Pete DiPrimio, sports columnist and college beat writer for The News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne, Ind., takes his best shots on the world of Hoosier basketball.

Friday, December 29

On Knight, IU And The Record

Wouldn’t it be the irony of ironies if Bob Knight, who so has grumpily reiterated his disdain for the coaching career victory record and for the questions regarding it, would be stuck on 879 for the rest of the season?

Wouldn’t it be poetic justice if a Higher Power, having observed from on high the many twists and turns of BK Theater, decided to have a little fun and see that Knight would have a year of enduring press conference questions regarding a record he could never break.

Yes, I know, some might find that mean or cruel or, well, vindictive. They might not appreciate the humor, but then, they probably never experienced Knight at his most difficult, which is to say, during his 29-year, doing-it-his-way-by-gosh run at Indiana.

Anyway, the Red Raiders’ loss to UNLV meant Rebels coach Lon Kruger continues to own Knight (8-2 in head-to-head meetings) and means Knight’s next chance to break a tie with Dean Smith will come Monday against New Mexico.

IU coach Kelvin Sampson, who has Knight’s former job, remembered his experiences with the General, which included their Big 12 rivalry while Sampson was the Oklahoma coach.

“There was a huge curiosity factor with all the (Big 12) schools when he came to the league,” Sampson said. “When he showed up it was a different Texas Tech. Before we wouldn’t sell out the Texas Tech game. When Coach Knight came, it was a sellout. I think he sold out every (Big 12) arena because of his persona. He has that presence about him.”

Sampson remembered the first time he met Knight while he was a grad assistant at Michigan State in 1979.

“He just had an incredible presence.”

That presence was evident during games.

“When you coach a game, sometimes you can feel that guy on the end, sometimes you can’t, but you always know when Coach Knight was there because of his presence.

“He’ll win as many games as he wants to win. He’ll put the mark wherever he wants it.”

Unless, of course, a Higher Power has another idea.


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