Friday, August 31, 2012

IU's Roberson ‘Hungry’ For Elite Quarterback Success

Be honest. Was there ANYBODY who thought Tre Roberson would not be Indiana’s starting quarterback for Saturday night’s season opener against Indiana State? Was there any way a junior college transfer (Cameron Coffman) or a true freshman (Nate Sudfeld) was going to beat out a guy as talented and tough-minded as Roberson?

In truth, not a chance.

Roberson is a dual-threat guy who embraced the competition because he knew if he wanted to be one of the better Big Ten quarterbacks, and he does, he sure as heck had better beat out Coffman and Roberson, who remind no one of, say, Michigan’s Denard Robinson.

Kevin Wilson challenged him because that’s what he does with all his players, especially his best players. He sets high standards and Roberson –- unlike, say, veteran running back Stephen Houston -- met them.

“Tre understands how hard he needs to work to be the starting quarterback,” quarterbacks coach Kevin Johns says, “and really not just the starting quarterback, but an All-Big Ten level quarterback. He wants that. He’s hungry for that. It’s our job to show him what he has to do.

“He’s done everything we’ve asked to do at this point. His arm has gotten stronger. His release has gotten quicker. He’s learned how to play with his feet apart. He’s come a long way.”

Now it’s time to show it in a game.

“I think I’ve progressed pretty well,” Roberson says. “I’m handling myself better. I’m more confident. I’m throwing the ball better. I’m more confident in pass game and doing what I’m supposed to do.”

As a true freshman last season Roberson completed 57 percent of his passes for 937 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions. He has to be better than that this season. If he’s not, IU is looking at another 1-11 season. It’s that simple.

Yes, Roberson is a strong runner who can turn a busted play into a big play in an instant. He rushed for 426 yards and two touchdowns last season, but as the Philadelphia Eagles’ Michael Vick can tell you, a running quarterback is an injury waiting to happen. Figure Roberson will run more out of necessity than because of called running quarterback plays.

“You don’t want your quarterback to get hit a lot,” Johns says. “I don’t know how many designed run plays for him there will be. Now when the play breaks down and he takes off and runs, that’s something different.

“We want him to be confident and comfortable in throwing the ball.”

So Roberson spent the spring, summer and preseason camp working hard to improve his accuracy under the direction of Wilson, Johns and offensive coordinator Seth Littrell. The goal is to get Roberson close to 70 percent on completions.

“I need to get more efficient passing, and that’s what I worked on all camp,” Roberson says. “Listening to Coach Wilson, Coach Johns and Coach Littrell made me better.”

What was their message?

“Tre and I had a conversation to make sure you come to work every day with that look in your eye, ready to go, and lead this offense,” Johns says. “At quarterback you have to know your position so well that you don’t have to think so you can lead everybody else. What happens at quarterback is that if you’re thinking, you’re not leading.

“Tre has made sure he knows what he’s doing at such a high level that now, he’s a tremendous leader. He can let those leadership qualities come out.”

As far as improving his accuracy, Roberson says he’s focused “on everything.”

“My technique, keeping the ball high, aim for a little strike point every time. That will improve my accuracy.”

As far as that near-70-percent on completed passes, Johns calls it “very doable.”

“We’re trying to be very basic and simple with our pass concepts, and make it so he’s confident in his reads. If he uses the proper football and mechanics, he should be able to do that.”

The key, Roberson says, is “knowing the game plan every week, being under control and playing football.

“Knowing the playbook more in depth and what I’m doing makes everything slow down. You always want the ball out quicker. You don’t want the guys to block forever if they don’t have to.”

IU faces an Indiana State team that, just a few years ago, was probably the worst program in America regardless of division. It was so bad the program was in danger of being dropped. But coach Trent Miles arrived five years ago and turned it around. The Sycamores have gone 6-5 the last two seasons and are set to make a run at a Missouri Valley title.

The Hoosiers, Roberson insists, will not be over-confident.

“They’re feisty. They have real good players. They’re everywhere in the secondary. They’ll be a good match-up.”

Are You Ready For Some Indiana Basketball?

Yes, it’s official -- Central Connecticut State has replaced Kentucky in Indiana’s non-conference basketball schedule. Rather than play the Wildcats in Lucas Oil Stadium, or the equally intriguing Louisville in Assembly Hall, both of which would have generated HUGE national interest, acclaim, exposure and cash, the Hoosiers settled for a Northeast Conference also-ran that finished 13-16 last season.

