Thursday, December 22, 2011

Look Out Big Ten, Here Come the Unbeaten Hoosiers

So what do we make of the Indiana Hoosiers?

They are 12-0 and ranked No. 17. They are the Big Ten’s only undefeated team. Only two conference schools are rated higher –- No. 2 Ohio State (11-1) and No. 13 Wisconsin (10-2).

They also are one of six remaining undefeated schools nationally. The others are No. 1 Syracuse, No. 4 Louisville, No. 6 Baylor, No. 9 Missouri and No. 22 Murray State.

IU has one more non-conference game, but that’s not until Feb. 22 against North Carolina Central. It will be, without question, an Assembly Hall victory.

So what do we make of these Hoosiers?

They’re a bit banged up, for one thing. Nothing that suggests season-ending problems, but Will Sheehey has a sprained ankle, Derek Elston a surgically repaired nose and Verdell Jones a tweaked hip. This will test the Hoosiers’ depth, but then, so can foul trouble.

This has the makings of the best Cream ‘n Crimson squad since the 2002 team reached the national title game, although that 25-12 group –- coached by Mike Davis and led by Jared Jeffries, Tom Coverdale and Dane Fife -- didn’t peak until the NCAA Tournament.

Kelvin Sampson’s second and final IU team had Final Four potential with future NBA players Eric Gordon and D.J. White, but it also had some questionable characters who failed to understand the importance of academics, good attitude, fitness and representing the university well.

Oh, yes, there were the phone-call violations the resulted in Sampson’s late-season resignation. Indiana lost four of its last five games, flamed out in the opening round of the NCAA tourney, and finished 25-8.

These Hoosiers are nothing like that. They represent the best of Cream ‘n Crimson ideals. Their victory over Kentucky showcased what college sports are supposed to be about.

Are they a Big Ten contender?

Why not?

Will they beat out Ohio State, the overwhelming favorite if Jared Sullinger stays healthy?

Probably not.

Are they a Final Four team?

We don’t see it, although a Sweet Sixteen appearance is possible, with the second round most likely.

Here’s what we know.

IU has the Big Ten’s second-best big man after Sullinger in Cody Zeller. It has an all-conference forward in Christian Watford. It’s got senior backcourt leadership from Jones (who might finish among the top 15 scorers in school history). It has a sharp-shooting guard in Jordan Hulls who doesn’t miss free throws (the one he missed Thursday night against Maryland Baltimore County was a once-a-year rarity) and rarely misses three-pointers. It has two of the most athletic guards in the Big Ten in Victor Oladipo and Sheehey.

It has a decent bench with Sheehey, Elston, Tom Pritchard, Remy Abell and Matt Roth.

Most importantly, it has a defensive resolve and overall tenacity honed from three years of sanction-caused misery. It is as hungry as any team in America.

And thanks to this 12-0 start, it is very, very confident.

So many things are possible.

The Hoosiers have as tough an opening to Big Ten play as you could have with a game at No. 19 Michigan State, then home games against Ohio State and No. 20 Michigan, all in eight days. Okay, all three could be on the road (Ohio State has the nation’s third-longest home winning streak at 28), but not even the most sadistic schedule maker would do that.

If IU goes 2-1 in that beginning, it has a conference-winning chance. A 1-2 mark would keep it in the hunt, especially if the win is against Ohio State. Going 0-3 is too big a hole with road trips to Wisconsin, Purdue (which has the nation’s fourth-longest home streak at 25 straight) and Michigan looming.

A 3-0 start against that schedule, by the way, is unrealistic, but then, so was a win over Kentucky.

For now, though, bask in the Christmas-is-coming glow of a non-conference job well done and the realization that, no matter what the Big Ten might bring, fun is back in Indiana basketball.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

IU Basketball – Sweeping the week, and more

How many shots should Cody Zeller take in a game?

How many free throw attempts should Jordan Hulls take in a game?

The correct answer –- as many as they possibly can.

Zeller has become the Big Ten’s best big man this side of Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger. He can run, score, rebound and take cheap shots without flinching or acting like a fool. He tied his career high by taking 14 shots, and making eight, while scoring a game-high 21 points in the win over Notre Dame. He averages 15.6 points and shoots at a 66-percent clip. He should take between 15 and 20 shots a game.

Hulls went 2-for-2 from the line against Notre Dame, which makes him 13-for-13 for the season and extends his school record to 54 in a row. He hasn’t missed in over a year. In an ideal world, he would take about six free throws a game. Check that. In an ideal world, he'd take 20 free throws a game, but that's not realistic, and we're all about realism.

ABSOLUTELY TRUE FACT NO. 1: Did we mention that we once beat Hulls in a free throw shooting contest?

ABSOLUTELY TRUE FACT NO. 2: Did we also mention we have a hard time telling the difference between reality and fantasy?

But we digress.

If you check the box of the Notre Dame game, you’ll notice IU had 16 offensive rebounds. That’s more than twice as many as the Irish (seven) and reflects coach Tom Crean’s emphasis on the little things that matter.

Here’s what he had to say about it.

“(Offensive rebounding) is huge for us. We’ve spent a lot of time on rebounding, whether it’s a break-down drill or a live 5-on-5 situation. Guard rebounds have to be huge for us.”

Against Notre Dame, Hoosier guards Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Will Sheehey, Verdell Jones and Remy Abell combined for eight offensive rebounds and 22 total rebounds.

“Victor and Will had five offensive rebounds and that’s good, that’s progress,” Crean said. “Those two have to be very good on the offensive glass. That keeps balls alive. That’s an area we know we’ve needed to get better. We are getting better at it, especially in the last three weeks. Still, we have a ton of room for improvement as we get into the Big Ten.”

The Big Ten comes after Christmas. First comes tonight's game against Howard (3-8) and Thursday night's game against UMBC (1-9). Here’s the bottom line – IU will sweep the week.

And then the REAL season will begin.


Want to know why the Hoosiers won’t take Howard and UMBC lightly?

Because Crean won’t allow it. He wants good, strong, energetic practices, and then play to match if not surpass it. If not, well, we’ll let Crean tell you that.

“If there comes a day when there’s not energy we’ll start over later that night,” Crean said. “It’s not a complicated process. This is not where we have anybody in the program who is above having to get better every day.”

Crean has done this in previous seasons. So far he hasn't done it this season, and almost certainly won't because these Hoosiers have the maturity and experience to do what needs to be done.

So now you know.


We learned this secret about Crean while covering the Crossroads Classic in Indy:

He speaks in tongues.

Okay, it was really a kind of coaches’ code, in which Crean shouted instructions using mysterious terms usually found on self-destructing tapes that end with the promise that should we be caught or killed, the Secretary of Defense will disavow any knowledge of our existence.

Seriously, we didn’t know what Crean was saying, all we knew was he looked hyper intense saying it.

And then the Hoosiers responded.

IU stormed back from an early nine-point deficit against Notre Dame, mostly because it defended Notre Dame into some of the worst offense this side of the two-handed-set-shot era. The Irish missed 16 straight shots at one point. That’s hard to do. You’d figure that something would fall in just by chance.

You’d have figured wrong.

It wasn't the most stylish win in Hoosier history, but it was a win and propelled them to a 10-0 start. That hasn't happened since 1989. That's all the style that matters.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Remember When – Hoosier Classic Becomes Crossroads Classic

Once upon a time, Indiana, Notre Dame, Purdue and Butler gathered in Indianapolis to play basketball and yea, verily, it was good.

Then it was called the Hoosier Classic. It was a two-day event played at Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse. It went from 1947-51 and from 1957-59.

IU won it four times. Butler won twice. Purdue and Notre Dame won once each.

Indiana shut it down by stopping its participation in 1960. The event disappeared.

Now it’s back in a new form called the Crossroads Classic. Okay, actually it’s called the Close the Gap Crossroads Classic and it will be held Saturday at Indianapolis Conseco Fieldhouse.

Purdue will open things with Butler. Indiana and Notre Dame will follow.

ESPN2 will be there. So will CBS. So will a sold-out crowd.

Yeah, it’s a big-time event at a big-time facility.

It should be a lot of fun, perhaps enough to warrant more than the two years the four schools have signed on for.

Purdue coach Matt Painter is on record as saying he hopes it becomes an annual tradition. Indiana coach Tom Crean isn’t quite as committed, although he probably will be.

“I’m anxious to see it,” Crean said. “The No. 1 thing when (the idea) came up was, Would it be a big deal? Every team has had a week off, so there is some time for a lead-up to it.

“Would it sell out? Would TV be partnered in and locked it? The fact you have CBS, with (announcers) Ian Eagle and Bill Raftery (for the Purdue-Butler game) and us with ESPN’s Dan Shulman and Dick Vitale –- all those questions are answered.”

Crean would like to see the final results after next year’s event.

“After it has been played a year or two, we will look at it and see if we want to continue this or do we want to change the format,” he said. “I will be in those conversations when (athletic director) Fred Glass brings them to me, but I won’t bring them up unless there was something that didn’t make sense.”

That doesn’t figure to happen.

“There are no fears whatsoever,” Crean said. “We’re really looking forward to it.”


There was one criticism heard in the aftermath of the Kentucky victory, and it came with the subtlty of a James Harrison tackle -- Get Cody Zeller the bleeping ball.

The Hoosiers inability to get Zeller the ball inside down the stretch againt Kentucky contributed to the Wildcats’ end-of-game rally.

It wasn’t like IU wasn’t trying, Crean said, but Kentucky’s length and athleticism made it difficult.

Still, Crean added, “We’ve gotta do a better job of getting it in. But that was one of the hardest teams that we’ve ever seen, that I’ve ever seen as a coach, to get the ball entered in. That’s not an excuse, that’s just a fact. We do have to do a better job of getting the ball in and we have to do a better job of getting him the ball at different times in the clock.”

Beyond that, Zeller has to demand the ball more, both in word and action.

