Former players, Archie Miller, Matt Painter and current IU players spoke about the return of legendary IU coach Bob Knight on Saturday.
Knight returned to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall for an IU basketball game for the first time since his final home game as the head coach in 2000.
Here is a sampling of what was said about Coach Knight’s return.
“Over the course of his Hall of Fame career, I don’t think anything meant more to Coach Knight than the relationships he developed with his players, and it’s great that he is able to enjoy this moment with so many of them. We are very pleased to welcome him back to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.”
“There is no doubt that how Coach Keady coached and what he did was shaped by Coach Knight. If you wanted to win the Big Ten, or you wanted to have success in the Big Ten, you had to run through Indiana and Coach Knight. Any time you have great coaches like that they make you better as a coach. I learned a lot as a player and a coach from Coach Keady and Coach Knight. We’re lucky in the state of Indiana to have those two guys and what they brought to their institutions and what they brought to the Big Ten Conference.”
“Really appreciate the efforts that went in to get the 1980 team back. It was a lot of hard work there. Randy Wittman and Quinn Buckner and Isiah Thomas, a lot of those guys that conversed over the course of time to make that happen. It was huge.
But also the inclusion of Coach Knight meant a lot to those guys. And for us to be able to host them and have Coach Knight officially come through the doors was a big thing. And I think, hopefully, that makes those guys and everybody that’s been a part of the long-standing tradition that only played here coached here and obviously all our fans, hopefully that makes some things go in a different direction moving forward, continuing to tie things together. So very, very happy about that for those guys.
Coach was able to come see our team before the game today was really, really special. Having Pat here was really special. Karen wasn’t in the locker room before the game but I know she came as well. So that’s a big step. And it means a lot to a lot of people. And, like I said, I’m really happy for a lot of people, that they were able to experience that today.
I was able to communicate with Coach Knight prior to the game as he arrived and he was able to be in the locker room for us. Thanked him. Obviously thanked Pat, Randy Wittman as well. It meant a lot to those guys but not extended conversation.
Coach Knight’s teams played with amazing execution, role definition. And I think over the course of his time you watch guys develop within the framework of his system and style, guys as freshman or redshirts become All-Americans as they get older.
So there’s a development component of it but there’s an amazing amount of execution and role definition where the right guys took the right shots and the right guys set the right screens. And in his own way he had an opportunity to really develop that type of belief in what they do works.”
“I don’t know if we’ll see something like this again in college basketball that he came back. This is where he belongs. He moved back here. I told him, when I called him I said, you’re back here for a reason because this is where you belong. And I said you need to come back with us.
We love coming back and seeing each other in these reunions. This is my second or third one back. And I just told him it doesn’t mean anything to us anymore if you’re not a part of it. Because we came here because of him. It wasn’t because of the weather. And as I told Coach, as much as the academics was a big part, it wasn’t because of the academics, we came here to play for Coach.
For us players to see guys from 1970 to 2000 all in the same building together that played for this man is something I’ll never forget. I’ll go to my grave with this memory of today. And it’s just such a great day for all of us — Coach, Karen, his son Pat, players. I think we saw that today, the love that went both ways is my main thing.
He couldn’t have been more happy seeing these people here today. He was great. And that’s touching.
He’s a big part of who I am today, and what I’ve been able to accomplish in my life in basketball as well as non-basketball.
And it was just a situation, when he moved back here, I knew he was in a good place. He was very happy being back here in Bloomington, living. And I just told him there’s a reason why you’re happy, because this is where you belong. It’s where you belong.
And we’ve all gone through it. I’ve been fired four times. It’s not fun. But this state still loves this guy and as we saw today this guy still loves these fans.
He talked to the team prior to the game. And to me, I was standing there, and he was Coach Knight. He was like he hasn’t left that locker room. The words that he gave to those players before they went out on the floor, it was fabulous.
This was a great day for me. Emotional. It was one of the best highs I’ve had in a long time.”
“That was the reason why he came back, though. I visit Coach in Montana and Texas. This is home. I mean, he made all his marks right here at Indiana University. So for him to come back — I’ve spent the last month back here in Bloomington with him and had dinner a few times with him. And we were just happy as hell knowing that he was going to come today.
I mean, we didn’t put a lot of work into it. This is something that he decided he wanted to do. And on short notice, we got a hold of everybody that we could get a hold of, and he showed up. And it’s just a great event today. Beautiful.”
“He talked to us before the game. It was really nice talking to him, having him here. He’s an IU legend. It was nice — it was nice talking to him and he was talking to us, and he told us to play hard and that’s really it.”
“He came in, talked to us, told us to play hard, which I thought we played really hard. Just not the outcome we wanted. But like Jerome said, he’s a legend. He’s the reason why people talk about IU basketball, really.”
You can follow us on Twitter: @daily_hoosier
Find us on Facebook: thedailyhoosier
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”
Seven ways to support completely free IU coverage at no additional cost to you.