Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bet The House – Here is IU’s Next Assistant Coach

Welcome to the Inspector Clouseau school of solving Indiana basketball mysteries. By that we mean being able to tell you, with absolute certainty, who the next Hoosier assistant basketball coach will be.

How will we do this when coach Tom Crean insists he doesn’t know, that he hasn’t even nailed down all the criteria he wants? Simple. We’ll use the powers of levity and deduction made famous by the legendary movie detective. We’ll use the Peter Sellers version, of course, and not the poor imitation Steve Martin has delivered in recent years.

We’ll start with the facts:

FACT – IU needs a new assistant coach.

FACT – Crean likes former Hoosier players around his team.

FACT – Dane Fife is a former Hoosier player.

FACT – Fife was at IU’s practice on Wednesday.

FACT – Fife has spent the last five years being the youngest head coach in America at IPFW. He is coming off a 16-15 record, a school record for victories at the NCAA Division I level.

FACT -- Crean said he won’t talk about any candidates. He also said he doesn’t have a timetable to name a new assistant coach, although “I don’t see it being a long time.” He also said there was not a connection between Fife’s visit and the job opening.

FACT – Actually, Crean said, “Not at this point,” when asked about a connection.

FACT – Winning at IPFW, given a non-conference schedule that included losses at Wisconsin, at Washington State, at Gonzaga and at Michigan State, given a host of other disadvantages, is almost impossible to do, let alone sustain. Fife has taken the program about as far as is humanly possible. He almost certainly would want a chance to coach at his alma mater.

FACT – Fife was talking with Angelo Pizzo outside of Assembly Hall on Wednesday after practice.

FACT – Angelo Pizzo is the writer/producer of “Hoosiers,” the best basketball movie ever made and the best sports movie ever made that doesn’t include the line, “He’s just a man, Rock. He’s just a man. Be more man than him!”

FACT – Angelo Pizzo is a huge IU basketball fan and a good friend of Crean. He's also an IU grad. He's also Italian. Lombardi was Italian. Da Vinci was Italian. Pitino and Calipari are Italian. The guy who writes this blog is Italian.

FACT – Crean joined Fife and Pizzo outside Assembly Hall. Fife eventually drove away. Crean and Pizzo continued to talk.

FACT – Crean said Fife’s visit was planned before McLeod was fired. He said Fife has been to practices before. He said he liked having Fife, and all former IU players, around practice. “Any time you can have those guys around,” Crean said, “it’s good.”

FACT – Crean’s main focus in the short term is beating Northwestern on Thursday and advancing to Friday’s quarterfinal game against Purdue.

FACT – Crean is still deciding on what he wants from the new coach, but provides some basic qualities –- “pulling in the same direction, trust, loyalty.” Those attributes, or the perceived lack of them, might help explain McLeod’s firing.

FACT -- IU needs a great recruiter and teacher for an assistant coach, someone who can help bring glory back to old IU.

FACT -- Crean is not Italian.

Add it all up and what do you get:

Angelo Pizzo will be the next assistant coach.

Wait. Sorry. Consider this -- when it comes to Indiana basketball, as in life, what you expect is often not what you get.


  1. Dane Fife was one of the most hard nosed players to put on a Hoosier uniform. I think he would be a great assistant coach and it would be a good stepping stone for Dane to a high profile head coaching job. I think Tom would do well to have Dane on his staff.

  2. Dane Fife is one of my favortie Hoosiers of all time. Bob Knight kept him from reaching his potential for three years but when Mike Davis became coach that all changed. Whatever people might say about Mike Davis we must understand it was coach Davis who told Dane to shoot the basketball. Their run to have the lead in the national championship game with 10 minutes to go would not have happened without Dane Fife and his new found confidence encouraged by Mike Davis. Like so many others, I wanted Steve Alford to be our coach and Damon Bailey as his assistant. That will never happen but to add Dane Fife and his incredible drive will no doubt be a great help our young Hoosiers. I cannot think of a better fit.

  3. Just started reading your blog. Love it! I think this year although the team needed some offensive power to win, they also had some issues on defense to make matters worse like missing some assignments and just losing focus at times. This would not happen with Fife as an assistant coach.

  4. Everyone thinks great things of Fife BUTTTT can he help recruit. As in past years we are always in the running for the big players but lose out. Even the big ones in the great state of Indiana.


  6. Dane Fife would be awesome!!! I also remember reading sometime last year that Calbert Cheaney would like to get into coaching at some point.This would be an excellent time,I think!He would be awesome with the bigs!Anything is possible,right?

  7. There are not many big men who are outstanding in the entire Big 10. I do think the current IU team had two offensive weapons lost to injuries. I also think this group, if it stays together, will learn to finish games and play better defense.

  8. I think Dane Fife would be great, but I can't help but wonder why he'd leave a Div I head coaching job to come here and be an assistant. I just don't see that happening.

  9. Because "It's Indiana"

  10. In needs someone who can develope big men as it seems that they cannot recruit the good ones even in the state itself. I hope it changes with Tom Crean but he seems to be struggling so far. I hope Dane can help do that if he is hired and i agree with anonymous about Dane being held back under coach Knight but he was a heck of a defensive player. Cdarriel