Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Here’s How Indiana Can Beat Kentucky
Are you like us? Do you see Kentucky as the most vulnerable No. 1 team in the history of college basketball and that the Wildcats will come to Assembly Hall on Saturday and get their fannies …
For a second Hoosier Deep Throat took control of the keyboard, and this 8-0 Hoosier start has warped his perspective. He’s back smoking cigarettes in some shadowy corner of an IU parking garage. We’ll get his thoughts in a future blog.
For now we are once again in charge of what you are reading. We see the big picture and it starts with the fact Indiana has a HUGE opportunity on Saturday.
Top-ranked Kentucky will visit Assembly Hall and this is not the Second Coming of the veteran 1976 Hoosier juggernaut, the last college basketball team to finish unbeaten.
Still, this is a very talented team.
The Wildcats are 8-0 and directed by a coach, John Calipari, who knows how to recruit studs and maximize their talent. But they have plenty of youth and inexperience (this is basically a freshman and sophomore squad), and have yet to play a true road game.
Let’s repeat that. Assembly Hall will be UK’s first game in front of a hostile crowd. And if enough of the 17,000-plus fans sure to pack the facility are loud enough and energetic enough and intimidating enough, the Wildcats impressive array of talent might buckle.
“Might” is the key word.
IU, by comparison, already has a pair of road victories, the most of any Big Ten team. It is battle tested and pumped because this is the game that could show, better than any poll, the program is back to national relevance.
Understand Kentucky has been tested, most recently by a fiercely talented North Carolina team. The Wildcats hung on for a 73-72 win in Rupp Arena.
Other than that, UK has rolled. It’s won two games by 10 points (including one against Kansas), and the others by 22, 24, 38, 48 and 50 points.
Calipari has again loaded up on top-10 talent that plays above the rim and in the fast lane. Darius Miller is listed as a 6-8, 235-pound GUARD, for goodness sakes. Where else do you see that other than in the NBA?
Kentucky has got 6-9, 252-pound Terrance Jones (15.0 points, 7.5 rebounds); 6-10, 220-pound freshman Anthony Davis (12.3 points, 5.1 rebounds); 6-7, 232-pound Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (12.1 points, 7.1 rebounds). Don’t forget Marquis Teague, formerly of Indianapolis. He averages 10.3 points. Sharp-shooter Doron Lamb averages 14.4 points.
Davis, by the way, has 36 blocks in eight games. Jones, the SEC player of the week, has 20. UK has 87 as a team, which is basically 11 game.
Indiana, by comparison, has 33 blocks.
That’s right, three fewer than Davis.
The Wildcats block shots, alter shots and make opponents wish the NCAA would bag the 35-second shot clock and bring back the four-corner stall.
Of course, that ain’t happening. You want to beat the Wildcats, you have to take it to them.
You know something. IU can do that.
It has talent, although not enough to match Kentucky. No matter. It has the home court advantage and a confidence generated from its 8-0 start and comeback victory at North Carolina State. It has tough-minded players who play defense and push the pace. It has a hunger born from three years of basketball misery.
Believe us, that will mean something.
So what do the Hoosiers have to do to win?
Let’s take a look.
1) The Hoosiers have to defend like a date with Jennifer Lopez is at stake and …
IMPORTANT FACT: Okay, at 40, JLo is probably too old to interest college players, but did you SEE her last music award show performance and ...
SECOND IMPORTANT FACT: Sorry. Hoosier Deep Throat snuck back in. He’s gone again and won’t interrupt. We promise. Anyway, IU needs at least 60 deflections to have a chance.
2) Rebound the bleeping ball. IU has to block out, carve out space, as assistant coach Tim Buckley likes to say, and consider every missed shot a birthrite. It doesn’t have to win the rebound battle, although that would be nice, but it has to stay close.
3) Take care of the ball. The Hoosiers have been good about turnovers all season. They are going to play fast, maybe faster than they have all season because of the athletes they’ll be facing. They can’t let that speed cause them to waste possessions.
4) Shoot at least 45 percent from the field, which is worse than what they shoot for the season. That includes making their share from three-point range. They also need to score from inside even though the Wildcats have enough shot-blockers to field two NBA teams. IU will get some shots blocked. Big deal. It has to attack the basket, draw fouls and get to the line.
5) Make free throws. In an ideal world, Jordan Hulls would shoot every free throw. The guy hasn’t missed in a year. Seriously. He’s made a school-record 2 million in a row and …
Sorry. It’s really 52 in a row. Still, Hulls didn’t take a free throw against Stetson last Sunday, and has only taken 11 all season, which is just 11 more than we’ve taken. Reserve guard Remy Abell, for goodness sakes, has more free throw attempts (12) than Hulls.
He needs to get to the line more.
Repeat that -– he needs to get to the line more.
That’s all there is to it. If the Hoosiers do these five things, they beat Kentucky, jump into the national rankings, restore Cream ‘n Crimson glory and save the world from Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh. Then they can concentrate on achieving something that's REALLY difficult:
Getting a date with Jennifer Lopez.