Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Vote For IU's Watford -- Or Else; No Idiots Here

Are you man enough and woman enough to vote for Christian Watford’s Kentucky beating buzzer beater in the ESPY Award show?

We’re about to find out.

And if you aren’t, well, what will your family and friends think of you?

What will the IRS think of you?

Not that we’re trying to influence you in any way.

Watford’s huge shot is one of 16 plays nominated for ESPY’s best play. It’s a bracket-style vote, with the 16 nominees cut to eight on Tuesday, July 3. The Final Four will be released on Monday, July. 9. You can vote until the show begins, which is 9 p.m. on July 11.

To vote, go online at

“I’m very glad to be representing the University,” Watford said in a university release. “It was a great moment for me. My teammates did the job of getting me there. Verdell (Jones) found me with the pass and Cody (Zeller) set a great screen.”

Earlier this year, Watford’s shot was named the National College Basketball Play of the Year by GEICO.

To see the play on YouTube, go to The above photo shows the wild and crazy Assembly Hall aftermath of Watford's shot.

If Watford makes the finals, he gets to travel to the nationally televised show. Yes, he wants to go.

“It would be a great honor to get to go,” he said. “Hopefully the fans can step up and help with the voting.”


If you have spent the last few weeks wondering where Flint, Mich., combo guard Monte Morris was going to college, you can sleep easy. He announced for Iowa State on Wednesday afternoon.

The Class of 2013 prospect visited IU and generated interest, but not a scholarship offer.


We recently found out, courtesy of a reader, that we are an idiot. Why? Because of this sentence from our previous blog involving Hoosier Deep Throat and Hoosier Cassandra: “(Gordon Lightfoot’s) songs told stories rather than all this rap-and-sex stuff so popular these days.”

Specifically, the reader didn’t like our rap and sex stuff part comment. He thought it showed ignorance, and worse. We thought it was incredibly funny and insightful.

So we disagreed.

In an effort to find the truth, we ran it past the most unbiased person we know, Hoosier Answer Man. Here is the absolutely fair and balanced transcript of that conversation:

HH: A reader called us an idiot for our rap-and-sex comment. We think he read WAY too much into it. Did he have a point?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: Yes. You are an idiot.

HH: Did we mention we have photos of you from Nick’s the other night?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: The reader is totally wrong. Totally.

HH: Why?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: Rap and sex are popular with everybody these days. For instance, Trey Songz sings about sex. Chris Brown sings about sex. That’s the same Chris Brown who beat up his his ex-girl friend (Rihanna) and got into a nightclub bottle-throwing fight with rapper Drake, who also sings about sex. Eminem rap songs are full of violence and, yes, sex.

Thank heavens REAL musicians from rock ‘n roll’s golden era, such as Mick Jagger, NEVER sang about sex or drugs.

HH: We will keep the photos from Nick’s in our private safe for the next five years, for your protection, of course. We wouldn’t want them to fall in the wrong hands and expose your true identity.

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: You are too kind. Oh. We want to be clear. The reader is totally wrong. You are a genius.

HH: Thank you.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Who’s Basketball’s Preseason No. 1 – Indiana, Kentucky or Louisville?

The after-midnight phone call interrupted our viewing of a replay of the Mad Men season finale. It was Hoosier Deep Throat wanting to meet about IU’s basketball national title prospects. We agreed to do it as a panel discussion with another top-secret Indiana University source.

We reached a secret limestone tunnel underneath Assembly Hall. A black metal door, thick enough to secure a nuclear reactor and Kanye West’s ego, was partially ajar. On the floor next to it was a dusty crumpled sign. We kicked at it, dislodging dust that revealed a red-lettered truth:

“Bob Knight’s Secret Vault”

We’d heard stories about such a place, more like legends whispered in rooms where you do what you don’t confess, not that we’re admitting to ever having been in such rooms or understanding what the Gordon Lightfoot “confession” reference means.

EDITOR’S NOTE NO. 1: For those of a certain age, Gordon Lightfoot was a well-known Canadian folk-rock legend who peaked in the mid-1970s. His songs told stories rather than all this rap-and-sex stuff so popular these days.

EDITOR’S NOTE NO. 2: Okay, technically going in a room where you don’t confess suggests sex, but that misses the point, which is, who knew Bob Knight REALLY had a secret vault.

Anyway, inside the vault wafted the scent of cologne, perfume and cheap cigarettes. Mick Jagger sang about not getting any satisfaction from an unseen speaker. A single lightbulb swayed precariously at the end of a frayed white wire, barely penetrating the room’s ink-like darkness.

A table was wedged into a shadow-covered corner. At one end sat a shape we recognized as Hoosier Deep Throat (see above for one of only two photos of Deep Throat in existence!). At the other end was a different, more feminine form. We’ll call her Hoosier Cassandra, after the ancient Greek beauty and prophet who could hear the future.

“You’re late,” Deep Throat said.

“Bloomington road construction is a disaster,” we said. “It’s like they’re tearing up every key road in town to make it as tough as possible to get around.”

“It’s a conspiracy, you know, and it’s not the only one,” Deep Throat said. A match flamed up. The end of a cigarette was lit, glowing reddish orange from the shadows. He took a deep puff. “You don’t think ending the Indiana-Kentucky series just when IU gets good and UK wins a national title was a coincidence, do you?”

“You’re not starting on that again,” Cassandra said with the exasperation.

“Why not?” he asked.

“Because it’s getting old, just like you!”

“Let’s talk about you and your alias,” Deep Throat said. “Cassandra has all sorts of negative connotations what with Apollo’s curse and nobody believing her. Shouldn’t we use something more positive and uplifting?”

“What do you suggest?” we asked.

“How about something with sophistication and alliteration, like Hoosier Honey or Hoosier Hottie?”

He chuckled alone.

“Do you have to be a sexist pig?” Cassandra asked.

“One person’s sexist pig is another’s Prince Charming,” Deep Throat said.

“Well, you’re a pig,” she said. “Would you like it if I called you “Hoosier Hunk” or “Hoosier Tight Butt?”

“Hell, yes. Please, and do it often, preferably in public places.”

“You have issues,” she said. “I have the number of a good psychologist, which I’ll give to you right after I call my lawyer about suing you for sexual harassment and … “

“Hey, can we please stay on topic,” we said. “We’re supposed to be adults here. We have important matters to discuss.”

“There’s nothing more adult than talking in the shadows after midnight in a place that’s not supposed to exist except in a Geraldo Rivera fantasy,” Deep Throat said.

“Please, let’s not use ‘Geraldo’ and ‘fantasy’ in the same sentence,” Cassandra said.

“Stop it!” we shouted. “We’re here about basketball. So what do you think about Indiana being No. 1 in preseason polls.”

Deep Throat took a long drag from his cigarette. “It’s about bleeping time,” he said. “The last time IU was No. 1 was in 1993 when Calbert Cheaney, Greg Graham, Allan Henderson and Damon Bailey were leading the charge. I remember thinking Indiana would always be good. Boy, was I wrong.”

Another match flared up. Cassandra lit a cigar. Elvis began singing “My Way.”

“What’s with the cigar?” we asked.

“Just a little early victory celebration for the national championship IU will win next spring in Atlanta,” she said, and puffed three times for emphasis.

“Care to elaborate,” we said.

“Indiana has the most talented returning lineup in the country,” Cassandra said. “Cody Zeller was an All-American as a freshman. He’ll be bigger and stronger this coming season. He’ll be ready to show his overall game, including his perimeter shooting. He’s going to be a monster.

