Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hoosiers cut down net after loss in nearly empty gym

A frustrating and demoralizing loss — one that prevented the Indiana basketball team from winning a Big Ten championship outright for the first time in 20 years — didn't stop Hoosiers coach Tom Crean from bringing out the ladder and cutting down the net on Senior Night at Assembly Hall.

Hours after the 67-58 upset loss to Ohio State, and way past midnight, the Hoosiers players donned Big Ten championship hats (they are guaranteed co-champs) and went through the ritual of cutting down the nets in front of the nearly empty gym.

The surreal event — which I don't think anyone has ever seen before —came at about 12:43 a.m. and could be considered either a sad celebration or happy disappointment — depending on how you viewed it.  Still, it seems bizarre — and depressing.

One group who saw more Wayne than Bobby Knight in the awkward scene were the Ohio State fans who lit up the feed at Buckeye with snarky comments about clipping the nylon after a loss.

"Cut down the nets after a loss, now that's funny," said one.

"They are right now parading in downtown Bloomington," wrote another.

Coach Crean sounded like he just wanted to remind Indiana fans how far the program has come in the four years since he started coaching there — and reward the senior class of Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford and Derek Elston who stuck it out.

"This is the epitome of bittersweet," coach Tom Crean said, when his press conference finally got underway at roughly 1:40 a.m. "We're trying to celebrate what these guys have earned, and at the same time we didn't earn it tonight. …

"There was no question we were going to [cut down the nets]. These guys have earned that. I have a responsibility to them. We're going to hang our own banner up there [in the rafters]. … They came in here and looked at those banners every day, and now they're going to get a chance to hang one."

The silence after the loss was only cut by tearful speeches by the seniors until the clock struck midnight and most of the Hoosier faithful —including Isaiah "Zeke" Thomas and John "Hurts So Bad" Melencamp — headed out into the cold. The net cutting took place later underneath the five national championship banners as the players waved to the empty stands.

"You play in this league, you deserve to cut the nets down," said Crean. "There will be new nets up there tomorrow."

Hopefully, this net cutting after a loss thing doesn't catch on and become a trend. What's next? Fans storming the court before the tip-off.

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