Tuesday, August 31, 2010

IU's Good Football Men Start With Chappell, Replogle

Indiana needed a few good football men, and who better to lead the way than quarterback Ben Chappell and linebacker Tyler Replogle. They have been elected season captains entering Thursday night’s season opener against Towson.

Chappell is poised for a big-time senior season. He’s on the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award Watch List, plus is a nominee for the AFCA Good Works Team and the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. He ranks among the top-20 returning quarterbacks nationally in completions per game (22.33), passing yards (2,941), passing yards per game (245.08) and total offense (2,932 yards). Those totals all lead the Big Ten.

He’s in IU’s top 10 for career completions (59.9 percent, first), passing yards (3,956, 10th), passing touchdowns (21, 9th) and total offnse (4,022, 10th).

Replogle is the Big Ten’s sixth-leading returning tackler at 7.3. He finished with 80 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.


Today we’re going to help you get to IU football games without resorting to road rage, photon torpedoes or becoming a Purdue fan.

For instance, did you know IU will send messages on traffic information to ticket holders via letters, emails and a Twitter page www.Twitter.com/IUTraffic)? Plus, information is available at IUHoosiers.com

This is important because of the potential traffic headaches caused by the widening of the 45/46 Bypass.

The No. 1 thing to do is get to the game early. Traffic will circle the stadium in clockwise rotation, so brace yourself for one-way traffic (north-bound) on Dunn Steet and Fee Lance, and plus the 45/46 Bypass (west-bound from Fee Lane to Walnut Street.

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) also will alter traffic signals at SR 37 and SR 67 from Indianapolis to ease traffic problems. Finally, Indot will measure average travel time from Indianapolis using a new detection technology.

The bottom line -– it needs to be easy to get to IU football games. If it’s not, people won’t come and in these economically bad times, that’s potentially disastrous.


You might think of Lee Corso as a funny college football TV analyst with a habit of putting on mascot heads, but did you know he was actor Burt Reynold’s roommate at Florida State, plus a multiple letter winner in football and baseball for the Seminoles.

Oh, yes. He coached a little football for Indiana and while he didn’t deliver a consistent winner (he did guide the Hoosiers to a 1979 Holiday Bowl victory over previously unbeaten Brigham Young) he did produce perhaps the most hilarious coach’s show ever. One of the most memorable moments was when the show began with Corso lying motionless in a coffin. He then popped up and said, “We ain’t dead yet.”

Anyway, we know this because it was part of the bio after Corso was named the winner of the National College Football Awards Association 2010 Contributions to College Football Award. It recognized contributions to college football and a lifetime of achievement and integrity.

Other award winners include TV announcer Keith Jackson, Nebraska coach Tom Osborne, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, Georgia coach Vince Dooley and Texas coach Darrell Royal.

Corso joined ESPN in 1987 after a 28-year coaching career. In 2001 The Sporting News magazine named him as the 17th most influential person in college football.

He also was the head coach of Louisville, Northern Illinois and the Orlando Renegades of the U.S. Football League.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Doss Out For Thursday Night Opener

Tandon Doss isn’t going to play. For now, with Towson coming to Memorial Stadium on Thursday night, this is no big deal. Indiana should roll with or without this returning All-Big Ten receiver.

A grooin injury has sidelined the 6-3, 205-pound junior. That means the Hoosiers will be without a guy who, as a sophomore, caught 77 passes for 962 yards and five touchdowns.

Given their receiver depth (talented redshirt freshman Duwyce Wilson will replace Doss) and Towson’s likely secondary vulnerability, this should not be a problem on Thursday. It could become one later in the season if Doss remains out, but all indications are that won’t happen.

“He’s not going to play (against Towson),” coach Bill Lynch said. “In fairness to him and to the other guys, he’s just not making the progress he needs to make to play at full speed.

“It’s a long year. We don’t want it to be a lingering injury.”

IU gets an apparent scheduling break in that, after Thursday’s game, it doesn’t play again until Sept. 18 when it goes to Western Kentucky. Those 16 days will go a long way toward getting Doss, and other injured Hoosiers, healthy.

“There’s no question we can use the time (for Doss) and anything else that happens Thursday night,” Lynch said. “It helps with a kid like Chris Adkins (out until midseason after ankle surgery). We hope to get him back. You always spin your schedule to a positive. That’s how we’re looking at it.”

The Hoosiers are gearing for what they hope is a major turnaround after winning a combined seven games in the past two seasons.

“We’ve spent a lot of time finding out who is ready to play,” Lynch said. “We won’t have tryouts on Thursday. We’ll play the guys who have proven they are ready.

“From a scheme standpoint we’ve worked hard on third downs on both sides of the ball. We did a lot of things in camp to make it more competitive. We had drills where there were winners and losers. There was conditioning after practice depending on who won and who lost.

“We worked on red zone offense and red zone defense. We’ve got to score more touchdowns in the red zone. The defense has to have that mindset that it will force field goals. We’ve spent a ton of time in those areas.”

Coaches also have focused on attention to detail and maximum effort on every play.

“The defense is supposed to run to the ball on every play,” Lynch said. “We chart every loaf and if we see it they run as a group. Offensively it’s about ball security. If we see a ball on the ground or a turnover, the entire offense does something after practice. That includes things like pre-snap penalties.”

The bottom line is IU needs to show this will be a special season. Yes, that means little things matter. And it starts, but certainly doesn’t end, with a victory Thursday night.


To clarify an earlier blog, freshman receiver Kofi Hughes is the only true freshman likely to play against Towson. He's the only true true freshman listed on the two-deep roster. The injury to Doss and Dre Muhammad's ankle injury increases the chances that Hughes will see action.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Top 5 Signs IU Football Will Rock

Football season is here and it's time for REAL MAN prognasticating. That means we’re going to reveal the five key signs that will let you know, four days before the first kickoff, if Indiana is going to have a break-through season.

We’ll do this by analyzing all the data from every Indiana and BCS team game ever played. Also by climbing the highest mountain in Colorado. As a result, these signs are 100 percent guaranteed accurate, or your money back.

Any questions before we get started?


First, that’s not a question. Second, let’s not confuse knowledge with wisdom. Third, go bake a cake.

Anyway, these are the five key areas that will determine Indiana’s success. If it goes 5-0, bet the house on a bowl game. If it’s 4-1, bet your neighbor’s house. If it’s 3-2 or worse, well, there’s always next year.

SIGN NO. 1: Indiana beats Towson by at least 25 points.

The Hoosiers need a decisive win. None of this hanging on in the fourth quarter stuff. They need to blow out the Tigers by halftime, then keep going in the second half.

Towson is, and we’re begin diplomatic here, not a powerhouse. It is a struggling Division I-AA team or whatever the name for that division is. The Tigers went 2-9 last year and lost their final six games by a combined 241-61. They lost 47-14 to Northwestern last year. The Wildcats, in case you’ve forgotten, went to a bowl game.

If IU struggles to beat Towson at home, what’s going to happen when it faces Big Ten teams?

Yes, Iowa barely beat Northern Iowa in last year’s season opener, then went on to kick rump, but as Confucius once said, Indiana ain’t no Iowa.


We’re professional journalists. We never make mistakes except when remembering Tyler Replogle’s first name. Or is that Adam?

SIGN NO. 2: The Hoosiers rush for at least 150 yards against Towson.

Nothing shows dominance like smash-mouth football. IU should be bigger, stronger and faster. It should -– as Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed once told Rocky in what should have been an Oscar-winning performance -– “be more man than him.”

The Hoosiers need to run over, through and around the Tigers. The line should open holes so big five sumo wrestlers could stomp through. The running backs should stiff-arm would-be tacklers into Brown County.

If they can’t, if the Tigers stuff the run and turn IU one-dimensional, well, break out the Barry Manilow CD. That would be easier to take.

SIGN NO. 3: Quarterback Ben Chappell completes at least 60 percent of his passes for more than 200 yards and never gets sacked.

Chappell set an IU single-season record by completing 62.6 percent of his passes last season, a big chunk of that against Big Ten defenses. He’s a 4.0 graduate student in the Kelley School of Business. He has one of the Big Ten’s best group of receivers at his disposal, plus is being protected by what should be a solid Big Ten offensive line. He’s a fifth-year senior who knows the offense inside and out. It’s an offense, by the way, designed to capitalize on his strengths.

Towson allowed opponents to complete 63.9 percent of their passes last season. It should be out-gunned all over the field. It should get torched so bad, IU’s new $2 million scoreboard should lock up from all the activity.

If not, well, did we mention Barry Manilow?

SIGN NO. 4: IU holds Towson to less than 10 points, 100 rushing yards and 150 passing yards.

If the Hoosiers really do have a solid defense, they need to show it right away. Stuff the run. Pressure the quarterback into irrelevance. Allow no big plays. Get off the field on third down.