“Christian Watford could have turned pro. He’s back for what should be a big senior year. Jordan Hulls just might be the best shooting guard in the country. Nobody wants Victor Oladipo guarding him, or wants to try to stop him from driving. Will Sheehey keeps getting better and better. And you can’t overlook Derek Elston, who is by far the best quote on the team.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” Deep Throat asked.

“Do you have to be rude?” Cassandra asked.

“I liked it better when I was the only one talking.”

“This isn’t about you, is it?” Even in the darkness, you could feel her glare.

“As I was saying,” she said, “now you add one of the nation’s best freshman classes -– I know people keep talking up point guard Yogi Ferrell, but watch out for small forward Jeremy Hollowell, who isn’t small at all -- and you have a powerhouse few teams can handle. They’ll win the Big Ten and then win the national championship.”

The tip of her cigar glowed in the darkness.

“Is it safe to talk?” Deep Throat asked. Silence answered him. She was, it seemed, finished.

“Indiana has to get better on defense,” Deep Throat said. “That is its Achilles heel. The Hoosiers gave up a lot of points last season. A lot of that had to do with its uptempo style of play, which gave opponents more possessions. IU is never going to rival Wisconsin for fewest points allowed. It is aggressive and attacking, and sometimes that leaves it exposed. They have to keep that to a minimum.

“The Hoosiers are going to score. They were the Big Ten’s best scoring team last year, and that was without a true point guard. Now they have one in Yogi Ferrell. They’re going to push the pace even more. If they improve the defense, they have a chance to win the national title.”

“You don’t seem as sure as Cassandra,” we said.

“But I have a cuter butt than Cassandra,” Deep Throat said.

“You are a pig!” Cassandra shouted.

“Perhaps, but the truth is the truth and …”

“Stop! Please!” we shouted. “Let’s move on. Who will be IU’s biggest challenger for a national title?”

Rings of cigar smoke surrounded my head like Indians at Custer’s Last Stand.

“That would be Louisville and Kentucky,” Cassandra said in a tone that could cut diamond.

“Oh, yeah. The two teams Indiana is afraid to play in the regular season,” Deep Throat said.

“That is SOOO not true,” Cassandra said.

Deep Throat stomped out what was left of his cigarette and lit another. “I’ll tell you what’s true. IU passed on Kentucky and Louisville, missing out on a gazillion dollar payday and earning major national TV exposure, so it could play Bozo the Clown State at Assembly Hall. Hell, it’s gonna have to PAY Bozo like $60,000 to get its butt stomped here. Does that make sense? Who’s running this rodeo?”

Deep Throat broke into a coughing fit. Cassandra jumped in before he caught his breath.

“Indiana isn’t afraid,” she said. “They don’t want to be bullied by the uncompromising likes of Kentucky. A real man would see that.”

Deep Throat jumped up and began pacing in the shadows. Every once in a while, a quick image of a shaved head appeared and disappeared out of the darkness like a flashing middle finger. Toby Keith started singing, “As Good As I Once Was.”

“Stay calm,” we said.

“My middle name is calm,” he said.

“I thought it was pig,” Cassandra said.

We could hear Deep Throat grinding his teeth.

“Kentucky is gonna be young, but youth don’t matter to John Calipari,” he spit out about the UK coach. “He lost his top six players, then reloaded with another top-ranked class. His ‘non-traditional’ program approach isn’t for everybody, mostly because nobody else can recruit as consistently well as he does, but boy does it work.”

Deep Throat kept pacing at a Tom Crean clip.

“The bottom line is Kentucky will have more talent than anybody else,” he said. “Sure, Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin are freshmen. So what? They’ll be first-round NBA picks next season. Ryan Harrow is a point guard transfer from North Carolina State. He’ll be a first-round pick next year as well.

“More and more in college basketball, just like the NBA, talent rules, unfortunately.”

“So are you saying Kentucky will win it all?” we asked.

“I’m saying Kentucky is gonna be a big threat. And mark my words, the NCAA selection committee will do everything it can to put IU and UK in the same regional again, only this time as No. 1 and No. 2 seeds.”

Deep Throat sat down. Cassandra tossed her cigar toward us. It skittered on the concrete floor, sparks trailing behind like a faded firework.

“Louisville should be very good, especially if it gets its offense together,” she said. “It has one of the nation’s best point guards in Peyton Siva. Shooting guard Wayne Blackshear is good. So is power forward Chane Behanan. Center Gorgui Dieng isn’t the greatest scorer in college basketball, but he’s improved a ton. Besides, he’s a shot-blocking beast. Enter the paint at your own risk against him. And the bench with Russ Smith, Montrezl Harrell and Kevin Ware can create havoc.

“And speaking of havoc, Rick Pitino’s pressure defense is extremely physical. It wears on you to the breaking point. The Cardinals will be a load to handle. Too much for most teams.”

She paused.

“But Indiana isn’t most teams.”

“So you pick Indiana,” we said. “What about you, Deep Throat? Do you see Indiana winning it all.”

There was a long pause. In the background, Jimmy Buffet sang about getting wasted again in Margaritaville.

“Yes,” he said at last. “The Hoosiers will be cutting down the nets in Atlanta.”

They agreed. We paused to see if hell had frozen over. The light flickered, then went out. After a moment of total darkness, it came back on. Deep Throat and Cassandra were gone.

As for what that means for hell, it’s too early to tell.

IU Olympic Miss and Make; Hoosier Athletes Honored; More

Sometimes life isn’t fair. Sometimes dreams crash and burn.

Take Molly Beckwith, a former Indiana track standout with a great shot at Olympic glory.

If she could make it.

Beckwith had a chance in Monday night’s U.S. Olympic Trials. The London Olympics opportunity was there. All Beckwith had to do was match her 800 meter season best of 1:59.16, the second best time in the U.S. this season.

All she had to do, was stay strong in the final 20 meters.

Her mind was willing, but her body, and some fierce competitors, were too much to overcome.

Beckwith placed fourth in the Eugene, Ore., event in a time of 1:59.68, just getting edged out for third by Alice Schmidt (1:59.60).

The top three advanced to London. Yeah, it was that close, and that much of a heartbreak.

Beckwith was fourth for most of the race, then made a move in the last 200 meters to threaten to take the lead. She got into second, then faded in those last 20 meters and couldn’t catch Alysia Montano, who won at 1:59.08. Geena Gall surged at the end to finish second at 1:59.24. Schmidt made a late push to get the final qualifying spot.

Beckwith, a 2010 IU graduate, still trains in Bloomington under IU coach Ron Helmer. She runs for Saucony. She’s still young enough to take a shot at the 2016 Olympics, but that’s a long way off. This one will be tough to get over.

In better news, another former Hoosier, diver Christina Loukas, made the Olympic team in the 3-meter springboard. She finished second in the swimming Olympic Trials in the state of Washington.

Loukas’ score of 1,017.85 wasn’t enough to catch winner Cassidy Krug’s 1,094.85-point total.

This will be the second straight Olympics for Loukas. She took ninth in the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the 3-meter springboard.


Let’s say you run a TV network and want to broadcast the new college football playoffs. Prepare to fork over a lot of cash. We mean A LOT of it.

The Sporting News’ Matt Hayes is reporting it could be worth $5 billion over 10 years. For math majors, that’s $500 million a year. Last year’s BCS contract paid out $174 million. In other words, college football powers can make three times as much a year as the current deal -- in a struggling economy.

It makes you wonder what took everybody so long to get it done.

