I can confirm what John Decker of HoosierNation.com reported earlier today.
Most of the players do prefer assistant coach Ray McCallum to assistant coach Dan Dakich.
According to a few sources who told me that the McCallum-instead-of-Dakich conversation came up between the players and Greenspan, the players simply feel more comfortable with the coach who came in with Sampson and went through last year as well as every step of this season.
Remember, too, that McCallum helped to recruit six of these players. He may not have been the lead recruiter on all of them, but he was present during on-campus visits, watched AAU games and coached at Elite Camps. The players feel that they know him well.
Dakich was not made an assistant coach until after Rob Senderoff was forced to resign on Oct. 30. Not only is Dakich a replacement for a coach that many of the players liked and were recruited by, he was not able to do any actual coaching until November, just before the start of the season. By then the mentality of the team had shifted into game mode. That is, they began focusing on one game at a time, trying to understand their upcoming opponents and what Sampson had decided they needed to improve on. There wasn’t as much time for bonding with Dakich as there might have been had he taken over earlier. He was not allowed to be on the practice floor prior to that.
Also, Dakich arrived over the summer as the director of operations. Sampson prefers to hire former coaches for that spot, but the position is really one of a liaison to the rest of the athletics department and especially the compliance office.
Our sources describe a situation over the summer in which the basketball program recoiled at the thought of the investigation being conducted into its recruiting practices by IU. Through all of the tension, though, Dakich had to continue doing his job and cooperating with the athletic department. And so you have a case where the appearance of something — that Dakich was not completely “with” the basketball program — might have more residual than the truth.
What it ultimately comes down to is this: the players are extremely emotional right now and reaching for some sort of stability. They want to take control of their situation, and in this case that means having the coach they’ve known longer take over if Sampson must go.
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