Monday, April 25, 2005

Would Alford Coach at Indiana? 'Not a Spot Open There Now,' He Says

Maybe you didn’t know this about Steve Alford:

Alford assigns his student managers at the University of Iowa to videotape every Texas Tech basketball game for him so he can try to learn something else from Bobby Knight, who coached him at Indiana and who now is Tech’s coach.

And maybe you didn’t know this:

Alford, who has been Iowa’s coach for six seasons, visits Knight at least twice a year. During his visits, Alford fills a notebook full of ideas, strategies and information from his former coach.

And maybe you didn’t know this:

On one of the visits, Knight said he was tired of talking about basketball and asked Alford if he wanted to go hunting. But all Alford could think of was the time a few years ago when Knight accidentally shot a man who was described as a “hunting friend.” Alford’s response to the question about hunting was, “Yes, sir!”

[The hunting incident that didn’t involve Alford occurred in October, 1999. Thomas Mikunda, 49, of Exeland, Wis., was treated after being shot in the back and upper shoulder when Knight’s 20-gauge shotgun accidentally discharged as he attempted to aim at a grouse.

[Associated Press accounts said Knight did not accompany Mikunda, who was struck by 16 pellets, to a Wisconsin clinic, and instead returned home to Indiana. Knight failed to report the accident. He also was cited for failure to report a hunting accident and for hunting without a non-resident small game license in 1999 and 1998. The fine for each of the three citations was $165].

Franklin Foshee, assistant sports editor of the Tribune in Jeffersonville, Ind., wrote about Alford and Knight recently. Alford spoke to 400 persons at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Southern Indiana Regional banquet in Clarksville, Ind., and Knight’s name came up often.

Foshee wrote about the “fine dining and fabulous story-telling by Steve Alford” at the sold-out banquet.

Generally, it was another love-in between Indiana fans and Alford, who is thought of much more highly in the Hoosier state than he is in Iowa.

Those Hawkeye fans who have had enough of Alford’s underachieving teams thought they might finally get rid of him late in the 2004-2005 season. That was when Indiana coach Mike Davis appeared ready to be shown the exit sign.

One or two more losses might have gotten him fired and opened the door for Alford, who is Indiana’s all-time leading scorer with 2,438 points.

Alas, Davis survived for another year, and so did Alford at Iowa—even though he had another disappointing team. After a 12-1 start, the Hawkeyes promptly lost their first two Big Ten games, stumbled through the rest of the conference season [including losses to hapless Northwestern and Purdue] and were smothered by Cincinnati in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Frankly, I think there are plenty of Indiana fans who look at Iowa as some sort of minor-league team, where Alford is supposed to be learning the coaching ropes, then he’ll take over for Davis when the time is right.

Many Iowa fans, meanwhile, are saying to Indiana, “Take this arrogant guy. Please take him.”

Naturally, the Alford-to-Indiana subject came up during Stevie-boy’s appearance the Indiana Hall of Fame banquet.

In a question-and-answer session, high school coach Jerry Bomholt said, “Steve, would you ever entertain the idea of coming back to IU as the coach?”

Foshee said Alford’s answer was, “Thanks, Jerry. You know, your coaching style is real deliberate. But your questioning is a whole different spectrum.”

Everyone laughed. Then, Foshee said, Alford “answered the question—sort of.”

He said, “Well you know Jer, there’s just not a spot open there right now.”

In other words, ask Stevie-boy about making that coaching change when Indiana says adios to Davis.

Then the celebrating can start in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Solon, West Des Moines and Waukee.

Vol. 4, No. 339
April 25, 2005