Thursday, December 20, 2012

Indiana’s Hulls Plays It Smart; Lynch Back Coaching; And More

Jordan Hulls is up for the Bob Cousy Award.

That means something for those of a certain age who remember the former Boston Celtic great who set standards for ball handling and passing and overall guard play few have ever matched.

Anyway, Hulls is a candidate for the national award. Indiana's senior guard has plenty of Big Ten company in Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, Michigan’s Tre Burke and Michigan State’s Keith Appling, and more across the nation.

Hulls has become as good an assist guy as there is in the Big Ten, if not the nation. He has 46 assists against 12 turnovers. That’s basically a 4-1 ratio, double what is considered good.

Why is Hulls so much better with the ball than ever before? Maturation and wisdom are two factors. So is having teammate Yogi Ferrell around to run the show when Hulls isn’t.

“I have always wanted to be a good decision maker,” Hulls said in a university release. “I have always wanted to have a positive assist-to-turnover ratio. It helps a lot to have Yogi in the game with me, because he can handle the ball too, so I don’t have to have it in my hands all the time.

“So having him helps, but it is something I have to do in order for us to win.”

Sixth-ranked Indiana (10-1) hopes to continue winning tonight when it hosts Florida Atlantic (5-6).

“We have to have good transition defense becaue they like to run and shoot three-pointers,” Hulls said. “They have good players who can score, so we have to focus on that. We can’t have any miscommunication on defense. That is going to be the biggest thing for us.”

That is the company line. Here is the reality -- IU will win by at least 30 points.


Are you like us? Have you about had it with the patsies that keep showing up at Assembly Hall?

We have two more sacrificial lambs with Florida International tonight and Jacksonville on Dec. 28 before Big Ten play begins at dangerous Iowa and we can really see if Indiana has learned its Butler lesson.

Every major team plays guaranteed home games, another way of saying it buys victories. The Central Connecticut States of the world can make $40,000 to $70,000 a game if they don’t mind the road.

For instance, this week Ohio State hosted Winthrop, Purdue hosted Ball State,  and Iowa hosted South Carolina State. Iowa also will host Coppin State on Saturday. That’s the same Coppin State team that got buried by 36 points at Assembly Hall a few weeks ago.

Such games help finance athletic departments. Every Big Ten school needs a bunch of non-conference home games, and home games overall, to help meet the athletic department budget.

Still, some schools are more aggressive about scheduling than others. Michigan State played AT Bowling Green earlier in the week and will host dangerous Texas (which just upset North Carolina) on Saturday. Also on Saturday, No. 8 Ohio State is hosting No. 9 Kansas, and No. 10 Illinois is playing No. 12 Missouri.

For the record, IU has played nine teams with a RPI of 51 or worse, four with a RPI of 200 or worse.

And then, when you see the great atmosphere for the Crossroads Classic showdown with Butler, don’t you wish you could get more of that and less of, say, Mount St. Mary’s?

Just sayin.’


Has Maurice Creek played his last IU basketball game?

Not if he has anything to say about it.

Yes, the junior guard is once again injured. This time it’s his right foot, which was hurt during a Sunday practice. He was wearing a boot during Wednesday’s win over Mount St. Mary’s. IU officials would only say Creek is out indefinitely, but Creek tweeted his certainty that “indefinitely” doesn’t mean “permanently.”

“I appreciate the love #HoosierNation, this is not the end of my season…I will be back.”

And then:

“This is just a little bump in the road, but I’ll keep my head held high with a big smile because I know that God has a plan for me.”

While Creek was hurt on Sunday, nothing was said about it until a release was sent out a couple of hours before Wednesday’s Mount St. Mary’s game. It was another blow for a guy who doesn’t need anymore.

Creek has had two major knee surgeries, plus a surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon, that has cost him a couple of seasons.

This season he’s played in 10 games, averaging 3.0 points, 1.6 rebounds and 11.3 minutes.

In a release Crean said, “Maurice has been doing so much to improve and help our team. Hopefully this is just a temporary setback.”

Crean later added that, “It’s sad that he’s injured. You never want to see anybody hurt. You don’t want to see him go through hard times.”

As far as when Creek could return to action, Crean said, “We don’t have a time frame on it. We hope it’s not very long.”

As far as how Creek got hurt and what the specific injury is, all Crean would say was, “He got injured in practice. It’s one of those things.”


Bill Lynch loves coaching football. The way things ended at Indiana was not the way he wanted to end his career.

The good news is he’ll get at least one last coaching shot. He is the new head coach at DePauw, a Division III program.

He coached at DePauw once before, going 8-2 in 2004 before Terry Hoeppner hired him at Indiana. He took over the Hoosiers program in 2007 when Hoeppner died, and guided the Hoosiers to a 7-6 record and a berth in the Insight Bowl.

Three straight losing seasons cost him his job. He became an assistant athletic director at Butler, where he had stared as a multi-sport athlete.

Lynch is as good a guy as you’re likely to meet. Here’s hoping that he has a ton of success at DePauw.


If you’re Paul Bayt, you’re living the dream and if it costs you (or, at least, your parents) about $15,000, so be it.

The 6-4 Bayt, a freshman, gave up a scholarship to Manhattan to transfer to IU. He wanted to be closer to home, and home is Indianapolis. He also wants to be closer to IU freshman guard Yogi Ferrell. Bayt and Ferrell played on the state title winning Indianapolis Park Tudor team last year.

