Why The 2011-12 Indiana Basketball Team Deserves A Banner In Assembly Hall

*****

This idea first hit me in the immediate aftermath of the Kentucky loss.

I ran it by a few longtime IU fans whose opinions I respect and who have a long-term perspective on the program, and I got the same response from all: Hmm…I’ll have to think about that.

That’s exactly how I felt, which confirmed to things: 1) the idea has at least some merit and is worthy of discussion; and 2) I should probably wait a few days and make sure I present it rationally rather than emotionally, as I might have done too soon after the Kentucky game.

Now, with Friday’s Sweet 16 loss well past 72 hours in the rearview, I’m ready to say that the the 2011-12 Indiana Hoosiers deserve a banner in Assembly Hall.

In this post, I will explain why I think this is the case as well as provide my counter arguments to the more than reasonable points that can and probably will be made in opposition of this idea.

Happiness versus Satisfaction

The best place to start is with Will Sheehey, who said something on Saturday that is 99.99% true. Here is Will in front of Cook Hall after the team returned from Atlanta:

 

Hat tip to @ChronicHoosier, one of the people whose opinion I initially sought on this topic, for posting the video over at Hoosier Chronicles.

Here are Will’s words verbatim:

“We’re not happy with the Sweet 16 and you fans shouldn’t be either. You should expect more from us than that, and that’s why you guys are the great fans that you are.”

It’s a tremendous statement. As a fan of IU, I’m extremely proud to see Will say something like this, especially in the midst of all the back slapping he’s surely getting from fans about how great this season was.

He’s right: more should be expected of Indiana than just making the Sweet 16. With the tradition of Indiana, the fan support, the hefty basketball budget, the talent already accumulated on the roster, and the incredibly fertile recruiting ground just within driving distance of campus, Indiana basketball should be one of the top programs in America on an annual basis. And after three very down years, which were preceded by a slow but steady deterioration of the program’s greatness even before that, it appears that the arrow is back pointing way up for Hoosier hoops again.

But there is one word in Sheehey’s statement that I would change: happy. I would change it to satisfied. “We’re not satisfied with the Sweet 16 and you fans shouldn’t be either.”

That, to me, is the perfect statement because there is an important distinction between happiness and satisfaction: happiness is based on context; satisfaction, on the other hand, is based on less elastic goals and objectives.

With the context of the three seasons preceding this one, it is inarguable that everyone associated with Indiana basketball should have been, and was, happy with what the Hoosiers accomplished this year. But because this is a program that has always measured success in championship banners – Indiana stands third all-time, tied with North Carolina behind UCLA and Kentucky – just getting back to the Sweet 16 is no cause for satisfaction.

I don’t want to take anything away from Will’s statement, and I am being strategically nit-picky for a reason. I love the sentiment he was expressing, and frankly I’m okay if he and the rest of the team are not happy with losing in the Sweet 16. But as fans, we unabashedly should be and are happy with how this season turned out, not just for the wins but for how they were achieved.

This leads me into why I believe this season was banner worthy.

Why The 2011-12 Season Deserves A Banner

Friday morning, hours before Indiana lost to Kentucky, I wrote a post entitled “Why This Season With This Team Simply Can’t End Yet”. That post was my best attempt to sum up what this season meant to me as a fan and why it had been so special. An excerpt:

I can’t shake the preemptive twinge of fear and sadness that this could be the final 40 minutes I get to spend with this particular team and with IU fans in our current frame of mind where nothing is taken for granted and every positive step forward is appreciated and enjoyed to the fullest extent possible. As we know, it won’t always be like that, certainly not collectively as it is now.

That is why, to me, I just don’t care that much about beating Kentucky. I don’t care that much about getting to the Elite 8 for the second time since 1993. Those would be really nice byproducts of a win, sure; but what I really want is just want another 48 hours of celebrating what this group of guys has accomplished this year and over the previous three years, followed by 40 more minutes of enjoying this TEAM playing basketball.

A win tonight would give us that.

Most sports teams are just teams. And most sports seasons are just seasons. This team, this season is different; and I don’t want it to be over.

I was truly proud of how many people commented on the post, tweeted me, or emailed to let me know how much those words and the overall sentiment of the post summed up their thoughts on this IU team. That reaction, plus other better posts I read on other sites, and the pride that was flowing through the #iubb hashtag on Twitter all day Friday and ever since, was truly remarkable. No one was satisfied with the loss Friday night, especially because so many of us truly believed we would win, but I have not seen one IU fan express anything but happiness and pride in what this group of Hoosiers did.

