Indiana's win worthy of Crean celebration
Posted on: December 10, 2011 7:43 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 8:31 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Tom Crean can celebrate however he wants after this one. He could be yelling and screaming buck naked in the lobby of Assembly Hall and it would be fine with me (OK, I take that one back).
I mocked the Indiana coach last season after he went bananas in the lobby of Assembly Hall following a home victory over Illinois. However, Saturday's victory against top-ranked Kentucky? Well, that's worthy of a full-pledged party well into the night for Crean and the Hoosiers.
This may wind up becoming a defining moment for the Indiana program in the Crean Era - one that had some fans and many around the country questioning whether the Hoosiers would be nationally relevant again.
Kentucky was more talented at every single position on the court, but Indiana took control of the game in the second half, and after blowing a 10-point lead, got a 3-pointer at the buzzer from Christian Watford for the 73-72 upset.
The Hoosiers showed mental resolve.
This Hoosiers team has officially turned the corner. They hadn't really beaten anyone of note until now (Butler and N.C State don't quite count), but should make their way into the Top 25 for the first time since Kelvin Sampson was running things and making illegal phone calls in Bloomington.
It was nice to see Assembly Hall rocking again because the fans in Bloomington are rabid - and are deserving of success. Indiana doesn't blow you away, but now Crean has enough talent and experience to compete with the big boys.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves, however, and start proclaiming the Hoosiers as a clear-cut NCAA tournament team. The Hoosiers aren't going to challenge Ohio State for the Big Ten title. They remain undefeated, but still need to fare well in Big Ten play to ensure themselves of dancing come March.
Watford doesn't always show up, but it was Kentucky's Terrence Jones who played the role of the magician on Saturday, doing his best disappearing act with just four points and a lone rebound in the contest. Watford went for 20 points in the victory while freshman Cody Zeller, Will Sheehey, Victor Oladipo and Jordan Hulls all played well.
Crean has had a rough go thus far in his tenure, finishing near the bottom of the league each of his three seasons. Recruiting has certainly picked up in the past year or so and Cream got over one hurdle when he took down Butler's Brad Stevens last month. But this one was far more important.
Crean knocked off the No. 1 team in the land. The almighty John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats.
If that's not worthy of a party, I'm not sure what is.
Photo: US PRESSWIRE