Something important happened in the Big Ten Tournament game against Minnesota last year. When Hoffarber hit that shot at the buzzer it meant something. It wasn’t as important as a mountain sculpted out of a mashed potatoes, but it meant something none-the-less.
A part of me went to sleep. It was the part of me that expects us to win basketball games and I didn’t realize it was asleep until sometime this weekend when it woke up.
I read a story recently, or maybe it was a blog post, I looked but I can’t seem to find it, about how the students on campus have been really supportive of the players. Telling them how much the appreciate their effort and that they know the team is working really hard. The article said that Nick Williams had gotten to the point where he hated hearing that. He appreciated the support but was so sick of losing, the ata-boys for the effort kind of stung after a while.
I have gone through this season feeling, not exactly good about our losses, but understanding of them and trying to see progress and improvement. It has left me feeling, for lack of a better word, grey. I don’t have the fire and passion for IU basketball this year. I haven’t missed a game, but going into pretty every game ready for a loss has definitely dampened my fire.
I’ve been sleepwalking through this season to protect myself from how bad this should hurt, and to keep myself from being disproportionally harsh on these guys.
I think I’ve done us all a disservice.
I’m done being OK with incremental progress and close losses. We should have won some of these games. We have lost five games by fewer than five points. I want half of those to be wins. It’s not OK that we lost all of them.
It’s not OK that we keep turning the ball over 15+ times a game.
Winning the rebounding battle in almost every game while losing 17 out of 18 games is not good enough.
I’m not giving up on these guys, or piling on. I’m expecting them to start playing like Hoosiers. I know it’s what Coach Crean expects of them. I know it’s what they expect of themselves. We aren’t helping them by expecting less from them.
I haven’t yelled at any of these guys half as much as I yelled at Todd Lindeman, Jordan Crawford or Robert Vaden and they’ve certainly earned a few “Damn it, Verdell!”‘s.
I had seats in the family section a few years ago at the Big Ten Tournament. I’m pretty sure this was 2001 as it was the year that Haston blocked that shot at the end of the Illinois game to put us in the finals. At one point Kyle Hornsby (my memory is fuzzy here, but I’m pretty sure it was Kyle) threw a bad pass for a turnover. I yelled something about it being a really dumb pass. Someone leaned over to me and said, “That’s his mom two rows in front of you.”
To which I replied, “I don’t care. She knows it was a dumb pass.”
That’s the kind of IU fan I am. I expect a certain level of play and when they aren’t giving it, I get annoyed and vocal.
“So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell,
‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!!'”
Demanding more of them will likely lead to greater upset when we do lose, but again, I don’t care. I can’t live this button down life anymore. I want it all. The terrifying lows, the dizzying highs, the creamy middles.
I already feel better. Just changing my mindset from passive fatalist back to Indiana fan has awakened that part of me that Hoffarber put to sleep last March.