Oh, well.

IU released its basketball in conjunction with the Big Ten’s schedule release. The good news is that powerhouse North Carolina is coming to Assembly Hall. That’s set for Nov. 27 as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

The not-so-good news, at least for those who travel with the Hoosiers, is that New Year’s Eve will be spent in Iowa City. IU opens Big Ten play on that date at Iowa. For the previous three New Year’s Eves, the Hoosiers have opened conference action at home -– twice against Ohio State, once against Michigan.

That also will be the Hoosiers’ first true road game. Is it a good idea to not have any true road test until the Big Ten season? Logic suggests no, but then logic also would have suggested maintaining the Kentucky series (which has lasted since 1969), and kicking the Wildcats’ behinds for a bunch of years in the high-profile setting of Lucas Oil Stadium (yes, IU officials preferred to maintain on-campus settings, but Kentucky officials had enough of that after losing at Assembly Hall last December).

Yes, coach Tom Crean has built the program to the point where it could have dominated the Wildcats, but now we’ll never know.

Oh, well.

Iowa, by the way, will not be an easy game, even for an Indiana team that figures to be a national title contender.

The Hoosiers will also get to travel to Brooklyn as part of the Legends Classic. They’ll play Georgia on Nov. 19 and either UCLA or Georgetown. First, though, they’ll open the tournament with Assembly Hall games against North Dakota State and Sam Houston State.

The Hoosiers also will play Butler on Dec. 15 as part of the Crossroads Classic at Indianapolis' Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

They will play 13 non-conference games and 10 will be at Assembly Hall. Also coming to Bloomington is Ball State (Nov. 25) and guarantee-game opponents such as Bryant (the Nov. 9 season opener) Coppin State, Mount St. Mary’s, Jacksonville and Florida Atlantic.

Bryant, by the way was 2-28 last season. Like mighty Central Connecticut State, it is a member of the Northeast Conference. So is Mount St. Mary's, which was 8-21 last season. Jacksonville is coming off an 8-22 season. Coppin State was 14-16.

For those looking to keep up the momentum against Purdue -- IU swept them last season -- those teams play in West Lafayette on Jan. 30 and at Assembly Hall on Feb. 16.

In terms of strength of the Big Ten, it looks like the early conference schedule is easier than the end. The Hoosiers open on the road with Iowa and then Penn State on Jan. 7, then host Minnesota and Wisconsin, play at Northwestern and then host Penn State. They could be 6-0, or 5-1.

Then it gets interesting. They host Michigan State, are at Purdue, host Michigan, then go to Illinois and to Ohio State. ESPN’s GameDay crew will be at Assembly Hall for the Feb. 2 Michigan game.

The final three weeks of the season include games against Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan before the Big Ten tourney, which returns to Chicago’s United Center from March 14-17.

Here’s what Crean had to say in a university release:

“The thing I am most excited about is that all of our conference home games are sold out. It will make for unbelievable environments, especially for GameDay.

“The Legends Classic is an excellent early season tourney that will allow us to prepare for three distinct styles in Georgia, Georgetown or UCLA.

“I like that we are able to have a game with an emerging in-state opponent like Ball State. Obviously our game with North Carolina will draw a lot of interest nationally. I think without question the Big Ten will be as good as any league in the country again this year.”


Indiana's Class of 2013 basketball group is rated No. 7 nationally by's Eric Bossi. It consists of shooting guard Stanford Robinson (ranked No. 48 in the class), No. 113 Luke Fischer, No. 119 Devin Davis and Collin Hartman, a three-star player.

It's a strong follow-up to Crean's Class of 2012 group that rated top-5 nationally.

These rankings can change, of course (82 of the top 150 players remain uncommitted), but as of now, Florida has the No. 1 class for 2013 by virtue of having two top-10 picks in Chris Walker (No. 6) and Kasey Hill (No. 7). Kansas is No. 2 followed by Marquette, Michigan, Memphis and North Carolina.

Purdue's class of Fort Wayne's Bryson Scott and Kendall Stephens is rated No. 9.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wilson Message to Houston is IU Clear – Pick It Up!

Kevin Wilson ain’t messing around. He wants big-time effort from all his Indiana football players, especially his starters and the guys who should be his best players.

That puts tailback Stephen Houston under the gun.

