Dumes, Jobe, Finkelmeier, Gambles prepare for Senior Day

The senior class that says goodbye to Assembly Hall at Saturday’s noon game against Northwestern certainly won’t be the greatest to pass through Indiana. Forget All-Americans or All-Big Ten players, there isn’t a single senior in this class who played all four of his seasons at Indiana.

But it may very well one of the most unique in school history.

There’s Brett Finkelmeier, the only remaining player who was at IU when everything fell apart and Kelvin Sampson’s recruiting scandal rocked the athletic department. The walk-on from Carmel who could have never envisioned playing much when he joined the team found himself starting two games a season ago, and though he never played too much this season, he stuck with the program for one more year before he enrolls in dental school next semester.

“Without a doubt he’s persevered through a lot of different things,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “He’s stayed consistently who he is, from the very beginning of getting to know him, which is a very dilligent student, a very caring guy. He’s had numerous chances that he could have done something different, but he’s stayed with this. He’s played and practiced very hard.”

Then there’s Devan Dumes, to whom the Indiana program owes much just for getting the Hoosiers through their start-over season last year. Joining the team as a junior college transfer from Vincennes University, he led that team in scoring with 12.4 points per game. This year, he had to accept a much smaller role, and there were occasions that it was obvious he wasn’t thrilled with it. But he’s remained valuable as the team’s leading scorer off the bench with 6.9 points per game.

“(I want to be remembered) as a guy who stuck it out in the tough times,” he said. “Really, a soldier. In the trenches, I fought. Really just a guy who stuck it out.”

Tijan Jobe joined the program in about the same way Dumes did, but played a much different role. The 7-foot, 255-pound native of The Gambia was a bit too raw to fully develop in his two years at IU, but according to Crean, improved dramatically in the time he was in Bloomington. He’s been through tough times at Indiana, especially personally. His mother died earlier this year and he has not yet been home to mourn her loss. However, there is perhaps no more player on the team more beloved by the fans than Jobe.

“That young man has been a model citizen in this program for so long,” Crean said of Jobe’s, whose brother will be in attendance Saturday as the first member of his family to see him play. “I know there’s not going to be stories written about his basketball career, but when you look at the improvement that he has made and the character that he has and the fact that he got on a plane years ago to come to this country, his family said goodbye, and from that point on he didn’t see them … it’s really unique.”

The fourth member of the class has been the silent one. Steven Gambles, a walk-on and a North Central High School graduate, has been away from the program for sometime dealing with his grandfather’s illness. He hasn’t played much, and he was still away from the team on Friday and therefore was the only senior who didn’t speak to the media. However, Crean still wanted him to return so he could be recognized on Saturday.

“He’s going to come back tomorrow,” Crean said. “That was the agreement we made. He’s been attending to family issues with his grandfather. He’s been dealing with it for sometime, really since Christmas break. It got to the point, without being dramatic, he just needed to spend more time with that. The agreement we made is I just wanted him to spend more time with that. The agreement we made is I wanted him leaving here an Indiana basketball graduate, not just an Indiana graduate, so we will definitely honor him tomorrow.”

No group of seniors in Indiana history has seen a more difficult era than this group. In the two seasons Dumes, Jobe and Gambles have been on the team, they’ve lost more games (45) than some IU senior classes have in four. But someone had to be there when IU had to start from the bottom.

“They’ve done very good things,” Crean said. “They’ve been a part of a heck of a rebuilding project, and I hope people in this state remember that. They won’t remember them for the banners that they hung, but they will hopefully remember them for the trying times that they went through. I hope they’re always in high demand in the workplace in this state.”

AUDIO: Devan Dumes says he hopes IU remembers him as a “guy who stuck it out.”

AUDIO: Brett Finklemeier talks about being there through it all

AUDIO: Tijan Jobe reflects (if you don’t listen to another audio file this year, listen to this one)

2 comments

  1. Though their career statistics will quickly fade in the annals of Indiana basketball history, Hoosiers fans should forever owe these four men a debt of gratitude for their academic contributions to the baasketball program. Lest we never forget that 2.13 GPA’s and abymsal APR scores were erased through their classroom efforts. This fact should not be overshadowed by their career W-L totals.

  2. Echo Chronic. These kids (and they are just kids) have taken an epic beat-down for the IU basketball program that we hold dear. Each one: Dumes who could have been a nice role player but instead has been a maligned go-to guy; Tijan who has gone through personal trials that most of us can’t imagine; and Gambles and Finkelemeir who have contributed as anonymous grunts in a program on the skids deserve our gratitude for devoting countless thankless hours of their young lives for our enjoyment. Boys, you might feel like you’ve gotten a raw deal but you’ve earned a place in the IU family and we won’t forget.

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