So far, the Kelvin Sampson-less ere at Indiana University has started on a positive note. The 15-ranked Hooisers managed to somehow rise above the problems that besieged them and beat Northwestern 85-82 in Evanston Saturday night.
It was as if they wanted to prove to the world and themselves that they are survivors in the crisis brought to their door by their former leader. The six players that skipped practice Friday after Sampson agreed to leave the program and take a buyout of $750,000 did play. Did they prove a point by their boycott or did interim coach Dan Dakich need their services? It seems as if there is a mutiny on the good ship Hoosier. I think that someone needs to tell these guys that they're not in charge. Loyalty is good. But when someone if writing the checks for you to play Division 1 basketball, you don't question the color of the ink.
The Indiana program is a house in ruin. Someone has to take charge before things really get out of hand. Names being bantied around include former Hooiser star Steve Alford, who is currently at New Mexico, Texas head coach Rick Barnes and former Chicago Bulls coach Scott Skiles. Even some are praying that one Robert Montgomery Knight comes back. That might happen. Then again, hell could freeze over.
According to reports, a small group of fans yelled ``Go IU! as the Hoosiers made their way from the bus to the arena about an hour-and-a-half before tipoff. Someone in the Indiana party carried an old Big Ten championship trophy, a symbolic gesture with the team contending for a conference title. Meanwhile, Northwestern fans had some fun at Sampson's expense, chanting ``Where is Kelvin? during timeouts.
Dakich needs to step up and let everyone know he's in charge, for the sake of stablity and for the sake of a program that may see itself on probation if the NCAA has its way in July. If the charges against Sampson are serious enough, there could be the death penalty and no basketball for a while. Sampson has a history of breaking or bending the rules and any program that even interviews him better have him on a very short leash.
This last week has been sort of like taking castor oil. It's not the best tasting stuff in the world. But sometimes the cure is not the one you seek. It's a hell of a lot better than the alternative.