Indiana needed — and deserved — this win

  • 12/11/2011 3:12 pm in

It almost felt like it was supposed to happen this way.

The Hoosiers blew their 10-point lead and trailed No. 1 Kentucky 72-70 with only 5.6 seconds left. But some way, somehow, you just knew something magical was about to happen.

After everything Tom Crean and this program has been through over the last three-plus years, Indiana needed –- and probably deserved –- a win like this one.

“I hate to lose, but if I’m to lose, losing to Tommy’s [Crean] fine because of what he’s done here in four years,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “And having to do it the way he did it, where you’re undermanned and now you’re trying to fight everybody [saying] ‘why aren’t we winning?’

“For him to have this happen to him, for he and his family, I’m happy for him. They deserved to win the game.”

Even after Kentucky’s Doron Lamb missed one of two free throws, the Hoosiers needed so much to happen for them to win.

They had to avoid getting fouled when Kentucky had two to give. They had to get the ball down the court in a hurry and stay spread. They needed a Wildcat defender to forget about Christian Watford. And they needed Watford –- who played the best game of his career -– to hit the biggest shot of his life.

No foul, Verdell Jones rushed the ball down court, Darius Miller got sucked in, Watford splashed it.

Game over.

“It was like a dream, like slow motion,” Indiana athletic director Fred Glass said afterward. “In some ways, I couldn’t believe it, but in other ways, I couldn’t believe it would end any other way. It was kind of like it was a game of destiny.

“IU basketball is back. There couldn’t have been a bigger signature win.”

It’s hard to accurately describe what this means for the Hoosiers going forward. To be obvious, it’s huge.

Indiana beat the nation’s most talented team and one of its most hated rivals in front of a national television audience. Everybody saw firsthand that Crean hasn’t just been twiddling his thumbs and collecting a paycheck these last three years –- he’s been rebuilding a program.

Crean’s team played a team much bigger, stronger and more talented than it –- and won.

“He came to a job he knew was going to be tough, and it was even tougher than what he thought,” Glass said. “He never looked back, he never regretted his decision. All he did was almost single handedly bring back Indiana basketball.”

When the game began Saturday afternoon, Assembly Hall was as loud as any place I’ve ever been. I figured there was little chance the crowd could keep up the same energy throughout the game, especially during times when Kentucky went on runs.

But unbelievably, it got louder as the game went along. Only once could I hear the PA announcer say the name of the player who scored the last basket.

The fans believed Indiana could win the game. They started camping outside Assembly Hall on Tuesday, lined up in droves early Saturday morning, and filled the arena long before the opening tip.

They’ve been waiting for a moment like that for as long as Crean has, and they’ve been there every step of the way.

“Our fans deserve that,” Crean said. “They deserve to storm the court, they deserve to stand on chairs and tables and be excited.”

Added Glass: “The students have wanted to storm the court for a game that really matters, they’ve wanted to play with the big boys.”

The Hoosiers played with the biggest boys (have you seen Anthony Davis?) and won a game that matters more than anybody can describe. Not only did they upset the nation’s top team at the buzzer, they knocked off a club Crean called “the standard of college basketball”.

Crean and the Hoosiers beat a coach in Calipari who tries to win with one-and-done players. Crean, on the other hand, wants to build a program –- not an NBA preparatory academy.

Saturday’s win is proof that Crean’s way can win.

“It was particularly sweet that beating the No. 1 team in the country was beating Kentucky,” Glass said. “I heard Calipari quoted as saying that it was more important to him to get kids to the NBA than to put up banners. I think that’s really too bad. College basketball ought to be about building programs.

“The respective coaches (Crean and Calipari) are taking different approaches to coaching basketball. I think Tom’s doing it the right way.”

It was certainly a win –- and a shot –- that no one will soon forget. When people look back at Dec. 10, 2011, they’ll remember it as the day Indiana basketball officially came back.

Crean loves the phrase, “This is Indiana.”

After Saturday’s win, we have a much better idea what that really means.

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  • Anonymous

    I found it from a couple of friends who posted it on Facebook.

    In fairness to the guy, though, I read his comments and he is being decent about it (of course, maybe that means he just isn’t smart enough to pull down the video.)

  • Anonymous

    Dwane wade’s tweet following our game….. “woooooooooow what a shot. And the walk off by Coach Crean was Swag. #Indiana basketball is back ppl..”

  • Anonymous

    Dwane wade’s tweet following our game….. “woooooooooow what a shot. And the walk off by Coach Crean was Swag. #Indiana basketball is back ppl..”

  • MillaRed

    In terms of a national championship run this really is a big deal. These guys once again will turn over their roster in 2012 and try to get another rent-a-team together.

    Well, you saw their “all-American” on the bench whining like a 3rd grader. That is not the leadership I’m looking for out there in crunch time.

    The Kentucky situation, in my mind is a complete joke. How is it good for college basketball? I don’t get it.

