INDIANAPOLIS—So it’s come to this.
Another Indiana Hoosiers basketball season has ended.
And no one really seems to care…or even notice.
That’s 11 games under .500, for those who need a little help with their math.
Coincidentally (or not so coincidentally), 11 games equals the longest losing streak of the year for these Hoosiers.
When your losing streak hits double-digits—and that’s arguably the most interesting thing about your entire season—well, let’s just say it’s safe to assume this isn’t a team for its fans to write home about.
Or for those with weak stomachs to watch play on a regular basis.
After the most recent defeat, one reporter started a question to Hoosiers coach Tom Crean with, “I know this has been a grind…” and that was as far as the questioner got.
“Ya think?” Crean interjected.
Yep, that about sums it up.
You bet—19 of them against Northwestern in Thursday’s first-round game.
“The first turnover from Tom Pritchard, he basically just puts it in his stomach and hands him the ball,” Crean lamented.
(Somehow, I don’t think that’s exactly how IU drew up their handoff play.)
Inability to finish?
Well, the Hoosiers led for basically the first 30 minutes before fading down the stretch.
The bottom line is that this basketball team hasn’t been very good all year. And shock of all shocks, they weren’t very good today.
Then again, I guess it’s all about how you look at things. The Hoosiers didn’t go 1-17 in the Big Ten like they did last year. So maybe to the “glass is nearly, almost, incredibly close to half full” folks, four league wins is progress?
Um, sure. That’s like saying Tiger Woods is “making progress” on his image.
The most indicting thing about Indiana Hoosiers basketball right now is that it doesn’t matter.
I stood outside the IU locker room today for what seemed like an eternity…simply trying to come up with a story angle as I watched the book close on the 2009-10 Hoosiers season. But there really isn’t one.
No NCAA bubble.
No standout players.
No signs of life.
And that’s the vibe that filled Conseco Fieldhouse on this dreary Thursday afternoon. When the final buzzer had mercifully sounded after another Hoosiers loss, the Indiana faithful filed out calmly…quietly…and…dare I say…resignedly? (If that’s not a word, fine. I just made it up.)
There was no booing. No cursing. No grumbling.
Just a bunch of fans wearing cream and crimson that know their program isn’t what it used to be.
Come to think of it, that would make a great reality show: “Oh, How The Mighty Have Fallen.”
Last Big Ten title? 2002
Last NCAA title? 1987
Last Bob Knight sighting? Far too long.
I’d tell the folks in Bloomington, “Hey, at least football season is coming."
But that just seems too cruel.
So instead, the state that loves basketball above all else will have seven or eight months to speculate if their coach is on the hot seat, debate whether the next recruiting class will finally be the one to drag the Hoosiers out of the Big Ten cellar, and dust off those fading banners at Assembly Hall.
Because up in the rafters, those once-proud symbols of what Indiana basketball USED to be…well…
Suffice it to say the banners won’t be having company anytime soon.
For more Bleacher Report coverage from the Big Ten Tournament, follow Tim on Twitter at @TimCary.