Wednesday, March 2, 2011

No Kidding -- IU Completes Football Coaching Staff; Senior Night Finale for Rivers

For what seems like the one thousandth time, Indiana’s Kevin Wilson has completed his football coaching staff.

Seriously. He has.

This time Deland McCullough, previously the running backs coach at Miami of Ohio, will take the Hoosiers’ running backs coaching job.

He replaces Jemal Singleton, who had the job for about 50 seconds before leaving for Oklahoma State.

Is it going to last?

Well, the university release says, “Wilson’s full-time coaching staff is now complete.”

We’ve seen that before. It seems, given the fact IU has had four assistant coaches come and go, optimistic.

But this time, we suspect, it’s going to stick. Most of the colleges, certainly most of the major ones, have completed their staffs. So it’s not like, say, Alabama is going to come calling.

McCullough had only been the Miami running backs coach for about a month. Last year he was the offensive/special teams intern for a team that won the Mid-American Conference title and played in the Bowl. Yes, that's the same business that uses Danica Patrick and sex appeal in its advertising.

Before that McCullough was a pretty good college player from 1992-95, rushing for a then record 4,368 yards for Miami of Ohio. He also played in the NFL for Cincinnati and Philadelphia, plus in the Canadien Football League.

Wilson was Miami's offensive coordinator at the time, so he got to know McCullough very well.

“Deland was a great player, is a better person and is on track to be an excellent coach,” Wilson said in an IU release. “He is a guy that was on my radar from the start. We have a great relationship. Deland is on board with what we want to accomplish.”

What the Hoosiers want the most is a winning record and a bowl bid. McCullough hopes to help make that happen.

“This is a great opportunity with an excellent staff in place, a great leader and excellent facilities,” McCullough said in an IU release. “I am thankful Coach Wilson remembered our relationship, remembered my make up, and thinks I’m a good fit to come in and help take the running backs to another level.”

McCullough and Wilson have an immediate problem in what to do about running back Darius Willis. A protective order was filed against him by a 21-year-old female student, according to the Bloomington Herald-Times.

Willis was alleged to have been involved in a domestic assault with the student. They were in a relationship, the student said. The incident reportedly happened in December and a protective order was filed on Jan. 14. IU has not released any statement about the incident.

We don’t know all the details, but we can state that violence against women cannot be tolerated by any program at any time, especially at Indiana. You build long-lasting success through quality people, caring people and passionate people, people who represent themselves, their program and their university with class. They do things the right way and treat others with respect.

Anybody who doesn't do that, needs to go. Fast.


So how valuable is Jeremiah Rivers to the IU basketball team?

Well, he’s the only senior on the team, so there's a maturity and leadership element. His numbers are not impressive -- he only averages 3.6 points and 3.0 rebounds. He has cut down on his turnovers and silly drives into trouble. He has improved his free throw shooting, although he'll never rival Jordan Hulls or Christian Watford for accuracy. He has focused on rebounding and defending. In fact, he’s become the Hoosiers main perimeter stopper.

“He sees the game in a different lens that what he saw it when he came in,” coach Tom Crean said in a university release. “That’s what has been very valuable for us and very valuable for him.

“That’s how I hope he’ll be remembered and how I hope he can finish this season, being that very valuable contributor."

Crean pushed Rivers into the new role and he’s adapted with this mantra “I just want to win.”

Don’t judge Rivers by his numbers, Crean said. He impacts the game in a lot of ways that don’t make the boxscore.

“You can never look at the stat sheet and see his value,” Crean said. “You’ve gotta look at so many of the other qualities. The turnovers that he causes. The deflections that he gets. The responsibilities that he has in guarding different people. Understanding where people are supposed to be, and when he can really just lock in and use the talent that he has, the skills that he has, and the mindset that he’s developing, that’s when he’s at his best.

“I think that was the most important thing for him and for us is to get him in a role that he could absolutely flourish in. There were some times this year that he has. There has been other times that he hasn’t. I think that’s what’s most important, and I think he can finish it that way.”

Look for Rivers to try for a big finish against Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor tonight at Assembly Hall when the No. 10 Badgers come to town. IU, which is 12-17 overall with a six-game losing streak, needs a victory in the worst way.

It would be a huge sign the program is progressing.

Yes, in a third straight forgettable season, that really, really matters.

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