Archive for Saturday, April 10, 2004

Keady not likely to retire after leaving Purdue

April 10, 2004

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— Who thinks Gene Keady is ready to retire? Who believes the veteran Purdue coach will put all the rocking chairs and reclining chairs and anything else he's likely to receive during next year's long goodbye to good use?

Well, forget it. If you had seen him Friday at Mackey Arena on the court that bears his name just after praising the man who will replace him after next season, you'd have seen a coach as likely to retire in the next 12 months as Tom Izzo.

Are you saying your coaching career will be over after next season, Keady was asked. His eyes lit up. His hands clenched.

"No, I wouldn't say that at all."

Keady, 67, mentioned a phone conversation he'd had with Detroit Pistons coach Larry Brown a few hours earlier.

"He said, 'Whenever you leave, let me know.' I don't know if that was an invitation that he was interested in me as a coach or what."

Would you be interested in the NBA?

"I haven't thought about it. I don't have any hang-ups about being an assistant. I'm sure we'd have to have a warm weather home where my wife would enjoy the weather."

What about another college?

"If somebody was interested in me. I'd be interested if it was the right situation. It would have to be pretty lucrative."

What will you do after next year?

"My wife and I might want to try some different avenues and maybe other professions."

Like TV?

"Whatever my wife tells me. Maybe I'll take over for Vitale," he said, referring to the ESPN analyst.

"No, I'm mostly joking about that. I don't know. I just want to get these guys ready to play and have a lot of fun next season. Do what we're supposed to do -- win big and win some close games."

It's no secret Keady wanted an extension to coach at Purdue beyond his 25th season. Athletic director Morgan Burke wasn't interested.

"Morgan and I never had a harsh word," Keady said.

Keady said the last four years (66-58 overall, 28-36 in the Big Ten) were not acceptable.

"It was not very good compared to my standards," he said. "Purdue had won 17 postseason games before I got here. We won 10 in the last seven years. At a lot of schools, they'd put you in the Hall of Fame for that. For us, it was like losing. It's not enough. We set a high standard here. We're frustrated about it. We want to get it right."

That meant convincing Matt Painter to leave Southern Illinois and a potential top-15 team to become an associate head coach for a season before taking over.

It meant giving up a job Keady still loved to do and turning down another one -- San Francisco -- he was interested in doing. It meant accepting Burke's decision that the program's future belonged to another.

"You have to look at the long haul," Burke said. "The young people we will recruit over the next 12 to 18 months don't want a guarantee for a year, but for six years."

Hiring Painter was a step in returning the Boilermakers to national relevance.

Improving Mackey Arena, Keady said, would be another.

"The facilities when I got here were probably second or third in the Big Ten. Now we're down to eighth, ninth or 10th. There are some things they can do here and they'll do them."

For one more year, things will be done Keady's way.

"Matt is going to be his own man. But right now, he's got to worry about being my man."

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