“Holding his seal,” Crean said. “Be more vocal. Continue to create angles. His teammates need to go into it a little bit earlier, but the window against the best teams in pick and roll, the window against the best teams in post feeding, the window against the best teams in getting your shot off, it’s very, very small. When it’s there, you’ve gotta take advantage of it.

“The angle of the pass, the timing of the pass, the quickness of the release of the shot, the better the team you play, the more the margin for error goes up and the more your details and technique have gotta be great. And there were times the other day that it wasn’t.”

Figure Zeller will get the ball plenty Saturday against Notre Dame.


Yes, Maurice Creek uses pre-game time to do some shooting drills. Does that mean the oft-injured guard is healing from his torn Achilles tendon faster than expected? Could he even have a chance to play by the end of the season?

No, Crean said.

“He’s the pre-game act where he goes out there and starts drilling 3s,” Crean said. “He’s not ready to do shooting drills with us, but I saw him yesterday shooting in Cook (Hall) with both shoes on, so he’s not in the boot right now in practice, which is good. But it’s not anytime soon before he’d be in drills or anything like that.

“It’s good for him. Think about how hard that is. He’s such a great teammate and he’s locked in. Two years ago, he was putting 31 (points) on Kentucky. It’s fun to watch him mature and grow up and take of what he can take care of.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Need A Ticket for IU-Notre Dame Game? We Can Help -- Sort Of

Do you need another IU basketball fix and can only get it by watching a game? Are you anxious and ready to buy a ticket so you can watch the now No. 18 Hoosiers (9-0) beat up vulnerable Notre Dame (7-4)?

Then you’re in a bind because Saturday’s game, part of a doubleheader that also includes Purdue (9-2) and Butler (4-6) in the first Crossroads Classic at Indianapolis’ Conseco Fieldhouse, is officially sold out.

“Officially” doesn’t mean you can’t get tickets. It just means you’ll have to spend a lot more for them. We went online and were able to find tickets for $119 each. They weren’t the greatest, but then, there really isn’t a bad seat in Conseco Fieldhouse, not like there are in the upper reaches of Assembly Hall.

Or, you can wait to the day of the game, and take your luck trying to get tickets from scalpers, who are always looking to make a deal.

What is the best way to get the best deal on tickets?

We here at Hoosier Hoopla are glad to provide an answer.

Here is an absolutely true story from our experience covering the Big Ten football title game. We were walking from the garage to Lucas Oil Stadium and ran into a college-age couple looking to get some tickets. There were two scalper dudes trying to make an offer the couple couldn’t refuse.

Here is the way the conversation went:

SCALPER DUDE 1: “I got you right here. Two tickets, $60 each. You can’t get anything cheaper. It’s the best deal you’re gonna find.”

SCALPER DUDE 2: “Let me tell you, that’s a great deal. You can’t pass up a deal like that.”

GUY: “I don’t know.”

SCALPER DUDE 1: “I’m telling you, these are great seats. It’s a great deal. If you won’t take it, somebody else will.”

SCALPER DUDE 2: “He’s right. It’s a great deal.”

GUY: “I tell you what. We’ll pass and see what we can find closer to the stadium.”

SCALPER DUDE 1: “Hold on. You’re killing me. Okay, $40 each. These are great tickets.”

And so the deal was finalized.


So who do you think was the best IU football freshman this season?

The easy answer would be quarterback Tre Roberson, who provided a badly needed spark for an offense that struggled to score.

But while Roberson earned some love from, as in honorable mention status, it’s safety Mark Murphy, linebacker Chase Hoobler and offensive lineman Bernard Taylor who got the best awards.

Murphy was second on the team with 77 tackles, including a team-best 44 solo. He had one interception and it was big –- he returned it 31 yards for a touchdown. He added one tackle for loss and four pass breakups.

Murphy showed his versatility by starting three games at weak-side linebacker before switching to safety.

Taylor played in 11 games, and started the last 10 at left guard. He only allowed three sacks in 295 pass attempts.

Hoobler, redshirt freshman, totaled 48 tackles, including 23 solo, with two sacks, five tackles for loss, and one foced fumble.

Taylor and Murphy made spots on the BTN (Big Ten Network), and Yahoo Sports all-freshman team. Hoobler got all-conference recognition from and Yahoo Sports.

Roberson and kick returner Shane Wynn got honorable mention recognition by the

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Polls About To Be Very Good For IU Basketball

Sometime Monday afternoon, the polls will come out and Indiana will be ranked for the first time since 2008, when Eric Gordon and D.J. White led the charge despite the imminent fall of the Kelvin Sampson era.

The Hoosiers earned it with a pulse-pounding 73-72 victory over No. 1 Kentucky that suggested, far more than the previous eight blow-outs, that the program was regaining its tradition-rich mojo.

The game was won with heart, effort, drama, passion and a bit of luck. It was everything you want in college basketball, which certainly wasn’t the case in the Saturday rivalry game between Xavier and Cincinnati.

So IU is 9-0 with its biggest victory in a decade. It almost certainly will be 12-0 when Big Ten action begins in a couple of weeks.

So what does this say about the team and the program?

“It says we have a lot of good players,” says freshman Cody Zeller, one of the best of them. “As a team we can do a lot of great things.”

Does that greatness mean the Hoosiers are back to the juggernaut they once were?

“I don’t know what ‘back’ means,” Zeller says. “I know we’re playing well. Hopefully it keeps on going.”

Here’s what we do know. IU went toe to toe with an impressively talented team and beat it. The most obvious reason was junior forward Christian Watford, who was huge with a game-high 20 points, stifling defense and the game-winning, buzzer-beating three-pointer that will go down as one of the more remarkable shots in school history.

But it was a lot more than that.

Coach Tom Crean scrapped his play-the-bench philosophy. Every starter played at least 30 minutes. Key reserve Derek Elston didn’t play at all, in part, Crean said, because he’d hurt his back earlier in the week, mostly because of a coach’s decision.
Did the Hoosiers get some breaks? Absolutely. The Wildcats were just 10-for-17 from the free throw line, missing the front end of a bonus, and another free throw, in the final 19 seconds.

Will Sheehey bounced in a three-pointer that hit everything but one of IU’s five championship banners. Kentucky shot-blocking monster Anthony Davis played just 24 minutes because of foul trouble, and some of those fouls might not have been called if the game had been anywhere other than Assembly Hall. UK leading scorer Terrence Jones played so poorly (four points and six turnovers) that coach John Calipari said the Wilcats got “absolutely zero” from him.

And then, most dramatically, the Wildcats’ youth and the pressure of playing their first true road game of the season in one of America’s loudest and most intimidating facilities surfaced when they failed to foul in the final seconds when they had two fouls to give.

Why didn’t they foul?

“I have no idea,” UK guard Doron Lamb said. “I made a mistake.”

Added Calipari, who had ordered his players to foul multiple times during a timeout: “I have no idea what went through their minds. Maybe they thought, ‘I’m not fouling, time is going to run out.’”

In the end, the Hoosiers made their own breaks. They overcame their previous vulnerability by beating the Wildcats at their own offensive rebounding game, totaling 14 to the visitors’ 10. They didn’t blink under pressure, going 14-for-17 from the line and 9-for-15 from three-point range, including 7-for-9 in the second half.

Good teams find ways to win, and these Hoosiers, we’re learning are a very good team.

They just have to keep it up.


As you probably know by now, Indiana lost its quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator Rod Smith when Smith left to join Rich Rodriguez at Arizona. Smith has coached under Rodriguez for years, most recently at Michigan, so the decision wasn’t a surprise.

Here’s what coach Kevin Wilson had to say in a university release:

“We appreciate Rod’s efforts with us this season,” Wilson said. “We’re sorry to see him leave and wish him and his family the very best. Rod has a long-standing relationship with Coach Rodriguez and we understand his decision.

“As we move forward, we’ll take our time to find the fit for our coaching staff that will keep our program headed in a positive direction.”


Matt Weaver of, who is wrong about as often Daniel Moore delivers tomahawk dunks against Kentucky, has reported that IU has picked up its 20th football commitment in Rapheal Green, a 6-5, 325-pound offensive lineman from San Antonio, Texas.

However, Green told Weaver he might end up playing on defense at IU. We’ll got out on a limb and figure he’ll be a run-stuffing inside lineman. The Hoosiers certainly need size and strength up front to stop the running, something they couldn’t do in this past 1-11 season.

Missouri, Colorado, Houston, New Mexico, New Mexico State and North Texas had reportedly offered scholarships, while LSU, Alabama, Florida, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Baylor were interested. That’s some pretty impressive interest.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Say It Ain’t So -- Will Calipari End IU-UK Rivalry?

Would John Calipari REALLY want to blow up one of the great rivalries in college basketball history?

Apparently so.

Yeah, just when IU is getting good again (it is 8-0), the Kentucky coach wants to scrap a really good thing.

The teams meet Saturday at Assembly Hall.

Those who believe in conspiracy might smell a little fear, but that seems out of character for a coach who has long been known for fearless scheduling.

Still …

Calipari continues to insist he has to tone down the non-conference schedule to accommodate a possible expanded SEC slate (officials are considering adding two more conference games to 18) and the fact the No. 1 Wildcats (8-0) have more year-to-year player turnover than any other program in the country.

Well, as far as the player turnover, whose fault is that? Calipari brings this on himself by recruiting and then signing one-and-done guys. He doesn’t have to sign top-10 players. He could go for guys, say, No. 60 to No. 100. They’d stay for four years and the turnover would stop. Now, maybe he’d win a few less games, but at least he wouldn’t have to rebuild every year.

That won’t happen, of course.

Anyway, Calipari has a poll on his website to see which of the traditional non-conference rivals -– IU, Louisville and North Carolina -– should be dropped.

At the moment, 69 percent of those responding pick the Hoosiers to go. North Carolina is next at 23 percent. Louisville comes in last at 8 percent.

Nothing is etched in stone. Indiana and Kentucky have played 54 times in a series that started in 1924. The Wildcats have won 31 times, including 16 of the last 20 meetings, and three straight.

