Welcome back for another installment in Talking 10’s “Indiana Week” series. Although most of our articles for “Indiana Week” are focusing on football, this is our weekly chance to check in on all the other athletic success stories going on in the Hoosier state.
Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of 2014-15 and how that will project forward for Hoosiers fans in 2015-16. Basketball may be king in this state, but you might be surprised what is king on this campus in non-football performance.
Previous “Around the Campus” articles can be found here:
(photo courtesy iuhoosiers.com)
Indiana has perhaps an even more storied tradition in soccer than in basketball, particularly in the last three decades. Indiana came into 2014 with 27 straight NCAA tournament appearances, and that streak was not coming to an end this past season.
Indiana takes on a tough schedule every season, and 2014 was no different. Not only was the Big Ten loaded with what ended up being 3 of the top 5 national seeds awarded in the NCAA tournament, but the Hoosiers had 11 NCAA tournament opponents on an schedule with only 18 opponents overall. That made this squad battle-tested by the time the postseason came around.
Even though a 12-4-5 record and no conference championship may not look that strong, Indiana played tough against this top competition and that earned the No. 5 national seed and a first round bye in the NCAA tournament. That followed a Big Ten tournament which ended with the Hoosiers losing a 2-1 heartbreaker to Maryland, which ended up as the No. 4 national seed in the NCAA Tournament.
In the 28th straight NCAA tournament appearance, a dismal weather day greeted the Hoosiers for the second round opener at home against Xavier. Unfortunately, the weather matched the play out of the Hoosiers, as a team with plenty of senior experience (NCAA champions two seasons earlier in 2012) put forth one of the worst games of the season in a 2-1 loss. That won’t help the program add to the highest winning percentage (.739) and total wins (83) in NCAA tournament history.
The Big Ten as a whole had a lackluster tournament, but perhaps that opens the door for a better performance in 2015. Big Ten freshman of the year Grant Lillard returns to lead a team that will be very young, with only two seniors following a year where the team was led by 6 seniors.
The program is building for what may be another couple tournament deep runs, but possibly in the 2016 and 2017 time frame. This year will be all about setting the building blocks for the future, while trying for a better finish than 2014.
Women’s Water Polo
(Final game of the season, photo courtesy iuhoosiers.com)
The Hoosiers water polo team was coming off a conference (CWPA) championship in 2014, and the program hoped to take the next step to NCAA tournament competitiveness in this past season. Despite some early-season struggles, the Hoosiers ran through the CWPA regular season to split the championship with Princeton at 8-1.
Indiana finished 21-11 in the regular season, which was good enough to be nationally ranked at No. 11 heading into the CWPA tournament. The Hoosiers rolled past Brown 11-4 in the first round, and then survived an overtime game against Michigan to make the championship game once again.
Just like 2014, the 2015 championship game would be between Princeton and Indiana. Unlike the 2014 championship, Indiana lost a close decision to the Tigers 7-6. The Indiana defense was solid, but the goal scoring quieted down compared to many other games this season, which proved to be the undoing. That would end up holding Indiana out of the 8 team NCAA championship tournament for this season.
Freshman Kelly Matthews was named rookie of the year in the CWPA championship and took home multiple weekly awards throughout the season. She scored 7 goals in the 3 games of the CWPA championship, taking home first team honors.
With Matthews returning again next season, this team could make another run at a championship and the top of the conference. The Hoosiers did lose about a third of the roster to seniors graduating, but the freshman class is another third of the roster that will be much improved to back up the small number of rising seniors and juniors.
Just like with soccer, if nothing else, 2016 will be a building year to prepare for what could be big seasons in 2017 and 2018.
Track and Field
(photo courtesy iuhoosiers.com)
Another sport with some good accomplishments this past season was Track and Field. On the men’s side, junior Terry Batemon won the Big Ten title in pole vault, making it 7 out of 8 years where a Hoosier man or woman has won the conference championship in this event.
Bateman joined Rorey Hunter in the 1500 meter and Amanda Behnke in the 10,000 meter to advance past the NCAA regional to the NCAA championships. Both of these other athletes finished runner-up in individual event finals at the Big Ten championships. Behnke had a solid performance at the NCAA championships, finishing 22nd in the race to earn honorable mention all american honors.
Behnke will return for her junior season and Bateman will return for his senior season, which sets up nicely for continued success in Track and Field in 2016. The Hoosiers could very well take a bigger contingent than 3 athletes to the NCAA championships next season.
Other Individual Performances
(photo courtesy iuhoosiers.com)
Although many of the other sports around campus struggled in Big Ten play and did not make much of a dent nationally, some individual Hoosiers had a notable season.
Starting with cross country, the IU men finished 4th in the Big Ten championships and in the NCAA regionals, while the IU women were a bit worst at 6th and 7th, respectively, in those events. The men did earn a team invitations to the NCAA championships, where they overachieved above their No. 25 national ranking to finish 15th. The highlight was junior Matt Schwartzer, who finished 43rd overall. After jumping 38 places from his 2013 nationals finish, he could be in the mix for a top finish overall as a senior this season.
Moving to wrestling, Taylor Walsh also overachieved by reaching the NCAA finals in the 165 pound division despite being only the 6 seed. He fell to undefeated and defending national champion Alex Derringer from Oklahoma State, which is nothing to be ashamed of considering the competition. Walsh becomes an All American and the first Hoosier to make a NCAA final since 2008, a good way for this senior to head out.
A future star for years to come in Bloomington was born this year as freshman diver James Connor made the event finals for all three diving events at the NCAA championships, a feat not matched by any other diver at any other program. His three top-4 finishes led the Hoosiers to a middle-of-the-pack respectable 12th place finish at nationals as a team as well. Look for potential national championships from this diver in the coming years.
Be sure to support and enjoy these other achievements that the student athletes are bringing home to Bloomington now and in the near future.