[Editor’s note: This post was written by Jared Weyerbacher, a longtime listener of The Assembly Call. He requested the opportunity to share his thoughts on this year’s Hoosiers before the season started, and we happily agreed. If you would like to contribute a post to The Assembly Call blog, email Jerod: jerod [at] assemblycall [dot] com.]
Halloween weekend was a lot to wrap my head around.
Like I imagine most Hoosier faithful were, I was deeply disturbed by the events that took place in such a short time.
Eventually, I transitioned from shock and disbelief to anger and disappointment. I even went so far as to compose a diatribe about “what it really means to be a Hoosier” (that we, fortunately, decided to hold off on posting).
Still: while the long-term health and rehabilitation of Devin Davis is paramount, I can’t help but wonder where this year’s IU team goes from here.
Adversity is something that all teams must face at some point. While the circumstances are unique to each team, it is no mystery that the way in which that adversity is met is what separates the great teams from the mediocre ones.
Considering that 46 percent of the current roster has been involved in a drug- or alcohol-related incident in the last eight months, I consider this an adverse time for Hoosier Nation. This team now stands at a crossroads.
While many paths lay in front of them, it seems to me that there are really only two outcomes: they become a team that refocuses and elevates beyond all the off-court nonsense, or they become a team that crumbles under the weight of the distractions and issues.
Despite my head berating my heart, I cannot help but put my faith, even if it’s blind faith, in this Hoosiers team.
But why? Why should I trust this team? Why should I expect to see a sudden influx of maturity and leadership when both qualities have appeared sparse at best these last several months?
Faith in my team. Faith in my coach. Faith in my school. Faith in the program. I have to have faith that this team will develop the way that a Hoosier team should.
Maybe it is pure naïveté, but I do not believe that this recent series of negative events is some “tip of the iceberg” scenario, shining light on a foundational problem that exists at the core of the program. The reality is that this type of situation is not isolated to Indiana University basketball. In fact, there frequently are other programs that find themselves in the middle of much larger scandals.
College athletes, and college students as a whole, have a tendency to push the boundaries of their newfound freedoms. In other words, kids do some pretty stupid things sometimes. Here is where you can insert the “but these are not normal college kids, they are IU basketball players” argument. And yes, these young men have been given an amazing opportunity to have their education paid for and to play basketball for what I consider is the greatest basketball school in the country.
However, to expect that they will not be tempted by the allure of what the college lifestyle offers is just plain ridiculous. By no means am I condoning their behavior — and this recklessness must come to an abrupt end. But, I am merely stating that this is an issue that occurs at every university, and even though we set higher standards at Indiana, not even the Hoosiers are immune to these types of slip-ups.
I don’t presume to know what goes on in practice, or in the locker room, or in the dorm rooms of these young men. I have no insider knowledge to make character judgments about these kids — only so much can be gathered from game film and post-game interviews.
So, I rely on my faith in this team, and this program.
Maybe being suspended for a few games will send a message. Maybe the undisclosed punishments doled out by the coaching staff will set them straight. Maybe seeing their fallen comrade lying in a hospital bed will remind them that this opportunity can all be taken away in a flash.
Maybe my faith will be rewarded and these young men will show that they are learning what it truly means to be a Hoosier.
How about you? Are you keeping your faith in this year’s Hoosiers?