Bayt spent the first semester at Manhattan. He never played in a game, but still must sit out a year to meet NCAA eligibility requirements.

“We are excited to have Paul at Indiana,” Crean said in a university release.  “He is a well-coached, well-rounded winner who is an outstanding representative in the classroom. Along with Yogi, Paul played an integral part winning two state championships for one of the top programs in the state of Indiana in Park Tudor. He brings some Division I experience to IU but more importantly he brings a great attitude and an ability to shoot the basketball.”

Thursday, December 13, 2012

IU Basketball Recruiting -- Has it Ever Been Better?

Tom Crean has a recruiting plan. Of course he does. It’s how he took Indiana’s scandal-rocked program to the forefront of college basketball.

He can make 16 fit into 13. He can get the three extra scholarships he’s provided mesh with NCAA recruiting guidelines.

He can, and he will. And if he’s not revealing his hand publicly doesn’t mean the hand doesn’t exist.

So here’s what we know. On paper Crean has 10 players who can return next season. He has signed six recruits in the Class of 2013. Those six, by the way, comprise the nation’s No. 3 recruiting class. It's the latest sign that he isn't building a one-hit wonder program, but one that can sustain consistent excellence far into the future.

Anyway, Crean is three over the 13-scholarship limit. He can get to 13 if three players leave early for the NBA, if three players transfer, if three players quit, if three players become academically ineligible, or some kind of combination.

The good news -- it’s mid-December and Crean doesn’t have to start sweating until mid-summer.

“That’s all part of the stuff that goes on in the program as far as being able to project, look ahead, and at the same time, have a Plan A, a Plan B, a Plan C,” Crean said. “We just have those. That’s just the way that it is. It’s always like that. It’s rarely ever going to be public, but I could go to the stock line, which is that it always works itself out, and it does. It’s not like we just throw things out on a whim. We’re certainly not trying to stockpile for stockpilings’ sake.”

As far as forcing a player to go pro when he prefers to stay, Crean said that ain’t happening.

“If a guy is good enough to go (pro), and it's a no brainer, nobody is standing in his way. If somebody wanted to comeback, nobody is standing in his way.”

IU has always been a national player on the recruiting scene, but Crean has taken it to another level. For this class he got three dynamic players from the East Coast -- Noah Vonleh, Stanford Robinson and Troy Williams. There were a lot of reasons for this (including a lot of work), but don't under-estimate the importance of the Hoosiers’ No. 1 national ranking. Upsetting then No. 1 Kentucky last season at Assembly Hall also raised the program’s recruiting visibility.

As a result, and with a lot of help from new assistant coach Kenny Johnson, IU landed the nation's No. 7 player in Vonleh.The 6-9 power forward is the highest rated member of the class.

As far as when did IU regain its most recent national recruiting clout, Crean pointed to last December's dramatic win over No. 1 Kentucky on Christian Watford’s buzzer-beating three-pointer.

“I think we can go back to the Kentucky game,” Crean said. “There’s no question that had a huge value nationally for us. I think the Ohio State game. I think the fact that we went into the NCAA Tournament. All of those things helped.

"There’s no question that Kentucky got people’s attention. The game in here in December (a double-digit win over North Carolina) got people’s attention. Fortunately we were able to hold that attention, even when we didn’t know we were holding it, because there had been more comments made, but there’s no question that the projections of the summer time and being No. 1 played into it.”

Indiana’s return-to-glory status reflects a take-no-prisoners juggernaut that might not lose until February (against No. 7 Ohio State).

First, though, it has to beat dangerous Butler (7-2) on Saturday.The Crossroads Classic showdown at Indianapolis' Bankers Life Fieldhouse is part of CBS's Gameday telecast.

“The one thing this program has done, it’s had to earn its way back on everything,” Crean said. “It’s had to earn its way back on CBS. ESPN stuck with us through a certain period of time, but this is going to be our first Gameday.

“The opportunities come because you win, and you never apologize for what you earn. This program has earned the right again to be able to really go anywhere (in recruiting). Geography-wise is not nearly as important as are they are going to come here and get a great education, fit into the program, get better, have a chance to win, get all of those things that they want. Now it’s just more apparent nationally that that can and will happen at Indiana.”

Don’t underestimate the important of new assistant coach Kenny Johnson, whose East Coast connections have come in handy. Johnson once coached Stanford Robinson and had quick access to Vonleh and Williams.

“It’s like recruiting a great player that you know is gonna be really good, but you don’t know how good until you get him,” Crean said. “I think Kenny’s like that, and I think everyone would agree to that. Because Kenny fits.”

Now Crean has to make the scholarship numbers fit.

How will he do it? That's intrigue for another day. In the end, you know, he will.

Is Indiana's Watford Poised for Monster Game?

Don’t be surprised if Christian Watford has a monster game Saturday against Butler in the Crossroads Classic at Indy’s Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

He was on fire in last Saturday’s win over Central Connecticut State with 21 points. All signs are the bouts of inconsistency he’s shown this season are over.

The big reason for his big game, coach Tom Crean said, was his preparation.

“He was coming off his best practice of the year,” Crean said. “He had a good week. (The day before) he was unguardable because nobody could score on him. It carried right back into it (against Central Connecticut State).

“He played with tremendous energy. I sat him a long timie with two fouls. We were up and I didn’t want to risk it.

“He did a really good job.”

IU will bring a 9-0 record and a No. 1 ranking into Saturday’s game. Butler is 7-2. The physical Bulldogs will give the Hoosiers their best example of a Big Ten team before Big Ten play begins on Dec. 31 at Iowa.


