Sampson, Ratliff on Bob Knight

During an interview with a group of reporters at Assembly Hall Thursday afternoon, Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson talked about his thoughts on Bob Knight approaching the all-time wins record. Here are some of the most interesting of Sampson’s comments:

“Most coaches won’t admit this, but when you coach a game, sometimes you can feel that guy at the other end and sometimes you can’t. I think all coaches are good, but some just have a presence about them. You always know when you’re coaching against a guy like coach Knight, because of his presence.

“For our sport, I think it’s perfect that the two winningest coaches in the history of our game are coach Knight and coach Smith. because they are absolutely the best. Coach Knight will win as many as he wants to win, he has it going at Texas Tech now. I don’t know how much longer he’ll coach, but he’ll put that mark at wherever he wants it.

“Forget the fact that I’m at Indiana and that he coached at Indiana, it really has nothing to do with it. You get to live in this air where you get to see a living legend do his business and accomplish something like that, we’re all fortunate enough to see it.”

After Sampson left the press room at Assembly Hall, several IU players were available for interviews. A.J. Ratliff, who is from Louisiana originally but spent middle and high school in Indianapolis, talked about his memories of Knight.

The first time Ratliff saw Knight in person was when the coach for his eighth-grade basketball team brought him to an Indiana practice. Coach Knight’s reaction during practice when a player made a mistake surprised Ratliff.

“Coach Knight went off,” Ratliff recalled. “I asked my coach, “Why is cussing so much at his players?”

Ratliff’s coach explained that it was a different level of basketball, something that Ratliff has since experienced for himself. The Indiana junior said he would have played for Knight at IU if he’d had the chance.

“He’s one of the greatest coaches in history,” Ratliff said.