Monday, April 4, 2011
For Indiana, To Blitz Or Not To Blitz; Rivers Gets Invite
If it was up to Indiana linebacker Jeff Thomas, and it’s not, the Hoosiers will blitz a lot.
That’s not to say IU won’t blitz. It just means Thomas won’t be part of the decision making.
“Blitzing is a blast,” he said. “We’ll have a lot of it this year. We’ve got a lot of zone pressures, man pressures. What we have is real good. I’m happy with it.”
This is part of IU’s attacking, multiple style brought in by co-defensve coordinators Doug Mallory and Mike Ekeler. This defense will, Thomas said, give the Hoosiers, “a little more free reign, but we’ve got to know more.”
Knowledge, whether in football or dating, is always a good thing.
“We’re more of an aggressive defense,” Thomas said.
Unlike last year, defensive linemen will take on blockers instead of shooting through gaps. The idea is to free up the linebackers to make more plays. As you can guess, this is great news for the linebackers.
“The D-line is taking guys on and not letting guys climb as quick,” Thomas said. “They’re trying to hold and sustain double teams so the linebackers can run around and make plays.”
There is a catch –- “We have to be disciplined in our assignments,” Thomas said. “If not, it’s not good.”
IU under new coach Kevin Wilson hopes to be good enough on defense to make a season-changing defense. It’s way too early to tell if that can happen, but this is the spring, when all things are possible except, it seems, Butler being able to make a shot in the national championship game.
But that’s a topic for another day.
Does IU senior guard Jeremiah Rivers have a shot at the NBA?
He’ll try to prove it at the upcoming Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. What’s that? It’s an annual pre-draft camp in Portsmouth, Va., for the nation’s top 64 college seniors. It starts Wednesday and runs through Saturday. Rivers got a late invitation and he hopes to take full advantage of it.
If Rivers impresses the scouts, it likely won’t be with his offense. He only averaged 3.8 points last season.
However, Rivers is very athletic and can play strong defense. It also doesn’t hurt that his father is Doc Rivers, the head coach of the Boston Celtics.
You likely won’t find potential lottery picks in Portsmouth, but you will find very good players such as Butler’s Matt Howard, Ohio State’s Jon Diebler, Penn State’s Talor Battle, Michigan State’s Durrell Summers, Minnesota’s Blake Hoffarber, and Illinois’ Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis.
Scouts will be from the NBA, European leagues and the NBA Development League.
Tom Crean knows people in high places. How high? Well, during the women’s NCAA Final Four in Indianapolis, the Indiana coach and his wife, Joani, watched with Stanford professor, and former U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, plus Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard and his wife, Winnie.
Stanford, coached by former IU grad Tara VanDerveer, lost to Texas A&M in the semifinals at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Crean, as usual, was a busy guy. He also was at the men’s Final Four in Houston.
IU assistant basketball coach Tim Buckley also has been busy. Besides his many IU responsibilities, he was a top candidate for jobs at Northern Illinois and Loyola of Chicago. He didn’t get either (Michigan State assistant Mark Montgomery went to Northern Illinois; St. Louis assistant Porter Moser reportedly will take over at Loyola), but his strong background makes it likely he will eventually return to head coaching responsibilities. He used to coach Ball State.