Happiness and pride, however, have never been reason enough to hang a banner in Assembly Hall. Many teams have made IU fans happy, proud, excited, and thousands of other positive emotions. What makes this season so different, different enough that it deserves a banner without having included a championship of any kind or a Final Four appearance, goes back to context…and the all-important how.

I grew up believing winning and competing at the highest levels of college basketball are birthrights of an IU fan. I still believe that. I also grew up believing that Indiana basketball was different: that how we won was as important as if we won; that success in the classroom, integrity on the recruiting trail, character off the court, and sportsmanship on it, were part of the fabric, along with winning, that made Indiana special.

But then Indiana basketball lost its way.

The patriarch of the program was dismissed ignominiously. Postseason wins and Big Ten championships became increasingly infrequent. We hired a known cheater. Some fans (me included, at times) rationalized the hire and other things that went because they might satisfy our insatiable desire to win again. Discipline in the classroom, character off the court, sportsmanship, and certainly integrity all suffered.

It all led to a bottoming out in the 2008-09 season. Indiana, one of the greatest programs in the history of college basketball, won six games.

But we now know that while that season may have been the nominal “bottoming out” in terms of record and result, it was really more of a cleansing, a rebirth, that set the stage for Indiana basketball to be redeemed, which it finally was this season.

As sweet as every one of the 27 wins were this season, what truly recaptured the hearts of IU fans was not just that the team was winning, but how it was winning. Don’t get me wrong, the wins were the catalyst and the carried the momentum of this 2011-12 program rejuvenation. Without the on-court success, this season becomes just another footnote in Indiana’s storied hoops history; but the pillars of integrity and toughness and discipline and class and camaraderie and perseverance that served as the foundation for this season’s success are what set this team apart. It’s what made this group special. It’s why we can legitimately say that Indiana basketball is “back”…because it is.

We are winning, and we are winning the right way. And frankly, to me, the latter is more important than the former.

Other than for a few years there when I lost my way a bit as a fan, I’ve never felt that ends justified the means in college athletics. To the contrary, the means should justify the ends. Professional sports are Machiavellian, all about winning and the “bottom line”; college sports should not be.

I grew up believing that college sports were different and about something more: seeing young people come of age and mature; seeing a team play with pride for its school as it coalesces into a whole greater than the sum of its parts; being part of a fan base that found joy not just in winning but the process of winning. That may sound cheesy, but I know I’m not alone, especially in this fan base, which is I’m so proud to call myself a Hoosier.

It is precisely because this year’s team reaffirmed the potential reality of these idyllic thoughts that this team captured our hearts and gave us such a special experience. That is why Indiana basketball is back. And that is why this season should not become a mere footnote in this program’s history; it should be a landmark, a signpost, a monument to what this program was, is again, and always should be.

And in Bloomington, we commemorate such seasons with banners.

Combating The Counter Arguments

I have spent an inordinate amount of time considering this over the last 72 hours. That has given me plenty of opportunity to argue with myself about whether I truly agree with this idea of the 2011-12 team being honored with a banner. I’ve tried to counter the idea in every way I can think of, and probably some ways you are thinking of right now, so I’ll let you in on that internal dialogue.

Counter #1: Banners are for championships.

This is not accurate. The picture below, in addition to showing IU Athletics Director Fred Glass celebrating jubilantly after Indiana beat Kentucky, shows that there is a banner commemorating Indiana’s Final Four appearances.

indiana-banners

I suppose you could argue that these Final Four teams were all regional “champions” in the NCAA Tournament, and you would be technically correct, but no one I know considers that a “championship”.

Don’t misunderstand me: I am not denigrating the Final Four teams. Each one of those teams accomplished something very special that is worth commemorating. I just want to show that there is reasonable precedent to counter any hardline “banners must be for championships” argument.

As important as tradition is to Indiana basketball, finding historical precedent is extremely important.

Counter #2: Single seasons should not be set apart on their own banner unless they are National Championship seasons.

Again, there is precedent to counter this.

