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5. INDIANA
John Garrity
November 26, 1984
Uwe Blab, Indiana's 7'2" redheaded center from Munich, West Germany, carries in his wallet a clipping of a newspaper story in which Blab's coach, Bob Knight, tells a group of students, "If you see Blab walking across campus, please tell him that he's not playing for the Germans." Blab enjoys showing the clip to people and explaining, "It's saying, basically, the Germans are a piece of s—-."
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November 26, 1984

5. Indiana

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Uwe Blab, Indiana's 7'2" redheaded center from Munich, West Germany, carries in his wallet a clipping of a newspaper story in which Blab's coach, Bob Knight, tells a group of students, "If you see Blab walking across campus, please tell him that he's not playing for the Germans." Blab enjoys showing the clip to people and explaining, "It's saying, basically, the Germans are a piece of s—-."

The relationship between Knight and Blab has always been one of Sturm und Drang. Blab has described playing for Knight as "hell" and once gave his coach the finger in full view of some 10,000 fans at Michigan State. Last season, Knight benched Blab for most of three games after Indiana gave up 22 unanswered points and blew a home game to Purdue. A story got into print that afterward Knight took out his wallet, handed Blab a credit card, and told him to buy a ticket back to West Germany. "The credit card never happened," Blab says, "but he does tell you to leave sometimes. And he's serious."

At his best, Blab was a better-than-average college center in '83-84. He led the Big Ten in blocked shots (36), ranked 10th in field-goal percentage (52.8%) and was Indiana's second-leading scorer (11.8 points a game). However, Blab was not always at his best. Particularly galling to Knight were Blab's 52 turnovers, most of them fumbled passes. "When I played for the German team [in the Olympics]," Blab says, "I didn't drop the ball at all."

Other Hoosiers besides Blab were inconsistent last year. Indiana—22-9 and third in the conference—swung through its schedule like the pendulum in a grandfather clock, big wins followed by exasperating losses. After the biggest victory of all, a 72-68 stunner over top-ranked North Carolina in the NCAA East Regional semis, the Hoosiers folded up against Virginia, 50-48. "That's not characteristic of a good Indiana team," says guard Steve Alford, who scored a game-high 27 points against the Tar Heels and six against the Cavaliers. Of course, last year's was not a characteristic Indiana team.

Knight employed 18 different starting lineups and relied heavily on four freshmen, led by the 6'2" Alford, who paced the Hoosiers with a 15.5 point average and set a school record for field-goal percentage (59.2%). This season, fresh from his stint on the gold medal U.S. Olympic team-coached, of course, by Knight—Alford returns as the most seasoned sophomore in college basketball history. He played the most minutes on the U.S. squad, had the best turnover ratio, led in shooting percentage, committed the fewest fouls and even finished as the fourth-best rebounder, collecting two more than high-leaping Michael Jordan. Alford promises to improve his foul shooting. He was a woeful .913 from the line as a freshman, barely good enough to lead the nation and .031 below his mark as a senior at New Castle ( Ind.) High. "I never put together a good string," he says straight-faced. "I'd hit 20 or 25 in a row, then miss."

Junior guard Stew Robinson, who led Indiana with 104 assists, is also back, as are junior forward Mike Giomi, sophomore forward Marty Simmons and 6'7" swingman Daryl Thomas. The biggest boost will come from the return of senior swingman Winston Morgan, who missed most of last season with a stress fracture of his left foot. Also, the Hoosier recruiting haul was extraordinary, including the state's 1984 Mr. Basketball, 6'5" guard Delray Brooks, a smooth mover with a feather-soft jump shot. He can stand flat-footed and touch 8'4�", a reach that helped him make 215 steals in the past two years. Another Hoosier freshman, 6'8" forward Brian Sloan, who's the son of former Chicago Bull Jerry Sloan, was Mr. Basketball in Illinois.

But Indiana's fortunes will depend on the embattled Blab, whose only backup, 6'10" freshman Magnus Pelkowski from Bogota, Colombia, is as raw and unready as Blab was when he first came to America. An emergency appendectomy in October set back Blab's conditioning, but the surgeon's knife held little terror for the man who has so often endured Knight's needle.

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