30 years coaching experience/Worked Camps/Clinics on 5 Continents

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Former IU Men's Basketball Head Coach

There are only 3 living former coaches for the Indiana University men's basketball team. I think that says a lot about the durability of the program, but maybe because one of the living coached there for almost 30 years. But one of those coaches, Kelvin Sampson, well, let's just say he won't be welcomed back to IU anytime soon.  Whether his fault or the administration's, IU was hammered with NCAA sanctions and put under a rock so heavy that it has been hard to dig out from under it.

The other two coaches are Bob Knight and Mike Davis.  Bob Knight is a basketball legend. At one time the all time winningest coach in men's basketball, he revolutionized how the game was played in the 1970's, a great basketball mind, and built the IU men's program into what many consider one of the top 5-8 basketball programs in college basketball. But his volatile temper, and, I will just say it, his lack of respect for those he didn't perceive as deserving of respect caught up with him.  He was fired after IU President Myles Brand put him on a zero tolerance plan (dumb), then he grabbed a kid by the arm and was fired for "What's up Knight?", and began to teach the student proper etiquette in addressing his elders.

Since that time, Coach Knight has been asked, pleaded with, cried to and begged to come back to IU to be recognized. He was asked by Sampson and current head coach Tom Crean.  He has been asked by former players, most recently A.J. Guyton who was being inducted into the IU Hall of Fame. He has been begged, cried to, pleaded with by the IU fans.  Fans that Knight has claimed to be the best and how great they were to his teams and to him. The fans that would do anything for him to come back one more time to be shown the love and affection they have for him. But he has refused to come back, many times.

Then you have the current Texas Southern head coach, Mike Davis. Davis was the "winner" after Knight was fired to take over the program. Players were mad and threatening to leave IU after Knight was fired, and Davis who had recruited many of the players stepped in. What did he do? He won 20 games that year and then took his second team to the National Championship game where they lost to Maryland. After that he had 3 seasons in a row that IU fans are not used to and was lambasted, ridiculed, and destroyed by the IU fan base. Eventually, he resigned and moved on to coach at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Davis had and still has every right to be bitter about his time at IU. All he did was help save the program in the wake of the Knight firing, win, then get a contract extension, isn't that what was supposed to happen?

Davis recently returned to IU and he brought his current team. In every single interview, Davis had a smile and spoke glowingly about his time at IU, how it paved his road for future coaching jobs. In those interviews, both pre and post, he has said great things about IU, its fans, his former players, and the current coaches and players. He has talked about how he would love for his freshman aged son to be able to play at IU, and he has been so humble it is almost hard to believe.

To me, it really contrasts Knight's reaction to IU. Knight, beloved and begged to come back by the fans and he has turned them down. Davis, not beloved or begged to come back by the fans and he has been true, pure class. I think it says much about not the men as coaches but as human beings in what they see as important in life.

I think Mike Davis has it figured out.