Just a few years ago, the status of Indiana’s basketball program had never seemed more dire. Legendary coach Bob Knight was expelled in a fit of campus fury; Mike Davis’ faltered tenure unraveled within years; and Kelvin Sampson conference-called the Hoosiers to a place they had never been before — the NCAA sanctions doghouse. Indiana was a blue blood, sure, but what if those days were gone? What if the Hoosiers’ time had passed?
Those anxious existential quandaries are now the furthest thing from any IU fan’s mind. Tom Crean deserves the lion’s share of credit for that, in large part because he followed the recruiting blueprint required of any Indiana coach, forging alliances with the state’s top coaches and figureheads and, beginning with Cody Zeller, convincing the in-state talent (or most of it, anyway) to stay in the state.
Meanwhile, not enough can be said of Indiana’s new Cook Hall, a 67,000-square-foot facility that not only serves as the headquarters for the program and its players but also hosts a veritable museum of Hoosiers tradition. Before it was built, Indiana practiced at Assembly Hall, where scheduling conflicts with the women’s program were just one of the issues keeping the program from landing top talent. These days, Indiana not only has its name brand and deep cultural connections in a basketball-obsessed (and talent-rich) state to entice prospects. These days, it has the bling to seal the deal.
Filed to: ESPN.com