The current plan, devised by Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick and major conference commissioners, calls for four teams, two semifinals and a title game. A selection committee will determine the four teams.

Look for ESPN, CBS, Fox and NBC to bid on all or part of the package.

The BCS Presidential Oversight Committee is meeting in Washington D.C. to vote on the playoff plan.

Also figure, in the next couple of years, the number of teams will grow to eight. You could argue that, in some years, more than four teams are legitimate national title contenders. An eight-team format would include every team that could be a national champ, which is what you have in the NCAA basketball tourney. Not every deserving team makes the basketball field, but every team that could win it all does.


In a time when we hear all that’s wrong with athletics, it’s nice to get hear about those who do it right.

And so we offer Andy Bayer and Allysa Vavra, Indiana’s 2012 athletes of the year.

Bayer runs distance really fast. Vavra swims really fast. Both earned All-America honors in their respective sports.

At the NCAA meet, Vavra took eighth in the 200-yard individual medley and fifth in the 400 yard individual medley to earned All-America honors in both events. Her 200 IM time of 1:55.58 was the second fastest in school history. Her 400 IM time of 4:01.73 also is the second fastest time in school history. To cap off a busy championship, she plaeced seventh in the 200-yard breaststroke.

She also was Big Ten champion in the 200 IM and the 400 IM. Vavra made the U.S. Olympic Trials, but failed to advance to the London Olympics.

“What a tremendous honor for Allysa Vavra,” IU swim coach Ray Looze said in a university release and the athlete-of-the-year award. “With so many outstanding teams here and Indiana, our staff is humbled that Allysa would receive such recognition. She has come a long way as a person, and has a bright future.”

Bayer earned All-America recognition in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.

In cross country, Bayer helped the Hoosiers to a seventh-place finish. He won Big Ten indoor titles at the mile and 3,000 meters, scored 26 points by himself, and helped IU to its first conference championship since 1992. At the NCAA indoor meet he was second in the distance medley relay and fifth at the mile to help IU finish sixth as a team.

In the outdoor season Bayer was the Big Ten champ in the 1,500 meters as Indiana took third as a team. He then edged two-time NCAA champ Miles Batty of Brigham Young to win the 1,500 NCAA title.

Bayer is competing in the Olympic Trials in Oregon this week.

“Andy has gone above and beyond all season for the team,” IU track coach Rom Helmer said in a release. “What he did at the Big Ten Indoor Championships was remarkable. We would not have won a Big Ten title without him. He proved he’s one of the best runners in the country.”

IU now has 45 track national champions and 141 overall individual NCAA winners.

“Allysa and Andy represent what Indiana athletics is all about: not only great athletes, but great students and young people with great character and values,” athletic director Fred Glass said. “We are proud of them, and their accomplishments.”


IU baseball coach Tracy Smith hasn’t lost his out-of-state recruiting touch.

Smith just landed junior college All-American Brad Hartong out of Cypress College. Hartong is one of 14 newcomers heading to Bloomington, one of two from California. Smith also tapped into Florida, Minnesota, Ohio and Illinois for players.

All Hartong, a catcher, did last season was hit .364 while throwing out 26 of 32 base stealers.

Another Californian, infielder Garret Brown from Irvine, hit .420 with three home runs, three doubles, two triples, 16 runs batted in, six steals and 25 runs scored.

The Hoosiers also got Kansas 5A player of the year in pitcher/first baseman Evan Bell (.444 average, 7-2 pitching record with a 2.18 earned run average); Fort Wayne South Side pitcher/first baseman Will Coursen-Carr, the state of Indiana’s Gatorade player of the year after going 10-1 with 134 strikes and a 0.40 ERA in 70 innings, plus hitting .488 with 36 RBI; and pitcher Zach Haynes of Kentucky, who was 15-0 in his high school career, including a no hitter;


Friday, June 22, 2012

IU Football Has Just 1 Commit -- Is This a Problem?

Today we’re going to examine IU football recruiting. We’ll do it with the help of our new contributor, Hoosier Answer Man. For security reasons his true identity can’t be revealed, but we can say, with absolute near honesty, that he’s had extensive government, academic, sports, religious, amorous and mountain climbing experience. He might also have appeared in certain beer commercials where wisdom and maturity are valued as much as physical prowess.

Oh, yes. Mosquitoes refuse to bite him -- out of respect.

Anyway, you might have noticed that IU coach Kevin Wilson has just one committed recruit for the Class of 2013. that would be Isaac Griffiths, a 6-foot, 185-pound receiver out of Homestead High School near Fort Wayne. He’s a three-star prospect rated as the No. 19 player in the state for the Class of 2013 according to, a national Internet recruiting service.

In other words, a solid player, but not a program changer.

What’s Hoosier Answer Man’s take on this?

Let’s get started.

Q: IU only has one committed player. Is this a problem?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: It’s only a problem if IU still has just one commitment in February. That won’t happen.

Q: How good is Griffith?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: He’s fast and athletic and versatile. He likely will play a bunch of positions for Homestead this coming season. As far as his college impact, he will never be confused with, say, Robert Nkendich, a 6-5, 260-pound defensive end out of Georgia who is rated No. 1 in the nation in the Class of 2013. But that’s not the point.

Q: What is the point?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: We’re not sure. Sometimes we ramble. Anyway, Griffith is a good kid who should be a solid college contributor, although maybe not his first season. Much of that depends on his strength and size gains. In the meantime, he wants to help recruit more good kids to IU. That’s a positive because coach Kevin Wilson could use some help.

Q: Given the Big Ten competition, Wilson needs a lot of help. Michigan already has 22 commitments and, at the moment, has the nation’s No. 1 class for 2013. Notre Dame is No. 9 with 14 commitments. Ohio State is 10th with 12. Penn State is 14th with 11. Nebraska is 21st with 11th.

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: Since when did Notre Dame join the Big Ten?

Q: Are you mocking us?


Q: Figures. So what’s the hold up with Wilson’s recruiting? Why just one IU commitment when other programs have so many more?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: Wilson likes to see his players in a camp setting. He wants to see their character and toughness as well as their football skills. He wants to know that when adversity hits, and it will, that they’ll respond instead of break. In other words, he wants the right guy with the right stuff, and he’s willing to be patient to get them. Also, the better the player you go after, the more likely you are not to get an early commitment -- unless you're Michigan, Alabama and the other college heavyweights.

Q: Then what does that tell us about the state of IU football recruiting?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: Wilson has more resources than any IU football coach in history. He has better facilities (IU is adding a new FieldTurf surface to one of its two practice fields) and more money for assistant coaches’ salaries and recruiting. The weight room is as good as any in the country. The academic support facility is as good as any in the country. IU has a nutritionist and plenty of strength coaches. Wilson’s coaching background -– including Oklahoma, Northwestern and Miami of Ohio -- is full of success.

It also helps that the state is producing more quality players than it ever has. Guys like Indianapolis Pike defensive end David Kennedy Jr. (committed to Iowa), Indianapolis North Central defensive tackle Darius Latham and Ben Davis defensive back Antonio Allen (committed to Mississippi), and a whole bunch more.

Wilson is getting a lot of good players into his camps and on the campus with unofficial visits. Offers are being made. In the end, it comes down to how good a salesman Wilson and his staff are. And despite IU's lack of football tradition, they have a lot to work with -- gorgeous campus, strong academics, ever-improving facilities.

