Let me convince myself this is a good move for Indiana. Thoughts on the Dane Fife dismissal.

So Dane Fife was dismissed from duty as assistant coach yesterday, and I’m sure most of us have seen the statements made. So I won’t dive into those any further. We’ve seen visible contention and frustration between Dane Fife and Mike Woodson this year. I just had no idea it was to this extent. So here’s just a few thoughts on the matter.

I’m going to first delve into some of my reservations before allowing to let my unrelenting loyalty to this program take over and convince myself this is a good thing. At the end of the day I’m just a self proclaimed fanboy who will ride with this team until the day the good Lord calls my number… heck even then, I’ll be using my totally awesome angel magic or whatever superpowers I get to help raise the Hoosiers’ shooting 5% at the least.

But on to my reservations…

This seems flippant. This seems illogical. After a long tenure as Michigan State Assistant, Dane Fife had decided to leave what looked like the heir apparent role for Tom Izzo. I was convinced this was to help Mike Woodson redefine a once storied program looking to get back to national relevancy. That’s the type of guy I personally would ride with. That’s the type of guy who will take chances and risk it for a cause he believes in, and one close to his heart.

Dane in the Knight era

I know the animosity between the two was sometimes visible, but I never thought that losing Dane was even on the radar. I for one thought that his decision to leave Tom Izzo and his ever so sweet role waiting in the wings would have bought him Mike Woodson’s loyalty for life. I thought we had the Robin to Mike Woodson’s Batman. It appears this was not the case.

If Tom Izzo held him in such high regard, he must be a great addition right?

And while this does seem like a gut punch out of the blue, I am beginning to almost delusionally sell myself on the idea that this is for the best…

For one, in his year at Indiana Dane Fife was unable to secure a single recruit. Now, I can’t speak to how difficult it may have been to get the guys that Woodson may have had Dane Fife targeting, because I’d imagine as our most recognizable assistant Woodson probably had him focused on some of the top tier guys. The same guys getting offers from programs firmly established, not programs looking to reassert themselves. So to be fair that sales pitch could be more difficult. But honestly. We need the guys who can get those guys in spite of that… we need some salesmen at assistant coach.

We need assistants who can get THE GUYS. Nothing less will get us to national prominence again. RECRUITING IS KING! In today’s NCAA you need a game changer or two that can dictate the game when it’s truly on the line. And if Mike Woodson doesn’t think Dane Fife was the guy to do it for us, we owe it to him and the program to trust the vision, until we can no longer do so.

Mike Woodson deserves the freedom to establish his network of lieutenants in the manner he sees fit. This isn’t a democracy, it’s an advised dictatorship. And honestly, that is how it has to be. In his first year, he’s got us trending upward. Give him every resource and allow him any action he needs to keep that trend elevating.

We don’t need some Head Coach-Assistant Head Coach tandem to lead us too our elusive 6th banner. I mean how many true HC-AC tandems are title winners? I’m going to say coaches are like quarterbacks, in that if you have two, you don’t have THE ONE. Yeah Dane Fife was a big name assistant, but assistants come and go, a program is defined by their leader.

Also it seems like this should weirdly be seen as a win for those among us who are convinced that we need to find “the next Bobby Knight”. This action should tell you that Mike Woodson is committed to creating a program that will be held to his standards and his expectations, under his direction and vision. So honestly in this regard this is a very “Bobby Knight” move. Being ruthless in the pursuit of athletic dominance is soooo Bobby.

On an almost totally unrelated note, while I’m starting to convince myself this is a good move, one thought that I’ve been having over the course of a few years now is I may think the answer to winning in today’s NCAA is not “the next Bobby Knight”. Sadly, I feel like the Bobby achetype may have no place in today’s NCAA landscape. It seems more and more that today’s top tier recruiting game is dictated by the carrot, not the stick. Seems more and more like the slimeball coaches are the ones finding ways to win, Calipari and Coach K being my prime examples. The priorities of these top athletes now seem more focused on “their brand” than a commitment to winning. Call me the oldest 29 year old you’ve ever heard, but they just don’t have the same priorities as they did back in the days of Bobby. So while reverting back to discipline and determination is Mike’s way, I can only hope at this point that this is the answer.

I really am hoping that all of this culminates in Mike Woodson establishing a program, nay a culture of commitment to excellence. Both on and off the court. His self imposed suspensions were my personal prime evidence of him willing to cut off a leg to stop an infection of unaccountability. Which I love. It’s Mike’s way or the highway now, for better or worse. He is looking to establish accountability at Indiana, in an age that accountability seems to be less and less of a priority for others. I will rooting for him to pull that off and I have to think I can’t be alone.

