BOZICH | Record crowd hears Archie Miller's vision for Indiana basketball
A record crowd of nearly 1,000 gathered at Huber's Winery Wednesday night as Archie Miller discussed Romeo Langford, Juwan Morgan and the 2018-19 IU basketball season.
STARLIGHT, Ind. (WDRB) — Bob Knight started this Southern Indiana gathering of Indiana University fans in 1984 or 1985. Ned Pfau, a former president of the IU athletics board, was unsure of the year. He simply remembers everybody assembled in downtown New Albany.
“Bob arrived by helicopter,” Pfau said. “He loved it.”
A good time was had by all — except the media, which was not allowed in the building. A large pile of money was raised that was donated to the Indiana University Library.
So they did it again — and eventually moved it to Huber’s Farm. And more people came. They did it again — and the crowd kept growing.
Coaches changed. The venue changed (to the Huber's Winery). But the event remains the one event that is a mainstay on the IU sports off-season calendar.
Not Indianapolis. Not Fort Wayne. Not Evansville. Not Gary.
Floyd County, Indiana.
“Last year I walked into what I felt was a hornet’s nest,” IU basketball coach Archie Miller said. “This is the most passionate part of the state.”
There has never been a gathering like the gathering that awaited Miller, football coach Tom Allen and athletic director Fred Glass at the Huber Winery Wednesday evening.
The crowd was limited to 980, plus about 30 media members who (don’t tell Knight or the fire marshal) were allowed inside. It topped the record for the event by 50 and for the facility by 20 (a gathering sponsored by the National Rifle Association).
Les Wright, the president of IU’s Southern Indiana alumni association, stopped accepting ticket requests two weeks ago, turning down at least 300 people.
“You could say people are a little excited,” Pfau said.
Glass was not surprised. Glass said the waiting list for IU basketball season tickets has grown to 2,500, even though the Hoosiers have missed the NCAA tournament in consecutive seasons.
There wasn’t monstrous news to report. No progress has been made in resuming the dormant basketball series with Kentucky. Miller said that he expected Indiana’s opponent in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge to be announced in the next two days (Miami, Florida State and Clemson are considered three potential opponents).
Miller was thrilled that forward Juwan Morgan will return for his senior season after exploring a move into professional basketball. “He has a chance to be Big Ten player of the year and a chance to be an all-American player,” Miller said. “At the end of the day, he came back for the right reasons.”
Junior center De’Ron Davis continues to rehab from a torn Achilles’ tendon but Miller does not expect Davis to participate in any contact activity until at least next fall.
Miller said his nine veteran players are expected to return to campus this weekend. With his coaching staff intact and a solid group of returnees, Miller said he should not have to invest as much time in showing everybody how he expects them to attack their work.
“Hopefully the byproduct of (their) improvement is that the returning guys are ready to lead,” Miller said.
Am I forgetting anything?
Just the primary reason that more than 200 people took their spots in a line that wound around the building nearly an hour before the event began: The Hoosiers’ five-player recruiting class led by Romeo Langford, the program’s first McDonald’s all-American in four years.
A year ago Miller came to Huber’s and mentioned that although he’d only been on the job for several months, he understood how to get from Bloomington to New Albany.
The crowd confirmed that Miller was not talking junk. After promising to build his program by recruiting inside-out, Miller delivered by signing one prospect who grew up closer to Notre Dame (Damezi Anderson of South Bend Riley), one who grew up in the shadows of Purdue (McCutcheon guard Robert Phinisee) and another who grew up closer to Louisville and Kentucky (Langford, the state’s Mr. Basketball from New Albany).
“Romeo is as decorated a player as I’ve seen and as decorated a kid as I’ve been around,” Miller said. “He’s a cool, calm person who is a perfect fit to walk into the fire.”
Add one of the best players from Ohio (forward Jerome Hunter) as well as a frontcourt guy from Pennsylvania (forward Jake Forrester) and there is your explanation why Les Wright had 300 more ticket requests than he could fill.
“People are excited from Lake Michigan to the Ohio River,” Glass said.
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