Q: So why don’t we see IU in the upper half of Big Ten recruiting ratings?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: Last year’s 1-11 record hurt. That wasn’t close to convincing big-time recruits that Indiana was the place to be. It also didn’t help to lose high-profile quarterback Gunner Kiel. He might have sold elite prospects on the Hoosiers.

Instead, Kiel backed out, committed to LSU, decommitted (putting him on coach Les Miles’ least-favorite list) and committed to Notre Dame.

Let’s face it. IU has historically landed mid-major-level talent, and that’s still the case. If the Hoosiers can supplement that with a few four-star guys, if they can develop their players to the max, they’ll have a chance to win seven, eight even nine games on occasion.

That’s why former coach Bill Lynch preferred redshirting freshmen unless they could make instant impact. If you take a mid-major player, really develop him strength wise and fundamental wise, by the time he’s in his fourth and fifth years, he can be a solid Big Ten player, a guy you can win with.

IU will rarely beat out Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan and the other elite programs for super-stud recruits. So it has to be strong in its development program and diligent in its evaluations.

Hoosier coaches are going beyond the state and the traditional Midwest recruiting base. They're trying to tap into the talent rich southeast. They’ve offered South Carolina quarterback Michael Julian and Florida cornerback Blake McClain, among others.

Wilson and his staff also have to be good in fitting players into the right positions. A guy might arrive as a running back, but might be better suited for, say, linebacker. When Joe Tiller was winning at Purdue, one of his strengths was moving players into the best positions to maximize their talents. Wilson has to do that.

Q: Can he do that?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: It’s way too early to know. If Wilson can, he’ll win. His track record as an assistant coach shows that. If not, he’ll join the couple dozen other Indiana coaches who have failed.

Of course, he’ll be a lot richer than those guys.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Classroom Clout -- Hoosiers Grade Out Strong in APR Scores

Let’s be honest. Do you REALLY care that Indiana had seven teams with perfect Academic Progress Report (APR) scores of 1,0000, or would you rather contemplate next season’s basketball possibilities?

You should care, you know. A lot. You don’t want the Hoosiers to ever experience what Connecticut men’s basketball is facing with a one-season NCAA tourney ban because of its low APR scores.

Or, closer to home, a return of the academic carnage from the Mike Davis-Kelvin Sampson reign of error.

It doesn’t figure to ever be a problem under basketball coach Tom Crean. Not only does he have the Hoosiers positioned for a NCAA title run, but he also has helped them post two straight 1,000 APR scores.

You’d better believe that matters.

Yes, you can thrive on the court and in the classroom, something Connecticut is struggling to achieve. IU’s academic performance is especially impressive when you consider the mess Crean inherited when he got the job.

The men’s basketball team’s APR score this year is a 952, which is actually the lowest of any of IU’s sports. The reason is simple -- the Hoosiers had a four-year total of 866 in Sampson’s last season (capped by a miserable one-year number of 811 in 2007-2008), then went 975, 1,000 and 1,000 under Crean.

It’s amazing what a quality coach and a quality person can do.

The NCAA had publicly reprimanded IU for posting four-year scores of less than 900 in three of first four years it kept track of APR. That 811 score from 2008 -– which cost Crean two scholarships in his first season -- is still affecting the basketball APR numbers.

Starting next season, it won’t. The last of the Sampson consequences will be gone.

A big part of the academic improvement was the hiring of academic adviser Marni Mooney. She deals only with the men’s basketball program and keeps up with every assignment and test of every player.

If somebody does well, she knows it. If somebody messes up or misses a class, she knows that, too. She quickly lets Crean know, who isn’t shy about addressing it with the player.

Along with this comes an emphasis on early graduation. Tom Pritchard and Matt Roth needed three years to earn a bachelor degree, then got their master’s degree in one. Jordan Hulls and Derek Elston earned their bachelor’s degrees in three years, and will spend their final college season working on their master’s. Christian Watford and Maurice Creek are set to graduate in December, which would be 3½ years.

Crean isn’t alone in this academic success at IU. Men’s cross country, men’s golf, men’s swimming and diving, women’s swimming and diving, women's tennis and women’s water polo all recorded a 1,000 APR for the 2010-11 academic year.

Also, men’s golf, women’s tennis, men’s track and women’s track all have the top multi-year scores among their peers in the Big Ten.

And then baseball, men’s golf and women’s tennis were honored for ranking in the top 10 percent in the country in their sports.

“I want to congratulate our student-athletes, coaches and staff for embracing this high priority for our department,” athletic director Fred Glass said in a university release. “These are successes of which all of Hoosier Nation should be proud of.”

What is the APR? According to an IU release, it’s a real-time measure of eligibility and retention of athletes competing on every Division I team. The APR is based on a multi-year rate that, for this year, averages the scores of the 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons.

Teams need to average at least a 900 out of a possible 1,000 score. That averages to a graduation rate of 50 percent. If not, they can face sanctions including a ban on postseason participation.

IU football, by the way, had a score of 964.


This likely won’t affect Indiana much, but the powers that be in college football have finally seen the light and reached consensus on a playoff instead of maintaining the abomination that is the BCS.

Conference commissioners, plus Notre Dame, met in Chicago worked out most of a plan for a four-team playoff system. Teams would be chosen by a selection committee similar to the NCAA basketball tourney with an emphasis, but not a mandate, on picking conference champions.

If everything gets finalized and passed, it would go into effect in 2014.

This is a big step for a group that resisted a playoff for so long. That includes Big Ten officials, whose infatuation with the bowl system and long-standing lucrative arrangement with the Rose Bowl made then shoot down playoff proposals at every turn.

No more.

Now, an eight-team playoff would have been better, and it might eventually get to that, but that’s another battle for another day.

Sure, it would be nice if Indiana could some day get into the playoff mix. The odds on that happening are long at best. Coach Kevin Wilson is trying to turn the Hoosiers’ perennially struggling program around, and last year’s 1-11 debut season wasn’t a ringing endorsement of his ability to do it.

But IU seemed better in the spring. You’d like to think a year in Wilson’s system, plus the natural maturation process and all the hard work on player development, will pay off. That maybe some day in the not too distant future the Hoosiers could make a football jump the way they did in basketball last season.

Hey, it’s the off-season. Anything is possible now.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hoosier Answer Man Tackles More Tough IU Questions

Because of a massive number of requests, we’re providing a new episode of Hoosier Answer Man, the only place to get the truth about Indiana basketball and Lloyd Bridges.

Yes, we’ll explain that.

Anyway, you have Hoosier questions, we have Hoosier answers. Just like 24’s Jack Bauer, we’ll do whatever is necessary to get you the information you have to have, even if some disagree. It’s cutting edge journalism at it’s most dangerous.

What could go wrong?

Let’s start.

Q: A reader of the previous blog said you were “under-informed.” Others suggested you are clueless. One even suggested a connection to Purdue. How do you respond to that?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: I don’t have enough information to respond.

Q: Does that mean you are “under-informed” and over-paid?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: My lawyer will get back to you. Next question.

Q: What have you heard about this Stanford Robinson guy who has committed to the Class of 2013?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: He’s a stud scorer.

Q: Can you elaborate?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: He averaged 9.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists at the very prestigious National Basketball Players Association Top 100 camp in Virginia. He can score against anyone at any time (his 24 points in one game ranked with the most of anyone at the camp). He’s good with both hands. He attacks the rim. He hits three-pointers. He plays aggressive defense. He’s fast. He’s a good passer. Oh, he rebounds well for a guard.

