Bloomington – Brian Barone's first trip to Assembly Hall was like plenty of others for first-time visitors.
"It won't be anything I forget," Barone said.
But Barone wasn't a wide-eyed local youth seeing the home of the Hoosiers for the first time. He is the Hoosiers' Director of Basketball Operations/Video Coordinator, a former collegiate player at both Texas A&M and Marquette who is in his seventh year in the coaching profession. But his first trip to center court was memorable nonetheless.
Barone was accompanied by IU Coach Tom Crean, the man he'd played for and worked with at Marquette. Like assistant coaches Bennie Seltzer and Tim Buckley, Barone had welcomed the chance to join his former boss in Bloomington.
Crean brought Barone through the Assembly Hall's south lobby and down to the court, where the two stood and surveyed the building that's housed some of college basketball's best teams over the last 37 seasons.
"He's like, ‘this is going to be big-time. This is going to be big-time, Brian,'" Barone said. "That's something I won't forget because that was the first time I'd ever been on the court. I'd heard of it, seen it on TV, but it's a little different standing here on the court."
The "big-time" sentiment is one shared by both Buckley and Seltzer as well. Those three members of Tom Crean's staff, along with Assistant Athletic Director Jayd Grossman, spoke Tuesday afternoon about their new locales.
While Assembly Hall is new to Barone, it's familiar territory to Buckley. His 20-year plus coaching career has included assistant coaching stints at both Iowa and Wisconsin, and he also coached against the Hoosiers in Assembly Hall during his six years at the helm of the Ball State program.
Along with Seltzer, Buckley has been instrumental in helping IU sign Verdell Jones, Devon Dumes and Nick Williams this spring and also getting verbal commitments from '09 prospects Bobby Capobianco and Maurice Creek. Crean has been saddled with a variety of recruiting limitations inherited from Kelvin Sampson's coaching staff, and that's forced Buckley and Seltzer to take the lead with many of IU's recruiting efforts.
IU's self-imposed sanctions and upcoming appearance before the NCAA Infractions Committee has many believing the Hoosier program is a tough sell these days. But Buckley says that hasn't been the case, and the slew of recent commits proves his point.
"It's Indiana," Buckley said. "I think that was the quote and I really believe that's how they feel and a lot of people believe and trust in Coach Crean, in what he's done and what he's going to do."
Both Buckley and Seltzer have been regulars on the recruiting trail all spring. Buckley made the trip to Pittsburgh for the Pitt Jam Fest and was also in Indianapolis for the Top 100 Showcase along with Crean. Seltzer, meanwhile, spent time in Akron at the King James event, Arkansas for the Real Deal on the Hill, and in Houston for the Kingwood Classic.
Their efforts have been rewarded with some solid spring signing period commitments that have turned a dire roster situation into one that appears to be a bit more manageable for next season.
It still figures to be a challenging debut season for Crean and his staff, but Seltzer isn't ready to write off his first season in town. He knows that patience has been a buzz word surround the program for the last month, but he said that's not the approach that the staff is going to take.
"We do have young players but, call me crazy, why not win now?" Seltzer said. "Young teams have won before in the country. Why not us?
"Everyone says we'll give you patience, but when January rolls around, those people sitting in the seats, they say patience now, they want to win. We want to win now. We're preparing our guys that are coming in, we're preparing to win now."
No matter whether or not IU wins next season or not, everyone on IU's new staff sees big things ahead. That's why each left good situations at Marquette despite the short-term troubles facing the Hoosier program.
"The exciting part is, it's Indiana," Seltzer said. "Regardless of what troubles are here, eventually we'll get it to where everyone is proud again to be associated with Indiana. There's no doubt about that. We'll get it turned around."
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