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.
Foreword by Jimmy Cavanaugh
They were a team atop the world, but still on a mission.
When The Wat Shot dropped through one of the nets at Assembly Hall, it probably served as the greatest sports moment that many in the building would ever see live – speaking as one who was in the building that night, I doubt that I’ll ever see anything top The Hall’s jubilant environment that night.
The players partook in the ensuing celebration (who can forget Verdell Jones climbing the scorer’s table?) and rightfully so. They all were giddy when speaking to the press after the game, and who could blame them? After knocking off the top-ranked team in the country, one could say that the IU men’s basketball team had earned a moment to breathe, take in the moment and relax. Even as Tom Crean acknowledged how special of a moment it was though, his words sounded like those of a man uneasy with the idea of overindulging in a win, no matter how glorious. As they had all season – and just as they would continue to do throughout the year – his players followed suit. Jordan Hulls made clear that while the win itself was huge, he and his teammates had their eyes set on bigger things.
“It’s a huge game but we have many big games coming up as well,” he said. “This is just another step in the process. We’re going to continue to get better and we have lots of room to improve.”
Those words from Hulls perfectly explain the stretch of games that was still to come for the young Hoosier team. Indiana put itself back on the map on December 10th against the Wildcats, but their play over the next few weeks vaulted them from a nice story – a novelty, really – to the national spotlight. Though the coming weeks, IU rose to numerous challenges, finished their non-conference schedule with an unbeaten record, and pulled off two more victories that many may have deemed unlikely to unthinkable at the beginning of the year.
Jordan Hulls was prophetic when he spoke about the win over Kentucky being part of the process. After the jump, IUSportCom revisits that process coming to fruition as IU continued to roll against some of the toughest teams on their schedule, including #2 Ohio State and #13 Michigan.
Drew LaMontagna covers Indiana’s very first game after their upset of Kentucky. The article captures the team’s play in a win over Notre Dame but – more importantly – covers how unlikely an undefeated non-conference schedule was at the beginning of the season. When he comes back and writes that an 0-3 wouldn’t be an unreasonable start to the B1G slate, focus snaps back to the modest expectations the fan base had of this team – and how far this team went to exceed them.
Tony Adragna, IUSC editor, sits down to talk with Randy McClure from Rush The Court. Their conversation begins with Indiana basketball and stays centered there. Theirs is a pleasant, leisurely conversation that centers on last winter’s college basketball landscape and IU’s newfound relevance as a part of that profile.
Jimmy Cavanaugh reflects on Indiana’s inaugural loss of the season to the Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing in the B1G opener. His writing is equal parts conciliatory, reminding fans how far the team had come, and cautiously mindful of how the team had faltered midway through each of the past two seasons. Cavanaugh’s writing elucidates the importance of the Hoosiers’ impending contest with Ohio State, and makes the win that much more impressive.
Tricia Whitaker of IUSC and Pacers.com recaps Indiana’s victory over Ohio State on New Year’s Eve. She puts IU’s 13-1 start in perspective as quotes from Tom Crean, Verdell Jones and Derek Elston underline key differences that Hoosier team had with some of its predecessors. To borrow from Verdell Jones, IU was tired of losing big to OSU and gave the #2 Buckeyes a ‘pumpkin head’ of their own.
Cavanaugh returns for a write-up on yet another Indiana win, this one over #13 Michigan. While Kentucky and Ohio State had huge feels to them, many felt that IU should be expected to win this game – another shift in the paradigm surrounding this team. Following the win over the Wolverines, Indiana found itself ranked in the Top 10 for the first time in the Crean era. Hoosier basketball was finally back.