Robinson also thrives in an uptempo attack, which is what IU does well, and will do even more of this coming season. He's ranked as the Class of 2013's No. 88 player, and figure he'll make a big jump by the end of the summer.

He’s the best player in a very good IU class that also includes Devin Davis, Collin Hartman and Luke Fischer. And for the record, don’t be surprised if coach Tom Crean adds another.

Q: Is there a better recruiter in the Big Ten right now than Crean?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: His recruiting has been off the charts the last couple of years, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Why? Because he and his staff bust their tails. They put in the time, they care and they develop players and programs.

Yes, they start very early. And, yes, Crean's tendency toward over-signing has created a problem (as mentioned in the previous blog with the 14 players and 13 scholarships). While he's not the only one doing it, that doesn't make it fair. But then, recruiting is a tough, competitive, ruthless process. Success comes to those who are aggressive and tenacious, and Crean has been very successful.

It's much like dating.

Or so we've been told.

Also, don’t underestimate the advantage of hiring new assistant coach Kenny Johnson, who was a driving force in the Washington D.C.-area Team Takeover AAU program that delivered Maurice Creek, Victor Oladipo and now Robinson.

The addition to Cook Hall also was big. It puts IU on par with every other program in the nation when it comes to facilities. Add the tradition, fan enthusiasm and everything else and the Hoosiers figure to be a national power for a long time.

Yeah, it’s a good time to be a Hoosier.

Q: How good is IU track distance runner Andy Bayer?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: Well, he’s good enough to have a shot to make the upcoming London Olympics, and if he needed a near midnight qualifying run to do it, no one is complaining.

Bayer recently won the NCAA 1,500 meter run in like 3 minutes, 42 seconds, which was a little slow because it was more of a tactical race. He needed to break 3:39 to earn a spot in the upcoming U.S. Olympic Trials.

He did it LATE Sunday night by running a 3:38.07 at something called Bloomington Twilight at IU’s track facility. It was held shortly before midnight, the deadline for qualifying. That meant it was cooler and less humid, great conditions to run fast, and Bayer delivered.

It was the fourth fastest 1,500 time in school history, faster than even former IU standout and two-time Olympian Bob Kennedy had run.

Q: Is it time for Cody Zeller to start shooting three-pointers?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: Yes. The guy can shoot and make them. He proved it in high school. He proved it in AAU ball. He has the range and the touch. It’s time IU took full advantage of everything he can do.

Q: Why didn’t he shoot them last year?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: Zeller was an All-American as a freshman and led the team in scoring, so obviously somebody knew what he was doing.

IU led the Big Ten in three-point shooting, and a big reason was because of Zeller’s inside scoring threat. It gave guys open perimeter shots. When those guys include Jordan Hulls, Matt Roth and the ever-improving Christian Watford, good things usually happen.

Still, Zeller needs to use all of his skills. No limits. Look, the guy didn’t take one three-pointer last year. Not one! Even Tom Pritchard took one (yes, it was to beat the shot clock, but still!). It’s time to open up and REALLY torture opposing defenses. And wouldn’t it be nice if one of those defenses belonged to Kentucky.

Q: That leads to our next question. Did you hear athletic director Fred Glass on 1070 the Fan’s JMV radio show the other day talking about the latest update on the IU-Kentucky basketball series?


Q: What did you think?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: Fred Glass is a great guy. He’s down to earth, funny, smart and sensible. We also share the same fashion sense. But this thing is all messed up.

Q: How so?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: Fred said about 25 percent of the feedback he’s gotten about the IU-UK series think he’s a knucklehead and should play Kentucky anywhere, anytime. The remaining 75 percent supports his position, which is hold firm with Kentucky. If the Wildcats won’t compromise and play once every 4 years at Assembly Hall, if they won’t agree to a 4-year deal rather than a 2-year contract, if they’re scared to play in Assembly Hall and are trying to throw their weight around just because they’re now a “non-traditional” program, then screw ‘em, we’ll play Savannah State.

Q: I don’t recall Fred saying anything about Savannah State.

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: It’s all about reading between the lines.

Q: Is that the same as being “under-informed?”

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: No wonder your mother doesn’t like you.

Anyway, here’s the bottom line. IU is giving up lots of money that even an athletic department flush with Big Ten Network riches can use; it is missing out on playing Kentucky at one of the great sports venues in North America, if not the world (Lucas Oil Stadium); it is passing on a game that will have HUGE national interest and provide the kind of attention and recruiting opportunity most programs would kill for, all so it can play a patsy nobody wants to see.

To compound the problem, it could have started a similar mega-interest series with Louisville, which would have agreed to everything IU wanted, even start by playing at Assembly Hall next year. IU officials said no.

Crean has mentioned a chance at some TV-brokered deal with a high-profile opponent, but that’s not definite. There remains a small window for Indiana and Kentucky to play at Lucas Oil Stadium in late December, but every day makes that more and more unlikely.

In the end, Kentucky replaced IU with a two-year deal with top-20 program Baylor (one game at Rupp Arena, one in Dallas), that will generate big bucks and lots of TV and national exposure. The Hoosiers are likely to replace Kentucky with a buy-in opponent such as Savannah State, Kentucky State or Gardner-Webb.

That’s a game, by the way, that no one will get excited about and generate zero national exposure.

So let’s recap IU’s decision -- throw away lots of money, throw away a marquee game at a marquee area in front of a huge TV audience, play home game against a patsy.

To quote Lloyd Bridges in the classic movie comedy, “Airplane,” looks like I picked the wrong day to give up sniffing glue.

Q: That seems harsh.

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: Does it? I have a question for you. Did you put “Nude Videos” in the headline of the previous blog as a cheap way to draw readers?

Q: You ask too many bleeping questions.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

IU Scholarship Dilemma, Charles Darwin and Nude Videos

Are you like us? Are you getting emails from friends and family offering links to video nudes, with ABSOLUTELY NO CONSEQUENCES?

Hold that thought.

Anyway, do you find yourself so uptight about what’s going on with Indiana basketball this off-season that you can’t sleep, eat or stop watching replays of Christian Watford’s buzzer-beating, Kentucky-beating three-pointer?

We’re here to help.

We have gone deep undercover to dig out the one person who really knows what’s going on in the program even more than Hoosier Deep Throat. Sure, you might think it’s head coach Tom Crean or athletic director Fred Glass but, even in this more transparent era, some things stay in the shadows.

Not any more. We’re here to bring the spotlight to the program as only Hoosier Hoopla can with the help of our newest contributor -- Hoosier Answer Man. He has all the answers to all the questions you most want answered.

Let’s get started.

Q: What’s up with the scholarship dilemma? IU has 14 players and 13 scholarships. How does Crean resolve this?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: Shouldn’t there be a warm-up question first before you get to the hard stuff?

Q: Fine. What’s the most pressing issue facing IU athletics this summer?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: Planning media meals for football and basketball.

Q: Thanks for nothing. What about the scholarships?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: To understand how it all works out, you start with Charles Darwin.

Q: Is he on the roster?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: No. He’s dead, and has been for like the last 150 years. At least, that’s what THEY want us to believe.

Q: Are you related to the nut case who interrupted Webb Simpson’s U.S. Open winning interview?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: Chill out. That guy was a Kentucky fan. Anyway, Darwin was the British scientist who came up with the survival of the fittest idea. It’s ruthless, but it works. It’s how we ended up with, say, Howard Stern on network TV. Crean will have to do the same thing.

Q: What?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: If nobody ends up academically ineligible or does something stupid to get kicked off the team or decides to transfer, then one player will have to give up the scholarship and walk on.