As you know, hanging opposite the banners pictured above are Indiana’s five majestic National Championship banners. And you can see that the 1975 teams, deservedly, received a banner for its undefeated regular season and for being named national champs by the UPI. Now look to the right of the 1975 banner. You’ll see “The Fan’s Banner” that Bob Knight hung in honor of the 1983 season. In case you don’t know or forgot the story:

Before 2000, the only Big Ten title banner honored the 1983 team, which Knight ordered as a tribute to the fans, who he credited with inspiring the team to win its final three home games, over Purdue, Illinois, and Ohio State, to seal the conference title after losing Ted Kitchel to injury. While IU survived the loss of Kitchel in the regular season, in the Tournament, his absence was felt, and IU lost to Kentucky despite strong performances by Randy Wittman and Uwe Blab.

Yes, Bob Knight was the first to call for a banner that honored a non-National Champion team. He did so because that season, despite not ending with a national title, was such a great example of what made Indiana basketball special; and in the case of 1983, it was the fans. Similarly, IU fans were credited with helping the Hoosiers win a number of home games this year, most notably the program-turning win over Kentucky.

But a banner for the 2011-12 season would not be hung for the fans like the 1983 one was. The way I see it, if the most legendary of legends in Indiana basketball history can choose to honor the fans with an individual season banner, why can’t the fans – many years later but still so similar in spirit and commitment to those 1983 fans, as was proven this year – bestow upon a particular team the same honor?

The fans in 1983 helped the team overcome adversity. During the 2011-12 season, the fans helped the players, sure; but even more so I think the players also helped the fans overcome the adversity of the last three years to rekindle the joy and pride in Indiana basketball again. That seems like at least an equal accomplishment to what occurred in 1983.

Counter #3: Wouldn’t this constitute a lowering of standards for Indiana?

I have, in fact, already seen this general argument made to me on Twitter. People have asked if I should really be so happy and so proud with a team that won “just” 27 games and finished “just” 5th in the Big Ten and that made it to “just” the Sweet 16.

First off, I thank all of of these folks for holding IU basketball in such high regard…as they should. But here again we come back to happiness versus satisfaction.

Satisfaction for Indiana University basketball is national championships. Plain and simple. When you’ve won five, and only three other programs have won as many or more, you are well within reason to set the bar that high. And until Banner #6 gets hung, coaches, players, fans, and everyone else associated with the program will be striving for it.

Yet the fact is that it’s been 25 years since Banner #5 was hung. While I firmly believe Banner #6 is on its way, I don’t know if it will be next year, the year after, five years from now, or at all in my lifetime. I just don’t. Neither does any IU fan. And what the last four seasons of die-hard IU basketball fandom has taught me is that while I’m fine measuring satisfaction in National Championship banners, I’m not going to measure happiness that way anymore. And that’s what the other end of Assembly Hall is for.

Big Ten Championships are worth commemorating. Final Four appearances are worth commemorating. Undefeated regular seasons and the respect of national writers is worth commemorating. Specific Big Ten titles spurred by the greatest fans in sports are worth commemorating. Heck, apparently even NIT and even preseason NIT championships are worth commemorating, at least based on the banner standards currently in place:

assembly-hall-banners

I’m fine with all of these banners*. National Championships are really hard to win. That’s why they are so special. And there are mile markers along the way to getting there, sub-championships that must be won on the way to earning the ultimate championship, which is what these banners signify.

Each of the banners hung opposite The Five represents a significant basketball achievement on the way to a previous National Championship or to the next one, and each one brought fans of Indiana basketball particular happiness and a great experience even if that specific season didn’t ultimately satisfy the ultimate annual goal of the program.

* – Quick aside: Does anyone really think either preseason NIT championship was more significant than what this year’s team did? Answer for yourself. I ask just to show that when you look at the banners currently hung on that end of Assembly Hall, hanging one for this year’s team certainly would not dishonor the achievements honored there.

So no, I do not think that honoring this year’s team with a banner in any way constitutes a lowering of standards. Quite the contrary, I think it shows just high Indiana fans’ standards are for its program that even though ultimate success is defined by championships, a team that “only” won 27 games and made the Sweet 16 could be banner worthy because the way in which the success was achieved, and the context, is so important. That is why Indiana basketball is special after all, right?

Counter #4: Couldn’t such an honor make the team complacent?

I’ll refer you back to Will Sheehey’s comments above, which are a microcosm of how this entire team and its coach seem to feel. They weren’t satisfied just making the Sweet 16 and they aren’t satisfied with this season overall. The only piece of laundry that could change that would have to be hung on the opposite side of the arena.

And something tells me that even then the team, and Crean especially, would already be thinking about #7.

Counter #5: Tom Crean doesn’t have the stature yet to be hanging banners like Bob Knight did.

You’re absolutely right, but nowhere in this article have I said that the banner should come from Crean. It shouldn’t.

Which leads me into my final point:

This Banner Is Not For The Fans, It’s From The Fans

For some reason, a previous leader in the IU athletic department decided to take down “The Fans’ Banner” that Knight had hung after the 1983 season. I don’t remember the reasoning for why this happened, but it’s not particularly important.

What is important is that not long after he became Indiana’s coach, Tom Crean asked AD Fred Glass if “The Fans’ Banner” could be rehung. It was, with Crean saying to the fans on the day their banner made its triumphant return to Assembly Hall, “Now help us get another one.” Crean obviously was referring to a sixth banner on the other end of Assembly Hall, but that certainly does not preclude a different banner going up in the meantime.

And when you consider Crean’s respect for Indiana’s traditions, and certainly his respect for the fans, they are just two more pieces to the puzzle of why this particular Indiana season was such a special one for all involved.

So I ask this:

If Bob Knight could honor the importance of the fans by hanging a banner in our honor, and if our current coach could reaffirm that by rehanging the banner after it was inexplicably taken down, why can we not come together to hang a banner in a team’s honor?

This banner would not be hung based on previously set criteria, and it would not be hung at the behest of the coach. It would be hung because we, as fans of Indiana basketball, were so proud of the four-year journey that culminated with this special season.

What this entire program just went through should not end up as a footnote in IU basketball history. You can say it won’t, and certainly it will stay fresh in our minds for a while, but times change and memories fade.

You know what the teams did in 1940, 1953, 1976, 1981, and 1987. In once glance to the north end of Assembly Hall you can easily remember that the 2002 team was a Big Ten champion and Final Four participant, that the 1975 team was damn near as good as the 1976 team, and so on. But what about 1994? Or 1998? Or 1989? Or any other random year you could choose out of thin air that isn’t in some way commemorated on a banner? Yes, these seasons all have their own stories and characters and memories, but they are paragraphs or maybe pages in the story of Indiana basketball (except for the 1985 season of course, which famously has its own book). This season deserves more than that.

I’ve loved Indiana basketball more than any other sports team since I started going to games with my dad (and could remember them) in 1988. I’ve studied the history of the program, and I know it fairly well, even if I don’t have actual memories of any of the championship seasons. If I’m writing the book of Indiana basketball, this season alone gets not just a paragraph or page; it gets its own chapter, with a lengthy discussion at the start of the chapter about the last three seasons as well…because context really is everything. And the context of this season is about a program that lost its way then found it again, and the incredible ride the young men and their coach gave the program’s loyal and starving fans along the way.

Forgetting what made Indiana basketball special is part of what led to all of this mess in the first place. A banner for the 2011-12 season would not only honor the incredible accomplishments of the 2011-12 team, as well as tacitly thank every player who contributed over the three seasons prior, but it would serve as a virtual “Never Forget” sign – a perpetual reminder of what happens when a proud and successful program loses its way…and how hard it is to get back. This year’s team was able to do just that, both on and off the court, with toughness and class, with pride and humility, and through both individual growth and an evolving togetherness.

This year’s group of Indiana Hoosiers may not have a won a championship, but they won a lot of really big games in memorable ways, they won both our hearts and minds as fans, and most importantly they reclaimed the soul of Indiana basketball in the most redemptive season this program has ever experienced.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s more than worthy of a banner.

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I would sincerely love your thoughts on this topic, whether you agree with me or disagree with me. The comment section awaits.

And even though I say “we” a lot, and it might sound like I’m trying to speak on behalf of Indiana fans here, that is not my intention. I’m merely giving my thoughts on this topic, which I haven’t seen introduced elsewhere, and providing a place to discuss it. If enough people agree and think it’s an idea that has merit, then perhaps we can try to start our own little “movement” and take the idea to AD Glass or others who could actually do something about it.

If nothing else, this post gave me one more opportunity to relive this awesome season. So even if no one comments or no one agrees, I’ll definitely be happy I took the time to write it…even if I won’t be fully satisfied.

But as pointed out above, that’s quite alright with me.

Update: As a commenter pointed out below, this idea was also raised this morning on the Herald Times website, but the majority of the comments apparently oppose the idea. I don’t have an online subscription so I can’t confirm.

Update: I want to add one more point, which is really at the heart of why I believe it needs to be a banner:

I know from experience that banners start conversation at Assembly Hall. They start conversations between parents and kids, between freshmen and seniors, between visitors and season-ticket holders. And these are the conversations when traditions, ideals, and histories are passed from one generation of fans to the next.

One side of Assembly Hall will always be reserved for National Championship banners. That will never change. To me, the other end of Assembly Hall should be reserved for the non-NCAA Championship seasons that have the most lasting impact on Indiana basketball. Those seasons usually involve Big Ten titles or Final Fours, but not always.

In 10-15 years, when we’ve perhaps won 5-6 more Big Ten titles, made a few Final Fours, and possibly hung another National Championship banner, will people still talk about this season? I know I will. I think most people who experienced it will. I hope so. But even the most memorable seasons sometimes fade without a constant reminder of their importance. A banner keeps this season’s story, and the story of the last four years, alive forever…which I think they deserve.

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Comments

  1. CutterInChicago says

    The banner idea is also being floated on the Herald-Times (fka Herald-Telephone) website. Almost all the comments are against a banner

    • says

      You are correct! Hadn’t seen that (and I don’t have an online subscription so I can’t read it). Thanks for posting. I may have to sign up now just to read that and see the reaction!

      • CutterInChicago says

        An online subscription to the HT is almost a must-have for Btown ex-pats. It reminds me of “Doc Hollywood” when Michael J Fox has finally made it to Hollywood but calls the old Time & Temp line back in Grady, South Carolina… helps keep a perspective on things. 

    • says

      I agree with you on the 1992 NIT recognition by the way, as I said in the article. That team is still my favorite sports team of all time. And I like that they are represented up there, as well as on the Big Ten title banner. And that’s my point. I feel like the true importance of the banners is so that when new people come into the Hall, or when fathers and mothers bring their sons and daughters, they can explain to them the stories behind each banner. Obviously only title banners go on the one side, but why shouldn’t the most memorable teams/seasons be honored on the other one>

      That said, something like a placard or sign works for me too. It doesn’t HAVE to be a banner. My main fear is that 10-15 years from now, if we’ve won 6-7 Big Ten titles, made a few Final Fours, won another title etc., will people remember this season? I will. I sure hope people everyone will. But I think this season, and the three years before it, were special enough to deserve SOMETHING. I say make it a banner, but I’m open to anything that keeps this team’s memory alive in the Hall into perpetuity.

      • CutterInChicago says

        I hear where you are coming from and the fear that this team, this group of “Indiana Mighty Men” as CTC referred to them, would be forgotten by fans – whle possible – is probably unlikely.  Those fans who are passionate and knowledgable will never forget these guys. Again, the 1991-1992 and 1992-1993 teams were two of the finest teams to ever take to Branch McCracken Court.  I recall them fondly and suspect I am not alone. If you are a “fan” and forget this team, well, I suggest you are not really a fan.

        Perhaps the placard idea with “2011-2012 Indiana Mighty Men” or the simple “2011-2012 Men’s Basketball” across the balcony closest to the student section makes some sense. I like the latter idea, goes with the concept of no names across the backs of jerseys etc.

        • says

          I think I mentioned the 92-93 team about once every show, so I certainly never forget them! And I agree with you, the die-hards won’t. I’m concerned about the new students who flow in and out of campus, and future generations. I think “responsible” (for lack of a better term) IU fans will pass on what this team meant even without a championship to legitimize it. I just hope the majority will.

          Which leads me to this point…

          I could definitely get behind a placard, in part because it’s DIFFERENT. And frankly, maybe this team does deserve something different from a banner. I’m not opposed to that. As long as it’s something that honors and starts conversations, the goal is achieved. A placard, especially one that would be picked up on TV and conspicuous to fans in the arena, would be just fine with me.

  2. says

    I’d personally be against adding new banners aside from National Titles, but can’t they do some housekeeping? How about take down the stupid NIT one and put up a Sweet 16 one (in list form like the Big Ten championships one). That’s far more important and it would also make sure this season is noted without going overboard. 

    • says

      The postseason NIT banner is important, as the NIT was much more important then and the “value” of that championship was more. And frankly, anything that honors the 1992-93 team is tough for me to argue with. That’s my favorite single-season sports team of all-time, with this season second, mainly because I was actually in the arena for those games. That was a quintessential Indiana team.

  3. KoetterIU says

    Initially, I was against the idea. But this paragraph changed my mind.  I hope that you get the support to take this to Mr. Glass. And I hope when the day comes to hang the banner, these words are spoken: 
    “Forgetting what made Indiana basketball special is part of what led to all of this mess in the first place. A banner for the 2011-12 season would not only honor the incredible accomplishments of the 2011-12 team, as well as tacitly thank every player who contributed over the three seasons prior, but it would serve as a virtual “Never Forget” sign – a perpetual reminder of what happens when a proud and successful program loses its way…and how hard it is to get back. This year’s team was able to do just that, both on and off the court, with toughness and class, with pride and humility, and through both individual growth and an evolving togetherness.”
    Well written and well thought out.  I’m all for it. GO HOOSEIRS!

    • says

      Thanks for reading and commenting. And I’m glad you chose my favorite paragraph! That’s really the one that sums it up for me too. It’s not about disrespecting the other banners that are hung. I don’t think it will. But it’s an impetus for people to remember and retell the great story of this season, which shouldn’t be forgotten for numerous reasons.

  4. Brad says

    I thought the idea was crazy and then read your article and I totally agree.  This season was special and should be recognized.

    • says

      Thanks Brad. Frankly, I did too when I first thought of it! That’s why I waited. I think when people hear “banner” they think of the National Championship banners. And of course I’d never say anything National Title banners should hang on THAT wall. But the opposite end of the Hall is for honoring the most special seasons in IU history, the ones that should be talked about forever by people in the Hall. This should be one of those seasons.

  5. Mikey says

    I like the idea a lot. But, being a traditionalist, I agree more on the side of not hanging a banner.  I saw the comment about some kind of placard too, and that seems reasonable.

    Anyway, here is my question just to bring up the idea.

    What if “we” waited until next year. See what the team that originally called themselves “The Movement” does and then hang a banner. If it culminates in a National Championship, then I would say hang The Sixth and somehow connect a “fan’s banner” to that that commemorates the previous 2011-2012 season.

    Or, if there isn’t a national championship next year, then there is a banner alone that commemorates the 2011-2012 season.
          As a side note of hanging that banner, I believe that it should somehow make note of the        previous 3 years. Maybe “Indiana Basketball 2008-2012″ All those players from these last 3 years deserve credit for The Resurrection.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment Mikey.

      I think all of these ideas are awesome, and I’m not sure one is necessarily any better than the other. So long as something is done to honor this group, and that keeps people talking about them for decades to come, I’ll ultimately be happy.

      I will say though that I’m not in favor of it being tied to next year’s team. Part of what made this season so special is that it came the year before “the movement” and essentially rendered that term moot. Well, moot may be a strong word, but the suggestion that those guys would turn the program around proved false because so many of the guys who were around in ’08 were here to help push it back up near the top of the mountain this year. So I think this team, and really this four year group, should be honored independent of that.

      Having a “2008-12″ banner is not something I’ve considered, but I could get behind it if the 2011-12 season is specifically honored for its single-season achievements. Because as much as the banner is to honor the last four seasons, it’s only being discussed because this year’s team WON. But the banner itself includes all the guys from 2008, and inevitably leads to that story being discussed when the story of the banner is told…so it may end up just being redundant and over-complication things to make it any more than just for the 2011-12 team.

      Just typing out loud here. I love the ideas though Mikey. That was the goal: start the conversation and see where it goes.

      • Mikey says

        I see what you’re saying.  I have thought about it a little more and more and continue to sway myself to wanting a banner for this team.

        I agree with you on not tying this team to next year’s team. You put reasoning behind my thoughts.  I asked the question just for the sake of bringing up the point, but didn’t know what to say behind it.

        I think you make a good point about being redundant on the 2008-2012 idea.  But, we are thinking only of the guys that came in as freshmen in 2008 and are now graduating.  What about the guys that were older walk-ons? Or our select few that actually stayed with the program after everyone jumped ship?  didn’t we have only two returned from the 2007-2008 season?

        • says

          Something tells me that when Kyle Taber or Brett Finkelmeier or even Devan Dumes looks at that banner, they’ll know the part they played, just like I’m sure Dan Dakich looks at the ’87 banner and knows he helped, in his own way, lay the foundation for that team too. I do think there is a point where it’s overboard. Some people think the mere mention of a banner is overboard. I don’t think you can extract the importance of the WINNING done this year. Unfortunately, those guys before didn’t win. That’s what makes this season worthy of at least discussing something to commemorate it. But everyone who had a part in the last four years would take pride in it, I would think.

