Collector’s note: IU schedules have always been one of my favorite items to collect. I, like many in the Hoosier fanbase I’m sure, would look forward to the new pocket schedule each year and record the game-by-game results as the season progressed. In terms of collecting, older IU basketball schedules (especially those that are pre-1960) have become harder and harder to find. The older varieties were often issued as ink blotters, a very practical idea during the ink pen era.
This 1914 example, however, is very unique, and probably the most detailed IU schedule variety I have ever seen. Additionally, it is extremely rare, and almost impossible to find any IU schedule from the 1910’s as many were simply tossed out at season’s end.
I wish to go “old school” for this post, as I feel it is important that Hoosier Nation be well-informed about the early era of IU basketball.
It may not have been an era of much success, but needless to say, the origins of our beloved program are still full of interesting storylines and even more interesting figures.
Indiana’s basketball program began during the 1900-01 season.
At first, as expected, simply finding enough able-bodied young men to for the team was a challenge. Basketball was a relatively new sport, and baseball and football were still much more popular.
Indiana only had five winning seasons in their program’s history entering the 1914 hardwood campaign. Another constant during that period was a revolving door of head coaches. Indiana had gone through 11 different head coaches before former IU star athlete Arthur “Cotton” Berndt was tabbed as the next hardwood coach in the summer of 1913.
Berndt had just finished his first season as the head coach of Indiana’s baseball team. He was a well-known and decorated athlete for Indiana from 1908-1911, including being named a captain for football, baseball, and basketball — the only IU athlete to captain three sports in history.
Early on in IU basketball history, most seasons did not begin until January of the academic school year. In fact, only three total games were played in December prior to the 1914 season: 1904 vs. Indianapolis YMCA, and 1907 and 1908 vs Marion Athletic Club.
The outlook for the Hoosiers under new coach Berndt were “none too bright” according to the January 6th edition of the Indiana Daily Student. A veteran-less team would travel to Illinois for the season and conference opener on January 6th.
The leading scorer of the previous season, Hugh Barnhart, the younger brother of Indiana’s first basketball star, Dean Barnhart, had been injured during the 1913 Indiana football season and would be unavailable to lead Berndt’s young team. One positive for Berndt was multi-sport athlete Frank Whitaker had been declared academically eligible to play for the Hoosiers.
Even with Berndt being hopeful for some success on the court, the lack of talent was clear right from the get-go as Indiana was destroyed by the Illini, 35-6. It wouldn’t be much brighter for Indiana over the next three games as losses to Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Earlham would leave the Hoosiers 0-4 to begin the season.
In fact, Indiana would lose their first four games by an average of 24 points. One bright spot for IU was a strong showing by sophomore Clinton Prather, who scored 12 points against Northwestern. The Indiana Daily Student described Coach Berndt’s “find” as promising to blossom as a strong player by season’s end.
Following a loss at home to Earlham College, Indiana would travel to Richmond on January 30th for their second straight game vs the Quakers. The Hoosiers would finally break through into the win column, beating Earlham 28-25, snapping a 9-game losing streak (including losses in the final five games of the 1912-13 season). Indianapolis native, James Frenzel, led the Hoosiers with 14 points in the victory. Frenzel would also lead IU in scoring for the season at 8.2 ppg.
The elation from the victory over Earlham would be short-lived as IU would have to leave straight from Richmond for a contest against Ohio State in Columbus the very next day. Fatigue may have played a part, as the Hoosiers struggled to a 43-17 loss to the Buckeyes, who would go on to finish second in Western Conference play.
Returning to Bloomington, the Hoosiers would fall to Illinois for the second time during the season, 31-15. In-state rival Purdue, also winless in conference play, would take care of business against the Cream and Crimson on February 9th with a 35-13 victory.
The losing streak would reach seven games as Indiana’s young and inexperienced ball club would fall to the likes of Northwestern, Minnesota, Wisconsin (the eventual conference champions at 12-0), and Ohio State.
Indiana was at risk of going two straight seasons without a Western Conference victory with only two games remaining in the season. Purdue arrived in Bloomington on March 3rd for a battle in the Old Assembly Hall. In a hard-fought contest, Indiana gutted out a 30-28 overtime victory over the Boilermakers.
The Indiana Daily Student would not pull any punches in their March 4th report of the contest, including stating that this was “the first time in two years that an Indiana team has ever shown a semblance of knowing one “consarned” (damned) thing about basketball. Purdue once more the goat.”
Following the high point of the season in beating in-state rival Purdue, the young Hoosiers would be unable to string together two straight victories, losing at home to Minnesota, 28-8. This would be the second time during the season that the Hoosiers would be held under 10 points for the game.
The season would end in disappointment overall as IU finished 2-12 (1-11 in conference play). Many observers, however, felt confident in the abilities of Coach “Cotton” Berndt taking the “greenest looking bunch ever to try out for an Indiana team” and molding into a team that was destined to have more success down the road.