This is their chance to make a big first defensive impression and that can only happen by doing their best Steel Curtain impression.

The Tigers remind nobody of, say, Oklahoma. They averaged just 13.5 points and 251.1 total yards last season. The Hoosiers with their young talent and 3-4 scheme should dominate.

If IU really is tired of being defensively mediocre, prove it.

SIGN NO. 5: Towson coaches accuse Hoosier coach Bill Lynch of going all Steve Spurrier and running up the score.

Forget all that touchy feely stuff about being nice and not trying to embarrass anybody. This is football. It’s about doing your best on every play. If you don’t like getting hammered, do something about it, like tackle somebody, score touchdowns and make a defensive stand.

If IU can score 60 points, do it. If it can get a shut out, do that, too.

And if somebody gets his feelings hurt, well, don't take the $50,000 or so guarantee money, put on a dress and start knitting.

Okay, we gotta go and eat some nails for breakfast.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

One IU Freshman Likely To Play In Season Opener

Indiana has 24 true football freshmen and only one has a real chance of playing against Towson in Thursday night’s season opener.

Can you guess who it is?

Here’s a hint -– he has a cast on his hand and he still might play.

Remember this Bill Lynch program rule –- true freshmen generally don’t play unless they’re going to start or play a whole bunch.

Consider the leading candidates. Linebacker Chase Hoobler was in the mix in training camp, and at 6-2 and 225 pounds, is probably physically mature enough to handle it. However, IU’s linebacker depth likely means he won’t play unless there’s a bunch of injuries. Right now, all the veterans are healthy.

“I’m not sure we’ll go with Hoobler because of the depth at linebacker,” Lynch said, “but things can change with injuries.”

Running back Matt Perez put up big numbers at Maine South High School in Illinois. In his last two years he rushed for 3,393 yards and 56 touchdowns. He added an Illinois Class 8A record by rushing for 316 yards and five TDs in the championship game. He is 5-11 and 200 with good speed. His Hoosier prospects are bright, but veterans Darius Willis, Tre Burgess, Nick Turner and Zach Davis-Walker are ahead of him.

Another running back, Antonio Banks, enrolled in school last January and participated in spring ball. But the 5-11, 200 pounder has been a little banged up and that leaves immediate playing time in question.

The plan right now is to let them get some practice work this week and see how healthy the veteran running backs are come Thursday. Given the pounding running backs take, health is always a concern.

“We’ll probably rotate (Banks and Perez) to give them a taste in practice,” Lynch said.

So who does that leave as far as freshman candidates? Try Kofi Hughes. He was a quarterback in high school, but he’s a receiver at IU good enough to get consideration at the Hoosiers’ best position.

Yeah, that says a lot about his potential.

“Kofi is the one freshman who will practice up,” Lynch said. “We felt that way when we recruited him. He is an outstanding player and has proven that. He’s playing wide receiver with a cast on his hand, which is obviously not the ideal situation. We’ll find out how that is going to play itself out.”

The 6-2, 200-pound Hughes’ extreme athleticism gives him a playing chance. At Indianapolis Cathedral he was a do-it-all quarterback. He threw for 1,584 yards and 19 touchdowns. He rushed for 1,552 yards and 22 TDs.

This kind of versatility is what drew IU coaches. Wide receiver is a position a true freshman can make an impact because size and strength aren’t as crucial as they are at other positions.

Injuries at receiver will likely be the deciding factor if Hughes plays this season, but one thing is for certain -– he is the kind of improved recruit the Hoosiers have landed in recent years, and that likely will make a huge difference in IU’s quest to return to bowl relevance.

The other freshmen will likely redshirt and play on the scout team, which basically means pretending to be the key players on the opposing team of the week. That approach, Lynch said, is the best way to develop the Hoosiers into consistent bowl contenders.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hungry IU Defense Aims To Prove Its Strength

So now we’re less than a week away from getting our first indication, but certainly not our last, of how good Indiana’s defense will be. Here’s one thing we can say with absolute certainty:

They’re tired of being bad mouthed.

Of course they are. They have competitive pride. Nobody wants to be labeled as the team’s weak link.

There are reasons for that label, centering on eight new players, including a brand new secondary, and a history of defensive mediocrity. But here’s the deal. There is talent here and just because it’s young doesn’t mean it can’t make an impact.

Granted, Towson (the Division I-AA season-opening opponent) should not be a team that has its way with the defense. The Hoosiers should dominate. Truer tests will come in future weeks. But in terms of the unit’s potential, well, you can see in coach Bill Lynch’s eyes that he believes good things are about to happen.

“I’m anxious to watch them play. There are a lot of new faces. I’m going off watching them in practice, when our offense goes against our defense for 15 days in the spring and now like 23 practices in camp.”

What he sees is what should be a good IU offense struggle to move the ball in practice. Yes, a cynic would say this is bad news for the offense. A realist could mention that, because both units have gone against each other for so long, and know each other’s tendencies so well, a struggling offense is to be expected.

“There’s a little bit of cheat there because they know what’s coming,” Lynch said, “but I think we’re a good offensive team and they have not moved the ball on this defense. That excites me that our defense is pretty good.

“This is a group that is hungry and motivated. They have a new personality. They’ve been reading about what people have said about them. They’re anxious to prove this is a good group. They’re out there to be the IU defense. We don’t have a bunch of ‘ME’ guys. They’ve all bought in. They know their roles. It’s going to be a fun group to watch.”

Fun will include four solid defensive tackles in Mick Mentzer, Adam Replogle, Larry Black and Nicholas Sliger; a pair of do-everything defensive ends in Kevin Bush and Darius Johnson; an aggressive group of linebackers led by senior Tyler Replogle (“He’s as intense a guy as I’ve ever been around,” Lynch said), and a competitive-sharpened group of defensive backs (look for a break-out year from senior Richard Council).

The bottom line -- these guys are motivated and talented, perhaps not to the level of Ohio State (few teams are), but enough to win with. Starting on Thursday, we’ll get the chance to see how realistic that is.


After 44 years, Harold Mauro’s IU run is over. That run started as a linebacker for some bad Hoosier teams, included a stint as starting center on a Big Ten tri-champion Rose Bowl team, ended up as an Indiana assistant coach, offensive coordinator, senior associate athletic director and, for the last six years, director of football operations. He was involved in every bowl game in Hoosier history. He was an assistant coach on the 1979 Holiday Bowl winning team, plus was an administrator for the 1986 All-American Bowl, 1988 Peach Bowl, 1988 Liberty Bowl, 1990 Peach Bowl, 1991 Copper Bowl, 1993 Independence Bowl and 2007 Insight Bowl.

Mauro was honored during Friday’s Farewell Reception at Memorial Stadium’s Hall of Champions.

“It has been an honor to work for some great presidents, directors of athletics and head coaches,” he said in a university release. “It was a great journey. I met so many great people along the way. I will always be a Hoosier.”

Thursday, August 26, 2010

IU Football – Sizing Up The Offensive Line

You can talk all you want about the quality of Indiana receivers, the accuracy of quarterback Ben Chappell and the potential of running backs such as Darius Willis, but if the big guys up front struggle, the whole offense breaks down.

That would mean the season would come down to the defense. Given recent history, that is not the best of scenarios, although this unit might surprise people.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the offensive line. It is not a line that rates with the Big Ten’s best in reputation, but nobody wins games on reputation. You need size, strength, toughness, maturity and two-eyes-for-an-eye nastiness.

It starts with right tackle James Brewer, who looks big enough to scare a grizzly bear. He is listed at 6-8 and 335 pounds and he’s in his fifth season. He didn’t play much his first three years because of redshirting and injuries. Last year he started all 12 games and has shown enough improvement that a shot at the NFL is a distinct possibility.

Then there’s center Will Matte. He was one of the nation’s best freshman linemen last year (he only allowed one sack) and, at 6-2 and 295 pounds, has the athleticism to thrive at the position.

Cody Faulkner is another mountain-sized guy. He’s a 6-5, 315-pound redshirt senior. He was a right guard force as a sophomore, a banged-up reserve as a junior. He’s a little banged up again, but he needs to stay healthy to provide much needed maturity and physical play.

Justin Pagan is a 6-5, 332-pound junior left guard who was good enough to play as a true freshman. That is not a typo. On a program known for redshirting freshmen, at a position few first-year guys are physically mature enough to play, he played seven games and started the last five.

He started 11 games last season and allowed just one sack.

Finally there’s junior left tackle Andrew McDonald, who is 6-6 and 304 pounds. He’s played in 13 games over the last two seasons.

Toss in such guys as Jordan Marquette (6-3, 290), Chris Ahlfeld (6-1, 276), Pat McShane (6-5, 297) and that leads to the obvious question:

Where does IU find such big guys?

In truth, a lot of that size is a credit to the strength and conditioning staff and program led by Mark Wateska, as well as target recruiting. Coach Bill Lynch likes athletic linemen, and taller guys are fine.