I really hope we can find the guys who will recruit with the best of them. But just lastly in regards to our breakup with Dane Fife (still always a Hoosier), I’ll ask you to ponder a quote from the oft revered thespian and cultural supericon Marilyn Monroe…

“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things could fall together.

Here’s hopin’ your right Marilyn!

LUX ET VERITAS!!!

Time to dance like EVERYONE’S watching… because they are. (Big 10 tourney recap/Wyoming Primer)

Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me.

Oscar Wilde, 19th century Irish poet and probable Hoosier fan.

I think that’s exactly what this Big Ten Tournament run the Hoosiers went on was. Unexpected. It was unexpected for these guys to go on a tear like they did. It was unexpected for Trayce to play like we all knew he was capable of. And, it was unexpected for the Hoosiers to plant their stake in the NCAA tournament. If you say you saw this coming… you did not watch the last 10 games of out season… These boys need applauded for showing up. If this can snowball into a tournament run, I’m sure quite a few of us will be eating crow for our thoughts on how the regular season had ended.

Indiana really did let that Iowa game slip away. But nonetheless I’m very happy with what we just saw this week. Mike Woodson had flipped something in these guys that made them start believing in themselves and eachother.

Trayce is an Indiana legend now. I don’t care what you think! What an absolute monster out there! Iowa looked small. And funny thing is Trayce doesn’t play big, he’s just uber athletic. His game just made him look like a giant amongst men. Unfortunately, it still wasn’t enough. But a credit to TJD this postseason. Just need to keep this thing rolling.

I can’t begin to explain how proud I am of these boys. They deserve all the credit in the world. The Indiana team that showed up to this Big Ten Tournament is an entirely different group of men than the boys we saw close out the Big Ten regular season.

You can say what you will about how the Iowa game ended. All I know is the show these boys put on locked up our placement in the tournament. So…. we are dancing this year!

We dancin’

Now onto Wyoming…

The Hoosiers found themselves in the first four games with our spots being taken by some bid stealers, Virginia Tech stealing an ACC bid being the best example. We are matching up against Wyoming for the 12 seed play in game. Tuesday, March 13 at 9:10 PM. I fully expect to come out and beat the Cowboys. I’m looking for Xavier to step up in this one, this game will largely be played in the post between Trayce Jackson-Davis and Wyoming’s Graham Ike, and we will need Xavier to step up and produce when the frontcourt battle may seem blow for blow. Although if Trayce can keep his momentum rolling from the Big Ten tournament, I don’t believe Wyoming will have an answer. Indiana’s roster is objectively more talented than Wyoming’s. Indiana is opening as -3.5 favorites.

Both teams top scoring players, are undersized 5s. Now while Indiana’s got maybe the best undersized 5 in the NCAA, Wyoming’s Graham Ike is no joke. He is nearly averaging a double double, with 19.6 ppg and 9.6 rebounds. These battle will be continuous. So while these guys may, for lack of a better phrase, “cancel each other out. It will be crucial to see who can step up among the supporting casts on either squad. I’m looking for Trey to absolutely make a statement in this tournament. Hoping to see him get some good shots up, lord knows we could use it.

While I fully expect to head into Dayton and handle our business tomorrow night, I’m going to say win or lose, this season is a success folks. In 1 season Mike Woodson has gotten us back to the Big Dance! What an awesome first year it’s been for the true Hoosier. We outperformed during the initial parts of the season, but are again starting to find our pace. I really think that Indiana has a chance to make a run this March. While the Big Ten hasn’t really had the greatest showings in recent years, mostly due to them beatin’ the heck out of each other and limping into the tournament, I really think that Indiana could go on a run. Why not!?! If we are making any shots, we can absolutely beat anyone in this tournament. Purdue is an awful matchup for us with their large frontcourt, but we beat them once and nearly beat them again, so I’m confident we can step up to the occasion again.

Get ready folks!!! It’s going down tomorrow night! March basketball is here and man… if it doesn’t feel amazing… Here’s to pumping our boys today and tomorrow before the game. Here’s to Indiana finally being back in the tournament. Here’s to first year coach Mike Woodson, keep trending up Mike. Lastly, here’s to Trayce Jackson-Davis, he’s going to have to work to show up and dominate this game… Which bodes well, because TJD is just now hitting his stride. Get excited yall!!!!

LUX ET VERITAS!

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