Calbert Cheaney, the all-time leading scorer in the Big Ten and one of the best to ever wear an Indiana uniform, is leaving his position as director of basketball operations in Bloomington for an assistant coaching job at Saint Louis University.
Inside the Hall confirmed a report Tuesday evening by the Indiana Rivals site that Cheaney had accepted the position.
A spokesperson at Saint Louis also confirmed Cheaney’s hiring to Inside the Hall.
“It is bittersweet to leave Indiana,” Cheaney said in a release issued by Saint Louis on Wednesday. “Learning and building relationships with Coach (Tom) Crean, the IU staff and the players was an unbelievable experience. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
A major motivation in Cheaney’s decision to accept the job was the opportunity to get on the floor and work with players and also recruit, according to a source.
“Calbert played an invaluable role in the success we enjoyed the last two years and we are excited for what the future holds for him and his family,” Crean said in a release. “He brought a great deal to us and in turn, I think he gained valuable insight into the profession during his time at IU.
“He has come to have a strong desire to return to the floor coaching and can do so with someone he trusts and respects in Jim Crews. He will do an outstanding job and there is no doubt in my mind that he has a tremendous future coaching at any level.”
D.J. White played at IU during a trying time for the program. He played for three different coaches during his career, and was in Bloomington for the beginning — and the end — of the Kelvin Sampson era.
Still, though, White will always have a place in his heart for IU. He said the program has been good to him, and he knows it’s on its way back.
“I’m happy,” said White, who is part of the Tom Crean ProCamp this weekend at Assembly Hall. “When I left, a lot of different things happened, but coach Crean and the coaching staff did a good job of recruiting. Christian [Watford] and those guys were put in a tough situation, but they stuck it out.”
After the Hoosiers advanced to the Sweet 16 last season, expectations are as high as ever for 2012. IU added a highly-touted class of freshman, including point guard Yogi Ferrell and forwards Jeremy Hollowell and Hanner Perea. All three are expected to have some kind of impact next season.
Calbert Cheaney, IU’s director of basketball operations, said Saturday the freshmen have had a good offseason.
“It’s always gonna be an adjustment when you come from high school to college,” Cheaney said. “It’s been a challenge for them, but what’s great about our freshmen is they never quit. I think the sky’s the limit for them. If they continue going at it like they are, they’ll end up catching up with our guys.”
Cheaney: ‘It wasn’t the right time’
When former IU assistant coach Bennie Seltzer left for the head-coaching job at Samford in April, rumors swirled that the job was Cheaney’s if he wanted it. The former IU legend returned to the program last year as the team’s director of basketball operations.
At Crean’s ProCamp, Cheaney explained why he chose to remain in his current position.
“It just wasn’t the right time right now from the family perspective,” Cheaney said. “Director of basketball operations, it’s a great job. I’ve learned a lot from coach Crean and the administration — I’ve learned from both sides. I’m content where I’m at right now.”
After Cheaney turned the job down, Crean eventually hired former Towson assistant Kenny Johnson to fill the spot.
Indiana announced changes in job titles to four members of the men’s basketball staff on Monday. Here’s the complete release from IU media relations:
Bloomington, Indiana—Indiana University men’s basketball coach has named Tim Buckley and Steve McClain to the position of associate head coach, added the title of recruiting coordinator to assistant coach Kenny Johnson and named Calbert Cheaney director of internal and external player development in addition to his duties as director of basketball operations.
“The chemistry inside of your program starts with the chemistry of your staff from top to bottom,” said Crean. “Everyone in our program continues to work in a diligent and energized pace to keep IU on a continual rise.”
Buckley is the senior member of the staff entering his fifth year with the program. He was the head coach at Ball State from 2000-2006, returned to the Hoosier state in April 2008, as an assistant coach at Indiana after helping Marquette to a second round NCAA Tournament appearance in 2007-08. It was the second time that Buckley had been on Crean’s staff at Marquette and will be the third Big Ten school that he has worked at in his 20-plus year career, which has included stops at Iowa and Wisconsin.
“It’s a great honor,” said Buckley. “Our staff has been through a lot of things here over the past four years, so I think part of that comes from the success that we’ve had this past season and hopefully for the future, and it’s one that I’m very appreciative of.”
“Tim has been instrumental from day 1 at Indiana with dealing with every aspect of this program,” added Crean. “He administers, teaches, coaches and recruit at an extremely high level.
McClain, who boasts more than 29 years of coaching experience on the collegiate level, is in his third year as a member of the Hoosiers coaching staff. McClain came to IU after spending three seasons at Colorado, including the last two as associate head coach. He also served as interim coach for a portion of his last season and was the head coach at Wyoming from 1998-2007. He was an assistant at TCU prior to that and the head coach at Hutchinson Community College where he won a national JC title.
“I think, as we all talk about the staff, I don’t think anyone worries about what their titles are,” said McClain. “ I think the one thing that makes this staff so strong is the fact that everybody works the same every day for the same goals every day. It’s a great compliment, yet it’s a compliment of our whole staff.”
Inside the Hall had the chance to catch up with former Hoosier and NBA guard Greg Graham, who is now a physical education teacher and the basketball coach at Warren Central, on Saturday at the USSFA High School Shootout.
The primary focus of our conversation was 2013 commitment Devin Davis Jr., but we did ask Graham about the recent hiring of his former Hoosier teammate, Calbert Cheaney, as Indiana’s director of basketball operations.
Here’s what Graham had to say:
What did you think about Calbert Cheaney going back to Indiana as director of basketball operations?
“I knew that was going to happen. It was just a matter of when. Cal’s been down there the last few seasons, golf outings and I know he has a great relationship with Crean. I think it’s good for Indiana basketball. This is something that’s been wanted for a long time. To finally have a coach to finally come in and have the guts to hire a Knight guy, that’s good. And I think that’s primarily where the separation with Hoosier nation is from. If you don’t have any former players down there who are involved with athletics, I mean, people around here grew up watching Knight and his players. I think you have to still keep that connection and that tradition going.”
Do you think that’s the biggest thing Crean has done, that the past two coaches didn’t do, is embrace the tradition?
“I think it is the number one thing. And people have been wanting that. Crean finally was brave enough and had enough confidence in himself to bring a player back. I mean, why not? He’s probably arguably the best player that the Big Ten has ever seen. I say that loosely, but he’s the all-time leading scorer (in the Big Ten). He’s a proven player, I think he can help with recruiting, I think he can help a lot of those guys develop their game.”
Indiana head coach Tom Crean and new Director of Basketball Operations Calbert Cheaney met with the media earlier today at Assembly Hall. Watch the entire press conference below, courtesy of IU Athletics: