College Basketball Road Trip: Takeaways from Hoosier country

For a college hoops nut, it's tough to beat Assembly Hall.

Drew Franklin

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana University opened up its doors and its wi-fi access for the Fox Sports College Basketball Road Trip on Wednesday night, the final game for the Hoosiers in Assembly Hall for the 2013-14 season. Also in town for the big game, those pesky Cornhuskers from Nebraska, the visiting team in the Big Ten showdown.

Nebraska entered the game as a bubble team with an NCAA tourney resume to improve, while Indiana is likely on its way to an NIT berth. But the Hoosiers needed a reason to smile as their disappointing season winds down. With a sub-500 record in the conference, Indiana hasn’t been the Indiana college basketball once knew. The Hoosiers have been uncharacteristically bad this year, and if you caught Wednesday night’s game, things aren’t looking up, either.


The Cornhuskers came in as underdogs but left as 70-60 victors. They also left Indiana fans brokenhearted yet again, a feeling that should rarely exist in Bloomington. While we somewhat expected IU to fall, we did learn a few things during our trip to the storied arena in “B-Town”…

After what felt like three long decades at IU, Will Sheehey played his final game in Assembly Hall.

It was a sad evening in Bloomington on Wednesday night as umpteenth-year senior Will Sheehey’s name was announced in Assembly Hall one last time. Several of Sheehey’s teammates from the 1992-2014 seasons were in attendance for his send-off, as well as the farewells to IU seniors Evan Gordon, Jeff Howard, and Taylor Wayer.

Sheehey is a first team All-How-Long-Have-They-Been-In-College selection in 2014 and runner-up to Ohio State’s Aaron Craft for the Draymond Green “He’s Still There?” Award.

Assembly Hall won’t be the same without him, because it was literally built around him.

On a related note, man, that kid can dunk.

This video is still a thing.

This video came out around 2011 and it still gets some run at halftime of games.

And now it’s stuck in my head and I’ll be singing it for the remainder of the trip.

The Hoosier fans love their basketball.

This isn’t exactly breaking news, but the fans of Indiana are some of the best in college basketball. Wednesday night’s contest against Nebraska had its share of empty seats in the upper level, yet Assembly Hall was still a great environment with passionate and enthusiastic fans of all ages who really got into the action.

It is one of the few venues in America where you’ll find a student with his shirt off and chest painted, screaming at the official to call the moving screen, sitting next to a 70-year-old woman in a crimson turtleneck, screaming at the official to call the moving screen. Everyone is dialed in, through the good and the bad. Wednesday night was bad, but that couldn’t keep the energy out of the building.


Fatheads are a big part of the atmosphere.

Opposing players have to face a wide array of celebrity faces while at the foul line. Among the many fatheads being waved around Wednesday night, I saw skateboarder Rob Dyrdek, Bono, Drake, Chunk from “The Goonies,” Bob Knight, “Ted,” Kanye West, Leonardo DiCaprio and Oprah Winfrey.

Matt, my co-pilot on this journey, posed for a picture with Oprah after the game.

Matt poses with the Oprah fathead in Assembly Hall

No one got hit by steel beam falling from the ceiling.

So that’s good.

Tom Crean likes to talk about how Indiana is back to national prominence.

Several times during the Senior Night ceremony, Crean referenced Indiana “being back to national prominence.” After hearing him say it, it’s clear the Hoosiers head coach and I have contrasting definitions of “national prominence.”

To me, 7-10 in the Big Ten and 17-13 overall isn’t prominent at all. It’s not even in the discussion. I would describe that as Indiana basketball “being back on the coaching search.”

Agree to disagree, I guess.

All in all, it was one of our better stops thus far.

As someone who covers the University of Kentucky for a living, being critical of Indiana basketball comes natural. It’s what I do 365.242 days of the year. But I will say Wednesday’s night game was a blast to attend and that has nothing to do with the outcome of the game.

Everyone was helpful from the moment we entered the door like lost puppies; the fans were great from start to finish; and as I mentioned above, Assembly Hall is one of the better venues in which to watch a college basketball game.

Up next: Cincinnati

The Fox Sports College Basketball Road Trip will be in Cincinnati for the Bearcats’ game against Memphis on Thursday night. We have officially been on the road for an entire week — although you’d think it was a month if you counted up all the McDonald’s cups and Skittles wrappers in the backseat — and somehow, someway, we’re still going strong.

However, laundry is becoming an issue and that’s an issue that needs to be resolved soon.