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COLUMN: Hoosier Hysteria was all about recruits, the way it should be


New Albany High School senior Romeo Langford watches the video board at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall during Hoosier Hysteria on Saturday. Langford announced he would attend IU to play college basketball Monday night at New Albany High School in New Albany, Indiana. Evan De Stefano Buy Photos

Romeo Langford and Darius Garland.

Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about their importance.

The two 2018 blue-chip, five-star recruits visited IU for Saturday night's Hoosier Hysteria, and there was an aura in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall where you could feel the significance the two players hold.

Give credit to Archie Miller, his staff and the rest who made their visit possible. They pulled out all the stops to make them feel special. 

Before the hysteria began, the IU football game against Michigan State was shown on the video board. A few cheers could be heard here and there when the Hoosiers made a good play, but it didn’t compare to the reaction the crowd gave when IU presented its prized recruits to the public.

First it was Langford, then Garland, both coming out with assistants, marching down the center of the court, for all to see and serenade. With family following behind, IU practically put its prized possessions on a pedestal, and, oh boy, what a great move it was for the program.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, stood up and roared for both Langford and Garland. It was at that point that everyone in the building knew the night wasn’t focused on introducing both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, or to hype up the fan base over the yet-to-begin 2017-18 season. 

The night was all about Langford and Garland, and rightfully so.

Bloomington saw the potential future of IU men's basketball walk across the court Saturday night, and those in attendance made sure both recruits knew it.

It seemed every time there was a break or a lull in the festivities, there was either a “Ro-meo Lang-ford” or a “Dar-ius Gar-land” chant being echoed around Assembly Hall.

The difference between this year and last year’s Hoosier Hysteria was night and day.

A 45-minute ceremony honoring the defending Big Ten Champions was on display last year before the night even began. 

Tom Crean spoke and got emotional over past players for what seemed like forever, but this year, IU Coach Archie Miller was short and sweet with his speech to the crowd. He didn’t drag it out or reminisce about the past. 

He talked about this year’s squad at IU, his first, and the optimism he has for his team and his program in the future.

“Today is a prime example of why you want to be a part of Indiana basketball,” Miller said.

And he’s right.

“It’s with great excitement, that hopefully in time, years go by and the tradition continues to excel,” Miller said. “The players will develop, more great players arrive, and that we can continue to push for the ultimate goal here at Indiana. To try our best, to knock on that door, to find a way, to get the sixth banner hanging up there.”

You’re going to hear this a lot throughout the season, but this year’s Hoosier Hysteria really felt different. And that’s not just because of it being Miller’s first year at IU, but in the sense of putting the spotlight on recruits.

Fans continuously filed out of the arena once the men’s basketball scrimmage began, and it wasn’t because the team was playing bad. 

It was because they had already seen what they came for.

“Ro-meo Lang-ford!”

Another one.

“Dar-ius Gar-land!”

At the end of the day, it’s all about who commits and who doesn’t, but after Saturday night, it looked like IU showed the two guards how much they want them. Who knows, maybe next year Langford and Garland will be playing on that same court for the Hoosiers.

It looked good for Miller when he was able to retain all of the 2017 commits, but getting either Langford or Garland or both? In his first year as head coach? Now that would be impressive.


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