Near the end of my latest column, I address the continuation of the USI-Kentucky Wesleyan College men’s basketball series. The reason it came about: both schools worked the phones. USI coach Rodney Watson said he had been talking with former coach Todd Lee during the season. After Lee left to take a job as an assistant at a Division I school, Watson got on the phone to KWC athletic director Dave Williams to find out if the series was still a priority at Wesleyan. “He gave me complete assurance that that was something they wanted to do,” said Watson. Then, when Happy Osborne was hired as the Panthers’ new coach, he called Watson “and expressed interest in playing,” said Watson. “We really got it done with one phone call.”
These schools may be bitter rivals athletically, especially in men’s hoops, but they know what pulls in the fans. Even better, they know what helps both schools to earn berths in the NCAA Division II tournament. It’s strictly region based, and if you haven’t played many quality region games outside of your conference, your seeding in the postseason — even the possibility of your even getting in the tournament — is in trouble. Now USI and KWC have cemented two regional games into their schedules before the conference season begins.