Dane Fife

 Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Dane Fife is a basketball player and coach from Clarkston, Michigan. He played four seasons with Indiana University as a guard, and he later became an assistant coach with the Hoosiers. After his role as an assistant, Dane Fife moved on to become head coach at IPFW at the age of 25, the youngest head coach in Division I at the time. From 2011-2021, he served on the coaching staff for the Michigan State Spartans under Tom Izzo. In April 2021, it was announced that Fife will serve as an assistant at Indiana under Mike Woodson.

Dane Fife Biography

  • Name: Dane Fife
  • Position: Guard
  • Nationality: USA
  • Age: 40 years old
  • Birthday: July 26, 1979
  • Hometown: Clarkston, Michigan
  • High School: Clarkston High School
  • Height: 6’4″ (193 cm)
  • Weight: 200 lbs (90 kg)
  • Seasons: 4 (1998-1999, 1999-2000, 2000-2001, 2001-2002)
  • Jersey: #11
  • CBA Draft: 2002 / First Round / Gary Steelheads
  • Professional Career: Gary Steelheads (2002)
  • Coaching Career: Indiana assistant coach (2003-2005), IPFW head coach (2005-2011), Michigan State Assistant Coach (2011-Present)
  • Twitter: @CoachDaneFife

Awards and Accomplishments

  • 2001-02 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year
  • 2002 NCAA All-Tournament
  • 2002 NCAA Tournament All-Region

Dane Fife’s High School Career

Fife attended Clarkston High School in Michigan. At Clarkston, Fife’s coach not only was one of the best high school basketball coaches in Michigan history but also happened to be his father: Dan Fife. As a coach, his father racked up 703 victories over 36 seasons and is the third winningest coach in Michigan history.

Dane was not only a star on the basketball court but also on the gridiron. He was a standout quarterback and was encouraged to play multiple sports by his father.

“I always liked when the kids played football because they would learn to understand pain,” noted legendary coach Dan Fife, father of Dane Fife.

Soon, Dane would become one of the top basketball recruits in the nation. He was a McDonald’s All-American and Parade All-American player. Fife also was named the 1998 Michigan Mr. Basketball (the runner-up for this award was future NFL Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates).

For Fife, becoming a Hoosier was always meant to be.

“My desire to go to Indiana was instilled when I was 6 years old. I watched Indiana and Michigan, 1985 for the Big Ten title. Bill Frieder since my dad a VHS tape. It was the first VHS tape I’ve ever watched. And I just became fascinated with how the announcers were talking about Indiana – Bobby Knight, Indiana’s offense, defense. And I think Indiana lost by 25, but it was my destiny right there. It was just always a dream. Had Jud Heathcote set my dad the first tape of the 1985 Scott Skiles team, it might have been different. (I was) pretty trivial back then (at age 6), pretty superficial. And then the movie Hoosiers came along, which is further emphasizes, ‘this is where I belong,'” stated Fife.

Dane Fife’s Season with the Indiana Hoosiers

1998-1999 Indiana Basketball Season
Bob Knight (28th Season)
23-11 (9-7 Big Ten)
🥈 2nd Place Big Ten
🏅 NCAA Second Round
1999-2000 Indiana Basketball Season
Bob Knight (29th Season)
20-9 (10-6 Big Ten)
4th Place Big Ten
🏅 NCAA First Round
2000-2001 Indiana Basketball Season
Mike Davis (1st Season)
21-13 (10-6 Big Ten)
3rd Place Big Ten
🏅 NCAA First Round
2001-2002 Indiana Basketball Season
Mike Davis (2nd Season)
25-12 (11-5 Big Ten)
🏆 1st Place Big Ten
🥈NCAA Runner-Up

Dane Fife’s Statistics as an Indiana Hoosier

Year G GS Min FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P% FTM FTA FT% Off Def Reb A Stl BS TO Pts Avg
1998-1999 33 11 564 36 80 0.450 9 37 0.243 28 41 0.683 19 50 69 51 32 4 45 109 3.3
1999-2000 27 22 634 46 101 0.455 5 22 0.227 36 45 0.8 22 58 80 54 49 6 36 133 4.9
2000-2001 34 34 1117 55 147 0.374 19 62 0.306 44 70 0.629 20 76 96 109 46 6 69 173 5.1
2001-2002 37 37 1209 111 241 0.461 66 138 0.478 33 47 0.702 18 77 95 93 53 6 66 321 8.7
Career 131 104 3524 248 569 0.436 99 259 0.382 141 203 0.695 79 261 340 307 180 22 216 736 5.6

Dane Fife’s Indiana University Career

Fife stepped foot on campus in 1998 in coach Bobby Knight’s 28th season at the helm. He appeared in 33 games as a freshman, averaging 3.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. With Luke Recker and AJ Guyton each posting 16 points per night, Fife did not need to produce offensively but rather was relied on to be a complementary piece. As a result, Fife eased into his college career, only having 80 field goal attempts over the course of the entire season. Indiana finished 23-11 overall and second in the Big Ten (9-7 in conference play). Ultimately, the Hoosiers fell to St. John’s in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

