Expectations are a hard thing to meet. Rarely are they set at an attainable level and even more rarely will someone or something meet or exceed expectations.
Thus, as "The Movement" grew to become something Hoosier fans could not stop talking about even as the group were still in high school, the expectations grew. A program was still recovering and, at the time of the original commitment, they were deemed the group that would take Indiana back to glory.
It goes without saying that "The Movement" was anything but successful with the unit, as a whole, failing. But the exception to that was Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell. Ferrell entered as the highest-rated of the recruits and with the biggest challenge, given the starting point guard spot on one of the most talented teams in the country from day one.
Four years later, Yogi is lacing his shoes up one last time inside Assembly Hall with broken records and a lasting legacy behind him.
Even before Ferrell stepped on campus, expectations were set high for him. As a point guard at Park Tudor, Ferrell led his team to back-to-back titles while being named a McDonald's All-American and Mr. Basketball runner-up.
Expectations quickly surrounded him at IU as he was thrust into the starting line-up of a team expected to be a national title contender, given the unenviable task of leading them on the court. While that team earned an outright Big Ten title, their loss to Syracuse in the Sweet 16 left a sour taste in fans mouths and an empty feeling of unfulfilled expectations.
After a mass exodus of the Hoosier roster that spring and summer left Ferrell and freshman Noah Vonleh on a young roster as the main contributors, the Hoosiers fell hard, missing the NCAA Tournament and seeing Vonleh bolt, leaving fans disappointed and even the lowest expectations unchecked.
His junior seasons saw a maturing team peak in January in one of Ferrell's greatest games at Indiana in Assembly Hall against Maryland, giving fans ideas of a Big Ten title and a deep tournament run. A collapse of epic proportions that left them one-and-done in the NCAA Tournament ended those dreams abruptly and harshly. Yet again, expectations unmet.
Over the spring following that season, Ferrell contemplated a jump to the NBA but decided to give Bloomington and the Hoosiers one last season, his senior season, thus immediately raising expectations.
Perhaps at no point in Ferrell's career was there a low like Indiana had after being run off the court in Durham in December. The Hoosiers had just laid a giant egg in Maui with losses to UNLV and Wake Forest, then followed it up by looking totally out-classed by Duke on national television.
But with the program at its lowest this season, Ferrell cemented his legacy at Indiana.
Over the next 22 games, Indiana went 19-3 and Ferrell lifted the program to a level it hadn't been since his freshman season. The Hoosiers reeled off 12 straight wins following the embarrassment at Cameron Indoor and raced their way to the top of the Big Ten.
In that time, Ferrell elevated his game to a level we hadn't seen, pouring in 17.9 points, 5.1 assists, 3.3 rebounds while shooting 45.3% from the field and 44.4% from three-pointer territory in that 22-game stretch. Even the stats don't do justice to how great Ferrell has been with timely assists, veteran leadership and clutch baskets not finding their way into boxscores. As the Hoosiers kept winning, Ferrell started getting more and more recognition as he played his way into Big Ten Player of the Year contention despite an immense season from Denzel Valentine at Michigan State
But Ferrell sealed his legacy with a handful of crucial performances down the stretch. First at home against Purdue in his final rivalry game, then on the road against Illinois in a stereotypical trap game. But the shot, and moment, that will forever be associated with Ferrell is his three-pointer in the final minute to give Indiana the Big Ten title outright.
To simply say, though, that Ferrell's teams often didn't meet expectations in the past, therefore he didn't, would be a massive discredit to what Ferrell has done at Indiana.
Through all the highs and lows, the ups and downs, Ferrell has been a mainstay for these Hoosiers, all the while giving fans unforgettable moments and shots like his against Butler his freshman year, Georgetown his junior year or Iowa his senior year.
Ferrell's court vision is second-to-none for players to have worn the candy stripes, evidenced by his spot atop Indiana's all-time assist leaderboard. Barring something drastic, Ferrell will finish sixth all-time in career assists in Big Ten history with an outside shot at the top five. The flashiness in which he handed out those assists will be how many fans remember Ferrell, whether it was hoisting lobs, behind-the-back dimes or no-look passes (like the one he broke the Indiana record on).
Players like Ferrell don't come along often. Once a decade if a program is lucky. In this era of one-and-done players, a four-year player as talented as Ferrell rarely will stick around with a program.
Players who make an instant impact on a program as a freshman like he don't stick around for four years. Players don't turn down the NBA multiple times, especially to stay with a program that struggled like the Hoosiers did in both his sophomore and junior seasons. Even before the days of one-and-dones, it was rare for players to have immediate playing time as a freshman and stay four seasons. It's the reason Ferrell has the most starts in program history.
Yet through all of the scrutiny, both warranted and not, Ferrell stayed. When the Hoosiers struggled and fell short of tournament berth, Ferrell stayed. When the NBA knocked on his door, Ferrell stayed. And as the Hoosiers hoist their second outright Big Ten title in four years, fans should be thrilled that Ferrell stayed.
Players like Ferrell are often taken for granted. Fan bases become so accustomed to him and his level of play that they don't realize how very few programs have a player like Ferrell on their team, and even fewer have that player for four years. Don't take for granted what Ferrell has done and will do in his final weeks as a Hoosier, because you'll miss it when it's gone next season.
When Ferrell takes the court today for his last time at Assembly Hall, it'll signify the end to one of the last chapters in one of the greatest careers in Hoosier history. And when Ferrell steps up to cut down the nets and raise the Big Ten trophy after the game, one he led the Hoosiers to, it'll also signal a rare moment in Ferrell's time at IU, but an appropriate one given his career.