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Indiana looks forward to next season after missing NIT

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Tom Crean wanted the Hoosiers to keep playing basketball.

The two biggest postseason tournaments had other plans.

Less than an hour after being left out of the NCAA's 68-team field and then snubbed by the 32-team NIT, the Indiana coach expressed disappointment that the season was officially over.

"We would have loved to be able to keep playing," Crean said in a statement issued by the athletic department. "Our determination and confidence was high. Our desire to improve has been strong. Not much I will add now but we certainly appreciate the great support of our Indiana fans and students. See you next year. "

This was expected this to be a challenging season for the Hoosiers, who were trying to replace four 1,000-point scorers from a team that went to two straight regional semifinals and spent most of last season ranked in the top five.

Fans believed that with one of the nation's highest-ranked recruiting classes, the Hoosiers could still finish in the top half of the Big Ten and roll into the NCAA tournament.

Instead, the young Hoosiers (17-15) struggled with inconsistent play and turnovers all season.

The problems continued Thursday when the Hoosiers lost 64-54 to ninth-seeded Illinois in the first-round of the Big Ten tournament. Illinois and Minnesota both made the NIT field. The Hoosiers did not.

"I hope we get to continue to play," Crean said when asked to describe this season following Thursday's loss. "It would be an honor to keep playing."

But even with a resume that included four wins over ranked teams, Indiana didn't make the cut.

It's the fourth time in six years the Hoosiers have not played in either of college basketball's two major postseason tourneys.

No teams from the state made the NCAA tourney, the first time that's happened since 2005. And only one in-state team made the NIT field.

Missouri Valley Conference runner-up Indiana State (23-10) plays Tuesday at Arkansas (21-11). It's the fourth time and second straight season the Sycamores have been chosen for the NIT.

It's been a tough few days in Bloomington.

On Friday, a New York newspaper cited an anonymous source in reporting some boosters wanted to buy out Crean's contract and replace him with former Indiana star Mike Woodson, the embattled Knicks coach. Athletic director immediately knocked down the rumors in a text message.

"There is no truth to it at all," Glass wrote.

On Saturday, freshman forward Collin Hartman tore the ACL in his right knee during a workout.

Less than 24 hours later, the season ended sooner than Crean expected.

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