Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Congratulations, Coach Knight.

I started watching basketball late in high school (very late indeed for a boy growing up in Bloomington, but I had other athletic interests), and it wasn't my high school team I started rooting for, but Indiana University.

I was no fan of the antics of Bobby Knight, who seemed like a bully who couldn't take a joke. But I fell in love with his teams. The team-first mentality, the absence of any recruiting scandals or even of spoiled behavior on the part of his players were all lures. The players were good citizens, and if they weren't, they were gone.

But even more than that was the motion offense, help-side defense, and passing. IU players never had too gaudy of stats at least in terms of rebounding, blocks, and assists, because they did what they were supposed to do, which was help each other out. Cal Cheaney did set the Big Ten Scoring record, but that again was pure Knight: get the guy who can shoot to take the shots. Also, guys like Cheaney and Henderson were consistent throughout their career, which was how they got records. Knight favored consistency over spectacular highlights, which is why he has the most wins of any head coach ever.

Knight also has 3 championships, a 6-2 record in the Final Four, and is just a few bad breaks/injuries from having up to 5 more championships ('73, '75, '83, '92, '93). And I gotta say, I love the way Knight teams play. And I like what Knight does for Libraries, the priority he puts on education, and the priority he puts on making sure his players come out of his program as good citizens with a future. I also like that he knows that it is important to coach with both passion and a sense of humor, even if it gets in him into trouble.

So here's to you, Coach Knight. I hope you get your due recognition from Indiana, (and I hope you allow it to happen without lawsuits or grandstanding) and I hope you have many more years on the bench, wherever you are. I've only got coffee to hoist right now, but it seems fitting enough.

Good on ya.


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