Sunday, April 29, 2012

Indiana Basketball – A Commitment Clash; Garl and the Truth

Tom Crean and his staff are working the recruiting hard this weekend. They are in Indianapolis (Adidas Spring Invitational) and in Virginia (Boo Williams) for travel ball events, and talent was everywhere.

There were the guys everybody knows (Devin Davis and Luke Fischer) and the guys everybody is starting to know (Hyron Edwards of East Chicago Central in the Class of 2015, Chandler White of Carroll from the Class of 2015, Aaron Brennan of Guerin Catholic from Class of 2014, Monte Morris from Flint, Mich., in the Class of 2013).

Davis and Fischer will clash this morning when Davis’ Eric Gordon All-Star squad takes on Fischer’s Wisconsin Swing group at the Fishers Fieldhouse. Both have already committed to Indiana as part of the Class of 2013.

The 6-6 Davis is healthy again after dealing with some back issues. He’s running the court well and imposing his will when necessary. His coach for the Eric Gordon All-Stars, Matt Green, said Davis' strengths include athleticism, stamina and rebounding.

“He plays hard. You’re always going to get that effort from him. He’s got to improve his shot and skill set.”

The 6-10 Fischer, who’s been compared to Cody Zeller at this stage (although similar, Fischer is not there yet) is a fan of protein shakes. He’s trying to get bigger and stronger (aren’t we all –- well, stronger at least), and certainly be a dominant inside force.

He was on Saturday. In one game he had 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks. In another he had 32 points and 12 blocks.

The 5-10 Edwards already has been offered by IU and Purdue. Both Crean and Purdue coach Matt Painter watched him play on Saturday.

Brennan, for instance, is a 6-6 post player in high school, but that won’t happen in college. He’s got to develop quickness and guard skills. If he does, well, there’s a reason why Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame, Michigan and Iowa are among the schools interested in him.

The 6-1 Morris, who plays for the Michigan Mustangs, is set to visit Indiana next weekend. USC, Arizona State, Georgia Tech and Iowa State are among the schools who have offered him.

Oh, if you like to name drop, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, Ohio State’s Thad Matta and Butler’s Brad Stevens were among the many coaches in Fishers on Saturday.


Tim Garl is a softie if you like your softies as Marine drill sergeants. The veteran basketball trainer speaks a refreshing truth, and when you’ve been at Indiana for as long as he has (rumor has it Garl began working at IU under Branch McCracken in the late 1930s; we can officially say rumor is wrong – it’s only 31 years), he’s seen a lot of truth.

Let’s just say truth often depends on your perspective.

Anyway, Garl spoke during last Thursday’s celebration award ceremonies at Assembly Hall and put into perspective how rewarding this year’s 27-9, Sweet 16 team was. Remember, he’s seen the best and worst of the Bob Knight era and the arrogant disregard for the Hoosier tradition under Kelvin Sampson.

“What pleases me the most –- and the parents should be credited with this – is you don’t to work in the morning and wonder what knucklehead did something stupid last night and you’ve got to read it in the paper,” he said. “You don’t take kids and say, ‘Hey, there’s a drug test today,’ and worry about are they going to pass it. And if they don’t pass it, what are we going to have to put up with.

“Winning is not the only thing. It’s awfully important, but another factor is we have great kids. We have something we can be really proud of.”

Pride resulted in a number of team awards being announced in a very public ceremony that followed an autograph session as Crean had the fans share the experience with this return-to-glory team one last time. He used it to acknowledge that all good things must end.

“This is probably the last time we’ll ever all be together in this setting,” he said to crowd and then to the players. “I hope you guys take it in. This isn’t the last time you’re going to see each other, but it’s the last time we’re all going to be together like this.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Powering Up Indiana's Player-Scholarship Crunch

Do you find yourself staying up late at night wondering what Indiana coach Tom Crean is going to do about his players-to-scholarships ratio?

If so, get a life, for goodness sake. Do what all real men do at times like that:

They go shopping!

For power tools!!

Anyway, if that’s not your thing, we’re here to provide some clarity on why Crean would create a situation where he has 14 players and 13 scholarships. And if somehow Matt Roth winds up back on the team, well, let’s stick to what we know.

First, Crean does not have a math problem. He knew what he was doing.

Given these transfer-or-leave-early-for-the-NBA times, rosters all across the country are in flux. As a coach, you never know who’s staying or bolting. As Purdue coach Matt Painter has said, sometimes the coach is the last to know when a player wants out.

Anyway, you have to cover your bases in case the unexpected happens.

Crean knows that from experience. When he was at Marquette he quickly built a solid foundation. His first two teams went 15-14. His third went 26-7 and made the NCAA tourney. He was expecting big things in Year Four, but then three players transferred. That left him with 10 scholarship players and he wasn’t able to sign any more players.

“So we’re getting walk-ons,” he said. “One player averaged 8 points a game in high school. We had to get enough guys to practice.”

Crean made it work, and a big reason was he had a superstar in Dwyane Wade, who led Marquette to a 27-6 record and the Final Four. Still, not every team has a Wade. Crean didn't want a lack-of-player repeat.

