Indiana's senior class is one of the more interesting combinations of players you'll see in a given school's Senior Night. Only Yogi Ferrell played his entire career at Indiana University; Nick Zeisloft joined on scholarship for his final two years after playing at Illinois State; Ryan Burton walked-on for two years after spending two seasons at Bellarmine University; Max Bielfeldt came in as a graduate transfer after spending four years at Michigan; and Jackson Tharp spent three and a half years as a manager before being given a jersey and added to the roster just a couple of months ago.
We all expected Yogi to be one of five seniors standing up and giving speeches on a night like this when before he arrived on campus. Of course, we all anticipated he'd be up there with the four fellow members of "The Movement", the now-maligned nickname given to the recruiting class that Yogi headlined coming out of high school. One by one, those highly-touted players left Indiana, either by choice or by mandate, and only Yogi remained. So instead, the Hoosiers' all-time leader in assists will be joined by two walk-ons and two transfers.
And two outright Big Ten titles.
So as we look back on this senior class, we at Crimson Quarry dot com have selected one signature moment for each of the seniors from their Indiana careers:
Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell:
Clinching the Outright Title (at Iowa, 2016):
Yogi made this decision much, much easier on all of us on Tuesday night when he finally got the moment he'd been waiting for: hitting the big shot when it was absolutely necessary. Using that same sidestep we've seen him pull off hundreds of times, he gave himself enough space to rise up confidently and drain the deep jumper that gave Indiana a five point lead with less than 40 seconds remaining.
ALSO CONSIDERED: record-breaking assist vs. Illinois, three pointers to force overtime against Butler (2012) and Georgetown (2014) but both of those games ended in losses.
Four consecutive three pointers (at Minnesota, 2016)
Nick Zeisloft is the clubhouse leader among guys who take shots where I say out loud "man we really need this one to go down" mostly because over 85% of his shots are three pointers so that gives me plenty of time to say it while the ball is in the air. But also because Zeisloft has this knack for stopping opponent runs or catalyzing Indiana ones by draining some truly ridiculous shots from beyond the arc. Sure, he hasn't hit "that shot" in his Indiana career, but a lot of wins can be traced back to his shooting during the middle twenty minutes of a game.
Against Minnesota, Nick was coming off a 4 for 25 start from distance in conference play and started 0 for 2 against the Golden Gophers in a tricky game up at the barn. Indiana trailed 17-8 with ten minutes to go in the first half when Yogi found Zeisloft along the left wing on two consecutive possessions and he stepped up and drilled both of them. He followed that with a third consecutive make from the top of the key before hitting his coup de gras: running the court after a missed shot with his hand up the entire way, he received a long-distance pass from Robert Johnson and put up the shot as his momentum carried him out of bounds. It was as if he was in a game of HORSE against himself.
He's hit 42% of his three-pointers since that game.
Owning AJ Hammons (vs. Purdue, 2016)
We went back and forth about Max's big moment and I think this sequence takes the cake because it was fun as hell to witness and Purdue fans complained about it for days. Bielfeldt posts up AJ Hammons, giving up some significant size and successfully getting a bucket to push Indiana's lead to 12 midway through the second half and then immediately drawing a hilarious charge on AJ Hammons on the way back down the court, which would be the Purdue star's third foul of the evening. The good stuff starts around 1:20.
ALSO CONSIDERED: owning Rutgers (18 points, 14 rebounds), owning Illinois (solo 10-0 run in Assembly Hall)
Hitting two massive threes (vs. Rutgers, 2015)
In what ended up being a very tricky game in Piscataway, the Hoosiers found themselves tied at halftime with the most hapless Power Five conference team of all time. In the second half, Tom Crean turned to Ryan Burton for big minutes as Thomas Bryant picked up five fouls in just six minutes of court time. Burton responded by drilling both three-pointers he attempted and pulling down an offensive rebound that would eventually lead to his second make. The six points he added in the second half loomed quite large in what ended up being a 7-point difference as the horn sounded.
A record-breaking assist (vs. Illinois, 2016)
For the manager-turned-walk-on, just getting the opportunity to put on the jersey would be enough of a signature moment, but Jackson Tharp managed to find his way into Indiana's record book anyway. With the Hoosiers needing only one more three-pointer to break the school record for made threes in a game, Tharp found fellow walk-on Harrison Niego in the left corner with a bullet pass, and the connection was good for Indiana's 19th make from beyond the arc in the game. This is the kind of story that can and should dominate Indiana basketball lore and make for a fantastic trivia question down the road. Seriously, a few years from now ask some diehard who made the record-breaking 19th three-pointer against Illinois and who had the assist. If they successfully say that Jackson Tharp assisted Harrison Niego that'd be impressive as hell.
The goods start around 2:22.
Congrats, seniors. Beat Maryland.