Friday, March 13, 2009

The grit lesson

IU men's basketball played with grit and determination this season, despite losing 25 of 31 games. We applauded and celebrated that grit even though it comes with a tablespoon of humility mixed with horror and anger.

The best part about getting knocked down is getting up – because we can get up. The U.S. basketball gold medal at last year’s Olympics was that much sweeter because we hadn’t won it since 2000. The U.S. returning in 1987 to win the America’s Cup after its first-ever loss four years earlier was that much more epic.

We’ve heard it all year. IU basketball will be back. And once we are “back” it will be all that much sweeter knowing how low we sank and the hardship we had to endure.

The IU players are better because of this season, as hard as it is to believe. Hoosier fans are better fans as well. Because we know how low a program can actually go, we can appreciate all the more the nine Final Fours and five national championships. We can better understand the sustained excellence coach Bob Knight brought to Bloomington.

We were lucky. We were spoiled. We won’t be spoiled again.

Note: Interesting piece about what Tom Crean said to his team after the Big Ten Tournament loss Thursday.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

An ending, mercifully

The IU men's basketball season ended with a thud Thursday. A 66-51 loss to Penn State.

Most fans thought the team would be down this year. Maybe the ESPN commentators were right today when they said during the broadcast that the end of the season couldn't come soon enough. They said sometimes it's time to put the ball away and go home.

Maybe they were right. The Hoosiers were out-manned and out-played all season.

Today's game resembled much of the Big Ten season. Despite fighting hard, the players couldn't get it done. Penn State was on the ropes. After nearly blowing the Hoosiers out early on, IU began to come back. The Hoosiers came back from being down 26-8 and with 6 minutes left and had the ball trailing 29-20. IU was on a 12-3 run, another bucket would have really put some pressure on Penn State with six minutes to go in the half.

Instead, an offensive foul was called. The ball went back to Penn State, who promptly scored a lay-up. IU never got within 10 points again. Season over. Six wins, 25 losses.

Throughout the second half, just like the entire season, ESPN's commentators filled time by saying the IU cavalry is on the way. That next year truly is coming.

As IU fans, we hope it does. Because we must never speak of the 2008-09 season again.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

WBC reading list

Here are a couple stories on the World Baseball Classic worth reading:
  • An story has more info on the atmosphere in Toronto and the pressure on the U.S. players in the 9th inning.
  • A story from the New York Times on how Mexico doesn't consider baseball much of a priority.
  • A column by the Chicago Tribune's Rick Morrissey on the U.S. and other countries' attitudes about the tournament.
The U.S. team plays Venezuela at 8 p.m. tonight. A win sends either team in the semi-final round in Miami.