Saturday, April 08, 2006

Rebuilding Indiana - Part 1

During the last year and the endless conversations about Mike Davis's eventual departure, the topic of rebuilding has often come up. How much time would it take for the next coach to rebuild at Indiana? Some pessimistic folks felt that there would be a major exodus of players and it would take as long as 4 or 5 seasons for the program to return completely (and that was assuming the next coach was even capable of returning Indiana to those heights). Other folks looked at Matta at OSU and felt that it would only take a year or so --- and often those folks felt that there would not be any key transfers.

Now that Coach Davis is officially gone and Coach Sampson is officially here, I've noticed a curious phenomenon on Peegs'. There seems to be an expectation that Sampson ought to have the program going strong, um, yesterday. People complaining that we're looking at junior college players -- as if Sampson should have a long list of incoming freshmen ready to pick Indiana at the last second. Other people, who are perhaps a little giddy about having an accomplished coach prowling the sidelines again, seem to think it doesn't matter much who is on the squad next season, now that we're got a "real coach" we'll be sitting pretty.

Obviously patience has never been a virtue of sports fans, and certainly not of IU fans in particular.

But it makes me think - what should our expectations be in terms of rebuilding? What does "rebuilding" actually mean? How do we know when it's over? What is in store for next season?

So I'm going to tackle the question "What does rebuilding actually mean?" in this post. Then I'm going to wax poetic (as usual) on the other subjects as time allows.

So first with the obvious. Kelvin Samson is rebuilding the Indiana program, not building it. So that means he's trying to return it to a previous state. But what state? Not the state under Davis, certainly. Or the state under Knight post-1994. I think it's illustrative to look at the rest of the B10.

Over the last decade, the Big Three teams in the B10 have been Michigan State, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

Wisconsin has won 2 B10 titles, been to 8 NCAA tournaments, 3 Sweet Sixteens, and 1 Final Four.

Illinois has won 5 B10 titles, been to 9 NCAA tournaments, 4 Sweet Sixteens, and 1 Final Four.

Michigan State has won 4 B10 titles, been to 9 NCAA tournaments, 6 Sweet Sixteens, 4 Final Fours, and won 1 NCAA championship.

Indiana has won 1 B10 title, been to 8 NCAA tournaments, 1 Sweet Sixteen, and 1 Final Four.

While some IU fans look at Duke and UNC and UConn and think Indiana should be more like them (Top 10 every single season type programs), I don't think that's realistic. Even in the Bob Knight salad days, Indiana wasn't a perennial Top 10 team. I think we want Indiana to be the best team in the B10 -- and that'll mean plenty of national recognition.

Being the best team in the B10 is setting the bar pretty high, I think.

Based on the above, being the best team in the B10 means:
- Winning B10 titles about every other year
- Making the NCAA tournament every season (with perhaps a once-a-decade miss)
- Making the Sweet Sixteen about every other year
- Making the Final Four every 4 seasons or so
- Winning a title every decade or so

Sampson is trying to rebuild the Indiana program to reach those goals.

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