Q: We’re paying you $100,000 for that? Tell us something we don’t know.

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: The only logical answer is the player who can least help the team this year has to walk the scholarship plank. It will be the guy who figures to get the fewest amount of minutes.

Crean and his staff can work with players this summer. They’ll make a very thorough evaluation. By August, they’ll know. They probably know now, but they’ll let competition decide it. Because this isn’t, say, college wrestling, where guys decide for themselves based on who wins and who loses in practice, the coaches will have to use their best judgment. Figure they’ll choose wisely.

Q: That’s fine, but who is likely to be out of luck?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: Consider Maurice Creek. If the guy had better luck, he might be in the NBA right now. He was the nation’s leading freshman scorer when he shattered his kneecap and missed the second half of the season. Then he hurt his knee again the next season. Then, he missed all of last season after tearing his Achilles tendon.

It’s very, very hard to come back from one major injury, let alone three.

Crean has said publicly that Creek’s rehab is on schedule, but that he has a long ways to go. Specifically, Creek has to work harder to get stronger and fitter so he’s not just back, but back at a high level and physically hold up to games and practices.

IU has a chance to win a national championship. It has enough depth for two teams. The days of getting walk-ons from the baseball team are over. You either produce at a high level, or you sit. And, if you’re sitting, more than likely, you’re gonna pay for the privilege.

If you can’t keep up with everybody else, too bad. You might be the nicest guy on earth, you might be able to restore the economy and keep the Kardashian family off national TV for the next week, but if you can’t help the Hoosiers win, you’re out of luck.

Curtis Painter might be Mr. Wonderful off the football field, but do you want him as the starting quarterback for your NFL Fantasy Football Team?

We didn’t think so.

Q: Is there a point to this?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: If Creek can’t return at a high level, he has to walk on. It's that simple and, yes, unfair, but that's the way it is. And if he's not ready to go full-go all the time like everybody else, you do what the football team did with oft-injured tailback Darius Willis. You designate him as physically unable to play anymore. He gets too keep his scholarship, but it doesn’t count against the team total. He can finish a quality education for free, and the team gets to move on. It might sound cold and callous, but welcome to the real world.

Q: What if Creek does come back better than before?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: Then it’s really survival of the fittest. Based on those returning from last year, the guy who played the least was Austin Etherington, and it wasn’t even close. He played just 10 minutes in Big Ten action.

The next closest among returning players was Remy Able, at 104 Big Ten minutes. But he proved himself invaluable late in the season and in the postseason. Etherington would have to make a huge improvement jump to surpass him. Maybe he can. Maybe he has. But the odds aren’t in his favor.

Other than that, it comes down to one of the five incoming freshmen. The two best guys in the class are point guard Yogi Ferrell and small forward Jeremy Hollowell. It won’t be one of them.

Forward Hanner Perea’s play slipped in the last year, but he’s extremely athletic with a high upside. Figure that, under Crean’s coaching, that slippage will be reversed. In fact, it probably already has.

Now we’re down to Ron Patterson and Peter Jurkin. Patterson has some fundamentals to improve, but he has a high motor, good strength and athleticism, and long arms that should make him a fierce defensive presence. The work he’s getting now with IU coaches should translate into significant impact.

Jurkin is a big unknown. He was hurt a lot in high school, and missed out on a lot of development opportunity. But reports are that he’s healthy and has looked solid in workouts. And IU could really use an inside big man for depth behind Cody Zeller.

Q: That’s great, but you didn’t give an answer. Who’s out of luck if it’s not Creek?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: It will be Etherington or Jurkin.

Unless, of course, it isn’t.

Q: Anything else?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: Yeah, don’t open the nude video link.

Q: Does that mean you did?

HOOSIER ANSWER MAN: You ask too many bleeping questions.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Drop Indiana’s Class of 2012 at your own risk

It seemed just a short while ago that Indiana had what experts considered the best basketball recruiting class for 2012. Now, it’s down to No. 6, if you believe’s Jeff Borzello.

Is that a problem?

Not really.

First, it’s still a really good class that fills every position -– point guard Yogi Ferrell (rated No. 26 in the class by, shooting guard Ron Patterson, small forward Jeremy Hollowell (No. 33), power forward Hanner Perea (No. 46) and center Peter Jurkin.

Second, it’s still a top-10 class with size, speed and athleticism. You can win a lot of games with a foundation like that, especially when you add it to a talented, veteran roster.

While Perea’s stock dropped over the last year, Hollowell’s rose. Ferrell is the No. 2 point guard in this class. Patterson and Jurkin aren’t as highly regarded, but both have potential.

In the end, of course, it’s how these guys develop at IU. Do they get better, or do they fade away? Tom Crean’s track record with Indiana is that they improve (think Victor Oladipo, Will Sheehey, Christian Watford and Cody Zeller).

Granted, it’s not 100 percent (remember Bawa Muniru and Tijan Jobe), but there’s no reason to think these newcomers won’t become solid or better college players.

Then there’s the fact the teams that finished ahead of IU –- No. 1 Kentucky, No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 Arizona, No. 4 North Carolina State and No. 5 Baylor -– landed some big-time players

Kentucky got the No. 1 guy in the Class of 2012 in Nerlens Noel after earlier getting No. 7 Archie Goodwin and No. 15 Alex Poythress. UCLA got the No. 2 Class of 2012 prospect in Shabazz Muhammad along with No. 3 Kyle Anderson.

Arizona has three of the top inside players in the country with No. 4 Kaleb Tarczewski, No. 8 Brandon Ashley and No. 12 Grant Jerrett, plus guard Gabe York (No. 32). North Carolina State only signed three guys, but all are ranked in the top 51 (No. 20 Rodney Purvis, No. 31 T.J. Warren, No. 51 Tyler Lewis). Baylor also beefed up its front court with No. 4 Isaiah Austin and No. 49 Ricardo Gathers.

All those numbers are impressive, but what matters most is how they blend as a team. Is their chemistry and passion and a willingness to work beyond the expected?

If the Hoosiers have that, they’re going to be really good for a really long time.

But then, they already are.


Yes, athletic performance draws the spotlight, but in these academically accountable times, when mediocre classroom effort can cost you postseason opportunity (can you say Connecticut?), we give you three IU sports teams that rate among the nation’s best.

The baseball, men’s golf and women’s tennis squads scored in the top 10 percent in their sports based on their Academic Progress Rates. The APR tracks the academic progress of each athlete. It includes eligibility, retention and graduation.

A perfect score was 1,000, which is what IU’s golf and tennis teams accomplished. The baseball team posted a 992.

“I want to congratulate the baseball, men’s golf and women’s tennis student-athletes for their outstanding work in the classroom, and commend the leadership of head coaches Tracy Smith, Mike Mayer and Lin Loring for continuing to reinforce academic achievement as a top priority,” athletic director Fred Glass said in a university release.

These APRs are based on scores from the last four years.

“We are very proud that these programs are being publicly commended on their outstanding academic achievement,” Glass said. “The academic success of these teams is fortunately typical of our programs, which routinely exceed the NCAA acceptable minimum of 925 by a very large margin.”


The never-ending world of elite basketball continues this week at the NBPA Top 100 camp at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.

For the record, Virginia is considered one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country. Credit Thomas Jefferson, who did a lot of good things that didn’t involve basketball.

But we digress.

IU committed player Stanford Robinson is attending the camp. So are a couple of guys coach Tom Crean is recruiting hard in 6-9 center Cliff Alexander from Chicago and 6-9 forward Marcus Lee.

