Sunday, March 27, 2011

IU Football Goes Full Throttle; Zeller Obvious Mr. Basketball Pick; Will VCU Win It All?

Kevin Wilson talks like he coaches -- fast. He’s not into long, drawn out sentences when clipped phrases will do just fine.

The man charged with bringing victories back to the Indiana football program made his reputation on running offenses that could beat you with pace as well as talent and scheme. It wasn’t an accident. He prepared his players to play at a speed defenses couldn't handle.

“You can train speed because you need to run,” he said. “You can train physicallness because you need to hit. It’s a physical game. It’s a fast game. You train that.”

Wilson runs his spring practices with that in mind. It’s an early taste of what the Hoosiers can expect when August camp rolls around.

“We’re doing a lot of work,” he said. “We’re active learners. We’re not passive in what we’re doing.”

Wilson wants the Hoosiers going full speed, which is fine. However, coaches are putting in new plays and new approaches and that, by definition, will turn full speed to half speed. No matter. The coaches keep pushing.

“As we’re putting in schemes,” Wilson said, “the players are thinking. The best way to slow somebody down is to make them think. It’s a double-edged sword. We put in new plays and they think. Now they’re slower. We want them to go faster. It’s tough, but all in all, I’m pleased. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I’m not discourages or frustrated. We’ll keep plugging along.”

And just in case that plugging misses something, Wilson will hold a walk-on tryout on Tuesday, April 19, at Memorial Stadium. If you’re interested, contact Mark Deal at by April 8.

For those who have yet to give up the football dream despite being on the wrong side of 30, well, you have to be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours at IU in Bloomington to try out.


Is there any doubt that Cody Zeller will win Indiana’s Mr. Basketball?

Well, there’s always doubt until the results are in, and the state of Indiana has a lot of strong candidates this year, but when you factor in everything, Zeller should be the runaway winner.

The Washington senior standout thrives just as much off the court as he does on. He has a 3.99 grade point average, ranks second in his second class, is very much involved with the community and just won the Class 3A mental attitude award.

Oh, yes, he led the Hatchets to their third state title in his four years while averaging 24.1 points and 13.3 rebounds. He rates as the nation's No. 20 player.

Other Mr. Basketball contenders are Indianapolis Pike’s Marquis Teague (rated as the nation’s No. 2 player by, Gary Wallace’s Branden Dawson (No. 13), Indianapolis Lawrence North’s Michael Chandler (No. 47) and Bloomington South’s Dee Davis (No. 120).


Be honest. How many of you projected a Final Four of Butler, VCU, Kentucky and Connecticut?

This reflects that fact that this year there never was a truly dominant team in college basketball, although Ohio State certainly looked like one the way it steamrolled through the Big Ten tourney and first two NCAA tourney rounds.

Connecticut is the highest seed to make it, at No. 3. It has been on a roll since winning the Big East tourney by winning five games in five days. But then, so has VCU, which has won five NCAA tourney games, one more than any other team, because it made the 68-team field as a play-in-game qualifier. Kentucky also has surged by winning the SEC tourney to get momentum heading into the NCAA event.

Finally, there’s Butler, which might not have made the field if it hadn’t won the Horizon League tourney title.

So who will win the whole thing? On paper, you’d have to go with Connecticut and stud guard Kemba Walker. On heart you’d have to go with Butler, which doesn’t know how to quit. On tenacity VCU would get the nod given the way it has thrived inside and out. As far as Kentucky, it has really come together the last month of the season.

Add it all up and the choice is as obvious as a Charles Barkley comment -- VCU will win it all.

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