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Culture Shock

Indiana's Season Fades into the Sunset

Sitting behind the microphone facing reporters after Indiana’s loss to Illinois in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, Tom Crean was asked the simple question.

“How would you define this season?”

Crean, seemingly knowing this kind of question would come, was quick to respond, “I wouldn’t…I hope we get to continue to play. It would be an honor to keep playing and I’d like to see us continuing to get better.”

Flip ahead three days and Indiana found out they will not have that chance. After failing to receive a bid to the secondary NIT, the Hoosiers turned down a chance to compete in the pay-to-play and still relatively new CBI, which ultimately has ended the season.

The expectations heading into the year were tempered, compared to the success of the program over the last two seasons. However, no one was predicting Indiana to miss the NCAA Tournament, let alone the NIT. It wasn’t until after barely beating LIU Brooklyn in November and not pulling out victories in their only non-conference tests in Connecticut, Syracuse, and Notre Dame did fans start to raise their eyebrows.

Some might argue that Indiana’s lack of strength in the out of conference portion of the schedule did them in. I contest that had they taken care of business at home against Northwestern and Penn State, they would’ve made the NIT. A 17-15 record just isn’t impressive, no matter who you have played. Had they got one more conference road win and at least one win in the Big Ten Tournament in addition to those first two games that I mentioned, I say they get to the NCAA Tournament.

But alas, the inconsistent play from this team caused none of that to happen, despite their wins over four top-25 teams at home.

It marks the end of the career for Will Sheehey, a young man who saw it all while in Bloomington. From only winning three games in the Big Ten his freshman year, to hitting a game-winning shot that sent IU to the Sweet 16 his sophomore year, and then being the senior leader for this disappointing season, he certainly will have quite the story to tell later on his life.

Going forward, no player can say they were here when Indiana was at its worst.

So now we’re left with more questions about the future of the program than we would’ve liked to have. When things were going well over the last two years and most fans were content with beating top teams on a consistent basis, winning a Big Ten title, and having two players be top-5 NBA draft picks, there didn’t seem to be much worry.

Now, the narrative has changed. Fans are getting restless, even after one bad season. With a team that had two McDonald’s All-Americans, including one who seems headed to the NBA in June in Noah Vonleh, four others ranked in the top 100 nationally in their respective recruiting classes, and two seniors who have scored over 1000 points in their college careers, the Hoosiers should have fared better this year.

We’ll see in the coming weeks how Crean responds to that question that he left unanswered. It should be acknowledged publicly that this year was a disappointment. During this off-season, much self-evaluating needs to take place, from the coaches and the players. Will any of the guys transfer out, which has been a detriment during this era of IU basketball? Will this year spur motivation to improve one’s skillset or cause an overwhelming sense of dejection? With the proud tradition of this program, and the still overwhelming amount of support from the fans, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be the former.

One thing is for sure; the headman isn’t going anywhere right now.

A bounce-back year in 2014-2015 is necessary, but the summer will be long until the balls get rolled out again in October.

As for right now, after Selection Sunday, over 100 teams in the country are preparing for tournament play. Indiana is nowhere to be found.

Who would have thought?


Follow Adam on Twitter @adamcohenIU, or email at


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