“I learned a lot of lessons then,” he said. “I learned to always plan ahead when you have a great player.

“A lot of coaches want to have scholarships sitting there. I’m not in that mindset. I’d rather be prepared for a rainy day. That’s where over-signing comes in.”

The problem, in this case, is IU’s rainy days appear to be over. At least for now. Freshman superstar Cody Zeller stayed despite being a certain lottery pick, and that rarely happens these days. Junior standout Christian Watford stayed and the odds of that back in late March seemed as remote as Bobby Petrino’s chances of returning to coach Arkansas. Maurice Creek seems on pace to recover from a torn Achilles tendon. Nobody apparently wants to transfer. All five incoming freshmen are anxious to arrive on campus.

So IU has a wealth of talented players, and if you remember Crean’s first year in Bloomington, you know there are far worse things to happen to your program.

“I never want to have our program falling short where we are short guards because we didn’t sign one when we could have,” he said.

Still, something has to give.


“These things work themselves out,” Crean said.

Then he added, “There’s not a timetable. That’s the way that it is. It’s something on the horizon.”

As for Roth, he already has his bachelor’s degree in sports communication. He’s set to get his master’s in sports administration and management next week. He has a year of eligibility remaining, so he could start working on his PhD and come back for a final season (and go through Senior Night for a second time, which would almost certainly be an Indiana first). Or he could go to another school and play one year (a lot of teams would love a guy who shoots 60 percent from three-point range), as long as it had a graduate program not offered by IU. Or he could just start his career.

No matter what, Indiana is already one over the scholarship limit. It would be two if Roth returned on scholarship.

“Matt is keeping his options open, which is good,” Crean said. “He’s focused on finishing up (his master’s degree). He had such a big academic load to get to where he wanted to be as far as his master’s. He has options of keeping his eligibility. He’s planning for the future.”

Is there a scenario, even as a walk-on, where Roth would have a spot at IU?

“We’ll have to wait and see,” Crean said. “Any discussions like that will be in house. What’s best for him. He’s looking into his future.”

And if that includes power tools, all the better.


For the record, last weekend was the first of two April evaluation periods for players in the Classes of 2013, 2014 and 2015. A lot of coaching attention centered in Merrillville. This weekend it switches to Indianapolis for the Adidas Spring Classic. Games will be played at eight sites, including North Central, Westfield and the Fisher’s Fieldhouse.

IU committed players Devin Davis, Collin Hartman and Trey Lyles are set to play. So are such Hoosier targets as Chandler White, Hyron Edwards and Trevon Bluiett.


Thanks again, for those who have commented about the passing of Coco, our 14-year-old Shelty. Also thanks for the kind words about winning Indiana sportswriter of the year. Both events created a wide swing of emotion, and a few blog typos. Hopefully, those mistakes are over.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Crean On Recruiting Trail; IU Basketball Celebration

Spring is in the air, and that means that guys turn their thoughts to the intoxicating topic that makes them feel like real men:

College basketball recruiting.

What? You thought we would say girls?

Anyway, college basketball coaches are heavily into the first April evaluation period, which goes from Friday to Sunday. They use this to look at prospects in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 classes as players participate in a variety of travel ball events throughout the country, including Pittsburgh, Las Vegas and Minneapolis. There is also another evaluation period next weekend.

On Friday, coaching heavyweights such as Tom Crean, John Calipari, Tom Izzo and more were in Merrillville, Ind. Normally, that small northwestern Indiana community is not a college basketball mecca. But on this night, with players such as Eron Gordon, Jalen Coleman, Vijay Blackmon, Jalen Coleman, Matt Holba and Drake Harris around, it was.

Crean is certain to hit Minneapolis where targets such as Jaquan Lyles, Trey Lyles (already committed to IU), BeeJay Anya and Stanford Robinson are participating.

Crean and his staff have been very active on the recruiting front.

Yes, that is a shock.

Yes, that is sarcasm.

They made two trips to Iowa to see junior college All-American Jameel McKay, and then offered him a scholarship as part of the Class of 2013 that already includes forward Devin Davis, postman Luke Fischer and swingman Collin Hartman.

They’ve offered 2015 combo guard Hyron Edwards from East Chicago in northwestern Indiana. Edwards is competing in Las Vegas this weekend, so Crean figures to be there as well. Edwards averaged 14.6 points, 6.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds this past season.


Free is good. So is getting a chance to get up close and personal with Indiana’s glory restoring basketball team.

Both are set to come together this Thursday (April 26) when the IU Varsity Club presents a basketball awards celebration in Assembly Hall. Things are set to start at 6 p.m. Crean and players will be available for autographs from 6 to 7 p.m.

“Our fans played such a huge role in our success this year,” Crean said in a university release. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to remember the year in a wahy where as many people as possible can be part of it. It should be a great event.”

As far as autographs, on Assembly Hall’s north concourse you’ll find Calbert Cheaney, Kory Barnett, Christian Watford, Victor Oladipo, Daniel Moore, Jordan Hulls. Remy Abell, Tom Pritchard and Derek Elston.

