Bobby Knight Gets The Last Laugh, Dane Fife Almost Makes It A Frown
Bobby Knight didn't honestly believe Indiana would fire him.
How could they? He even hires their football coaches!
But that's what happened to the General in September, 2000. He was tossed out because Myles Brand was trying to pad his resume to become head of the NCAA, which he eventually did within a few years.
The final recruiting class Bobby Knight would ever collect for the Indiana Hoosiers consisted of Tom Coverdale, A.J. Moye and Jeff Newton. But there would be someone else-- someone who would take it upon himself to give the General his namesake back for all these young fans left to think he was just a grouch -- and that was Jared Jeffries.
Jared Jeffries was 6'11'' and ran like a deer. He had a lethal jump shot. And he was born in Bloomington. Courted in almost a fatal-attraction kind of way by Duke, UCLA, North Carolina and even several pro teams, Jared Jeffries was a gymrat who would attend Hoosier scrimmages and practices and follow Bobby Knight around. He had been doing this since he was about eleven years old.
By the time it was early winter 2001 and time to pick on a college, Jared Jeffries walked up to Knight and asked, "If I go to Duke or Maryland or one of those places, are we still cool?" and Bobby Knight, probably shocked that one of his players actually confronted him about something so heavy, was touched. He said "Jared, we're friends for life. You deserve to go to a great school. Of course we'll still be cool."
And that did it.
In a test not seen since Willie Wonka deprived Charlie and his grandfather the chocolates, Jared Jeffries would sign a letter of intent to become an Indiana Hoosier.
The Hoosiers have about 10 major problems. Before we get to what happened in the 2002 season.
1) GREAT PLAYERS WANNA GO TO DUKE OR NORTH CAROLINA.
2) YOU CAN DUNK AND SHOW OFF AT DUKE AND NORTH CAROLINA
3) WE'RE ALWAYS ON ESPN AT DUKE AND NORTH CAROLINA, AND ON ESPN 2 AT INDIANA
4) NO LAST NAMES ON THE BACKS OF INDIANA'S JERSEYS? LAME! PEOPLE GOTTA KNOW WHO I AM!
5) WHY WOULD I GO SOMEWHERE WHERE THE COACH IS ALWAYS GOING TO BE THE STAR?
6) WHY WOULD I GO SOMEWHERE WHERE I'M GOING TO HAVE A CAREER'S WORTH OF BUMPS AND SPLINTS BEFORE I GO PRO AND SEE A DIME?
7) WHY WOULD I GO TO CLEAN PROGRAM? I GET FAMOUS IF I GET CAUGHT. I'M A PLAYER, NOT THE COACH. I'LL BE ON ESPN! AND IN THE MEANTIME I DON'T STARVE!
8) I ONCE SAW THIS FINE IU GIRL TRY TO STEAL MICHAEL LEWIS'S WATCH WHILE GRINDING ON HIM AT A FRAT PARTY.
9) HE COMPLETELY THOUGHT SHE WAS HOLDING HIS HAND AND PULLING HIM OFF SO THEY COULD GET A ROOM. THAT WAS UNTIL MICHAEL FEELS HER HANDS DRIFT EVER-SO-SLICKLY DOWN TO HIS WRIST...
10) THIS GUY WAS 6'2'' AND COULD DO 360 DUNKS. FOUR YEARS LATER, NOBODY KNOWS BUT ME AND THREE OTHER PEOPLE BECAUSE WE SAW IT HAPPEN BEFORE A SCRIMMAGE. NOT DURING A GAME. NOT EVEN DURING THE SCRIMMAGE!
And so Indiana is kind of a plain place to play good quality family basketball. And after getting fired in disgrace after 29 stoic seasons, Bobby Knight would be avenged...by Jared Jeffries.
In 2002 Duke was amazing to watch. They were on every night. Jason Williams, Daniel Ewing, Chris Duhon, Carlos Boozer, some other guy, they were rough. This is the year after Shane Battier left. He went to Memphis and averaged like 13 points a game right off the bat. The year before, they played in #5 Maryland while #1 in the land and went down by 10 with ONE MINUTE LEFT. Jason Williams gets two steals, three three pointers, and they go to overtime and win.
But in 2002, when it came time to play in Maryland, the Terrapins were ready. With Chris Wilcox, Juan Dixon, Steve Blake and Lonnie Baxter and Drew Nicholas, they routed the Devils with hard defense and alot ALOT of fastbreaks.
Meanwhile people who were stuck watching Indiana Hoosier games had themselves quite a dilemma...
DILEMMA FOR HOOSIER FANS
Alright. So what do you do when your Hoosiers are up by 16 and there's like...10, 15 minutes left in the game? Do you--
a) Sit there and have your life wasted as they go on to boringly win by 16.
b) Watch them lose the lead, lose the game, and be mad.
But the Hoosiers get into the 2002 playoffs, they're in the South Regional (thanks robb) and they have the two easiest opponents you can ever have. The Hoosiers were a 5th seed and they got the 11th and 12th seeds. So here they are in the Sweet Sixteen to play Duke.
They go down by about 18. I'm in a bar and my girlfriend's dad is talking all about the old Notre Dame teams that had John Paxson and Bill Laimbeer, and how Digger Phelps was a crook and how Ray Meyer's son sucks, and all this late 1970s college basketball stuff. And that's about when the bartender turns to us and says,"Hey you remember that Maryland game?"
We're like "The last one?"
"Yeah," he says. "Where Maryland kicked Duke by like 20?"
"Yeah," we said.
He then points to the screen with a smirk. "I think Mike Davis stole their playbook."
We look up at the screen and sure enough, new coach Mike Davis's Indiana Hoosiers are down by ONE?!
Jeffries has 24 points. A.J. Moye STUFFS Carlos Boozer and becomes a big star after this ONE PLAY.
So we're watching and here it comes -- Duke with the ball, they're down by 4, and Jason Williams gets it for Duke. We're thinking IU has this in the bag.
Williams throws up a three and he's fouled by Dane Fife of Indiana -- it GOES IN!!! -- FOUR POINT PLAY!!!
What in the world did we just see?
And now Duke can TIE THE GAME?!
And so Jason Williams goes to the line, loving the fact that all the pressure's off. After all, Duke needed a three and got them one. Now he just has to nail this dumb little free throw.
But Boozer gets the rebound, MISSES THE LAYUP!!!! JEFFRIES GRABS IT!!!! THE GAME IS OVER!!! THE HOOSIERS HAVE BEATEN DUKE!!!! THE HOOSIERS WITH AN INCREDIBLE UPSET!!!!
AHAHAHAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bloomington was a sea of drunken girls lifting up their shirts. The Hoosiers would beat the 13 seed Kent State two days later and advance to their first Final Four since Damon Bailey and Calbert Chaney took a legitimate favorite in 1992.
Bloomington was also a sea of people offering upwards of 2,000 dollars for...not tickets...but the BAR SEATS AT THE BARS ON KIRKWOOD!!! They wanted to make sure they got the best possible seat in the bars in front of the TV for the Final Four and the stools had all been SOLD!!!
It was the very last great thing to happen in sports, and we owe it all to the guy they had to fire. For nothing.
Thanks Coach Knight.
This one's for you.
INDIANA HOOSIERS -- 2002 South Regional Champions.
And now for Part 3. Click below.