Indiana holds Hoosier Hysteria
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP)
Amid all the smoke and music, Indiana put aside the excitement of a new basketball season to look back one more time at a year of achievement.
Indiana marked the unofficial beginning of the season Friday night by cheering a highlight video of its outright Big Ten title last season. Coach Tom Crean then unveiled a new Big Ten championship banner, commemorating the Hoosiers' 21st title overall.
Crean's first words to the crowd said it all.
''How's that banner look?'' said Crean, who then pivoted toward the south end of Assembly Hall where five national championship banners hang. ''We're working every day to make room for another over there. These banners, you don't buy them at Wal-Mart. You have to earn them. Everything that's ever happened at Indiana has been earned. We worked for five straight years to hang a banner. This is a hard-nosed, blue-collar program.''
At the latest installment of Hoosier Hysteria, Indiana's version of midnight madness, fans packed Assembly Hall's lower levels soon after the school opened the doors at 5 p.m.
Near the end of a 16-minute intrasquad scrimmage, freshman guard Stanford Robinson injured his right knee and had to be helped off the floor. Crean said it appears to be a bruise.
After losing four starters, this season has a totally new feel for the Hoosiers, who bring in eight freshmen and one transfer. Point guard Yogi Ferrell returns, but the team lost two NBA players in Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller and key senior contributors in Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford.
With Crean at the helm for his sixth season, the Hoosiers still must live up to the expectations of one of the country's most passionate fan bases.
''They've got people who will step up,'' said Mike Moore, a lifelong fan from Indianapolis. ''They lost a lot of really good talent. I think they've got a good staff and system in place. Will Sheehey can do more. Yogi can be great. I think they'll be really good.''
During player introductions, the crowd reserved its loudest cheers for Sheehey, a senior forward expected to shift from a sixth man role into a go-to scorer. Sheehey came out to Tom Petty's ''Last Dance with Mary Jane'' and tossed two white T-shirts into the stands.
Later in the light scrimmage, Sheehey accounted for nearly half of his team's points while playing with fifth-year senior Evan Gordon, who arrives from Arizona State and figures to join Sheehey in the starting lineup. Their Red team claimed a 40-28 victory over the White team led by Ferrell and Jeremy Hollowell.
Freshman Devin Davis held off Hanner Mosquera-Perea to win a competitive dunk contest. Davis received a perfect score of 50 on his final dunk, a soaring tomahawk on which Davis needed almost full extension of his right arm to reach the rim. Mosquera-Perea had perhaps the best jam - two dunks in one, actually - of the four-man field. On his second turn, Mosquera-Perea ran behind Ferrell, who tossed an underhand lob off the backboard which Mosquera-Perea caught and slammed with his right hand. Mosquera-Perea also dunked another ball that he had been carrying in his left.
Fans got their first glimpse on the Assembly Hall court of a star-studded recruiting class, headlined by Noah Vonleh, Luke Fischer and Troy Williams. None played in the scrimmage, however. Williams (right hand) and Fischer (left shoulder) are dealing with minor injuries. It was revealed after Hoosier Hysteria that Vonleh sustained an ankle injury in practice Wednesday. Vonleh still competed in the 3-point contest.
That shootout was won by Ferrell in a 17-13 decision over Kaila Hulls, the sister of Jordan.
The festivities began with a rousing ''Hoosier Nation'' chant, a dance routine by the team and a showing of the ''This is Indiana'' music video by former students Brice Fox and Daniel Weber.
The Hoosiers will play their first exhibition game Oct. 26 against Southern Indiana and open the season against Chicago State on Nov. 8.