I sat 20 rows back at center Wednesday night and watched two teams slug it out for 36 minutes. It was #1 ranked Duke who was able to finally deliver a knockout punch in the final four minutes, but when they walked off of the floor they definitely respected the fight that Indiana had given them.
And yes, this was the same Indiana team that just 19 days earlier had gotten taken behind the wood shed by Indiana State. 19 days! No knock against ISU, but think about that for a minute. I was there for that one too, and Indiana was never really even in the game.
And yet Wednesday night they stood toe to toe with the most talented team in the nation top to bottom for basically 11 rounds, and they in fact probably should have won the game. If they make their free throws and hit just a few more of the open looks that they had, then this article takes on a whole new story line.
Yes, I’m fully aware that Duke had played nine games in 20 days, but I’m also fully aware of their talent, their depth and their having been in this situation before. But I’m also aware of not only the growth, but also the resolve of this Hoosier team.
I won’t bash any of the November 11th naysayers who were ready to throw in the towel on this season, and some of them on Coach Miller too, following that beat down by the Sycamores, because it was obvious then that they didn’t really know much about basketball.
I’m not sure how it relates as far as wins and losses for the rest of the season, but I do know that seeing this team make the strides they have in such a short amount of time tells me that we have the coach that is going to lead Indiana University Basketball right where it wants to go.
Wednesday nights crowd will become the norm once again in “The Hall.” I’ve been in there when it was much, much louder, but last night I think was the turning point for at least 17,222 people believing that THAT was what Indiana basketball looks like.
Tough, hard nosed, and resilient. They took a few body shots that staggered them in the first half, and they got knocked down early in the second half. But they not only got up, they got up swinging. And suddenly it was Duke doing the staggering, The Hoosiers just couldn’t land enough punches, or the big knockout blow.
This team, and this coach, in less than three weeks, sent the fans, and hopefully themselves, home last night knowing that they can play with anyone in the country. They have to learn how to finish those games and I think that if the past three weeks has shown us anything it’s that this team can learn, and learn quick.
I guess you could say I left Bloomington Wednesday night a little disappointed. But after the two hour drive home and using that time to replay the game in my head and really think, I was also very encouraged. Because the future of Indiana basketball is in VERY good hands my fellow Hoosier fans!