The mention, to some surprise, didn't come until there was a minute left in the news conference on Monday afternoon.

After all, it was being held in the same basketball press room in Assembly Hall that this former coach made a name for himself by often referring to others by a different monicker.

Calbert Cheney played under him for three years, so inevitably a question about Bobby Knight would eventually pop up.

"It's been a while since I talked to him," said the former Hoosiers player when asked if he'd talk to his coach recently. "The last time I did talk to him, he was great."

Perhaps it was fitting that Cheaney-the new director of basketball operations for Indiana basketball-would be asked often of his decorated past at the school.

Scoring records, winning records and lengthy NCAA stays were commonplace in his era and often relived during a difficult rebuilding of the Hoosiers program.

Cheaney is a link to the past that was mentioned for a future for head coach Tom Crean not long after he accepted the Indiana coaching job back in 2008. With those in the present desiring the success of the day's like Cheaney and before, now was the time for the coach to bring him back to Bloomington.

"We need more people like Calbert, we need more players like Calbert," said Crean of his new hire. "He knows exactly what it takes to get where a great deal of them want to go."

As a player, it doesn't take long to see why. Cheaney averaged 19.8 points per game from 1989-1993 on his way to breaking the Big Ten scoring record while being named the Wooden and Naismith Players of the Year in his senior season.

But when it come to helping to rebuild the program-which reached a Final Four during his career and won the Big Ten title in 1993-Cheaney says he'll pass on a simply philosophy learned from his mentor.

"When we played under Coach Knight he had a thing up on the board that said play hard, play smart," said Cheaney. "You play hard and you work hard, not just physically but mentally, and you be smart.

"Whether that be on the court or off, that's what its all about."

Cheaney has carried that philosophy from his time in the NBA as a player and most recently as an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors under former Indiana player Keith Smart.

What immediately drew him back to Bloomington when Smart was let go as head coach was the continued support Crean showed towards him and other basketball alumni. Cheaney referenced an number of interactions with the Indiana coach through the years, and Crean's insistance on embracing the program's tradition made a return a no-brainer.

"I really relish that, I really appreciate that because he's always reached out-not just to me-but to all the past players," said Cheaney of Crean. "That's what separates Tom from a lot of the coaches in the country. He could have easily done his own thing, but Indiana's all about tradition and he understands that.

"So when I got a call from him, it was great. When he extended the job and offered it to me, how could I say no?"

The job Cheaney accepted, however, is not as a full coach so his participation in practices and during games still needs to be determined per a review of the rules. Even so, Crean doesn't doubt the impact his new staff member will have on a still growing Hoosiers team.

"No matter what his title is, no matter what NCAA legislation says, there's no legislation against a guy being able to tell the truth," said Crean.

Whether that is in the present or past tense.