Tuesday night's loss to Ohio State doesn't define an otherwise remarkable season for the Indiana Hoosiers, and so it makes sense Tom Crean would have his team cut down the nets in a near-empty house in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde reports on the Indiana Hoosiers cutting down of the nets after winning the Big Ten title.
Normally, the sight wouldn't warrant a report and hardly turn any heads. Yet, this is a story whose context makes it one of the more memorable tales in a manic season.
No. 2 Indiana took on No. 14 Ohio State for the Hoosiers' Senior Night, so a win would guarantee a fantastic end for some hardworking seniors.
Instead, the Hoosiers dropped the game to the Buckeyes, 67-58, bringing a pall on an otherwise stirring season.
Instead of winning their first outright Big Ten title in 20 years, as noted by Forde, they now have to share it.
After dealing with the loss, seniors addressed the fans as they do at this same time each year. Eventually, Crean would address exhausted reporters.
But after midnight, the head coach made sure to remind his Hoosiers that it's important to put things in perspective. While looking onwards and upwards, it's important to look back and remember the good that was done.
So they cut down the nets.
That was Indiana's surreal, stubborn statement on the big picture of the season. The net-cutting followed a Big Ten championship trophy presentation, plus championship hats for the players.
It would be very easy for me to sit here and giggle at the team cutting down nets in the saddest and most humbling way possible.
Try as I might to find the snark in this tale, all I could find was a moment to applaud a head coach for congratulating his young men on an overall body of work.
Here is what the coach had to say.
This is the epitome of bittersweet. We're trying to celebrate what these guys have earned, and at the same time we didn't earn it tonight. …
There was no question we were going to [cut down the nets]. These guys have earned that. I have a responsibility to them. We're going to hang our own banner up there [in the rafters]. … They came in here and looked at those banners every day, and now they're going to get a chance to hang one.
The march into madness will begin shortly, and Indiana will be sure to feature prominently in the best tournament of the sports calendar.
Nets will be cut down and young men will shout with joy while others sulk in sorrow. Still, the most impressive net cutting had to be this Indiana event at the start of March.
When most weren't looking and the only attentive people in the building were the players set to take on the nation, Crean found one more moment to coach this team.
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