Calipari was asked about the schedule during a press conference this week. Here’s what he had to say:

“Let me again state this. We want to play a great schedule, but because our roster turns over more than any other team in the country, maybe ever, we can’t be locked into six games (he’s including the Champions Classic and the SEC/Big East Challenge). You just can’t do it.

“I know people may get mad. You can get mad. That doesn’t affect me in any way. But you can’t be locked in. Playing Kansas or UCLA vs. this or that team, does it really matter? It doesn’t matter.

“I can schedule in August, when I know what my roster is and get seven unbelievable programs to play us. I can do that.

“I have to protect the program. I cannot set up our players for failure.

“Look, I’m one of the originals who said, let’s bring it. I don’t care, let’s play. What time? Midnight –- I’ve done it. Noon or 11 or 10 o’clock? I’ve done it.

“The point is, in the situation we’re in, you can’t lock into seven games. No one in the country does it. Duke doesn’t do it. North Carolina doesn’t do it. UCLA and Kansas don’t do it. No one does it.”

And now you know.

But do you buy it?


Indiana has its best chance at beating Kentucky since Eric Gordon and D.J. White joined forces in December of 2007. The Hoosiers are 8-0 and blowing everybody out, although no one expects that to happen Saturday in Assembly Hall against the No. 1 Wildcats.

They’ve won the last three meetings by an average margin of 18 points.

Still, Calipari sounds concerned.

“This is going to be a hot, contested game. We know it. Hopefully we are ready.

“We’ve had some good practices. I asked my staff last night, ‘Do you think I pushed our guys enough?’ They said, ‘Yeah. Yeah.’ I said, if I haven’t, we will see.”

Hoosiers, Wildcats and Mr. Controversy

Welcome to the Mr. Controversy Show. We aim to provide the kind of provocative content that will raise blood pressures, stir passions and incite the kind of passion normally reserved for Chelsea Handler gatherings.

Accuracy, you see, is sometimes SOOOO over-rated.

Today we’ve come to Indiana in anticipation for Saturday’s epic game against No. 1 Kentucky. This will be a nationally televised chance for the Hoosiers to show whether their 8-0 start marks the beginning of a return to national relevance or reflects good, old-fashioned patsy scheduling.

All that’s well and good, but we want drama, intrigue and dirt –- you know, the kind of truth you get from a Kim Kardashian special.

We remember several years ago, when the Hoosiers played Kentucky in football and a Hoosier player said the Wildcats played dirty. Ahh, the excitement that generated! Those were the days, when real men didn’t eat quiche, they called each other names. We can’t wait for the trash talking and bad mouthing to begin.

We show up at the Assembly Hall media room ready for press conference action. In walks Jordan Hulls and Cody Zeller, who seem as verbally dangerous as Mr. Rogers.

Oh, no. We’ve got a bad feeling about this.

EDITOR’S NOTE -– The questions have been changed to reflect a WWE feel. Truth sometimes has to be altered for the common good. Mr. Controversy will provide what America wants to hear. The player answers, however, are the player answers.

Q: Guard play could be a Wildcats weak link. Do you target that because you know they will break?

HULLS: We just have to keep doing what we have been doing all year - get deflections and have constant pressure with our hands all over the ball. If we do that and play team defense and play help-side defense and not let him get in the lane because he is really good at throwing lobs and things like that. We have to keep that to a minimum and let our on-ball pressure create our offense for us."

MR. CONTROVERSY: The guards are going down, just like the Wildcats.

Q: You guys have gone through a lot of crap the last couple of years. Are you tough enough to kick some Wildcat rump?

HULLS: "I would say we have come a long way over the past couple years. But even two years ago, we prepared the same way with the same intensity. This is a different team and a new year and we feel good about what is going on and we are working hard in practice every day. Yes, we are more mature than my freshman year."

MR. CONTROVERSY: Our time is now. Kentucky is toast.

Q: Forget that line about treating every game the same. Students are so jacked up they want to camp out in the cold. How badly do you want to smoke these guys?

HULLS: “Yes, everyone is real pumped up for the game, of course. They are ranked No. 1 in the country and are coming into our hometown so people are really excited about it. But it is just a basketball game and we are really excited to get this going. It is going to be a fun atmosphere for sure and we are really excited about the fans and their support."

MR. CONTROVERSY: Kentucky is toast.

Q: How do you stay calm considering this is the biggest game of your lives, and everything you do will be magnified, scrutinized and remembered for all time? Win and the most gorgeous women on campus will have their ways with you. Lose and your mothers will disavow your relation to them.

HULLS: “We are preparing for this game as we have every other game. As far as the fan base, everyone on campus is buzzing a little bit. But we are mature enough to keep our composure and take it one game at a time."

MR. CONTROVSERY: To quote Lloyd Bridges in the movie, “Airplane,” Looks like I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue.

Q: Cody, you get to match up against Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, who is like 7-7 and 360 pounds. He’s blocked like a thousand shots already. What’s up with that?

ZELLER: “He is definitely a great player. I played against him quite a bit in the summer last year. But I have played against a lot of good players already this year -- guys like Andrew Smith (Butler) and North Carolina had a few good guys inside. I think each game I am just trying to improve and this will just be another step for that."

MR. CONTROVERSY: I’m gonna stuff him like he’s a Thanksgiving turkey.

Q: What’s it like playing the No. 1 team in the country in your building?

ZELLER: “I'll tell you after the game on Saturday. I have never experienced it so we are just going to prepare for it like any other game. The fans are excited but inside the locker room and on the practice court we are going to prepare just like any other game."

MR. CONTROVERSY: It’s gonna be better than dating Jennifer Lopez.

Q: You’ve DATED Jennifer Lopez?

Mr. CONTROVERSY: You ask too many bleeping questions.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Deep Conviction – Hoosier Deep Throat Says Wildcats Are Toast

We got the call, as we knew we would, just after midnight.

It was Hoosier Deep Throat. He was hard to hear because of a grumpy voice in the background, a voice we would have recognized if we weren’t so focused on the news that scientist had discovered a world with basically the same temperature as earth, which means life might be out there hundreds of light years away, which means maybe the Storm Trooper outfit we still have hidden in the closet from our teenage days might one day be fashionable again and …


We managed to understand that Hoosier Deep Throat had big news about Saturday’s Indiana-Kentucky basketball game and wanted to meet us at a secret basement location in a secret level of the Wells Library.

“Just follow the torn blue pieces of a Kentucky t-shirt,” he said with more glee than an adult male should have.

So we did. The shirt pieces led down some stairs to a brown door marked –- DANGER NO ADMITANCE -- that was wedged open by a tattered blue stuffed Wildcat that looked like it had been chewed by a pitbull. We went down more steps, into a cigar-smoke-filled room lit by a single, flickering light bulb, past a wall that listed the scores of every Indiana victory over UK, until we came to a shadowy closet the light couldn’t penetrate.

Inside, was the glowing end of an expensive Cuban cigar. Somewhere behind that end was Hoosier Deep Throat.

EDITOR’S WARNING: Hoosier Deep Throat uses raw language normally reserved for Metallica concerts and Bob Knight soliloquies. Brace yourself.

“I got the scoop,” Deep Throat said. “The Hoosiers are going to attack the (bleep) out of Kentucky on Saturday. They’re going to the rim and those (BLEEPING BLEEPS) won’t know what the (BLEEP) hit them. The Wildcats are going to be in SUCH foul trouble Calipari’s gonna be crying to the refs like a baby!”

“Calm down,” we said. “Take your time.” We didn’t want him working himself into some kind of seizure.

“CALM DOWN! Are you (bleeping) kidding me? Do you know how (BLEEPING) big this game is. Given what’s happened the last three years, this might be the biggest game in the program’s history. Students have been camping out for days outside Assembly Hall to be first in line for good seats. They wanted to pitch tents, but the air heads at IU, who continually screw up good PR opportunities, told them no. You think they’re calm!”

“How on,” we said. “IU officials resolved all that. They gave the students vouchers so they could be first in line as long as they gave up the camping idea. Deputy athletic director Scott Dolson said it was done for their safety and to ensure they were focused on academics. Finals are next week.”

Deep Throat puffed rapidly, as if he was sending smoke signals.

“What did the students think about that?” he asked.

“I think some were disappointed. I think they wanted to camp out in this cold weather.”

“I think students are tougher than what officials give them credit for,” Deep Throat said.

While Deep Throat talked, we heard that voice in the background. This time we recognized it. It was Bob Knight during a recent ESPN segment. When asked by Digger Phelps about IU’s unbeaten start, Knight said this time of year a lot of teams are undefeated because of easy scheduling. He never mentioned Indiana. It was a not-so-subtle shot by a man not known for subtly. The tape was being repeated over and over again, as if Deep Throat was using it to fire himself up even more.

“Kentucky basically only plays seven guys,” Deep Throat said. “Seven guys! Foul trouble is gonna kill them faster than you can say, ‘(Bleep) the BCS. The Oklahoma State football team got screwed!’ God, I can’t wait!!!”

What looked like drool dribbled to the white tiled floor. Deep Throat was apparently frothing at the mouth, either from excitement or rabies. We weren’t sure we could tell the difference.

“Did you hear his radio show?” Deep Throat asked. “Oh, we’re gonna kick (BLEEP)!”

“Whose radio show?”

“Tom Crean’s, you idiot. He wants his guys to kick (BLEEP), and they are nasty enough to do it!”

Deep Throat tossed what was left of the cigar on the floor, stomped it into oblivion and lit up another. Waves of brown smoke rolled toward us like a tsunami.

“I think what he said was he wanted his players to block out by putting a full body on a Wildcat and not an arm or just part of a body,” we said. “In other words, rebounding will be big.”

“Don’t give me that politically correct crap. He said he wanted to kick some (BLEEPING BLEEP!) And it’s gonna happen!”

We nodded without conviction. We knew the odds of an IU victory were slim. Kentucky’s roster is loaded with future NBA players. The Hoosiers have one right now in Cody Zeller, although others might develop into pro potential.

