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Indiana eager to add to Assembly Hall banners
Posted: Wednesday October 14, 1998 08:52 PM
BLOOMINGTON, Indiana (AP) -- Members of Indiana's 1998-99 men's basketball team believe they have the potential to add to the collection of Big Ten and NCAA championship banners hanging in Assembly Hall.
Optimism was high among team members Tuesday even before holding their first practice of the season under the demanding eyes of IU coach Bob Knight.
A healthy Larry Richardson, talented recruits who have impressed the veterans and intensive summer workouts were all cited as reasons Indiana is poised to battle for its first Big Ten crown since 1993.
The Hoosiers will hold their first formal practice at midnight Friday. Richardson insisted the team is ready to improve on its 20-12 mark of last season.
"We're here to fight," said the 6-foot-8 Richardson, who has seen limited playing time his first two years because of injuries and scored only 81 points in 28 games last season.
"My shoulder was dislocated and then I had my wrist. Those were both nagging injuries. The shoulder, it got hit in the game and it popped out. My wrist last season ... I was getting shots of Novocain in my arm before the game, so I wouldn't feel it," he said. "Every time when I released [shot] it was instant pain."
The injuries are behind him, he said.
"I'll play a lot more comfortable. I played last year through pain. Playing through pain doesn't bother me," he said. "This year I can release the ball knowing that there is no problem in my wrist. I can get in there and bang. I can go up as strong as I want, knowing that my shoulder is not going to slip out on me."
Richardson is one of seven lettermen, including four returning starters, who have been practicing with five freshmen recruits during the summer.
"I have no doubt some of the freshmen will give us immediate help. We have a good nucleus of talent," said the junior forward, who averaged about eight minutes per game last season. "They are very competitive, very intense and very good."
The Hoosiers lost much of their height from last season with the graduation of 6-8 Andrae Patterson, 6-7 Charlie Miller, 7-foot Richard Mandeville and 6-10 Robbie Eggers. Scoring leaders A.J. Guyton and Luke Recker top the list of returnees. There's no shortage of talent in the backcourt with Guyton, Rob Turner and Luke Jimenez all returning. They're likely to be challenged for playing time by freshmen Dane Fife and Kyle Hornsby. Other new players are junior college transfer Lynn Washington, a 6-7 forward, and redshirt freshman Kirk Haston, a 6-10 forward/center.
Forward William Gladness, who had the team's top shooting percentage of 54 percent from the field, said Indiana began preparing for the season as soon as it lost to Connecticut 78-68 in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
A key to the season will be how players respond to Knight, he said.
"Once we listen like all the other players who won a championship and got to the Final Four ... it's going to be the same thing," Gladness said.
And Gladness isn't worried that preseason forecasts are tapping Indiana to finish in the middle of the Big Ten."We aren't proving to nobody but ourselves. We've got to win for ourselves," he said. "We're a lot stronger than we were last year."
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