Yes, it’s WAY early, but NCAA tourney bracket guru Joe Lunardi projects IU as a No. 1 seed opening play in Lexington. He has the Hoosiers playing the winner of the play-in game between Texas Southern and Western Illinois.

Texas Southern, by the way, is coached by Mike Davis. That’s the same Mike Davis who coached IU to a 115-79 record after Bob Knight was fired.

That would be an interesting twist.


IU football has landed a couple of linebackers to boost its commits for the Class of 2013 to 18, and its number of linebackers in the class to five.

Steven Funderburk, a 6-3,225-pounder from Iowa Western Community College, will join the program. He’s from Florida. He totaled 49 tackles, 7.5 for loss with two interceptions (returned for touchdowns) and a fumble recover.

He played a year at Tulane.

Iowa Western went 12-0 and won the junior college national championship.

Also committed is Kristopher Smith, a 6-2, 225-pounder from Georgia. He’s a three-star prospect who picked IU over Purdue, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Colorado and Pitt.


The NCAA is going all March Madness a couple of months early for its 75 Years or March Madness celebration. That includes the top 75 All-Time March Madness Players, the 25 All-Time March Madness Teams and the 35 All-Time March Madness Moments.

Indiana is a big part of that. Among the top 75 players are five Hoosiers: forward Scott May(1975-76), center Kent Benson (1975-76, 1976 MVP), guard Isiah Thomas(1980-81, 1981 MVP), guard Steve Alford (1984-87) and guard Keith Smart (1987-88, 1987 MVP).

The 32-0 1976 national champions are among the top teams.

As far as the top moments, the 1976 title team and the 1987 title team are included. Since 1976, only two teams have entered the NCAA tourney undefeated. No team has finished as an unbeaten national champ.

The ’87 team won on Smart’s dramatic game-winning jump shot. He scored 12 of IU’s last 15 points in the victory over Syracuse.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

IU’s Perea and Jurkin Are Ready; Are They Able?

So now that we know freshmen Hanner Perea and Peter Jurkin are eligible to play for Indiana, what kind of impact will they make?

And then, in Perea’s case, is he healthy enough? The 6-8 forward battled a foot injury for much of the summer, and then the fall.

The mystery is set to be lifted, starting with Saturday’s Crossroads Classic game with Butler, now that their nine-game NCAA-mandated suspension is over.

Coach Tom Crean was asked about Perea’s health during Monday’s Big Ten teleconference. Specifically, he was asked if Perea is back to full strength. Here’s what he had to say.

“We’ve been very, very cautious with bringing him back,” Crean said. “Full strength is a relative term. I don’t know if I’d ever call it full strength. But he’s in a situation where he’s getting better all the time. He certainly would’ve been able to play. As to what level and to how long remains to be seen because we didn’t bring him back that way.

“In the sense when this became the situation it was with them having to sit out. I think he’s gonna be fine. As he gets integrated into the lineup, he’ll be fine. I think he’s going to earn his minutes. I think it will be a little less than usual at the beginning, but I think he’s going to be outstanding and the most important thing is he’s gonna be pain-free as he goes through all of this.”

It sounds like Perea’s playing time would have been limited, regardless of the suspension, because of the injury. Jurkin has had his own leg health issues in the past, and might still be dealing with them.

"We’ve been very cautious with them coming back from their things, because there’s been no pressing need for them to have to play in the games,” Crean said. “You want to make sure that you’re doing a great job of letting guys get adjusted, be in the mix, not rush them, but try to help build their confidence.

“The bottom line is you don’t want to put anyone into a situation that they’re not ready for, especially in a situation like this when we’re already nine games in getting ready to go to game 10. So there’s been a little different schedule with those guys, because they weren’t playing, but at the same time, they’ve been a part of everything, and now it’s just a matter of game experience.”

Whatever the minutes, look for Perea and the 7-foot Jurkin to make instant impact around the basket. They’re both strong shot blockers and shot alterers (that might not be a word, but let’s not quibble over English).

“The length that they bring is tremendous,” Crean said. “There’s a toughness around the rim defensively without question. Rebounding without question. I think the scoring will come through the course of the offense, through the course of the game. They’ll get integrated more and more into what we’re trying to do as far as plays and concepts and things of that nature. I think the overall attack and aggressiveness on the defensive end and then on the rebounding end is what will start it.”

Finally, top-ranked Indiana (9-0) has thrived with a rotation that didn’t include them. The challenge will be easing them into the mix without disrupting chemistry and productivity.

“We’ll just kind of take it as it comes,” Crean said. “That’s uncharted water. because we haven’t been in that situation. To me, they’ve done a very good job of getting themselves prepared. Doing everything that’s been asked. They’ve handled that extremely well for two guys that still really don’t understand why it all happened the way that it did. But it did and we’ve dealt with it.

“I think we’ll just blend them in as we go. I think the most important thing is that your team is cohesive enough to understand what it takes to win each game and you work accordingly. I think it will be a process, and how it is immediately is just too early to tell.”


IU has retained it’s hold as the No. 1 college basketball team in America. The Hoosiers held the top spot in the AP and USA Today coaches polls. Unbeaten Duke remains No. 2.

To give you an idea of how tough the Big Ten is going to be, not that you needed reminded, Michigan is No. 3, Ohio State is No. 7 and undefeated Illinois is No. 10.

