By LARRY VAUGHT
For the first time since he was fired in 2000, Bobby Knight went back to Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind., to watch the Hoosiers play. He was an iconic coach for the Hoosiers and had a significant impact on college basketball in spite of some unsavory things he might have done and the way his abrasive personality rubbed so many people the wrong way.
I’m no Bobby Knight fan for a lot of reasons but the emotion you saw from him Saturday when IU fans started chanting “Bobby” was real. I’m glad he got the chance to back to the place where he created so many wonderful memories for Indiana fans and the fans welcomed him back with open arms.
Also credit current coach Archie Miller for embracing the situation, especially in a season where the Hoosiers again are not a factor in the national championship race (Indiana lost to Purdue).
Here’s what Miller said after the game:
Q. How did you find out that Bob Knight was coming and what was your reaction to hearing that he was going to be in the building?
COACH MILLER: This game has been circled on the calendar for a long time. And I think this was the goal for those guys to make this happen. And over the course of the last month or month or so, as the talks went, it looked like it was going to be favorable. But I think as this last week approached, I thought it was going to come down the line that hopefully, cross your fingers, that everything was able to work out.
Coach was able to come see our team before the game today was really, really special. Having Pat here was really special. Karen wasn’t in the locker room before the game but I know she came as well. So that’s a big step. And it means a lot to a lot of people. And, like I said, I’m really happy for a lot of people, that they were able to experience that today.
Q. Did you have any extended conversations with Coach Knight? And I’m curious, too, how often you’re reminded of the fact that you’ve got the job that Coach Knight once had, that you’re sitting in that seat?
COACH MILLER: I was able to communicate with Coach Knight prior to the game as he arrived and he was able to be in the locker room for us. Thanked him. Obviously thanked Pat, Randy Wittman as well. It meant a lot to those guys but not extended conversation.
And in terms of being the head coach at Indiana, I know Coach Knight was a coach here.
Q. When you think about Bob Knight and Indiana’s teams, what stands out to you, what can you do to maybe try to replicate some of that?
COACH MILLER: Coach Knight’s teams played with amazing execution, role definition. And I think over the course of his time you watch guys develop within the framework of his system and style, guys as freshman or redshirts become All-Americans as they get older.
So there’s a development component of it but there’s an amazing amount of execution and role definition where the right guys took the right shots and the right guys set the right screens. And in his own way he had an opportunity to really develop that type of belief in what they do works.