On the south concourse you’ll see Crean, Austin Etherington, Maurice Creek. Will Sheehey, Verdell Jones III, Raphael Smith, Jeff Howard, Matt Roth, Cody Zeller

After the autograph session fans can watch IU coaches present their end-of-season awards on Branch McCracken Court. There are plenty awards from a 27-9 team that reached the Sweet 16 while knocking off the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 5 teams in the country.

 “We think it is a fitting way to honor the team and bring the Hoosier Nation together as we celebrate their outstanding season,” athletic director Fred Glass said in the release. “Coach Crean, his staff and all the players have been great ambassadors for the University and we want to bring them together once again to reflect on their memorable accomplishments.”


 If you believe’s Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman, who just happen to be two of America’s best college basketball writers, Cody Zeller is the best pro prospect who decided NOT to go to the NBA this season.

The 6-11 Zeller could have been a lottery pick this year after an All-America freshman season in which he led IU in scoring, rebounding and shooting, proved that pressure is just a state of mind.

Let's just say Zeller's return, along with junior Christian Watford, will pay HUGE dividends next season. Crean's recent tweets indicate how hard the team is already working in preparation for what could be a national title run. Now that is really intoxicating.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Indiana Thrives in Updated Basketball Rankings

If you like college basketball rankings, and have provided updates.

Rivals focused on the Class of 2013. IU has three commitments from that group. The highest rated is Warren Central’s Devin Davis, who is at No. 107. Just behind him is Indianapolis Cathedral’s Collin Hartman at No. 110. Then comes 6-10 forward Luke Fischer, who is from Germantown, Wis. He’s at No. 134.

The No. 1 player in this class is 6-7 forward Jabari Parker from Chicago. The highest rated player from the state of Indiana is Fort Wayne Northrop guard Bryson Scott, who is headed to Purdue. has Lawrence Central forward Jeremy Hollowell at No. 28 on its Class of 2012 list. Indianapolis point guard Yogi Ferrell is at No. 30. La Lumiere forward Hanner Perea is at No. 49.

Not making the rankings were Indianapolis Broad Ripple’s Ron Patterson and North Carolina center Peter Jurkin.


Let’s face it. Playing any type of travel ball event at Assembly Hall and Cook Hall gave IU a big recruiting advantage. Both facilities are extremely impressive – Assembly Hall for its tradition (we won’t go into the challenges its step soaring sides presents to fans) and Cook Hall for its state-of-the-art practicality.

We say this because the annual Adidas May Classic, one of the top travel ball events you’ll ever see, can no longer be held on Indiana’s campus. The NCAA passed a rule last year that non-school events couldn’t be played on college campuses to avoid any recruiting advantages.

Word of this came from the Indianapolis Star’s Kyle Neddenriep. It’s the same reason why the Kentucky Derby Festival Class all-star event in Louisville had to be held at Freedom Hall rather than Louisville’s KFC Yum Center.

That means the tourney will be held at Bloomington North, Bloomington south, the SportsPlex and some other local schools. It’s set for May 11-13.


Thanks to everyone who emailed me and left messages about the loss of my dog, Coco. They were VERY much appreciated.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why Shouldn't Crean Offer a Standout 8th Grader

Is it wrong to offer an 8th grader a basketball scholarship?

The correct answer –- yes, if it’s the wrong 8th grader.

Eron Gordon is not the wrong 8th grader.

His talent suggests he’ll develop Big Ten-caliber impact. His family heritage, with oldest brother Eric a former Indiana All-America and now NBA player, and another old brother Evan at Arizona State, works in his favor.

He’s a solidly built 6-2 8th grade combo guard, by the way. He just led his Indianapolis Westlane Middle School team to a 53-0 record over the past two years. He’s headed to North Central, which has a rich tradition of producing standout teams and players, including Eric Gordon.

Is he awfully young to be getting a college scholarship offer? Sure, but these are the times we live in.

So IU coach Tom Crean offered him a scholarship as part of the Class of 2016. It’s why Purdue coach Matt Painter will likely do the same thing today, when Eron makes an unofficial visit to West Lafayette.

Eron, by the way, has accepted nothing. Nor should he at this stage. He needs to make absolutely certainly he picks the school that’s the best fit for him, and he has no better example than Eric, who originally committed to Illinois before changing his mind once Kelvin Sampson arrived at Indiana.

When you’re an 8th grader, you’re in no position to know what you want and need in a college. Eron needs to keep all options open for a while.

Jeff Rabjohns of has been all over the Gordon saga. Eron’s father, Eric Gordon Sr., told Jeff they’ll continue to work on Eron’s game and that he’d likely end up at either IU, Purdue, Notre Dame, Louisville, Xavier and Cincinnati. That’s an impressive group, but then, Eron is an impressive player.

He doesn’t need to be in high school to see that.


To the surprise of no one, Kentucky’s five underclassmen are leaving for the NBA. Yes, the one-and-done story is alive and well in Lexington. So is public relation glitz, which is why the Wildcats conducted a nationally televised press conference Tuesday night to announce their decision.