Most of the linemen got plenty of work in last Saturday’s scrimmage, although Brewer and Matte didn’t get much work.

“At this point,” Lynch said, “they’ve earned starting positions.”

The coaches tried to give a lot of guys reps to develop depth in case a starter goes down during the season.

“Our guys do a great job of pass blocking,” Lynch said. “Our run game has been solid.

“We did a lot of moving around, but it’s hard to do (from now on). We wanted to get as many looks as we could. We wanted to give them some experience at different positions so if something happens and they have to pop out there and play, it’s not new to them.”

IU has enough offensive-line size, strength and athleticism to get the job done. If it does, and Chappell has enough time to pick apart opposing defenses, well, all that talk about this being a special season won’t be just talk.

For the record –- that season opens next Thursday against Towson.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

IU Basketball Recruiting –- Good Coaching Matters

So what exactly does Tom Crean look for in a recruit?

Yes, there are the obvious traits –- basketball skill, athleticism, good character, committed to academics, hard working, mental and physical toughness, a high motor, a good basketball IQ.

Crean also looks for something not so obvious –- good coaching.

“There’s a lot to be said about a way a player is coached,” he said. “It goes back to what you want to get out of your recruiting. It’s not just about any area. Is this a young man who is a year-round winner? Is he getting coached year round?”

Back in the day, like when the Bee Gees ruled the airwaves, players only competed during the high school season. Now, of course, they play high school ball in the winter and AAU or travel ball in the spring and summer.

Both matter and to emphasize one over the other, Crean said, is a mistake.

“You can’t just look at a kid and say, ‘Wow, he’s in a good high school program,’ and then he’s bouncing around in a AAU program or a not-as-good AAU program.

“You might hear, he’s better in the summer. That’s a kiss of death to me. He’s better in the summer than with his high school team? Wait a minute. The high school team has him practicing every day. AAU teams don’t get to do that. So what does that say about him?

“When you find a kid who is a year-round winner with two great programs with high school and AAU ball, that just sticks out.”

Crean said incoming freshmen Will Sheehey and Victor Oladipo meet that criteria. Neither player is from an in-state program (Sheehey is from Florida, Oladipo is from Maryland), but both are expected to have significant impacts this season.

The Hoosiers continue to emphasize in-state recruiting. The high quality of in-state players reflects, in part, the quality of the travel and high school (and even earlier) coaching.

“There is so much good coaching in this state,” Crean said. “And the coaching in the summer time is also outstanding. Those things are really strong for us."

That strength is likely to produce a winning record this season. Five of the team's 15 players come from the state of Indiana. That in-state number is likely to grow in the coming years.

“(Recruiting in-state players) is something we want to do," Crean said, "something fans want us to do, but most important, it makes sense for us to do.”


In case you missed it, former Hoosier Eric Gordon has made the U.S. team that will compete in the FIBA World Championships. Gordon has averaged 16.4 points in two years with the Clippers. He averaged 21.5 points in his lone season in Bloomington.


To answer a reader comment, it just didn’t work out with Jerimy Finch and the IU football program. He was injured a lot after transferring from Florida. He was out of position even more. Coaches could never trust where he'd be on any given play. He never played the way you’d expect from a guy rated the nation’s No. 1 prep safety coming out of Indianapolis Warren Central. In two years he played a total of 12 games and dominated none of them. He couldn’t crack the starting lineup last year in what was a mediocre secondary racked with injuries. He left the program in the off-season.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

IU Secondary Depth Put To The Test

Bill Lynch and his Indiana football coaching staff have spent a lot of time recruiting for and developing defensive back talent.

That talent -– and depth -– is about to get tested.

Junior safety Chris Adkins is out with an ankle injury bad enough that surgery will be needed to fix it. He could miss a couple of games or perhaps the season.

Adkins (photo left courtesy of IU athletics) was one of IU’s most experienced defensive backs. He started all 12 games at cornerback as a redshirt freshman. He played in six games as a sophomore before missing the rest of the season with an elbow injury.

He was battling Mitchell Evans and Donnell Jones for the two safety spots. Now the only thing he’ll be battling is rehab.

That leaves Evans and Jones as the starting safeties, but no healthy backup. Enter redshirt freshman Lawrence Barnett and junior college transfer Lenyatta Kiles. They had been two of six cornerbacks fighting for two spots. Now they’ll move to safety.

That means seniors Adrian Burks and Richard Council, junior Matt Ernest and junior college transfer Andre Kates will rotate at cornerback.

A cynic could look at this and say, oh, no, here comes another IU defensive disaster. But if Hoosier coaches have done the job in recruiting and developing players, the secondary will be fine. So will the rest of a defense that lacks big-name stars but has big-time talent.

Joe Palcic, defensive backs coach as well as co-defensive coordinator believes this defense, unlike others in recent years, will do the job.

“Last year we underperformed,” he said. “I hope we’ll be better just with the kids we have. Their attitude is better. They’re very coachable. They work hard. When you have those three components, you have a chance to be good. We like coaching this group. I have a feeling we’ll be better.”

Feeling doesn’t guarantee doing, but it’s a good start. Now all the Hoosiers have to go is back it up. That will start Sept 2 against Towson.

Also, fifth-year senior quarterback Ben Chappell is up for another award. What’s with this guy? He’s already the most accurate QB in school history. He’s a 4.0 student who has already graduated so now he’s working on his masters. He probably loves babies and helps little old ladies cross the street. Don’t you hate guys like that?

Anyway, Chappell (photo is on the right) is one of 30 candidates for the Lowe’s Senior Class Award in football. To be eligible you have to be a senior with big achievements in four areas: community, classroom, character and competition. Chappell already has been nominated for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Crean On IU Basketball Prospects, Big Ten Scheduling

Tom Crean enters the Cook Hall conference room looking fit, tanned and primed.

He hasn’t yet seen the current version of the Indiana Hoosiers in action (NCAA rules ban such contact during the offseason), but the words on his t-shirt reflect his mood:

“Impossible Is Nothing.”

Crean talks of will, of scoring points from defense, of being harder to score against and play more physically. This could be the year, after just 16 wins over the previous two seasons, that the Hoosiers come close to his vision for the program.

We’ll get to more of that in the future, but for now let’s focus on an issue that could dramatically affect IU and the Big Ten.

You’ve heard that the conference is considering increasing the football league schedule from eight games to nine in the wake of the addition of Nebraska that gives the Big Ten 12 teams. In fact, it’s likely to happen starting in the 2015 season.

Would basketball coaches like to increase the number of Big Ten games from 18 to 20?

Are you nuts?

“I’m not in favor of it at all,” Crean said. “I would be surprised if there are many coaches who would be based on our meetings. I think the best scenario is 16 (Big Ten) games.”

A couple of years ago the Big Ten went from a 16-game regular season to 18 to make for a fairer conference race. With 11 teams, a full conference home-and-home schedule would be 20 games. The closer you get to that number, the less likely scheduling whims could determine the champion. Some teams might play the top contenders twice, others just once. Some would play the best teams only at home, others only on the road.

Going to 18 games also went with what appeared at the time to be a national trend of all conferences going to 18 games. That would even the playing field when it came to at-large selections to the NCAA Tournament.

“We went to 18 believing that everybody was going to be playing under the same principles,” Crean said. “It hasn’t worked out that way. When you’ve got the power conferences, you can’t have separation like that.”

Separation comes because conference games are usually more difficult than non-conference games. Yes, IU playing Kentucky or Purdue playing West Virginia are very challenging, but a lot of schools schedule mostly easy non-conference games to boost their record and improve their postseason at-large big chances.

“For every school that chooses a major home and home game (such as IU and Kentucky), there’s a school that chooses a guarantee game,” Crean said. “I don’t blame them. A lot of things go into scheduling.”

Here’s what Crean hopes goes into Big Ten scheduling:

“It makes perfect sense for us to go to 16 games. Will it happen? I don’t have a vote, but it would make a lot of sense with expansion.”

IU athletic director Fred Glass said conference officials are focused on football issues and haven’t had time to consider basketball.

They will, of course. Figure a 20-game schedule won’t happen. As far as a reduction to 16 games, that’s a debate for another day.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Silence Is Not Golden For Indiana Cornerback

So here is Richard Council, fifth-year senior cornerback, confident guy, target of critics for some missed plays a season ago, back for one final shot at glory.

Oh, and one other thing –- to talk smack, trash talk and, in short, get in receivers heads.

Council is a top contender to earn one of the two starting cornerback positions. In Saturday’s scrimmage, he had five tackles. He is 6-1 and 201 pounds. He played his high school ball in Texas, which means football is in his DNA.

Here’s what we know: he redshirted his first year, didn’t play in his second. As a redshirt sophomore he played in 10 games (missing the last two with an ankle injury) and totaled 45 tackles and led the team with nine pass breakups.

