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
After an extended run of excellence that saw them reach heights not seen in the Tom Crean era, observers should have expected that the Hoosiers would encounter the pitfalls that beset many young teams. Experience them they did. After defeating Penn State in Indiana’s first game as a top-10 team since Kelvin Sampson was roaming the sideline, IU returned home for it’s next game against Minnesota – a squad that had yet to win a conference game. The crowd for that game included a student section that had last been in attendance for the Kentucky game and seemed ready for a contest with a little less gravity than the last one it had seen. Fans were ready to cheer and have a good time but seemed to expect a conference win, a commodity that had been all-too rare in recent years.
Instead, their first home game as a top-10 team since January 3rd of 2008 ended in disappointment, as the Golden Gophers bested IU. It was the beginning of a stretch nearly a month long that saw the Hoosiers drop four of their five games – including a blowout loss in Columbus and a disappointing fall in Lincoln to lowly Nebraska. The nadir came when Indiana dropped a double digit decision to the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor, giving them a 2-5 record from the time the students set foot back on campus to February 2nd.
IU had apparently lost the momentum it had worked so hard to build, still only had one conference road win to its name and faced an imminent showdown with in-state rival Purdue in Mackey Arena – a venue where Indiana hadn’t won since 2006.
Hoosier Nation was ready to hit the panic button
Jeremy Hood, an IUSC video editor recaps IU’s first – and only – home loss of the year to the unranked Minnesota Golden Gophers. For the first time that year, Indiana played without the urgency that had earned them wins over Kentucky and Ohio State, and pessimists wondered aloud if the Hoosiers had opened the door for another mid-season swoon.
Jimmy Cavanaugh questions Indiana’s ranking following consecutive losses – the first one a nail-biter to Minnesota, the second one a blowout against an Ohio State team seeking a measure of revenge following a shocking loss in Bloomington. He reflects the mindset of an IU fan base that had become accustomed to bracing itself for collapse, and delivers the stark assessment that IU simply wasn’t playing like a top-10 team.
Ben Baroff reports from what may have been the low point of last season. Not only did IU extend its losing skid to three games, but the Hoosiers failed to come up with what would have been a statement win on the road. Instead, the loss to Nebraska marked yet another B1G road loss for the Hoosiers under Tom Crean, and sent Hoosier Nation to the brink of a full-fledged panic.