Although at one point the Hoosiers found themselves trailing by 30 points, there have been worse days in the history of the IU basketball program than Saturday at Wisconsin.
Back in 1994 head coach Bob Knight took an Indiana team that was right in the thick of the Big Ten race to Williams Arena to face Minnesota. Indiana had defeated the Golden Gophers by 12 points a month earlier in Bloomington, and No. 12 IU arrived confident in Minneapolis for the rematch.
What happened that day at Minnesota was almost inexplicable. The perfect storm. 106-56, Golden Gophers.
How did Coach Knight handle a loss of that magnitude?
Perhaps not how you might imagine.
“Some of our crazy losses as a team I will guarantee you we never watched one second of the Minnesota game film when we lost by 50,” Todd Leary told me on Monday on his radio show. Leary was a player on that 1993-94 IU team. “The coaching staff just put it out of our minds like it never happened, and we just moved on to the preparation for the next game.”
Indiana won their next game that year, and would go on to reach the Sweet 16 in the 1994 NCAA Tournament.
GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
Indiana (8-1) vs. Connecticut (6-2) — Jimmy V Classic
- Tip time: 9 p.m. ET
- Location: Madison Square Garden, New York
- Television: ESPN
- Series: UConn leads 6-3 (Last meeting UConn 59-58, 2013)
- Point Spread: Vegas likes Indiana by 2.5 points. KenPom likes IU by 3.
- Tickets (Seat Geek affiliate link)
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
A look at UConn’s noteworthy KenPom metrics
- No. 241 Offensive Effective Field Goal Percentage: The Huskies aren’t a very good shooting team, especially from two-point range (45% / No. 283), but they do help themselves by not turning the ball over (16.5% of possessions / No. 36). Interestingly, UConn is a better shooting team from three-point range (34.3% / No. 120), and that is where IU’s pack-line defense will try to force the Huskies to take their shots.
- No. 33 Defensive Effective Field Goal Percentage: What they lack on offense the Huskies are making up for on the other end. They turn you over (22.7% of possessions / No. 57) and block shots at an elite level (16.8% / No. 9). Teams are only shooting 28.4% from behind the three-point line (No. 41).
Fast forwarding to 2019, Leary doesn’t suggest that IU completely ignore what happened in Madison. Still early in the season, and with a young team, there are lessons to be learned.
“This is early in the season for Indiana. They need to watch the first 15 minutes of that game film and clean up a lot of the mistakes. They need to watch that part of that game film,” Leary said.
The contest against the Badgers got out of hand quickly, with Wisconsin leading by 20 at halftime and by 30 early in the second segment.
Leary sees little value in a deep dive examination of a second half that in many ways felt more like an exhibition.
“Watching the second half of that game the other day is completely pointless, all you’re going to do is repeat all of the errors and mistakes that you saw in the first half,” Leary said. “They were never able to mount a comeback.”
With a strong opponent in Connecticut awaiting on a short turnaround, Indiana likely moved on quickly.
The Huskies have already claimed wins against Florida and Miami, and will likely have a meaningful home court advantage playing just a couple hours from their campus and in front of a significant alumni base.
“It’s great that Indiana has got an opportunity three days later to play a big time game on ESPN, and they’ve got a lot to prepare for,” Leary said. “They took some time to go over and correct mistakes, but they’ve got to prepare for the next opponent.
“And that’s the best medicine and remedy that you can have after a game like that.”
HOOSIERS IN NEW YORK CITY AT THE JIMMY V CLASSIC
Indiana has played 28 games in the New York City metro area since 1972 and has a 16-12 record. Twenty-four of those games came at Madison Square Garden. IU last played in the Garden in March of 2018 in a Big Ten Tournament game against Rutgers. Current Hoosiers Devonte Green, Aljami Durham and Justin Smith all played in that game.
Tuesday’s game is part of a doubleheader being played in connection with the Jimmy V Classic. The first game features Texas Tech and Louisville.
The event is held in the honor of former North Carolina State coach Jimmy Valvano, who passed away after a battle with cancer in 1994.
Valvano formed the V Foundation for Cancer Research, which has awarded more than $250 million in cancer research grants nationwide.
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