Freshmen Anthony Davis, Marquis Teague and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will enter the NBA draft and not look back. The same is true of sophomores Terence Jones and Doron Lamb. These are the guys, along with senior Darius Miller, who led Kentucky to the national championship earlier this month.

If you like numbers, the five underclassmen averaged a combined 62.1 points. Davis led UK in scoring (14.2) and rebounding (10.4). Teauge led with 4.8 assists a game.

Coach John Calipari used the press conference to promote his players ability and his affection for them. He said they would all finish this semester academically, which is huge in these coach-is-accountable-for-everything times.

Calipari, meanwhile, continues to recruit top-10 talent. Losing his top six players is an inconvenience rather than a major blow. He’s reloaded with another powerhouse class. It features 6-11 center Nerlens Noel, the nation’s No. 2 ranked player, No. 8 Alex Poythress, No. 14 Archie Goodwin and No. 40 Willie Cauley. now rates this class No. 1 in the nation, with IU dropping to No. 5.

The Wildcats will again be a national power next season.

But will they be powerful enough to handle what will be a deep, talented, veteran Hoosier squad, assuming the teams actually play next season?

We’ll find out soon enough.


Is Crean ready to go the junior college route to boost the roster starting in 2013?

It’s possible.

Crean and his staff are taking a long look at Jameel McKay, a JUCO All-America from Indiana Hills Community College in Iowa. The 6-8 forward led Indian Hills in scoring (14.6), rebounding (7.7) and shooting (62 percent) this season. He averaged 15.3 points and 12.5 rebounds as Indian Hills finished seventh in the national tournament.

Wichita State, Arkansas, Marquette and Iowa State already have offered him. He would have two years of eligibility remaining starting with the fall of 2013.


Finally, a personal note.

We unexpectedly lost our family dog the other night. Her name was Coco, a Shelty, and she was famous for, among other things, interrupting Purdue coach Matt Painter’s teleconferences by barking out questions and comments.

Then I would be asked, Pete, is that your dog? And I would answer, with deep sincerity, what dog?

Anyway, Coco and I had a game. I would cut the grass and she would accompany me, barking and giving me grief.

On Monday night our game resumed. About halfway through I stopped cutting and chased her through the yard and around a tree. She’d keep the tree between us, so it was tough to catch her. She was 14 and slowing down, so I eventually did catch her. She was tired and sore (she had arthritis, one of the many drawbacks of growing old) and laid in the grass, first rolling around to scratch her back, then finally just sitting there watching me cut. The sun was shining and she grew sleepy, her eyes half closed.

I was going to just cut the front yard and save the back for tomorrow. Instead, I decided to finish cutting.

I regret that very much now.

I was almost done when a neighbor appeared. I stopped the mower. He told me the news. Coco had been run over by a car in our driveway. She was gone. There weren’t any external injuries other than her gums had gone white from massive internal bleeding. She looked like, in every other way, that she was just sleeping. That any second she would jump up and want to play.

She still does, in my memories.

Friday, April 13, 2012

IU’s national title prospects; shooting and streaks

Are you making late March travel plans to Atlanta and the Final Four now that Cody Zeller and Christian Watford are fully committed for next season?

Do cream ‘n crimson dreams invigorate your nights?

Do you find yourself ready to buy DOZENS of copies of “Hoop Tales -– Indiana Hoosiers Men’s Basketball,” the GREATEST book about Indiana basketball EVER written and, as luck would have it, advertised on this blog so you can order RIGHT NOW, from the convenience of your own home, knowing that doing so will also boost the economy and help wean us off foreign oil?

Who knew?

Anyway, here’s what we know about IU’s prospects for a national title.

The Hoosiers return all five starters, and six of their top seven players, from a 27-9 Sweet 16 team. They have a future NBA lottery pick in Cody Zeller. They have a future pro in Christian Watford. They have one of America’s best shooters in Jordan Hulls. They have a pair of high-energy big-play guys in Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey. They have reserve Derek Elston, IU’s best quote since A.J. Moye, and yes that matters. They have a versatile backup guard in Remy Abell.

Plus, they’re bringing in one of America’s top recruiting classes, highlighted by point guard Yogi Ferrell and small forward Jeremy Hollowell. In a perfect IU basketball world, Ferrell will have the same impact next season as Michigan’s Trey Burke did this season.

REALITY CHECK –- IU’s class dropped from No. 2 to No. 5 in latest poll behind Kentucky, Arizona, UCLA and North Carolina State. Is that a big deal? No. It’s what they do at Indiana that matters now.

Finally, the Hoosiers expect to get back Maurice Creek, once one of the country’s top freshman scorers. If he gets and stays healthy, and regains close to his freshman form (yes, we know that will be a major challenge), look out.

That’s a lot of talent. Coach Tom Crean has said he wants to run a lot, so he’ll have plenty of guys to do it with. He’ll have to work to sort out the playing time, but better to have that problem than what he had his first year, when guys on press row were better than what was on the court.

