Photo Credit - Matt Stone, Courier Journal

Indiana University Athletics — Top Stories From 2018

It may be hard to believe, but another year is nearly in the books — and it has been a memorable one for Indiana University Athletics.

From programs on the rise to competition at the highest level of their respective sports, several IU teams had memorable moments in 2018.

Today we take a look back at the top stories from the year.

BANNER UP IN BLOOMINGTON

Image result for buss cahill wnit
Credit – Bobby Goddin for Indy Star

The regular season didn’t end the way senior legends Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill had imagined.  After a slow start to the 2017-18 campaign, the Hoosiers couldn’t recover quickly enough to sneak into the NCAA Tournament.

That selection day disappointment would soon turn into celebration, as IU turned a Women’s NIT invitation into a weeks long home court celebration of its beloved seniors.

IU would win six straight games on its home floor, culminating in a Women’s NIT championship game victory over Virginia Tech before more than 13,000 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

MEN’S SOCCER DOMINATES THE BIG TEN

trophy celebration
Credit – IU Athletics

It can be difficult for a program as accomplished as IU men’s soccer to achieve something worthy of its high standards.

As the first team to roll through the Big Ten regular season undefeated since Penn State in 2005, the Hoosiers once again made headlines in 2018.  It was the first undefeated season in league play for IU since 2002.

The Hoosiers would go on to also win the Big Ten Tournament, their 13th in program history, and the first for the team since 2013. IU won both the tournament and regular season championships in the same season for the first time since 2006.

Unfortunately, it was of all things, a Bit Ten foe that would end their season.  The Hoosiers fell to eventual national champion Maryland at the College Cup semifinals.

BACK WITH THE OLD IN WITH THE NEW

Photo: Bryan Woolston, For the Courier-Journal

On April 30, highly coveted 5-star men’s basketball recruit Romeo Langford announced that he would attend Indiana.  The announcement was made before thousands of onlookers at his high school gym in New Albany.  The crowd erupted into screams and applause when Langford selected an IU hat and put it on his head.

Less than a month later, 2nd team All-Big Ten forward Juwan Morgan announced that he would be returning for his senior season.

Over the course of just a few weeks, the prospects for the 2018-19 IU basketball season went from uncertain to highly anticipated, with the Hoosiers expected to have one of their better duos in recent memory.

A promising 11-2 start to the season led by Morgan and Langford has Hoosiers fans believing that this is a program on the rise.

Interestingly, it was a shot by another freshman, Rob Phinisee, that was the on the court highlight of the year.

LILLY KING CONTINUES HER NCAA DOMINANCE

Photo via Swim Swam

She might not always be the first Hoosier athlete that comes to mind for IU fans, but there is little question that Lilly King is the most elite of them all on the IU campus.

A winner of two Olympic gold medals, and multiple world championships, it comes as little surprise that King reigns supreme competing in the Big Ten and at the NCAA Championships.

The six-time NCAA champion successfully defended her titles in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke in 2018, posting the fastest times in history in both events.  In the process, King became the first woman in Big Ten history to win three-straight national championships in league history.

King’s six NCAA crowns are the most for any woman in Big Ten history.  She was named the 2017-18 Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year in June and became just the third person – man or woman – to win the award in back-to-back seasons.  King is also just the third person in league history to earn the honor more than once.

A LEGENDARY PROGRAM ON THE RISE

Image result for indiana men's swimming finnerty

There was a time when the IU men’s swimming program was far and away the most dominant in the country.  They won the last of their six national championships in 1973.

The Hoosiers finished third at the 2018 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships at Minneapolis. It was their highest place in 43 years.  In one of the closer team competitions in years, IU was in contention until the very end.

The Hoosiers also won the Big Ten title with IU head swimming coach Ray Looze named the Big Ten Men’s Swimming Coach of the Year, while Drew Johansen was named Big Ten Men’s Diving Coach of the Year.  Ian Finnerty was named the Big Ten Men’s Swimmer of the Year.

Ranked No. 2 in the country as of this writing, the Hoosiers appear primed for another run at a seventh team national title in March.

TALENT COMING IN THE DOOR

It’s no secret, you have to bring in talent to successfully compete at a high level in major college athletics.

IU head football coach Tom Allen appears to be turning the tide.  During the early signing period last week, the Hoosiers appear to have secured what should be their best ever recruiting class during the recruiting rankings era.  This 2019 group comes on the heels of a 2018 class that was previously the program’s best ever.

It’s a major uphill challenge competing in what is likely the most difficult division in college football, but the Hoosiers appear to be building a foundation that should give them a better opportunity going forward.

THE TORCH IS PASSED TO MERCER.

The 2018 IU baseball season was another strong one for the Hoosiers.  Indiana advanced to the finals of the Austin Regional of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Texas.

Soon after that season ending loss, former head coach Chris Lemonis announced that he was leaving IU for Mississippi State.

Lemonis was able to continue the run of success that Tracy Smith kick-started in Bloomington.  Smith took IU to three NCAA tournaments in a six year run that included the 2013 College World Series.  Lemonis took IU to three more NCAA tournament appearances in four seasons at the helm

It didn’t take long for IU to find its man in Hoosier native Jeff Mercer, who was announced as the next head coach just a week after Lemonis moved on.

In his time as a head coach (2017-18) and an assistant coach (2014-16) at Wright State, Mercer was a part of three Horizon League regular season and conference tournament titles, three NCAA appearances, and a combined record of 199-92 (.684). The Raiders won four NCAA tournament games over those three appearances, having reached the regional finals twice.


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