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Brothers happy with program direction

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Nothing could have made Jeff and Jon Stuckey happier.

Last weekend, an old slice of their family appeared to be reborn.

Both Jeff and Jon served as Indiana University men's basketball managers while attending school in Bloomington.

Jeff served as a manager from 1983-86, missing the 1987 National Championship Hoosiers by one year. Jon served as a student manager from 1989-92.

Jeff graduated from Brazil High School while Jon graduated from Northview High School.

Things haven't gone well in Hoosier basketball land in recent years. In 2000, IU fired long-time hoops' coach Bobby Knight and replaced him with Mike Davis. Davis left a handful of years later and was replaced by Kelvin Sampson.

After less than two years, Sampson was forced out after recruiting violations surfaced.

Enter Tom Crean, former coach of Marquette University.

But in those eight years since Knight was dismissed, most of the Hoosier "family" believed something wasn't right.

Both Stuckeys agreed.

But both believe Crean has taken the necessary steps to bring the "family" back together.

Last weekend, Crean invited former players, managers and coaches to a reunion of sorts. The event took place in French Lick at the West Baden Hotel.

"I don't think it started this weekend," Jeff told The Brazil Times. "Since (Crean) started, he has worked tirelessly to heal the family."

Jeff -- who works at the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana -- said many former IU players felt like they were being pushed away from the program, something that had not happened before.

But last weekend, he said, helped heal some of those wounds.

"There was a buzz, an excitement in the air," Jeff said. "This went a long way in getting the 'family' back together."

Jon agreed.

"I think this is a step in the right direction," Jon said. "Sure, there's still some scar tissue. But I think some of them are getting away from the loyalty to Knight."

Jon is now an Assistant Principal at Sullivan High School. He said a golf outing took place during the reunion and several players and former managers took part. He said one player from the 1940 National Championship Hoosier squad attended the event.

"He needs those people to help with the recruiting process," Jon said. "I think the event brought everyone together. By them being there, it says a lot. They were visible."

Jon said all who attended also received a gift bag, which included a T-shirt that stated, "It's Indiana."

"That says a lot," Jon said. "That's kind of enough said."

Both Jeff and Jon said the family tradition that surrounded IU basketball was hurt when Knight was dismissed. But the recent firing of Sampson and the recruiting violations that followed hurt just as much, if not more.

"It's certainly been disheartening," Jon said. "IU had such a proud history in all aspects."

But both were pleased when Crean was hired immediately following the 2007-08 campaign.

"I was very pleased with the announcement was made that we secured (Crean) as our coach," Jeff said.

"I knew (Crean) a little bit," Jon added. "He's certainly a first-class guy. His approach at IU has been, 'we're kind of at ground zero."

Jon said approximately 180 people attended the weekend reunion.

"It was nice to be included," Jon said. "We're not going to be very good this year, and (Crean is) very forthright about that."



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