OK, we’re exaggerating a LITTLE for effect.

Anyway, one thing to consider is that, more and more these days, your national title prospects are often predicted by the number of potential NBA players on your team.

This season Kentucky had six, and beat Kansas (which had three) in the title game.

Crean can’t throw loads of future NBA standouts at opponents, but good coaching often means getting guys to play to their abilities, and a little bit more.

If Crean does that, really look out.

As far as the competition, Kentucky will be a force again even if coach John Calipari didn’t sign everybody he wanted this time. He did add 6-11 center Nerlens Noel, the nation’s No. 2 ranked player, to go with No. 8 Alex Poythress, No. 14 Archie Goodwin and No. 40 Willie Cauley. That prompted to bump this class to No. 1 in the nation.

Yeah, it’s not fair.

Lousville returns most of its players from a Final Four team and UCLA has bounced back from negativity surrounding its program by landing the nation’s No. 1 player, Shabazz Muhammad (he actually said no to Calipari), as well as No. 3 Kyle Anderson and No. 62 Jordan Adams.

IU could play UCLA next November in a tournament in New York City that also includes Georgetown and Georgia. That event showcases an intriguing non-conference schedule that almost certainly will include Kentucky (surely the Wildcats won’t screw up this annual game) and, at least down the road, Kansas.

Louisville’s Rick Pitino has made it clear he’d love to play the Hoosiers on an annual basis, although Crean, unlike Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, isn’t into non-conference overkill.’s VERY early preseason poll still features Indiana at No. 1, Louisville at No. 2, Kentucky at No. 3, Kansas at No. 4 and Michigan at No. 5. Ohio State was at No. 8 and Michigan State at No. 10.

Yes, there’s a lot to get excited about. There are no promises or guarantees (remember what happened to Duke and Missouri in the NCAA tourney), but there is potential and hope, and that’s big.

When you add it all up, it leads to one inescapable conclusion:

Buy a copy of, “Hoop Tales -– Indiana Hoosiers Men’s Basketball.”


Some have suggested that, for IU to beat its scholarship crunch (14 players, 13 scholarships), some players could just drop their athletic scholarship and get an academic full ride.

Oh, if it were only that easy.

Cody Zeller is an outstanding student. In high school he wracked up the kinds of grades and test scores that could have earned him a ton of academic scholarship money. However, NCAA rules wouldn’t allow it. Once you start recruiting an athlete, you can only give him athletic aid. So you either are on an athletic scholarship, or you’re paying your own way.

As far as an IU player giving up his scholarship to walk on, well, anything is possible, but why would you do that unless your father was Mitt Romney rich? Some have suggested that Jordan Hulls should bite the bullet, take one for the team and give up his scholarship.

Why would he do that?

Maybe -– a big maybe -- that’s smart if that scholarship went to a Michael Jordan clone who would guarantee a national title, but that ain’t happening. Maybe the Hulls family has $15,000 to $17,000 to give to IU for no reason other than to let somebody sit the bench for free, but that seems silly.

How silly? Consider this TOTALLY REALISTIC scenario:

Tom Crean calls his players together after a typically intense, maximize-every-second spring workout at Cook Hall.

CREAN: “Okay guys, as you know, I signed more players than I have scholarships for. Hey, it could have been worse. Gary Harris could have picked us instead of Michigan State. So who’s going to man up, give up his scholarship and walk on?”

JORDAN HULLS: “I’m sure my parents will say yes.”

CODY ZELLER: “Hey, I’m more man than Jordy. I’ll do it, and I’m not asking my parents.”

CHRISTIAN WATFORD: “I’m more man than Jordy and Cody. I’ll give up my scholarship AND shave off my goatee because at least I can grow one!”

And so on.

If nobody transfers or opts out of his scholarship, then the best remaining option is prep school for one of the incoming freshmen. That should go to the newcomer who would play the least. The most likely candidate remains center Peter Jurkin.


A reader questioned Hoosier Dude’s assertion in a previous blog that Ron Patterson is a shooting guard who can’t shoot. The reader said Patterson can shoot, but is streaky. The reader implied, in so many words, that Hoosier Dude was an idiot.

We brought this comment to Hoosier Dude, who responded by downing a WHOLE tray of homemade chocolate chip cookies, then adding this comment.

“Steve Alford was a shooter. Calbert Cheaney was a shooter. Jordan Hulls is a shooter. A shooter is consistent. You know what you’re getting. When the ball goes up, you have a high degree of confidence it will go in.

“Right now Ron Patterson is an OK scorer, but he isn’t consistent. And if he’s not consistent against high school and travel ball defenses, what’s going to happen in college?

“Having said that, if the work ethic Patterson has shown translates to off-season hours in Cook Hall, he can develop consistency. He might not ever match Hulls for accuracy, but who can?

“Will Patterson put in the time? All he has to do is look to Hulls, Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey to see how it’s done.”

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mystery solved? – Solving IU's Scholarship Crunch

Today we’re going to solve the mystery of what Indiana will do with 14 basketball players and 13 scholarships.

