I’m a very optimistic sports fan. For better or worse, it’s just how I am.
And throughout the past few years, the Indiana Hoosiers Men’s Basketball program has become one of my most beloved teams. So, naturally, I’m an optimistic IU hoops fan.
And even though I’m an optimistic Hoosiers fan, I recognize the problems that have arisen within this the current top-5 squad:
- “Cody Zeller isn’t playing at a high enough level!”
- “When Jordan Hulls is on the court, their defense isn’t good enough!”
- “Without Jordan Hulls on the floor, they don’t pose a threat from outside!”
- “Although Oladipo and Ferrell’s aggressiveness and tenacity clearly help the Hoosiers in many games, it’s bound to hurt them at times as well!”
- “Nobody has stepped up to back up Zeller!”
Those are just a handful of some things you’re hearing constantly around Hoosier Nation. Some partially true, some completely true.
And although Bloomington is undoubtedly filled with fans who will support their Hoosiers through thick and thin, we’ve obviously entered into a time in which a good portion of the team’s younger fans have either never seen them be a national powerhouse before, or the older fans haven’t reacquainted themselves to that reality quite yet.
Being a part of the student body that’s so fortunate to be at IU during this prosperous time for the basketball program, I hear it all. I’ve heard people plea for Jordan Hulls to be removed from the team, I’ve heard ‘em wish Tom Crean would be fired, and the list could go on and on and on …
But obviously, most of this season has gone well. So, much more often than not, I hear chatter on the other end of the spectrum: protecting Tom Crean against his at-times questionable strategy; ignoring Jordan Hulls’ defensive woes; or not getting bothered with Cody Zeller’s inability to finish after contact.
Again, I’ll remind you … I’m a very optimistic fan, so I get it. As long as my beloved Hoosiers win, I don’t want to worry too much about some of my concerns with the team.
But among all of the winning we’ve seen here in Bloomington since November, I’ve started to recognize fans being far too heavily invested in the wrong things. For example, I’ll take you through some of the things I saw and heard this past Sunday before, during, and after the Hoosiers’ win over the then-13th ranked Michigan State Spartans.
First of all, let’s touch on the “Gary Sucks!” chant that broke out twice very loudly at Assembly Hall during the MSU game.
For those of you that don’t know, Gary Harris was Indiana’s top target for the current freshman class, as he won the prestigious “Indiana Mr. Basketball” award over current IU point guard Yogi Ferrell (among others).
Even though it’s been noted that Harris’ mother was egging on the IU student section by holding up a picture of Gary in a taunting fashion, I’m still not a fan of the chant.
Chants like this are still a somewhat new phenomenon, and IU’s basketball program prides itself on holding everybody to the highest of standards set by their long, rich history. The chant did not exemplify any class that the alumni or fans of old like to see.
I am only a year or two ‘grown out’ of being an, at times, obnoxious sports fan. But if it were me picking the anti-Gary Harris chant, it would’ve been something far more clever than simply “Gary Sucks!” (Whether I’m clever enough to come up with a better chant … well that’s another story.) Oh, and not to mention, the kid dropped 21 points while being guarded by the Hoosiers’ best defenders … so give him some respect.
My fellow IU fans, I understand the chant. It’s not the worst thing that could’ve been said. Frankly, it’s not too uncommon for something like that to break out. But it makes the fan base sound like one that is not extremely educated and aware … and we all know Hoosier nation is educated and aware.
Obsessing Over the Rankings
The majority of fandom you see from the student body at IU is of the casual variety. They support the team, have a decent idea of what’s going on with the team, and sometimes around the rest of the sport … but it’s not dominated by the obsessive fans that you and I probably classify as.
I know it’s not fair to represent all of Hoosier Nation by the students, but in the media and on a national level, that’s what “IU’s fans” are depicted as. Outside of our close-knit #iubb circle, if you will, there are fans for all the other teams throughout the nation. So on a macro level, the student fans here in Bloomington determine how Hoosier Nation is thought of throughout the rest of the nation. And to be honest, the students are doing a great job boosting that reputation.
But like I’ve been saying there are some things I haven’t been too happy with.
Along with the chants at the recent MSU game, it’s the fans’ obsession over IU’s national ranking that bugs me the most.
I know it’s nice to be highly ranked, but it’s really the only one thing I hear debated consistently amongst the fans. After every week, everyone has their ranking predictions – which is fine – but it’s not what matters most. Fans seemed most happy with the MSU win because it’d get us back into the top 5 national rankings, not because it had us back in 1st place in the B1G standings.
So, Hoosiers fans, this is simply a reminder to remember what’s most important throughout the rest of the team’s B1G regular season schedule.
As we’ve learned from IU games, and games throughout the rest of the conference, it’s not going to be easy. And the Hoosiers are now entering the toughest part of their schedule. While we all know how talented the team is, and that they could win any given game, it’s unlikely they’ll win out.
So if and when the Hoosiers do drop their next game, and possibly the one after that, don’t get too worried about IU falling out of the top 5, getting less time on SportsCenter, and being heavily criticized on Twitter. It’ll happen no matter what.
Instead of letting those things get to you, look at the big picture. Take a look at what IU has to do going forward to win the B1G regular season title, focus on things like the team’s momentum from game-to-game and from week-to-week, and on-court improvements. Those are things you should be focusing on.
Doug Gottlieb the critics say what they want, let everybody over react to a tough loss once in a while, but don’t let it irk you too much.
Something I learned very quickly after joining Hoosier Nation a few years back was that the fans pride themselves on being classy, educated, and aware Let the banners remind you where we’ve been and what the ultimate goal is.
To put it simply, losses suck … but focus on the team’s recovery from said loss and how they bounce back going forward. The Butler loss didn’t determine anything and neither did the Wisconsin loss. And if there’s another one soon, it too will not determine anything.
Although it’ll hurt, just take a look at the banners and remind yourself what it’s all about.