Dakich takes over, tries to rally Indiana hoops community

Updated: February 24, 2008, 10:37 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

All is good at Indiana again -- for now.

The Hoosiers escaped Northwestern with a win on Saturday night. They practiced Sunday in preparation for Tuesday's game against struggling Ohio State.

Everyone on the team participated Sunday. And interim head coach Dan Dakich doesn't expect any more drama. The season has begun anew, without Kelvin Sampson.

"There's nothing we can't handle," Dakich told ESPN.com Sunday night. "We're 23-4, not 4-23, so nothing is going to be different."

But there are still plenty of questions that needed to be answered. Some have been and others will be in the coming days and weeks.

Was Dakich given a pay raise?

"Yeah, I got a change in salary, nothing crazy, but they gave me a little bump," Dakich said, who declined to elaborate on the figure.

Will Dakich be allowed to recruit?

Dakich came on board as the director of basketball operations in the fall, replacing Jerry Green on Sampson's staff. When assistant Rob Senderoff was forced out in October, Dakich was moved into Senderoff's position on the staff. But the position's ability to recruit off campus and make phone calls was frozen for a year. Now that Dakich is the interim head coach he would need to be able to recruit, especially to maintain the current four signed recruits -- led by Devin Ebanks.

"I called [IU athletic director] Rick Greenspan about that [Sunday] and I'll find out about that Monday," Dakich said.

Will Dakich pursue the permanent head coaching position?

"Absolutely," Dakich said. But he added that, "truthfully what I'm most concerned with is this team. People are going to assume that he's going to do whatever I can to get the job but my real concern is this particular team and this moment with this team.

"I love these kids, they've been good to me since I got here," Dakich said. "I want to make sure this finishes out and give them the best I can. That's what I've told them. This is about this team, right now. Who knows what's going to happen after the season."

How much has Sampson been involved since he resigned Friday and took a buyout?

"No, I haven't talked to him," Dakich said.

Dakich said he doesn't know what Sampson is going to do in the immediate future or whether or not he's going to stay in Bloomington.

"Coach Sampson did a phenomenal job with giving all of us so much responsibility within the team dynamic, running the offense and defense," Dakich said. "Everything is the same, with the only difference being the head coach not being there."

How did Dakich react to the decision by a few of the players to not show up at the first practice Friday afternoon?

Here is Dakich's timeline:

"I got a call at 10:45 a.m. to go upstairs to meet [with Greenspan]. I was told informed about what they were doing with coach Sampson. They knew me. They wanted me to be the coach. I said OK.

"Next thing they said we had to have a team meeting at 11:45 a.m. We had a team meeting, about 45 minutes. No one was throwing things, cussing or yelling. We said we had practice at 3:30 and seven kids were there, six weren't.

"To be honest with you, I figured with 26 games into the season, the kids came to play for their coach. I just figured it would happen. I ran practice with the kids there. They were awesome."

Dakich said after practice, he and fellow coaches Ray McCallum and Jeff Meyer sent text messages to each kid who wasn't there to make sure everything was OK.

"Then at about 6 p.m. we got a text from Armon [Bassett] that said everything was OK. Jordan Crawford sent one too. Ray communicated with D.J. [White] and when I showed up at the walkthrough at 9, everyone was there and it was good.

"I understand it's an 18 to 22-year-old kid, and remember my reputation is not to be soft, it's more the other way. If I thought it was anything but, then we'd have a problem, a different deal. They were hurt. They were upset. D.J. has been through this twice. D.J. came to play for a guy that he knew for a long time [Mike Davis], and started to play for him, and then played for [Sampson] and it happens again."

How would Dakich have handled the same situation had it occurred when he was a student at Indiana?

"When I was here, if something had happened to coach [Bob] Knight, when I was here, there would have been mayhem with me," Dakich said. "I've never viewed it any other way. I didn't even know it was a big deal until [Saturday]."

The Hoosiers (12-2) are tied for with Wisconsin (13-2) and Purdue (12-2) in the loss column in the Big Ten. Indiana has four games -- against Ohio State, at Michigan State, Minnesota and at Penn State -- in the regular season before the Big Ten tournament.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com