It was in a way fitting that Indiana’s return to the NCAA Tournament pit them in the same second-and-third round site as Steve Alford, and it’s something the former All-American is relishing.
“You root and pull for them like crazy as an alum,” Alford said. “There have been some hard times, and hopefully through the hard times Tom and his staff have done a terrific job. and it’s neat seeing them being at a national level again and competing at a very high level, because that’s what Indiana is, and I think Tom and his staff understand that and that’s what they’re building towards.”
Alford said he’s been following the program closely, and that it meant a lot to return to Bloomington for the 1987 national championship team’s 25-year reunion on Dec. 4.
“It’s been fun,” Alford said. “… It was a really neat experience for our team to get back and get in that environment, and then get in that environment where they’re winning again makes it that much more special.”
Alford is in his fifth year at New Mexico and he’s reached the postseason all five years. This is his second NCAA trip in the last three seasons, and he made it clear in his press conference on Wednesday that it’s a position he feels blessed to have.
“You have to have a strong administration that can step out if they need to step out and support you,” Alford said. “… We’ve been fortunate We’ve had a five-year run that’s been outstanding. We’ve had five real high quality years. But whether it’s been good or bad instances, no instances, you’ve got to have that support, and you’ve got to have administration that equips you and gives you things that you need to be successful. I’ve been fortunate. I’ve had an administration that’s done that.”