ON THIS DAY: Mike Davis, Indiana Punch Ticket to 2002 Final Four
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Dane Fife, then and now, is often the face of the post-Bob Knight Indiana Hoosiers. He was the most vocal player in the moments after the Knight firing, keeping his team together through all the carnage. He was the glue guy then, and he's still a popular presence around college basketball as an assistant coach at Michigan State.
And when it came time to earn a trip to a most-improbable Final Four on March 23, 2002, it was Fife who led the way for Indiana. The senior went 5-for-6 from three-point range and had a team-high 17 points in a win over Kent State to earn Indiana's first trip to the Final Four in 10 years.
The Hoosiers made 15 three-pointers, blowing away the previous school record of 10 on a shooting night for the ages.
"This feels great for the fact the Indiana fans have been behind us and were waiting a long time for this," Fife said after the win. "This is where we belong."
It was one of the all-time great NCAA tournament shooting performances. Kyle Hornsby made 4-of-5 three-pointers for 16 points, and Tom Coverdale added 14 points, hitting 3-of-4 from long range. He was named the Most Outstanding Player award for the South Regional, despite spraining an ankle in the Kent State game.
"If we'd have had 10 people out there, I don't think we could've stopped them tonight. I haven't seen a team shoot like that in my 13 years of coaching," said Kent State's Stan Heath. "They saved their best for money games. I guess that's what big-time players do, so give them credit."
It was an emotional moment for Davis, who had taken over for Knight amid much controversy after the Knight firing. A quick Final Four was never supposed to happen, according to thousands of bitter Indiana fans, who never thought Davis should have been coaching Indiana anyway.
"God has truly blessed me to put this team in the Final Four," Davis said. "I was so nervous today, my stomach was in knots. This is a big, big day for Indiana basketball."
Other March 23 magical moments
- 2012 — Lost to No. 1 ranked Kentucky in regional semifinals in Atlanta
- 2019 - Beat Arkansas in NIT second round
- 2003 — Lost to Pitt in second round of NCAA tourney
- 1989 — Lost to Seton Hall in regional semifinals of NCAA tourney
- 1940 — Beat Duqeusne in second round of NCAA tournament in Indianapolis to advance to champiosnip game.
Related 'ON THIS DAY' stories
- March 16, 2017: Indiana fires Tom Crean after nine seasons. CLICK HERE
- March 17, 2000: Indiana loses to Pepperdine 77-57 in Bob Knighjt's final game as coach of the Hoosiers. CLICK HERE
- March 18, 1953: Hoosiers win their second NCAA championship on Bobby Leonard's last-minute free throw. CLICK HERE
- March 19, 201
- March 19, 2016: Indiana knocks off Kentucky in second round in Des Moines in Tom Crean's final NCAA tournament win for the Hoosiers. CLICK HERE
- March 20, 1987: Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski meet in the postseason for the first time, and IU prevails. CLICK HERE
- March 21, 2002: Indiana's huge second-half comeback helps take down No. 1-ranked Duke in regional semifinals. CLICK HERE
- March 22, 1975: Mike Flynn, a tough kid from Jeffersonville, leads Kentucky past unbeaten Indiana in Bob Knight's most painful loss. CLICK HERE