BLOOMINGTON-Three days removed from a 75-67 setback to No. 1 Duke, Indiana has chalked up the result as a learning experience.
Amidst a raucous crowd that rattled the rafters and wowed both IU Coach Mike Davis and Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski, Indiana fell behind big early and eventually squandered its opportunities late in the eight-point loss at Assembly Hall.
The learning experience wasn't just about playing a team with the skill of Duke, a perennial national title contender that featured a pair of preseason first-team All-Americans in J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams. It was also about getting acclimated to being on the big stage - playing games in that sort of environment and with that sort of significance.
"You want that (type of crowd noise)," said Davis. "But with that being our first game like that…I think that affected us more than Duke."
Davis wasn't disappointed in the crowd noise – to the contrary. He was ecstatic to see that kind of support, and he just wants his team to get used to playing in that sort of setting.
"The atmosphere was unbelievable," said Davis, whose team returns to Assembly Hall tonight to take on Eastern Michigan at 8 p.m. "I've been here a long time, I've been a lot of places, I've been in some big games, even the Final Four and the (NCAA) Championship game. That atmosphere was mind blowing."
It was also something new for many of the players on the roster. While Indiana has four seniors and plenty of experience in the starting line-up, it was a new experience for just about everyone in an IU uniform.
"Lewis Monroe had never seen anything like that, because I had never seen anything like that before," said Davis. "Earl Calloway had never seen it. Marco Killingsworth had never seen it. I'm quite sure no one standing here (among the media) had seen that type of excitement."
While it might have rattled the team, the players certainly appreciated the support, and hope it continues.
"It was one of the greatest (crowds) in the world," said Robert Vaden. "It was so loud I could barely hear myself talk on the court. That's what you come to Indiana basketball for – the fans. They had a great attitude for us."
On the positive side, Indiana also learned it has the personnel to match up with any team in the country, which bodes well as IU prepares for next weekend's matchup with Kentucky, as well as a Big Ten season slate that figures to be as difficult as ever.
"We learned (Wednesday) how hard we have to play," said Vaden. "We knew we had to play hard, but we have to take it to another level. We learned we're as talented as anyone in the country, and we can play with anyone in the country if we're ready to play.
"We knew that, but I don't know that guys really believed that until afterwards. We knew we were talented, but we have to believe we can play with anyone. We know that now."
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