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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student

Eyes on the prize

There’s a simple formula to winning in college basketball: competent coach plus talented players equals winning season. And as much as pundits gush about Bruce Pearl’s oversized personality, Mike Krzyzewski’s motivational techniques and John Calipari’s dribble-drive offense, the main ingredient to a successful season remains the same: recruiting talented players.\nThat’s why coaches such as Bob Knight and Gene Keady faded into the background in their final years – not because they forgot how to coach, but because they couldn’t convince the same caliber of player to play for them. That’s also why Kelvin Sampson’s recruiting violations are such a big deal. A coach that makes a couple hundred extra phone calls has a couple hundred extra shots at convincing top recruits to come play at his school. \nThe best coaches in college basketball today don’t mold young men into complete players as much as they get out of the way of their uber-talents. (Exhibit A: Eric Gordon.) This is the reason why IU still controls their destiny in regard to a Big Ten championship. This is the reason the Hoosiers took care of business against Ohio State in another game where the Buckeyes could never seize the lead, nipping at the Hoosiers’ heels for 40 minutes like a paltry Pomeranian chasing the mailman. This is the reason the transition from Sampson to IU interim coach Dan Dakich should have a minimal effect on the rest of the season.\nAs Dakich reminded reporters during his post-game press conference, he leads a team of basketball players that want to play basketball – regardless of the setting or who is yelling at them from the sideline.\n“These kids, they’re basketball players. They want to play,” Dakich said. “They’ll go to the HPER if we have an off day, and some of them if there’s a two-on-two game at Jackson Heights Apartments over there, they’ll probably stop in and play. They want to play.”\nAnd play they did. The Hoosiers seized control of the game from the tip-off Tuesday night. Armon Bassett’s shooting and a team rebounding effort was enough to hold the Buckeyes at bay. Bassett has become IU’s most reliable third option over the last couple weeks and its deadliest outside shooter.\n“I’ve been trying to stay aggressive, but stay in the team mode,” said Bassett, who recorded his second consecutive 20-plus point game Tuesday night. An aggressive Bassett makes it that much harder for teams to key on D.J. White and lifts some of the scoring pressure off of Eric Gordon.\nAfter a tumultuous weekend, IU seems to have moved on from Sampson, focusing on the season at hand and the prize they’ve been talking about all year. \n“Obviously, we love coach Sampson and wish he was out there,” Bassett said. “On the other hand, we are right up there at the top of the Big Ten, and we don’t have another choice but to get used to it.”\nIt’s that circumstances-be-damned attitude that has carried the Hoosiers to this point in the season. Injuries, suspensions, resignations, you name it, it’s been an issue this year. And yet with three games to go in the regular season, the Hoosiers are doing what they want to do, striving for what they want to be.\nPlaying basketball, Big Ten champions.

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