Bloomington, Ind. – Dan Dakich is hoping IU's senior class goes out in better fashion than he did 23 years ago.
On Dakich's Senior Night in 1985, the Hoosiers suffered a heartbreaking, last-second loss to No. 3 Michigan when Gary Grant knocked down a jumper at the buzzer to upend Indiana 73-71 in the regular season home finale.
That setback also brought to an end a tough 7-11 Big Ten Conference slate, the first losing Big Ten mark of Bob Knight's tenure at IU. The loss to the Wolverines was the Hoosiers' fifth straight home loss, coming on the heels of setbacks to Ohio State, Illinois, Purdue and Michigan State.
Needless to say, it wasn't the most joyous of Senior Nights Dakich has witnessed in his 16 years as either an IU player of coach. Knight departed for the locker room after the loss and uncharacteristically didn't return to introduce his two seniors, Dakich and Uwe Blab. After a few confusing moments after the game's conclusion, Dakich stepped to the microphone and started talking without an introduction from his head coach.
"I didn't have a very good Senior Night," Dakich said during his Monday night radio show.
He's hoping that this year's senior class of D.J. White, Lance Stemler, Mike White and Adam Ahlfeld go out in better style than he did. The Hoosiers will host Minnesota Wednesday night in the home finale, and Dakich knows the team will have to play a whole lot better than they did in a 31-point loss to Michigan State Sunday if they want to send the seniors out with a victory.
It was a setback to Michigan State that Dakich termed a "monumental disappointment," but he believes some attention to detail in practice the next couple of days will remedy some of the things that ailed them Sunday. On top of that, he's also hoping pride kicks in as well.
"A lot will come from the leadership of this team," Dakich said. "If they truly care about each other, they'll make sure the seniors go out with a win. That's what everyone in the basketball program wants to do."
It's been a challenging year for the senior class, which has enjoyed the peaks of being ranked in the top 10 and sitting on top of the Big Ten standings to the valleys of having its head coach dumped three-quarters of the way through the season. Through it all they head into the regular season's final week with a 24-5 mark and a 13-3 record in conference play, both of which represent the best marks an IU team has had at this point in the season since the 1993 team headed into the NCAA Tournament ranked No. 1 nationally.
While Dakich has only been with IU's four seniors since last summer, he said he's grown found of each for what they've done and how they've persevered through tough times.
"When I got here, (the seniors) were just great with me," Dakich said. "When I moved into the role of working with the big guys, D.J., Lance and Mike, working with them every day, it's been a thrill getting to know them."
Now, Dakich wants to make sure that each goes out with a win that they can remember. Dakich had a chance to erase some of his bitter Michigan memories because IU won a pair of postseason NIT games at Assembly Hall on its way to the 1985 NIT Finals, but with IU being an NCAA tourney lock, this will certainly be the last time these four seniors suit up for a game at Assembly Hall.
"Senior Night is always difficult, it's difficult for the kids," Dakich said. "They want so badly to do well.
"What we've stressed is let's make sure we win this game and put these kids where they belong."
Dakich: Seniors Don't Want To Repeat His Feat
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