The Indiana Hoosiers lost their fourth-straight game at home to the Purdue Boilermakers and that has become almost expected. The Hoosiers, for the second-straight year, got off to a hot start but when crunch time came they disappeared.
When I heard Coach Knight was going to be at the game I thought, not a big deal. Earlier in the year rumors said he might show up at a game and he didn’t, so I figured what the hell, does it even matter anymore? While growing up I was one of those kids running around the state of Indiana screaming Bobby Knight is always right! But, the truth is Bob Knight and the Hoosiers gave the people in the state of Indiana something to be proud of. In Indiana, basketball was king and Knight was the ruler.
Heck in the mid-80s I kept my haircut like Steve Alford and I wasn’t the only one. Everybody grew up wanting to be a Hoosier and if you weren’t quite good enough, well you went to Purdue (just kidding).
So I sat down to watch the Hoosiers play the Boilermakers and I saw former Boilermakers coach Gene Keady in the stands and I didn’t get sick to my stomach! I couldn’t stand Keady growing up but that was simply because he coached Purdue. The first half was typical Hoosiers, as they were sleepwalking through a huge game and Archie Miller walked around with a pained look on his face. As half-time approached though I started thinking, I bet when Coach Knight shows up this team will be impossible to stop! I really thought that!
When ESPN came back, they show the tunnel that leads to the floor. I was still not sure what I was feeling. Then he appeared, walking frailty down that hall, supported by former players and his son. At this point I thought back to my childhood and how when he walked out of that tunnel and how I sat in awe of this man! My hero growing up was always my father, but Bob Knight was second. I could not believe the man I saw shuffling out onto that court was really Bob Knight! I know in the end we all die, but there are some people who are almost larger than life and Coach Knight is one of those people to me.
Was my sadness about Coach Knight being like that or was my sadness more to do with the realization that this, in some form, happens to everybody, including me someday.
To watch Knight back on the court at Assembly Hall surrounded by his players and to watch him start to tear up as he hugged those players was a powerful moment. To watch him light up and become playful was great, and as a Hoosier I was once again transformed into being that young kid again, sitting in my living room, watching in awe of Coach Knight.
Now, I thought for sure the Hoosiers would come out and see this scene and blow Purdue out in the second half–the Hoosiers would go back to being the Hoosiers once again. The only problem is those players never came on the court while Coach Knight was out there. If you are Archie Miller why would you not bring your team on the floor to greet Coach Knight while he was leaving? If you think it was because they were preparing for the second half with a great strategy then all you would have to do is watch it to realize that was not the case. Maybe you bring your team out to see what once made Indiana basketball special. But no, you stayed away from it when inspiration is needed. I think it would have been great to see Coach Miller’s team go out and surround Coach Knight as he was leaving, but that never happened.
Is Archie Miller the right coach at Indiana? How about this, I hear the apologist all of the time say will Coach K was almost fired in his third year and they turned it around! Well how about this, stop comparing Archie Miller to Coach K. By doing that you look stupid because Archie is not Coach K and it’s a very short list of coaches that can compare to Coach K. Archie mumbles through press conferences and he pretty much shuns local media, except for his show, which he gets paid to do! His teams play with very little fire or purpose for that matter. You judge a coach by how much his team improves during the season and what have we seen in the last two years?
Maybe Archie Miller will pull this all together, but early returns would say not to bet on it. What happened during the game was an utter embarrassment and what happened at half-time showed us what the Hoosiers used to be. Sadly people under the age of 30 have no clue what Indiana basketball used to be! People need to stop making excuses and talking bad about Coach Knight because we all have our warts and. Looking at the former players on the court at half-time it seemed to me that there was a lot of love for the ole Coach that made Indiana basketball special.
I actually heard one of Archie Miller’s players, who graduated after Archie’s first year at Indiana, claim that Dayton was ranked number 6 in the country because it was Archie’s players still there winning and that is simply not true! Obi Toppin was not recruited by Coach Miller and most of the Flyers team wasn’t. Maybe the real question is not can Archie Miller coach; maybe the right question is can he coach at the level he is currently at. Maybe the Big Ten is just too big a job for him.
In the end, Saturday was about closure for a lot of older fans and a legendary coach. Too bad the current team didn’t participate in the ceremony. That would have been special!
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