Calbert Cheaney, the Big Ten’s all-time leading scorer, the 1993 consensus national player of the year, a longtime NBA player, and one of my favorite all-time Hoosiers, is returning to Bloomington. Yesterday, Indiana coach Tom Crean announced that Cheaney, who worked for former IU great Keith Smart as an assistant coach before Smart was fired as coach of the Golden State Warriors, will be IU’s new director of basketball operations.
I'm thrilled about this. Cheaney is one of my favorite Hoosiers of all-time. Watching his 1992-93 team, which entered the NCAA Tournament ranked number one but lost to Kansas in the Elite Eight (at least in part because of Alan Henderson's late-season knee injury), remains one of my favorite memories. I was a freshman at IU at the time.
I have a couple of Cheaney related stories from the good old days.
This is cropped version of a panoramic view of the south end of Assembly Hall, but this was the best I could find online. The reason I really love this photo is because, as I said, I was sitting in the second row on the opposite end of the court, so this is nearly the exact vantage point from which I saw the shot.
The second story is from a couple of months later. I lived in Briscoe Shoemaker, and my room looked out over the tennis/basketball courts that are on the east side of Fee Lane. One night in what must have been late April, we became conscious of a guy shooting baskets out there. I can't remember if he was alone when we first saw him or if the trickle of spectators from Briscoe had already begun, but even from my fifth floor room that smooth, left-handed shooting stroke was unmistakable. We went down, and eventually there was a full-fledged 5 on 5 pickup game going with what must have been 100 spectators, 9 scrubs, and the consensus national player of the year/Big Ten's all-time leading scorer. Only in Indiana, only at IU.
All of that is a very long winded way of saying, welcome home, Calbert.