Question: Is Indiana Slowly Getting Over The Hump?
Indiana has long been considered a college basketball “blueblood,” one of the top six programs in the sport’s history. But over the past 15 years, its hold on that distinction has become increasingly tenuous. Since 1994, the Hoosiers have advanced past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament just once, during a surprising run as a #5 seed to the 2002 national championship game. That one shining moment aside, the last decade and a half has seen one disappointment after another :
- The faded glory of the latter Bobby Knight years, which, by the time of his controversial departure in 2000, were distinguished mostly by NCAA Tournament flameouts and an exodus of key transfers.
- The tumultuous tenure of Mike Davis, who, despite some early signs of turning things around, proved to be in over his head for a job with the pressure and expectations that Indiana brought.
- The initial promise of the Kelvin Sampson era which soon imploded in a recruiting scandal that was a humiliating blow for a program that had long prided itself on doing things the right way.
Which brings us to the Tom Crean era. It is difficult to overstate the depths to which the Sampson saga plunged the Indiana program. Crean inherited zero scholarship players in his first year at the helm. As a result, Indiana fans, though no stranger to high expectations, have given Crean a long leash as he has worked on a multi-year rebuilding project.
So far, Crean has done just about everything right off the court. He has embraced Indiana’s traditions and fan base, making them the centerpiece of his recruiting pitches. He has been a vocal and outgoing representative of the men’s basketball program and university. He and his family have immersed themselves in the campus community. He has built and rejuvenated in-state recruiting networks to take advantage of Indiana’s tremendous talent base. He has recruited high-character kids who represent the school well. For all these reasons, Crean remains popular with the fan base.