If You Don’t Have Something Nice to Say, You Aren’t Bob Knight Last Night

I posited, prior to last night’s game against Georgia that Bob Knight would find some way to make the entire night about himself. It was a perfectly reasonable position to take in light of the fact that the subject of said supposition has made an existence of making things about himself. And, while there was no grand gesture to draw focus to him, Knight still managed to make the game about him.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that I spent the entire game split equally between two pursuits. 1. Trying to keep the remote away from my 1 year old and 2. Focusing intently on everything Knight had to say during the game.

But, be that as it may, the most interesting parts of last night’s game (at least for me) are Knight related.

Knight was effusive in his praise of this team. He spoke highly of Jordan Hulls (one of the best guards in the country, defensive stance, he’s too smart to pick up his third foul, he makes big plays, he creates baskets for his teammates) , Victor Oladipo (good defense), Cody Zeller (No question how good he is, can play all around the floor, good movement into the lane), Christian Watford (free throw form), Remy Abell (created a basket for Cody with a good pass), Yogi Ferrell (creating baskets for teammates). He even said that “This is a great game for Indiana.”

In fact, the only time he had anything negative to say was when anyone, on either team, took a 3-pointer. And even that criticism was muted.

His praise of everything was so constant it rang hollow.

This is Bob Knight.

Does anyone remember him on the sideline? Does anyone remember his press conferences or coach’s shows? This was not a guy who took out his banjo, said, “Everything’s great!” and whistled a happy tune. It was shocking to find him so last night.

After all, this was a team that stared the game out 1-8 and shot 7-22 in the first half while managing 8 turnovers. Zeller turned it over three times himself. If Todd Lindeman had turned the ball over 3 times in a half how do you think that would have gone for The Neck? Knight’s comments were so completely devoid of real, heartfelt criticism, it’s hard to believe that it was even him.

In fact, if he hadn’t tried to dodge a question by talking about going fishing, I’m not sure I’d believe it was really Knight. He even managed to say some nice things about Indiana, not the university or the fans, but he was complimentary of the atmosphere and the players who played for him.

It was a remarkable performance in that it was totally unremarkable.

Knight has always been critical of nearly everything not related to Pete Newell or fishing and that criticism was missing last night. He was so positive that he even managed not to jump out of his chair and strangle Georgia guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who was 4-15 from the field and continued to take bad shot after bad shot. You could tell how much Knight hated what he was seeing, but he was so careful not to be critical of Indiana that he even stopped himself short of calling this kid a chucker (or something much, much worse).

Knight was something that none of us have ever seen him be before. Neutered.

Maybe he’ll do more IU games in the future. I hope he does.

Because I’d like to know what he thinks about this team.

Jeff Taylor