UK coach John Calipari maximizes his talent. Love him or hate him, he wins big and often, thriving with great recruiting and developing players in the short time he has them.

Crean talked about the challenge on his radio show when he said, “They're a very difficult team, no question. They're highly athletic. It's a big rim team. Everything starts with how you protect the rim.”

This isn’t new. Since the early 1990s, Kentucky has had the athleticism edge over the Hoosiers.

“Indiana’s going to have to defend like it hasn’t in years,” we said. “And Crean said it will have to push the pace. Going slow won’t work.”

“You’re God-damn right!” Deep Throat said with a ferocity that made the drool understandable. “Everybody has to buy in and go. If not, Crean has will sit their (bleeps).”

Crean has often talked about his depth this season, reiterating on his radio show that, “My best friend, as much as I love my family, as much as I like my coaches, is the bench.”

Yes, the bench helps because, as Knight famously once said, it sends a message to your rump which in turn sends a message to your brain to play harder and better.

Will that help against Kentucky? Certainly. Will it make a difference? Perhaps.

Logic suggests the Wildcats will win by eight or so points, but logic doesn’t always win games. Heart means something. Home crowds mean something. The ability to respond under pressure means something.

“What are you thinking?” Deep Throat asked, his tone suggesting where he’d stick his cigar if we gave an incorrect answer.

We hesitated.

“That the Hoosiers are gonna kick some (bleep),” we said, conviction giving way to prudence, and Deep Throat’s laughter echoed through the basement like an Assembly Hall cheer.

And then, he was gone.

Tents Or Not, IU Students Ready For Kentucky; A $50,000 Gift

When Tom Crean talks, student listen.

The problem -– university policy is so out of touch, you wonder if officials still get their news from Walter Cronkite.

Who’s Walter Cronkite?

If you have to ask, you’re way too young, but here’s a hint –- he didn’t date Jennifer Lopez.


Anyway, Crean said on his radio show Monday night that if students want to get a good seat for Saturday’s Kentucky game, they had better camp out early. Some students took him at his word and started camping out on Tuesday.

Yes, in case you’re wondering, it’s cold in Bloomington this week, which followed near biblical rains that flooded parts of the state. But students, who understand that goods seats for this game rival the importance of say, taking the LSAT, aren’t phased by lousy weather.

So they broke out chairs, tents, food and other stuff to survive for basically four days before university police made them break it up because it violated some university policy.

Other universities do this kind of thing all the time for big games. Duke, for instance, has Krzyzewskiville to honor coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has turned the Blue Devils into the New England Patriots of college basketball.

This is as big a game as the Hoosiers have had since, perhaps, Duke showed up inn 2005. IU is 8-0 and playing like its ready for a return to the national stage. Kentucky is ranked No. 1 and aiming for another Final Four berth despite being one of America’s youngest teams.

Student passion is big in Hoosier prospects. You don’t want anything messing that up.

Figure IU officials will lighten up. After the last three years of basketball hell, plus football as you don’t want to see it, it’s time to have fun again.

Even in the cold.


The IU-Kentucky game is so big, it’s even worth $50,000 to the Play Golf America University program courtesy of former Hoosier golfer Jeff Overton.

Overton has that kind of money to give because of his pro success that includes being a member of the 2010 Ryder Cup. Play golf America University is designed to teach and engage students in the game of golf through PGA pro instruction and other programs. Overtone will give a check to Hoosier golf coach Mike Mayer and Bob Kessler, the Department of Kinesiology Program director.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Here’s How Indiana Can Beat Kentucky

Are you like us? Do you see Kentucky as the most vulnerable No. 1 team in the history of college basketball and that the Wildcats will come to Assembly Hall on Saturday and get their fannies …

Hold on!

For a second Hoosier Deep Throat took control of the keyboard, and this 8-0 Hoosier start has warped his perspective. He’s back smoking cigarettes in some shadowy corner of an IU parking garage. We’ll get his thoughts in a future blog.

For now we are once again in charge of what you are reading. We see the big picture and it starts with the fact Indiana has a HUGE opportunity on Saturday.

Top-ranked Kentucky will visit Assembly Hall and this is not the Second Coming of the veteran 1976 Hoosier juggernaut, the last college basketball team to finish unbeaten.

Still, this is a very talented team.

The Wildcats are 8-0 and directed by a coach, John Calipari, who knows how to recruit studs and maximize their talent. But they have plenty of youth and inexperience (this is basically a freshman and sophomore squad), and have yet to play a true road game.

Let’s repeat that. Assembly Hall will be UK’s first game in front of a hostile crowd. And if enough of the 17,000-plus fans sure to pack the facility are loud enough and energetic enough and intimidating enough, the Wildcats impressive array of talent might buckle.

“Might” is the key word.

IU, by comparison, already has a pair of road victories, the most of any Big Ten team. It is battle tested and pumped because this is the game that could show, better than any poll, the program is back to national relevance.

Understand Kentucky has been tested, most recently by a fiercely talented North Carolina team. The Wildcats hung on for a 73-72 win in Rupp Arena.

Other than that, UK has rolled. It’s won two games by 10 points (including one against Kansas), and the others by 22, 24, 38, 48 and 50 points.

Calipari has again loaded up on top-10 talent that plays above the rim and in the fast lane. Darius Miller is listed as a 6-8, 235-pound GUARD, for goodness sakes. Where else do you see that other than in the NBA?

Kentucky has got 6-9, 252-pound Terrance Jones (15.0 points, 7.5 rebounds); 6-10, 220-pound freshman Anthony Davis (12.3 points, 5.1 rebounds); 6-7, 232-pound Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (12.1 points, 7.1 rebounds). Don’t forget Marquis Teague, formerly of Indianapolis. He averages 10.3 points. Sharp-shooter Doron Lamb averages 14.4 points.

Davis, by the way, has 36 blocks in eight games. Jones, the SEC player of the week, has 20. UK has 87 as a team, which is basically 11 game.

Indiana, by comparison, has 33 blocks.

That’s right, three fewer than Davis.

The Wildcats block shots, alter shots and make opponents wish the NCAA would bag the 35-second shot clock and bring back the four-corner stall.

Of course, that ain’t happening. You want to beat the Wildcats, you have to take it to them.

You know something. IU can do that.

It has talent, although not enough to match Kentucky. No matter. It has the home court advantage and a confidence generated from its 8-0 start and comeback victory at North Carolina State. It has tough-minded players who play defense and push the pace. It has a hunger born from three years of basketball misery.

Believe us, that will mean something.

So what do the Hoosiers have to do to win?

Let’s take a look.

1) The Hoosiers have to defend like a date with Jennifer Lopez is at stake and …

IMPORTANT FACT: Okay, at 40, JLo is probably too old to interest college players, but did you SEE her last music award show performance and ...

SECOND IMPORTANT FACT: Sorry. Hoosier Deep Throat snuck back in. He’s gone again and won’t interrupt. We promise. Anyway, IU needs at least 60 deflections to have a chance.

2) Rebound the bleeping ball. IU has to block out, carve out space, as assistant coach Tim Buckley likes to say, and consider every missed shot a birthrite. It doesn’t have to win the rebound battle, although that would be nice, but it has to stay close.

3) Take care of the ball. The Hoosiers have been good about turnovers all season. They are going to play fast, maybe faster than they have all season because of the athletes they’ll be facing. They can’t let that speed cause them to waste possessions.

4) Shoot at least 45 percent from the field, which is worse than what they shoot for the season. That includes making their share from three-point range. They also need to score from inside even though the Wildcats have enough shot-blockers to field two NBA teams. IU will get some shots blocked. Big deal. It has to attack the basket, draw fouls and get to the line.

5) Make free throws. In an ideal world, Jordan Hulls would shoot every free throw. The guy hasn’t missed in a year. Seriously. He’s made a school-record 2 million in a row and …

Sorry. It’s really 52 in a row. Still, Hulls didn’t take a free throw against Stetson last Sunday, and has only taken 11 all season, which is just 11 more than we’ve taken. Reserve guard Remy Abell, for goodness sakes, has more free throw attempts (12) than Hulls.

He needs to get to the line more.

Repeat that -– he needs to get to the line more.

That’s all there is to it. If the Hoosiers do these five things, they beat Kentucky, jump into the national rankings, restore Cream ‘n Crimson glory and save the world from Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh. Then they can concentrate on achieving something that's REALLY difficult:

Getting a date with Jennifer Lopez.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Feeling the love – Hoosiers Making Basketball Fun Again

Remember back in the day, say in October, when Hoosiers such as Christian Watford talked about making the NCAA Tournament and that seemed, well, overly optimistic given the last three lousy seasons?

Well, Watford might have been dead-on right.

More and more Indiana looks like a team capable of skipping the NIT natural progession and getting NCAA opportunity.


Glad you asked.

The glow of the North Carolina State victory is still bright. The Hoosiers blasted off to a great start, took the Wolfpack’s best shot, then delivered the knockout.

They did because freshman Cody Zeller played to his considerable hype in the second half, when all great players are at their best, and Christian Watford played like one of the Big Ten’s best.

Mostly, though, they won because Jordan Hulls was a stud. He hit TOUGH shots, he made all his free throws (as he always does) and delivered the kind of leadership you need on the road.

This has been the perfect non-conference schedule for Indiana. It opened with some easy games to build confidence and chemistry. The degree of difficulty gradually increased. Now it has two marquee games against No. 1 Kentucky and banged up Notre Dame, then ends with a soft run of Howard and UMBC before a brutal Big Ten opening of at Michigan State (when IU hasn’t won in like a thousand years), then hosting No. 2 Ohio State (which just crushed Duke) and No. 14 Michigan.

The Hoosiers play 13 non-conference games, including one against North Carolina Central in late February which they will win by 60 points. At worst, they will be 11-2, probably 12-1 and possibly 13-0.

