Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Indiana vs. Arizona – when brothers collide

By Pete DiPrimio

BLOOMINGTON -- Welcome to a new, refreshing era of Indiana basketball non-conference scheduling, where the Savannah States of the world could soon be replaced by …



Are you ready to give thanks?

First, IU won’t give up completely scheduling patsies. Every power team in the country does it. You’d have to be an idiot not to do it some, and new coach Archie Miller and veteran athletic director Fred Glass aren’t idiots.

Still, both are committed to quality non-conference scheduling and the first example of that reportedly will be Arizona, which happens to be coached by Sean Miller, who is Archie’s older brother and who will never, ever coach, say, Mississippi Valley State, which had become a recent Assembly Hall regular.

Yes, Hoosier Nation noticed.

Anyway, according to Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports, Indiana and Arizona are set to launch a three-game series starting in 2019.

In case you’ve forgotten, Arizona has become a perennial national title contender under Sean Miller, although it has not won a national title. IU has won five of them, the last in 1987, which was so long ago Twitter hadn’t even been thought of, let alone invented.

Seriously. There was no Twitter in 1987, or any social media. Not even close.

There was Billy Ray Cyrus, but we digress.

Anyway, Archie wants to get it on with his brother. Sean has the same feelings.

Rothstein indicated the series would start in Arizona for the 2019-20 season, then switch to IU the following season, then end up at a neutral site, which would mean in New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

Archie Miller already has Hoosier Nation buzzing just because he is not Tom Crean, who wore out his welcome after missing out on the NCAA tourney in two of the last four seasons.

Miller got them buzzing even more with a recent recruiting blitz that landed three four-star guys who figure to stay for all four seasons, which is huge for getting and keeping IU in title contention.

That followed the opening buzz when Miller retained three freshman from Crean’s 2017 recruiting class.

And that doesn’t even count the assurance from Glass that as soon as it can be worked out, IU and Kentucky will resume their annual series that got derailed because of location silliness.

So people are pumped.

This IU-Arizona series will pump them up more.

Right now, the Hoosiers are unbeaten.

All things are possible, until they’re not.

Honeymoons are wonderful things.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Careers end early for IU’s T.J. Simmons and Camion Patrick

By Pete DiPrimio

BLOOMINGTON -- T.J. Simmons had his day in the Indiana Cream ‘n Crimson football sun.

Camion Patrick never did.

And never will.

The end has come for both players’ Hoosier careers. Injuries were the cause. A medical redshirt was the result. That means Simmons and Patrick will remain on scholarship for their final season, but won’t play.

The announcement came Monday morning.

A knee injury ended Simmons’ hopes for a big finale. He played in 37 straight games to open his career, with 35 starts. He totaled 213 tackles with six sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss. He also forced two fumbles and recovered a fumble.

But a knee injury caused him to miss all of last season. It became apparent that the knee would not allow him to play this season.

“T.J. was a three-year starter and a tough kid that I was looking forward to coaching,” coach Tom Allen said in a university release. “He did everything that he could to get himself back from his knee injury, but he was unable to reach a place where he could consistently play.”

Simmons’ playing days are over, but not in his ability to help the program. He’ll work as a student assistant coach in the weight room and in practice.

“T.J. is excited about his new role,” Allen said. “He will be helping his teammates get better. T.J. has such a passion for the game and this program, and I am thrilled to have him help us breakthrough.”

The “breakthrough” Allen referred to was achieving a winning record, something IU hasn’t done since 2007.

Then there was Patrick, a potential superstar out of junior college who could never stay healthy enough to put substance to the hype.

He arrived at IU in 2015 and for academic reasons couldn’t play, but looked so good in practice that then coach Kevin Wilson consistently praised him. Although he arrived as a receiver, he showed particular promise as a running back.

He tore his ACL during 2016 spring practice, but recovered in time to play last season. He caught six passes for 154 yards (including a 40-yard touchdown). Against then No. 3 Michigan and its nation’s best defense, he rushed four times for 10 yards and a TD.

