Sunday, January 22, 2012

IU Returns To Its Winning Basketball Ways; Paterno Passes

Order to the Hoosier basketball world has been restored.

So have smiles.

Yes, beating Penn State at Assembly Hall doesn’t rank with knocking off Kentucky or Ohio State, but after three straight losses, two of which were VERY winnable games, you take any victory you can get.

You’d better believe Sunday’s 73-54 victory –- clinched courtesy of a 46-25 second-half run –- was huge. It improved Indiana to 16-4 overall, 4-4 in the Big Ten. It showed IU can play defense at a solid Big Ten level -- holding the Nittany Lions (10-11 overall) to 34.0 percent shooting. It gives the Hoosiers valuable momentum entering Thursday’s game at Wisconsin.

Ah, yes, Wisconsin.

Don’t be fooled. Just because Iowa, Michigan State and Marquette have won at the Kohl Center this season doesn’t mean the Wisconsin challenge is any less difficult. The Badgers have recovered from a 1-3 Big Ten start and are now 4-3. Under coach Bo Ryan and his swing offense, they remain a program to be reckoned with.

Plus, the road has not been kind to IU. It has just two Big Ten road victories under Tom Crean, and blew a double-digit lead in the closing minutes against Nebraska.

No matter. This is a different team with a different mindset. It remains on pace to have a program-restoring season.

“It starts with our defense,” guard Jordan Hulls said. “When the offense is not going as well, we have to rely on defense to create off that. It helped being at home. That was great. We’ve got to have that confident mentality the whole game and not let a mistake get us down. Stop them the next play.”

The Hoosiers made the stop against Penn State. The trick is doing it against on the road against the likes of Wisconsin, Michigan and Purdue in the next few weeks.


Will Sheehey didn’t talk his way into a one-game suspension.

Sheehey did mouth off enough to warrant a pair of technical fouls and an ejection from the Penn State game, an action that Crean said he has addressed with the sophomore guard.

"To my knowledge there will be no changes to Will's status," Crean said. "There were no punches thrown or anything like that. It wasn't considered a fight. It was more verbal than anything else. We've already talked about that internally, and I don't anticipate anything there."

With six seconds left and the Indiana win secured, Christian Watford was hammered by Penn State’s Matt Glover in front of the IU bench. Things got heated, Crean grabbed Watford to pull him away, Penn State’s Ross Travis got involved, Sheehey started shouting and was restrained, first by director of basketball operations Calbert Cheaney. Assistant coach Steve McClain then calmed him down.

Officials checked the monitor befor issuing a double technical on Sheehey and Travis. Because Sheehey had been given a technical foul a few minutes earlier after making some comments after a hard foul, he was ejected.

"It's just the maturity process," Crean said. "It's a heated battle. All I was trying to do was play NFL head linesman, make sure I get myself right in the middle of it when the referees were in there. It's just part of the game.

"It was a tough foul on Christian at the end, but again, that's the game. Tempers flare, but I don't think anything escalated to any point outside of some verbal and, again, both players were held accountable. I thought the referees handled that as well as possible from my vantage point."

Added Hulls: “It's the Big Ten. It's basketball. It's competitive. It gets a little chippy sometimes. You’ve got to be smart about it, maintaining your composure and that kind of thing. That stuff happens sometimes. It's just not crossing the line and doing anything crazy."


How do you want to be remembered? How will you be remembered? For most of us, it’s a few paragraphs in a newspaper obituary, and in the fading memories of families and friends.

Joe Paterno earned far more than that. He was the head coach at Penn State for 46 years. He was a man and not a saint. He seemed like he would be at the school forever, that at the least he would go out on his terms.

That didn't happen. The end came swiftly. A child sex abuse scandal cost him his job. Lung cancer took his life.

Some will choose to remember Paterno for what he didn’t do amidst child abuse allegations involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Most will focus on the records he set, the lives he touched, the impact he made.

IU basketball coach Tom Crean talked about some of that impact.

“It’s the passing of a great leader,” he said. “You have to capitalize Legend for him. That’s what it boils down to.

“I met him a couple of times. This year during the Big Ten meetings we walked to our (hotel) rooms one night. Neither of us went out -– me because I didn’t have anybody to go out with, and he was probably ready for bed. Our rooms were across from each other.

“He treated everybody with respect. The first time I met him at the Big Ten meetings, he said, ‘Boy, you’ve got your work cut out for you, kid.’ I didn’t know he knew who I was.

“No matter what happened (at the end) or how he was treated, for him to continue to do what he did for Penn State, for him to love his school so much, that’s why you always have to live your life with integrity and respect.

“There was a different aura about him. I think the players who played for him and the people who worked for him will be so much better off because they had that time with the guy, who cared so much about people and education.”

As far as the records, Paterno was a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. He set the major college football record with 409 wins. His final record of 409-136-3 was a 74.9 winning percentage. He led Penn State to two national titles, five undefeated seasons and a top-25 national ranking 35 times. He also was the all-time leader in bowl wins with a 24-12-1 record. That 66.2 winning percentage ranks third all-time among coaches with at least 15 bowl appearances.

Paterno was the head coach at Penn State for 46 years, five years longer than Amos Alonzo Stagg, the former major college record holder. In the late 1960s the Nittany Lions had a 31-game unbeaten streak. Along the way he passed Bear Bryant and Eddie Robinson for most coaching victories.

Paterno had quite a family, with five children and 17 grandchildren.

Here is the Paterno family statement in the wake of his death on Sunday:

“It is with great sadness that we announce that Joe Paterno passed away earlier today. His loss leaves a void in our lives that will never be filled.

“He died as he lived. He fought hard until the end, stayed positive, thought only of others and constantly reminded everyone of how blessed his life had been. His ambitions were far reaching, but he never believed he had to leave this Happy Valley to achieve them. He was a man devoted to his family, his university, his players and his community.

“He has been many things in his life -- a soldier, scholar, mentor, coach, friend and father. To my mother he was and is her soul mate, and the last several weeks have shown the strength of their love. To his children and grandchildren he is a shining example of how to live a good, decent and honest life, a standard to which we aspire.

“When he decided to forego a career in law and make coaching his vocation, his father Angelo had but one command: make an impact.

“As the last 61 years have shown, Joe made an incredible impact. That impact has been felt and appreciated by our family in the form of thousands of letters and well wishes along with countless acts of kindness from people whose lives he touched. It is evident also in the thousands of successful student athletes who have gone on to multiply that impact as they spread out across the country.

“And so he leaves us with a peaceful mind, comforted by his “living legacy” of five kids, 17 grandchildren, and hundreds of young men whose lives he changed in more ways than can begin to be counted.

“In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family requests that donations be made to the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania or the Penn State-THON (The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon).”

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