Let’s say 11-2. At this point a 9-9 Big Ten record is VERY realistic. So that makes them 20-11, with a chance to win at least one Big Ten tourney game. That makes the NCAA tourney attractive, and given their national TV draw, well, let’s just say things are looking very good.

And if they manage to beat Kentucky and Ohio State, they might be a top-5 team by the end of the month.

Heck, they might even be No. 1 and …


Suddenly, Cream ‘n Crimson fans have reason to love college basketball again.

One last thought. IU has won all seven games by double digits, the first time that’s happened by a Tom Crean-coached Hoosier team. It was won going away, it was won on the road and it was won when on the brink of being blown out. It is competing as it hasn’t since the 2002 national runner-up postseason.

Yeah, there’s a lot to love about IU basketball.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hoosier Happiness – Deflecting Way To Success; Football Honors

In case you haven’t noticed, Tom Crean is REALLY into defense. It is the cornerstone of his program, not only because it stops opponents, but if done well enough it generates offense.

And almost all players love to score.

Crean charts defense with something called deflections. He said the Hoosiers had 74 against Butler, which are the most of any team he’s ever been a part of as a coach.

That’s a big reason why the Hoosiers forced 21 turnovers and held the Bulldogs to 38.2 percent shooting.

The stat is not official and is not mentioned in box scores. So what is a deflection in Crean’s view?

First, it’s any ball that a Hoosier gets even a fingertip on, regardless of whether or not it leads to a turnover. That’s true even if the ball goes out of bounds without a change in possession.

“It’s not a rebound,” Crean said. “For us, it’s a charge. A shot-clock violation. It’s a tip. I tip it, you grab it, deflection for me, deflection for you. If it’s a blocked shot, if it’s a steal, if it’s a loose ball, but if it’s just not a rebound. If the ball’s loose off the board — now if it bounces off to midcourt, that’s another story — but if it’s loose off the board, that’s just a loose ball rebound, that’s a 50-50 ball.”

The bottom line is that deflections reflect how active the Hoosiers are on defense. In theory the more active they are, the better the defense, the fewer points opponents score, the more points the Hoosiers score, the more victories they get and the happier everybody in the Hoosier Nation becomes.

And after the past three years of basketball misery, happiness is a wonderful thing.


IU might have gotten shut out in terms of Big Ten victories, but it did get enough solid performance to earn some all-conference recognition.

Senior linebacker Jeff Thomas and sophomore kicker Mitch Ewald got honorable mention honors, while junior defensive tackle Adam Replogle was IU Big Ten sportsmanship honoree.

Conference coaches and media recognized Ewald while just the coaches honored Thomas.

Despite playing with banged up shoulders, Thomas led the Hoosiers with 80 tackles and 10 tackles for loss. He also had one sack, one fumble recovery and three pass breakups despite missing one game because of injury. He ranked 12th in the Big Ten in tackles (7.3 a game) and 13th in tackles for loss.

Ewald has evolved into one of the Big Ten’s best kickers. He was 13-for-16 in field goals (9-for-10 in conference play) and made all 30 of his extra points. He is 63-for-63 in extra points for his college career. The 13 field goals ranked eighth in school history for a season.

For his career Ewald is 29-for-35 in field goals, which is 82.9 percent. He’s even better in big Ten action at 20-for-23 (86.9 percent).

Replogle is one of 10 finalists for the ARA Sportsmanship Award and is also a Capital One Academic All-District V selection. He led IU with four sacks. He finished with 49 tackles, seven tackles for loss, forced a fumble and broke up two passes.


IU had its football team banquet where awards are given out. Interestingly enough, there were no MVP honors. Of course, you could argue, when your team goes 1-11, nobody earned it. You could also argue that record or not, some guys busted their behinds and did deserve the recognition, but that’s a debate for another day.

Anyway, here are the awards that were given:

Specials Ops Player of the Year: Greg Heban
Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year: Isaiah Roundtree
Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year: John Laihinen
Outstanding Walk-On Player of the Year: Collin Rahrig
Academic Excellence: Adam Replogle, Greg Heban & Teddy Schell
Teammate of the Year: Leon Beckum
Team Captains: Max Dedmond & Adam Replogle

Saturday, November 26, 2011

IU Braces for Butler; What's Next for Football Hoosiers, Part I

Are you wondering why Indiana is doing this Hoosier Invitational basketball thing when it could have gone to some exempt tournament at some tropical paradise setting?

The No. 1 reason, it seems, is money. The Hoosiers, like a lot of athletic departments around the country, need more of it. That’s true even with the Big Ten Network pumping in millions to each conference school.

The Hoosier Invitational, which was spread out over two weeks, allowed IU to get four more home games. It also featured three, and we’re being nice here, not so strong opponents in Chattanooga, Savannah State and Gardner-Webb. The Hoosiers slaughtered them.

“We have to play so many home games every year because the department is dependent on the revenue,” coach Tom Crean said in a university release.

As far as scheduling, IU wants to keep a balance between home games and away, from really challenging games and those that are as close to guarantee wins as you can get in this parity driven era.

“We really look at scheduling on a year to year basis and we already have the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the Kentucky series, and the Crossroads Classic for next year,” Crean said, “so we have to look for an exempt tournament and home games each year moving forward.”

Now comes Sunday night’s finale against Butler, the national runner-up the last two seasons doing some major rebuilding under coach Brad Stevens.

Stevens seems up to the task. He won 117 games in his first four seasons as a head coach, which are 10 more than any coach in history. The previous record holder, if you’re wondering, was North Carolina State’s Everette Case.

Anyway, Butler has struggled to a 3-2 record. It was lucky to escape Gardner-Webb after trailing by 17 in the second half.

No matter. Crean has plenty of reasons for concern.

“Their veteran guys have experience winning at the highest level, and have done a great job transferring their experience to their younger players,” Crean said. “They play very well together. They execute their offense and cut hard. Defensively they will get into you and make you work for everything you get.

These Hoosiers seem to enjoy such work. Figure they will handle the Bulldogs.


Is Kevin Wilson the coach to lead the Indiana football program out of the wilderness of never-ending losing?

It’s way too early to tell.

Still, early signs aren’t good.

He directed one of the worst teams in program history, capped with a competitive 33-25 loss to rival Purdue in Saturday’s season-ending finale. The Boilers won back the Old Oaken Bucket and became bowl eligible. The Hoosiers won nothing but, perhaps, hope.

“(Indiana) has a lot coming back,” senior tight end Max Dedmond said. “They have great, quality guys coming back. I have confidence in them and that they’ll do fine.

“I feel like we did a great job since Coach Wilson got here to build our program up. I have confidence that they’ll do well.”

The Hoosiers played 32 freshmen. No other team in the country played as many. Sixteen of those were true freshmen.

It wasn’t necessarily by choice. Some of it was due to injury, some because veterans left (biggest reason -- they didn’t like Wilson) or were asked to leave. Some because the younger guys practiced harder and Wilson and his staff weren’t about to compromise their standards.

So IU got younger and got worse. It lost its last nine games to finish 1-11. It is the only team in a Bowl Championship Series automatic qualifying conference to not beat a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent.

What does that mean?

The Hoosiers stunk. The defense was miserable, which has become a Cream ‘n Crimson tradition. Still, this one might have been the worst in a generation, or a century.

All that youth doesn’t guarantee future success. Inconsistent younger players can become inconsistent older players if they don’t improve and grow. Wilson said as much.

“If they play the same, you’ll get the same results,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll be smart enough by playing to realize their deficiencies and what they need to work on.

“Do I lack strength and size? Do I have the knowledge to be a capable, quality player?

“You because you play as young guys doesn’t mean you’ll be better as you move forward unless you use that as motivation, as a learning tool.”

IU showed some learning against favored Purdue. Three times it built seven-point leads, gave itself a fourth-quarter chance with a 76-yard touchdown drive (capped by a 2-point conversion) just when the Boilers were poised to take control.

The Hoosiers still had a chance near the end of the fourth quarter until Tre Roberson’s deep pass to Nick Stoner was intercepted by cornerback Josh Johnson. Both players seemed to have possession as they hit the ground, with Johnson then ripping the ball away. Officials said it wasn’t a reviewable play.

Perhaps the bigger issue is that Stoner has to get strong enough so that nobody rips the ball away from him. Lack of strength was a MAJOR problem this season, perhaps because of the Hoosiers’ off-season emphasis on “leaning” the players up.

It sounded good in theory. Make guys fitter so they could handle Wilson’s full-throttle tempo. Wear down opponents. Win games.

In reality it was a disaster. The Hoosiers lacked the size and strength necessary to handle major college ball. Even Ball State, for goodness sake, an average Mid-American Conference team, manhandled IU up front on both sides of the ball.

Strength building will be a major off-season point of emphasis. It will start on Monday.

Yes, the Hoosiers can’t afford to take much of a break. When you’re this bad, you need all the work you can get.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bucket Rivalry Matters; Groundhog Futility; Against the Odds

Purdue’s coming to IU on Saturday for the annual Oaken Bucket Battle and coach Kevin Wilson gets it. He understands the whole rivalry deal because he’s played in them and then coached in them.

Still, the battle for the Bucket is a new experience and Wilson said he’s ready for it even if the 1-10 record makes you wonder if his players are.

“The uniqueness is it’s a state rivalry,” Wilson said. “You’ve got the two institutions of the state, the state institutions. You grow up in the state. For the most part, I’m assuming the majority of the fans are pulling for whoever the family has or their grandfather has. For decades or 100 plus years it’s one school or the other.

“But again, to me what makes a rivalry great is there’s a natural love. There’s kind of a respect that you have for the school. The families know each other, the communities know each other. That being said, it’s family going against family. That makes for a little heated, bad blood rival. I’ve tried to tell our kids. I don’t think every school has that. I’d say that if you’d look at 120-some (major college) schools, there’s probably 70 to 75 that have some natural true rival. Some others are searching.”

The only thing the Hoosiers are searching for is a victory to wipe a really bad season. Saturday at Memorial Stadium, they’ll get a chance to find it.