Yes, it’s going to be a heck of a Big Ten race.


Cam Cameron is out of a job.

The former backup IU quarterback, and then the former Hoosier head football coach, was fired as the Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator on Monday. He’s replaced by quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell, the former Indianapolis Colts head coach.

Cameron was in his fifth season with Baltimore. The Ravens rank ninth in the NFL in scoring (25.5 points) and 18th in total yards (344.4).

Sunday, December 9, 2012

IU Is King of Soccer Hill; Replogle is MVP; Etherington Out

So Indiana has its national championship, and if it didn’t come from basketball -- at least not yet -- who cares.

Cream 'n Crimson soccer has returned to the national forefront. Granted, it took an unconventional path, with the Hoosiers going 1-3-1 in their last five games leading into the NCAA tourney, but does that matter now?

Teams want to build momentum for the postseason. IU did the opposite, using defeat and disappointment to fuel its end-of-season drive. The Hoosiers were a No. 16 NCAA tourney seed and had to win at No. 1 Notre Dame and did. They had to win at defending champ North Carolina and did.

Finally, they had to beat title game newcomer Georgetown in Alabama and they did that, too, with Sunday’s 1-0 victory.

They won with defense (three straight shuts to wrap up its 5-game title run courtesy of goal keeper Luis Soffner, the College Cup’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player) and tough-minded offense (Nikita Kotlov scored the only goal against Georgetown via an Eriq Zavaleta assist) and a resiliency that once made coach Jerry Yeagley teams the most feared in the country. Now, his son, Todd (pictured), has done the same thing, and if it has only lasted three weeks, well, they were the three most important weeks.

Indiana also had one other bit of motivation. Strength coach Tom Morris was paralyzed in a off-road bike accident last May. His drive to over come that continues to inspire all who come in contact with him, including the soccer team. He was with the Hoosiers in Alabama.

Yes, that very much made a difference.

So IU was set to have a celebration when the team arrived back at Assembly Hall Sunday night from winning its eighth national championship and the first since 2004. The problem -- bad weather left the team plane stuck in Nashville, so the celebration was rescheduled.

No matter. The Hoosiers will enjoy the moment, and beyond.

And then it will face what all championship teams do, some more successfully that others:

The pressure to win it again next year.


In the end, was there any other choice?

Didn’t senior defensive tackle Adam Replogle HAVE to be IU’s football MVP? The guy performed on the field (a team-leading 13.0 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks, plus 71 total tackles), in the classroom (he was named an Academic All-American) and in team leadership (earning team captainship along with senior center Will Matte).

Earlier Replogle had made second-team All-Big Ten thanks to a vote from conference coaches and media.

Also, safety Greg Heban was named IU's Teammate of the Year, kicker Mitch Ewald was the Special Teams player of the year. Also, tight end Anthony Corsaro and running back Damon Graham were named Outstanding Walk-Ons of the Year. Running back Anthony Davis was named Scout Team Offensive Player of the Year and defensive tackle Michael Mitsch was Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year. Linebacker Griffen Dahlstrom, offensive lineman Bill Ivan and safeties Mark Murphy and Jake Zupancic earned the Academic Excellence Award.


What if Austin Etherington had made his second free throw?

We’ll never know, of course.

An ESPN special on Bo Jackson showed, on the football run that ruined his career, that if he had just gone out of bounds after a big gain, he might have gone on to the kind of two-sport superstar achievement no one could ever match.

But Jackson did not go out of bounds, just like Etherington didn’t make that free throw. So Jackson ran a few more yards, got tackled, tore up his hip and was never the same.

Etherington missed the free throw, so coach Tom Crean couldn’t take him out as he was ready to do. Etherington was in the game seconds later when he bumped knees with Central Connecticut State’s Terrell Allen and fractured his left patella (kneecap).

That was Saturday night. On Sunday morning Etherington had surgery to repair the damage. He’s looking at two months of immobilization and eight more months of rigorous and often painful rehabilitation.

It’s similar to what teammate Maurice Creek went through a couple of years ago. He returned the next season, although he had lost some leg strength and explosiveness.

Etherington has a chance to do Creek better. IU certainly has the medical and training staff to help him do that, if he’s willing to pay the price.

Etherington was not having a memorable season. He averaged 2.2 points and 1.8 rebounds in 7.5 minutes. That playing time might well have plunged now that freshman forwards Peter Jurkin and Hanner Perea are eligible, with senior forward Derek Elston expected back soon from his own knee surgery.

Etherington was supposed to replace Matt Roth as IU’s off-the-bench three-point-shooting threat. It didn’t happen. He was 1-for-3 from beyond the arc for the season, 3-for-11 for his career.

Nothing was said about that in the IU release that revealed Etherington’s status for the rest of the season.

“Anytime you lose a valued member of your program it not only hurts the team, but also everyone’s hearts,” Crean said in the release. “Austin has been doing an excellent job improving and now we have to help him overcome this setback and move forward.

“Our players have experience in this area and everyone is looking forward to helping him recover. As serious as his injury was, we are thankful that it was not worse. We have such an outstanding medical team I could not imagine going through something like this without them. We are fortunate to have them.”

Etherington will have a chance to do what Bo Jackson couldn't -- come back better than before. Here's hoping he makes it.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Oladipo Jams; Hoosiers Win, but Lose Etherington

Victor Oladipo dunks. Lord, does he dunk. He dunks on teammates, on opponents. Sometimes, such as in Hoosier Hysteria, he dunks over half a dozen or so people.

