Saturday, January 27, 2001
The Detroit News.
Ex-Hoosiers player Recker to face Indiana for first time
By Greg Smith / Associated Press Writer
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Luke Recker's return to the Big Ten comes full circle Saturday when Iowa plays host to Indiana.
It's been quite a journey.
Recker went to Indiana in 1997 to play basketball for Bob Knight, transferred to Arizona after his sophomore season, then transferred to Iowa after a car crash nearly killed him, paralyzed his former girlfriend and put her brother in a coma.
Instead of making Recker sit out a full year under its transfer rules, the NCAA took the circumstances into consideration and granted him two more full seasons of eligibility.
Iowa coach Steve Alford -- who, in an added twist, was a key player on Knight's 1987 NCAA championship team at Indiana -- immediately installed Recker as the shooting guard.
Recker has thrived, becoming Iowa's leading scorer by averaging nearly 18 points. He might still be playing at Indiana had Knight agreed to play him at shooting guard instead of small forward.
Recker, though, will be wearing the black-and-gold of No. 21 Iowa (15-4, 4-2 Big Ten) on Saturday and will be reunited with his former teammates for the first time in nearly two years.
"If we had Recker, we'd be really good. We have guys who are playing well and we're a pretty good team now. But if we had Recker, we'd be even better," said Indiana coach Mike Davis, who took over after Knight was fired in September.
Indiana's Dane Fife once did all he could to keep his former roommate from transferring. On Saturday, he'll have to keep Recker from scoring against the Hoosiers (12-8, 3-3).
"It will be nice to hang out with Luke for about two seconds before the game and hang out," Fife said. "But after the ball tips off, we won't be friends for 40 minutes."
Recker knows friendship will be left on the sidelines.
"He's going to be rough. I'll be rough back," Recker told the Fort Wayne, Ind., News-Sentinel. "I told Dane we might end up fighting on the court. We might throw fists."
Of leaving Indiana, Recker said: "I took a lot of criticism. My family and the people close to me understand what I went through and the adversity I've been through. That's been a lot of motivation for me."
Although Recker has been hampered by tendinitis in his right knee, the Hoosiers say he is still dangerous.
"The kid is one of the best shooters I've seen for his size," Indiana's Kirk Haston said. "He's got a tough jump shot, and when you put that together with his 6-foot-5 or 6-6 body, that's a tough combination."
Indiana beat Purdue 66-55 Tuesday but is still looking for its first road victory of the season.
"I think they're playing as well as anybody in the league right now," Alford said. "Obviously, we want (Recker) to treat it as another game. But realistically, these are kids he was recruited with. Haston and Fife are good friends of his.
"There's going to be a lot of high intensity."
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