He slipped last season and played in nine games with 22 tackles and two pass break ups. He took some heat and vowed to get better.

What exactly are his prospects for this season? Let’s turn to the man in the know, Indiana coach Bill Lynch.

“He had a great offseason. A year ago he got called out for a play here or there. I don’t think it was totally fair, but that’s the nature of the position. It’s like quarterback. A guy can go one of two ways when that happens, and he’s responded in a real positive way.

“We saw it in the winter and the spring, and you can tell it from the summer, when he really latched on to (senior receiver) Terrance Turner. They pushed each other.”

All that pushing has elevated his play and his talking.

“He’s a fun-loving guy and he has that (confident) personality,” Lynch said. “What he’s done in camp is backed it up with his play.”

Confident cornerback play is among the keys for an Indiana team looking for a bowl opportunity. Another is a solid running game. It helps to have Darius Willis back and healthy after a brief bout with a tweaked hamstring. He can be a dominant ball carrier because he’s big and fast and skilled.

Trea Burgess is big and strong (6-1, 225 pounds) and is the only running back who has been healthy the entire camp. Redshirt freshman Nick Turner has blazing speed, redshirt junior Zach Davis-Walker also has struggled with injuries. Freshman Antonio Banks enrolled last winter and has potential. Another freshman, Matt Perez, also has been solid, but will likely be redshirted.

“We need consistency out of the running back position,” Lynch said. “Darius being hurt so much had something to do with it. It’s important for us to figure out what the rotation will be there.”

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Looking Good -- IU Scrimmage Shows Young Talent

So here we are, 12 days before Indiana’s football season opener against Towson, and what do we know about the Hoosiers?

For one thing, there is a lot of talent here. It might be as talented an overall group as IU has had since the Bill Mallory glory days. Is it good enough to win in a Big Ten that features a pair of top-10 teams, plus two other ranked teams?

The season will determine that. But here’s what Saturday’s scrimmage showed:

Much of that talent is young. Take redshirt freshman quarterback Dusty Kiel (pictured on left courtesy of IU athletics), who completed 14-of-16 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. Or redshirt freshman Ted Bolser (pictured right thanks to IU athletics), who caught five passes for 46 yards and a touchdown.

Yes, an IU tight end actually caught some passes. Defenses, it seems, just might have more than Hoosier wide receivers to worry about.

Anyway, another redshirt freshman quarterback, Edward Wright-Baker, was 5-for-7 for 26 yards and a touchdown.

The starting quarterback, fifth-year senior Ben Chappell, played just one series and went 6-for-7 for 42 yards.

Oh, yes. True freshman Kofi Hughes, a standout dual-threat quarterback at Indianapolis Cathedral, is a receiver now and caught three passes. He also picked up a fumble and returned it 92 yards for a touchdown.

A cynic could say, what’s the big deal because IU’s defense can’t stop anybody. But this isn’t the time for cynicism. Traditionally that comes in November, when the Hoosiers are reeling against Big Ten competition and people are screaming for change.

Now optimism is everywhere and the only screams are for Indiana big plays.

About that supposedly shaky defense.

Junior linebacker Leon Beckum and freshman defensive tackle Marlandez Harris each had six tackles. Cornerbacks Richard Council and Matt Ernest, linebacker Damon Sims and safety Aaron Burks each had five tackles.

Again, there is talent here. The Hoosiers are faster and more athletic. They have a new 3-4 defensive scheme designed to maximize those attributes. We’ll see if it does.

The players get a mini-break without practice on Sunday. They’ll have camp Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before moving onto campus and getting ready for the start of school.

In the meantime, coaches will evaluate all the film and get close to deciding who will start, who will backup and who will be on the scout team.

“They need a break,” coach Bill Lynch said. “They’ve been going long and hard.

“We made a real emphasis of giving kids a lot of reps. Maybe in the past we haven’t found out enough about them in camp. Some showed themselves on both sides of the ball (during the scrimmage).

“I saw a bunch of young kids flying around and playing hard. That’s the biggest thing. Once we get through Wednesday, a lot of these young kids become scout team players. We have to make some decisions about who is on the travel squad. That’s why we played a lot of young kids. It was good to give them reps.”

It will be better, of course, to win. At least for now, the signs point in that direction.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mystery Man -- Guy-Marc Michel Prepares for Indiana Impact

He is mystery, this Guy-Marc Michel. He is a 7-foot, 277-pound invisible man. Few have seen him play. Fewer still can analyze his game.

In time, of course, that will change. Michel will suit up for the Indiana Hoosiers this season and we shall see, one way or the other, if he is project or powerhouse, raw or “untapped potential.”

Here is what we know.

Michel played two years at Northern Idaho, a junior college. As a freshman he averaged 8.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and led his conference in blocked shots. Last year he averaged 7.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.1 blocks. He has played on the Under-20 French national team. He is from the Caribbean island of Martinique.

Here is something else we know. Tom Crean didn’t bring Michel to Indiana to sit the bench.

“With that size, the odds are that he will play,” Crean said. “It’s how quick he picks things up that will determine how he will play.”

Michel doesn’t have to be the next Greg Oden or Shaq or Tim Duncan, although that would be nice. What he does have to be is an inside factor.

“His length overwhelms you,” Crean said. “We want him to roam and to be a shot-blocking threat. It’s not so much the shots he blocks as the shots he alters. He’s got to post up. If he can demand a double team, then we’ve made progress. He has a nice touch from the free throw line. The players are excited about him.”

Crean hasn’t seen Michel work out with the Hoosiers because NCAA rules won’t allow it in the off-season. But he occasionally asks the players how the summer has gone, and one question he “loves” to ask is who do the players think belongs in the top eight on the team. To a man, they all mention Michel.

Assistant coach Steve McClain has seen Michel play. McClain tried to get Michel to come to Colorado while he was an assistant there. He recruited him heavily. He kept Michel in mind when he took the IU job. When he realized the Hoosiers needed a dominating inside presence, he mentioned Michel to Crean.

“He’s a great shot blocker,” McClain said. “I knew he could rebound. From watching him in (junior college) practice, I knew he could score. I wanted to bring him to the forefront (of IU recruits).”

Mention Michel and thoughts quickly surface of Tijan Jobe and Bawa Muniru, big athletic guys who couldn’t play the game at the necessary level.

They did, however, look good in a uniform.

Anyway, looking good didn’t translate into playing well, or playing at all. And that, it seems, is not Michel.

“I don’t like to use the word, ‘Raw,’” McClain said. “To me that just means it will never happen. I like untapped potential.”

McClain recruited Michel to IU with the intention of tapping that potential.

“You never recruit a JUCO player unless he can bring immediate help. He’s a big, athletic center. He’s comfortable around the rim. He has a lot of untapped potential.”

Potential is good, but production is what is really needed. If Michel can do that, IU’s patsy days just might be over. And that, at least, is no mystery.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

IU Defense: Can These Guys Stop Anybody?

By now you’ve heard all griping about Indiana’s history of ragged defense and how the Hoosiers lost a ton of guys from last year’s mediocre defense, so that means they won’t be able to stop anybody and fall will once again become a time to wish for basketball to hurry up and arrive.

Hold on a second.

First, it’s August, which means all things are possible, even our dream to make the 2012 Olympic team in anything.

Second, there IS defensive talent at IU. It’s young, but it does exist. It’s up to the coaches to maximize it and that leads us to the 3-4 defense. That’s a change from the 4-3 and it’s designed to take advantage of that youthful athleticism.

The 3-4 means three down linemen and four linebackers. It works if you have tough interior linemen, lots of speed on the edge and plenty of athletic linebackers.

Guess what? That’s exactly what the Hoosiers have.

“The 3-4 better fits the personnel we have,” coach Bill Lynch said. “Last year we had some guys who played a lot of football. Sometimes when guys like that leave, it gives you an opportunity to do different things. That’s what we’re doing.

“A perfect example is Darius Johnson. He’s an outstanding player. His season got cut short a year ago when he got his collarbone broken before the Michigan game. He missed the whole Big Ten season. He would have played a lot.”

Last year Johnson would have played a lot behind Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton. Now the position is his for the taking.

“He’s a different kind of defensive end from Jammie,” Lynch said. “He’s better playing up. So you put him up and it looks like a 3-4 defense.”

In other words, rather than Johnson lining up in a three-point stance before the snap, he’ll be standing like a linebacker.

“It fits him,” Lynch said. “It fits (fellow defensive end) Kevin Bush.”

Both of those guys are what coaches call “hydrids,” which means they are like a combination of a defensive end and a linebacker. They are big and strong enough to deal with offensive linemen and the run, fast enough to pressure the quarterback and drop back into pass coverage.

IU also has some big, run-stuffing linebackers in Tyler Replogle, Dimitrius Car-Watson and Jeff Thomas who also fit a 3-4.

