Wednesday, August 24, 2011

IU Football Freshmen -- Redshirt or Play; Alexander Visits; Summitt a Fighter

You’ve heard all the talk from Kevin Wilson and his staff about freshman opportunity, that he’s not looking to redshirt these guys. If they can play, if they can make the two deep, they will play.

You’ve also heard about the previous emphasis from former coach Bill Lynch and his redshirt preference.

Is there really a change in philosophy?

To be honest, as opposed to being dishonest, which we only do when asked about who ate the chocolate chip cookies in the pantry, the philosophies are basically the same.

Lynch’s approach was this -– if you were good enough to start or get significant playing time as a freshman, you played. A guy like receiver Damarlo Belcher was proof of that. If not, you redshirted.

Wilson almost certainly will do the same thing. If, for instance, freshman tailback D’Angelo Roberts and freshman quarterback Tre Roberson can make a difference this year, and it seems certain they can, they will play. If not, they’ll redshirt.

“If they’re good enough to be in the 2-deep, we’re going to play them,” co-defensive coordinator Doug Mallory said. “If they’re going to make us a better team right now, they’ll play. We want to have success this year and continue to have success. If the kids can come in and earn a starting position or a backup job, we’ll get them on the field.”


Do you think IU could use a guy like Cliff Alexander, a 6-9, 240-pound member of the Class of 2014?

Sorry. We just had to ask. Of course the Hoosiers could use a big, powerful inside guy. It’s the one piece to the recruiting puzzle coach Tom Crean hasn’t nailed down. He’s gold with guards, swingmen and small forwards. But a beast in the middle, somebody who can dominate the paint like Jared Sullinger, that would be manna from heaven.

Is Alexander, who is from Chicago, that kind of guy? Can he do it at the college level? It’s hard to say, but he was good enough to play up a year, for the USA 2013 team, at the adidas Nations tourney in Los Angeles. You don’t do that unless you have something good to offer.

It doesn’t hurt that Indianapolis’ Trey Lyles, a very versatile big man who has already committed to IU for the Class of 2014, played on that same 2013 adidas team. Maybe Lyles can serve as an unofficial recruiter to help Alexander see the world in a Cream ‘n Crimson light.

Anyway, Alexander made an unofficial visit to IU on Wednesday, and reportedly received a scholarship offer. It’s not his first and won’t be his last given he’s a guy with the potential to be a top-25 player in his class.

The Hoosiers aren’t recruiting Alexander in a vacuum. Kentucky is in the picture, and when John Calipari gets involved, brace yourself for a battle. So are Ohio State and Illinois as those three programs loom as front runners. Pretty much anybody who’s anybody is also in the mix, including Michigan State, Connecticut and Kansas. It’s not going to be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.

Stay tuned.

Oh, in case you missed it, ESPN still ranks Crean’s Class of 2012 -- Yogi Ferrell, Jeremy Hollowell, Hanner Perea, Peter Jurkin and Ron Patterson -- as the nation’s best.

Yeah, that’s impressive.


The news broke with shocking surprise -- Pat Summitt has early onset dementia. The greatest women’s basketball coach in history (yes, you could argue for Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma and Standford’s Tara VanDerveer, the former Hoosier, but you would lose), seemed indestructible while turning Tennessee into a dynasty.

She’s won nearly 1,100 games, basically 200 more than men’s career leader Bob Knight, along with eight national titles and two Olympic medals, with a steely intensity few could match.

Let others succumb to age or mediocrity. She seemed, just like Knight, above all that.

Now we know that appearances are misleading. Time eventually gets to all of us and the fact Summitt is just 59 (she took the Tennessee job when she was 22) and dealing with this problem is a scary thought. If it can happen to her, who can’t it happen to?

The fact is, of course, that all of us are vulnerable. Some will be lucky. Some will not.

Summitt doesn’t want us to pity her. She’s lived a great life, insists that she still will. She plans to coach this season, and perhaps more. She will fight it as best she can, and if the weapons are reading and crossword puzzles, if that seems no match against a mysterious illness that destroys the brain bit by bit, who’s to say it won’t be enough.

Life threw Summitt a curve. She plans on doing what she’s always done -- smash the son of a bitch out of the park.

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