IU faces a formidable task tonight when it plays at the University of Evansville.
Any time a major-conference school travels to a mid-major program, it’s a test. And the Aces have a new arena (11,000-seat Ford Center) and are fresh off an overtime victory there over Butler.
As you might have heard, Butler has been kind of decent the last couple of years.
Anyway, the Hoosiers have steamrolled the likes of Stony Brook and Chattanooga, but that was at Assembly Hall. They’ve started 2-0 for the fifth straight season, but again, that’s at Assembly Hall.
The road has not been kind to IU under coach Tom Crean. The players insist that was then, this is now. The Hoosiers have a much better team. They’ve got Cody Zeller playing to his hype, Victor Oladipo playing like an All-Big Ten force.
This will be a game and an atmosphere that will steel them for what they’ll face in the Big Ten. But if this is really a team poised to bust out of a three-year funk, it has to win.
“It will be a great challenge,” guard Jordan Hulls said. “We have done a good job thus far of making it about the task at hand and nothing more. Every year is a new year. If we play with the mindset we have thus far, we can be successful.
“We need to be at the top of our game for 40 minutes.”
IU has thrived with aggressive defense and fast-break offense. It’s going to have to shoot well and minimize the turnovers.
“We are going to have to be at our best defensively and force them to take tough shots,” coach Tom Crean said. “We have to have good movement and spacing on offense and attack the glass at both ends.”
As for the road woes:
“Winning on the road certainly is a step that this group of guys knows it needs if it hopes to reach our goals,” Crean said.
Bottom line -- this is a winnable game. IU needs to win it.
It took a couple of weeks, but Damarlo Belcher has finally provided some insight into his dismissal from the football team. It came via texts provided first to Justin Albers of the Indiana Daily Student, then to the Bloomington Herald Times.
“I’m sorry. I know I let a lot of people down, including myself. I take full responsibility for my actions because I could have went about them in a better way, but me and (coach Kevin) Wilson wasn’t seeing eye to eye on some things, but I respect his call. This is a lesson learned. I also want to say sorry to my teammates. I know I had a lot of young guys looking up to me and to my fans. I plan on finishing school and looking forward to training in a couple weeks to get ready for the next level.”
We still don’t know exactly what Belcher did. Coach Kevin Wilson booted him a couple of weeks ago for what was described as a violation of team rules.
Apparetnly Belcher never adapted to Wilson’s demands. He never bought into the every day intensity that was expected of everybody, certainly for a senior who was, at least on paper, IU’s best player.
Last year Belcher led the Big Ten with 78 catches. This year he had 25 in six games. Injuries limited him as did a suspension.
He decided to stay for his senior year, rather than leave early for the NFL as teammate and friend Tandon Doss did, to improve his draft stock. That didn’t happen.
At 6-5 and 215 pounds, Belcher has NFL-caliber size. He doesn’t have break-away speed. Is he physical enough and mentally tough enough to make it in the NFL, which put premiums on those attributes? He’ll have to prove that in the coming months.