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Why is there such a disparity between Indiana and Kentucky HS hoops?


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Will we see a time when KY high school basketball catches up to IN in terms of talent? Why is there such a disparity (99-44 all time record in the IN-KY All-Star Game in favor of Indiana and consistently more top 100 talents) with a similar layout and basketball passion? A true bluegrass fan myself but have recently lived in the Hoosier state and have started to see the disparity.

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A very simple answer after the population disparity is that High School Basketball means more to the entire state in Indiana than it does in Kentucky.

 

I've visited central Indiana my entire life and lived up there during all of the 90's, so I have seen first hand the difference.

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I can see the difference here in Louisville by just looking at size of gyms and attendance. Go across the river to Jeffersonville, New Albany, and Floyd Central and check out there gyms and attendance. Like night and day. HS basketball as big as it is in KY is even bigger in Indiana. Plus throw in the population difference.

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A very simple answer after the population disparity is that High School Basketball means more to the entire state in Indiana than it does in Kentucky.

 

I've visited central Indiana my entire life and lived up there during all of the 90's, so I have seen first hand the difference.

Years ago my best friend, who was from Madison, and I went to see Damon Bailey play a game at BNL. It was quite the event.

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However, population isn't everything. Other sports (such as baseball, soccer, swimming, etc.) don't show much disparity whatsoever. Some may argue that KY is better in some of those sports.

 

It matters in almost every team sport. More competition for spots on a team leads to better players in most cases. Yes there are exceptions, but typically those are usually driven by money. Which is another point of comparison. Many of the poorest counties in the country are found in KY. Facilities, budgets etc also matter.

 

Just in sheer size of schools, The largest school in KY wouldn’t even be in the top 20 in size in Indiana.

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Indiana limits its HS teams to a 22-game regular season. Kentucky teams can play as many as 30. That means most of the games in Indiana are on Friday and Saturday nights, which generate larger crowds, more interest and community support especially from young kids who are learning the fundamentals and aspiring to become a high school player. Kentucky plays a large percentage of its games on on Monday - Thursday nights, generating smaller crowds and limited support from students and community. Each game in Indiana just means more. ;)

 

Additionally, Indiana (due to the aforementioned population difference) offers more college basketball opportunities for its high school players. Consider this:

 

Indiana Division I: Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame, Butler, Indiana State, Ball State, Evansville, Valparaiso, IUPUI, Purdue Fort Wayne (10 schools)

 

Kentucky Division I: Kentucky, Louisville, Western KY, Eastern KY, Murray State, Northern Kentucky, Morehead State (7 schools)

 

And there are many more DII, DIII, NAIA programs in Indiana.

 

Lastly, in addition be being a larger state in population, Indiana has bigger cities (Indianapolis, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Gary area, Terre Haute, Bloomington, Jeffersonville/New Albany, South Bend). Metropolitan areas tend to produce a greater number of good basketball players . . . and usually better ones.

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There are definitely several reasons, and as mentioned, population is a big one. Having grown up in Indiana, and now living in NKY for about 13 years, I would agree with those who said it's just a bigger deal up there, for whatever reason.

 

Just 3 years ago, I went to the New Castle Fieldhouse (cap. 9,400) for a first round sectional game between a top 10 4A school, and a 4A school with 2 wins on the season. Both of these schools were about 45 minutes from the sectional site, and I would say there were at least 6-7,000 in attendance.

 

In regards to the large gyms...this originated mainly in the 50's and 60's, when schools would build giant gyms, in hopes that they would have the biggest gym in their sectional, and be selected to host. Some of the enrollment to gym size ratios are absolutely crazy, like schools with 3 or 400 students having a gym of 3-4,000.

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There may be a tie in to geography as well. Indiana stretches very far north where the weather patterns are significantly different resulting in a very different style of sports and sports management.

 

I wrote a paper in college on the geography of sports. Also there is a great book called “street hoops” where a sports journalists traces the country and compares the different styles on the pick-up courts from Boston, Chicago, rural areas, Miami, and Los Angeles.

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There may be a tie in to geography as well. Indiana stretches very far north where the weather patterns are significantly different resulting in a very different style of sports and sports management.

 

I wrote a paper in college on the geography of sports. Also there is a great book called “street hoops” where a sports journalists traces the country and compares the different styles on the pick-up courts from Boston, Chicago, rural areas, Miami, and Los Angeles.

 

That is an interesting point @PP1. If you look at state champions in Indiana, especially before class basketball, a majority of winners were from Indianapolis or north of Indianapolis.

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I can tell you my ovservations being a fan of both and seeing many games from each state. First is population like many others have mentioned. Take for example Indiana's biggest school is Carmel just north of Indianpolis, enrollment just over 5,000 in grades 9-12. The largest school listed online for the state of Kentucky is Lafayette, enrollment 2,293. That's twice the size and there's many others with enrollments in Indiana larger than Lafayette. I'm not sure why Lafayette is not a basketball power but Carmel sure is. Year in and year out they compete for a state championship. Size does matter and Indiana is able to chose from more students.

Secondly I've noticed is how referees call games in Kentucky compared to Indiana. The refs in Kentucky seem to let the kids play more without blowing the whistle as much, and not just in Louisville. That changes teams style of play to be more willing to gamble. When there are officials that are "neutral" they call more fouls and gambles aren't rewarded. I don't want to say that most Indiana teams are more disciplined in their approach to the game but more of a methodical offense that is set up in the halfcourt (especially in southern Indiana).

I believe both states for the most part emphasize basketball over football and other sports despite football bringing in much more revenue so I do not think it's lack of importance put on Kentucky kids as opposed to Indiana kids.

I'm not sure it's related to this subject but it is interesting that most Indiana kids dream of going to IU or Purdue and the best do get there, in Kentucky the dream is UK or UL but UK and UL recruit mostley out of state, which is why UK and UL have had vastly better college bball programs the last 20 years.

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