Wilson continues to push the play-as-you-practice concept. He wants player to go as hard in practice, that’s EVERY practice, as they do in games.

He also wants guys competing every day. If you get beat out, do something about it by practicing so hard and so well the coaches have to put you in. In the same way, if you win a job you have to keep winning it by your practice effort.

Wilson mentioned the quarterback situation. Freshman Tre Roberson has won the job, beating out veterans Ed Wright-Baker and Dusty Kiel. Both had injuries that gave Roberson a chance.

“My whole thing with Tre was, what are Dusty and Ed going to do?” Wilson said. “As a competitor, that’s what you want. You want to get back in the mix. You want to get your job back. You keep competing.”


IU is a 7.5-point underdog against Purdue. It hasn’t won since September. It likely won’t win again until next September.

No matter. This is a rivalry game, and it distorts, if not shatters, the mantra you hear about treating every game the same. It sounds good in theory, but in reality it doesn’t work. There are some games you get more jacked about. This is one of them, and it alters the every day pattern coaches find so reassuring.

“I like groundhog day,” Wilson said. “I live everybody to be the same.

“But if I’m a senior, this needs to be a special (time). There’s the rivalry, the Bucket, Purdue. There are all kinds of uniqueness that should make this one of the best weeks of you life.”

Wilson has one last shot to get these Hoosiers to play their best. Can he do what he basically couldn’t do all season?

“We might have struggled,”said, “but our kids have worked hard. They’ve invested greatly. That’s why I keep getting frustrated with my inability to connect with them.”


You might think Rod Smith, IU’s co-offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, might develop an interest in heading to Arizona now that Rich Rodriquez is the new coach.

Yeah, that’s the same Rodriguez who was fired at Michigan, and who has spent this season in coaching pergatory. Smith and Rodriquez have known each other for years, starting at Glenville State in West Virginia when Rodrigez was the coach and Smith was the quarterback. The men worked together at Clemson, West Virginia and Michigan.

Anyway, is Smith interested in going to Arizona?

Absolutely not, he said. He’s focused on Saturday’s Bucket game and beating the Boilers.”

After Saturday, things might change. For now, though, it’s all about beating Purdue.


IU figures to sign 27 football players in February. The NCAA allows 25 a year, but because the Hoosiers signed only 23 last year, it can get a couple more.

Indiana has 21 commitments so far, with 14 listed on the defensive side. If you’ve seen the Hoosiers play defense this season, you know how badly they need defensive help.

Anyway, 13 of them have three stars out of five. Five are nationally ranked at their position and one –- offensive lineman Wes Rogers -– is No. 7.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wilson Looks In IU Football Mirror, Sees Disconnect

Kevin Wilson is taking a good, long public look in the mirror. Coaching perhaps the worst team in IU football history was not part of the master plan when he was hired about a year ago. He wanted to be demanding. He wanted to change the mindset that kept the Hoosiers stuck in a whirlpool of losing that a revolving door series of coaches couldn’t stop.

John Pont stopped it briefly half a century ago. Bill Mallory did the same thing a generation in the past. Even Lee Corso had a few winning-season moments around the time the BeeGees ruled the airwaves.

Wilson arrived with his super-stud offensive credentials and tell-like-it-is approach, and as so often happens when a new coach arrives, all things seemed possible.

Then Cream ‘n Crimson reality hit, as it so often does. The Hoosiers lost at an unprecedented rate. They didn’t just lose, they got BURIED. They got physically roughed up by Ball State, for goodness sakes

Wilson demanded more, which is not a bad thing, which, in fact, makes him like every successful coach in America. But along the way, there came a disconnect.

Thirty players had enough and moved on, 19 of them on scholarship, some because of injury, some because, well, they didn’t like Wilson. One of them, perhaps the best of them, Damarlo Belcher, was kicked off the team after he and Wilson kept butting heads. His actual transgressions remain private.

It wasn’t the outcome Belcher or Wilson wanted, and both came off looking bad.

So now the Hoosiers get one last chance to win a game, this time Saturday against Purdue, their biggest rival. The Boilers have extra motivation because they need a win to become bowl eligible, but that motivation works both ways. Nothing would salvage a miserable season more than ruining Purdue plans.

Still, nobody figures IU to win. It can score some points against a sometimes vulnerable Boiler defense, but it has shown no sign of stopping anybody. It has played some of the worst defense known to man. Defensive backs get beat so badly at times, it’s like a bad comedy skit.

Except no one is laughing except, perhaps, opposing offensive coordinators who get their shots at making the Hoosiers look silly.

Again, this is not what Wilson and his staff wanted, not what athletic director Fred Glass wanted when he made them the highest-paid football coaches in school history and provided them with resources no previous staff had ever enjoyed.

So Wilson looked in the mirror and, in public, found fault. He mentioned it while talking to the media. He said it on his radio show.

“The real deal is our inability as coaches to connect and get more out of our kids more often,” Wilson said. “So we’ll keep moving with that.”

And then he said it again.

“We have not done a good job connecting. I have to do a better job of reaching our guys. We’re trying to reach our guys. We’re working at it, trying to work positively at it.”

On Saturday against Purdue, we’ll get one last chance to see if that work can produce results.

You don’t need a mirror to understand that.


Remember Indiana’s 1987 national championship, when Keith Smart hit the shot the rocked the college basketball world and Steve Alford had a song about him that resonated with a 1960s’ classic.

We’d sing it, but you can’t sing on a blog.

Anyway, that team will have a reunion to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the program’s fifth, and last, national title. It’s set for Sunday, Dec. 4, when the Hoosiers play Stetson.

In that year IU stunned No. 1 UNLV 97-93 in the Final Four semifinals when coach Bob Knight scrapped the patient, motion offense approach because he didn’t think it would work the Runnin’ Rebels’ attacking defense.

Then the Hoosiers beat Syracuse 74-73 on Smart’s last-second shot.

Former players Steve Alford and Todd Meier organized the reunion along with deputy athletic director Scott Dolson, who was a team manager on that title team.

The first 7,500 fans in attendance of the IU-Stetson game will get a replica calendar poster from that 1987 championship season. There also will be an autograph session between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. (the game starts at 4:30).

More information is on its way.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Beating Up Cody; Corso Apologizes; Football Folly

The meek might inherit the earth, but they don’t hang out in the paint trying to stop Cody Zeller. Instead, Indiana’s heralded 6-11 freshman deals with a coarser group of guys who aren’t above smacking him in, well, a sensitive area.

“I know they’re going to try to beat me up a little bit,” Zeller says with a smile. “I just try to keep my head up and keep going at it.”

After four games Zeller has been roughed up in all sorts of ways, some that might get you arrested if done on a street corner.

The key is, this is just against mid-major players. What happens when the really big, really strong guys from power conference teams show Zeller what major college ball is really like?

Zeller, it seems, is ready for it just as he’s been ready for just about everything else this season. He’s lifted, run and played at a veteran level, and it shows in stats that include a team-leading 15.0 points, a team-leading 7.3 rebounds and an eye-popping 82.6 percent shooting from the field.

“One of the things I need to work on is getting stronger and getting lower on rebounds,” he says. “It’s a work in progress.”

Zeller is noticeably bigger and stronger than he was last year, the benefit of IU’s strength and conditioning program

“It was a lot of hard work in the summer,” he said. “It’s paying off.”

Coach Tom Crean knows teams are targeting Zeller, but he doesn’t want any retaliation other than by playing better and harder.

“I wouldn’t just single Cody out in that,” Crean said. “I think our guys are doing a very good job in handling that. They know the ramifications. Who knows what is going to happen down the road? I don’t think we have any wallflowers.

“Cody is a tough young man. Those guys have a determination about them. They understand what is at stake.

“I would have a bigger issue with some of that if the referees weren’t on top of that, but there’s no reason to believe that they’re not.

“We want all of our guys to play with a real intensity, a real determination, but to play with emotion, not emotional. For the most part, we’re getting that.

“Cody certainly epitomizes that. He plays with some emotion. He plays with a lot of intensity, but you never look at Cody and think he is getting emotional about anything, which is good.”

How good? We're about to find out.


Are we getting so soft in America that a man can’t use the F-word on national television while putting on a mascot head without apologizing?

Apparently so.

ESPN, in its infinite wisdom, directed Lee Corso to apologize for blurting the Word That Shall Remain Unwritten during a College GameDay bit.

Lee, Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and former Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis were wrapping up a segment from Houston. The Cougars were about to play SMU and Corso was set to pick who he thought would win. He saw a megaphone that had SMU’s logo on it and shouted.

“How can you pick against SMU? Look at that one there –- red, white and blue!”

He picked up the megaphone and shouted “USA!”

Then he tossed the megaphone and picked up the Houston mascot head of Shasta the Cougar while saying, “Ah, (bleep) it!”

Fowler went face down onto his desk. Herbstreit pushed back from the desk as if concerned it would burst into flames. Lewis just laughed and applauded.

And then the whole thing went Internet viral. Corso later apologized on the air and said he would never use that word again.

But the video remains forever.


Did you think Michigan State was rubbing it in when it let senior offensive lineman Joel Foreman run the ball against the Hooisers?

It happened in the third quarter with the Spartans ahead something like 200-3. Foreman is 6-4 and 315 pounds. He’d never carried the ball before, but coach Mark Dantonio wanted to give him a chance because, well, why not? It was Senior Day, which means it was Foreman’s last ever home game.

Why not have some fun?

Foreman rushed for three yards, and later got the game ball. It was a moment he’ll likely never forget.

In fact, it was not rubbing it in. The Hoosiers have become everybody favorite patsy. The only reason why they didn’t get slaughtered at Ohio State is because the Buckeyes, with all the issues they’ve faced, including losing their quarterback and head coach to a tattoo scandal, aren’t very good.

If you don’t want offensive linemen running on you, play tough enough so it doesn’t happen. But, as we have seen through the course of this long, long season, toughness is not yet a Hoosier strength.

