BOZICH | Indiana basketball and Devin Davis take their first ste - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Indiana basketball and Devin Davis take their first steps back

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Indiana celebrated an exhibition game victory -- and the first steps taken by injured teammate Devin Davis (15). Indiana celebrated an exhibition game victory -- and the first steps taken by injured teammate Devin Davis (15).
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WDRB) – The temptation is to write about the 26 points that James Blackmon Jr. scored in his first appearance for the Indiana basketball team in Assembly Hall.

Or the 24 points the Hoosiers got from transfer Nick Zeisloft as they beat Northwood, 94-70. Or the double-double from Hanner Mosquera-Perea, the only guy that Tom Crean had to play center against the Division II opponent.

But then you remember that not long after Crean and his players finished talking about the exhibition game, they drove the 2.29 miles to IU Health Bloomington Hospital to visit their injured teammate, Devin Davis.

Davis had a phenomenal day.

He got out of his hospital bed and walked – twice – for the first time since he suffered a traumatic brain injury early Saturday morning.

“They know they have a teammate that's laying in a hospital bed who would loved to have played,” Crean said.

Physical therapy mixed with speech therapy. That defined Davis' day. His mother, Tiffany, has not left the hospital once since she arrived to see her son early Saturday morning. His father, Devin Sr., took a break to sit behind the IU bench Thursday night.

Crean was there Saturday night when Davis delivered his first complete sentence. On Thursday the coach watched attendants attach a strap to Davis and follow him down the hospital hallways as he started to walk again.

The coach will never forget those moments. Crean has watched Davis begin to play card games with his teammates. He charts the progress and encourages Davis to make the games more complex.

“I can handle the criticism,” Crean said. “What I never want to have to do again is take parents in to see their son like I had to do with Devin.”

Davis suffered a serious head injury early Saturday morning after he walked onto 17th  Street, not far from Assembly Hall, and was struck by a car driven by freshman teammate, Emmitt Holt, a minor who tested with a blood alcohol content of 0.025. The police report suggests the primary cause of the accident was "pedestrian action."

It's too soon to talk about when Davis will exit the hospital or when he can return to classes or if he will play basketball this season or next season or ever.

It's too soon to say how the tragedy will shape this Indiana season or the behavior of Davis' teammates, behavior that has resulted in Crean answering a string of questions about the off-the-court behavior of four other IU players.

Crean started four guards, all 6 feet 4 or smaller, against Northwood. Suspensions and injuries left the coach with only seven scholarship players.

Troy Williams, Stanford Robinson and Holt, the suspended players, watched the game from the locker room. Crean instructed them to stay there and chart statistics. Each was told to talk to the team about the stats for 30 seconds at halftime and 30 more after the game.

I'm not certain what they said. This is what I would have said -- after "I'm sorry,":

Crean's persistence in continuing to recruit Blackmon Jr. after he de-committed from IU and flirted with Kentucky, Michigan State and other schools in 2013 was the best move the coach made last year.

Blackmon will be a superb player at Indiana. He scores as easily as anybody Crean has signed in his first seven classes. Pull-up jumpers. Drives. Getting to the line. He has all the offensive skills. There are gaps in his defense, similar to the gaps most freshmen show.

But this won't be the last time Blackmon scores 26 points, hitting two three-point shots and all 10 of his free throws.

At 6-4, Zeisloft is not as athletic or as large as Luke Hancock. But he looks like a better shooter, and he might impact this IU team as much as Hancock affected the chemistry at Louisville after he arrived from George Mason. Zeisloft was at Illinois State for three seasons -- and made three three-pointers in a game against top-ranked Wichita State last winter.

Zeisloft made half of his eight three-point shots. But he was James Blackmon Jr. from the line – 10 for 10.

With Mosquera-Perea, the temptation will be to discuss his 10 points and 12 rebounds, but those numbers are not as important as his ability to stay on the floor for 33 minutes while only committing two fouls. When the real teams arrive on the Indiana schedule, Crean will need Mosquera-Perea to play significant minutes.

His hands remain shaky. He can be careless with the basketball, making four turnovers. But Mosquera-Perea looks like a player who has a chance to figure it out as a defender and rebounder.

Now the basketball world will be watching to see if Crean's team figures it out – the basketball part as well as the behavior part.

“I think our guys, just like our staff and just like Devin's family, are learning that you take absolutely nothing for granted with anything,” Crean said.

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