Indiana finds some satisfaction, more motivation after Sweet 16 loss

Hoosiers take pride in making it all the way to the Sweet 16, but feel disappointed that their season came to an end Friday in a loss to Kentucky. Its one those returning to the team hope to remember as they head to the 2012-2013.

ATLANTA - These were unique comments for Tom Crean. 

Sure he'd said goodbye to a season three times before at the end of a tournament, but Friday night was something on a much different level. 

Losing in the Sweet 16 is a lot different than falling on Thursday of the Big Ten Tournament, which is where Indiana's seasons ended with a 102-90 loss to top-seeded Kentucky in the South Region Semi-Finals.

According to Jordan Hulls, Crean's first post-NCAA Tournament loss speech was simple but hit on the emotion of the entire team who sat in the tearful locker room early Saturday morning. 

"That we're not satisfied, obviously it was a great season for us but we can't be satisfied with this," is how junior guard Jordan Hulls described the message from his coach. 

Value can be found in those statements for the Hoosiers, who nearly won more games this season (27) than they did in the first three seasons of the Crean era (28). Indiana won its first NCAA Tournament game in five years and reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2002.

But for a quick rising team that had already beaten their opponent Friday night earlier in the season, there was little time for immediate reflection on a season just ended.

"They guys in this locker room didn't think we overachieved," said freshman Cody Zeller, who ended up averaging 15.5 points and 6.4 rebounds a game. "We were all kinda planning on winning this game, that's kinda why it hurts so much."

For the record Indiana finished 27-9 on the campaign, their most wins in a season since their Elite Eight run in 1992-1993 with current assistant coach Calbert Cheney leading the way. For many the season validates a return of the program to one of the Big Ten and the nation's elite and signals the end of the lengthy rebuilding progress following the resignation of Kelvin Sampson in 2008.

"Obviously we've made strides to get to the this point," said a tearful Will Sheehey following Friday's loss. "Regular season game versus Sweet 16 game that means you've done something throughout those times."

That could also mean good times ahead as well. Indiana's five starters are all slated to return for the 2012-2013 season while bringing in five new recruits who have been dubbed "The Movement." That includes local Indianapolis standouts Yogi Ferrell, Jeremy Hollowell, Ron Patterson along with Hanner Perea and Peter Jurkin.

Maurice Creek, who showed potential early in his career before being derailed by two knee injuries, is also expected to return to the lineup. 

"Its been a crazy ride, man," said Oladipo of the 2011-2012 season. "We've had a lot of our share of ups and downs, you know, when it was just us and nobody else around. We just stuck together as a team and as a family.

"We had a successful season. To bring this program back to where it used to be. To have those two tough seasons before this one where they we're real tough and all them losses. To come back like we are this year is an amazing and to be apart of that is a blessing."

 

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