    • says

      You know, I thought about sending this article to him, but a very wise friend suggested to just put the thoughts out there and see if they gained traction organically. If so, the idea would get to him. And lo and behold, as I’m writing this post, the H-T is publishing their own! I take that as a good sign.

      I will say though that if this ever does happen, I think it would be most meaningful if it’s truly from the fans. If fans pay for the banner, ultimately decide what’s on it, etc. Logisitics would have to be worked out, of course, but that to me is what would make this truly special: it’s not the university honoring itself for a title; it’s fans honoring a special group of student-athletes and coaches for such a memorable season.

      • says

        Were we the most improved team nationally this year?  Hard to imagine a team who went from worse than us to better than us.  A banner reading “Indiana University Men’s Basketball Team 2011-12, Most Improved Team In The Nation”

        It hardly begins to describe this season, but I feel like we would need to quantify it via an accomplishment.

  6. Frank says

    Certainly an interesting discussion topic and an absolutely well-written piece about what this season meant, and will continue to mean, to Hoosier fans. However, ultimately, I’m opposed to putting up a banner that didn’t result in any hardware – save for some individual honors and accolades. 

    And the argument where you cite the Final Four banners as somehow analogous to this season is misguided. IU has been to the Final Four eight times. We’ve been to the Sweet Sixteen, ironically, 16 times. Seems to me that it’s twice as hard to get to the Final Four than the Sweet Sixteen, and more deserving of a banner.This season was the stuff of legend. And legends are best told from mouth to mouth, fan to fan. Each putting their own special spin on a truly remarkable year. We don’t need a banner to commemorate this season. We have the program back on solid ground and years of winning ahead of us, and that should be enough.A better decoration for the Hall would be a blank banner in the locker room, reminding the candy-striped that it’s their job to fill it.

    • says

      Thanks for the visit and comment Frank, and for the kind words on the piece. I really appreciate it.

      As for the Final Four point, maybe I didn’t make it right. I don’t mean it to say that a Sweet 16 is equal to the Final Four, only that a Final Four isn’t a championship of any kind (other than a Regional championship). I was merely pointing it for the purposes of precedent, which I know are and should be important to IU fans.

      And as for your last point, I HOPE you are right. I hope this season and the story of the last four years gets passed on from IU fan to IU fan, because it’s what may prevent us from ever so fully compromising what we all believe IU hoops should be about as we did before. I wonder if that will really happen though, 10-15-20 years down the line and beyond. People will always talk about the 1975 team – as they should – because that banner hangs. Same with 1983. In different ways, I think this team and this season was just as significant, title or not, because of what it represented and rekindled.

      So I hope you’re right on that. But even beyond that, I think this group deserves it, though certainly reasonable minds can disagree.

      As for the blank banner, I’m all about it!

      • Frank says

        Please forgive the misinterpretation of your Final Four point. Although, I’m not sure the clarification sways me to the pro-banner contingent. 

        That said, reasonable Hoosiers (redundant?) can always disagree and often do. Are we the greatest, or the greatest ever? Debate ensues.

        Anyways, it’s my first time to the site. Glad I found it. I’ll be a return customer.

        Keep up the good work!

  7. Rob says

    I’ve read the points and counterpoints.

    As a long time IU fan and alumni, I respect your opinion, but I strongly disagree with this idea. As the afterglow from this season fades away, I think most who like this idea will realize that a banner for this season is just silly. Give them a nice write-up in a display in Cook Hall.

  8. AJ_IU_ColtsFan says

    This was a very good article. It was well thought out as well as passionate. Jerod Morris here deserves praise for the work he put into it.

    Unfortunately, I must argue that, despite his enthusiasm, he’s still wrong in the end. There should not be a banner hung for this year. 

    Why? For this reason (originally posted at The Crimson Quarry blog, but with some edits):

    You hang banners for accomplishment above and beyond the norm. The norm I’m speaking of is your school’s historical baseline, as well as comparison to other peer universities performances. Reaching a Final Four isn’t a yearly norm even for an exceptionally accomplished program like Duke; that’s why a banner is justifiable in that case. Re-ascending the norm, while an accomplishment worthy of praise, is unfortunately not banner worthy, no matter how good it makes people feel. IU accomplished a lot compared to the past decade, but making a 16 appearance used to be the expected minimum for an IU basketball season. You can actually make the argument that this season fell short of IU’s natural standard because they weren’t in contention for the regular season conference title (it would be a bit churlish to do so, given the hideous depths the program has suffered recently, but it can be made).

