Bruce Weber and Bo Ryan must be big fans of IU Coach Mike Davis.
That's not only because Davis' Hoosiers strolled into their respective venues during the last two weeks and prompting stunk up the joint. No, Weber and Ryan must love the fact that the first question out of their local reporters' mouths isn't, "what is your interest in the Indiana coaching vacancy?"
Weber isn't leaving Illinois, and Ryan isn't leaving Wisconsin.
Of course, no one is asking, either.
That's not the case in Iowa City and Columbus, Ohio, though, where two other Big Ten title contending coaches have had their names surface as potential replacements for Mike Davis on the Assembly Hall sidelines. Both Iowa Coach Steve Alford and Ohio State head man Thad Matta have been mum on the subject, instead trying to turn the attention back to their team and their pursuit of a Big Ten regular season championship.
"My focus, my attention is on our players and trying to get them better," Matta said Monday.
Wait a minute…didn't Alford say the same thing?
"All of our attention, all of our focus in everything we're doing is trying to get better as a basketball team," Alford said an hour earlier.
Oops. I stand corrected. All his focus, and all of his attention…
It's unlikely Matta and Alford are commiserating about what to say when the subject surfaces during their respective press conferences, but it's a question that will continue to be posed each and every time a reporter hits record and a the red light goes on until one of them says, "Not interested."
While that might be the case, Matta insists it hasn't been a distraction. Admittedly the second-year Buckeye coach hasn't received the same bombardment that Alford has, but the topic has certainly come up a time or two, and he's steered clear of hinting one way or the other.
"For me, it hasn't been a distraction," Matta said Monday. "I'm one of these guys that woke up this morning sweating about Michigan State."
Of course, Matta has to be careful with what he says when it comes to coaching vacancies. Two years ago he was roasted by a few reporters for vehemently denying any interest in leaving Xavier for Ohio State, and then promptly accepting then-A.D. Andy Geiger's multi-million dollar offer to replace Jim O'Brien in Columbus.
Matta isn't about to make that mistake again, especially since he'd have to play the Buckeyes a time or two each season as the Hoosiers' head coach.
Truth be told, Matta has likely been quiet on the topic due to uncertainty about the NCAA's ruling on sanctions for the OSU basketball team stemming from the Jim O'Brien era. That decision is expected within a matter of weeks, and most close to the program suspect there will be no further postseason ban handed down with the ruling.
If the NCAA does get heavy-handed, though, Greg Oden and Mike Conley could conceivably be freed up from their November letters of intent, and the trio might find Bloomington more to their liking. But barring that scenario, most in Ohio State expect Matta to be in Columbus for a long, long time.
Of course, that won't keep people from asking.
"I don't think it will be a distraction whatsoever to us," Matta said. "I tell our players believe half of what you see and nothing what you hear."
Especially when someone says, "All of my attention, all of my focus…"
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