Collector’s note: I have always LOVED press/sideline passes. Often, they are categorized along with game tickets. However, passes are harder to find and not nearly as common, especially for basketball games.
Additionally, they are unique. Often, recipients of these types of passes would simply toss them in the trash after they were used, especially for basketball. Football passes are actually more common.
I have located IU press/sideline passes dating back to the 1910s for football, but only back to the 1940s for basketball. Basketball game passes are usually not as common, with pre-1960 passes becoming harder and harder to find.
Let’s get the most important fact of this story out of the way from the beginning: the incredible season of IU basketball in 1988-89 resulted in Indiana’s 17th overall Big Ten Championship, the 9th for Bob Knight as head coach.
The 1988-89 season would be the 17th season for Bob Knight at the helm in Bloomington. Two seasons prior, Indiana had won its 3rd NCAA title under Knight, and its 5th overall in the program’s history.
Expectations remained high in 1987-88, but the season became very much one of rebuilding. The Hoosiers would go 19-10 overall, including an upset loss in the NCAA Tournament to 13 seed Richmond.
With the duo of senior leaders Dean Garrett and Keith Smart graduating after the ’88 season, Indiana would be losing two of its top three scorers. However, as a freshman, Jay Edwards had averaged 15.6 ppg and showed major promise in Coach Knight’s system.
Still, there were major question marks entering the 88-89 season in Bloomington.
Would Joe Hillman, a major leader on the floor, return for a 5th year of eligibility? Would Jay Edwards be able to keep his off-court issues in-check (Edwards had a positive drug test before the season began and entered a treatment program to remain eligible)? What impacts could returning regulars Todd Jadlow and Lyndon Jones provide?
Due to the uncertainty of the season, combined with the roster losses from the previous season, no one realistically expected the Hoosiers to even finish in the top half of the conference standings by season’s end.
It was clear that a bumpy road was ahead as Indiana began the year 3-4, including blowout losses to Syracuse and Louisville. Knight had seen promise from the beginning of the season in freshman and Chicago native, Eric Anderson, and realized that he and senior Todd Jadlow together on the floor was the best option on the interior moving forward.
Adding in Hillman, Edwards, and Jones (Edwards’ high school teammate from Marion, Indiana), Knight put together the rotation that he felt would be the most successful moving forward.
Knight’s lineup tweaking proved to be a major success.
Indiana would go 7-0 for the remainder of the pre-conference season, finishing 10-4. Among the victories during that stretch was a 75-52 blowout victory over Kentucky, at Rupp Arena. This was the first victory for IU at Rupp Arena in 62 years.
Entering Big Ten play, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, and Ohio State were all ranked in the top 15 nationally. The verdict was still out on Indiana, but it was clear that the Hoosiers would face a very deep and talented group of Big Ten teams.
Indiana would face #15 Ohio State to kick off conference play at Assembly Hall. With a 75-65 victory behind 24 points from Jay Edwards, eye brows were raised. Following up with a 74-73 victory in West Lafayette against Purdue, the Hoosiers stood 2-0 in conference play, 12-4 overall.
The Hoosiers would actually jump to 6-0 in conference play, something that certainly quieted their critics from earlier in the year.
IU’s first conference blemish came at the hands of the #1 team in the country, Illinois, 75-65, in Champaign. Even without star guard Kendall Gill (broken foot), Illinois was able to take care of business and deal Indiana its first conference loss.
The loss to Illinois clearly rallied the Hoosiers moving forward as they would win their next eight conference games to improve to 14-1 in the conference. Two victories within that stretch stand out due to heroic shooting displays by Indiana guard, Jay Edwards.
A late jump shot at the buzzer helped Indiana prevail over Purdue, 64-62. In the very next game at home against #13 Michigan, Edwards was able to get off a long range three-pointer right at the sound of the buzzer to lead IU over the Wolverines 76-75. The celebration by Coach Bob Knight following the shot going in is always worth watching.
Illinois would return to Bloomington on March 5th. A victory over the Illini would clinch the out-right Big Ten title for the Hoosiers, something that many considered impossible at the beginning of the season.
Indiana would be ahead for most of the game, including a 12-point lead in the second half. However, Illinois would chip away at the IU lead to pull head 67-65 with under 20 seconds to go.
Jay Edwards had been IU’s go-to scorer all season, and after already pulling out heroics against Purdue and Michigan, he would be asked once again to be the Hoosier savior.
With the ball in his hands, with under ten seconds to go, Edwards would drive to the left baseline and convert a shot that to this day seems impossible — as he launched the ball over the top of backboard, while falling out of bounds, only to hit nothing but net.
Edwards’ heroics would be short-lived, however, as Illinois star Nick Anderson converted a deep three with two seconds to go to give Illinois the stunning victory, 70-67. The end of the game remains one of the most talked about to this day among the Hoosier faithful.
Indiana was finally able to clinch the outright Big Ten title on “Senior Day”, defeating Wisconsin, 75-64. A final conference game loss to Iowa would drop Indiana from the #1 seed line in the NCAA Tournament as Indiana would be a #2 seed in the West Region.
Although the Hoosiers were able to win their first two tournament games, Seton Hall would end Indiana’s season with a 78-65 defeat in the regional quarterfinals. Seton Hall would end up facing Michigan in the NCAA title game.
Jay Edwards, who averaged 20 ppg, would go on to earn 1st team All-American and All-Big Ten honors. In a decision that made many Hoosier fans cringe (and one that Edwards probably regretted), Edwards would forego his final two seasons in Bloomington and declare for the NBA Draft. Drafted in the 2nd Round, Edwards would go on to only play four games for the Los Angeles Clippers during his brief stint in the NBA.
The 1988-89 Hoosiers may not stand out as one of the better Indiana teams in history. However, given the bleak outlook at the beginning of the season, paired with one of the best coach efforts by Bob Knight while at Indiana, it’s important that this team not be forgotten.
To see more images of unique Hoosier artifacts like this one …
- Follow @IUArtifacts on Twitter
- Check out our IU Artifacts Online Museum — you’ll just need to activate your free membership to The Assembly Call first
And if you want to contact Chris, either to contribute items to his collection or to appraise items you’re holding on to, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.