Thursday, May 5, 2011

Michael Lewis Heading to Butler? IU’s Basketball Future Showcased

Could Mike Lewis, the feisty former Indiana guard who once got into a mini sideline confrontation with Bob Knight, be headed to Butler as an assistant coach?

It looks like it. Lewis is apparently the guy who will replace ace recruiter Micah Shrewsberry, who left the Bulldogs for an assistant coaching position with IU.

Lewis had just taken an assistant coaching job at Loyola of Chicago after a six-year assistant-coaching run at Eastern Illinois. But the Butler job was, apparently too good to pass up. At least, that’s the word from the Indianapolis Star’s David Woods, who sets the reporting gold standard when it comes to Butler.

Lewis was a high school scoring phenom at Jasper High School in southern Indiana, but he became a point guard for the Hoosiers. His 545 career assists remains the school record.

The 33-year-old Lewis is known as a strong recruiter. He’ll have to be to effectively replace Shrewsberry, whose strong recruiting ability is why Purdue’s Matt Painter hired him.

Lewis was a very solid guard for IU in the late 1990s. But he played during Knight’s final years in Bloomington, when the championships stopped coming and national relevance slowed amidst six straight NCAA tourney first-weekend flameouts.

Anyway, back to the good stuff, which is that confrontation. It happened years ago when IU was hosting Michigan. The Wolverines had an outstanding shooting guard, whose name escapes us. A cynic would say it’s because we’re getting old, but who pays attention to cynics.

So let’s call him Michael Jordan and he was a three-point shooting killer.

Lewis’ job was to guard Jordan. No matter what happened, Lewis was not to leave Jordan. Do you understand, Knight told Lewis. Of course, Lewis said.

The game was a nail biter going into the final minutes. Michigan had the ball and another Wolverine guard whose name also escapes us -- we’ll call him Jerry West -- drove to the basket. Only one Hoosier could challenge West and prevent a layup. Yep, it was Lewis. But he had a problem. Jordan had slipped beyond the three-point line. If Lewis moved to stop the layup, going against Knight’s direct order not to leave Jordan, West would pass to an open Jordan, who would probably bury a decisive three.

If Lewis stayed on Jordan, West would drive for an uncontested and equally decisive layup.

Now the real villain here was the IU guard who lost his man and allowed West to drive, but that misses the point, which is Lewis was in a no-win situation. Either way, Knight was going to be ticked. Lewis had about an eighth of a second to decide.

So what did Lewis do? What should he have done? What would you have done if facing a similar situation?

He chose to stay on Jordan. West drove for a layup and Knight went ballistic. He called a timeout and tore into Lewis on the sidelines. The gist was you never leave the basket unprotected like that. You see the ball and stop it, especially in crunch time. The fact he had told Lewis to not leave Jordan did not matter.

Most Hoosiers would just take a Knight tirade. Lewis did most of the time. But on this night, he started shouting back at Knight. Knight got even hotter. Guard Charlie Miller had to get in between them and pull Lewis away.

They quickly patched things up. Lewis eventually spent two years with Knight as a graduate assistant. He also coached at Stephen F. Austin for a year before heading to Eastern Illinois.

Now he’ll be a Bulldog and get to face the Hoosiers next season when the teams meet in Indianapolis in December as part of the Crossroads Classic that also features Purdue and Notre Dame.

Figure Lewis and Butler coach Brad Stevens won’t get into it. Also figure Lewis will make his recruiting mark with the Bulldogs.


It seems like junior college forward Robert Goff will pass on Indiana in favor of Marshall. Yes, Marshall. At least, that’s what’s Jeff Goodman has reported via a tweet.

However, it’s not certain how strongly IU has been recruiting Goff lately, although they were previously. It's part of the intrigue that makes recruiting so fascinating.

That leaves 6-9 Yemi Makoanjuola, 6-9 Ibrahima Djimde, 6-8 Percy Gibson and 6-7 Jamari Traylor as possible future Hoosiers. The key here is whoever the guy is, he can't be a project. He has to provide instant impact. IU has tried inside projects twice in recent years and it didn't go well.


Do you like to see the future in basketball gyms as opposed to, say, Donald Trump’s hair?

If so, Fort Wayne’s Bill Hensley Memorial Run-N-Slam All-Star Classic is for you. The centerpiece of the three-day event is the Spiece Fieldhouse, which has become the northeastern Indiana mecca for youth basketball.

This weekend you’ll see Indiana Elite/Team Indiana, which features IU’s potential future starting lineup with Yogi Ferrell, Jeremy Hollowell, Hanner Perea, Ron Patterson and Peter Jurkin. Hollowell might be back following an earlier injury. Jurkin is likely to join the team later this month. All of these guys are Hoosier commitments for the Class of 2012.

If you like the distant future, check out 2014 standouts James Blackmon and Trey Lyles, who have committed to IU. They play for Spiece Indy Heat 16s. Or, you can evaluate two more Hoosier commitments, this time from the Eric Gordon All-Stars 16s, with Collin Hartman and Devin Davis. They’re in the Class of 2013.

Action runs today through Sunday.


  1. The major point here is self-evident to all but DiPrimio. Lewis ended up with Coach Knight, part of a Hoosier tradition that, because of gross incompetence, migrated to Texas. I wonder, why are so few current IU assistants alumni of IU?

  2. I was at that game; we were sitting in the bleacher seats behind the basket. There were two things I remember about that game. First, was Lewis firing back at coach Knight and the second, was just how big Michigan's Robert Traylor's head was. That dude had the biggest head I had ever seen and a game to go with it! We could not stop him. But, I digress; I actually stood up and cheered when M.L. gave it back to coach.
    My favorite M.L. memory is when on an in bounds play under the basket with the 5 second clock running out he threw the ball off this thug's face from Iowa. The guy was known for his dirty play and had been abusing our bigs all game. I think M.L. must have broken the guys nose. There was blood everywhere and M.L. just stood there not 5 feet away from the guy staring at him chomping on his gum while the guy whaled. This is why R.M.K. once called M.L. THE toughest little S.O.B. he had ever coached.