Friday, February 25, 2011
Grand Indiana Finale – Start The Freshmen; Wilson Now Tweeting
So what should Tom Crean do these last few weeks before Indiana takes an unwanted spring break?
For starters, why not start Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey the rest of the way.
What does Indiana have to lose? Against this murderer’s row of a closing schedule, it likely won’t win again until next November. Plus, it’s regressing. Last year the Hoosiers won four Big Ten games, three more than the previous season. This season they’re like to finish with three, with arguably a better team.
So start the freshmen. Keep them in as long as they play hard and with passion. Yes, playing smart would be a big plus. The more experience they get, the better.
Sure, Oladipo shows signs of hitting the wall. A long season can wear on anybody, let alone a freshman not used to these many games, this much intensity, and so many quality opponents.
Still, let him play through it. It’s the best way to build that toughness the Hoosiers will need for future seasons.
Sheehey had a career-high 14 points against Purdue, added 12 against Iowa, and averages 5.7 points in Big Ten play. Oladipo averages 7.9 points and 52.7-percent shooting in conference games.
Both make a lot of freshman mistakes, but if you’ve seen the Hoosiers play, you know mistakes aren’t a freshman monopoly. They’ve spent the season proving they’re the worst defensive team in America, one guaranteed incapable of consistently making plays down the stretch, and there’s no reason to expect that to change now.
So what kind of starting lineup are we talking about? Senior Jeremiah Rivers hasn’t been the same since missing some free throws at Michigan State. He’s not defending at a shut-down rate and he certainly isn’t an offensive juggernaut. Let him come off the bench.
Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford need to start. Put them with Oladipo and Sheehey, and add either Tom Pritchard or Verdell Jones to round out a starting five, and see what happens, starting with Sunday’s matchup at No. 2 Ohio State (26-2). If they struggle, so what? That’s part of learning and growing. It’s not like IU (12-16 with a five-game losing streak) actually has a chance at the upset.
Here’s the deal. Under coach Thad Matta Ohio State is 117-10 in Columbus. No other Big Ten team has won as many home games since the 2004-2005 season, not even Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan, who loses about as often at home as Crean sits during a game.
The Buckeyes are 35-1 at home in the last two seasons. Who is the only team to beat them in that span? Purdue last year.
Even worse for Hoosier prospects, Ohio State has to keep winning to win the Big Ten championship (it has a one-game lead over Purdue with three to play), so there’s no chance for a letdown. The Buckeyes will come out with guns blazing. They will punish IU inside with Jared Sullinger, blitz from the outside with William Buford, David Lighty and Jon Diebler (the most prolific three-point shooter in Big Ten history), and roll big.
The Hoosiers’ only hope is for Ohio State to get into major foul trouble. It basically plays a seven-man rotation so if IU can get to the Buckeyes’ bench, it has a chance.
Of course, given this game is at Ohio State rather than at Assembly Hall, there’s almost no way that happens.
This is just Round Two of the most brutal closing schedule in college basketball. The Hoosiers lost to No. 8 Purdue on Wednesday. They also have No. 12 Wisconsin on Thursday, although at least that game is at Assembly Hall. They finish at Illinois.
Crean has tweeted his displeasure at the fact IU will host Wisconsin with a 9 p.m. tipoff, then play at Illinois 36 hours later. Is it unfair? Absolutely. Will it make a difference? No. The Hoosiers haven’t won on the road since Tut ruled Egypt. They’ll likely lose to the Illini no matter what time and day they play.
First there was Crean on the Internet. Now Kevin Wilson has joined the social media age. IU’s new football coach will have his own Twitter account. You can check out what he has to say, in bite-size chunks, of course, @IUCoachWilson. He also will participate in something called Lexy, which sounds like the mate of Lassie, which it is not.
Lexy, as we now know from an IU media release, is a “new entertainment medium” that provides “free on-demand personalized audio clips that listeners can get on any phone by dialing 877-FI-LEXY (877-349-5399) or by going to Lexy.com.”
The release described Lexy as a “privately-owned company on a mission to deliver through the authenticy of audio a dynamic, interactive aural network of ideas, information, arguments, entertainment, rants, raves, news and stories.”
And if it mixes in a few Elvis clips along the way, all the better.