Compiled from Times staff and wire reports
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 15, 2000
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- They traveled from miles around Friday night to Assembly Hall -- to see their team and their new leader, coach Mike Davis, and to show their support for the program.
"I'm a Hoosier fan and I always will be," said Tim Holder, who traveled from Cincinnati and waited outside for nearly four hours. "There's more to Indiana basketball than Bob Knight."
Hard as that may seem sometimes, even to Davis.
"It's just exciting," he said, smiling. "It won't really sink in till the first game."
But the fans understood fully Friday night; this is a new era. And the several thousand fans who started filing in at 11 p.m. for the first practice of the season wanted to show they're still Indiana fans.
Holder, an annual attendee of the midnight practices, came to Bloomington with three other people and detected changes almost instantly.
"The atmosphere feels a lot different," he said. "We got to go inside, before they closed the doors, and walked around on the court. Before, you usually got this feeling that you weren't allowed to do that, that you might bump into Coach."
While Holder and his friends managed to mingle with some of the players, they also managed to bump into the coach.
"I was just telling this guy that Coach Davis needs to know we're behind him," said Kevin Morgan of Tipton, Ind. "Can you imagine being in his position, replacing a legend, replacing maybe the greatest basketball coach of all time and we're not happy with 20-win seasons here? We expect Big Ten championships and national championships."
Other changes also were immediately apparent.
Davis, who accepted the Hoosiers' job two days after Knight was fired for violating Indiana's "zero-tolerance" policy, added three-point shooting and dunk contests to the repertoire and also made the women's basketball team a first-time participant in the late-night event.
"I'm just being myself," Davis said. "We did some things for the kids. We want them to have fun tonight because (Saturday) at 4, it's going to be serious."
Some fans, however, admitted they preferred Knight's old-school practices better.
"We're actually hoping they come out and practice," said Mark Detweiler, head coach at Randolph Southern High School near Richmond, Ind. "We hope it's not just a circus or all this glitz. I kind of liked the practices because we want our players to see what it takes to play at this level."
FLORIDA STATE: Men's coach Steve Robinson said he liked what he saw during the team's first practice Saturday morning, the first step toward what he hopes will be a renaissance season.
"I was curious to see how much the kids had progressed," he said after the three-hour workout. "I'm very encouraged."
The Seminoles struggled last season and face a rebuilding job with the loss of four senior starters, including former Largo High standout Ron Hale and Damous Anderson.
The team motto for the season is "Redeem the Dream."
"I'm always looking for a phrase we can use," Robinson said. "It gives us something to shoot for. It can be good for us. It's a subtle reminder what we have to do."
A promising sign for the future came with the visit of highly touted prospect Anthony Richardson, a 6-7 forward from Raleigh, N.C. Richardson, rated by The Sporting News as the 28th top prep player, also is considering Maryland. FSU hasn't yet received any oral commitments. The early signing period begins Nov. 8.
Meantime, FSU women's coach Sue Semrau saw the dividends of her team's 10-day, four-game summer trip to Europe during Saturday afternoon's first practice.
"It felt like we had practiced prior to the start and we were able to pick up where we left off," she said.
Semrau has a veteran group, which means she can teach more quickly.
Saturday also was busy from a recruiting standpoint. FSU entertained two highly touted prospects: Genesis Choice, a forward from Orlando Evans who was named a preseason All-American, and Yalonda McCormick, a point guard from Miami.
USF WOMEN: At her team's first official practice of the season Saturday, South Florida coach Jerry Ann Winters declined to comment on the controversy surrounding the women's program.
During the past two months, four former players filed federal racial discrimination lawsuits against the university, and a former assistant coach filed an Equal Employment Office Commission complaint.
Also, several former players and former staff members claimed team members have been allowed for years to make personal long-distance phone calls from the basketball office, a possible NCAA violation. And a former basketball office secretary alleged Winters mismanaged university funds.
The university is investigating the allegations.
Saturday, Winters led her team through a one-hour practice and scrimmage at the Sun Dome in front of a modest but appreciative crowd. Afterward, she answered questions from a handful of reporters, but declined to comment on the allegations.
- Staff writers Brian Landman and Darrell Fry contributed to this report.
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From the wire
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