IU ‘great influence on all Big Ten teams’: Ganakas

IU ‘great influence on all Big Ten teams’: Ganakas

by Bob Hammel, Sports Editor

November 24, 1975

From the November 24, 1975 Bloomington Daily Herald – Telephone

Sunday, usually a dormant day in college sports, produced remarks in Chicago and Bloomington that were so far from the norm that they should be more than noticed: remembered. They tell the uniqueness of the pleasant adventure tale about to unfold before a rapt university, city and state, the one called Indiana University basketball.

Gus Ganakas, Michigan State’s basketball coach and the Big Ten’s only Greek leprechaun, contributed his usual bright lines to the 10th Big Ten basketball press conference in Chicago. But Ganakas wasn’t kidding in an interesting outside look at the IU basketball operation.

“I think Indiana’s prominence nationally has helped our league,” Ganakas said. “We’re all very proud of the fact that, as I saw in the papers this morning, they are No. 1 in the country.

“I still feel our league from top to bottom is the best there is. But Indiana has had a great amount of influence on all Big Ten teams. The Indiana team last year, and I’m sure the one this year, because they have so many players back, really has helped the play of our teams in the league.

“I know our players have a great respect for their defense, plus their passing game, which is a hot item right now.

“Their seeing good players like May and Buckner work as hard as they do and bust their butts on defense gives them more desire to play defense.”

***

From the November 24, 1975 Bloomington Daily Herald – Telephone

The Bloomington comments came from Hoosier’ coach Bob Knight, after he returned from the Chicago meeting and put his team on the floor for the annual Assembly Hall preview game – which drew a record 7,853.

The Hoosiers came onto the floor to a standing ovation that lasted for more than a minute, and when Knight walked out just before play began, there was another for the 1975 coach of the year.

After player introductions, he took the public address system microphone to say thank you from players and coaches to Hoosier fans.

“I don’t think there is a team in the country that can match the support this team gets from its fans and student body,” Knight said.

“I can’t guarantee you what kind of season we’ll have … but I can tell you all of us kinda feel we’re gonna be pretty damn tough to beat along the way.”

It was uncharacteristically candid optimism from Knight, and a lead-up to what made it all different:

“I would only ask two things of you. This is your team and I know you are proud of it. I ask you, as you have been doing, to respect the officials and the opponents who come in to play here. If there’s anything to be said to the officials, I’ll say it.

“I would ask that you give them and opponents the respect they deserve and match it with the enthusiasm you give our team.”

The same emphasis, previously given by Knight, is the reason Assembly Hall is a tough place to win but by no means a “snake pit” – instead, a showpiece of college athletics at its competitive best.

***

From the November 24, 1975 Bloomington Daily Herald – Telephone

The last scrimmage was another rouser, an 85-83 game decided with a second to go by Kent Benson’s rebound basket.

It was 44-43 at halftime and remained tight to the end. Scott May tying the game with a shot at 0:14, giving him 39 points for the game.

Bob Wilkerson had 26 in support of May on the losing Reds, while Quinn Buckner had 30, Benson 29 and Tom Abernathy 11 to put all five scheduled starters in double figures in their last public play before the UCLA game Saturday night.

“We have played seven intrasquad games now,” Knight said, “and I felt in the seventh game we still had a pretty good degree of intense play – maybe more than we had a right to expect.

“I felt the defensive play was pretty good. The Red team in particular was going a little too fast on offense in the first half, but things got slowed down a little bit the second half. The interesting thing to me was that we scored essentially the same number of points the second half as we did the first, with a better tempo of play and more attention and concentration on what we want.”

Wayne Radford missed the scrimmage with strep throat, and Jim Crews went out with an eye injury that reopened a cut he sustained in the intrasquad game at New Castle two weeks ago. Crews played with goggles for several days after the original injury, and he may have to do it again as practice begins today for UCLA.

Radford’s immediate availability for the major role anticipated for him this year is questionable, since he missed virtually all last week with physical problems.

***

In his own Chicago remarks, Knight said the No. 1 ranking was nice but not too meaningful. “I don’t know what kind of a basketball team we’ll have,” he said, “so I don’t know how anybody else does. I think it will be 10 games before I can get a valid opinion of our team.

“At the same time, everybody concerned at Indiana has to be pleased that people think that much of our basketball team. Who knows what’s going to happen? We may be out of sight in the polls after four games. When you say “Indiana” then, people may say, “Who?”

Knight was asked if the drama of the UCLA game and the national attention given it have complicated the Hoosiers’ preparations for the season.

“We’ve been very fortunate to be blessed with a great group of kids who really enjoy playing and practicing,” Knight said. “I feel they have had tremendous intensity in preparing themselves for a season, not for a game.

“If it were the challenge of a game they were looking at, I’m not so sure that anything positive could come from it, whether we win it or lose it.”

***

Knight cheerfully gave a health report on May but declined to state an opinion on how last year’s NCAA tourney would have come out if May hadn’t broken his arm.

“You think you’ve got this kind of team without Scott May, so you’d be this much better with him,” he said. “By the same token, if we’ve got Scott May, maybe something else would have happened.”

The degree of interest Hoosiers have shown in how the current Indiana’s team, with May, compares with the current team in the uniform of the 1975 NCAA champion, UCLA, carries no surprise to Knight at all. Asked his reaction to reports that as many as 9,000 Hoosier fans may make the five-hour drive to St. Louis next Saturday night, Knight said.

“Why not? I know if I was a fan, I’d want to be there.”

Even 9,000 wouldn’t scratch the surface on the number of Hoosier fans who would want to be there. The final figure, whatever it is, will reflect only the number who can get there for what clearly is shaping up as the biggest pre-Christmas game an IU team has ever played … and one of the grandest openings a college season has ever had.

AP WRITERS' POLL1. INDIANA (30) 8762. UCLA (13) 7023. Maryland 644. Marquette 4935. N. Carolina 4536. Kentucky (2) 3957. Notre Dame 2818. Louisville 2599. Tennessee(1) 20710. Cincinnati 17911. Arizona 17212. Alabama 4613. N.C. St. 13514. Kansas St. 13215. San Fran. 12216. Michigan 10117. Providence 9718. Arizona St. 9619. Memphis St. 74t20. Syracuse 72t20. Auburn 72WHITE 85 FG FT R A PF TPAbernathy, f 5-8 1-2 5 1 3 11Valavicius, f 3-7 0-2 4 1 7 6Benson, c 12-24 5-6 11 3 3 29Buckner, g 13-29 4-5 9 10 3 30Wisman, g 2-4 1-2 3 2 5 4Roberson 2-3 0-0 1 0 2 4Totals 37-75 11-17 40 17 20 85REDS 83 FG FT R A PF TPMay, f 14-34 11-12 11 2 8 39Crews, f 3-4 0-0 1 4 2 6Haymore, c 3-9 6-6 11 0 2 12Wilkerson, g 12-20 2-2 7 0 4 26Bender, g 0-4 0-0 4 2 3 0Eells 0-1 0-0 5 1 1 0Totals 32-72 19-20 45 9 30 83SCORE BY HALVESWhites 44 41 - 85Reds 43 40 - 83Errors: Reds: 24, Whites 22.Blocked shots: Reds (Wilkerson 2, Haymore 1).SHOOTING FG Pct. FT Pct.Whites 37-75 .493 11-17 .647Reds 32-72 .444 19.30 .950Attendance: 7,853.