Others with Hoosier scholarship offers participating in the basketball camp are Jaquan Lyle of Evansville Bosse, Semi Ojeleye, D’Angelo Russell, and Noah Vonleh.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Would You Want Ron Patterson Guarding You?

So what do we make of the three Hoosiers’ participation in the Indiana All-Stars series with Kentucky?

For one thing, look out for Ron Patterson’s defense. The guy is going to be an absolute beast in coach Tom Crean’s deflection-centered approach. He has arms that seem to stretch from sideline to sideline, a non-stop motor and an aggressive nature.

If he defends to his potential, nobody will want to have to face him.

He’s set to arrive in Bloomington on Wednesday along with fellow All-Stars Yogi Ferrell and Jeremy Hollowell. They’ll quickly be indoctrinated in the Hoosier way of doing things, both from a basketball standpoint and strength and conditioning.

Patterson put up good numbers in Saturday’s 83-73 win in Indianapolis. He scored 14 points on 7-for-12 shooting in 20 minutes. He also grabbed four rebounds.

But it was his intensity that really stood out. He has a lot to learn, and there’s plenty of time to learn it. It will help that coaches are allowed to work with their players this summer. That will give them a head start on previous seasons, when coaches couldn’t do anything with their players until the fall.

Hollowell also looked impressive with his nine points and nine rebounds. He has to stay locked in all the time, not just when he has the ball or is guarding the ball, but that will come. He has a HUGE upside.

As far as Ferrell, he has some work to do on his shooting. He forced a few things with the All-Stars, but that’s to be expected given they had less than a week to work together. Put him in Crean’s system, along with such outstanding veterans as Jordan Hulls, Cody Zeller, Christian Watford, Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey and he’s going to thrive.

As for the All-Stars, they broke the game open with a 30-5 second-half run spurred by aggressive defense. They finally bought into what coach Craig Teagle had stressed.

“We’d tell them, ‘Guys, you’re so athletic; you’re so intelligent; you’re so long, you can be a shutdown team.’

“It’s one of those things, the longer we would have had them, the better they would have been defensively.

“I’m telling you, when a college coach gets these guys under his wing for four or five months during the season, you’re going to see some outstanding defense from all of them.”


It took 19 years, but Indiana finally has another outdoor national track champion.

Andy Bayer won the 1,500-meter final, and he needed every bit of it to hold off Brigham Young’s Miles Batty. They battled down the stretch and both dove head first for the finish line. Bayer won by .01 second, basically a blink of an eye, to win in a time of 3:43.82.

“I’m super excited,” Bayer said. “This is what I’m going for at ever NCAA meet. I was set up well with 200 meters to do. I thought, ‘I’m not going to let this go. I’m going to fight to the end,’ and it worked out.”

Three other IU runners have won 1,500-meter NCAA titles –- Bob Kennedy, Jim Spivy and Don Lash. The Hoosies have have 45 NCAA track champions and 141 NCAA champs in every sport.

Bayer has scored 44 NCAA tourney points, which ranks fifth in IU history. He passed Bob Kennedy, who had 41.

Teammate De’Sean Turner finished seventh in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. That helped Indiana finish 11th in the NCAA meet with20 points. That’s the Hoosiers’ best finish since 1993.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Moving On From Kentucky; IU Job is No. 1; Super Conferences; And More

When it comes to the Indiana-Kentucky basketball series, Tom Crean wants everybody to move on. That’s basically the same thing John Calipari said.

That’s a shame.

Crean spoke at the annual Indiana Tailgate Tour stop at Huber Farms in southern Indiana. He said that the Kentucky Wildcats will do what’s best for them and IU will do the same for its program.

In other words, the game everybody wants to see (except, apparently, the two coaches and the two athletic directors) ain’t gonna happen. The reason -- location and ego.

Again, that’s a shame.

Both teams could be unbeaten and ranked No. 1 and No. 2 by next December. Interest would be off the charts. The money made and the national spotlight would be huge. No matter. That's apparently as relevant now as the San Antonio Spurs' NBA title hopes.
So instead of getting, say,  Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, we'll get IU vs. something like Savannah State.

Crean suggested a TV opportunity has arisen that might change that.

Who’s the opponent?

Will it work out?

We’ll see.

As for that pesky scholarship number glitch -– you know, where Indiana has 14 players and 13 scholarships -– everything remains in limbo.

The nine returning players are on campus. Two of the five incoming freshmen -– Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin -– are already in Bloomington. The other freshmen – Yogi Ferrell, Jeremy Hollowell and Ron Patterson – are playing on the Indiana All-Star team set to face Kentucky this weekend. They’ll report to campus next week.

It all could come down to Maurice Creek, who is still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon after recovering from a pair of knee injuries. He has to get strong enough to be a major contributor, Crean suggested, which means he has to work harder.

For that, too, we’ll see.

In the meantime Crean held firm to the No. 1 priority, which is that every player work hard to improve.

In the end, Kentucky game or not, it should be a season to remember.


Is the college sports world heading to four 16-team super conferences?


There could be a day when a 16-team Big Ten faces a Pac-16 (right now it’s the Pac-12) in the Rose Bowl. Then a 16-team SEC faces the Big 16 (it’s the Big 12 now) in another bowl. Those winners would meet for the national championship.

Or so some believe.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany doesn’t go for it.

During this week’s teleconference he talked about “dilution” issues with large conferences. He said in that scenario rivals wouldn’t play each other as much, which would reduce tradition and meaning.

Delany mentioned the demise of the 16-team WAC and the Big East’s well-documented woes as signs that super conferences might not be the future after all.

That doesn’t mean conferences won’t grow, but he doesn’t see the Big Ten expanding any time soon.

Unless, of course, Notre Dame changes its independent preference.

“But who knows?” he said. “My crystal ball is not that clear.”


If you believe ESPN is all knowing, then you’ve got to love what 14 of its writers and TV analysts had to say about the best coaching job in the Big Ten.

That’s right. Tom Crean has the job guys would kill for if we lived in, say, a Hunger Games society.

The ESPN crew analyzed athletic budgets, facilities, expectations, records, recruiting, tradition, fan support/pressure and a bunch of other stuff.

The IU job was No. 1 in the Big Ten. It wasn’t that way a few years ago, when Crean had to gut the program in the aftermath of the Kelvin Sampson fiasco. The reason, according to ESPN, was that “Tom Crean has the Hoosiers rolling on the court, closing ranks on top recruits in the state and boasting some of the best and newest facilities (can you say thank you, Cook Hall) in the country to boot.”

Ohio State was considered the second-best job followed by Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Purdue.


Point guard Yogi Ferrell and forward Jeremy Hollowell looked very impressive in the Indiana Senior All-Stars’ 121-96 win over the Indiana Junior All-Stars at Pendleton Heights.

Ferrell had 14 points while making 6 of 8 shots. He added eight assists, seven rebounds and a steal. He only had two turnovers, four fewer than in Monday night’s win over the Juniors at Seymour.

Hollowell also had 14 points.


Did you know that for somewhere between $7,500 and $12,500, you could participate in the first John Calipari Basketball Fantasy Experience? Yes, that’s the same Calipari who coaches at Kentucky.

The catch -– you have to be older than 35. So if you have that kind of money and inclination, you could see what it’s like to play for Calipari and even play games in Rupp Arena.