    And by the way, to you future KY recruits, yes Calipari will be glad to get his face on TV when you are a lottery pick. Just keep in mind he will throw you under the bus when you lose a close game like he did vs. Indiana.

    I wouldn’t trade programs with these guys in a million years. No thanks.

  • MillaRed

    Mike Davis was a dufus. He really was.

  • MillaRed

    Mike Davis was a dufus. He really was.

  • MillaRed

    Oh man Marcus. This guy is totally my hero. Growing up in Evansville, I have met 1000 of these guys. He is 100% Kentuckian for sure.

    At least he gave Aladepo and Wafford some props in his assessment.

    The guys has a few issues with his lip, big words are somewhat challenging, and his internet bill is eating up a lot of his child support payments.

    But other than that I totally want to party with this guy. He is my boy.

  • IUBambi

    Does anyone know if BTN or any other network will be replaying the game this week?

  • Anonymous

    I have waited until now to comment.  Everyone has said all that can be said about this game.  Look, I am 24 and have grown up with Indiana basketball.  IU basketball is something my family does together.  I understand sports aren’t life or death.  However, IU basketball, in a sports sense is a big deal and this win means a lot to this fan base. 

    Tom Crean was right in his postgame remarks.  The coaches don’t need validation for what they are doing.  But the players did and the fans did.  This was validation.  We are doing the things right way and it’s working.  I have always been proud to be an IU basketball fan because of what this program represents and today is no different.  It just feels a whole lot better after a game like this. 

    This win doesn’t put us in the Sweet 16.  It doesn’t even put us in the tournament.  It does put us in great position to go into the Big Ten at 12-0.  Confident, ranked and ready to do what it takes to get back to the NCAA tourney.  I am looking forward to seeing these guys take the floor against Notre Dame.  They are fun to watch.  In short, thanks to the coaching staff, thanks to Tom Crean, thanks to the players, we will never forget this victory.  We know this was no fluke, we just have to prove it to the rest of the nation.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, that was very insightful analysis!

  • IUBambi

    I was so annoyed when I heard the announcer mis-pronounce his name. 1.) it’s not hard, and 2.) it just seems like a slap in the face as though IU isn’t worth the time to learn to say an easy name. ESPN also reported in their game recap that HULLS passed the ball to Watford for the final shot. Verdell is so painful to watch, at least give him credit when it’s due!

  • IUBambi

    I was so annoyed when I heard the announcer mis-pronounce his name. 1.) it’s not hard, and 2.) it just seems like a slap in the face as though IU isn’t worth the time to learn to say an easy name. ESPN also reported in their game recap that HULLS passed the ball to Watford for the final shot. Verdell is so painful to watch, at least give him credit when it’s due!

  • Anonymous

    Keep in mind that they are gangsters and not thugs….apparently two totally different things.

  • Anonymous

    I was watching that live, and went back a couple of times when it happened.  I think he actually stepped out with both feet.  Plus, the fans sitting right there were all pointing at it.  I thought that the refs did a decent job.  We take advantage of the fact that we have Hi def TVs that we can rewind and slow down.  This was a game played at a high pace and at a high level.  Sometimes you get the calls, and sometimes you don’t.

  • Anonymous

    We have family down there, and everytime I go to the L’ville area, I can’t believe the people.  I don’t know if it is because they are all descendants of dirty river people or what, but there is definitely something wrong with about 80% of them.  Kentucky is like another planet all on it’s own.  I guess when you inbreed the dumbest people on earth long enough, this is what you come up with.  🙂

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely- and the result didn’t influence that either. Even if IU had lost by 30 I still wouldn’t trade for that bunch of mercenary thugs. I think ‘we’ are superior to UK in every way, except perhaps, raw athletic ability.

  • INUnivHoosier

    It’s great for college basketball because Calipari gets them all in one place so they don’t poison other teams.

  • Indiana’s last second win over No. 1 Kentucky will re-air on Monday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN Classic and on the Big Ten Network as an Instant Classic.

    http://iuhoosiers.cstv.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/121111aaa.html

  • Indiana’s last second win over No. 1 Kentucky will re-air on Monday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN Classic and on the Big Ten Network as an Instant Classic.

    http://iuhoosiers.cstv.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/121111aaa.html

  • Anonymous

    My 5 year old calls Verdell “The Dow” Jones…(it was an honest mistake mixing CNN news with important announcing) he was serious at first..but we think it’s hilarious and the nickname stuck.

  • Anonymous

    Those are pretty supportive quotes from Calipari..Obviously some respect there between he and Crean. A coach could have said “IU played hard and got the win..but if my guards hadn’t gone brain dead in the last 5.6 second and fouled like I told them too..IU would never have gotten off a shot.” True that….there is a Santa after all and he visited the Hoosiers Sat night…well hell..they have been good boys this year!