To do so means going where the truth lies, but because the truth is often obscured by spin and mystery, we have turned to the one person who knows all the secrets of IU sports. Because of the delicate nature of this person’s position, we can’t reveal a name, an age or even a gender. So we will use an alias:

Hoosier Dude.

This person has an office deep in the basement of Wells Library. The office has a bare metal desk, two metal chairs and black-and-white photos of Bobby Petrino riding a motorcycle and Ozzie Guillen giving an apology hanging from walls as red as an IU championship banner. A small refrigerator hums next to the desk. In the background, the voice of Jack Nicholson repeats his climactic speech from “A Few Good Men.”

“The truth! You can’t handle the truth!”

Hoosier Dude is wearing a Justin Bieber mask. The truth, it seems, comes disguised.

And so it begins.

Q: “How is Tom Crean going to solve this scholarship crunch?”

Hoosier Dude: “You worry too much. It will get resolved.”

Q: “That’s not answering the question.” (We put a $20 bill on the desk. Hoosier Dude strums the desk top like a piano. We put two more $20s on the table. The truth, it seems, comes with a cost).

Hoosier Dude: “In an ideal world, somebody will transfer. It could be because he won’t play much next season, because he misses his girlfriend, or because Bloomington continues to fight the extension of I-69 through the area, and he can’t take it any more.

“But don’t count on it. The lure of playing for a national championship team is strong, strong enough to overcome the desire for lots of playing time.”

Q: “That leaves somebody giving up a scholarship or one of the freshman not coming to IU after all. Which will it be?”

Hoosier Dude: “Do you really think Tom Crean will meet with his returning players and ask one of them to give up a scholarship?”

Q: “You’re supposed to give answers, not ask questions.” (Hoosier Dude takes out a chocolate chip cookie from the desk and begins nibbling. He doesn’t offer one to us. Yes, we are hurt).

Hoosier Dude: “Why would a player, and more specifically the family of a returning player, voluntarily give up a scholarship? Maybe that happens if one of the players is related to Bill Gates, but that’s not the case. Would you pay $15,000 when you don’t have to?”

Q: “You keep asking us questions. We’re here for answers.” (Hoosier Dude reaches into the refrigerator, pulls out a light beer, and washes down the rest of the chocolate cookie. We wonder what the gastronomical consequences of that will be. We hope we aren’t here long enough to find out).

Hoosier Dude: “Kentucky just won the national title basically playing six guys, although two others saw action. IU consistently played 10 guys, which is a lot. The others guys barely played.

“Figure next year will be the same thing. There’s only one ball and so many minutes. That means four guys aren’t gonna play. So, really, Crean would be asking a scholarship guy, maybe even a starter, to give up that scholarship so somebody else can sit the bench for free.

“Are you nuts?”

Q: “So what does that leave?”

Hoosier Dude: “Follow the money.”

Q: “What?”

Hoosier Dude: “Follow the money.”

Q: “We’ve heard that before. Are you … ”

Hoosier Dude: “Prep school. One of the freshmen will go to prep school for a year. It’s the only fair thing to do. The guy least likely to play, least likely to contribute.

“You know Yogi Ferrell is playing. The same with Jeremy Hollowell. Those are the best two guys in the class. Ferrell, who is ranked No. 19 nationally by, is one of the top prep point guards in America. Hollowell is improving by the minute. He’s up seven spots to No. 41 nationally.

“Hanner Perea’s stock is dropping. He’s down to No. 43 nationally. He was No. 16. He’s gone from a 5-star player to a 4. The last couple of times I’ve seen him, he hasn’t done much. Don’t know if he’s hurt or just slacking off, but he needs some intense coaching. He’ll get that from Crean. He’ll also play.

“Ron Patterson is a shooting guard who can’t shoot, but he’s strong and athletic and has a great motor. If he follows Victor Oladipo’s example and lives in Cook Hall, he can get that jumper to fall. Even if it doesn’t, he can defend and rebound. He can provide depth.

“That leaves Peter Jurkin. He’s this class’s mystery man. He’s listed at 6-11 and 215 pounds, which is thin for that height. He’s been hurt for much of his high school career. He was raw before he was hurt, and that’s hurt his development. He’s not ranked, and there’s a reason for that.

“People talk about him taking Tom Pritchard’s role as Cody Zeller’s backup, but Pritchard was a strong, experienced senior. Jurkin is none of that. How much is he really gonna help? Ideally you’d like him to be able to run, defend, rebound and score some garbage points. Can he do that? Don’t know. Is IU’s program at the point where it needs to give a scholarship to a guy like that for this year? A cynic might wonder if he’s another Bawa Muniru.”

Q: “What do you wonder?

Hoosier Dude: “If I were a betting man, I’d say he goes to prep school for a year, works on getting stronger and developing his game. Purdue did that with Donnie Hale, the kid from New Albany. He spent a year at prep school, then redshirted. He’ll be 21 years old before he plays his first college game. That’s what Jurkin and IU should do. Will they? Don’t know. I have no say. I’m just a pawn in the game of life.”

