The Hoosiers Are Wishing It Was December 27, 2009 All Over Again
Its Dec. 27, 2009.
The Hoosiers are working towards their final out-of-conference game the next day versus Bryant University, who hold an 0-12 record on the season.
Five days earlier, the team lost a stunner at home to Loyola Maryland, 72-67, despite a furious comeback in the waning minutes of the game. Their record is now 5-6.
However, despite that loss and the losses in Puerto Rico, the team has played exceptionally well, and even beat Pittsburgh in New York at Madison Square Garden, and stuck with fourth-ranked Kentucky for a good 25-30 minutes before inexperience and lack of poise at the free throw line let Kentucky take over.
Freshman guard Maurice Creek was the star of that game, scoring 31 points on some of the nations top players, shooting 9-14 from the field, including five three-pointers, and went 8-8 from the free throw line.
He was also leading the nation's freshman in scoring, and along with fellow freshman forward Christian Watford, sophomore guard Verdell Jones, and junior guard Jeremiah Rivers, the Hoosiers were brimming with confidence, and ready to take the Big Ten by storm and upset some teams.
Fast forward to now.
The Hoosiers are currently mired in an eight-game losing streak that shows no sign of ending.
There is blame to be all around, but mainly, this team just doesn't believe in themselves anymore.
In the game against Bryant University, Indiana wins convincingly, but loses Maurice Creek to a season ending knee injury.
Just a few days later, the rest of the Hoosiers step up as Indiana wins their first Big Ten game of the season, 71-65, over Michigan.
Since then, the squad has gone through many ups and downs.
There was the overtime win versus Minnesota and the road win at Penn State, IU's first road victory in 23 months. There was the two point loss at the buzzer at Illinois, and the three point loss at the end to Purdue.
Those were the days when it seemed like Indiana had turned the corner, and was on their way towards being in the middle of the pack this season, and maybe better in the future.
But then there have been the recent blowout losses. And the margin of defeat tells a whole new story.
15 (Iowa), 17 (Northwestern), 17 (Ohio St.), 28 (Wisconsin), 14 (Michigan St.), 23 (Minnesota).
Earlier in the season, the Hoosiers would have deficits, but they always had the scrappy fighting mentality that they just would not go away, and they kept playing hard and always found a way to score.
Now, that mentality is not being shown by the players wearing the cream and crimson on the court.
Indiana has not held a lead in their last five games, and have gotten off to horrific starts, constantly having to fight back from the first moments of the game.
Jeremiah Rivers has lost his mid-season form, refuses to drive the lane, and continues to take off balance shots, while on defense he hasn't been the lockdown defender everyone had expected him to be.
The Indiana frontcourt of Tom Pritchard, Bobby Capobianco, Christian Watford, and Derek Elston have been pushed around so much all season, that they have seemingly hit the wall, and excluding Watford, they have combined to score just 33 points in the last five games, all blowout losses.
Its certainly tough to watch this team now, when a loss is almost assured.
Unless the squad can dig deep down inside and find some motivation to play their hardest in their final three games this season, the season which has already proved to be too taxing on the players and fans alike, will become even worse.
I don't really believe in moral victories, but in a team that is in the situation of the Hoosiers, games like the losses to Kentucky, Illinois, and Purdue should have been considered victories to the team.
Most fans in the nation (except IU fans of course) never would have thought the Hoosiers could keep the games close before they began, but the Hoosiers hung tough and fought their way to a couple of close losses, as well as one that spiraled away from them after one of their best performances of the season at that point.
The Indiana Hoosiers must take a deep breath, close their eyes, and instead of thinking back to Dec. 27, 2009, they must look forward to Feb. 25, 2010, when they host the Wisconsin Badgers.
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