, Knight sat in the restaurant and laughed about how, as a kid growing
up in Orrville, Ohio, he had spent many nights listening to Kentucky basketball
on Louisville's WHAS. He was a Kentucky fan in those days. " Ohio State
didn't have a radio network then," said Knight, who went on to play on the
great Lucas-Havlicek Buckeye teams. " Kentucky was what I could always get
by flipping around the dial." He even admitted that, on his part at least,
there is more love than hate involved in the Kentucky-Indiana rivalry, one that
galvanizes every basketball nut in those neighboring basketball-nutty
Meanwhile, down in
Lexington Joe Hall was wondering about the roller-coaster tendencies of his
team. On Monday night the Wildcats were a many-splendored thing in a 126-81
romp over South Carolina—the worst licking ever handed a team coached by Frank
McGuire. "They might be the best in the country," said McGuire,
marveling over Guard Kyle Macy's textbook jump shots, 7'1" freshman Sam
Bowie's alley-oop stuffs and Kentucky's remarkable depth. "They just keep
coming at you in waves."
Only two nights
later, however, Kentucky was lucky to escape with a 57-56 win at Kansas.
Afterward, Hall was so upset with the Wildcats that he castigated everyone at
his press conference. He blamed his guards for being "selfish" and his
frontcourtmen for being sloppy.
Going into the
Indiana game, Kentucky had lost only once in seven starts—to Duke in the
season-opening Hall of Fame game in Springfield, Mass. Hall had learned from
those early games that he had a lot of guys who could play well. But which five
played the best together! "It'll take a while for them to settle in,"
Hall said. "I don't know what this team is going to be. What makes me feel
good is that the young players are playing so hard." The young
players—freshmen Bowie. Derrick Hord, Dirk Minniefield and Charles Hurt—give
Kentucky both a fine bench and a shot at the next several NCAA
Aside from a love
of fishing and a hatred of losing. Knight and Hall share a respect for Macy,
Kentucky's splendid 6'3" senior guard. A native of Peru, Ind., as a high
school senior in 1974-75 Macy was interested in playing for Knight, who at the
time had the No. 1 team in the country. When it became apparent to Macy that
Knight wasn't nearly as interested in him as he was in Knight, he began to
consider other schools. He finally picked Purdue, and so did Jerry Sichting,
another top Indiana high school prospect. Sichting has had a fine career at
Purdue, and Macy, who transferred to Kentucky after his freshman year, has
developed into perhaps the finest all-round guard in the country.
"As I look
back at it, the biggest mistake I've made in recruitment was not signing
Sichting or Macy," Knight says. He admitted his error to Macy last summer
while Macy was practicing at Indiana for the U.S. Pan Am Games team that Knight
coached. "One day while Macy was shooting free throws," Knight says,
"I said to him, 'You know, if I wasn't such a dumb son of a bitch, you'd
have played your entire career right here in this building.' Kyle just
For his part, Macy
has a lot of respect for Knight. "He really sticks up for his players,"
Macy says. "He's a lot like Coach Hall, as far as the yelling and all is
concerned. Both are easygoing off the floor, but perfectionists on it. Both are