Dan Dakich made his best case for keeping the IU coaching job at the podium.
Minutes after coaching the Hoosiers to their fourth loss in their last five games, Dakich was asked what the best course of action would be for IU with its coaching search. Should he be retained despite a 3-4 record in his one-month long, interim coaching stint?
"There's no question I should be," Dakich said.
That's a pretty bold claim considering the Hoosiers went from a top-15 team to a first-round flameout on his watch, but there was more to his message. He spoke like a man who's spent the last four weeks biting his lip, worried about what his words might do to an already fragile locker room.
But with the season over and his time likely limited, Dakich used his last press conference to leave a lasting message about the future of the IU program.
"This needs to be built with a foundation of discipline and accountability," Dakich said. "This needs to be built back to where there is a real pride among the people that know everything that's going on in the basketball program."
It doesn't take a code breaker to decipher Dakich's message - those things aren't present with the program right now. It also doesn't take a sleuth to realize Dakich is fingering someone as the guilty culprit.
Dakich never called out his former boss by name, nor did he bemoan the difficult situation he was thrust into when Sampson resigned. Instead, he focused on a future that he says needs to be very different from the recent past.
"This I don't think, this I don't wonder about, this is something I know, period," Dakich said. "There's different times in different programs, but at this particular time, there's a lot of things that need to be done to make Indiana an elite basketball program in all areas."
Part of that is certainly avoiding 14-point first round NCAA tourney losses, but for him it's also about curbing some of the off-the-court issues that have cropped up more frequently. Indiana has had three different players suspended for at least one game this season, another was academically ineligible first semester and ultimately left the program in the second semester, and there have been plenty of rumors of other problems being swept under the rug.
Dakich said he's been making strides in addressing those issues during the last four weeks, and that he will continue to do so until someone takes away his office keys and hands them to someone else.
"There is a pride and a way that is bigger than whether you win or lose games – that will take care of itself," Dakich said. "You have to do things in a certain way, you have to do them right, and you have to do them with people that care."
Dakich clearly cares. He's someone who's spent 17 years with the program as either a coach or player, and he'd love nothing more than to be the one to clean up the mess.
"The passion, the desire to do things right academically, socially, on the court, style of play, are all things that are absolutely what would happen if I become the head basketball coach at Indiana over the course of time," Dakich said.
But if it's determined that he's not the man for the job, he wants it be someone who shares those values as well as an understanding of what IU basketball is all about.
"The culture right now lends itself to exactly what is gone on here (now) to get this right for the way Indiana people, Indiana fans, the Indiana nation want it done," Dakich said. "Where there's no embarrassment, there's nothing but pride in all areas.
"That's something that has to happen at IU. It's doesn't have to happen everywhere, but it has to happen at Indiana University."
Dakich: Changes Needed Now with IU Program
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