(Hoosier Dude finishes his beer and gestures it’s time for us to leave)

Q: “You aren’t related to Hoosier Deep Throat, are you?”

Hoosier Dude: “You ask too many questions.”

Monday, April 9, 2012

Ferrell can't beat out Harris for Mr. Basketball

Are you surprised that Gary Harris beat out Yogi Ferrell for Indiana’s Mr. Basketball?

You might have thought Ferrell had the edge given he led Indianapolis Park Tudor to consecutive Class 2A state titles, plus had committed to play for Indiana.

Harris’ Hamilton Southeastern team lost to eventual 4A state champ Carmel in the sectional finals, and he disappointed many Hoosiers by deciding to go to Michigan State rather than Indiana.

Still, Harris’ high school numbers (25.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.4 steals and 3.9 assists for a 22-3 team) and national rating (he's No. 11 in the Class of 2012 by showcased his worthiness. And the 35-foot buzzer-beating shot he hit to beat Indianapolis North Central in the sectional opener was second only to Christian Watford’s Kentucky beating three-pointer for in-state clutch play this season.

Voting was very close. Harris had 154 votes from the state’s coaches and media. Ferrell had 103. Pendleton Heights’ Kellen Dunham had 34 points. Lake Central’s Glenn Robinson III had 11.

The Mr. Basketball honor puts Harris on the Indiana All-Star team. Ferrell, along with fellow Class of 2012 IU recruits Jeremy Hollowell and Ron Patterson also figure to make the Indiana All-Star team, set to be announced this week.

IU does have a Mr. Basketball on the roster with Cody Zeller, this season's Big Ten freshman of the Year.


Hollowell and fellow IU recruit Hanner Perea have been busy guys lately. Both were teammates at last Friday’s Kentucky Derby Festival basketball Classic in Louisville. Hollowell had 11 points (on 4-for-10 shooting) and two rebounds in that game. Perea had seven points (3-for-6 shooting) and two rebounds.

A week earlier they had been in New Orleans to participate in the All-American Championships. In that game Hollowell had 10 points (4-for-7 shooting), four rebounds and four assists. Perea had eight points (3-for-5 shooting, 0-for-2 from three-point range) and four rebounds before fouling out.

They did some sightseeing and got to watch Final Four practices.

Patterson didn’t make the New Orleans trip (he did participate in the top-60 workout that helps choose the Indiana All-Star roster), but he was at the Derby Classic. He had eight points (4-for-14 shooting, 0-for-5 from three-point range) and five rebounds.

“We’ve been playing with each other for a long time now,” Perea said. “We’ve been playing AAU and open gym. We’re trying to get to know each other.”

IU fans are trying to get to know them. A large portion of the 6,700 people who attended the Derby Classic were Hoosier fans. Perea and his fellow IU recruits noticed.

“It’s crazy, you know,” Perea said. “We’re in Kentucky and we have a lot of Indiana fans come to watch us play. They came to support us even though this was just an all-star game and not too big a deal. That was fun.”


Ferrell got his all-star experience with the McDonald’s All-American game in Chicago. He had eight assists and no turnovers in 22 minutes.

It’s his combination of speed, ball-handling, passing and decision making that will make him the Class of 2012 player most likely to make instant impact for the Hoosiers next season.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Top-ranked Indiana? Pick Cheaney and Derby Classic

So do the Indiana Hoosiers really deserve the No. 1 ranking bestowed on them by prognosticators for next season?

Why not?

We will assume that Cody Zeller stays for at least one more year. Until it’s official, we’ll assume Christian Watford is back.

That means you’ve got every key player returning with the exception of guard Verdell Jones from a Sweet 16 team that went 27-9. Plus, you’ve got one of the nation’s top recruiting classes coming in. It has a point guard, Yogi Ferrell, who could have Trey Burke impact. Burke, of course, was Michigan’s one and now done who as a freshman helped direct the Wolverines to a tri-Big Ten title along with Michigan State and Ohio State.

Jeremy Hollowell is a still growing forward with enormous upside. Hanner Mosquera-Perea is one of the nation’s most athletic inside newcomers. Guard Ron Patterson has a non-stop motor. Peter Jurkin is 6-11, raw and often injured. Still, if he can play defense, rebound a little, alter a few shots and be in the right position at the right time, he can provide some valuable inside depth.

The Hoosiers already have begun workouts for next season. Tom Crean is not the kind of coach to relax and figure improvement will come just by maturity. He will push and prod and never, ever sit still. His Wednesday tweets included a vow to continue playing fast, which means IU will not be confused with Wisconsin when it comes to pace.

The Hoosiers thrived in the underdog role. Can they handle the heat of expectations? Figure they can, but we won’t know until the prove it.

National champ Kentucky will be again ridiculously loaded with freshman talent. Louisville will return guard Peyton Siva, the early favorite for Big East player of the year, and a whole lot more from its Final Four team. Kansas will be very good again.

And if you’re looking for a dark horse, consider VCU. It only loses one player from a team that pushed IU to the limit in the Round of 32, plus has a solid recruiting class coming in. With Shaka Smart coaching as fierce a pressing style as there is in the country, the Rams will be a challenge for anyone in the country. There’s a reason why Smart passed on bigger, better-paying jobs.

