ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Seven Indiana players — Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Jordan Hulls, Remy Abell, Christian Watford, Will Sheehey and Jeremy Hollowell — met with the media following Indiana’s 72-71 over Michigan on Sunday at the Crisler Center.
Watch and listen to their postgame reaction in the embedded media players below:
Everything was assembled for Indiana to have the party of the year on Tuesday night. The Hoosiers were playing for sole possession of a Big Ten title — one they hadn’t won since 1993 — and against the very team they manhandled just weeks ago at Ohio State. Plus, they were prepared to honor their three seniors, a class of guys responsible for bringing the Indiana program back.
Indiana still honored those seniors after Tuesday night’s game, and the Hoosiers can still win a conference title outright by beating Michigan on Sunday. But the celebration was mostly ruined by Aaron Craft and the Buckeyes on Tuesday night.
Ohio State 67, Indiana 58. And suddenly, the Hoosiers aren’t a lock for a No. 1 seed any longer.
“This is the epitome of bittersweet tonight,” said Indiana coach Tom Crean. “We’re trying to celebrate what these guys have earned, and at the same time, we didn’t earn it tonight.”
Added senior forward Derek Elston: “It felt like too many mental errors were stacking on top of each other. When you dwell on one of those, you’re just not playing your game anymore. I think that’s what happened tonight.”
The Buckeyes are a very good defensive team, but they sometimes struggle because their lack of consistent scorers behind Fort Wayne native Deshaun Thomas. When they get other guys to score, though, they are capable of being one of the nation’s top 10 teams.
On Tuesday night, it wasn’t just Thomas (who finished with 18 points on 17 shots). Craft, Ohio State’s pesky point guard, played well offensively and very much dominated whoever was matched up against him. Craft had 16 points on an efficient 7-of-10 shooting, four rebounds, four assists and four steals.
“We wanted to keep the lane covered on Craft, and he made some tough shots,” Crean said. “Those are the same shots he didn’t make against us [before]. He’s so good because he’s really looking for two things. He’s looking for an open lane, and then if you converge, he’s looking to hit somebody.”
Shannon Scott and Sam Thompson also made solid offensive contributions, combining for 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
“There were some stretches there where we would play really good ‘D’ for the whole shot clock, and they’d get a bucket right at the end,” said senior guard Jordan Hulls. “Whether Craft hit one off the backboard or a pull-up jumper or whatever the case was, offensive rebound, we just didn’t play with that edge that we need to have.”
Through endless hard work, Jordan Hulls changed IU’s basketball culture
By Justin Albers
On paper, Jordan Hulls’ story seems pretty simple. Bloomington kid grows up dreaming of playing at Indiana University. Works hard, becomes Mr. Basketball, goes to Indiana, succeeds.
And while there’s some truth in that abbreviated version, Hulls’ path to the Hoosiers wasn’t nearly as smooth as it may appear from the outside.
He was under recruited, overlooked, ignored, and told on more occasions than he can count that he would never play Division-I basketball.
“I wasn’t really recruited by anybody,” Hulls said. “It’s just the way it was. I was just a little kid running around shooting 3s and stuff.”
Even when he did start to be recruited, Hulls never planned to go to Indiana just because he was a Bloomington kid. It was about the right fit, and under Kelvin Sampson, Indiana didn’t appear to be it. At the time, Hulls was a big Duke fan, and would have given anything to go play there.
“Everybody thought ‘well, he’s coming to IU, right? That’s just an automatic,’” Hulls father, J.C., said. “And no, not at all. He wasn’t really coming here.”