Bloomington, Ind. – Dan Dakich found out that brother knows best.
It's been an especially torturous couple of days in his tumultuous three-week stint as IU's head coach. A good man who's been dealt a bad hand, the Hoosiers' interim coach has been pouring over film by day and lying awake at night trying to come up with a way to get his team out of its three-week-old funk.
Capped by Blake Hoffarber's buzzer-beater Friday night, it's been a cruel stretch that had taken a toll, and sleepless nights and a bit of time weren't doing much to heal Dakich's pain.
But a well timed phone call from his brother, Tom, finally did him some good.
"My brother called me up and said, `Listen man, you're the coach at Indiana University taking them to the NCAA Tournament,'" Dakich said Sunday. "You know what, that is pretty dog gone good."
That is pretty good for a man who started the season as the program's Director of Basketball Operations. Rob Senderoff's resignation in October prompted a promotion to assistant coach, while Kelvin Sampson's abrupt departure last month resulted in him assuming the reins altogether.
It hasn't been easy, to say the least. But his brother's message resonated with Dakich, and he says he's now rearing and ready to go as IU prepares for Friday's first-round NCAA encounter with Arkansas (22-11) in Raleigh, N.C.
"I'm fired up - I'm really fired up about it," Dakich said. "Like I said, if we're a great team we'll have a chance to prove it."
And Dakich has a chance to prove that he can lead that resurgence. While he says the team has been great in practice and they have clearly defended much better as of late, he's still dealing with a team that is pulling in different directions. He might refute that suggestion, but when D.J. White repeats the need for "togetherness" if IU is going to make some positive postseason memories, it's obvious there's a degree of disarray that must be addressed.
The task ahead, though, isn't just about managing some bruised psyches. There's also a very good team to prepare for in Arkansas. After losing four of five during one February stretch, the Razorbacks bounced back to win four out of its last six, including a pair of victories over No. 18 Vanderbilt and a SEC Tournament semifinal win over No. 4 Tennessee.
Dakich has some degree of familiarity with Arkansas because he coached against first-year Razorback Coach John Pelphrey a year ago. Then, Dakich was at Bowling Green and Pelphrey at South Alabama, and Dakich come out on the winning end of a 65-64 decision.
Now, he plans to familiarize himself with Pelphrey's new team by burying himself in Arkansas tape Sunday night.
"I'll watch until four o'clock in the morning," Dakich said. "I'll go to Starbucks and get as many gallons of coffee as I can and sit in there and get it figured out so we're good to go tomorrow."
A heavy dosage of caffeine should do him some good as he plugs away into the wee hours of the morning. These are long days, trying nights, and difficult circumstances that he's dealing with these days.
And you know what? Dakich couldn't be more excited about what's in store.
After all, he's the head coach at Indiana University, and the Hoosiers are headed to the NCAA Tournament.
His brother reminded him of that.
Maybe Things Aren't So Bad After All
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