BLOOMINGTON – Today's lesson in Indiana Hoosier basketball mathematics features this polynomial puzzler:
Dane Fife plus an open assistant coaching position plus Fife's appearance at Wednesday's Hoosier basketball practice plus coach Tom Crean's appreciation of ex-IU players equals what?
The correct answer, at least for now, is zero.
Crean said Wednesday that he won't talk about any candidates and that he doesn't have a timetable to name a new assistant coach, although “I don't see it being a long time.”
Still, Fife, the head coach at IPFW for the last five years and a former Hoosier player, and IPFW assistant coaches Dan Bere and Azeez Ali, were at Wednesday's practice. Was there a correlation between Fife's appearance and the job opening?
“Not at this point,” Crean said.
For the record, the job opened Sunday night when Crean fired assistant coach Roshown McLeod.
“This was planned when Dane was on a bus trip to South Dakota (for the last week's Summit League tourney),” Crean said about Fife's practice visit. “I didn't bring (the job) up to him in the sense that people will look at it that way.
“He's been to practices before. He's been around. It was something that he contacted me about last week.”
Expect to see Fife at the Big Ten tourney at Indianapolis' Conseco Fieldhouse. IU (10-20) opens with Northwestern (19-12) today. At least one other former Hoosier player, Tom Abernathy, also will be there.
“I like having Dane around,” Crean said. “I like having former (IU) players around. Any time you can have those guys around, it's good. In the case of Dane, he hasn't been able to be around because of the job he has.”
Fife just wrapped up a 16-15 season at IPFW, its first winning record at the NCAA Division I level. It was a school record for Division I victories. Fife is 64-85 in five seasons at IPFW.
Crean did say he's thinking about who he will hire to replace McLeod, but “it's not a front-burner type of thing.”
“I think about how to make the program better every day. We have an opportunity to do that.”
Crean still would not provide specifics for McLeod's firing. He had earlier said it was the “right decision” done to “move the program forward.” Crean said he was formulating the criteria he wants in the next coach.
“I want to find the person who fits exactly what we need. I'm still going through that. There will be some basic tenets – pulling in the same direction, trust, loyalty. All those things are extremely important.”