BOZICH | Record gathering of Indiana fans greet Miller, Allen, L - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Record gathering of Indiana fans greet Miller, Allen, Lemonis at Hubers

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Basketball coach Archie Miller was one of three Indiana University coaches who drew nearly 1,000 fans to Hubers Wednesday. Basketball coach Archie Miller was one of three Indiana University coaches who drew nearly 1,000 fans to Hubers Wednesday.

BORDEN, Ind. (WDRB) – Bob Knight started the tradition of coaches visiting Floyd County to speak to Indiana University fans nearly three decades ago. Knight generated millions for the IU Library

Mike Davis, Knight’s successor, honored the tradition. Ditto for Kelvin Sampson. Tom Crean considered his visit a calendar highlight every spring.

Wednesday night IU broadened the program and featured basketball coach Archie Miller, football coach Tom Allen and baseball coach Chris Lemonis as well as the Hoosiers’ NCAA Tournament baseball team players.

The result?

A record gathering of 952 fans, more than double the 2016 turnout at Huber Winery. The event sold out less than two weeks after it was announced in April, although room was made for two final visitors Wednesday afternoon.

“Incredible passion,” Miller said. “I think it speaks volumes about not only what it means to be part of IU, but this basketball tradition.

“To be able to get down here has been good because I think that other than people talking to me about coaching in Assembly Hall the only other thing they’ve talked about has been Huber Farms.”

Optimism sells. The Hoosiers are one of three Power Five programs with unbeaten basketball and football coaches because Miller and Allen are preparing to coach their first games.

Here are several highlights from media availability with the Miller, Allen and Lemonis prior to the program.

*Miller refused to put any expectations on his first team, saying the time for that is October.

“To be honest with you,  I don’t have any real pressure or expectations to put on our team right now,” Miller said. “The time to put pressure on guys to produce and do things is when it matters.

“Now is the time to get better. It’s the time to get them together. It’s the time to start to set the tone from an identity standpoint. This is what we mean when we say this. This is what we mean when we want to do this. As we get to the season, I think we’ll have plenty of time to put pressure on ourselves.”

*With Thomas Bryant departing for the NBA after his sophomore season, Indiana will need sophomore De’Ron Davis to deliver at center.

Conditioning and foul trouble were major issues for Davis last season. Davis has remained in Bloomington since classes ended a month ago, working with new strength and conditioning coach Clif Marshall (who worked at Louisville for John L. Smith and Bobby Petrino from 2000-04).

Davis has dropped 16 pounds to 255. Miller said he looks more athletic.

“If he stays with it and keep doing what he’s doing, I think he’s going to set himself up for a great start,” Miller said.

*Miller said the development of sophomore guards Curtis Jones and Devonte Green will be critical to the team’s success.

“Their improvement in this off-season is probably as important as anything we have going on because of the role they’re going to need to play,” Miller said. “If they’re better players, if they’re different players than they were in year one, then we have a chance to be better.”

He said he asked Jones to improve his strength (he’s listed at 6 feet 4 and 175 pounds) and wants Green to become a better ball-handler and shooter.

“(Jones has a) tremendous energy level,” Miller said. “The thing we are trying to address with him and trying to make very, very important in his mind is his body.

“We have to change Curtis’ body for his game to change. He’s on that. When he goes out there, people should say, ‘Wow, he looks a lot different.’ That’s going to give  him a chance to be a better player.”

Green left Bloomington in early May and should return next week. “One of the things that Devante and I talked about before he left was just trying to tighten a few things up with his shooting,” Miller said. “I think if he can be a more consistent shooter behind the (three-point) line, which we’re going to need him to do.

“I love Devante’s body and his game from what we’ve been able to see before."

*Vijay Blackmon, the younger brother of departing IU guard James Blackmon Jr., will join the program as a walk-on guard.

*Miller said he had not decided if he will add another player for next season or save the scholarship for the 2018 class. “Scholarships are like gold,” he said. “You have to be able to do what’s best for you at a certain time of the year.

“They’re not things to just fire out there and hopefully fill bodies. We have to have a plan.”

*After three consecutive seasons with a 1,000-yard running back who left for the NFL, Allen said the Hoosiers would likely employ a running back by committee this season.

Camion Patrick is the Hoosiers’ most talented runner but he missed the 2015 season with a knee injury. Patrick returned last season but managed four carries and six receptions. He could not stay on the field or in practice. Patrick was not healthy for spring practice, but Allen expects him to be ready for fall camp.

*Here’s the nominee for Indiana’s breakout player in 2017 – tight end Ian Thomas, who is 6 feet 5 and 250 pounds.

A junior college transfer, Thomas caught three passes as a reserve last season but excelled during spring practice as the Hoosiers adjusted their offense under new offensive coordinator Mike DeBord.

“He’s a big athletic kid,” Allen said. “His confidence really grew during the spring. He’s got a chance to be a special player.”

*Lemonis said that at least 20 fans encouraged him to beat Kentucky this weekend. One problem: There is no guarantee the baseball Hoosiers will play the Wildcats.

As the two seed, IU is matched against North Carolina State in Lexington Friday. The Wildcats meet Ohio University. Both teams have to win (or lose) for IU and UK to play Saturday.

“North Carolina State was picked to go to the College World Series before the season,” Lemonis said. “They’re good. They’ve been good. They’ve got an established program with quality players and great first-game pitcher.”

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