|With Sampson out and Dakich in, questions abound at Indiana|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 23 February 2008 12:20|
``I don't know that I'd use the term auditioning,'' athletic director Rick Greenspan said. ``I'd say Dan understands our expectations. I think he has an opportunity to make something special happen out of a bad situation.''
The opportunity began with Saturday night's game at Northwestern. The Hoosiers, ranked No. 15, was turned over to Dakich after Kelvin Sampson accepted a $750,000 buyout.
Fans are clamoring for a big-name coach. And the wish lists include an array of former Indiana stars - New Mexico coach Steve Alford, Minnesota Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman and Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson.
Dakich gives the Hoosiers not only continuity but a chance to mend the split among the fan base after Bob Knight's firing in 2000.
The 45-year-old Dakich played for Knight and as his longtime assistant was once considered a possible successor to him. He left Indiana to take the Bowling Green job in 1997 but never reached the NCAA tournament in 10 seasons. Unlike Woodson or Wittman, longtime NBA coaches, Dakich has coached his entire career in college.
Still, Dakich may need a Final Four run or perhaps a national championship to keep the job. Such a run would be reminiscent of 1989 when Steve Fisher succeeded Bill Frieder at Michigan and won the title.
An NCAA investigation found Sampson committed five major rules violations last week, leading to his resignation Friday. The university has until May 8 to respond to the allegations and faces the infractions committee June 14. A decision is expected by mid-July.
Potential punishments could include a postseason tournament ban although Indiana hopes Friday's coaching change helps it avoid the most severe penalties. In October, the university stripped itself of one scholarship next season and imposed recruiting bans on Sampson.
``We continue to believe that the sanctions imposed in October are appropriate,'' said Robin Green-Harris, who helped conduct university investigations into Sampson. ``We continue to believe the sanctions imposed in October are appropriate, and we'll continue to investigate to see if more should be imposed.''
The Hoosiers avoided a player boycott at Northwestern when all six players who skipped Dakich's first practice boarded the team bus Saturday. Five of those players - Armon Bassett, Jordan Crawford, Jamarcus Ellis, DeAndre Thomas and Brandon McGee - still have eligibility remaining and could transfer. Ellis and Thomas will be seniors next season.
Also gone will be senior captain D.J. White. Freshman Eric Gordon, the Big Ten's top scorer, is expected to declare early for the NBA draft.
Already minus one scholarship, the Hoosiers are in danger of losing two recruits signed in November because the university agreed to an escape clause in the letters of intent. The provision allows those players to join another school if there was a coaching change before next season.
``The next challenge for this coaching staff will be to reach out to those young men and provide them some sense of comfort and normalcy in an environment that's very different than when they committed,'' Greenspan said.
Philip Eskew Jr., a member of Indiana's Board of Trustees, acknowledged how such a shake-up can complicate recruiting.
``I think it's terribly disruptive to the students and alumni,'' he said. ``But based on the e-mails I received, I think there's a lot of people that wanted something done. I hope we can re-establish the integrity of the program.''