We are 40 days from the 2018-2019 edition of Hoosier Hysteria, followed by the start of the season, which will bring with it the always present quest for banner #6 being brought to B-Town. Is this year that happens? While unlikely, I'm not one to ever say never because stranger things have happened. Odds makers have set the odds at 38 to 1 on it becoming a reality this year. So again, while unlikely to happen, it wouldn't be a total shock.
Due to my age I've been fortunate enough to enjoy three of Indiana's five National Championships. During that time I've experienced more years of having a realistic pre-season hope of adding another banner to the the five that already loom large hanging from the rafters on the north end of the arena. While it has in fact been awhile, 1987 to be exact, since the collection has been added to, these banners still put Indiana in elite company as far as the number of titles won. Looking back, it's easy to see that if an injury or two hadn't happened late in a season Indiana at minimum would more than likely have two additional banners hanging in "The Hall."
In 1975 Scott May's broken wrist almost assuredly negated what would have been coach Bob Knight's first NCAA Title. He still today claims it was the best team he's ever coached. Had that injury not occurred the Hoosiers would more than likely continued their undefeated season and been the National Champs. Which is exactly what they did the following year. In 1993, star forward Alan Henderson injured his knee in practice late in the year and while he continued to play, he was no where near 100%. After a 17-1 record in the Big10, including two wins against The Fab Five, and wrapping up a #1 seed in the tournament, Indiana fell to the Kansas Jayhawks in the regional finals. Obviously there is no way of knowing for sure, but just as in 1975, many feel as though without an injury to a key player Indiana would have added yet another banner to their collection.
2002 brought us Indiana's last trip to the Final Four. And while an injury isn't reason to believe the Hoosiers fell short in their quest for the elusive title #6, the firing of Robert Montgomery Knight very well may have been. He built that team. He had a knocked for assembling teams that every three or four years would be serious threats to win it all. Now obviously a lot goes into winning a National Championship, including luck, as well as the seedings, and the draw. Indiana wasn't expected to be in the championship game and know one will ever know if coach Knight would have been the difference between winning and losing, but deep down inside I am one that believes that had he still been roaming the sidelines that banner would have made the trek from Atlanta to Bloomington with the Hoosiers.
The 2012-2013 Indiana Hoosiers were the last Indiana team that realistically had the manpower to bring a sixth banner to B-Town. They were the pre-season #1 team in the nation, and they spent 10 weeks of the regular season ranked #1. They also spent all but two weeks ranked in the top five in the country. Jordan Hulls being less than 100% with a shoulder injury played a part in a dissapointing loss in the Sweet Sixteen to Syracuse. But in my opinion, coaching did as well, if not moreso.
It has been 32 years since the Hoosiers have brought a banner home to hang in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, which I believe is long enough. With that having been said, while I'm not sure this is the year that changes, I do think current coach Archie Miller is building the program just as coach Knight once did. One that competes every possession, offensively and defensively. One that has pride in wearing the Candy Stripes as well as the Indiana across their chest. One that is a mixture of four year players and the occasional one or two year "star" that is built to make deep runs in the NCAA Tournament and has realistic chances of winning it all. One that other teams will know they'll be in a fight with when they take the floor. One that young and old will be proud of and support. One that will help bring back the glory days of old IU.
I feel as though all things are falling into place and lining up for a new era of Indiana University basketball. A return to their rightful place among college basketball's elite. Young fans could soon be feeling what us old timers fondly remember from our youth. Indiana basketball is not only on the right track for all of this to happen, but it is also gaining steam. I couldn't be more excited about the upcoming season and the future of Indiana University basketball if I tried. Remember, sometimes the journey is more rewarding than the destination, so get on board now. I've personally loved a lot more in my 42 years as a fan that I've disliked, and now I'm ready to get started on widening that gap even more than it is already. The seeking of #6 started last year, an with coach Miller's drive, determination, and coaching ability, the quest may not take as long as some seem to think.