Indiana’s future met Indiana’s present and didn’t blink. This is good. This is encouraging.
So while the Hoosiers continue to freefall their way into the Big Ten basketball basement, recruits continue to feel the Cream ‘n Crimson love.
No, IU’s 72-61 loss to rival Purdue didn’t shake their resolve, and they got to see it up close and personal. They sat right behind the Hoosier bench Wednesday night. It just made them more determined to help get the program back to national relevance.
Who are they? Try Cody Zeller and Austin Etherington, who are signed and set to play next season, plus 2012 commitments Ron Patterson and Yogi Ferrell, plus 2012 recruit Jeremy Hollowell.
Patterson even tweeted Ferrell his thoughts on future IU-Purdue games.
“2012 will be our year, bro,” Patterson tweeted.
A cynic would worry about what might happen next year, but let’s not go there now. Instead, consider that the Hoosiers (12-16) once again put themselves in position to win late and once again found a way to lose.
Blame poor inside shooting (IU missed five straight 1-footers at one point) and erratic defense, especially in the first half.
“We played hard and we competed,” coach Tom Crean said, “but we weren’t as smart as they were. We made too many mistakes, especially in the first half, defensively. We couldn’t get over the hump. When we were missing close shots, they would come back and make something.”
IU trailed by as many as 13 points early in the second half, twice closed within three points, and couldn’t make the plays it needed to make down the stretch.
Yes, this has been a common theme in what almost certainly will be a third straight losing season. No wonder why Crean looked so drained.
“We had our chances,” he said. “We felt like we were going to come back, and we did. You look at the stat sheet and it’s a very even game except for the points off turnovers (18 for Purdue, seven for Indiana). There’s such a big difference there.”
Here’s what IU has left. It plays at No. 2 Ohio State on Sunday. It hosts No. 12 Wisconsin on March 3. It plays at Illinois, with a most unwelcome noon start, on March 5.
It is a most unwelcome finish. But then, that’s true of these last couple of weeks, and of these last couple of years. It will get better. Why? Because the future, as it sat and watched, is so promising.