So it looks like it’s coming down to the wire in the stare down between Indiana and Kentucky in renewing its annual basketball series.
The Hoosiers and coach Tom Crean are fine with keeping things as they are, which is playing every year on-campus, rotating between Assembly Hall and Rupp Arena. Kentucky coach John Calipari, after initially saying he wasn’t sure if the series would be continued because of concerns of too demanding a non-conference schedule in the wake of the SEC adding more conference games, is fine with continuing as long as the games are played on neutral sites.
This would lead to larger crowds and, perhaps, an even bigger national TV showcase.
We did say “perhaps,” by the way.
The bottom line is that this series needs to continue. You can argue whether a home-and-home format or a big-time rotating neutral site is better, but it doesn’t matter. These teams need to play, so somebody needs to compromise.
Yes, playing Kentucky creates a great atmosphere in Assembly Hall and at Rupp Arena. Yes, some of that shatter-your-eardrums drama will be reduced if it goes to, say, Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium. Yes, you can’t overstatement how big an advantage the Assembly Hall crowd gives the Hoosiers (see above photo that shows frenzy following Christian Watford's Wildcat-beating three-pointer), who likely will never consistently match the waves of talent Calipari lands every season. Giving that up would be tough.
Kentucky does seem to be throwing its weight around. It was the one who messed up the neutral-site format in the first place and caused it to be moved to Assembly Hall and Rupp Arena. Then it loses at Assembly Hall and now tries to force its way out of having to play there again.
Could that be fear talking?
Could we be using a cheap psychological ploy to try to influence the outcome?
Are we dumb enough to think, even for a moment, that anyone cares what we think?
In the end, the main thing is playing the game on an annual basis. If the only way that happens is for the Hoosiers to give in, well, payback can come on the court, wherever that court happens to be.
College coaches are done with their spring evaluation opportunities until mid July. Indiana coaches took full advantage of the last two weekends to see committed recruits as well as investigate new ones.
Crean and assistant coaches Tim Buckley and Steve McClain spent Sunday in Virginia, while Calbert Cheaney checked out the Adidas Spring Invitational in Indianapolis.
Cheaney, by the way, passed on a chance to replace Bennie Seltzer as a Hoosiers assistant coach. He’ll remain the director of basketball operations.
That means, barring a comet hitting the earth (don’t you hate it when that happens), Kenny Johnson will be the next assistant coach. He spent last year as a Towson assistant coach. Yes, that’s the same Towson that went 1-31 last season and lost its last 22 games, but that had nothing to do with Johnson’s coaching or recruiting contacts.
Johnson has long-time connections with Team Takeover, a powerhouse AAU program in the Washington D.C. area. Current Hoosiers Maurice Creek and Victor Oladipo played for Team Takeover. IU is also looking at a pair of current Team Takeover players from the Class of 2013 in BeeJay Anya and Stanford Robinson.
Eventually, IU officials will make Johnson’s hiring official. Unless, of course, a comet beats them to it.
First, Tracy Smith got his 500th career victory as a college baseball coach via a series sweep of Michigan. Then, he basked in the knowledge that sometime this month, construction of the long-awaited new baseball stadium will begin.
The Hoosiers are tied for second in the Big Ten with a 9-6 record. Three weeks remain to see which six teams will advance to the Big Ten tourney.
The Hulls family connection to Indiana just got a little stronger. Kaila Hulls, the younger sister of Jordan, will transfer from Bowling Green to Indiana.
This isn’t surprising. She is following Curt Miller, the former Bowling Green head coach who now runs the Indiana women’s basketball program.
Kaila Hulls was an Indiana All-Star after a standout career at Bloomington South. She averaged 20 points and 11.7 rebounds as a senior. She redshirted last season, her first year at Bowling Green, after tearing her ACL.
“We’re excited about Kaila’s decision to return home and become a member of the Indiana Hoosier family,” Miller said in a university release. “She is an outstanding player, but more importantly an amazing person who will represent the university on and off the court.
“Kaila will be an outstanding building block for the next chapter of IU women’s basketball. She is a tireless worker, a fierce competitor and has great three-point shooting ability. She is also a former Indiana All-Star, showing our continued commitment to recruit the best in the state of Indiana.”
The lack of an in-state commitment when it come to recruiting players was among the reasons why former coach Felicia Legett-Jack was fired. Of course, so was a really, really bad record, but that misses the point that Miller is determined to tap into the state of Indiana’s talent pool.
He’ll have lots of competition from Purdue and Notre Dame, but nobody said this job was easy.
Do you like late, late Indiana football games?
Do you enjoy seeing Memorial Stadium all lit up?
Is seeing the clock strike midnight on your way back from watching the football Hoosiers high on your list of things to do?
Good news. You’ll get three cracks at it this coming season. BTN has designated that three of the Hoosiers’ six home games will be on a Saturday night. They will have 8 p.m. kickoffs.
Those games are Indiana State (Sept. 1), Ball State (Sept. 15) and Ohio State (Oct. 13).
The last time the Hoosiers opened the season with Indiana State, they won 55-7 in 2007 and went on to play in the Insight Bowl.
What does that have to do with this season?
Nothing. But it was mentioned in the IU press release, and we’re passing it on.
In case you’re wondering, IU also will host Michigan State on Oct 6, Iowa on Nov. 3 and Wisconsin on Nov. 10.
The Michigan State game is the Hoosiers’ Homecoming contest. Given the Spartans’ success in recent years, that seems wrong.