“With a 3-4, we can do more things in terms of blitzes and coverages,” Lynch said. “It will make our defense tougher to play against.”

That, of course, is what it’s all about. Check that. It’s all about keeping the other team out of the end zone and getting the ball back to the offense.

These Hoosiers seem capable of scoring. If they can play just average defense, they have a chance at a winning record and a bowl game.

“Our goal is to play in a bowl game,” Lynch said, “and we don’t want to put any limitations on what bowl game that is. But that’s a long way off.”

Yes, it is. But this is August, a time for football players to dream big. Limits, you see, are for losers.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ideas Drive Indiana Athletic Director

Fred Glass does not wait for results, he seeks them, seizes them, savors them. He’s been Indiana’s athletic director just over a year and a half now and the ideas come with machine-gun frequency.

Here’s a warning for the prune-juice drinking crowd: the IU band is about to get really, really loud.

Let other ADs wear suit and ties. Glass is a red IU t-shirt kind of guy whose No. 1 priority is to turn Indiana football weekends into must-attend events for 52,000 or so people. So he worries about traffic and the disruption soon-to-begin construction on the by-pass near Memorial Stadium will have on attendance. He pays attention to the quality of the hotdogs, the friendliness of the stadium staff, the excitement of the atmosphere and the environmental quality of the experience.

He spent $2 million on a rock-your-world scoreboard and kept prices for children under 18 and IU students at $5. He’s started a bike valet service where fans can ride bicycles to the stadium, have them parked and get them after games. Concession utensils will be biodegradable and, yes, edible.

The student section has been renamed “The Quarry,” which is a play on “The Rock” concept started by former coach Terry Hoeppner. New stadium murals depict large limestone rocks. Glass will provide a 20-foot-high replica of a quarry rig. At the top will be a horn that will sound on every Hoosier big play.

“This may be my favorite thing this year,” Glass said.

After head home third quarter IU cheerleaders will perform the flag routine accompanied by the William Tell Overature normally found at Hoosier basketball games (“It’s gotta be bigger and louder and wilder because of the sign of the venue,” Glass said).

Speaking of louder, Glass said he’ll utilize the new Big Ten rule that allows schools to amplify the band sound. This could cause a problem given that last year grumpy fans griped about the loud music playing over the Memorial Stadium loudspeakers.

No matter.

“We’re going to take advantage of that,” Glass said.

Glass’s ideas work. Last year IU drew 41,833, about 10,000 more than the previous year and one of the biggest jumps in the country, which was impressive for a 4-8 team. It was still about 10,000 less than capacity and Glass understands that the only way to sell those remaining seats is to consistently win.

“If we win some nonconference games and we beat Michigan,” he said, “Then I think this thing will really catch fire.”

That, in the end, is the bottom line.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Crossroads Classic ADs Doing It Their Way

Indiana’s Fred Glass is a forward-thinking guy. As it turns out, so are fellow athletic directors Morgan Burke of Purdue, Jack Swarbrick of Notre Dame and Barry Collier of Butler.

So when they all decided to put together the Crossroads Classic, a basketball doubleheader featuring their schools at Conseco Fieldhouse, they decided to run the show themselves. There would be no outside management. They would do the hosting, planning and promoting. They’d come up with the TV deal.

The result will be showcased on Dec. 17, 2011, and Dec. 15, 2012.

“We think it will go well,” Glass said. “We’re cutting new ground here. We’re not hiring outside management. We’re not working through a promoter. IU and Purdue will take turns hosting and managing the event.”

Purdue will host next year’s inaugural event, with times and tickets prices yet to be announced. The four teams will divide all the profits and expenses. In 2011, IU will play Notre Dame and Purdue will play Butler. In 2012, it will be IU-Butler and Purdue-Notre Dame.

“We’ll give everybody a chance to play each other once and then reevaluate,” Glass said. “We’ll see if there’s anything to tweak. The hope is this will go on and on.”

The Crossroads Classic is designed to be a money maker. These guys aren’t stupid. But it’s also designed to promote their programs and the sport. It will boost their strength of schedule and, in theory at least, make them more attractive for an NCAA tourney at-large bid.

As far as cutting out the middle men in terms of managing and promoting, it was a no brainer, Glass said.

“We put on events all the time. We figured we could do it ourselves. The folks at Conseco are great partners. It didn’t seem like it was worth that cut (to the middle men) to do what we could do for ourselves.”

The four programs got together for a “classic” in the 1940s and ‘50s at Butler, but Hinkle Fieldhouse was not an option for this new event. Not when mega-million-dollar Conseco Fieldhouse was available.

“Conseco is where we wanted to have it,” Glass said. “It’s the pre-eminent venue in the country. It’s wonderful to play here.

“It makes tremendous sense to resurrect what had been a pretty historic doubleheader with what I think are the four premier programs in the state. It will be a great showcase for the state of Indiana.”

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Patterson Commits; Is Hollowell Next?

Tom Crean is the hottest dude in recruiting these days.

Broad Ripple guard Ron Patterson has just verbally committed to join the Indiana program, so does that mean Lawrence Central guard Jeremy Hollowell is far behind?

We might know by the end of the week.

Here’s what we do know. Patterson, who is ranked as the nation’s No. 65 player in the Class of 2012 by Rivals.com, paid a visit to IU on Sunday and wound up committing. That means the Hoosiers beat out Cincinnati, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Miami (Fla.) and Xavier. It also means the instate groundwork Crean has done in the past two years is paying off.

And you thought he couldn’t recruit.

Patterson joins 6-11 center Peter Jurkin from the Class of 2012. Jurkin, who is from Africa, verbally committed last week.

Suddenly Crean has recruiting momentum. Hollowell, who is a good friend of Patterson and ranked No. 35 nationally by Rivals, might be the next commitment.

Don’t forget Indianapolis Park Tudor point guard Kevin Ferrell, who rates No. 22 nationally in the Class of 2012. As we’ve mentioned before, he has blossomed this summer into the kind of elite player the Hoosiers have to have.

Throw in Hamilton Heights guard Austin Etherington, the 6-6 guard from Hamilton Heights who already has committed from the Class of 2011, and you can see Crean is starting to become an in-state recruiting force.

Hey, he even got Fort Wayne guard James Blackmon (Class of 2014) to make a weekend unofficial visit.

What does this mean for Washington’s Cody Zeller, who has the Hoosiers on his final list along with Butler and North Carolina?

Well, it doesn’t hurt.

And, of course, there is 6-9 Hanner Perea, the super athletic forward from Columbia who is a travel team teammate of Jurkin and who has the Hoosiers and Baylor as his favorites. He, too, is part of the Class of 2012.

Suddenly all things are possible for the Hoosiers. Now all they have to do is win this year. That will show how hot Crean really is.

Indianapolis Basketball Doubleheader Good For IU

What does Indiana have to gain by the basketball doubleheader with Purdue, Notre Dame and Butler?


For starters, it should be a great event, certain to draw interest of fans all over the state, if not the country. Purdue, Notre Dame and Butler are NCAA tourney regulars. IU is building its way back to that status. What kind of sports fan wouldn’t be interested in an event like this?

Then, it gives the Hoosiers a presence in Indianapolis, which will be good for fans (Indianapolis has the largest IU fan base in, well, the world) and recruiting. Plus, they’ll get to play in Conseco Fieldhouse, one of the best basketball venues on the planet.

It also will feature quality competition, which not only will be good for fan interest, but will help steel IU for Big Ten play. It won’t be a road game, but the neutral site will help duplicate NCAA tourney conditions, a benefit when the Hoosiers return to that March madness (yes, it’s going to happen). It also will boost Indiana’s strength of schedule and at-large bid appeal to the NCAA tourney selection committee.

It almost certainly will be a great television event (either on the Big Ten Network or on a national network) that will draw attention to all the universities involved as well as the Big Ten conference and the Horizon League.

Beyond all that, Notre Dame and Butler are logical non-conference opponents for IU to play. They are teams the Hoosiers should play every year rather than, say, the Howards and USC Upstates of the college basketball world.

For the record, IU and Purdue won’t play each other in this event. They’ll get their shots during Big Ten play. Instead, those teams will rotate each year with Butler and Notre Dame.

Athletic directors from the four participating schools, including IU’s Fred Glass, will announce the matchups for the two-year deal today. It would begin next season.

You would think this event will sell out. Conseco Fieldhouse seats around 19,000, so each team needs to sell around 4,800 tickets.

Yes, Indiana has struggled to just 16 victories over the past two seasons, but coach Tom Crean has things turned around. A winning record, and a postseason appearance, are very possible. In fact, you can almost bet the house on it.


Purdue has gone to two straight Sweet 16s and won 103 games over the past four seasons. Butler is coming off a 33-win season that culminated in a national runner-up finish. It has won 89 games over the last three seasons. Notre Dame has won 69 games in the last three seasons.