It’s show and passion and energy. He does it because he can, because he enjoys it.

On Saturday night he dunked on Central Connecticut State’s Terrell Allen. Later, he got a steal and a break-away that he jammed backward because, well, why not?

“The backward one was nice,” Oladipo said. “The one where I dunked on the dude was pretty cool, too, but the backward one was fun because it was a free for all. I could have done anything I wanted to do. I like that dunk after the whistle, too.”

Even Central Connecticut State coach Howie Dickenman liked it. Well, he said he did, but after watching his team get hammered 100-69, he might have been a little confused.

“He got me into the game, too,” Dickenman said. “Where did you get this guy from? Fantastic athlete. We tried to find weaknesses with the Hoosiers, and we had a tough time. They had a lot of answers, and Zeller -- 19 points and 19 rebounds. We didn't have any answers for him.”

That would be Cody Zeller, who set a career high for rebounds while playing with the energy and pace of a point guard rather than the 7-foot forward that he is.

On most nights, Zeller would be the story. But on this night, Oladipo filled the stat sheet with eye-opening numbers: 15 points on 7-for-9 shooting, nine rebounds, a career-high five steals, three blocks and two assists in 22 full-speed-ahead minutes.

Oh, yes. He also played a mean brand of defense on Central Connecticut State guard Kyle Vinales, who entered the game as the nation’s leading scorer with a 25.9 average. He had seven points on 3-for-15 shooting.

To be accurate, Will Sheehey, Remy Abell, Christian Watford and Yogi Ferrell shared in the job, but Oladipo was the main guy, just as he is for every game against the best perimeter scorers.

“It's a challenge every game,” he said. “I'm pretty much on the leading scorer every game," Oladipo said. "Will (Sheehey) does a great job coming in and guarding him, too. Remy (Abell) gets on him. Sometimes Christian (Watford) switches and gets on him.

“I may get all the steals and deflections, but without my teammates. I wouldn't be able to lock down half the people I do. It's a team effort.”

Team or not, Oladipo totaled deflections for the second straight game. No coach Tom Crean player has ever done that. Only one other player, Dwyane Wade, has gotten 20 deflections in Crean’s system.

“He did a fantastic job,” Crean said.


How bad is sophomore guard Austin Etherington hurt?

We’ll find out soon enough. Etherington suffered an apparent injury to his left knee during the Central Connecticut State win. Crean called it a “significant injury,” although how long Etherington will be out is uncertain.

He hurt his knee during what seemed a minor collision with Terrell Allen late in the first half. He had to leave in a stretcher.

It wasn’t Etherington’s first knee injury. He hurt his left knee as a high school freshman at Hamilton Heights and didn’t return until about midway through his sophomore season.

Etherington only played two minutes. Before he got hurt, he was at the foul line preparing to shoot free throws. Crean had Olidipo prepared to replace Etherington, but he missed the second free throw, so the substitution couldn’t happen until the next dead ball. Seconds later, Etherington was hurt and everything became uncertain.

"He had a couple tough fouls and I was getting him out when he got hurt," said Crean. "That was the tough part about it."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Buckley's Take on IU Basketball; Another Defensive Commitment

Tom Crean was on the recruiting road Monday (likely destination – Washington D.C. again), which meant associate head coach Tim Buckley took over for Crean’s weekly radio show.

Buckley, by the way, has filled in for Crean a number of times this season for various press conferences.

Anyway, Buckley provided some insight in the program.

For instance:

1) Buckley has had some coaches tell him they have players similar to senior guard Jordan Hulls.

“I'll chuckle and I'll say, 'He might look like him,' but Jordan Hulls is in that gym two and three times a day extra.”

Then Buckley joked that Jordan is the "second-best Hulls on campus, now that Kaila's here."

Kaila is Jordan’s younger sister. She is now a member of the Hoosiers’ women’s basketball team.

2) Buckley thinks Will Sheehey is the best sixth man in the country. He averages 12.1 points and 4.0 rebounds in 21.6 minutes. He's shooting 58.3 percent from the field, but just 29.4 percent from three-point range.

3) Injured forward Derek Elston is getting some light shooting in and is on pace for a return around Christmas. Buckley said one of the most impressive things Elston is doing is working with freshman forwards Hanner Perea and Peter Jurkin, the guys who will battle him for playing time once he gets healthy and they become eligible on Dec. 15.

4) Victor Oladipo has become an offensive and defensive force.

“Victor is playing with great energy. He's deflecting a lot of balls. He's making things happen out on the floor and creating things for other people.”

Buckley also said he expects Oladipo’s shooting to improve.

Oladipo averages 12.4 points and 5.1 rebounds. He shoots 63.3 percent from the field, but just 26.7 percent (4-for-15) from three-point range. He also has a team-leading 18 steals.

5) Buckley was asked about IU coaches’ approach to one-and-done players. Basically he said Indiana will take them, but they try to make sure that the locker room is gelling with good chemistry.

He also said coaches stress to players that they get ahead academically so that whenever they do leave, they have maximized their time in college.

He mentioned Hulls and Elston. Both graduated in three years and are now in grad school.

6) Finally, he said he doesn't think anyone on team cares about who scores, “but they're selfish about rebounding. That is very competitive.”


There’s a lot going on in college football these days -- Northern Illinois beat out Oklahoma for a BCS bowl, Northwestern got picked over for Michigan by the Capital One Bowl, Purdue seeks a new coach in a scenario that is similar to the one that brought Kevin Wilson to Indiana.

Speaking of Wilson, he and his staff have been busy outside the limelight. In other words, his recruiting is going just fine.

In fact, it’s the best it’s ever been, and if this is only his third class, let’s not nick pick.

IU got its 15th commitment for the Class of 2013 courtesy of Florida linebacker T.J. Simmons. He’s a 6-foot, 227-pounder rated as a two-star prospect. He’s a physical player and, if you’ve seen the Hoosiers play defense, you know they need physical players.

Simmons originally committed to Western Kentucky, then reopened his recruiting last summer. He wound up choosing the Hoosiers over Iowa State, Western Kentucky and Toledo. Georgia Tech, LSU, South Florida and Central Florida also were looking at him.

Simmons totaled 121 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions this season for a 9-2 Lakeland High School team.

Simmons is the latest recruiting piece in Wilson’s plan to upgrade the defense as well as the entire team talent pool.

At least nine of the 15 commitments are defensive players, and four of them are four-star (out of five) recruits. Those are safety Antonio Allen, defensive end David Kenney, defensive tackle Darius Latham and cornerback Rashard Fant.

IU wants instant-impact players, and if the ratings mean anything, these guys will deliver.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Scary Thought -- Just Wait Until IU Hits Full Strength

Imagine how good Indiana is going to be once it gets to full strength.

Yes, that’s a scary thought. Even with a depleted frontcourt the Hoosiers are crushing all comers.

OK, they needed overtime to whip Georgetown by 10, but that misses the point. These guys are breaking the will of everybody they face. It’s a combination of depth and fitness and pace and just sheer relentlessness.

See the 83-59 win over North Carolina as the latest example.

How many times have you seen a team jump on another, and let that opponent back into it?

IU doesn’t mess with that. It is ruthless. It jumps on you and then buries you. That’s exactly the kind of mindset you have to have when the goal is a national championship.

The Cream ‘n Crimson faithful haven’t seen this kind of dominance since the Bob Knight led IU squad that went 31-1 in 1975 instead of 34-0 only because Scott May broke his arm.

In two weeks freshman forwards Hanner Perea and Peter Jurkin get off NCAA-mandated suspension. Forward Derek Elston should be back from his knee surgery around Christmas. It will take coach Tom Crean a little while to get everybody adjusted to the new rotation.

Like maybe 10 minutes.

That inside depth means the Hoosiers can become much more aggressive defensively on the perimeter. They can attack the passing lanes -- imagine what Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey will do -- knowing that there’s plenty of shot-altering size behind them if they get beat.

Playing North Carolina created the kind of Assembly Hall buzz we won’t see again until Big Ten play. The rest of the non-conference home schedule is -- and we’re being diplomatic here -- weak. IU will blow through the likes of Coppin State, Central Connecticut State and Florida Atlantic.

The risk with a schedule like this is you could see some slippage of play, which is NOT what you want with a Big Ten start of Iowa and Penn State on the road.

You have to be a mature, focused, hungry team to stay sharp through this kind of schedule. That usually entails intense coaching.

That’s why you saw Crean give his best Bob Knight kicking impression near the end of the 83-59 wipeout of North Carolina. He saw reserve Austin Etherington fumble away a loose ball rather than get it to a true ballhandler and, well, that can’t happen. Not if you have such lofty goals.

“I love these guys,” Crean said, “but the ball’s got to go to a guard. You don’t dribble a loose ball…

“At the four-minute time out we really wanted to clamp down and play well. That’s a mental game. That’s hard.

“(North Carolina) is trying to come back and it’s important that we don’t make those mistakes. I have no trouble coaching the game until it’s over.”

So Crean will push and push and push some more, especially against the pushover teams coming up. That DOES NOT, by the way, describe Butler and the Dec. 15 Crossroads Classic showdown at Indianapolis’ Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Bulldogs are the only remaining non-conference opponent that can beat IU.

Will they?

Not likely.

Anyway, Crean demands a lot because his players have a lot to give. High talent level means high expectations mean high workloads.

No one works harder than guard Jordan Hulls, and it shows. He has become, if you just consider the numbers, the Big Ten’s best guard behind Michigan's Trey Burke.

Yes, we know. That can’t be right, but  consider Hulls has 31 assists and just five turnovers. He shoots at least 50 percent from all over the court. He's a double-figures scorer. At a listed 6-foot, he even rebounds. His numbers against North Carolina were ridiculous -- 13 points (3-for-5 on three-pointers), eight assists, seven rebounds, two steals and no turnovers in 32 minutes.

Freshman Yogi Ferrell gets a ton of hype, and deservedly so, but make no mistake, this is Hulls’ team.

Anyway, IU staggered North Carolina with big games from forward Cody Zeller (20 points, eight rebounds, four blocks), guard Victor Oladipo (19 points, four rebounds) and swingman Will Sheehey (19 points, five rebounds). Thirteen guys played and nine guys played at least 11 minutes.

Remy Abell’s ridiculously hot shooting (he entered last Tuesday night 13-for-18 from the field and 7-for-8 from three-point range) finally cooled off with his 1-for-6 effort against North Carolina. And the Hoosiers rolled despite getting next to nothing offensively from second-leading scorer Christian Watford (two points, 1-for-9 shooting).

Think about that.

IU is looking so good you wonder -- just for a second -- if an unbeaten national title is in its future.

Take a deep breath.

