Indiana men’s basketball’s loss to Miami in the second round of the NCAA Tournament was, uh, less than ideal. Between rebounds and sheer athleticism, there was a lot to dissect. That’s for another story, let’s talk about this season.
This was the best Indiana team in years. Led by second year head coach Mike Woodson and star Trayce Jackson-Davis, the Hoosiers gave the team and fanbase plenty of memories. 67 teams’ seasons end the way Indiana’s did, no reason not to cherish what was.
First, Jackson-Davis came back. He didn’t have to, could’ve rode off into the sunset and worked his way up in the NBA, but he did. He set new records, climbed the all-time lists and will leave Bloomington as a program legend.
He is, without so much as a shadow of a doubt, one of the greatest Indiana Hoosiers of all-time. Between his roof-raising dunks and his leadership, he was a centerpiece for both the fanbase and the team itself. He put faith in Woodson upon the latter’s hiring, and ended up as an AP First Team All-American as a result.
Notre Dame, a frequent participant in the NCAA Tournament during the 23-year tenure of coach Mike Brey, had a miserable go of it in his last season at the helm, finishing just 11-21 and failing to win a single game away from home. It was a sad send-off for Brey, who won more games than any other Fighting Irish coach.
Indiana State University is a long, long way from the glory days of Larry Bird, but the Sycamores are trending upward. They’ve won 23 of 35 games this season and Saturday notched their first postseason victory since 2001.
ISU defeated University of South Carolina Upstate in the College Basketball Invitational, which is two rungs down from the NCAA Tournament on the postseason ladder.
Butler University, conversely, has hit a low plateau in the storied history of its basketball program. With former coach Thad Matta back in the saddle, the Bulldogs mustered just 14 victories this season and placed ninth in the 11-team Big East. They have not been part of March Madness since 2018.
They were a near consensus favorite to win the Big Ten, but instead finished tied for second. They reached the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, but once again came up short.
And now they were unable to reach the second week of the NCAA Tournament.
But still, don’t call this season a failure. Under second year head coach Mike Woodson, it was a season of progress, stacked on the progress of his first season.
The Hoosiers delivered on the expectations early on. There was a road win at Xavier, a team now in the Sweet 16. There was a dominant win over a North Carolina team that certainly had talent if not cohesion. IU started 7-0, and they were ranked in the top-10.
James Wright’s 1959 poem “Autumn Begins in Martin’s Ferry, Ohio” is about high school football and the neighboring state Ohio, but some of the lines could easily be about IU basketball, with mothers “dying for love” and “proud fathers” whose sons “gallop terribly against each other’s bodies.” It’s the hope of a small town, placed heavily on very young shoulders.
On his way to winning Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Indiana point guard Jalen Hood-Schifino moved up NBA Draft boards throughout the season. He finished the year averaging 13.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists on 33.3 percent 3-point shooting. Hood-Schifino struggled at times with turnovers, averaging 2.8 per game, and he shot 9-for-46 from 3-point range across the final 14 games after making 6-of-9 3-point attempts on Jan. 28 against Ohio State.
In a 2023 NBA mock draft by Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman on March 8, Hood-Schifino came in at No. 14 overall to the Utah Jazz.
“Interest in Hood-Schifino had been growing for weeks, long before Saturday’s 35-point eruption in Indiana’s win over Purdue,” Wasserman wrote. “He’s taken on more scoring responsibility, which has highlighted an effective combination of 6’6″ positional size, pacing off the dribble and three-level shot-making. Though he isn’t the most explosive athlete, Hood-Schifino has showcased a convincing mix of creation feel by changing speeds, pull-up shooting and passing IQ for combo-guard offense.”
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