5. Cook Hall Opens – Indiana's Assembly Hall is one of the nation's most storied basketball venues, and clearly one of the handful of arenas that diehard college basketball fans must visit at some point in their lives. But for all of the history and nostalgia that accompanies the home of the Hoosiers, there are plenty of shortcomings that go hand-in-hand with a building that is nearly 40 years old. That's why the opening of Cook Hall is so significant for the future of the program. It provides the basketball program with top-of-the-line training and practice facilities, along with the flexibility that was lacking in Assembly Hall where the men and women had to share one court. It also features "Legacy Court", which is open to the public and offers a trip down memory lane for Hoosier Basketball die-hards. For all of the problems Kevin Sampson caused the IU program during his brief tenure, the one positive thing he did do was push hard for the construction of the practice facility, and IU's programs are now reaping the rewards.
4. Recruiting Coups in 2012, 2013 and 2014 – Christmas came early for the IU basketball program when a wave of underclassmen believed in what IU Coach Tom Crean was preaching and committed to play for the Hoosiers after their prep days are done. The first to pledge was junior Peter Jurkin in August, followed six days later by fellow Class of 2012 prospect Ron Patterson from Broad Ripple H.S. Then, the floodgates opened – September saw elite freshmen James Blackmon Jr. and Trey Lyles pledge, while October saw top-20 Class of 2012 prospect Hanner Perea add his name to IU's list. The run continued in November, as Devin Davis ('13), Colin Hartman ('13) and Yogi Ferrell ('12) all verballed to Crean. The wave of early commitments proved the hard work Crean and his staff have put in on the young players in the state has paid off, and has IU poised to return to national prominence in the years to come.
3. Kevin Wilson Hiring – When Indiana announced it was going to make a coaching change, the usual array of pipe- dream candidates were kicked around by fans (i.e. Boise State's Chris Peterson, Stanford's Jim Harbaugh). Many others lobbed around a variety of recipe-for-disaster ideas (i.e. former Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach and former Miami Coach Randy Shannon). What IU Athletics Director Fred Glass instead settled on was a less-well-known candidate that made a whole lot more sense. Kevin Wilson brought with him not only the experience of running the offense for one of the nation's best programs in Oklahoma, but also a track record for getting a lot done with less at schools like Miami (Ohio) and Northwestern. He's reportedly been armed with significantly more money as well to lure a solid coaching staff beneath him. Wilson's introductory press conference was a big hit amongst IU fans, who liked his links to the program through Terry Hoeppner and his old school approach to building a winner. Whether or not that happens we'll have to wait and see, but he has clearly endeared himself to the IU fanbase as he begins his tenure.
2. Bill Lynch's Dismissal – Truth be told, Bill Lynch didn't have designs on becoming IU's head coach when he joined the IU staff in 2005. Then the head coach at DePauw, Lynch returned to Bloomington at the request of newly-named IU coach Terry Hoeppner, a long-time friend who wanted Lynch on staff as his assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. But when Hoeppner first became ill and then tragically passed away due to a brain tumor, IU officials turned to Lynch to lead the program. After an interim year at the helm that saw IU earn an Insight Bowl berth, Lynch was rewarded with the job permanently and a four-year contract extension. While the IU roster saw a significant upgrade in talent during the next three years, losses were the norm, many of them in narrow fashion. In the last two seasons alone, the Hoosiers lost six Big Ten games by seven points or less, including four by three points or less. As a result, Indiana's 3-21 Big Ten record over the past three seasons was Lynch's undoing and IU Athletic Director Fred Glass announced Lynch's dismissal one day after IU beat Purdue for the Old Oaken Bucket.
1. Cody Zeller's commitment – Indiana's biggest success story of 2010 didn't come on the football field or on the hardwood, but rather in Washington, Ind. It was there that top-20 Class of 2011 prospect Cody Zeller announced he intended to play basketball for the Hoosiers, picking IU over North Carolina and Butler. Zeller's decision seemed to be some 10 years in the making – past IU coaches had tried and failed to lure his older brothers Luke and Tyler to Bloomington, which represented two of the many instances where Hoosier coaches had failed to keep the state's best players in-state. But IU Coach Tom Crean pulled off his biggest recruiting success story to date when he succeeded in convincing the third Zeller that Bloomington was the right fit for him beginning next fall. Time will tell if Zeller winds up being as good as advertised, but there's no downplaying the significance of his commitment. IU out-dueled the best programs in the state and around the country to secure the commitment.
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