24 Chapters
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Ncaa Tournament: Indiana VS. VCU, 3-17-12 (63-61)

The Herald-Times Indiana University Press ePub

Indiana Hoosiers forward Will Sheehey (10) celebrates the Hoosier win during the Indiana Virginia Commonwealth 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball third round game at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore., Saturday, March 17, 2012.

By Dustin Dopirak

Will Sheehey grabbed the ball on the left baseline after Victor Oladipo’s shot was blocked and flashed an involuntary smile, because he knew.

It mattered not that the sophomore swingman was in perhaps the biggest pressure situation of his basketball career, or that the shot he was about to take could be the one that either continued Indiana’s magical 2011-12 season with a dramatic late comeback or led to its eventual end. When he gets that look, that wide open, it goes in. Every time.

“Will’s mid-range is almost automatic,” Oladipo said. “When he shot it, I knew it was going in as soon as it left his hands.”

It did, and then on the other end, Virginia Commonwealth guard Rob Brandenberg’s 3-pointer for the win hit off the front of the rim — and after hanging above it for a perceived eternity — fell over the back end to give the No. 4 Hoosiers a breathtaking 63-61 NCAA Tournament victory over the No. 12 seed Rams, a berth in the Sweet 16 and a rematch with No. 1 Kentucky.

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Ncaa Tournament: Indiana VS. New Mexico State, 3-15-12 (79-66)

The Herald-Times Indiana University Press ePub

By Dustin Dopirak

Indiana got a chance to soak in the victory before it was even over. With New Mexico State having finally surrendered in the final half-minute, they dribbled out the shot clock with the sound of hundreds of Hoosiers fans chanting “I-U,” celebrating the fact that Indiana would keep dancing for at least two more days.

There were moments of sloppiness for the Hoosiers in their first NCAA Tournament game since 2008, but in the end they did what they had to do to win and win comfortably. Junior point guard Jordan Hulls got hot from beyond the arc for a game-high 22 points, the No. 4 seed Hoosiers kept No. 13 New Mexico State from dominating the paint and beat the Aggies 79-66 in front of 17,519 on Thursday at The Rose Garden to advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament. They will play No. 12 seed Virginia Commonwealth — which upset No. 5 seed Wichita State 62-59 earlier in the evening — on Saturday at 7:10 p.m.

It was their first tournament victory since March 17, 2007.

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Indiana AT N.C. State, 11-30-11 (86-75)

The Herald-Times Indiana University Press ePub

Indiana Hoosiers guard Victor Oladipo (4) gets his fourth foul attempting to block the shot of North Carolina State Wolfpack forward Richard Howell (1) as Indiana Hoosiers forward Cody Zeller (40) helps defend during the Indiana North Carolina State men’s basketball game in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011. Indiana won 86-75.

By Dustin Dopirak

For a brief moment once the buzzer sounded, Christian Watford allowed himself to celebrate like it was March.

He corralled a pass around midcourt, took a couple high and hard dribbles and then flung the ball high toward the overhead scoreboard as he bounded toward the Indiana bench and did a few flying leaps into his teammates.

After that, the Hoosiers toned down the exuberance for the handshake line with North Carolina State, reminding themselves that there were still a few hours left in November. But they were still bouncing as they hit the tunnel after beating the Wolfpack 86-75 in front of 16,597 at the RBC Center, though, because they knew exactly how big this win was.

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Indiana VS. Butler, 11-27-11 (75-59)

The Herald-Times Indiana University Press ePub

Indiana Hoosiers forward Christian Watford (2) is fouled by Butler Bulldogs forward Khyle Marshall (23) as he attempts to dunk the ball during the Indiana Butler men’s basketball game at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind., Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011.

By Dustin Dopirak

It is standard procedure to describe sixth men as catalysts, to speak of them providing sparks or injections of energy and scoring.

But as much as Indiana sophomore swingman and first man off the bench Will Sheehey sparked the Hoosiers on Sunday night, he also steadied them during what was unquestionably the most turbulent stretch of basketball the Hoosiers have played this year. In large part because of Sheehey, the Hoosiers never trailed during a slump of 10 minutes and 21 seconds without a field goal. He finished with a career-high 21 points, helping Indiana hold off a gritty Butler squad and run away with a 75-59 win in front of 17,265 at Assembly Hall on Sunday night.

The game served as the de facto championship game of the Hoosier Invitational, a round-robin event that included IU, Butler, Chattanooga, Savannah State and Gardner-Webb but did not have a tournament setup. Indiana (6-0) claimed a trophy for the victory, however, and Sheehey was named tournament MVP.

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Zeller Makes Most of Putting on Freshman 15

The Herald-Times Indiana University Press ePub

By Dustin Dopirak

Take 15 pounds and spread it over a 6-foot-11 body, and you’re only talking about a few ounces per inch. The difference between a 215-pound man and a 230-pound man of that height can be noticeable, but only if that man happens to wear tank tops as a standard practice.

When trying to explain the difference between where this Indiana team was expected to finish and where it is, that’s where the conversation starts. With the 15 pounds of muscle Cody Zeller put on his 6-11 frame from the time he arrived in Bloomington last May until the season started in November.

To say the freshman forward from Washington is the only reason the Hoosiers morphed from a 12-20 squad last season to the 27-8 team that’s currently preparing for its first Sweet 16 game since 2002 is to grossly undervalue the contributions of so many of his teammates, and for that matter, his coach.

But Zeller’s gains in weight and strength may have been the most important development of this season, simply because it made all the rest of the pieces fit. Going from 215 to 230 allowed Zeller to play center instead of power forward, where many expected him to play, which allowed the Hoosiers to put five scorers on the floor and allow everyone to play roles that made sense.

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