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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Season of change

New coach, new attitude

The men's basketball team continues to wear red- and white-striped warm-ups. But underneath the pants, longer shorts and the Nike swish are telltale signs that something has changed in Assembly Hall.\nWhen former men's basketball coach Bob Knight said his good-byes to the student body last September, he forecasted advertising in Assembly Hall as one of the many changes the basketball team would experience. Although that prediction did not come true, other changes mark IU and a post-Knight era.\nThe Nike invasion made big news when IU decided to dump the traditional Converse and go with the swoosh. Knight's resistance against the more modern basketball shorts went out when he left, and there is talk the jerseys will display last names when the 2001-2002 season starts. \nBut just because Knight's rules were cast aside, it does not mean coach Knight has been.\n"I know that he was the main reason for a lot of the guys to come play here, but that changed," senior Dane Fife said. "We had to move on, but Coach Knight is still in the back of our minds when we play, and he probably always will be."\nIt's been one year since Knight was fired. The future of IU basketball was uncertain and the University came close to losing its entire basketball team. The players threatened to transfer if the University did not listen to their requests of hiring then-assistant coach Mike Davis as the interim coach.\nThe University listened, and now one year later, Davis is head coach. The team is nearly intact, minus three players, and Knight is in Texas Tech, building a program of his own.\n"I think coach Davis has really grown into his position and has taken hold of his coaching job," sophomore Jared Jeffries said. "I think last year sometimes he would get nervous or upset about some things. Now that he's been around us and he knows we have total confidence in him and his ability to coach us that's filtered into him and, vice versa, back into us."\nWith the hiring of Davis as interim coach, the University managed to hold on to the basketball team, but convincing the IU student body and fans was a harder feat. Alumni threatened to stop donating money, and some did. Students also threatened to boycott games.\nBut as the 2000 season got under way, Davis and his team received the same welcome as any other year. Devotion to Indiana basketball did not disappear with Knight's departure.\n"We were lucky to keep most of the team together after Coach Knight left," Fife said. "Davis did a nice job of dealing with the negativity. The fans were sad for the first couple of games, but everyone settled down and we were able to get back and play IU basketball like we could." \nWhen Knight was still coach, his presence was enough to draw recruits to the program. Fife said his main reason, like that of his teammates, was to play for Knight. \n"Ultimately, it was up to the players to come and play as hard as we could," Fife said. "We knew what was expected coming into both situations and it came down to how much we wanted to play and we wanted to play in both situations."\nAnd Davis has become a draw himself. \nAccording to top 15 high school recruit and senior Bracey Wright of The Colony, Texas, his decision to verbally commit to IU would have been different had Knight still been the coach.\n"He was a real good coach, and he won a lot of games, but I never did like how he ran things up there," Wright said. "It just never seemed like he changed with time. He was always stuck back in his era, and it showed in the uniforms and the way they played."\nDavis, who coached under Knight for three years, has somewhat strayed from Knight's offensive and defensive philosophies. Davis and the basketball players are more accessible to the media and Davis doesn't bar members of the media who upset him.\nBut for Davis, the past 12 months still hasn't sunk in.\n"Well, it's totally different (coaching at IU)," Davis said. "I don't even realize I'm the head guy until I walk outside and come over here because around my house I'm the fourth."\nThe transition year hasn't healed all wounds from last fall, but for the team, the adjustment period is over.\n"It was very difficult for all of us (when he was fired), because we came here to play under Coach Knight," Fife said. "We came here to play under him and win under him, and it was difficult for us to handle, because we felt we had built a championship team, and we felt he could take us there. But coach Davis is my coach now"

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