This isn’t the first time these teams have gotten together in Indianapolis. They used to play in something called the Hoosier-Butler Classic in the 1940s and ‘50s.

As it turns out, something old is new again. And that is very good for IU.

Friday, August 13, 2010

IU Defense Hopes To Over-Perform This Time

You don’t have to tell Joe Palcic about Indiana’s defensive struggles. As co-defensive coordinator, he’s lived it, studied it, worked it. He understands what has gone wrong and how it can be fixed.

First, a few facts. The Hoosiers have allowed at least 28.5 points for seven straight years. They played bad defense under Cam Cameron, Gerry DiNardo, Terry Hoeppner and, now, Bill Lynch.

Palcic and fellow co-defensive coordinator Brian George are determined to turn that around.

Nobody said it would be easy. Last year IU allowed 29.5 points. Opponents averaged 4.0 yards per carry and 159 rushing yards a game. They completed 60.8 percent of their passes and averaged 242 passing yards a game.

This is not good defense. You can't win with that kind of defense.

“We underperformed last year,” Palcic said.

IU lost its two best defensive ends, plus most of its secondary and two of its starting linebackers. In other words, the Hoosiers lost their best players from a struggling defense.

Does that mean they will be even worse this year?

Not exactly. IU appears to have recruited well in recent years. It has upgraded the defensive talent and modified its schemes to suit its personnel.

With guys like linebacker Tyler Replogle and defensive tackles Adam Replogle, Larry Black, Mick Mentzer and Jarrod Smith, there is a nucleus to build on.

“I hope we’ll be better with kids we have,” Palcic said. “Their attitude is better. They’re very coachable. They work hard. When have those three components, you have a chance to be good. We like coaching this group. I have a feeling we’ll be better.”

Thursday, August 12, 2010

IU's Doss Is The "Complete Package"

It’s good to be Indiana’s Tandon Doss these days.


Glad you asked.

First, he’s a returning All-Big Ten receiver.

Second, Sports Illustrated listed him among its Players to Watch along with Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones, Illinois running back Mikel LeShoure, Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan and Purdue receiver Keith Smith.

Third, he’s a candidate for the Biletnikoff Award, presented annually to the nation’s top receiver.

Fourth, and most important, he has a good haircut. If you’ve seen the cuts some of the Hoosiers have displayed, imagine a combination of Billy Ray Cyrus, Barry Manilow and the evil dude on No Country For Old Men.

Yeah, it’s that bad.

Doss, however, looks like he could make the cover of GQ Magazine, but he’s not in middle of training camp to look stylish. He is around to make plays and lead what should be one of the Big Ten’s best group of receivers.

Doss, a junior, is coming off one of the best seasons an IU receiver has ever had. He had 77 catches for 962 yards and five touchdowns. He ranked second in the Big Ten and 27th nationally in yards per game. He was third in the conference and 21st nationally in catches per game (6.64).

He led IU in receptions nine times and in receiving yards eight times. He had three 100-yard receiving games, plus added 553 yards on kickoff returns, 127 rushing yards, 44 punt-return yards and led the Big Ten in all-purpose yards per game (138.8).

All this is why Indiana receiver coach Billy Lynch says, “He can be as good as any receiver in our league.”

Doss is listed at 6-3 and 195 pounds. He is fast and strong. He can beat you deep or over the middle.

And did we mention his hair cut?

“The biggest thing with him,” Lynch says, “is he’s a complete package. He can do it all. He’s big in the return game. He also runs down on the punt team.

“He’s a good route runner. He has terrific hands. He can run the deep ball, the intermediate routes. He can run on jet sweep stuff and reverses.”

Doss had one Achilles heel last year –- he fumbled four times. If he wants to maximize his college potential and get a shot in the NFL (it’s yes to both of those), that has to stop.

“Sometimes he gets a little casual with the ball,” Lynch says. “He put it on the ground four times last year which is four times too many. He also has to become a more consistent and effective blocker in the run game.”

Doss spent the off-season working on those areas. Starting with the Sept. 2 opener against Towson, we’ll see how good Tandon Doss can be.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

IU Basketball Needs This Guy In Its Class of 2012

So who would you say is Indiana’s absolutely must-get recruit for the super-talented Class of 2012?

Is it Hamilton Southeastern’s Gary Harris, who seems to get better every day?

How about Indianapolis Broad Ripple’s Ron Patterson, who has been on the national radar since he was 3 (at least that’s what it seems like)?

And what do you think of power forward Hanner Perea, who is rated the nation’s No. 13 player by Rivals.com?

There are others, of course, all great players who would thrive wearing the Cream ‘n Crimson. Yes, 6-11 Peter Jurkin is already committed. But when it comes to the guy likely to make the biggest difference, it should be a true point guard, a guy who can score and pass and handle the ball and defend. A guy who has a non-stop motor and who knows how to lead, especially in big moments.

That guy, is Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell.

Let’s qualify that. It needs to be the Ferrell who thrived at the adidas Nation’s event in Chicago. The one who scored 17 second-half points to lead Team 2012’s upset of Team 2011 while driving and dishing and defending (locking up on heralded guard Quinn Cook).

If that has become his norm, look out.

Some critics say the 5-11 Ferrell is too small and he even joked to Mike Pegram of peegs.com about needing to join the 6-foot club. Here’s an easy solution we once used:

Wear platform shoes.

Look, whether Ferrell is 6-foot or 5-foot, he can play. He’s quick, can handle the ball and runs the show. IU needs that. Every team needs that. It’s why, every year, when coaches are asked what’s the No. 1 thing necessary for postseason success, they mention good guard play. Specifically, good point guards.

A point guard sets the tone on offense and defense. At one time, good point guards were mostly passers. Now, they’re top-notch scorers as well.

Ferrell did that at the high school level, averaging 23.4 points last season to lead Park Tudor to the state 2A runner-up finish. Can he do it at the major college level? Who knows, but Hoosier fans hope he tries it while wearing the Cream ‘n Crimson.

So how likely is that? For one thing, Ferrell wants to play right away and on a team that features an uptempo style. The Hoosiers would seem to fit both criteria.

IU has all sorts of recruiting competition with Purdue, Butler, Florida, Notre Dame, Illinois, Michigan, Virginia and Washington.

One name not on the list is Kentucky, which seems to lock up every superstar it goes after these days. A secret HH investigation revealed how coach John Calipari does it:

Hypnosis. Calipari has a hypnotist on staff who takes recruits into Rupp Arena and …

Sorry. Anyway, IU coaches have gone after Ferrell hard. They and Michigan saw him the most this summer.

Yes, Ferrell noticed.

Will it make a difference? Who knows? Ferrell is 16. Does anyone REALLY understand what a teenager thinks?

We don’t have a clue.

But our hypnotist does.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tragedy Hits IU Football, Freshman Paul Phillips

Tragedy has hit Indiana’s football program and freshman tight end Paul Phillips. Phillips’ father, Bill, was killed in this week’s Alaskan plane crash that also took the life of former Sen. Ted Stevens and three others. Phillips’ younger brother, Willy, survived with undisclosed injuries.

They were part of a group of nine people on a fishing trip that also included former NASA chief Sean O’Keefe, who survived.

The single-engine plane, built in 1957, was headed to a lodge on Lake Aleknagik in southwestern Alaska when it ran into rain, fog and mist in a rugged mountainous area and crashed on a remote mountainside Monday afternoon.

Because of bad weather, rescuers could not reach survivors until Tuesday. They were taken to a hospital in Anchorage.

Phillips was not at Tuesday’s practice. He left Bloomington to be with family members, who are from Darnestown, Md.

IU coach Bill Lynch told the team about the accident Tuesday evening.

“The thoughts and prayers of the entire Indiana University community are with Paul, his family and everyone touched by this tragedy,” Lynch said in a university release. “Please be respectful of the family as they deal with this private matter.”

The 6-5, 225-pound Phillips is a highly regarded prospect and is part of a remarkably athletic family. His father played football at the University of Evansville from 1972-76 and faced Lynch and his Butler teammates.

Both of Phillips’ grandparents played college football and basketball. Phillips’ mother, Janet, was a college swimmer and remains a competitive equestrian.

One brother, Andrew, is a senior guard at Stanford. Another brother, Colter, is a sophomore tight end at the University of Virginia. The 13-year-old Willy also plays football.

The impressive family accomplishments go all the way back to the early 1800s and mountain man John Colter, one of the most famous members of the Lewis & Clark expedition.

Paul Phillips was a multi-sport standout in high school, excelling in basketball, track and lacrosse in addition to football. There is no word on when he would return to IU.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Some Like It Indiana Hot

Suddenly Indiana sports are hot, and it’s not just because of the searing temperatures.

Center Peter Jurkin has committed to be a Hoosier, guard B.J. has Indiana No. 1 among his five finalists, IU is set to play a three-game series with the University of Evansville and the football team looks fit, fierce and focused.

