Because a prerequisite of being an Indiana basketball fan involves viewing the past with rose-tinted glasses and also because I want to believe my memories of IU basketball have any semblance of meaning in the grand scheme of things, I introduce to you the Crimson Quarry edition of Throwback Thursday.
But realistically, what more could I say about the likes of IU legends such as Steve Alford, Calbert Cheaney, and Cody Zeller that you haven't already heard? Probably not much. So, I'm bypassing all that and focusing on the hidden gems. The players that had a lot of moxie but not necessarily a lot of skill. The instantly memorable players that may not have filled up the stat sheet (or even shown up on it), but carved a place in Hoosier lore for one reason or another.
(Note: This will be an ongoing feature, and if there are any players you want to see chronicled here, let us know in the comments.)
What better way to lead off a glorified list like this than with the one and only Tijan Jobe.
Jobe, the 7'0", 250 lb monster of a man out of The Gambia, came to IU during one of the low points in IU basketball history. Fresh off the Kelvin Sampson scandal, the '08-'09 roster was a mix of JC transfers, little-regarded prospects, and Kyle Taber, but none stood out more physically than Jobe. While he looked he belonged in the NBA, well, that's about where those comparisons end. To really get a feel for what this era was like in real-time, check out this screenshot from a 2009 home game against Northwestern and think about how far we've come.
(Mike Santa! Steven Gambles! A 19 point loss to Northwestern at home!)
But instead of lingering on the lows like the rest of us, Tijan beat the odds and worked his way into our hearts. Here's a few reasons why:
1. Tijan and the vaunted 1-3-1 zone
I've spent way too long looking for video proof, so please, please message me if you know where to find it, but for anyone who was watching when Tijan, for one play, was brilliantly placed at the top of Tom Crean's 1-3-1 zone was in for a treat. With arms flailing everywhere and a motor that was stuck on overdrive, Tijan fell for every ball fake he got his eyes on. Undeterred, he chased guards half his size near the half-court line and repeatedly got a standing ovation for his intensity. Tijan was to the 1-3-1 what Ben Wallace was to rim protection in the early 2000's.
(Tijan cementing his legacy as the most important #40 in Indiana basketball history)
2. His highlight reel
As YouTube commenter leo chews so adeptly pointed out, it seems that Tijan's entire statistical history can be viewed in the glorious video above. So, stop what you're doing right now and watch this highlight reel, because honestly, what better things do you have to be doing?
While most of the video is either Tijan doing the Mikan drill or grabbing rebounds that would make Dennis Rodman proud, a few moments on the video are too good to go unmentioned:
- 1:14 - Down 27 to St. Joe's, Jobe's pure hustle on 3 Hoosier misses (including 2 hilariously awful Kyle Taber layups) led to the most hard-fought 2 points in his illustrious career, courtesy of an accidental putback tip.
- 1:50 - While the video cuts out too soon, Tijan really started becoming a fan favorite after this play, in which he wildly swung his arms to rile up the student section at Lucas Oil Stadium after an early-game block on #5 Gonzaga.
- 2:04 - Wow. This was EASILY the most thrilling free throw I have ever seen in my entire life. Never one to be simple with his methods of scoring, Tijan put us through an emotional ringer with this one. In literally the only made free throw of his career, Tijan got the ball to roll around the rim, bounce off the backboard, roll back around the rim, and finally fall into the hoop to get IU within 20 late in the 2nd half against Wisconsin. Truly riveting stuff.
- 2:16 - With pop-a-shot superstar Devan Dumes watching from the bench, Tijan grabbed a rebound against Penn State, hustled down to the offensive end, and flushed home a Matt Roth pass for the only dunk of his career. A 2-way player in every sense of the word.
3. His legacy
Anytime Tijan stepped on the court, he was a must-watch sensation. And really, in seasons that were as completely awful as the two in which he played were, anyone capable of achieving that distinction was something special. For as much tongue-in-cheek popularity as he received, he really did carry himself in a fantastic manner and earned the right to become a part of IU's storied basketball history. So here's to you, Tijan. And because I couldn't have said it any better myself, take it away, KoolKatKlub69: