Purdue coach is Hall of Fame finalist

Brian Sumers

A couple of years ago, Bruce Weber encouraged his one-time boss Gene Keady to promote his candidacy to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

But Keady, the veteran Purdue coach, didn’t like the idea.

“He cussed me out,” Weber said. “(He said), ‘I’m not going to get in,’ this and that — you know how he is.”

Regardless, Keady was named Sunday as a finalist for the coaching section of the Hall of Fame, along with Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun. Keady will find out whether he’s been selected during this year’s Final Four. Induction ceremonies are scheduled for September.

To gain entry, Keady will need votes from 18 of 24 members of the Hall of Fame’s Honors Committee.

Keady has compiled a 504-244 record in his 24 seasons with the Boilermakers. He’s never taken a team to the Final Four, but Weber, an assistant to Keady from 1980-98, said Keady’s lack of postseason success shouldn’t matter.

“I’ve been pushing it for the last two or three years,” Weber said. “I would see some other guys get in and I’d be like, ‘How can coach not get in?'”

Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, in his ninth year as the Spartans’ head coach, said he’s grown to respect Keady’s coaching style.

“I don’t think there’s a coach in the country that cares as much about the game as Gene,” Izzo said. “He would put college basketball ahead of Purdue basketball, and not many people do that. He has a love for the game, but he also has done it the right way for so many years and he’s done it with class and dignity.”

Dan Monson, Minnesota’s fifth-year head coach, said he’d gladly speak to the Honors Committee about Keady.

“I’d say, ‘What’s the holdup?'” Monson said. “This is almost embarassing that I’d have to say anything on his behalf, because what he’s done as a coach on the court and what he’s done off the court for the game of basketball speaks for itself.”

For his part Keady said he’s excited about the prospect of induction. Earlier this season he became just the second coach in history to win 500 games at a Big Ten school.

“You never think that’s going to happen to you,” he said.

Rolling Badgers: Not even a loss to Northwestern could derail Wisconsin’s season.

After their 69-51 loss to the Wildcats on Feb. 7, the Badgers bounced back, beating Ohio State on Saturday and Iowa on Feb. 11. Their 30-point win (78-48) over the Buckeyes marked their largest margin of victory since a 79-45 triumph over Indiana on Jan. 6.

The Badgers (17-4, 8-2 Big Ten) now are ranked 10th in the nation — four slots higher than before their loss to NU.

They’ve been able to continue winning even without sophomore Alando Tucker, who broke his foot early in the season and won’t play again this year. Tucker averaged 14 points and 4.5 rebounds in four games.

The Badgers also played two games (against Minnesota and NU) without sophomore guard Boo Wade, who was charged Feb. 12 in connection with choking a 19-year-old woman. Wisconsin orginally suspended Wade indefinitely, but later reduced his penalty to two games.