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Archive for Saturday, March 30, 2002

Indiana title would drive Knight crazy

March 30, 2002

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— There are many reasons to pull for any of the teams in this Final Four.

Kansas' Roy Williams might be the best coach never to have won a national championship.

Maryland might be the best program never to have won a national championship.

Oklahoma is a hardscrabble bunch made up of junior-college players who have come this far on second chances and second effort.

But Indiana  I'm telling you this is the team you should be pulling for to win it all. Correction: This is the team you should be praying for to win the national championship.

Not because Indiana is the epicenter of the basketball universe. Not because it was the basis of perhaps the best sports movie of all-time. Not even because it would be vindication and verification for a young coach  Mike Davis  thrust into an untenable situation.

No, there is a much deeper, more satisfying reason why we want to see the Hoosiers win the national title.

Because it would drive Bob Knight out of his mind. Because it would cut Bob Knight's heart out. Because it would minimize Bob Knight, de-emphasize him, diminish and disparage him.

What could be better than that?

With apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein:

To see Bob Knight squirm,

Feel like a worm,

Make him realize he's not the king of kings,

These are just a few of my favorite things.

We always knew Knight, the IU legend who was fired two years ago for his behavior, had little class, but now we know he has absolutely none at all. The way he and his former Hoosiers henchmen have handled IU's magical march to the Final Four isn't just petty; it's pathetic.

Three members of Knight's Indiana posse who followed him to Texas Tech  son Pat, who played for his dad at IU and now is a Tech assistant; Tech associate athletic director Steve Downing, a former IU player and 21-year IU employee; and former IU player Tom Geyer, now a Tech student assistant  have gone on record as saying they will pull for Oklahoma against their alma mater.

Meanwhile, Knight hasn't offered a single word of praise for the job Davis has done, nor made a single congratulatory phone call to any of his former players. Even worse, Knight actually is trying to take credit for Davis' team.

"That was a major reason, maybe the major reason, why I stayed or tried to stay at Indiana and certainly stayed as long as I did," Knight told a Lubbock reporter this week. "It was because we were in the process, I well knew, of putting a team together that last year and this year was going to be a very, very good team."

Translation: If Indiana wins the national title, Knight should get all the credit. If the Hoosiers don't win the national title, Davis should get all the blame.

Funny how Knight tells us that these are his recruits. But what he doesn't tell us is that Davis has won as many NCAA Tournament games coaching Knight's players in the past two weeks as the Hoosiers won in the previous eight years when Knight was coaching his own players.

Knight used to believe he was bigger than Indiana basketball; now he's finding out the program is not only surviving without him, it is thriving.

He is quickly becoming the incredible shrinking coach. And just think: Two more IU wins will reduce his tainted legend even further than he himself already has reduced it.

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