Houston rushed for more than 800 yards last season, most in the final eight games when he emerged as one of the better running backs in the Big Ten. As a result, Wilson ratcheted up his expectations of the former junior college transfer. And when Houston didn’t meet those expectations in practices heading into Saturday’s season opener against Indiana State, Wilson has let him know it, both by word and deed.

“I was talking to Stephen the other day,” Wilson said. “I said, ‘Maybe I’m wrong, but my standard for you is pretty high. Now maybe I’m the guy who’s wrong. Maybe my standard shouldn’t be as high. My standard it’s a little bit higher than I see your performance.’ Maybe I’m wrong.

“I think he could be an upper-level Big Ten back. He’s 220 (pounds). He’s got really good feet. He’s got really good hands. But he needs to be better in pass protection. He needs to be more physical. He needs to run behind his pads and get two or three tough yards. That’s where he’s not complete. The physical side of his game needs to come out. His skill set is reasonably good, and he can have the edge and the attitude of a great running back, he can be an upper level running back. Right now he’s a pretty good one.”

As a result, freshman Tevin Coleman is No. 1 on the depth chart. Sophomore D’Angelo Roberts is No. 3 behind Coleman and Houston.

“I don’t know if anyone’s won (the running back starting job), but (Coleman) has just played the best, short term,” Wilson said. “He’s playing the hardest, and he’s awfully talented. He just runs hard. He’s fast. He has instincts. Some guys have got it. He has a chance to be pretty good.

“Tevin’s probably got the most talent. Stephen can be the most consistent, but doesn’t play the hardest. D’Angelo’s a nice change-up that fits in.”


IU hasn’t made it official, but it looks like it’s done with its non-conference basketball schedule.

The key games are Nov. 27 at home against North Carolina, Butler in the Crossroads Classic on Dec. 15 at Indianapolis' Bankers Life Fieldhouse, a Legends Classic game in Brooklyn against Georgia on Nov. 19 and another Legends Class game against either UCLA or Georgetown on Nov. 20.

The other eight games are against patsies in Assembly Hall. Yes, that means that rather than play Kentucky at Lucas Oil Stadium or Louisville in Assembly Hall, games that would generate HUGE local and national interest and lots of extra money, IU officials chose Central Connecticut State.

Or was it Jacksonville?

Oh, well.

The Big Ten is set to release the conference schedule at any time.


Wilson insists that receiver Kofi Hughes, cornerback Lawrence Barnett and linebacker Forisse Hardin will get the one-game suspensions they deserve for violating team rules.

He just can’t say when that suspension will be.

“If they play (Saturday against Indiana) they play, if they don’t they don’t,” Wilson said. “I don’t know if there’s going to be an official announcement.”

Basically they’ll be suspended when it least hurts the Hoosiers. That might be Saturday. It might be later.

After last year’s 1-11 disaster, Wilson will take no chances.


If you’re going to the Indiana State game (which has an 8 p.m. start), keep in mind two things –- the weather could get nasty if remnants of Hurricane Isaac show up in Indiana as expected, and traffic construction could make getting to the game a challenge.

IU officials offer this advice -– get to the game early.

“Once again we cannot stress enough how important it is for fans to plan their route carefully and arrive early,” athletic director Fred Glass said in a university release. “Avoid prolonged traffic delays by spending your day in Bloomington and enjoying your pregame tailgate with us at Memorial Stadium. We’ve made changes in the past few years to give fans the opportunity to enjoy many pre-game activities. We’re looking forward to some great crowds.”

Memorial Stadium will be open at least five hours prior to kickoff. On Saturday that will mean 3 p.m.

If you want to know the best route to get to Memorial Stadium, check out these websites:

View the 2012 Alternative Route Map to Memorial Stadium

View the Pre-game and Post-game Traffic Pattern Maps

View map of current Bloomington Road Closings

Twitter @IUBPublicSafety


Are you struggling to sleep worrying about who’s going to win the Heisman Trophy this season.

Well, thanks to, sleep can come your way. StiffArm has polled Heisman Trophy voters to get a sense of what the early vote looks like. Granted, this is VERY early, but it looks like a five-player race between Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, USC quarterback Matt Barkley, South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore and Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones. Ball, Lattimore, Jones and Robinson all received 50 votes. Barkley received 49.

