INDIANAPOLIS, IN—The summer for Indiana basketball has been dominated by youth. Excitement has started build as Cody Zeller and Austin Etherington completed their tour with the Indiana high school all stars. The duo are now another step closer to starting their Hoosier careers.
Indiana's 2012 recruiting class has been talked about constantly as it is supposed to be the number one class in the nation. Fans have been following the progress of Yogi Ferrell, Jeremy Hollowell, Hanner Perea and others.
Speaking of Perea, the biggest event of the summer was probably the lengthy ESPN story involving him, the AAU team Indiana Elite, and the connections they have with Indiana basketball. Allegations involved the AAU team feeding their players to Tom Crean's ever growing dominant recruiting program. There were no violations, but Hoosiers everywhere felt their heart skip a beat just at the news of the report.
On Monday, news shifted from the youngsters that will make up the future, to a past IU great joining the program. At a press conference in Assembly Hall, Calbert Cheaney was officially named the new director of basketball operations. Tom Crean seemed to be as giddy as a seventh grader getting out of school for the summer. Cheaney will not only bring knowledge and experience from his playing days, but the infusion of Hoosier history into the program appears to be vastly important to Crean.
Cheaney is arguably the best player in the history of IU basketball. He is the leading scorer not only in IU history, but Big Ten history as well. While in Bloomington, the lengthy shooting guard/small forward won nine games in the NCAA tournament and captured the Big Ten crown twice.
He then went on to have a successful NBA career and was recently an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors.
Cheaney still has the work ethic and mentality he learned from Bob Knight. It seems that Crean is excited about that work ethic and knowledge of the game above all else. The Hoosiers' coach probably feels he has hit the jackpot by bringing in someone that will generate a buzz around recruits, but can also help teach players on the court. Cheaney stressed that the way players act off the court is just as important. Furthermore, he believes that practice is where championships are won and emphatically made that point in the press conference.
Tom Crean has stressed since his first day in Bloomington that IU is special because of the tradition of the program. He has probably been wanting to make a move of this caliber for a long time. It seems like the perfect time to bring Cheaney in. Veteran players like Jordan Hulls and Verdell Jones, it is odd to now call Hulls a veteran but he absolutely fits the mold, have helped increase expectations and work ethic.
The combination of those veteran players, the ever intense Crean, and a former Hoosier who has found infinite success should have a significant impact on the highly touted youngsters that will soon arrive in Bloomington. Some people have deemed Cheaney's hiring as nothing more than a publicity stunt. Although he will help the Hoosier's image, especially for future recruits, his value far exceeds a smiling ex-player. He will help in the transition of a program that continues to rise from the ashes.