Taber Contributions Can't Be Overlooked

Bloomington- "KY-LE TA-BER". The Assembly Hall crowd started the familiar chant with about a minute to play Tuesday night. The Hoosiers may have lost in Taber's last Assembly Hall appearance, but it was a special night regardless for Indiana's lone senior.

Bloomington- "KY-LE TA-BER". The Assembly Hall crowd started the familiar chant with about a minute to play Tuesday night. The Hoosiers may have lost in Taber's last Assembly Hall appearance, but it was a special night regardless for Indiana's lone senior.

"What can I say? This is Indiana," Taber said during his senior speech. "This is unbelievable. We're 6-23 now, and we're playing in front of a packed house. This doesn't happen at any other place in the country. I'm proud to be a part of it."

He thanked everyone from his family, friends, coaches, teammates, athletic trainer Tim Garl, and of course, the fans.

"I would like to thank the Hoosier Nation who has been wonderful. I can't say enough about you guys. This program is heading in the right direction. You guys helped us in coming within one or two possessions of a top-10 team," he said.

While Taber's final home game may not have turned out the way he wanted, he did help Indiana come close to upsetting the eighth-ranked team in the country. Taber finished with three points, making his only field goal attempt. He also added a team-high five rebounds in 33 minutes.

"It means a lot just having all my friends and family here. To play a top-ranked team, unfortunately it didn't come out right, but we battled and it was a great game. It was fun to be a part of," he said.

Taber dreamt of coming to Indiana as a child, saying his room was decorated with IU memorabilia. He got that chance when former IU Coach Mike Davis offered him a spot on the roster as a walk-on.

His IU career started during the 2004-2005 season when he redshirted after a knee injury forced him out of action. He saw his first game action in 2005-2006 when he played in three games and scored four points. In 2006-2007 Taber played in six games and scored two points.

Things took a turn for Taber during his junior season. In 2007, then-IU coach Kelvin Sampson awarded Taber a scholarship, and Taber earned his first career start against Northwestern. He played 22 minutes and recorded four rebounds and a block. Taber was named the team's most improved player at the end-of-season banquet.

This season, Taber was the only scholarship player to return from the 2007-2008 campaign. Taber has played in all 29 games and started 21 times. He set career scoring highs in consecutive games earlier this year (10 at Purdue and 12 against Northwestern).

IU coach Tom Crean admits he's asked Kyle to do a lot.

"From the first day I met him, he has taken every bit of grief, every bit of criticism, every bit of tough coaching and become an unbelievable part of Indiana history," Crean said.

When the Hoosiers started practicing before the season, the casual observer might not have known that Taber was the one senior among many freshman.

"He wasn't a real vocal leader but he was quiet leader. We really couldn't have made it through this year without him," freshman point guard Verdell Jones said.

"At first, he didn't really have an effect because I don't think he'd ever been in that role where he had to be a leader," Malik Story added.

Crean has noticed considerable improvement in Taber's leadership capabilities.

"It has been force-fed a lot. I don't think that was ever a part of his role or make up. But it has really improved in the sense of what (the team) sees when they see him. They see him battle and the way he continues to improve," Crean said.

Even though Taber goes out with a loss, Taber reflected on the good times he'll miss playing at Indiana.

"This has been an incredible experience. I appreciate what everyone has done for me. I will remember this for the rest of my life," he said. "(I'll miss) playing out here in front of packed houses, people yelling all of the time. At one point (tonight) it was the loudest it's been all year, so I'll miss that a lot."


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