Will that change? There’s no guarantee when it comes to Cream ‘n Crimson football. Just because IU plays a lot of young guys now doesn’t mean they’ll become good veterans down the road.

The Hoosiers have a chance to wipe out some of the sting of this painful season by beating Purdue. It would give the Boilers a losing record and ruin their bowl hopes. It would bring a measure of pride to an Indiana program that badly needs it.

The Hoosiers have one last chance to get it right. We’ll see what they can do with it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Few IU Limits – Oladipo Stays Hot; Defend and Score Works

When it comes to defense, Victor Oladipo has his limits.

Bring on the point guards, the shooting guards, the small forwards, even the power forwards. But when it comes to centers …

“I don’t know about that,” he says. “Other than that, I’ll do whatever it takes.”

Oladipo is the 6-5, 215-pound sophomore who has emerged as Indiana’s best early player. That can change in a season in which so many Hoosiers are poised for big-time play, but for now Oladipo is the leading scorer, top defender and best dunker.

The defense isn’t a surprise. He was known for his prowess in that area while thriving at DeMatha High School in Maryland. He dominated then because of his physical skills. Now it takes so much more.

“When you got to college everybody is going to be as strong as you,” he said. “I learned I can’t gamble as much as I used to. I learned I have to stay solid and keep my man in front of me.”

He learned it well enough to get opposing teams’ best scorers. And if during a game somebody else gets hot, he’ll switch to them.

“That’s my job,” he said. “I have to guard the best player from the other team and stop him from scoring.”

Oladipo is a catalyst in IU’s improved defense. The coaches stressed it last year, but the Hoosiers weren’t mature enough to handle it. Now, they are.

“It comes down to our mentality,” Oladipo said. “Every day our first thing is defense. Defense will create out offense. That’s what we’ve been working on in practice.

“Coaches have put great emphasis on that. Not that they hand’t before, but they’ve been putting even more on defense and defense creating offense. That’s what we’ve been trying to do.”

It’s worked. IU is shooting 57.1 percent from the field, which ranks second in the nation. The Hoosiers have four players averaging in double figures in scoring. Three more average at least seven points.

IU scored 94 points against Evansville even though nobody took more than eight shots. Of their 33 baskets, 24 came via assists.

That’s impressive.

“The balancing act of how it’s turning out is really not by design,” coach Tom Crean said. “It’s not where we look at it and say, Let’s hope this guy gets X amount of shots and that guy gets this group of shots. No, it’s, Let’s play. Let’s see what we get out of our defense. Let’s get the ball moving.”

Eventually it moves to forward Cody Zeller in the post and from there, well, it’s anybody’s guess. Which is what it leaves defenses doing because the Hoosiers are evolving into a team that has scoring threats at every position. You lay off someone at your own risk.

“We’re heading there, there’s no doubt,” Crean said.

Last year against Evansville the Aces could pack in their defense because IU didn’t have enough perimeter weapons to loosen them up.

Not anymore.

“We’ve got to continue to improve at that pace for that to happen,” Crean said.

As for that whole better-offense-through-better-defense approach, the players have bought into it.

“It’s becoming more natural in every game we play,” Oladipo said. “We need to keep doing it.”

IU Basketball – Time to Get Excited? What’s Up With Jones?

So what do we make of this Indiana team that has crushed the likes of Stony Brook, Chattanooga and Evansville?

Is this really a team capable of NCAA tourney relevance?


The Hoosiers have shown consistency of effort. They defend well, push the pace and hit the open shot. They cut and pass with precision. They play with passion and purpose.

The fact they are burying teams they should bury is a good sign. Last year they struggled against mediocre teams, a sure indication of vulnerability.

Take, for instance, Purdue this season.

The Boilers are 3-0, but they barely beat High Point and Iona. A huge reason, besides both are solid teams, is that Purdue is struggling to make free throws. It is 17-for-39 in its last two games. If that doesn’t improve, it has no chance in the Big Ten.

The Hoosiers have shown no such vulnerability. They are not a powerhouse in the manner of, say, North Carolina, but the potential is obvious.

They do not play a brutal non-conference schedule like Michigan State. They face Butler, which is not the contender it was the last couple of years, and that game is at Assembly Hall. The real tests come back to back, with Notre Dame in Indianapolis as part of the Close the Gap Crossroads Classic and Kentucky in Assembly Hall.

Oh, yes, a Big Ten/ACC matchup at North Carolina State, a good but not great team.

This is, in almost every way, Tom Crean’s first real Indiana squad, a group that can play the game the way he wants it played.

If you’re an IU fan, it’s time to get excited.


Are you like us? Do you see Verdell Jones go 4-for-4 from three-point range against Evansville and think that’s one of the signs of the Mayan End of Days?

Are you, also like us, convinced that the Green Bay Packers only beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl because of a conspiracy that reached to the highest levels of government?

We digress.

Jones, Indiana’s senior guard, is a career 29-percent three-point shooter. Yet suddenly he looked like Steve Alford at Evansville’s brand new Ford Center. Jones hadn’t made four three-pointers in a game since he was a freshman.

In his first three seasons Jones made 58 three-pointers. He was 0-for-2 from beyond the arc in his first two games this year. Then he couldn’t miss.

The obvious reason, Crean said, was defense.


Crean pointed out that Jones had 10 pass deflections on defense, which reflected his aggressiveness in that area, which reflected that he was in tune to the flow of the game, which made everything better.

“His defensive intent from the beginning was outstanding and all of a sudden, he nails four 3s,” Crean said.

“When you've got guys really setting the tone for themselves and their teammates on the defensive end, it's amazing how many good things can happen on the offensive end."


Kevin Wilson needs football help. Okay, that’s not rock the world news, but work with us here.

Wilson needs good players physical enough and tough enough to handle Big Ten battles.

Specifically, he needs good defensive players because if you’ve seen the Hoosiers play defense this season, you know how far they have to go. They are last in the Big Ten in scoring defense (36.0 points), total defense (452.6 yards) and mental breakdowns (250,000).

So Wilson has gotten three junior college commitments recently, all of whom are defensive players.

No, that is not an accident. Wilson will lose two starting linebackers and three safeties, and he’s got to recruit for that.

Defensive backs Tregg Waters out of Arizona and Shaine Boyle out of California, have joined Kansas middle linebacker David Cooper as oral commitments to IU. Wilson had earlier gotten junior college linebacker commitments from Darrius Stroud and Jaccari Alexander.

Boyle had 57 tackles and three interceptions last season. He has 37 tackles, including 4.5 for loss, this season.

Wilson prefers high school players because they have four or sometimes five years in the program. Junior college guys usually just have two, but they can bring a mental and physical maturity to produce early impact.

When you’re in the early rebuilding stage, you look for whatever edge you can find.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hoosiers Hit the Road; Belcher Apologizes

IU faces a formidable task tonight when it plays at the University of Evansville.

Any time a major-conference school travels to a mid-major program, it’s a test. And the Aces have a new arena (11,000-seat Ford Center) and are fresh off an overtime victory there over Butler.

As you might have heard, Butler has been kind of decent the last couple of years.

Anyway, the Hoosiers have steamrolled the likes of Stony Brook and Chattanooga, but that was at Assembly Hall. They’ve started 2-0 for the fifth straight season, but again, that’s at Assembly Hall.

The road has not been kind to IU under coach Tom Crean. The players insist that was then, this is now. The Hoosiers have a much better team. They’ve got Cody Zeller playing to his hype, Victor Oladipo playing like an All-Big Ten force.

This will be a game and an atmosphere that will steel them for what they’ll face in the Big Ten. But if this is really a team poised to bust out of a three-year funk, it has to win.

“It will be a great challenge,” guard Jordan Hulls said. “We have done a good job thus far of making it about the task at hand and nothing more. Every year is a new year. If we play with the mindset we have thus far, we can be successful.

“We need to be at the top of our game for 40 minutes.”

IU has thrived with aggressive defense and fast-break offense. It’s going to have to shoot well and minimize the turnovers.

“We are going to have to be at our best defensively and force them to take tough shots,” coach Tom Crean said. “We have to have good movement and spacing on offense and attack the glass at both ends.”

As for the road woes:

“Winning on the road certainly is a step that this group of guys knows it needs if it hopes to reach our goals,” Crean said.

Bottom line -- this is a winnable game. IU needs to win it.


It took a couple of weeks, but Damarlo Belcher has finally provided some insight into his dismissal from the football team. It came via texts provided first to Justin Albers of the Indiana Daily Student, then to the Bloomington Herald Times.

It said:

“I’m sorry. I know I let a lot of people down, including myself. I take full responsibility for my actions because I could have went about them in a better way, but me and (coach Kevin) Wilson wasn’t seeing eye to eye on some things, but I respect his call. This is a lesson learned. I also want to say sorry to my teammates. I know I had a lot of young guys looking up to me and to my fans. I plan on finishing school and looking forward to training in a couple weeks to get ready for the next level.”

We still don’t know exactly what Belcher did. Coach Kevin Wilson booted him a couple of weeks ago for what was described as a violation of team rules.

Apparetnly Belcher never adapted to Wilson’s demands. He never bought into the every day intensity that was expected of everybody, certainly for a senior who was, at least on paper, IU’s best player.

Last year Belcher led the Big Ten with 78 catches. This year he had 25 in six games. Injuries limited him as did a suspension.

He decided to stay for his senior year, rather than leave early for the NFL as teammate and friend Tandon Doss did, to improve his draft stock. That didn’t happen.

At 6-5 and 215 pounds, Belcher has NFL-caliber size. He doesn’t have break-away speed. Is he physical enough and mentally tough enough to make it in the NFL, which put premiums on those attributes? He’ll have to prove that in the coming months.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Early or Not, Oladip and Zeller Rule; Moore Thrives

We know it’s early and that Indiana has a long way to go to prove its basketball struggles are over.

But the Hoosiers’ 2-0 start got an added boost when the Big Ten honored Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller. Oladipo was Big Ten player of the week. Zeller was conference freshman of the week.