In truth, the Big Ten is too good for any team to go undefeated. The Hoosiers will go 13-0 in the non-conference. They can go 14-4 in the conference, perhaps 15-3, and win the championship.

After that, if everybody stays healthy and focused, it will get really interesting.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Must-See Basketball -- Here Comes IU-North Carolina

Of course students camped out for tonight’s North Carolina basketball epic.

When you’re young and bullet proof, when 30 degree temperatures are as relevant as eight hours of sleep a night, why not take a sleeping bag and camp out in the glowing surroundings of Assembly Hall.

This is certainly the only game on the non-conference schedule to do it, unless you find Central Connecticut State a compelling draw.

And if you didn’t sleep over, want a ticket and don’t mind waiting till the last minute for this 9:30 tipoff, you should be able to get a great seat for $500 or so, a decent one for around $300.

But we digress.

IU is 6-0 and ranked No. 1. North Carolina is 5-1 and ranked No. 14. The loss came to Butler in last week’s Maui Invitational.

About 27 NBA scouts will watch standouts such as IU’s Cody Zeller, Christian Watford, Victor Oladipo and Yogi Ferrell clash with North Carolina’s James McAdoo, Reggie Bullock and Marcus Paige.

What will they see?

Plenty of up-and-down action. Both teams run till the opponent drops, so if you love your basketball at a Wisconsin swing-offense, work-the-shot-clock pace, spend your time somewhere else.

Anyway, Ferrell and Paige mark a showdown of two of the nation’s top freshman point guards (Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart was the other).

Ferrell has done his part with a team-leading 29 assists compared to 11 turnovers. Considering that a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio is good, he’s made quite an impact. However, he’s only shooting 27.6 percent from the field, and that has to get better for him to make the offensive impact the Hoosiers have to have against elite competition.

Paige isn’t as consistent with the ball (20 assists, 19 turnovers), but his shooting isn’t bad (37.5 percent).

The best matchup of the night could become between the 6-5 Oladipo and the 6-7 Bullock.

Oladipo is a defensive nightmare who has 15 steals, a gazillion deflections, long arms and relentless energy. He’s also improved his shooting (65.8 percent) and averages 11.0 points.

Bullock averages 12.7 points while shooting 51.6 percent from three-point range and 57.1 percent overall.

What out for the 6-9 McAdoo, who averages 16.8 points and 8.8 rebounds. He’s certainly impressed IU coach Tom Crean.
“McAdoo is unlike everything we’ve seen with his ability to rebound out of the break,” Crean said. “They are a phenomenal, not only transition team, but transition rebounding team. McAdoo leads the way with that. It’s never over. It’s never over. If they don’t score quick, if they don’t get a layup or a three, you’ve gotta really be able to guard against the second shot because McAdoo is a trailer with a full head of steam.”


IU might have struggled to a 4-8 football finish, but its future potential showed by having nine players receive All-Big Ten recognition.

Here is the IU release on that:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana senior defensive tackle Adam Replogle and sophomore wide receiver Cody Latimer earned second team All-Big Ten honors, the conference announced Monday evening. Seven additional Hoosiers received honorable mention recognition. The nine honorees are the most for the IU program since 2001, when 12 Hoosiers collected league laurels.

Replogle earned second team accolades from the conference coaches and media, while Latimer was recognized as a second-teamer by the media and was an honorable mention selection by the coaches.

Junior tight end Ted Bolser (coaches and media), junior kicker Mitch Ewald (media), true freshman right guard Dan Feeney (coaches and media), junior safety Greg Heban (media), fifth-year senior center Will Matte (media), true freshman left tackle Jason Spriggs (coaches and media) and sophomore wide receiver Shane Wynn (media) were honorable mention.

Indiana's six honorees on offense and three honorees on the offensive line are also the most since the 2001 team had eight and five, respectively.

Additionally, fifth-year senior defensive tackle Nicholas Sliger was named Indiana's Big Ten Sportsmanship Award winner.

Replogle started an Indiana record 47 games and finished his career with 184 tackles, 15 sacks, which is ninth in school history, and 28.5 tackles for loss.

In 2012, he led the team with five sacks (tied for seventh in the Big Ten), 13 tackles for loss (seventh) and two forced fumbles (tied for 10th) and finished third with 71 tackles. His 5.9 tackles per game topped all Big Ten defensive linemen, and he closed second among defensive tackles in sacks and TFLs.

Replogle added to his budding resume with his third straight Capital One Academic All-District V honor. He is also one of 10 finalists for the ARA Sportsmanship Award, a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award, was a nominee for the 2012 AFCA Good Works Team and was a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy.

Latimer owned a team-best 805 yards, six touchdowns (tied) and 15.8 yards per catch, and he finished second with 51 receptions. He ended up third in the Big Ten with 67.1 yards per game, tied for fourth among wideouts in touchdowns and was seventh with 4.2 catches per game.

The Dayton, Ohio, native recorded his second career 100-yard game, both this season (Ball State - 115), with 113 yards to go along with a career-high-tying seven receptions and a career-high three touchdowns en route to his first co-Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honor against Iowa.

He became the first Hoosier with three TD catches since Tandon Doss recorded three at Purdue on Nov. 27, 2010. The three scores aretied for the second-most in school history (10 times), trailing only James Hardy's four (Michigan State on Oct. 28, 2006).

