Hoosiers’ Return to Glory Led by Senior Class
By: Frank Therber
It started off with a 6-win season after NCAA violations shattered a once-heralded program to depths rarely seen in college athletics.
And four years later it ended with an 85-74 win over rival Purdue, capping off Indiana’s best season in five years.
For Indiana’s 2011-2012 basketball seniors, it was a journey filled with the lowest of lows and essentially no highs until this season.
“They had no one to teach them,” Crean said. “The thing to me is that when you’ve played at Indiana, the program has always been bigger. They remember the teams. In my recollection, the players were never people that were entitled. These guys have done that. They’ve earned their way in to a really, really strong tradition.”
It was a journey that saw constant curbstompings on the road, and often at home, at the hands of national powers. When the Hoosiers did keep up late in a game, they could never seem to figure out how to win in the waning minutes.
It seemed as if a return to the type of prominence to which Indiana is accustomed was further away than expected.
Aside from the arrival of heralded recruit and probable All-American Cody Zeller, there really was no reason to think this group’s final year would be any different.
And then with a stroke of a shot it happened.
The Hoosiers got the signature win they had been looking for ever since Kelvin Sampson placed his last improper phone call.
A last-second 3-pointer by Christian Watford brought the Hoosiers back from one of the direst situations in college basketball history.
A year ago around this time, Indiana picked up its first win against a ranked opponent in the Crean era. And just 12 short months later, Indiana downed three top-5 opponents in Assembly Hall, including archrival and No. 1 ranked Kentucky.
It truly has been a return to glory for the Hoosiers’ basketball program. Indiana has taken the state back with regards to recruiting basketball’s most prized state and “The Movement” seems to only be beginning.
“Like they were saying…they’ve been through a whole bunch,” junior guard Jordan Hulls said after the game. “Going from six wins to 24 wins right now, that’s a tribute to those guys sticking to it. All of the hard work is paying off and we’re reaping the benefits of that now.”
Look no further than Indiana’s win over Purdue Sunday as testament to how far this team has come. Despite a late run, Indiana routed Purdue in a way the Boilermakers routinely did to Crean’s squad in years prior. -
In a game that was not even as close as the final box (85-74) may have indicated, the Hoosiers did what they have done all year against the country and league’s most prominent big men. After Robbie Hummel picked up his fifth foul with just over a minute to go, the game was over. Formerly a weakness, Indiana used its depth to close out Purdue.
“It was a movement game,” Crean said after the game. “Our guys really read the game well. They responded to the call but at the same time, they made plays.”
As Crean alluded to during his senior night speech, this was a freshmen class back in 2008 that didn’t have mentoring from players who knew how to compete and close out games. There was no foundation on which to build, but rather a rigid surface for a new one.
For the first time in four years, Indiana will be playing in March with realistic hope of a deep run into the NCAA Tournament. That run will be led by the seniors who built IU from the ground up.
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