Wednesday, March 12, 2003

IU seniors tired of criticism

The Associated Press

Kyle Hornsby considered tempering his comments Tuesday. Then he thought better of it.

After enduring a season in which he has heard the same criticisms about Indiana's senior leadership from fans, the media, even from his own coach, Hornsby couldn't hold back any longer.

"I'm deciding whether to be honest," he said before a long pause Tuesday. "OK, I'm just going to say it. I'm pretty sick of hearing about it."

Senior leadership has been a hot topic around Bloomington, almost from the moment the Big Ten season began in early January.

Coach Mike Davis constantly has questioned, criticized and challenged his seniors to be better leaders. Davis repeated those sentiments during the Big Ten's weekly teleconference.

"You have no senior leadership," Davis said when asked how to explain the Hoosiers' inconsistency during the second half of the season.

Hornsby responded Tuesday by saying that although the Hoosiers have not met their lofty expectations after reaching last year's national championship game, the seniors are doing what they can to turn the season around.

The question now is how much more can be expected.

"I think we've done better," Hornsby said. "Have we been the greatest seniors in the world? No, I don't think so. There are a lot of things we could have done better."

None of the Hoosiers' three seniors - Hornsby, Tom Coverdale and Jeff Newton - has had a more difficult season than Hornsby.

While Newton earned all-Big Ten honors Tuesday, and Coverdale was an all-conference honorable mention choice by both the coaches and media, Hornsby almost has been forgotten.

He started on last year's Final Four team and was expected to play a significant role this year as one of the Hoosiers' top outside shooters. His struggles, however, landed him a spot on the bench.

With whom is he most upset - the fans, media or his coach?

"Can I choose all of the above?" he said.

Hornsby's reaction is indicative of how weary the Hoosiers (18-11) have grown of the complaints.

But Davis must hope Hornsby isn't the only one responding to his comments. Coverdale, for one, has played some of his best basketball after Davis made some of his strongest comments.

Coverdale anticipates a similar reaction, from himself and his teammates, when the Hoosiers open Big Ten Tournament play Thursday night against Penn State.

"Everybody on the team is fed up with how bad we are, how disappointing it's been, and it all starts Thursday," Coverdale said.

Indiana certainly could use a fresh start. It opened the season 8-0 and was ranked as high as sixth. But since late January, Indiana has won just four games and endured a five-game losing streak. Most disheartening were losses at Northwestern on Feb. 5 and last Saturday at Penn State.

While the Hoosiers believe they've done enough to deserve an NCAA Tournament bid, they don't want to leave anything to question this weekend.

"I think if we have 19 wins, we're in," Davis said. "If not, we're 18-12 and .500 in conference and I think .500 in conference is pretty good because there are teams they want to be in that are under .500."

Davis thinks Indiana's remedy is more leadership from Coverdale, Hornsby and Newton. But Hornsby isn't sure what more the trio can do.

"I don't know anything else that really could have been done," he said. "I'm going to look for things to do better, just like I know Jeff and Tom will try to do things better."

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