Some rambling postseason thoughts on a Monday morning …
So, we’re a few days removed from Indiana’s season-ending first round loss to Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament. Ho, hum. We all knew the Hoosiers were probably going to lose. Whatever hopes we had of an upset were minimal and fleeting. And so the season ends, and on we go, set for another offseason that will be far less angry, anxious, and uncertain than last season’s.
Comparing the two situations is almost funny. This time last year, we had just been destroyed by Arkansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Sure, Arkansas was a good team, and it was a tough draw, talent-wise, but by that point it almost didn’t matter. A once-promising season with a lineup stocked full of players was derailed entirely when Kelvin Sampson was fired for being a naughty boy. The team lost most of the rest of its games, limped into the NCAAs, and were promptly spanked. But it wasn’t the loss that was disconcerting. It’s what came before it, and what was still ahead.
Cue the offseason: a series of ugly incidents and confusing decisions punctuated by a brief moment of optimism. That moment was Tom Crean’s hire. It’s the hire IU should have made two years ago, when they instead chose a coach under investigation for having the cell phone tendencies of a 13-year-old meth addict. Crean was a steadier, calmer, more reasonable choice with just as good of a coaching record and a history of recruiting well in Indiana and Chicago. Why he wasn’t originally chosen to succeed Mike Davis is a mystery that still confounds to this day. (Then-IU president Adam Herbert’s insistence on a minority hire is likely the answer, but oh well. Spilled milk, and all that.)
Predictably, there will be no March Madness for Tom Crean and the Indiana Hoosiers.
Indiana (6-25) concluded the 2008-2009 campaign with a 66-51 loss to Penn State in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
The loss was the 10th straight for Indiana.
The result was never really in doubt as the Nittany Lions (22-10) opened the game with a 26-8 run and IU was never able to draw closer than nine the rest of the way.
“They’re a good team, ” Crean said. “Very well coached, as is the rest of this league. And I hope they get in the NCAA.”
Verdell Jones continued his late season breakout and was the only IU player in double figures with 23 points. Jones shot 7 of 11 from the field and hit 5 of 5 free throws.
“This season is definitely a learning experience,” Jones said. “But I think the most we got out of this season is if you work hard and listen to what the coaches say you can improve by leaps and bounds.”
Kyle Taber, Nick Williams and Daniel Moore added five points each. Taber, a former walk-on who played for four coaches at IU, reflected on his career after the loss.
“I’m sad to see it end, ” Taber said. “I mean, it was so much fun playing here at Indiana, and I was just glad to be a part of it for five years.”
Penn State advances to a quarterfinal game on Friday night at 9PM ET against Purdue. Jamelle Cornley led three Nittany Lion players in double figures with 22 points. Stanley Pringle added 16 points and David Jackson had 10.
Talor Battle, the Big Ten’s leading scorer with 17.3 points per game, was held to three points on just three shot attempts, but dished out six assists and had four steals.
Big Ten Tournament not so kind to Hoosiers: The loss against Penn State drops IU to 8-12 all-time in the Big Ten Tournament. IU is now 13-6 in games played at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Dumes misses finale: Junior guard Devan Dumes did not dress and missed his second straight game with an ankle injury. Dumes finished the season as IU’s leading scorer at 12.7 ppg.
Hutchens could very well be right; IU has played Penn State pretty good this year. And for as much as I’d like to see the Hoosiers win — though, the more Big Ten teams in, the merrier — and have a shot at Purdue in the next round, it’s OK if they don’t. I won’t feel that much disappointment.
Because the chapter on the worst season record-wise in IU’s history will be closed. For good. Forever. No longer will we have to rely on a bunch of guys working their tails of for little reward, we’ll have a bunch of guys with more talent working their tails off for wins and perhaps more. We’ll no longer have to lament this season, because the next time the Hoosiers take the floor, it will actually be here.
I will root for the Hoosiers today. I hope they win. If they don’t? Then let the countdown to Hoosier Hysteria begin.
Even though he first appeared in a game two weeks ago, I guess the memo finally crossed the right person’s desk at the World Wide Leader. The powers that be on ESPN’s “First Take” decided the time was right to do an interview on everybody’s favorite player-turned-manager, Michael Santa. Let’s go to the tape:
I’ve gotta be honest: The best thing about this clip doesn’t involve Michael Santa. It involves Tijan Jobe. Reliving the Jobe fadeaway in this clip is one thing every IU fan must do. Seriously. Just watch it. You’ll thank me later.