    The program’s accomplishment this year has been to rediscover the natural IU median. That’s significant, given the insults and disgraces suffered at the hands of previous coaches, but it’s not a transcending season going beyond the standard. It merely went beyond the median for the past decade, which unfortunately was a low point to begin with. It’s the starting point. And people don’t get medals for starting the marathons; they get them for finishing them.

    Furthermore, hanging a banner for this season is excessive. A damn nice display with a plaque and memorable pictures in Cook or even the lobby of Assembly Hall is justifiable. A banner is not. Proper respect is the best kind of respect to give, and excessive ornamentation does nothing but make both the givers and the recipients look foolish. Why else would the caricature of the excessively preening dictator in movies and books be one where he’s wearing three-dozen medals on his uniform, where the truly respected soldier is depicted as only having only a small handful, or even just one on his lapel? It’s because we all know the hollowness and shallowness of excessive reward. And the dignity and respect of a proper level of recognition.

    No banner. I say this because I respect what this team has done. But I also do so within the larger context of what the program has accomplished over history. Proper perspective provides the answer on what should be done here. And that perspective says no banner for this year. It was a memorable one, it was one that should stand in history as IU reclaiming it’s natural position in the NCAA environment, but it’s NOT one that deserves a banner. Not even close.

    • David, King of the Rats says

      You make good points, but I disagree with your viewpoint that this would be “excessive.”  It isn’t about reward in and of itself, but rather a token of “proper” respect given from the fans to the players.  
      This isn’t based solely on the merits of this year.  This year was only possible as a result of the perseverance our Hoosiers showed the previous 3 years.

      In my opinion, were something of this sort to pass, it should most certainly be visible from the stands.  This would mean something to guys like Kyle Taber, Verdell Jones, Tom Pritchard, Matt Roth, Christian Watford, etc.  These guys played through some bad times at IU but stuck with us through thick and thin.  Also, it would act as a constant reminder of the integrity and hard work that makes IU basketball what it is.  It was the break from this mold that led to IU’s fall in the first place.  It seems fairly proper to “reward” this group of guys for what they have been through.

      Also, as a fairly nitpicky side-note, “the truly respected soldier” does not wear limited ornamentation simply because excessive reward is hollow and shallow (it is), but rather, taking pride in these merits seems rather hollow because you were, in essence, rewarded for watching your friends die and killing other human beings.
      And to be clear I’m still on the fence between banner/no banner.

  9. Jtwilson says

    the ‘counters’ section is almost completely wrong on every level, great season but anyone that forgets this team isn’t a true IU fan anyway, but that doesn’t mean they need a banner…every banner up there means a title of some kind, and this team didn’t win anything…this is IU not Minnesota, we dont put banners up just to put banners up

  10. Pocket Hoosier says

    I definitely agree with the sentiment but I think you are overblowing it a touch.  I agree that it took a lot of faith for Crean’s first class of scholarship players to stick with it and believe that The Program could gain such a trajectory in such a quick time span. But, this Sweet Sixteen season is only meaningful if it is FOLLOWED by something.  This season is only so memorable to the *current* fanbase because they are too young to remember that in the grand scheme of things, this season was still a down year! How stupid would it look if a banner were hung that could only be perceived as a “We’re Back!” to the outside if that 6th banner isn’t hanging **VERY** soon?Any year that we are not at least in the discussion for a banner at the south end is a failing season. That is the bottom line. Even the ’83 banner does not break this mode. We were the #5 ranked team in the final AP poll of 1983 even after losing to Kentucky (#10 overall in the final poll) Before Kitchel went down, everyone was expecting a title run for the fifth.Nobody was expecting this team to run for the title, and those were the expectations that were met. Had Kentucky not gone 35-37 from the line, we would have waved as we blew by them, but that’s a woulda-shoulda-coulda.  If you will notice, there have been no banners on the North side for the same years as the South side (until the current banner configuration with several of the banners listing years of fairly-irregular-yet-somewhat-common accomplishments)You will also notice that there is no banner on the North side that wasn’t *supposed* to go on the South side.No banner.

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