BLOOMINGTON – This part of the “Hysteria” wasn’t announced.
It was put between the typical introduction of this year’s Indiana men’s basketball players and the speech given by the head coach. It caught a few people by surprise in the crowd and on the floor-even the man who helped to put it up there six months before.
“I had not seen the banner and I hadn’t seen how it was going to be raised,” said Hoosiers’ head coach Tom Crean of the ceremony that came under the spotlights once the team was announced.
With the team’s typical introduction music playing a banner began to rise behind the basket on the end of the floor opposite of the national championship banners.
“Indiana University” was unfurled first, then “Big Ten”, and “Basketball Champions” and then “2013”. Crean watched it go up from the opposite end of the floor while the players stood underneath and watched it rise high above the arena.
“That was a moving moment,” said Crean of the banner raising-and it’s a rare one as well.
It marks just the second time that an Indiana team gets its own dedicated banner after winning just the Big Ten Conference championship. Typically the accomplishment is honored with a number under a banner specifically designated for conference titles which sits at the opposite end of the national championship banners at Assembly Hall.
Crean felt the team deserved a banner because of the massive rebuilding project which the Hoosiers underwent in the five years preceding the title. This honor has prescient in Indiana basketball history as the 1983 Hoosiers’ Big Ten title team got its own banner for just a Big Ten title at the order of head coach Bobby Knight, who wanted to honor the fans who inspired the team to a championship despite the loss of star Ted Kitchel.
The championship won in 2013 had that similar feel for Crean.
“When you come in here everyday like we have since April 2, 2008 and you look at those banners there is no question you want to be apart of raising one of your own, one of your own in the program,” said Crean. “It felt great and it felt great to be able to share it in a night like this when so many people that were here through all those days when it didn’t look like we would get a banner and they were here to help share in it too.
“I just wish that all the former players that have worked over the last five years could have been back to see it live but that was a really big deal.”
A few of them were, including current Hoosiers guard Yogi Ferrell, who had a major hand in the outright championship being forever remembered with a banner on Friday night.
“It was a very special moment,” said Ferrell of the banner raising. “It just shows how much work that the guys that left, even myself, just the whole team put in, keeping the reputation. It just shows that hard work pays off.”
With that ceremony putting a bow on the 2012-2013 season, the Hoosiers also took the evening to continue work on a team that is quite different from the title winner. Gone from the team are 55 of their 78 points from a season ago including NBA lottery picks Victory Oladipo and Cody Zeller.
There are eight freshman on the roster along with two transfer players, some of whom figure to see significant playing time. In the first few weeks this young squad has dealt with a number of injuries including to Troy Williams, who is sidelined with a hand injury. Even in the 16-minute scrimmage the Hoosiers had a health issue as guard Stanford Robinson left the game with a knee bruise.
“There’s gonna be some really hard days and there’s going to be some good days,” said Crean of trying to get the young team ready for the season which opens November 8th against Chicago State. “It is a young team.”
Now forced to be a leader in just his second season, Ferrell has some simple advice for the new players.
“Pay attention to detail,” said Ferrell. “I feel like college basketball, the transition is so much detail you have to pay attention to with the opponent or just ourselves.”
Just as they devoted their thoughts to the banner when it raised to the rafters, hoping they could do the same someday too.