Yeah, there’s a lot to look forward to next season.


Assuming Calbert Cheaney still wants to be a college coach, IU shouldn’t waste any time now that assistant coach Bennie Seltzer is heading to Samford University.

Promote him from director of basketball operations to fill the now vacant assistant coaching position. Take full advantage of Cheaney’s basketball background that includes 13 years in the NBA, plus as good a college career as any Hoosier has ever had. He led IU to the 1992 Final Four and the 1993 No. 1 national ranking. Plus, after nearly 20 years he remains the Big Ten career scoring leader (2,613 points), a position he might never lose given the way good players bolt early for NBA riches these days.

Cheaney has a lot to learn about the coaching profession, and Crean and veteran coaches Tim Buckley and Steve McClain have plenty to share. He also has a lot he can pass on to players and recruits, stuff that he wasn’t allowed to do as the director of basketball operations.

It seems a win-win scenario.

As for Seltzer, all indications are he has enough talent at Samford to have some early success. He’s not going to win a national title at the Birmingham, Ala., school, but he should be able to win a bunch of games and get to the postseason.

In this era, that’s a very, very big deal.


Hollowell and Mosquera-Perea have been on the road a lot the last week. What this means for their school work is uncertain, but it certainly has boosted their national basketball profiles.

Both were in New Orleans last weekend for the All-American Championships. Both are now in Louisville, along with Patterson, for the Kentucky Derby Festival Classic.

They practiced on Wednesday, and will do it again today in preparation for Friday night’s game at Freedom Hall. They get to work out and compete against the nation’s best high school seniors. That provides extra preparation to help get them ready for the challenges they’ll face when they get to IU.

As for Ferrell, the word is he’s taking a much-needed spring break in a sunny, tropical locale.

Yes, we’re jealous.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Indiana Basketball Prospects Remain Bright

So now that the college basketball season is over, what do we know of Indiana and it’s prospects for the future.

Potential is there, but so are the challenges. Kentucky with its ruthlessly effective style of landing superstar talent that blasts away the advantage of experience and maturity has set a standard few can match.

It takes great coaching to do that way, by the way, as well as getting guys to buy into the team-over-individual mindset. Love or hate John Calipari, the guy can coach as well as recruit.

We saw the blueprint for winning NCAA championships for the second decade of the 21st Century. You win with talent, breath-taking talent. You win with toughness and tenacity and fearlessness.

But in the end, it’s still about defense. You attack with defense, you punish and exploit and sustain.

Both Kentucky and Kansas did that.

IU went racehorse to racehorse with Kentucky in Atlanta, thrived on offense, buckled on defense. Yes, the Wildcats went an unheard of 35-for-37 from the free throw line, a pace it couldn’t match the rest of the tournament, but the bottom line is, it did what it had to do. The Hoosiers have to find another level of defense where it harasses, yet still holds. Experience will help. Improved strength will, too.

But mostly it’s about will and pride. It’s the thou-shall-not pass, draw-a-line-in-the-sand approach.

As far as talent, you need NBA caliber guys, the more the better. Kansas had three of them and it wasn’t enough because Kentucky had twice as many. You can talk about coaching and strategy, and that’s important, but you’ve got to have guys who are big and fast and oh so athletic.

IU this season had one NBA-caliber player in Cody Zeller, and another with pro potential in Christian Watford. It needs at least one more, perhaps a couple more, to really be a national title contender.

Will this incoming freshman class provide it? There’s certainly the potential, especially with Yogie Ferrell, Hanner Perea and Jeremy Hollowell, but we won’t know for sure until they get on campus and start performing.

As talented as this group is, and it’s considered the nation’s second best behind Arizona AT THE MOMENT, it likely will not match Kentucky. Calipari isn’t done with his Class of 2012 group. He figures to bring in Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett and Nerlens Noel to the already committed Archie Goodwin, Willie Cauley and Alex Poythress. Plus, he has North Carolina State transfer Ryan Harrow, who will be eligible next season.

In other words, the Wildcats will again set the standard for talent.

Yeah, it’s not fair.

Like we said early, the Hoosiers will have challenges in their national title quest, but that’s true every year.

Tom Crean has the program back. He knows how to beat Kentucky, and if it came with the Assembly Hall advantage this season, so what. His key for next season will be getting everybody to not worry about minutes but productivity, chemistry over individual glory. The players have to maximize the off-season as they did last summer. If they do, and the hunger remains and the experience from this season’s Sweet 16 run is exploited, look out.

As for Watford, all signs point that he’s gone. It’s almost certain the NBA won’t be an option next year, but international opportunity will, and he seems focused on that, willing to start his career rather than return for a national title shot.

That will solve the scholarship crunch -– at the moment IU has 14 players and 13 scholarships next season –- and provide instant opportunity for Perea and Hollowell.

If those guys can thrive with it, look out.

So what do we know of the Hoosiers’ basketball prospects?

They remain very, very bright.