Keady waves goodbye

Purdue head coach Gene Keady points to the stands in acknowledgement of the cheering fans as he steps off the floor for the last time as head coach after Purdue´s loss to Iowa 71-52 at the United Center in Chicago. Online Poster

Purdue head coach Gene Keady points to the stands in acknowledgement of the cheering fans as he steps off the floor for the last time as head coach after Purdue´s loss to Iowa 71-52 at the United Center in Chicago. Online Poster

By BobLa Gesse

CHICAGO – Gene Keady has entered uncharted territory.

For the first time in 25 years, Keady will not have a game, season or recruiting plan to put together or worry about at Purdue.

The Iowa Hawkeyes (20-10) beat the Boilermakers (7-21) 71-52 in the Big Ten Tournament in Keady’s final game as Purdue coach.

Keady can do whatever he wants, even if he is not used to it.

“I’ve had to be somewhere every day since the first grade,” Keady said.

Not on Friday.

So what is next for Keady?

“I’m going to go home and do what my wife tells me,” Keady said.

Presumably Mrs. Keady has already given her permission to allow Keady to help put together an All-Star team to face the Harlem Globetrotters during Final Four Weekend. Plus, Keady wants to spend time with his wife, who has been ill recently.

Keady has not ruled out coaching again, either. If he can find a job with a big contract, warm weather and good players, he will take it.

“And those jobs are tough to get,” Keady said.

So is a record that includes winning 550 games and six Big Ten titles.

Iowa controlled the game from the tip-off, taking a 12-3 lead off of four 3-pointers. Iowa shot 70 percent from behind the arc in the first half and led 33-23 at intermission.

“We took what was there,” said Iowa junior guard Jeff Horner.

With the game all but over in the first half, eyes slowly drifted off the court and onto Keady.

It was the final time to see the scowl, the tantrums and the hair.

“He had an impact on me 25 years ago and is still having an impact on me,” said Iowa coach Steve Alford, who played against Keady as a guard at Indiana.

Iowa advanced behind sophomore forward Adam Haluska’s 17 points and Horner’s 16. The Hawkeyes will face No. 10 Michigan State on Friday at 5:40 p.m.

Senior guard Brandon McKnight’s 16 points led Purdue.

With Keady’s departure from Purdue, a chapter has been closed in Big Ten basketball. Icons like Keady, Bob Knight, Lou Henson and Tom Davis, who dominated the Big Ten and the nation in the 1980s, have all moved on.

One chapter closes. Another begins.

For Keady and the Big Ten.

“He is going to be missed,” Alford said. “It will affect the Big Ten.”