Should IU ever be happy about squeaking things out against Northwestern? Probably not. Given that the Hoosiers are 12-2 in the conference and the Wildcats are 0-14 (!), a sloppy, grind-it-out win in Evanston is probably not something anyone at IU should be too happy about under normal circumstances.
But these are not normal circumstances. The past two weeks have been strange, ridiculous, odd, crazy, emotional — they’ve veered into apathy, to anger, to resignation. A group of young men lost their father figure. Their father blew his shot at one of the best jobs in college basketball. And an assistant coach that looks a lot like a high school gym teacher — in a good way! — took over despite the threat of a boycott by his All-American center. These are not normal circumstances.
Those circumstances will linger for a while. They’ll give things meaning that might not normally have them, like D.J.’s hug for Dan Dakich last night. Any other time, that’s a hug merely of exhaustion. Last night, it was the ultimate sign of solidarity, acceptance, and a willingness to soldier on. That undercurrent will be there for a while, but if last night proved anything, it’s that there’s life after Kelvin Sampson. Basketball players play; coaches coach. That’s all it is, really.
So last night’s win was a relief. It was pure: basketball as it should be. Ball on court. Defense on offense. It was a shoddy defensive effort, a sloppy offensive one, and an all-around ugly game portending defensive weaknesses for IU. And I’m not even mad at all, because basketball is back.
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Here are video highlights of IU’s 85-82 win over Northwestern, courtesy of the Big Ten Network:
Interim head coach Dan Dakich addressed the media following IU’s 85-82 win over Northwestern. We’ve got the audio for you below:
After an emotional week that ended with the resignation of Kelvin Sampson, Indiana pulled it together under interim coach Dan Dakich Saturday night in Evanston and beat Northwestern, 85-82.
Four Hoosiers (23-4, 12-2 Big Ten) were in double figures, led by Armon Bassett with 24 points.
Jordan Crawford scored 21 points, Eric Gordon had 18 and D.J. White chipped in 16 points and 11 rebounds.
“We said it was us against the world and that’s how we went out here and approached it,” White said. “Some of the guys were still down and I felt it was my duty to pick them up. I had to be that leader.”
Indiana out-rebounded Northwestern 35-18 and hit 30 of 37 free throws.
“It was a tough week, I’m glad we got the win and we’ll go from here,”Dakich said.
In a tribute to Sampson, Indiana players wrote the initials K.S. on their red Adidas shoes. Sampson’s son Kellen, remained with the team in his role as a graduate manager.
The Wildcats (7-18, 0-14) had a chance to win, but Michael Thompson missed a layup with five seconds remaining and White grabbed the rebound and was fouled. White then stepped to the line to give Indiana a three-point lead with two free throws.
Kevin Coble scored a career-high 37 points for Northwestern on 12 of 16 shooting in 39 minutes.
Date: Saturday, February 23, 2008 | 8:06 p.m. EST
Arena: Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,177) – Evanston, Illinois
Line: Indiana by 13
All-time series: Indiana leads 106-43
Previous meeting: Indiana won 75-63 on February 3 in Bloomington
TV: Big Ten Network (Wayne Larrivee and Shon Morris)
Radio: IU Radio Network (Don Fischer, Todd Leary and Joe Smith)
- Indiana (22-4, 11-2 Big Ten): Armon Bassett, Eric Gordon, Jamarcus Ellis, Lance Stemler, D.J. White
- Northwestern (7-17, 0-13 Big Ten): Michael Thompson, Sterling Williams, Craig Moore, Kevin Coble, Ivan Peljusic
Game Notes (Adobe Reader required to view):
As always, your predictions and analysis are welcome in the game thread.
The New York Daily News had a small piece on IU’s prized recruit from the 2008 class, Devin Ebanks, regarding his future at IU and his thoughts on Kelvin Sampson’s departure:
Devin Ebanks is “still committed” – for now. Ebanks, who’s finishing his post-grad year at the St. Thomas More School, heard about Sampson’s dismissal on television and also received a phone call from his mom.
“I’m disappointed,” he said.
The 6-8 swingman said he’ll decide whether to stay at Indiana or leave in “three weeks or so,” after the season. The school finishes the season in the National Prep Championship at Fordham on Mar. 4-6. “Trying to find another school … that’s not my focus,” Ebanks said. “I wouldn’t look forward to that.”
Call me overly optimistic, but I still think there’s a chance Ebanks comes to Bloomington. He chose Indiana over Rutgers and Miami and unless he decides to re-open his recruitment and start over, Indiana is still the best option of the three schools. Rick Greenspan said last night that he hopes the staff will continue to be in contact with IU’s four signed players in hopes of keeping them in the Hoosier family. After that, it’ll be up to the new coach to make the final sell.
The talks of a player boycott proved to be untrue as the entire Hoosier team is now en route to Evanston to take on Northwestern according to Doug Wilson of the H-T/Hoosier Scoop. As part of his deal to leave Indiana, many believe that Kelvin Sampson met with the team last night and encouraged them to finish out the season strong.
Now that the events of yesterday are behind us, let’s hope interim coach Dan Dakich can rally the troops and finish out the regular season strong. The Hoosiers have five games to go, including a game at Michigan State, and a Big Ten title is still within reach.