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Five necessities for next IU coach

I think we can pretty much rule out Bob Knight returning as the next Indiana University basketball coach. That's about it.

Well, almost.

Dane Fife is too new to the profession to get the job. Pat Summitt would be too progressive of a hire for most fans. And it looks like things are going to work out at Duke for Mike Krzyzewski.

Other than that, everybody's in.

Go ahead, speculate.

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Unless IU Athletic Director Rick Greenspan turns uncharacteristically revealing when he gets around to officially acknowledging Mike Davis' impending resignation, all we'll be doing the next month is guessing.

The names will spiral by: Steve Alford, Steve Lavin, some other guys I can't think of named Steve, Thad Matta, Mark Few, Dana Altman, Mike Montgomery, Matt Doherty, Johnny Dawkins and a required-by-law mention of Rick Majerus. Who knows, maybe even Dan Dakich will get some speculating love. (And, believe me, there's nothing like speculating love.)

Davis said Monday that Indiana fans need a former player as their head coach. I disagree and, besides, I don't think Antwaan Randle El has the time.

I'm open to ideas about who'll be the best man for the IU job, but I'm positive about what he needs to bring to the program.

If I were Greenspan, these would be my Top 5 requirements:

1. Head coaching experience. One of Davis' biggest problems was learning on the job. The next coach needs to already have a grasp of the requirements of being the man in charge. That includes an unflinching confidence in his leadership skills, the ability to establish a plan for the program and set it in motion, and the strength to lead both a staff and a group of players. A couple 20-win seasons wouldn't hurt, either.

The best coaches in the game honed their skills at a lower level before they settled into their big-time positions.

2. Solid strategic skills. A good coach must be able to break down an opponent and put a game plan in place, but he also has to be able to make the necessary adjustments within the game. Davis' system worked well at times, when he had a mix of players who instinctively adjusted, such as the 2002 run of perimeter stars Tom Coverdale, Fife and Kyle Hornsby, and inside players Jared Jeffries and Jeff Newton and the short, but tall A.J. Moye.

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3. Recruiting instincts. Indiana will lose some recruiting skills when Davis leaves. Maybe some of the players he recruited didn't pan out as well as expected, but he landed Jeffries and he talked Robert Vaden out of Purdue, so you know he was persistent.

The next coach must be savvy in the modern text-messaging recruiting era. He needs to know that Indiana recruits nationally as much as any school, but also must be able to keep the local talent in state. The best Indiana players can't be heading for Duke and North Carolina.

4. An understanding of IU. The closest comparison is Notre Dame football. Lou Holtz and Charlie Weis understood how to draw on the school's tradition and fan fervor to attract players and earn fan support.

The next IU coach needn't have played or attended IU -- although that would be a bonus -- but he must grasp the school's hold on its fans and its perceived place within the college landscape. Indiana fans recognize effort, teamwork and court IQ. They won't accept excuses. If you lose, you need to take the blame and explain how you intend to go about fixing it.

• 5.; Media savvy. Davis was too honest for his own good at times. He spoke first, thought later. It hurt him. He became his own worst enemy in the press. One of his biggest mistakes was touting Bracey Wright too much before Wright's arrival. It put undue pressure on the player and alienated his older teammates.

The next coach doesn't have to be slick. Indiana fans will see through phoniness. But he needs to know how and when to speak his mind.

Again, I don't believe the next coach must have past Indiana ties. Knight had no Indiana ties when he arrived. Coach K had no direct Duke ties. John Wooden was a Purdue man before becoming a legend at UCLA.

Indiana will embrace a consistent, confident winner.

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And that's not speculation.

Reggie Hayes writes for the The News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Ind.). His column is distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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