Pete DiPrimio, sports columnist and college beat writer for The News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne, Ind., takes his best shots on the world of Hoosier basketball.

Sunday, March 4

A Memorable Finale

There were plenty of pre-game hugs and handshakes to go around, an early game tongue lashing (sometimes Rod Wilmont needs a kick in the you-know-what) and the kind of grand finale you hope for on Senior Night.

In the end Indiana was way too much for under-achieving Penn State. So the Hoosiers ended the regular season with a 94-63 victory, a two-game winning streak and the third seed in the upcoming Big Ten tournament.

Not a bad debut season for coach Kelvin Sampson.

Of course, fair or not, you’re remembered most for what you do in the postseason, which means doing well in the NCAA Tournament.

IU is almost certainly assured of an at-large bid no matter what happens later this week in Chicago. It received a first-round bye and will play the winner of Illinois-Penn State on Friday night.

The Hoosiers (21-9) are playing for a better NCAA seed and, perhaps, a first-round site close to home -– Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, and Lexington offer the best possibilities.

Until then, let’s remember the seniors and how they went out in style at Assembly Hall -– Wilmont rallying for 21 points and 11 rebounds after Sampson had to chew him out for some early lackluster defense.

How about Earl Calloway ignoring the soreness from a shoulder injury to total 15 points and 11 assists? Finally, there was Errek Suhr playing steady as ever in his fan favorite role.

“I’ve been about to live my dream,” Suhr told the Assembly Hall crowd after the Penn State victory. “I’ve been living it for four years.”

Added Wilmont about his height-challenged teammate: “Errek gives everything he has -– for being 4-2.”

For the record, Suhr is listed at 5-9.

Sampson called Suhr a “rock for this program.” He said Calloway “is a great ambassador for our program.” He praised Wilmont’s toughness and energy and passion.

Wilmont is a fifth-year senior from Florida who once was so unhappy about the Hoosier winters, he wanted to leave. Now, he basks in the glory of IU basketball.

“I’m going to miss this,” he said, “but I’ve been here way too long.”


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