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Indiana disappointed but has more to look forward to

Updated: May 1, 2013 3:36PM

WASHINGTON — Jordan Hulls played 17 minutes in his first college basketball game, an 83-60 Indiana victory against Howard on Nov. 13, 2009.

The Hoosiers won only nine more games that season and a total of 22 his freshman and sophomore years.

Hulls was there for the lows, and he took part in the program’s return to relevance. Indiana (29-7) won its first outright Big Ten title since 1993 en route to the Sweet 16, where the Hoosiers lost to Syracuse 61-50.

“It’s just tough,” Hulls said Thursday. “We prepared so hard. We just didn’t go out there and execute like we needed to. Give Syracuse a lot of credit. They created a lot of problems for us. It was just a terrible way to go out.”

Indiana was ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls. The Hoosiers spent 10 weeks there during the season.

None of that mattered to Syracuse. The Orange baffled the top-seeded Hoosiers with its 2-3 zone. Indiana had more turnovers (19) than field goals (16).

“I will be taking this loss to heart,” said freshman guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, who like Hulls didn’t score against the Orange. “I will be in the gym working every day because I don’t want to feel like this again.”

Ferrell might be the only starter returning next year. Seniors Hulls and Christian Watford won’t be back, and the team might lose Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo to the NBA. Both have been projected as first-round draft picks.

Neither wanted to discuss their future Thursday.

“I’ve been focused on Indiana Hoosier basketball, and I loved playing with these guys and I’ve enjoyed the ride,” said Oladipo, who emerged to become a finalist for the Naismith Award. “I’m never going to forget this team, the players on this team, this coaching staff, anything. That’s all I’ve been thinking about.”

Coach Tom Crean said his role in the process will be to give the players an honest assessment.

“It won’t come from dotcoms and scouts,” Crean said. “It will come from general managers, scouting directors, people like that that really have an investment in what those picks mean and where they would potentially go.”

Indiana has a top-10 recruiting class coming in next season.

“We younger guys have seen how hard the veterans were working, so although we have been working hard, that ethic will continue to increase, especially in the following years,” Ferrell said.

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