"No time outs for Indiana...Jones...Watford for the win...YES YES." - Don Fischer
On December 10, 2011, I experienced one of my greatest college memories. If you haven't figured it out by now, I am a HUGE basketball fan and an even bigger Indiana basketball fan. After three seasons of rebuilding after our previous coach left the program in ruins, my senior year marked a turning point for our program and our school.
Against #1 ranked Kentucky, our unranked boys held their own the entire game. When it came to the last play, with no timeouts left and UK looking to foul, Verdell Jones avoided contact with a UK player and made a last ditch pass to Christian Watford who threw up a three what would forever be known as "The Wat Shot." It went in.
All I can remember about that moment as I watched from the balcony of Assembly Hall was the moment of panic and anticipation as the ball arced towards the hoop. I'm certain I held my breath. The next thing I knew, Nick had grabbed me into a huge hug and everyone was cheering, the noise was deafening. People were high fiving and clapping, in a whirlwind we started to exit and saw that the students were storming the court. We rode the wave of excitement to downtown Bloomington along Kirkwood. I don't remember much after that because of all the excitement.
Indiana has one of the most storied basketball programs in the country with 5 national championship banners. They were also the last team in the country to have an undefeated season in 1976. Things changed when Coach Bobby Knight, "The General," was fired in 2000. Under two different coaches in the early 2000s, Indiana performed well but never reached the same acclaim as the teams coached by Branch McCracken or Bob Knight. When Kelvin Sampson was found guilty of committing recruiting violations and subsequently bought out of his contract, the program was left in ruins and taken over my current coach, Tom Crean. It was the beginning of a new era. The rebuilding began with just two inexperienced walk-ons left on the roster.
I share this bit of history to show just how monumental this event was in my college career. Between classes and exams, sorority functions and club meetings, nights out and days spent lounging around on the campus green, basketball was the glue that held my college experience together. Come game day, everyone was a Hoosier whether they were from the East Coast or West Coast, Greek or non-Greek, Indiana native or out-of-state, we all united around our sports teams - especially our basketball team. At the end of a long day of classes, I had a game to look forward to that I could watch with friends and just relax.
My first year at IU our team won only 6 games - a 6-25 record and the worst in school history. By my senior year, we progressed to 27-9 with a Sweet Sixteen appearance. This year we were 29-7, Big 10 Champions, and again made a Sweet Sixteen appearance. The best part? Indiana has been in the Top 15 in the country for fan attendance every single year since Assembly Hall opened in 1972.
Today is a little bittersweet for me. Three of my favorite players will enter the NBA draft. While I'm excited to see them progress to the next level, I'm also
sad that these players that have been so instrumental to the success and rebuilding of the program will be gone. They left big shoes to fill.
|Cody Zeller - Via|
Christian Watford - via
Victor Oladipo via
I still look back on these old videos and photos and can't help but get emotional. This win solidified that Indiana was back and I can't think of many college memories greater than this game. It may seem silly to some people to be this excited by something as simple as basketball. To them I can only say one thing - It's Indiana.