Image courtesy of IU Athletics
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.
Return to Form
Foreword by Jimmy Cavanaugh
Only three days after yet another disheartening road loss – this one at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines – an Indiana fan base that had spent the season celebrating a return to national prominence began questioning the merits of their basketball team. The Hoosiers had just fallen to 5-6 in B1G conference play, including a 1-5 road record (the only win coming against bottom-feeding Penn State) and were getting set to enter Mackey Arena – a building they hadn’t won a game in since Matt Painter took the reigns. As was covered in this space last week, IU fans were making a wholesale mad dash to the lifeboats. They had rooted the team on fervently all season long, but had been waiting for the other shoe to drop on what seemed to be a season that was too good to be true.
Indiana, though, didn’t panic – they answered the bell. Instead of folding as they had the previous two years, the Hoosiers won decisively, by a 78-61 final score – giving Tom Crean only his second career road victory and providing a springboard effect for the rest of the season. Counting their win over Purdue, IU won 7 of its final 8 regular season games, including a decisive drubbing of a Michigan State team that had so rudely welcomed the Hoosiers to conference play back in December.
The other shoe dropped in the middle of the season, but Indiana surprised everyone by bouncing back like a team that had been there before and putting itself in position for postseason play – and we’re not talking about the NIT – for the first time.
Jimmy Cavanaugh compares Tom Crean’s ‘signature win’ over Illinois in 2011 to Indiana’s win in 2012. In doing so he draws several comparisons between that team and the one finally managing to put wins together, completing its journey from a scrappy underdog to a legitimately imposing team.
Tricia Whitaker reports from Assembly Hall following Indiana’s win over Michigan State. Revisit the reaction from Coach Crean and his players after Indiana finished beating their third top-5 opponent in the regular season for the first time in school history.
Cavanaugh provides his take on IU’s win over the Spartans and looks at the road Indiana took to beating their third top-5 opponent, as opposed to their first two. Also noteworthy is Tom Crean’s statement after the game, “I believe this team has a lot of basketball left in it.”
Ben Baroff entered his final game at Assembly Hall hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. Indiana played well enough though not only to allay his fears, but to make a believer out of Ben for the first time since Kelvin Sampson.
Courtney Cronin puts her time covering the IU basketball team in perspective following covering her last home game as a student media member, and explains why it happening with this team was so special.