Wednesday, April 03, 2002

Tired Hoosiers return to give, receive thanks




The Associated Press

        BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The Indiana Hoosiers, looking glum and weary, returned to a buoyant welcome at Assembly Hall on Tuesday to hear a simple message from fans who loved their Final Four run: Thanks.

        Once inside, it was the Hoosiers who returned the message.

        “We're all pretty tired, but we appreciate everything you guys do for us,” said Jarrad Odle, one of two IU seniors. “We want to say thanks for supporting us. We really appreciate it.”

        Nearly 200 fans gathered at Assembly Hall to greet the baggy-eyed Hoosiers as they arrived from Atlanta after Monday night's 64-52 loss to Maryland. Most held signs thanking the Hoosiers for the memories they provided during their surprising string of upsets to the NCAA championship game.

        “I think we brought back the IU tradition the way it's supposed to be,” said Dane Fife, the other senior. “This put a smile on our faces like we put the smile back on yours.”

        The Hoosiers had a postseason run few would have expected when they started the season 7-5 and critics were howling for coach Mike Davis to be fired. Slowly, Davis made the players believe his system would work, and the results started to show.

        Indiana shared the Big Ten title. Jared Jeffries was named Big Ten Player of the Year. Then the fifth-seeded Hoosiers beat Duke and Kent State in the NCAA Tournament to earn their first Final Four appearance since 1992, even with a gimpy Tom Coverdale at point guard.

        The magic ran out Monday against Maryland, as the Terrapins contained Jeffries and went on a late run to crush any thoughts of Indiana's first national championship since 1987.

        “After a couple of days, I'm sure we'll be proud of what we've done,” said Coverdale, who sprained his left ankle in the South Regional championship. “Nobody thought we'd go this far. Everybody was disappointed. We all thought that we had a chance.”

        For Davis, the success brought him validation that he could be a successful coach. Davis said Tuesday he was learning to live with the idea he would never escape the shadow Bob Knight.

        “I was pretty frustrated at the beginning with the way people treated me,” Davis said. “What did I do? But I've learned you can't take things personally.”

        Davis said he had no intention of watching the game on tape.

        “It's too hard to watch it,” he said. “We were right there, just a couple of plays from turning the corner.”

       



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