In 2024-25, Kentucky basketball fans will see things they haven’t witnessed before . Mark Pope revealed

It will be six months until the return of the University of Kentucky’s “Big Blue Madness” marks the start of another collegiate basketball season in the Commonwealth. It will most likely be seven months until the UK men face Duke in the State Farm Champions Classic, which will be the first major game of Mark Pope’s coaching career at Kentucky. Pope and new Louisville coach Pat Kelsey will most likely face off for the first time in the UK-U of L rivalry in almost eight months.

Despite the fact that college basketball is still months away from returning to Kentucky, fans in the commonwealth can already look forward to witnessing history unfold in 2024-25. Thanks to the whirlwind of head coaching changes at in-state colleges this spring, Kentucky’s college basketball fans can expect to see things in the coming season that they have either never seen before or haven’t seen in ages. Let us begin with some of the history that will be produced in Kentucky college basketball in 2024-25: ▪ Louisville fired Kenny Payne, and Kentucky’s John Calipari (Arkansas) and Western Kentucky’s Steve Lutz (Oklahoma State) left for new employment, implying that the UK (Pope), U of L (Kelsey), and WKU (Hank Plona)

For the first time, all men’s programs will be led by new coaches during the same season.
To understand the importance of this, consider that Kentucky, Louisville, and Western Kentucky are three of only seven men’s basketball programs in NCAA Division I history to have produced at least 48 seasons with 20 wins or more.

24 Things Kentucky Fans Can Look Forward To In 2024

Preston Spradlin’s departure to James Madison after leading Morehead State to a 140-109 record in eight seasons means the Eagles will also have a new coach in 2024-25. Jonathan Mattox, a former Morehead State assistant, returned to MSU after serving as an assistant at Murray State.

As far as I can figure — and I’ve spent the whole week combing through records — 2024-25 will mark the first time in history that four of Kentucky’s NCAA Division I colleges will all hire new men’s head basketball coaches in the same season. In the next Kentucky college basketball season, both Kentucky and Louisville will have new head coaches for the first time since 1925-26. This marks a significant milestone. That year, Tom King began a five-year run as coach at the University of Louisville, where he finished 38-27, while Ray Eklund went 15-3 in his only season as coach of the Kentucky Wildcats.

24 Things Kentucky Fans Can Look Forward To In 2024

▪ Neither new UK coach Pope or first-year U of L head man Kelsey have won an NCAA Tournament game in their prior stops as Division I head coaches. What that means is that, for the first time since Adolph Rupp coached UK to the Final Four of the fourth NCAA Tournament in history on March 21, 1942, neither Kentucky or Louisville — at least one of the two — will employ a coach without a past Final Four on their résumé. For the curious, the leaders in men’s NCAA Tournament victories among current Kentucky Division I head coaches are Northern Kentucky’s Darrin Horn and Murray State’s Steve Prohm, each of whom have won two games in the Big Dance. As Western Kentucky head man in 2008, Horn coached the Hilltoppers to the Sweet 16 with victories against Drake (101-99 in overtime) and San Diego (72-63). WKU fell to UCLA (88-78) in the regional semifinals. In Prohm’s first stint as Murray State coach (2011-2015) he led the Racers to a 58-41 win against Colorado State in the 2012 NCAA Tournament round of 64. MSU fell to Marquette (62-53) in the round of 32. While at Iowa State, Prohm directed the Cyclones to an 84-73 win against Nevada in the 2017 NCAA Tournament round of 64 before ISU lost to Purdue (80-76) in its second NCAA Tournament game.

Aside from Horn and Prohm, no other current Kentucky Division I men’s basketball coach has won a Division I tournament game. ▪ The upcoming season will be the first in which Kentucky, Louisville, or both do not have a coach who has won an NCAA championship since March 26, 1978, the day before Joe B. Hall led UK to its fifth national title by defeating Duke. Since then, a combination of Hall, Louisville’s Denny Crum, Kentucky and Louisville’s Rick Pitino, UK’s Tubby Smith, and Calipari has ensured that a national championship-winning coach has always been working in the commonwealth. As of the start of the 2024-25 season, that run has ended.

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