JEFFERSONVILLE — In front of a packed house at Kye’s II in Jeffersonville on Thursday, three of the nation’s best college basketball coaches kept the crowd enthralled for 90 minutes as they helped raise $30,000 for the Greater Clark County Schools Educational Foundation.
This year’s “Coaches Raising the Bar for Kids” fundraising amount tops the $26,000 raised at last year’s event, which was up from $23,000 the first year.
“It’s growing and doing exactly what we want it to do,” GCCS COO Marty Bell said. “The fact that all of the tables were filled up is really exciting for us.”
The money raised will go to the foundation’s ACT program, which pays for every Greater Clark County Schools student to take preparatory tests starting in the seventh grade to help them get ready for the tests colleges use to determine who will be admitted.
“What we’re actually doing is getting those kids prepared to take the test so they can get admitted to college and hopefully get high scholarships out of it,” GCCS COO Marty Bell said.
Indiana University head coach Tom Crean, Bellarmine head coach Scott Davenport and retired Hall of Fame Louisville head coach Denny Crum talked about the state of their teams, the state of the game and what it takes to be successful on and off the court.
Perhaps the most intriguing exchange of the evening took place between Crean and Crum. Crean took control of the panel discussion from WAVE 3 TV sports anchor Kent Taylor to directly ask Crum about what he thought of defense in today’s game.
Crum pointed out that he rarely sees players switch when playing defense.
“We used to switch almost every single screen,” Crum said.
Crean said that he believes that with the level of talent and experience his team will have this year, they will be able to switch more often, as they did in a come-from-behind victory over Northwestern during the 2011-12 season.
Crean, Davenport and Crum fielded questions from the audience, and the cancellation of the IU-Kentucky series was still a popular subject, one that Crean declined to delve into too much.
But Crean did indicate that the Hoosiers are looking for a strong rivalry game to replace the Kentucky series, and said that there was interest on the part of IU in a series with Louisville.
“I’m not really big on the whole scheduling through the media,” Crean said. “It seems to really take shape more and more, talking about conversations that go on in-house. But I would say that without question, there is interest in starting something with Louisville in the very near future.”
The Hoosiers are ranked first in several preseason rankings after getting through the NBA draft without any losses, while Bellarmine is expected to come back strong in the NCAA Division II polls after making it to the Final Four for the second straight season.
Bellarmine is set to play exhibition games at Cincinnati and Louisville, and Crean and Davenport both expressed interest in having an exhibition game between their teams. After it was suggested that the game be played at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Crean had an idea that got a round of applause from the audience.
“Let’s play it in Jeffersonville!” Crean exclaimed.
Davenport demured when asked about the expectations for the Knights, pointing out that the recruiting cycle is different for Division II schools.
“We signed Jeremy Kendle the first week of August,” Davenport said. “So recruiting at the Division II level is much like baking. If you don’t do it like every day, you will stink. So you never stop recruiting.”
However, Davenport did allow for some enthusiasm when talking about Bedford North Lawrence graduate and Bellarmine player Ryan Burton, who Davenport said has not missed a shot in practice since the season ended.
“He can really, really shoot the basketball,” Davenport gushed.
As for Louisville, Crum expressed surprise at the team’s run through the NCAA tournament.
“I think after the last three or four games of the season, I don’t know anyone that could have predicted they would get to the Final Four,” Crum said. “I mean, they were pathetic and they knew it.”