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"I'm working hard every day and trying to improve so my parents won't have to bother with me," he says. "It's tiring, really tiring, but I'm not going to quit until I'm totally independent. That's really important."
If Saturday's 71-64 victory over underdog Miami is an example of how the Hoosiers intend to defend their championship, Knight's players would do well to look at Turner, who has been designated as team captain, and use him as a model. The Indiana effort was so uninspired that Knight cut his postgame press conference to 30 seconds—"I'm just sorry Miami didn't win, because they deserved it more than we did," he said—and didn't open the locker room for an hour.
He was concerned, mainly, about the absence of the crisp execution and all-out hustle that usually characterize his teams. Both the players and the crowd of 13,400 seemed in a trance, as if they couldn't cope with what had been taken from them since last season—Center Ray Tolbert (graduation), Guard Isiah Thomas (early entry into the NBA) and Turner. After leading by as many as 12 points in the second half, Indiana found itself on top by only three with Miami in possession and only 28 seconds to go. Remarkably, under the circumstances, fans were leaving, as if certain that Indiana was going to pull it out, which, of course, it did.
Indiana clearly misses Turner a great deal, partly for his enormous talent but most of all, says Knight, for the positive influence he would have exerted on this season's five freshmen. Turner would have been asked to help make better players of the youngsters, as Tolbert had lent a hand in molding Turner. Now, without Turner, that duty falls to veterans Randy Wittman, Ted Kitchel and Jim Thomas. So far, in Knight's opinion, they haven't done the job.
Turner no doubt is finding it difficult to believe that he may never again feel the power and glory of playing basketball. The previous week, at an exhibition game against the Olympic champion Yugoslavian national team, Turner had become upset that Knight didn't give him anything to do.
"Coach," he said reprovingly, "you should've called my name and I would've gotten up."
"I'm saving you, Landon," said Knight softly, "for the next game."