Image courtesy of IUSC Video
IUSClassic is a five-part series that extensively revisits the 2011-2012 IU Basketball season. Tunnel into the IUSportCom archives and unearth our chronicle of Indiana basketball’s most successful season in a decade. The series will run every Wednesday, beginning on October 3rd and concluding October 31st, the day before the Hoosiers’ exhibition opener.
Foreword by Jimmy Cavanaugh
As the 2011-2012 regular season wound to a close, Indiana found itself not only with a winning record, but a comfortable spot in the NCAA Tournament picture. At the year’s outset, that was hardly a foregone conclusion.
Even as the Hoosiers hit various milestones throughout the year – 12 wins to match the previous season; 16 wins to guarantee a winning record in the regular season; 20 wins for the first time under Tom Crean – Hoosier fans continued to fret about a tournament berth and tournament seeding. After all the obstacles of the past few years, it was impossible to see a path to the postseason without some phantom roadblock popping up to derail a fantastic season. The season rolled on though, and Indiana closed the regular season on a high note. A home win over top-5 Michigan State cemented their spot as a reasonably high seed.
The B1G tournament raised questions about just how ready Indiana was for the big stage – Verdell Jones III suffered a season-ending knee injury and the Hoosier defense was torched in a second-round loss to Wisconsin. Even after IU earned a #4 seed, they had their share of doubters in both their first round game against New Mexico State – in which they cruised to a double-digit victory – and VCU – which was considerably more difficult, but also incredibly rewarding.
That Indiana team fell in the round of sixteen to Kentucky – the eventual national champions – but did so in such a way as to cement its legacy as one of the more memorable teams to grace the Assembly Hall hardwood. The Hoosiers exceeded expectations at every turn and despite their underdog status, they were disappointed when they came up just short against the Wildcats – a monolith on the college basketball landscape.
Fans couldn’t have felt such disappointment for long. Their team had given everything it had and proven itself capable of restoring the luster to a long-tarnished program. Indiana basketball was back.
Enjoy the season folks.
After three years of struggle, Tom Crean and his Hoosiers finally made it to The Big Dance. Tricia Whitaker reports on the long road that Indiana followed back to the postseason.
Jimmy Cavanaugh tries to make sense of IU’s win over VCU and struggles to find perspective on the Hoosiers’ first trip to the Sweet Sixteen since 2002. In the process, he explains the perfectly complimentary contributions of each player and recaps how IU’s struggles prepared them for the moment.
Tricia reports on-site in Atlanta – the site of Indiana’s Sweet Sixteen rematch with Kentucky – on the how the Hoosiers prepared to play a game that was almost universally acknowledged as the best-played contest of the NCAA tournament.
Michael Felish brings the spotlight back to Bloomington to talk with students who remained in Indiana for the rematch with Kentucky, and captures the electric atmosphere around the IU campus in anticipation of the game.
Jimmy attempts to encapsulate Indiana’s season following a hard-fought loss to Kentucky – the eventual national champions – and draws a comparison between that team and the one that finished 6-25 in Crean’s first campaign in Bloomington. Finally, he ponders the difficulty of any season – even a national championship one – living up to 2011-2012.
Tricia returns with video taken directly from the Indiana locker room in the wake of its loss to the Wildcats. Experience the raw emotion of a team that had exceeded every expectation, yet still fell short of its ultimate goal – and in spite of that failure, will be remembered as a special group.