Matte matched an Indiana offensive linemen record with 45 career starts and did not allow a sack in 972 snaps. He was a 12-time game captain this season, a 21-time game captain in his career and was on the 2012 Rimington Trophy Fall Watch List.

Feeney and Spriggs each started all 12 games, an IU true freshmen record for offensive linemen. Feeney did not surrender a sack in 935 snaps and finished second on the team with 54 knockdowns. Spriggs led the Hoosiers with 80 knockdowns and allowed just two sacks in 961 snaps.

Bolser's 41 receptions were second in the Big Ten and shared 10th nationally among tight ends, and his 445 yards were third in the Big Ten. He added three TDs and his numbers put him third on Indiana's single-season list for tight ends in catches and yardage.

Wynn led the Hoosiers with 68 catches and six touchdowns (tied) and finished second with 660 yards. He was second in the Big Ten with 5.7 receptions per game, tied for fourth among receivers with his six TDs and closed 2012 eighth with 55.0 yards per game.

Heban led the team and all Big Ten defensive backs with 91 tackles, 68 solo, and he also paced the team with three interceptions (tied for fifth in Big Ten) and eight passes broken up (tied for the team lead). His seven tackles for loss were tied for fourth on the team and he added one sack and one fumble recovery. Heban paced the team in tackles six times overall (five times at safety).

Ewald finished the season with 42 extra points (third most in school history), 15 field goals (tied for fifth) and 87 points (eighth). For his career, Ewald now has 105 extra points (fourth), 44 field goals (tied for third) and 237 points (sixth).

***** ranks IU’s Class of 2013 No.4 behind Kentucky, Kansas and Memphis. With six players signed, it ranks with South Florida and California as the largest class in’s top 40.

Kentucky, Kansas and Memphis all signed five players.

Flordia ranked No. 6 despite signing only two players:

IU’s class is forwards Noah Vonleh, Troy Williams, Devin Davis and Collin Hartman, guard Stanford Robinson and center Luke Fischer.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

IU’s Bad Defense Pays Off; No. 1 Hoosiers Roll

If you were a stud defensive player seeking instant major college playing time, why wouldn’t you look at Indiana?

Heaven knows these guys need the help.

That leads to Indianapolis North Central defensive tackle Darius Latham, who is big and strong and athletic in ways that seem to defy belief. The guys is 6-5 and 290 pounds and he plays elite AAU basketball. He’s not filling a roster spot. The guy is good. Not LeBron James good or Cody Zeller good, but let’s just say he has enough game that Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean is willing to CONSIDER giving him a walk-on chance.

But that misses the point, which is Latham has committed to the Hoosiers. He did it during Sunday’s unofficial visit to campus that includes watching Indiana’s top-ranked basketball team crush Ball State Sunday night.

Latham is good enough and athletic enough to have received a scholarship offer to Wisconsin, and then accept it. And then, of course, he took a pass.

Latham is a four-star recruit by, a national Internet recruiting service and the Class of 2013’s No. 73 player by He says he wanted to stay closer to home. At one time, the last place that would have meant was IU. But the Hoosiers have boosted their facilities and their staff, and suddenly this looms as the IT program for guys in the area.

Earlier, Indianapolis Ben Davis safety Antonio Allen switched from Mississippi (yes, a guy going from the SEC to the Big Ten) to the Hoosiers and Indianapolis Pike defensive end David Kenney went from Iowa to IU. Both of those guys also are four-star recruits, as is athlete Rashard Fant.

Coach Kevin Wilson now has 14 committed players for the Class of 2013. At least half of them are defensive players, and that’s no accident.

The Hoosiers might be the worst tackling team in the history of the program. They gave up 42 points to Purdue in the second half, 56 overall. They gave up 62 points to Wisconsin and 45 to Penn State and …

OK. You get the picture. IU has need and if Latham is as good as his ranking, he will help immediately, especially considering the Hoosiers are losing two of their best players in defensive tackles Adam Replogle and Larry Black.

Sometimes, it seems, being bad is very good.


Was that right? Was Victor Oladipo REALLY playing point guard during Sunday night’s wipe out of Ball State?

Yes, he did, but that doesn’t mean Yogi Ferrell and Jordan Hulls are in danger of losing their positions.

Oladipo ran the show with an all-guard lineup in the second half of IU’s 101-53 victory.


Let associate head coach Tim Buckley explain.

“Coach (Tom Crean) is really big on expanding guys’ games,” Buckley said. “Vic is an example of not only playing on the wing, but playing some point guard to expand his game. We’ve put Cody (Zeller) out on the floor. Cody’s been in the post.

“We want those guys to be basketball players. Vic ran the pick-and-roll quite a bit last year toward the end of the season. It was kind of like he as running the point. It put him in a situation where he had to be more vocal and get guys where they needed to go. I thought it was really good for him to be in that spot.”

The No. 1 Hoosiers (6-0) did plenty of good things while beating Ball State, such as holding the Cardinals to 30.9 percent shooting, forcing 18 turnovers, shooting 60.3 percent from the field and getting five guys to score in double figures.

But mostly, their play didn’t slip despite the lopsided score (it was 50-19 at halftime).

“In order to be a championship-caliber program,” Buckley said, “that’s the way you have to play it. You can’t take any possessions off. Every possession is just as important as the last possession.”

Easy to say, not so easy to do.

Figure IU (6-0) won’t have any reason to relax Tuesday night, when it hosts No. 9 North Carolina (5-1) as part of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. It will be basketball as track meet, with both teams busting up the floor non-stop.

More on that coming up.