The son of Hall of Famer Bob Knight was introduced as the new coach of the Cardinals on Tuesday, less than a month after he was fired by Texas Tech.
The 40-year-old Knight replaces Steve Roccaforte, who was fired after going 76-78 in five years. The Cardinals finished 13-17 and 7-9 in the Southland Conference to tie for ninth place last season.
”I did get into this business, not for fame, not for fortune,” Knight said. ”I got in this business to start my own program, to run my own program, to build a program that people will be proud of, and I have an opportunity to do that here at Lamar.”
Knight went 50-61 in three full seasons in Lubbock. Knight became a Division I head coach for the first time in February 2008, when he took over the Red Raiders midseason from his father, the all-time winningest coach in Division I history.
While working for his father at Texas Tech, Pat Knight kept an eye on Lamar and wrote a letter to then-athletics director Billy Tubbs, the former Oklahoma coach. When the Lamar job came open, Knight immediately asked his agent to help him pursue the opening.
”Growing up in Indiana, Butler was a school, Ball State was a school that were great jobs,” Knight said. ”When we got down to Texas, everyone talked about Lamar. It appealed to me as one of those jobs, like a Butler or a Ball State.”
Knight couldn’t guide Texas Tech to the NCAA tournament. The Red Raiders went 19-16 in 2009-10 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NIT.
The Red Raiders made four trips to the NCAA tournament under Bob Knight, including a run to the regional semifinals in 2005.
Knight played for his father at Indiana from 1991-1995 and later worked as a scout for the Phoenix Suns. He was an assistant for the CBA’s Connecticut Pride and was a coach in both the International Basketball Association and the U.S. Basketball League. He joined his father’s staff at Texas Tech in 2001.
Bob Knight had 902 victories in a career that spanned 42 seasons. The younger Knight says he’s learned to embrace his pedigree, not shy away from the expectations that come with it.
”I’ve never really looked at the downside,” he said. ”I’m not going to be one of those guys on reality TV or in rehab because my parents were famous. I hate to see that on TV. I am Bob Knight’s son. I’m proud of it.
”I coach with a ghost over me,” he said, ”but that makes me hungry and makes me have a chip on my shoulder to want to prove myself. That’s why I’m excited about that job.”
Knight said he learned valuable lessons from his time in Lubbock, but wouldn’t expound on what he thinks he needs to do differently in his new job.
”I know what went wrong, but it’s for me to know,” he said. ”We did great things when I was an assistant, I think we did great things when I was a coach.
”Sometimes it hurts me,” he said about his firing, ”but I’m not one of those guys who ever looks back and regrets things. Maybe it would have been smarter if I’d gone back to a smaller school to start out.”
Knight says he’s already well-versed on his new team.
”I want them to know where I stand with them,” Knight said. ”I know every one of their tendencies, what I think of them, what I want to work on with them. In my program, assistants are great, but there’s one voice. I want them to know what I think of them and that I’ve studied them.”
Knight says he has ”a good list” of assistant coaches in mind. He says his Big 12 ties will help him round out his staff and in recruiting.
”The coaches know me in this league,” he said. ”I think this is going to be a good program for kids who aren’t happy at bigger schools.”