FORT WAYNE – Gas cost $1.16 a gallon. Pope John Paul II completed a visit to Cuba, former President Bill Clinton fought scandal and John Elway won the Super Bowl.
The date was Jan. 25, 1998, and that afternoon Bob Knight’s Hoosiers earned a 69-59 victory over Dick Bennett and Wisconsin at the brand-new Kohl Center.
Indiana hasn’t won there since, falling 11 times.
Not that Badgers coach Bo Ryan sees it as terribly unusual.
A lot of teams have streaks on the line, or this team hasn’t beaten that team since 1878 and whatever, Ryan said.
The Hoosiers (15-11, 5-8 Big Ten) scarcely have time, though, to ponder the past.
Their present features an upcoming gauntlet of No. 14 Wisconsin (22-5, 9-5) tonight, followed by No. 20 Iowa on Thursday and No. 22 Ohio State on Sunday.
We are in full preparation for a big week, IU coach Tom Crean said. For us, it’s a matter of not changing much, staying with the preparation that we would for each game.
This one feels familiar.
When Wisconsin visited Indiana on Jan. 14, the Badgers were riding a winning streak, just as they are currently. And the Hoosiers, desperate then for a quality win, now need a signature road triumph.
You are pacing your team the entire way during the season, Crean said. You’re trying to get them to the point where they are playing good basketball deeper into the season.
Indiana snapped a three-game skid with a 61-56 win Saturday at Northwestern. Crean used a new lineup – inserting Austin Etherington at power forward and moving shooting guard Stanford Robinson to the bench – that seemed to spawn better floor spacing.
We fed the post and played inside-out, Crean said. We did a great job reversing the ball.
The Hoosiers made 47.1 percent of their shots and committed a season-low seven turnovers.
When they’re locked in on the right things, good things happen on the offensive end, Crean said.
Beating Wisconsin might come down to stopping Frank Kaminsky, whose combination of skill and size makes him difficult to defend. The surging center has 63 points in his last three games.
He’s literally taking the ball from the 3-point line and getting all the way to the basket, Crean said.
The Hoosiers enter knowing they can succeed against Ryan’s vaunted defense.
They shot 51.6 percent from the field in the first meeting with Wisconsin, a 75-72 victory. Four Hoosiers reached double figures. Most of Indiana’s success came on penetration.
While the offensive blueprint is in place, executing it a second time and in the hostile Kohl Center presents a challenge.
Of course, given Indiana’s youth, few players likely remember much about 1998, when IU last won at Wisconsin.
I think last week, Crean said, is a distant memory for a young team.