Oh, yes. That new mega-million-dollar scoreboard is taking shape, too.

The 6-11 Jurkin committed to the Hoosiers Monday night from the Class of 2012. The goal is that he will be the first in a bunch of 2012 studs to commitment. The two other main guys are forward Hanner Perea and guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Perea, who is from Columbia, has really emerged this summer. He’s listed by Rivals.com as the nation’s No. 5 power forward and No. 13 overall player in the Class of 2012. He is long and fast and can really, really jump.

Baylor was neck and neck with IU for Perea, but now North Carolina has apparently jumped into the mix.

The football Hoosiers, meanwhile, just wrapped up Acclimation Day No. 4. With a heat index of over 100 degrees, coaches made sure players got enough to drink.

“We had to be careful,” coach Bill Lynch said. “It’s really hot. We’re going later trying to help a little bit.

“We give them as much fluid as we possibly can. We’ve got these water pumps everywhere and they’re free to drink whenever they want. We take two mandatory stops where I make sure everybody goes and one of them we go under the tent.

“The other thing we’re doing is with the linemen, who you worry a lot about with the heat. We’re going inside a lot. That gets them out of the sun. There is still some breeze in there.

“We talk to them all the time to make sure they’re (drinking). We monitor their weight loss and gain, practice by practice.”

Sunday, August 8, 2010

What Does Indiana Seek In A Wide Receiver?

By now you know that Indiana’s best position is wide receiver. The Hoosiers are loaded with fast, athletic guys who can make plays, which is huge in this spread-the-field era.

You know about junior Tandon Doss, an All-Big Ten choice last year after catching 77 passes for 962 yards and five touchdowns. Then there’s junior Damalo Belcher, who totaled 61 catches for 770 yards and five downs. Look out for senior Terrance Turner, who had 46 catches for 443 yards and a touchdown.

Certain to make big impacts are Dre Muhammad, a transfer from Purdue, and super talented redshirt freshman Duwyce Wilson out of Columbus, Ind.

That’s five strong receivers for a program not noted for its big-time pass catchers, although record-setter James Hardy had an All-America career a couple of seasons ago and is finally looking to make a NFL splash in Buffalo.

All this leads to the question, what does IU look for when recruiting receivers? For the answer we turn to Billy Lynch, the wide receiver coach and front man for recruiting receivers.

“The biggest thing for me,” Lynch said, “is receivers come in all shapes and sizes. One thing that is important in this league is having size. Whether it be height or strength or weight or all of the above.

“If I could recruit three receivers every year, I want to make sure I had one who was a tall guy, one who was physical and who could play across the middle, and a fast guy. You don’t want to have 12 receivers who all look the same. You want different pieces of the puzzle.”

Let’s look at this year’s puzzle. Doss is 6-3 and 195 pounds. Belcher is 6-5 and 215. Turner is 6-3 and 210. Wilson is 6-3 and 200. Muhammad is the runt of the group at 5-10 and 185.

“That’s why those first three guys (Doss, Belcher and Turner) are a perfect combination,” Lynch said. “Damarlo has the length and can go up and make plays in the air and play that back-side receiver. You’ve got Terrance who is a physical specimen who can roam the middle and do things there. Tandon has the speed and do-it-all ability.

“Duwyce has a chance to be special because he’s a combo of all three in one body.”

The bottom line -- If receivers perform as well as they look, the Hoosiers might get to a bowl for just the second time in the last 15 seasons.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Basketball Hoosiers -- Size Does Matter

Imagine a dinner with Verdell Jones, Tom Pritchard, Bobby Capobianco and Derek Elston. Yes, we know they are basketball players when football practice has started, but stay with us.

Jones and Elston can eat hearty. They’re trying to gain weight. Jones, in fact, has a metabolism that chews up calories faster than LeBron James sinks in Cleveland popularity polls.

Bobby Capobianco is not a salad guy. Never has been. Never will be. And yet, he and Tom Pritchard are in weight-reducing mode, which means they skip the good stuff for the good-for-you stuff.

“We go to a restaurant and I eat ribeyes and stuff like that and they eat tiny leaves and salad,” Jones said. “It’s pretty funny.”

Jones ended last season at 173 pounds. He is up to 188 and would like to get to 195 by the start of the season in November.

Elston is also bulking up under the direction of new strength coach Je’Ney Jackson. He’s up to 230 and would like to approach 240 by the time the season starts, although “If I can’t, I’ll play smart at 235, 230.”

“My biggest issues right now,” he said, “are strength and defense.”

Capobianco and Pritchard are both 240-plus guys seeking to trim down. Capobianco wouldn’t say what his desired weight is because that isn’t the point.

“The way I look at weight and strength is I need to find something I feel comfortable with,” he said. “Something I feel like I am running with, but I’m not getting thrown around. All of these guys have (weight) numbers they’re looking at and I’m just looking for a weight I feel good at.”

One thing that Capobianco feels good about is that he won’t bear as big a center burden this season. That’s because 7-1, 280-pound junior college transfer Guy-Marc Michele has arrived to take over most of that role.

“He is the center for this team that we’ve been missing,” Capobianco said. “Tom and I have tried our best for two years to try to guard some of these big guys, but it’s a very big, strong league. Guy brings us that presence in the paint. He is all of 7-1. He’s a legit 280.

“I look at myself as one of the stronger guys and I can not move that guy if I try my hardest. He’s big. We’re really looking forward to have a guy who in a half-court offense throw it in the post and know he’s going to be able to just bang, bang and get to the rim.”

In other words, Michele is not a project in the manner of seldom-used Tijan Jobe and Bawa Muniru.

“With Guy, we all move back to our natural positions,” Capobianco said. “It would come game time and Coach (Tom Crean) would say, ‘This is what I need your to do.’ Whether or not you had done that before or whether or not you thought that’s what you could do, that’s what you did because that’s what was asked of you.

“Now Derek and I can go back to playing the 4 (power forward). Tom and Guy can hold down the middle. We can finally push (Christian Watford) out on the wing. It pushes everybody into their own comfort zone.”

In the end, though, it’s not about comfort. It’s about winning.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Seal The Deal -- Crean's Aggressive Recruiting Offers Hope

Brace yourself. One of signs in the Book of Revelations for the end of the world is when Indiana actively recruits an eighth grade basketball player.

Well, guess what? It happened with Trey Lyles. This 6-8 forward, who will be a freshman at Indianapolis Tech, has reportedly received a Cream ‘n Crimson scholarship offer.

You might wonder how that fits with NCAA officials’ concern over coaches offering scholarships to very young players. Well, those officials’ jobs don’t depend on signing elite talent.

Tom Crean’s offer comes amid recruiting competitive pressure from the likes of Purdue coach Matt Painter, who also spent time watching Lyles play as an eighth grader at Decatur Middle School last winter. Also in the mix are Notre Dame, Ohio State (Thad Matta continues to hit Hoosier hardwoods hard), Illinois, Florida, Kansas, Georgetown and Florida.

These are some heavy hitters and you don’t beat them with passive recruiting or worry about how recruiting an eighth grader will destroy America's moral fiber.

Crean and his staff are not passive. They will be as aggressive as the rules allow them to be. Good things, after all, sometimes come to those who DON’T wait.

And speaking of good things, Indiana has made Cody Zeller’s big-three recruiting list. This is a hot fudge sundae for dinner good, and it's an intriguing change because Zeller had indicated he was going to have a big-five list and make five official visits this fall.

The Hoosiers are ahead of the game. Kind of like, The Bachelor.

Check that. They are ahead of everybody but North Carolina and Butler in the race for this 6-11 center from Washington, so there is still reason for IU fans to worry.

North Carolina, of course, is the hydrogen bomb in this. The Tar Heels are college basketball royalty, have a coach in Roy Williams who is as good as any in history not named John Wooden and have all the prime-time bells and whistles you’d expect from a powerhouse program. They also have Tyler Zeller, Cody’s older brother, and while that’s not a deal clincher, it certainly raises the stakes.

Yes, North Carolina stumbled into NIT obscurity last season, but that was due to the parade of early entries into the NBA draft that drained it of talent. Nobody expects a repeat, although you figure plenty of Duke fans have hopes. Not many players spurn an offer to play for the Tar Heels.

Butler, of course, was the feel-good story of 2010. It came within a few inches (or, perhaps an offensive rebound) of winning an improbable national championship. That dramatic postseason run got it into strong position for Zeller, and coach Brad Stevens is capitalizing on it.

Still, the Hoosiers are in good shape. They have five-national-championship tradition, a cool new practice facility (Cook Hall) with 24/7 privileges, a bunch of players who know Zeller and a passionate coach committed to turning things around the right way. Plus, IU is positioning itself for a winning record and a return to postseason relevance.

Zeller, of course, will make his final choice well before the Hoosiers can prove their March Madness mettle.