He hurt his shoulder late in the season and needed off-season surgery.

He wasn’t able to make it back for this season.

“Unfortunately, Camion dealt with multiple injuries during his time at IU and was never able to fully recover,” Allen said. “He has worked hard in the classroom. Camion has battled to get back following each injury, but his body has let him down. He recognizes that. We recognize that, and we want to help him finish strong in the classroom and help him create a bright future for himself.”

Meanwhile, IU All-America linebacker Tegray Scales (pictured above) was one of 10 Big Ten players honored in the league’s preseason list announced as part of this week’s Big Ten football gathering in Chicago.

Scales was one of five East Division players honored. The others were Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, Ohio State defensive end Tyquan Lewis, Penn State running back Saquan Barkley and Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Recruiting high -- Indiana rolling under Archie Miller

By Pete DiPrimio

BLOOMINGTON -- Archie Miller has ‘em pumped.

You bet he does.

The man hired, at a hot $3.3 million a year, to revive Indiana’s national title-winning basketball ways, has Hoosier Nation jacked with a red-hot July recruiting roll that even generated a buzz in the Rocky Mountains.

Trust me. I was there. I heard it while at elevations surpassing 11,000 feet.

Anyway, Miller landed commitments from three four-star recruits in like 30 seconds – forwards Race Thompson and Damezi Anderson, and swingman Jerome Hunter.

OK, it was really more like two days, but it was enough to propel IU into top-12 national class status courtesy of Scout.com.

The 6-8 Thompson, a top-90 prospect, was supposed to be part of the Class of 2018, but reclassified to this year, which means he could play this year, but won’t so he can redshirt.

Why do that?

To get an early jump on college life, academics and basketball. That could lead to maximum impact when Thompson does start playing in November of 2018.

According to Scout.com, Hunter is considered the No. 62 player in the Class of 2018. Anderson is at No. 81.

Miller has a ton of scholarships to offer, as many as six. He might not use all of them, but he has them, and topping the wish list is, of course, New Albany five-star standout Romeo Langford.

Yes, the class’s No. 5 prospect is a potential one-and-done guy, but what a one that could be.

Beyond that, IU is looking at standouts such as Darius Garland (an Indianapolis native now living in Tennessee), Rob Phinisee, Moses Brown, Louis King, Jalen Carey, David Duke and Aaron Henry (a 6-6 rising forward prospect out of Indianapolis Ben Davis).

Garland, by the way, is the nation’s No. 8 overall prospect and the top point guard prospect.

Phinisee is another highly regarded point guard prospect.

Miller won’t get all of them, but he might get enough to have a top-10 class in his IU debut recruiting effort.

Add the fact Miller earlier salvaged the current freshman class of Clifton Moore, Justin Smith and Al Durham (they could have left in the aftermath of Tom Crean's March firing) and no wonder Hoosier Nation is pumped.

As far as the 6-7 Anderson, Miller made up recruiting ground fast, especially on Purdue, which had made him an early target. Connecticut and Michigan also were in the mix. He’s strong and athletic and possesses an effective three-point shot as well as an ability to bang inside.

As a South Bend Riley standout, Anderson also represents Miller’s first success with in-state recruiting, something that he has made a priority. He’s considered the state’s No. 3 prospect via 247 Sports.

Anderson averaged 24.0 points and 7.6 rebounds last season for Riley. He was named the Northern Indiana Conference MVP.

How long has it been since IU got a recruit from South Bend? Since 1976, when Tom Abernathy said yes to then coach Bob Knight.

Then there is Ohio-native Hunter, a versatile 6-7 prospect rated as a top-15 prospect at small forward. Miller had made him a priority when he was at Dayton, and continued the focus when he joined the Hoosiers. 247 Sports has him as the state of Ohio’s No. 2 player.

As a junior at Pickerington North High School, he averaged 19.3 points and 10.9 rebounds. He can play shooting guard or both forward positions.

Add it all up and you have a July to remember.

Will it lead to a season to remember?

To a bunch of seasons to savor?

Stay tuned.