Welcome to another edition of 6-Banner Sunday, where we highlight the six most essential IU basketball stories of the past week.
Indiana ended the season with two losses to fall to .500 in Big Ten play, but there were plenty of other developments around Hoosier nation, from Senior Night to a number of FBI investigation bombshells.
In this week’s edition:
- Hoosiers fall on senior night
- Robert Johnson leaves his mark
- A senior class to be remembered
- FBI investigation bombshells
- IU commit and target update
- Best of the rest
Hoosiers fall on senior night
In a back-and-forth game that took two overtimes to decide, No. 16 Ohio State defeated Indiana, 80-78, to end the regular season.
The Hoosiers fought tooth and nail with the Buckeyes, but it simply wasn’t enough. A left-handed layup from Juwan Morgan with 7.4 to play in double OT gave Indiana a one-point lead, but a deep three from C.J. Jackson seconds later crushed the Hoosiers upset hopes.
Indiana ends the regular season with an overall record of 16-14 and a 9-9 mark in Big Ten play. Depending on the results of Penn State vs. Nebraska today, the Hoosiers will either be seeded 6th or 7th for the Big Ten Tournament. Their opening game of the tournament will take place during the Thursday evening session.
More from the game:
- The Minute After, Five Takeaways, Notebook, Photo Gallery (ITH)
- Press conferences: Archie Miller, IU players, Chris Holtmann
- Assembly Call Postgame
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Robert Johnson leaves his mark
For four years, Robert Johnson has given IU all he has. The guard has been through thick and thin with the Hoosiers, from a Sweet 16 to a coaching change, but has never complained.
On Senior Night, Johnson scored 17 points and made several clutch plays, including a perfect trip to the free throw line to force double overtime.
After the game, Johnson was emotional during his senior night speech. Throughout the seven minutes Johnson was on the mic, he was roundly applauded as he expressed his thanks and gratitude for everyone who has made his time at IU so special.
Over at The Indianapolis Star, Gregg Doyel wrote a must-read column on the long-time Hoosier:
Johnson started talking into the microphone, and soon his mom was crying and his dad was crying and his grandfather in the red velour jacket was crying and I was crying — what — and people around me were crying. Johnson, speaking with no notes and going much longer than anyone expected, himself included, tried to put into words what it meant to him to become a Hoosier.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play at a program like this,” he said, and then lost it. I mean, he fell apart. He’s wiping his face with his hands, his shirt, and someone in the crowd is filling in the silence by yelling: “We love you Robert!”
FBI investigation bombshells
Throughout Friday, a series of bombshells came to light in relation to the FBI investigation into college basketball. For the first time, Indiana University was specifically named in one of the stories.
Don’t get too worried though, we’re here to break it down for you.
Early Friday morning, Yahoo! released documents from the agency ASM Sports. ASM Sports, which is led by high-profile agent Andy Miller, was raided by the FBI back in September. The documents include information regarding loans to a number of high profile players. Schools mentioned include the likes of Duke, Michigan State, Kentucky, Kansas and plenty of others. The only current or former IU player named was Jared Jeffries, but he was no longer in college when ASM started in the late 2000s.
Then, while the regulation portion of Indiana’s senior night game was nearly complete, Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com dropped another incredible scoop – that Sean Miller, Archie’s older brother, was caught on an FBI wiretap discussing the possibility of a $100,000 payment for current freshman DeAndre Ayton’s commitment.
Sean Miller did not coach Arizona’s game on Saturday and his status with the program is in doubt. Although this hits close to home for the Miller family, Archie was only an assistant at Arizona from 2009-11, so this should have no direct impact on IU.
Less than an hour after that story came out, with Indiana in the midst of double overtime, another Yahoo! story was published. This one mentioned Indiana directly. Specifically, it cites the text of an email from Christian Dawkins, who was indicted back in September, to his boss, Andy Miller.
Here is the text as shown in the Yahoo! story:
“Chuck Martin – Trying to close the deal on Brian Bowen for Indiana. I told him if we can work together and if he can push for us to get (Hoosiers) Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby two projected first rounders from IU this year we can work something out.”