004585.SP.0317.pep.2.RG ??Indiana coach Bobby Knight yells at Dane Fife during a bad first half against Pepperdine at the first round NCAA tournament game in Buffalo. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The 1999-2000 season would turn out to be coach Bobby Knight’s last full season with the Hoosiers. IU finished 20-9 (10-6 in conference) and lost to Pepperdine in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. For Fife, his numbers slightly improved. He ended the season, posting 4.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game. His free throw percentage jumped from 68.3% to 80%. Similarly, Fife’s overall field-goal percentage increased from 45.0% as a freshman to 45.5% as a sophomore, even as his attempts increased from 2.4 to 3.7 attempts per game.

As a junior, Fife continued to take on a larger role, averaging 5.1 points, 3.2 assists, and 2.8 rebounds per game. His field goal attempts, three-point attempts, and free throw attempts all increased.

As for the team, Bobby Knight began the season as coach but was fired in early September. Many players protested and said they would leave unless assistants John Treloar and Mike Davis took over. Indiana administration, therefore, offered both of them “co-coach” positions; however, Treloar declined. Mike Davis became the interim coach with Treloar serving as associate coach.

Fife was one of the players who considered transferring after Knight’s departure. In fact, Fife would later reveal that a transfer to Michigan State (a team with which he would later become an assistant coach) was closer than many realize.

“Oh, it was done. I mean it was done. It was done in my mind. I think coach Izzo definitely put the brakes on that a little bit, wanted me to think it through. I was 20 years old, but it was down. I think what kept me at Indiana was obviously the passion people have for the school and the program, but also my teammates. Loyalty to my school, loyalty to my teammates,” said Fife.

Under Davis, the Hoosiers would go on to finish the season 21-13. Indiana earned a #4 seed in the NCAA Tournament but lost to Kent State in the first round.

Source: Crimson Quarry

Fife posted his best career numbers as a senior, as IU had one of its best years in recent memory. During his final season as a Hoosier, Fife averaged 8.7 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. He also had career-best shooting numbers, making 46.1% from the field and 47.1% from three. Alongside Jared Jeffries and Tom Coverdale, Fife and the Hoosiers played well in the Big Ten, finishing 3rd in the conference, but really came alive in the postseason. After securing a #5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Indiana fought their way to the NCAA Title Game, taking down several quality opponents on their path including #1 seeded Duke and #3 seed Oklahoma. IU would ultimately fall to #1 Maryland 64-52 and finished the season with a 21-12 overall record. In the championship game, Fife was Indiana’s second-leading scorer with 11 points.

Years later, Fife reflected on his time in the cream and crimson, saying “We’ve got the stars (on the back of the shorts) for the five championships. I look at that and I see the candy stripes and I get a little emotional. There is a reason why I went there. There is a reason why that place still matters to me. There are a lot of people still there still involved with the administration and a lot of coaches that I knew. It’s a special place to me, no question.”

Fife’s Professional Career

Fife was drafted in the first round of the 2002 CBA Draft by the Gary Steelheads. He appeared in 34 games, starting in five of those contests, and averaged 3.4 points per game.

Fife’s Coaching Career

In 2003, Fife was hired as an assistant coach at Indiana University under his former coach, Mike Davis.

After two years on Indiana’s bench, Fife was hired as head coach of IPFW. When hired, Fife was only 25 years old, making him the youngest head coach in D1 basketball at the time. Fife took over the team just four years after the program had joined Division I. During these four seasons, the team only won 40 games total and finished 7-22 the year before hiring Fife. As a result, Fife had to shepherd the team through a trying time in the program’s history. Yet, despite the challenge posed, Fife tied or broke the team’s Division I wins record each of his six seasons with the Mastodons.

In 2011, Fife accepted an assistant coach position with Michigan State.

Prior to accepting the position, Fife had reportedly been offered several assistant coach positions, including ones with IU under Tom Crean, Purdue under Matt Painter, and Michigan under John Beilein, but ultimately turned them down.

With Michigan State, Fife is largely known for his defensive coaching. In 2011-2012 and 2015-2016, Fife helped Michigan State post the second best field goal defense in the nation. Fife Is often heralded for his scouting and recruiting talents. He has also mentored several Spartan stars, like Denzel Valentine, Cassius Winston, and Miles Bridges.

Source: theonlycolors.com

In 2014, Jeff Goodman and Jay Bilas of ESPN.com published an article listing Fife as one of the top head-coaching candidates in the country.

Fife was rumored to be in advanced talks to become the head coach at Duquesne in 2017 but eventually turned down the position. Similarly, in 2017, Fife was also reportedly a candidate for Indiana University’s head-coaching vacancy.

In April 2021, Fife was named as an assistant coach at Indiana under Mike Woodson.

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(Contributor: Mike Pudlow)