IU also is in the running for junior college forward Robert Goff, who played at Indianapolis Broad Ripple and who is preparinig for his sophomore season at Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College. He’s a 6-8, 240-pound inside force with offers from Cincinnati, Xavier, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Auburn and Wichita State. He's not the next Alan Henderson, but who is?

There are more prospects, of course, and we'll list those later.

What does all this mean? Basically, Crean has positioned himself to land the kind of talent necessary to return IU to basketball superpower status. Now he has to seal the deal. You don’t need to read the Book of Revelations to know that.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Can Indiana Basketball Win This Season?

Yes, football is set to begin with all veteran players reporting today and the first practice (technically called an acclimation session) set for Friday.

Still, basketball is never far from Hoosier minds and one question dominates all others:

Can IU win this season?

The short answer is yes. For the long answer we turn to freshman guard Will Sheehey. He’s the 6-5 shooting guard from Florida rated No. 40 nationally at his position and as the No. 141 player overall. He averaged 15.5 points and 6.9 rebounds as a high school senior.

Those numbers are no longer relevant. Now it’s all about what Sheehey does in a Cream ‘n Crimson uniform. What he’s seen in summer workouts and pickup games makes him believe a turnaround is coming.

“When you see people progress daily, you can’t say you’re moving backwards,” he says. “When you see everyone working hard, getting up extra shots, you know they’re getting better. You can see it in people’s eyes that they want to turn this around and I think we are.”

That starts, but certainly doesn’t end, with competition.

“We compete every day during our workouts,” Sheehey says. “At the end of our workouts we make sure we are going to win in whatever we do, whether it’s running a sprint or lifting some weights. We’re going to make sure we do it to the fullest of our ability.”

The coaches can’t make sure because they aren’t allowed to be around the players in off-season workouts. Still, coach Tom Crean has made it clear what he wants from veterans as well as newcomers.

“Coach Crean pretty much laid down the guidelines before I got here,” Sheehey says. “Everyone knows what Coach Crean is about, so it’s pretty much been what I expected. He’s not allowed to coach us basketball-wise right now, but he’s just giving me advice about school and working hard. That’s pretty much what I knew, which is why I came here.”

Hard work is one of the ways Crean is trying to restore this tradition-rich program. IU won six games in his first season, 10 in his second. A foundation has been set, and Sheehey and fellow newcomers Victor Oladipo and Guy-Marc Michele hope to make major impact this season.

Still, veterans such as Verdell Jones, Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls, Tom Pritchard, Jeremiah Rivers, Bobby Capobianco and Derek Elston are set to lead the way. If they do, a winning record and a postseason berth are possible. If they don’t … well … let’s just say the losing has to end, the sooner the better.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Glass Expects Lynch To Coach at IU For “Long, Long Time”

Fred Glass is a Bill Lynch fan. Understand that. The Indiana athletic director wants Lynch to succeed. In fact, he expects it. He says, when the time is right, he will sign Lynch to the kind of long-time deal that will squelch all this fan grumbling about getting a new coach.

Wait. Let’s qualify a few things. No deal will squelch all the grumbling. Some fans just don’t like Lynch, but they probably have never met Lynch. To know him is to like him. He is personable and passionate and carrying. He is, in so many ways, the perfect coach for Indiana.

Of course, the big qualifier is Lynch has to win. As everybody knows, a three-year record of 14-23 –- 7-17 in the last two years -– isn’t good enough. This is why Glass is committed to honoring the final two years of Lynch’s contract, but not to extending it.

Yes, that’s a potential recruiting problem, but that doesn’t explain why the Hoosiers are having one of their best recruiting efforts in decades. They already have 21 oral commitments, four more than any other Big Ten team. They have two four-star players and 11 three-star guys.

Yes, Glass has noticed.

“I don’t think the current longevity of his contract has hurt his recruiting,” Glass said. “We’ve had the best class that we’ve had in a long time going back beyond Bill’s tenure.”

Glass is high on Lynch’s approach to redshirting freshmen (only six true freshmen have played in the last three seasons), developing players, recruiting and commitment to academics.

Still, winning is crucial, although Glass refused to give a specific number of victories to ensure Lynch gets an extension.

“I want improvement,” Glass said. “I will subjectively evaluate success. I’m very adverse to setting litmus tests because I think that’s a cop out. That’s what administrators do when they want a safe harbor to say, ‘Well, I’ll put this on automatic pilot. If you hit this, you’re in. If not, you’re out.’ I think that’s dangerous.

“We’ll look at everything. We’ll look at recruiting. We’ll look at retention. We’ll look at progress. We’ll look at wins and losses.

“I’m not a goof. I know that wins and losses matter. They matter a lot to me. They matter a lot to Bill Lynch. But I’m not going to defer to a (number) to make a judgment solely on that.”

Glass fired soccer coach Mike Freitag last year not so much because of the won-loss record but because he didn’t like the direction the program was headed. He doesn’t have that problem with Lynch.

So if the Hoosiers play to their talent and not their defensive experience, if they learn to finish (a big theme in preseason camp that starts Friday), some other school will have coaching uncertainty (can you say Michigan?).

Lynch will have an extension.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hoosiers Set To "Finish" What They Start

In the end, it’s about finishing. Amazing, isn’t it, how simple a season’s prospects can be summed up. And yet, that’s what it comes down to for Indiana football. Make a few more plays and nobody wonders whether the Hoosiers can ever get their program turned around or whether Bill Lynch is the right guy for the job.

Here’s a few thoughts – they can and he is.

Thoughts, of course, are meaningless without performance to back it up. And so Lynch faces a crossroad season in the aftermath of a two-year record of 7-17. Yes, IU athletic director Fred Glass still insists that Lynch will get the two more seasons his contract stipulates, but everybody understands it’s time to win. Given a potentially potent offense, defense would seem to be the crucial area, and it is.

But consider how close the Hoosiers came to being 7-5 or 8-4 last year. Lynch has and he’s made it a point to emphasize that to the Hoosiers.

“We were really 12 plays away from having an outstanding season and playing in a pretty good bowl game. That’s been the motivation throughout the season.”

So Lynch will emphasize finishing in preseason camp, which opens Friday. He will focus on third-down and fourth-down plays, and even goal-line situations, because those are potential difference makers this season.

“When you look back at it,” Lynch said, “it wasn’t we weren’t good enough. It wasn’t we didn’t have enough good players. It was a matter of we didn’t make those plays. We have to finish and execute.”

Oh, about that defense, which has struggled over the last two decades and which has to replace a ton starters. Lynch thinks it can be an impact unit. He sees plenty of young talent ready to emerge. He sees a guy like defensive end Kevin Bush, a guy who went to college, dropped out, served two tours in Iraq, came to Indiana because it was his dream to play for the Hoosiers, and now is set to have a key role this season. He has, Lynch insisted, changed the defense’s mentality.

If that’s true, if IU plays even average Big Ten defense while its offense plays to expectations, it has a chance to win seven games.

“We feel we have the personnel in place,” Lynch said. “We’ve had great consistency and continuity with our staff. We’re looking forward to finishing games that we didn’t quite get the job done last year. I think it’s going to be a really good 2010.”

Thinking it is a good start. Doing it, well, that’s what finishing is all about.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Taylor In, Kominski Out, Big Ten Intrigue

So here we are, ready to see what kind of havoc the Big Ten can deliver in college football this week and, guess what, Indiana gets another oral commitment.

This time its Bernard Taylor, a 6-2, 281-pound defensive tackle from Michigan. He is IU’s 21st commitment for the Class of 2011 and the 14th defensive player. Taylor is a three-star recruit according to Rivals.com. If you believe the reports, he has a 34-inch vertical jump, can bench press 305 pounds and can squat nearly 500 pounds.

That’s impressive.

Of course, the Hoosiers can use all the impressive defensive players they can get. That has been an IU Achilles heel for the last 15 or so years and coach Bill Lynch and his staff are addressing it. Of course, that won’t help for this season. Indiana will be very young on defense, but at least on paper there appears to be a talent upgrade. We’ll see how that translate onto the field.

Also, in case you missed it, and you probably didn’t, forward Kenny Kaminski has orally committed to Michigan State’s basketball program. The 6-7 forward, who is on the 16U Indiana Elite team that also includes D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Peter Jurkin and Hanner Perea, picked the Spartans over Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio State.

Is this a big blow for Cream ‘n Crimson recruiting? Not a chance. IU is still in the running for a bunch of dynamic players, many of whom live in the state of Indiana.

Yes, that includes forward Cody Zeller. Of course, the Hoosiers need to start landing some of these players. That’s the quickest way to building, sustaining a powerhouse and keeping coach Tom Crean on good terms with IU’s passionate fan base.

Finally, Big Ten officials are in Chicago for the next couple of days taking a hard look at creating two six-team divisions for football, a conference championship game and, perhaps, more expansion.

It’s enough to almost make a Cream ‘n Crimson fan forget about basketball recruiting.