Yeah, it’s a big deal.

All Oladipo did was average 18.5 points and 5.5 rebounds, shoot 72.2 percent and leap over tall buildings in a single bound.

Okay, it only seemed that way given the way Oladipo elevated on some of the dunks he delivered against Stony Brook and Chattanooga.

But the sophomore guard is WAY more than a guy who jams. He plays the kind of defense that canwin championships, and that has benefited his scoring.

Last season as a freshman he averaged 7.6 points and 3.8 rebounds. Coach Tom Crean has praised Oladipo’s work ethic .

It’s paying off.

“His defensive presence is creating all the offense,” Crean said. “He’s worked very hard on his offensive game. There’s no question about that. He’s one of the absolute most diligent, time-spent-in-gym guys I’ve ever been around in my coaching life. But his defense has created that offense.

“He’s scored 37 points in these first two games while guarding the other team’s first- or second-best player every minute,” Crean said. “He’s getting to the foul line. And you see his first step. When he gets it right, he’s hard to contain.

“But it starts with his defense.”

Zeller has lived up to the early hype. He averaged 11.5 points , 7.5 rebounds, 4.5 steals and 1.5 blocks in the two victories. But it’s his poise and awareness that has made the biggest impact on the Hoosiers. He draws double teams that opens the court for his teammates.

“That’s how we got open buckets, how Jordan (Hulls) got easy threes and I got layups and dunks,” Oladipo said after the Chattanooga win. “There’s a reason why we recruited him. I’m glad he’s here.”

Basketball life will get tougher, starting Wednesday at Evansville. A Crean-coached IU team has only won one true road game, and that was two years ago at Penn State. It’s won just twice away from Assembly Hall. But this is a new team with new potential.

History will not repeat itself. On Wednesday, the Hoosiers get a chance to prove it.


Daniel Moore has busted his behind for what seems forever for little playing time. There’s a reason, of course. Other guys are better. The 5-10, 165-pound senior guard from Carmel would have thrived at a smaller school, but that wasn’t what his heart told him to do. He wanted to be a Hoosier, so he walked on for the opportunity.

Chattanooga provided the chance for him to thrive, and he did. He hustled his way to four rebounds and a steal in 13 minutes.

And for those into trivia, in the time he’s played this season, IU has outscored its opponents 42-13.

Does that mean Moore should start over Jordan Hulls?

Are you nuts?

It does mean he’s making a contribution and that somebody doing stats has a lot of free time on his/her hands.

“My main role it to try to provide a spark off the bench,” he said. “Hopefully I can get a couple of steals and deflections, do what I can on the defensive side.”

For the record, Moore averages 44.9 percent from the field, 34.6 percent from three-point range and 71.8 percent from the line for his career. He also has 107 assists against 93 turnovers.

Yeah. He can provide a spark.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Zeller’s college debut a big hit

Cody Zeller got confused. That’s it. For a second, with all the buzz about IU’s newest recruiting class, maybe Zeller thought he was the second coming of Yogi Ferrell, the Hoosiers’ point guard of the future who can get steals and drive the length of the floor for baskets.

But no, there was Zeller, all 6-11 and 230 pounds of him, getting a steal, driving the down the court and getting the two-handed dunk.

The Assembly Hall crowd roared and the Hoosiers, already pummeling out-gunned Stony Brook, sent for the second-half jugular.

“I’ve done that a couple of times in highs school,” Zeller says. “It got the crowd into it. It got us going. I was just trying to make a play.”

Yeah, it’s good to be a Hoosier these days, especially when you’re Zeller and, at least for one season-opening day, you meet lofty expectations.

Sure, it meant taking a second-half shot to the lower abdomen, a flagant foul that got the Seawolves’ Danny Carter ejected once referees viewed the TV monitor and saw what he had down. They didn’t see it live, but they absolutely saw it when coach Tom Crean asked them to check the monitor.

Zeller downplayed it, saying he’d have to see it on film to really comment on it, but adding that it gave IU an advantage because Stony Brook lost a valuable inside player.

“They didn’t have as many big guys in there,” he said. “No. 23 (Dallis Joyner) was getting worn down. They had to bring in a couple guys we hadn’t seen on tape. It was a big help to the team.”

Zeller was a bigger help, especially in the second half, when he had 12 points and eight rebounds. That gave him a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, quite a college debut, although it didn’t surprise his teammates.

“It was outstanding, remarkable,” senior guard Verdell Jones said. “It’s rare to see a freshman do what he did today. They (Stony Brook) came right at him and instead of backing down, he came right back at them. That’s huge. Teams are going to come at him. If he keeps his head and keeps attacking them right back, it will be huge for us.”

The 6-11 Zeller arrived with a ton of expectations and hype. Yes, this was only one game and the opponent wasn’t, say, Ohio State, which comes to Assembly Hall on New Year’s Eve.

But it gave a public impression to what basically now has been private potential.

“What he did today was just the beginning,” forward Derek Elston said. “In the first half he was drawing two (defenders) and I heard a fan say, get him the ball inside. That’s what we’ve been harping on -- getting him the ball.

“Once we get find him in the post and we get things going, he causes so much confusion for the defense. They don’t know how to guard him. That’s what we need. He can finish. He went coast to coast. That opens up so much for the kid. He’s going to help us tremendously.”

He already has.


Even now, with the glow from signing perhaps the nation’s best recruiting class still bright, the quest continues, the sales pitch remains as upbeat as ever.

Indiana is where you want to be again.

Take assistant coach Steve McClain. He arrived a year or so ago, which means he missed out on the Hoosiers’ early recruiting drama, but not the message that has to continue to be sent. McClain mentions sophomores Will Sheehey and Victor Oladipo, who have gone from last year’s reserve after-thoughts to two of the team’s best players.

That improvement, McClain said, is proof that how the Hoosiers develop players works. It should impact the five Class of 2012 newcomers and other future recruits.

“Those guys have seen the progress of Victor and Will,” McClain said. “They’ve seen what the young guys in our program have done in nine months. They know that’s the development they’ll get.”

And now, so do you.


For those of you into Cream ‘n Crimson justice, Gary Harris’ Hamilton Southeastern football team got beat by Fort Wayne Snider in Class 5A regional action Friday night. His football career is over.

Yes, that’s the same Harris who committed to Michigan State a few days earlier.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Top Of The Heap -- IU Signs Powerhouse Basketball Class; Paterno Is Out

“The Movement” has come to Indiana basketball.

Hoosier coach Tom Crean has signed potentially the best class since Bob Knight landed the late 1980s group led by Calbert Cheaney. All those guys did was win a couple of Big Ten titles, reach a Final Four and earn a No. 1 ranking.

What will point guard Yogie Ferrell, combo guard Ron Patterson, small forward Jeremy Hollowell, power forward Hanner Perea and center Peter Jurkin do?

In time, we’ll know. For now, there’s hope and potential, and after three years of sanction-caused misery, that’s enough.

“We want to rebuild Indiana back to the No. 1 program in the nation,” Ferrell said.

Patterson said that the term, “The Movement,” is about hanging up banners and winning championships, that it means, “hard work, never let down, never give up.”

“We all know each other,” he said. “We know the good and the bad.”

Patterson has built a defensive reputation during his time at Indianapolis Broad Ripple. He said he will, “work hard, get quicker and the things I was doing bad, make them better.”

His high school coach, Scott Hicks, said, “Ron has done a great job and he’s reaping his rewards. He’s a treat to coach. IU is getting a great player and a quality young man.”

The key to the class is Ferrell because of his point guard position. It’s been years since IU has had a true point guard and that will be crucial, in these guard-driven times, to produce a championship team.

Ferrell said he is working on his leadership skills and being more vocal.

“Coach Crean wants me to take over the team,” he said. “That’s what he told me.”

Crean is set to talk later today about the class and what it means for a program on the rise. What does it mean?

One hell of a lot.


How did good men let this happen?

Joe Paterno was a football coaching legend. Tim Curley was one of the nation’s most respected athletic directors. Yet, somehow, their judgment was so clouded, so distorted, they allowed an alleged pedophile to have free reign in the athletic complex for years, even when they knew, or should have known, what he was capable of.

Yes, it speaks of moral failing, corrupted values or just plain stupidity. The Paterno camp suggested the coach didn’t really understand exactly what had happened a decade earlier, that he really did think it was just horsing around and not something far worse.

But maybe it more reflects the power of Jerry Sandusky, that he could seduce grown men with charm and lies just as he, allegedly, did young boys.

Sandusky destroyed lives. The innocent couldn’t have known or understood what he was doing. But Paterno and Curley had to know.

It made no sense to allow Sandusky to have access to Penn State facilities, given what had been seen and reported, and yet, they did, for years. At worst, it was a cover-up and a crime. At best, well, there is no best.

In time, perhaps, we’ll understand.

Perhaps we’ll understand why a graduate assistant, when stumbling upon what was, in essence, a rape in a shower, did not stop it, did not run to the police. Instead, he ran to his father, and then to Paterno and then let it go, becoming an assistant coach where he surely ran into Sandusky on occasion, and did nothing.

Paterno went to Curley, and then let it go.

Curley went to, well, he basically just let it go.

Evil seduces, manipulates, corrupts. It gets good people to do bad, and in a way so they don’t realize what they have done until it it too late.

Evil is not ugly like Voldemort but attractive like Ted Bundy, the serial killer who charmed his to multiple murders.

So Paterno is out, Curley is out, the Penn State president is out. A proud university is disgraced, a football program is gutted, a Hall of Fame reputation is tarnished.

Students rioted in State College in the aftermath of Paterno’s firing, which reportedly came with a messenger arriving at Paterno’s house, bearing a note that told the coach to call a number. He did and got a pair of Penn State board of trustee members who told him that after 46 years and 409 victories, he was no longer the Nittany Lions coach.

But through the sadness of it all, remember this -- it's about the children. Let the healing begin.