Some 216 hours later than originally planned, Assembly Hall will play host to this season’s only meeting between Indiana and Iowa.
This time, school officials expect no bizarre disruptions, no fallen metal plates, no scares.
The historic and beloved arena, which opened in 1971, was deemed fully operational last week.
Now it’s ready to play host to a men’s basketball game for the first time since IU postponed the clash with Iowa on Feb. 18. Hours before tipoff, a piece of facing weighing nearly 50 pounds and measuring 8 feet in length fell from the ceiling and damaged seats.
Given the safety concerns, the Hawkeyes were willing to wait and supported Indiana athletic director Fred Glass’ decision to call it off.
I think everybody handled a very difficult situation very well, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
He and his team were at their hotel getting ready for dinner when Glass phoned and explained the situation to McCaffery.
He was very professional, apologetic, McCaffery said. We both said, Safety first.’ God forbid that happened later and somebody got hurt. That would have been awful. We said, We’ll figure it out and come up with a date.’
In consultation with the Big Ten office, the two sides settled on tonight.
The No. 20 Hawkeyes (19-8, 8-6) flew directly to Bloomington after losing at Minnesota on Tuesday.
Indiana also tried to make the best of a scheduling curveball.
For the game to be canceled was unfortunate, but we just had to change our mindset, Hoosiers point guard Yogi Ferrell said.
Our mindset was that we were going to play a game, but instead of that we basically had a free week of practice. In that week we watched extra film and got better at the things that we needed to, he added.
The Hoosiers (15-12, 5-9) played one of their more complete games at Northwestern before wasting a strong first half Tuesday at No. 14 Wisconsin.
They have lost seven of their last 10, with a number of factors conspiring to knock their season sideways.
This contest will be Indiana’s third in six days, a sequence that Ferrell said stresses bodies more than minds.
With so many games, rest is important, Ferrell said. We tell them to get to bed early, even two nights before a game. Coach (Tom Crean) always says, the day before the day before.’ After the game, getting into the cold tank (is needed) to help get your legs rejuvenated.
That might be especially true after tonight’s matchup of the Big Ten’s fastest-paced teams.
The Hawkeyes are a high-scoring, up-tempo offense and a deep, experienced club.
Two victories last season improved the Hoosiers’ all-time record in the series to 97-74, which includes a 59-28 edge in Bloomington.
Iowa last won at Assembly Hall on Feb. 5, 2011.
While the Hoosiers are struggling, they have found a way to play to the top of their abilities in marquee moments at Assembly Hall. Indiana is 2-1 at home against ranked opponents.
That’s what we’re capable of when we really lock in, Crean said.