INDIANAPOLIS – Friday night marked the first IU men’s basketball game since legendary Coach Bob Knight died.
The Hoosiers beat Marian University by 94 to 61 in an exhibition matchup. Fans at Assembly Hall observed a moment of silence and then saw a tribute to “the General” during halftime.
While fans entered the facility with the same energy they would with any basketball game, they also knew it would be a special night as they looked back at the legacy of an icon who helped shape Hoosier basketball.
Fans filled Assembly Hall top to bottom Friday night in what became an evening of reflection honoring the legacy of a coach who seemed to leave a mark on everyone.
“It’s been emotional,” said fan Larry Sherer. “I would say that. For everybody.”
“I’m kind of like lost for words because we are losing a legend,” fan Derrick Garberick said. “We’ll never get a coach like Bobby Knight ever again. There will never be a coach like him.”
Fans said it was an emotional evening, but a memorable one.
“What he’s brought to IU basketball, the state of Indiana, what he’s brought to the IU university, it’s definitely a major loss,” Garberick said.
“He touched so many lives,” said fan Ryan Hall. “Coach Woodson, Alford, the list goes on and on.”
On the court, the team wore special “RMK” commemorative patches to honor the coach. In the stands, fans focused on their own memories of Knight, from meeting him to playing at basketball camp.
“It was just awesome,” Garberick said. “[It was an] awesome feeling to get to feel like what would it be to like if you were a player for Bobby Knight.”
“It was nice to meet him,” Hall said. “He was very cordial and he didn’t blow you off or anything like that. He was very hands-on, and you know, I think the world of him. He’s going to be really sadly missed.”
Others’ memories stretch a lifetime ago as they recall working by his side in his first two years in the Hoosier state.
“It was great memories; I only wish I had still been in school when we had the championships,” laughed Sherer, who was a student team manager during Knight’s first two years in Bloomington. “Coach was very demanding, but he never demanded any more of anyone else than he did of himself.”
But one thing is certain, as fans cheered “Bobby” Friday night, his memory and legacy will not be forgotten.
The men’s basketball team will wear the commemorative patches all season long.