Former Indiana guard Nick Zeisloft signed with the Indiana Pacers on Thursday and will have an opportunity to make the team in training camp. He also joined The Dan Dakich Show on 1070 The Fan on Friday and the interview was absolutely terrific.
Zeisloft talked at length about his fulfilling his life-long dream of playing at Indiana, and spoke in specific terms about the hours and days that followed Indiana’s embarrassing loss to Duke on national TV in December.
If you remember, it was at that point that Indiana reached rock bottom. Fans were ready to carry Tom Crean out of town. It was ugly, and the entire country saw it. And that came after a trip to Maui that couldn’t have been any worse.
What happened next, though, changed Indiana’s season. The Hoosiers rallied to beat Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic and went on to win the outright Big Ten title and advance to the Sweet Sixteen with a win over arch-rival Kentucky.
Zeisloft says when the team returned from Duke the night of the loss, he was pissed. He went to Cook Hall and was shooting alone at 3 a.m. when Tom Crean came out of his office.
“He probably didn’t go home that night,” Zeisloft told Dakich. “He probably stayed in there and watched film all night. And he came out of his office and said, ‘Nick, we’re not that far away.’
“And I’m like, ‘Coach, what are you talking about? We just lost by 20 on national television. We just got smacked!’ I didn’t say it to him, I was thinking this. I was thinking, ‘Wait, what is going on?’ So I just thought, he got me to this position, I’m just gonna trust him and believe in him.
“And that was a big key with us was trust, between him, all the players, the whole coaching staff. A big key was the way he believed in us and the way we were able to believe in each other because he said that to us.”
So that’s what was going through coach Crean’s mind at 3 a.m. after the Duke loss. What was going through Zeisloft’s?
“I was just thinking, ‘There’s no way we’re going down this way as seniors in a program I’ve always looked up to like this.’ It was my dream come true to play here.”
The other interesting part about Zeisloft’s conversation with Dakich was their discussion on Indiana’s open gyms and just how intense they were. These are insights Indiana fans — and even the media — don’t get all that often.
“We got after it,” Zeisloft said. “Heck, our open gyms might have been uglier sometimes than practices because the coaches weren’t there, we didn’t have to be filtered with each other. Yogi and I definitely got into it, not too much. Definitely got into it with Rob [Johnson]. Rob would get after it with anybody. And then when Thomas [Bryant] came in this summer, ohhhh yeah.”
The last good story comes from Mr. Dakich himself, a guy I didn’t particularly like a couple of years ago but have grown to appreciate and like a great deal. And this story is a funny one.
“When I played there, I kept my number in the phonebook because if I had a good game I knew there would be … you know what I mean?” Dakich said, laughing. “And then if you had a really good game, you got a higher level of girls. Because you guys are good looking, I was ugly as hell. But I kept it in the phonebook.
“People say nothing good happens after midnight, my ass. Not in college, man. I’ll tell you what, a lot of good things happened to me.”
You can listen to the entire interview below courtesy of 1070 The Fan.