Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Ohio State Or Not, It's Time for IU To Win
So now Tom Crean gets the Mike Davis treatment. He can’t coach. He can’t motivate. He claps too much instead of kicking somebody’s rump. Indiana can’t fire him soon enough.
A month or so ago, fresh off the recruiting success of landing Cody Zeller, among others, Crean could walk on water. Now people want to waterboard torture him.
Relax, everybody. This, too, shall pass. Crean didn't direct Marquette to the Final Four and win 190 games in nine seasons because he made a deal with the devil. He can coach. The Hoosiers will win.
See what happens when you make $2.2 million a year coaching a tradition-rich program. Patience has never been a virtue among fans, especially in this instant-gratification world, and after a pair of 20-loss seasons and now three straight defeats, nobody cares about the Kelvin Sampson debacle.
They just want tough-minded players who win –- NOW, not a year or two from now.
There’s no reason IU can’t win this year. It has the potential to be a NIT team, it has experience and talent, so play like it and bury the Penn State mess that fuels fear of a 1-17 (or worse) Big Ten record.
A victory over Ohio State would fix that. For a day, anyway.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Get the Buckeyes in Assembly Hall, pack about 17,000 amped up fans looking for something to cheer before the big New Year’s Eve bash, get the Hoosiers to embrace their inner warrior (assuming they HAVE an inner warrior) and win the freaking the game. Specifically, win the last freaking crunch-time minutes of the game.
By now you know the Buckeyes are ranked No. 2 in the nation, are 13-0 and have stomped opponents by an average margin of 29 points.
Well, we’ve got some good news -- sort of. You could argue that Ohio State is 13-0 because it fattened up on patsies. CollegeRPI.com rates its schedule at No. 149. By comparison, IU is at 270.
Yes, that means the Hoosiers’ schedule is almost twice as easy as Ohio State’s.
But we digress.
The Buckeyes have won at Florida and at Florida State. That might not rate with road wins at Duke or Wisconsin, but it’s solid enough. Those teams aren't patsies.
Yes, Ohio State has talent. How does coach Thad Matta keep doing it? He gets one-and-done players, guys who leave before their four years are up, some wisely, some not, and the Buckeyes keep cruising (169-54 in Matta's seven seasons). Why? Because the guy can recruit. Every year Matta brings in studs.
Take this season. You have Jared Sullinger, a 6-9, 280-pound double-double freshman machine who, if he keeps up his averages of 17.5 points and 10.1 rebounds, might challenge for national player of the year honors.
Another freshman is Deshaun Thomas, an in-state kid who got away, the Indiana Mr. Basketball from Fort Wayne Bishop Luers who averages 11.7 points and 5.4 rebounds.
You throw in these guys with a veteran group from last year’s Big Ten tri-championship team (the others were Michigan State and Purdue) and it’s almost not fair.
Jon Diebler is ruthless from three-point range. He already has the Ohio State record for most three-pointers in a career. He shoots at a 47.4-percent clip from beyond the arc. David Lighty is versatile and tough and averages 13.2 points. William Bufford averages 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds. Dallas Lauderdale is tough and strong and has 32 blocks this season.
These are guys you can win with, and the Buckeyes do.
So what does IU have to do to win? For starters, don’t fall into the big early holes as has happened the past few games. It needs production from its inside guys. Somebody has to contain Sullinger or he’ll total 50 points and 20 rebounds. IU will probably have to guard him by committee. Bobby Capobianco seems certain to get every allotted foul. The guy is a foul magnet, but if he can use those fouls to beat up Sullinger, that’s okay.
Yes, you can talk about IU needing better ball movement, defending the pick and roll better, closing out on three-point shooters, and all those other things, but the bottom line is the Hoosiers need to get tough. They need to make plays when the game is on the line.
That, too, sounds easy. As anyone who has watched IU in the last week or so can say, nothing is easy with these guys.
Unless it’s Savannah State. Ohio State is no Savannah State.