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IU's Crean sees head coaching future for Cheaney

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For more on college sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio

Director of basketball operations leaves for St. Louis

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 5:32 am

Indiana coach Tom Crean knew what he was getting when he hired Calbert Cheaney and he certainly knows what he's losing now that Cheaney is joining Jim Crews at St. Louis University:

A quality person and basketball coach.

“I have told Calbert many times he can and will be a Head Coach at any level he wants,” Crean tweeted in the aftermath of Cheaney's leaving as the Hoosiers director of basketball operations to become a Billikens assistant coach. “The time for his next step is now. He made us better everyday. His class, loyalty, knowledge and passion are unmatched. He will be hard to replace.”

Cheaney, a former IU All-America, was hired to replace Jim Whitesell, who left St. Louis earlier this month to join the St. John's staff.

Cheaney had a chance to become an assistant coach last year with Indiana but passed on the opportunity, saying he wasn't ready to make the move. Crean then hired Kenny Johnson.

Cheaney was hired as IU's director of basketball operations in 2011. He's the Big Ten's career scoring leader (2,613 points) and was college basketball's national player of the year in 1993. He was the No. 6 pick in the '93 NBA draft and played 13 years in the NBA. He also spent a year as a special assistant for the Golden State Warriors and another season as a Warriors assistant coach before joining the Hoosiers.

While Cheaney couldn't coach players as director of basketball operations (he also handled the Hoosiers internal and external development), his insight and guidance were instrumental as Indiana won 56 games over the past two seasons, won an outright Big Ten title and made consecutive Sweet 16 appearances.

“Calbert played an invaluable role in the success we enjoyed the last two years and we are excited for what the future holds for him and his family,” Crean said in a university release. “He brought a great deal to us and in turn, I think he gained valuable insight into the profession during his time at IU. He has come to have a strong desire to return to the floor coaching and can do so with someone he trusts and respects in Jim Crews.”

Hoosier freshman Luke Fischer tweeted his congratulations:

“Good luck to coach Cheaney at St. Louis. It was an honor to be coached by arguably the best Hoosier ever, even if it was only for a summer.”

Crews, a member of IU's 1976 national championship team and a former Hoosier assistant coach, is set to start his second season as head coach at St. Louis and his first as the permanent coach. He became the interim head coach last season after the death of head coach Rick Majerus and led the Billikens to a 28-7 record and the Atlantic 10 regular season and conference tourney championships. They lost to Oregon in the third round of the NCAA tourney. Crews was named The Sporting News' national coach of the year.

St. Louis returns four starters, led by Atlantic 10 tourney MVP Dwayne Evans.

The Cheaney and Crews connection goes back more than 25 years. Crews was the head coach at the University of Evansville when Cheaney was an Evansville Harrison High School standout. Crews recruited Cheaney hard and nearly landed him before Cheaney decided to be a Hoosier for Bob Knight.

During Cheaney's tenure Indiana won a pair of Big Ten titles and reached the 1992 Final Four.

Crean has apparently already received input on who he should hire to replace Cheaney. He tweeted his response:

“We are well underway to finding the next member of our staff. Campaigns and recommendations are not my M.O. for staff hires.”

Tracy Smith issues statement

Indiana baseball coach Tracy Smith has ended his silence over the recent arrest of his son, Ty, on felony battery charges from a late-July incident. The sons of rock singer John Mellencamp, Speck and Hud, also were arrested on felony battery charges from the same incident.

A Bloomington police report alleged that the three punched and kicked a 19-year-old man severely enough to result in facial fractures and cuts.

Ty Smith is a walk-on with the Hoosier football team. Coach Kevin Wilson said Smith's status is being evaluated and that he is not currently with the team.

Tracy Smith emailed the following statement late Tuesday:

“We want to make a statement regarding our son's alleged involvement in an incident that has been reported by the local, state, and national media. We do not want our silence in this matter to be interpreted as an admission of his guilt, nor do we feel the need at this point to make a public profession of his innocence. We simply ask that people do not rush to judgment based on what they may have read, seen or heard. Instead, please wait until all facts of the case have been gathered, presented, and ultimately decided upon by our system of justice. We have confidence in the legal system and we have confidence in our son. Thank you.

IU makes Goodluck's final list

Massachusetts center Goodluck Okonoboh, rated as the No. 32 basketball player in the Class of 2014, has tweeted that Indiana is one of his five finalists. The others are Duke, Ohio State, Florida and UNLV.

IU loses offensive lineman

Indiana lost a key offensive lineman when sophomore guard Dan Feeney suffered a season-ending foot injury during last week's final scrimmage.

Feeney, who started every game last season, was hurt when another player fell on his foot.

Potential replacements include veteran Collin Rahrig, Jake Bailey and David Kaminsky.

Wilson said there's enough depth and talent on the line to make up for the loss of Feeney.