Calipari announced that “experience” earlier this week. He also talked about the, for now, “former” IU-UK basketball series. He said the impetus for the neutral-site idea came from former Hoosier coach Bob Knight back in the early 1990s, and that Calipari wanted to return to those roots. He said UK was helping IU by agreeing to play at Indianapolis Lucas Oil Stadium, one of America’s greatest sports facilities.

“We offered them two years in their home state,” he said. He added, because of the one-and-done nature of his recruiting, he didn’t want to commit to more than two years on any non-conference series.

Calipari also didn’t buy Indiana athletic director Fred Glass’s comments that a Lucas Oil Stadium site would put an unfair travel burden on Hoosier students.

“They’re only two hours away,” he said. “Are they that poor? They couldn’t get to that building? Our students are going. I mean, ours would go up there.”

For the record, Lucas Oil Stadium is only about an hour away from Bloomington, unless you’re driving, say, a golf cart.


If you missed it, two IU baseball players were drafted by major league teams. Second baseman Micah Johnson, a preseason All-America limited for most of the season because of left elbow surgery, was drafted in the ninth round by the Chicago White Sox, No. 291 overall.

Also, pitcher Chad Martin went in the 10th round as the 314th pick by the Chicago Cubs.

The 6-7 Martin struggled early, but finished strong. He wound up 2-3 with a 4.97 earned run average. His size and 96 mph fastball impressed the Cubs during a workout at Wrigley Field at the end of May.

Johnson played just 24 games and hit just .225 this season because of the elbow injury. As a freshman he hit .312 with 11 home runs and 42 runs batted in. As a sophomore it was .335, three homers, 34 RBIs, 43 runs scored and 19 stolen bases.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Fool Proof Solution to the Kentucky Dilemma

We have discovered the perfect way to resolve the Indiana-Kentucky basketball scheduling mess.

It is fool proof. It will absolutely, positively work.

The key is getting Indiana athletic director Fred Glass and Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart to go along with it. If they do, we’ll have this resolved by the end of the weekend, perhaps sooner.

First, a few things to consider.

We do not live in a black-and-white world. There are various shades of gray that turn truth into perspective. There’s a recent novel, 50 Shades of Gray, that sort of deals with it. However, that’s about sex, a topic that’s not quite germane to this issue.

Both Glass and Barnhart make good points. This isn’t about right and wrong. Reasonable people can disagree, and these guys do.

Glass is ticked because Kentucky won’t compromise. Barnhart is unhappy because Glass went public with a process he felt should be private. In a lot of ways, it has become less about what’s in the best interest of both programs (play the game, make lots of money, showcase your teams, give fans what they want!) and more about side issues. It’s become personal more than business.

In the end, it doesn’t matter where they play the game. Just play it.

Right now UK has replaced IU with a home-and-neutral-site (Dallas) two-year deal with a strong Baylor team. IU has replaced Kentucky with, what, Savannah State? After passing on an opportunity to start a long-term series with a powerhouse Louisville program willing to give the Hoosiers everything they want?

What’s up with that?

So how do you resolve this?

Here is our foolproof solution.

First, Glass and Barnhart need to meet face to face. No more meetings with intermediaries or representatives or phone calls or letters. Glass and Barnhart need to sit down in a room, avoid all the confusion and suggestions that the other is ignoring him, and talk this out.

Second, they need to do this in a closed-door meeting. Once they enter the room, the doors are locked. They don’t get out until they reach an agreement.

Third, the temperature in the room is raised to 105 degrees. One glass, and one glass only, of water is placed in the room with them. They can share or fight. It’s up to them. We don’t care because we’ll be outside with the key sipping champagne served by Playboy centerfolds.

We told you this was fool proof!

Fourth, Justin Bieber songs are played continuously and loudly in the room. Every hour, Tiny Tim singing “Tip-toe throught the Tulips” will be added for the kind of duet sure to break even the most compromise-resistant nature.

Who’s Tiny Tim and what’s up with the tulips? Great question. If you’re of a certain age, maturity and wisdom, you will remember Tiny Tim and his song. It comes from the 1960s’ era of wearing flowers in your hair, free love, silly televised weddings and Laugh-In. Let’s just say that Tiny Tim was not the most masculine of guys, and the marriage didn’t end well.

But we digress.

If Glass and Barnhart want to leave the room, they have to agree. If they want the music to stop, they have to agree. If they want more to drink, or get something to eat, they have to agree. Doesn’t matter what it is –- on-campus, neutral site, a combination of both. Two-year deal, four years, 66 years. It doesn’t matter. They just have to be on the same page and make it work.

And then we can get back to the 50 Shades of Gray novel.


Glass went on Dan Dakich’s Indianapolis radio show to explain his side of the IU-Kentucky impasse on Thursday afternoon.

To recap, Barnhart shot down Glass’s exceptionally generous compromise offer to continue the annual basketball series –- 2012 and 2013 at Lucas Oil Stadium (as Kentucky coach John Calipari wanted), 2014 at Rupp Arena, 2015 at Assembly Hall. Glass even offered to pay half of a $100,000 buyout to free up a date.

Glass said every Indiana student should see an IU-UK game on campus at least once, which is why he pushed for the four-year deal. He said a neutral site would make more money, but he wanted it on campus for the benefit of students and players. He said many students told him last December’s win over Kentucky was the highlight of their college sports experience. He said he’s not interested in a two-year deal, which is what Kentucky officials want. He also said Assembly Hall was safe, refuting concerns that the students rushing the floor after IU’s win last December endangered Kentucky players.

Glass compared negotiating with Kentucky to the Charlie Brown cartoon where Lucy keeps promising she’ll hold the football for Charlie to kick, then keeps pulling it so that he falls. He said IU would not be Charlie Brown to UK’s Lucy.

Glass was reasonable, frank, firm and funny. He is passionate about the Cream ‘n Crimson, and it showed.

But can he get a deal done?

That’s the bottom line.


Barnhart wasn’t about to let Glass have the public stage all to himself. He granted an interview with CatsIllustrated during the SEC meetings to discuss the the IU-UK issue, the compromise, why he turned it down, and what he hopes will happen.

He said he was “disappointed” in the public way these negotiations have been conducted. He referred to the way IU announced the apparent ending of the series on May 3 when Barnhart thought they were still talking things out. He said Kentucky wasn’t interested in a four-year deal because it would mess up their home-and-home series with Louisville. He said the Wildcats didn’t want to play on campus for the next two years. He said they want to play Indiana, but only in Indianapolis for the next two seasons. He said he was willing to discuss on-campus sites after that.

The two dates available for this season at Lucas Oil Stadium are Dec. 15 and Dec. 22. Barnhart said UK is ready to agree to that, but time is running out to finalize schedules.

Barnhart insisted the atmosphere at Assembly Hall wasn’t a problem. Neither was fans rushing the court after the Hoosier victory. He said crowds rushing the court after beating Kentucky is nothing new.

“That’s not a big deal to us.”

Barnhart said he was puzzled by Glass sending him a letter rather than a more direct communication. He said he would do what was in the best interest of his program.

Here’s what it comes down to -– these guys ain’t ready to agree. That’s a shame, because these could be America’s best teams by next December. It’s a game that everybody except those with weak hearts would want to see.

A final thought. The best thing Indiana can do is play and beat the Wildcats. Beat them at Lucas Oil Stadium. Beat them at a NCAA tourney site. Beat them wherever they can until Kentucky officials are so sick of it they’ll want to return to on-campus sites because Rupp Arena is the only place they’ll have a chance to win.

And then IU can beat them there.

There’s nothing gray about that.