A few things here are important to note.
There is no proof here that Chuck Martin, an assistant for IU from 2014-17, was a part of any payment to a player. In fact, Brian Bowen ended up at Louisville before being declared ineligible in the wake of this scandal before the season began.
What this does show, however, is Indiana could well end up in the crosshairs of this mess before it’s all said and done. All we can do as the investigation continues is sit and wait.
On Saturday, ESPN.com published a summary of the current findings of the investigation. If you’re interested in learning more about this, give it a read.
One more FBI scandal read:
- Chuck Martin mention creates more questions than answers (Indy Star)
Indiana commit and target update
The Indiana high school basketball regular season is just about in the books, and a number of IU commits and targets finished out their campaigns strong.
Let’s start with commit Rob Phinisee. With a 30-point effort on senior night, the McCutcheon point guard is just 44 away from 2,000 in his career.
Next, we go to fellow commit Damezi Anderson. His South Bend Riley squad ended the regular season unbeaten, with Anderson pouring in 22 points in a win over Glenn.
Meanwhile, commit Jerome Hunter was named the player of the year in his conference and is currently in the running for Ohio Player of the Year. You can vote for Hunter here.
But all of the attention is still on one uncommitted young man –- Romeo Langford. The five-star guard played his final regular season game at Bloomington North High School, just miles away from Assembly Hall. Langford simply dominated, putting up 46 points to lead New Albany to an 18th straight win. Langford’s highlights from the win are the stuff of legend.
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A senior class to be remembered
Robert Johnson isn’t the only senior worthy of recognition. Collin Hartman, Tim Priller, Josh Newkirk, and Freddie McSwain all also made their impressions on Indiana basketball.
When Indiana made a coaching change last March, the soon-to-be-seniors (in Hartman’s case, the soon-to-be fifth year senior) could have decided they didn’t want to be a part of the program anymore. Heck, Hartman could have left with his degree and his fiance and called it a career.
Yet, the group chose to stick it out and give Archie Miller a shot. As Eddie Cotton writes for The Hoosier Network, Miller is indebted to the contributions of the 2018 senior class:
“Your seniors can go a lot of different ways when there’s change, especially when there’s a lot of ups and downs in a season,” Miller said.
What Miller got from this unique and dynamic group of seniors was quite simply an unprecedented amount of “Buy-in.” It’s a sentiment that Miller has harped upon all season long, and yet, it’s a sentiment that we truly won’t grow to appreciate until years after this initial season.
The reason behind statement is the understanding that this senior class defied the odds and came together to establish a precedent for success moving forward. This class let Archie be Archie and allowed the newest man on campus to begin shaping his program and his system.
Best of the rest
Even though the Senior Night festivities and FBI investigation fireworks took the majority of the headlines, there were plenty more stories this week regarding the cream and crimson.
News regarding other IU sports:
- IU Women’s Basketball’s eight-game winning streak came to an end on Saturday in Iowa City (Indiana Daily Student)
- Pauly Milto led the way for No. 20 IU Baseball in a shutout of Boston College. The Hoosiers are now 5-1 on the season (IDS)
- IU Men’s Tennis completed a season sweep of Purdue (IDS)
- IU Men’s and Women’s Track and Field both finished third at the Big Ten Championships (IU Athletics)
- IU Men’s Swimming and Diving are having a sensational Big Ten Championship (IU Athletics)
Hoosiers in the NBA
- Raptors coach Dwayne Casey says OG Anunoby has a great poker face
- Troy Williams signed a 10-day contract with the Knicks shortly after the All-Star break and has already made an impression
- Yogi Ferrell kicked one of Isaiah Thomas’ shoes, and IT was not happy
And with that, the joy of hanging Banner #6 is now one week closer.
Thanks for your continued support for The Assembly Call. We’ll be back next weekend with a new roundup.
Now go enjoy yourself a 6-banner Sunday.