Bloomington- Indiana gave the early-rising crowd of 16,539 at Assembly Hall plenty to cheer about Sunday, but they ultimately left disappointed after IU lost a hard-fought game to Minnesota, 67-63.
The season-high attendance mark certainly excited Tom Crean. "Greatest crowd we've had so far. That is why it's a disappointing loss," Crean said.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the game for the crowd was when Verdell Jones made a 3-point shot from half court to beat the halftime buzzer. The shot brought Indiana to within one point of the Gophers and gave the Hoosiers momentum coming out of the break.
The game was designated a "White Out", and each fan was given a white t-shirt when they got to the game. The shirt had a red IU logo on the front, and on the back was a quote from Winston Churchill: "Never, never, never give up". The crowd was into the game from the opening tip, as Indiana jumped out to a lead that got as big as eight late in the first half.
The Assembly Hall crowd has a reputation for being loud and raucous, especially when the Hoosiers are rolling. Several basketball analysts have been quoted talking about how great the atmosphere is at Assembly Hall. That atmosphere is something Crean relies on when recruiting.
"That's the selling point to all these recruits in here. The Indiana that you know, the Indiana that you knew, it's going to come back. Our crowd is there," Crean said. "I don't know how many programs in America can have people in the seats on a Sunday afternoon the way that they are outside of Indiana, with what we're going through, and I mean that 100 percent and I don't ever take that for granted."
The players noticed the crowd, too. Malik Story finished with 14 points in 22 minutes. "The crowd was amazing, a lot of people there, you know. We haven't had a crowd really like that. It seemed like every possession was like everybody was into it, even if they score a couple baskets in a row, they just uplifted us," he said.
Tijan Jobe, who averages just 6.2 minutes per game, came in during the first half and played the top of a 1-3-1 zone defense. At one point Jobe stole the ball but immediately travelled, giving the ball back to the Gophers. The Assembly Hall crowd greatly appreciated Jobe's effort, starting a "Tijan Jobe" chant on two different occasions. "Yeah, I heard it," he said when asked if he was able to hear the chant. "It was wonderful. The crowd was wonderful. Everyone chanting your name keeps you going and it just puts energy into you."
Crean also commented on the efforts of Indiana's new Athletic Director, who has been instrumental in many of the recent marketing efforts. "I'm thankful to Fred Glass. There was an Indiana University Police Officer guarding 18,000 shirts, come on. That's important. But that doesn't happen without progressive thinking. That doesn't happen without people that are willing to say ‘Hey, let's go after it', and that's what Fred Glass is doing," he said.
There were also several efforts made on Crean's part to energize and connect with the crowd. "Hey we moved the ‘big heads.' At 11 o'clock today we said, ‘you know, we're putting the big heads in the first half, too, let's see how that works.' We have to try anything. But at the same time, our fans are loving it," he said.
Crean also said that the Hoosiers tend to kill the momentum with their crowd. "We're going to get that corrected. But our crowd, they turn right back around and they cheer again and you just can't ask for more," he said.
It's obvious that Crean feels that crowds are important, and the Hoosier fans certainly responded yesterday.
Crowd Turns Out In Mass for Crean, Hoosiers
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