Indiana Hoosiers' Loss to Butler Should Help Propel Team to Greater Heights
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"Watford for the win...YES! YES! YES!"
It was a little over a year ago, on Dec. 10, 2011 to be exact, when Dan Shulman made this call just as Christian Watford's three-pointer swished through the net, producing an improbable 73-72 victory over then-No.1-ranked Kentucky.
IU gave the powerful Wildcats a dose of reality with that one-point victory. Now, the shoe is on the other foot.
The Hoosiers succumbed to the Butler Bulldogs 88-86 on Saturday at the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis. They lost in overtime on Butler sophomore Alex Barlow's short runner with 2.5 seconds remaining.
Perhaps this was a loss the Hoosiers needed to have—a loss that would give them much-needed perspective and time to work on some flaws. A great opportunity for Indiana to go back to the drawing board.
Notwithstanding the relatively easy schedule they have had, they still cannot rest on their laurels. Their toughest stretch will come in February when they square off against five nationally-ranked teams. So far, the only nationally-ranked opponent they have faced is North Carolina, which they beat soundly 83-59 on Nov. 27.
The Hoosiers have made it clear they want to capitalize on this opportunity. This was manifested by their 7-0 record in November, blowing out the opposition by an average margin of close to 32 points.
Credit must be given to the Bulldogs not just for stopping IU's win streak, but also for exposing some of the Hoosiers' flaws.
The Hoosiers fought toe-to-toe with Butler in the last two quarters but were outhustled in the first half. A key indicator was giving up 11 offensive boards to the Bulldogs during that span. For the entire game, Butler outrebounded Indiana 37-31, the first team to do so this season.
In an interview with Terry Hutchens of the Indianapolis Star, IU coach Tom Crean cited several factors for the loss:
"The bottom line was we didn't rebound the ball well enough today. Our communication defensively was good, but it was sporadic in crunch time. And that really has to get better."
Cody Zeller, the Hoosiers' prized sophomore forward, shared his coach's sentiment in an Associated Press interview with Michael Marot:
"There's a lot of things. We got outrebounded. There's a lot of little things we have to figure, but we'll get back to work and figure them out."
After losing to the Bulldogs, Indiana might be able to relate to the Kentucky Wildcats of last year. Despite that loss on Watford's buzzer-beating trifecta—their first of last season—the Wildcats eventually regrouped and won the national title.
Last Saturday, the Hoosiers lost on a last-second runner.
That was their first loss.
With this temporary setback, look for IU to get its act together and make it known to everybody it will be the team to be reckoned with when March Madness rolls around.
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