Keep in mind that last year’s winner, Robert Griffin III of Baylor, opened the season No. 11 on the Heisman list. So what seems true in late August might have nothing to do with December reality, when the announcement is made.


This broke earlier in the week, but Indiana women’s basketball player Kaila Hulls will miss the upcoming season after tearing her right ACL for the second time in 10 months. She is the sister of IU guard Jordan Hulls.

Hulls missed all of last year with a torn ACL while a member of the Bowling Green program. She seemed fully recovered after transferring to IU, but was hurt in practice. Missing two entire seasons with the same injury in the same knee is a huge setback.

As a senior at Bloomington High School South, Hulls averaged 20 points and 11.7 rebounds and was named to the 2011 Indiana All-Star team.

“It is devastating to hear the diagnosis of another ACL injury for Kaila,” coach Curt Miller said in a university release. “She has worked relentlessly on getting back from her prior injury, and has done everything asked of her by the doctors and training staff. She will attack her latest injury like a champion. We look forward to having her on the court during the 2013-14 season.”

Sunday, August 26, 2012

On Matt Roth; Crean’s Team Outlook; BTN vs. DISH

Matt Roth is not in Indiana’s basketball plans anymore. This is not Rush Limbaugh turns liberal news. It doesn’t mean coach Tom Crean doesn’t like him. He does. Crean brought Roth with him during Sunday night’s fundraiser in Fort Wayne, and acknowledged his contributions to the crowd. Roth was a valuable role player, a good student and a great guy.

But there’s a reason why Roth participated in last March’s Senior Night activities. Indiana was ready for him to move on, even if he wasn’t.

Yes, Roth has one year left of eligibility, but IU has no scholarship for him and, now that sophomore Austin Etherington has worked his way into a contributing role, no place for him.

It’s the tough part of sports, but coaches and teams are always trying to upgrade their talent. Always. It doesn’t matter that Roth shot 54.5 percent from three-point range last season. He had some quickness and defensive weaknesses (although he dramatically improved both). He was, basically, a one-dimensional player, although that dimension was very, very good.

Etherington, quite simply, is bigger, stronger and faster. He has to prove he can shoot like Roth, but even if he can’t, he can contribute in ways Roth couldn’t. And if he struggles, sophomore Remy Abell can step in. He’s also greatly improved.

Again, this isn’t a knock on Roth. It’s the way of the sports world. Tom Pritchard was a nice guy, but when Cody Zeller showed up, he was going to get mop-up minutes whenever Zeller needed a rest or got in foul trouble. That’s it.

Years ago, I was covering Evansville slow-pitch softball. A friend of mine sponsored a team. Another friend played third base on that team. The third baseman was about 40 years old, a decent player, reliable, a singles hitter. The team sponsor found out a University of Southern Indiana baseball standout had just graduated and wanted to play softball. The USI guy was like 22, really fast, could really hit, could really field. His bunts went 300 feet. His home runs landed in North Korea. He had a Roberto Clemente arm. So the team sponsor took his third baseman to lunch at a nice restaurant and told him the cold-hearted truth -- he was out. The young guy was in.

The Bloomington Herald-Times’ Dustin Dopirak talked with Roth, who said he’s not enrolled in school, and has to “look out for my best interest now.”

Roth can play for another school. He didn’t want to leave IU, but if he wants to play his one last season, he’ll have to. It’s not fair, but then, it’s not fair the Pittsburgh Pirates aren’t winning anymore, either.

Roth already has his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Maybe it’s time to start his career. Or, maybe he should take one last shot at basketball glory. It’s up to him. It just won’t be at Indiana.


Crean is seeing the benefits of the new summer workout rule that allowed coaches to work with their players. Previously, they couldn’t be anywhere near them as far as basketball or conditioning. Only the strength coach and his staff could.

This summer things changed. With a powerhouse team returning that has national title possibilities, Crean is glad they did.

“That’s why the rules are so great. When don’t get to work with your team in the summer time, you’re chomping at the bit  for the fall to get here. We’ve had the summer, so it changes the process a little bit.

“Right now our biggest thing is to get our mindset of where it needs to be, and what kind of team we need to be. Our identity as a team will come from that. It’s not the other way around.

“We have to get guys to understand right now the principles of defense, the footwork, the technique, the fundamentals they need at both parts of the game. Really getting that mindset of what kind of defensive team, what kind of defensive toughness we have to have, even in groups of four. That’s  what our focus is.”

It’s no surprise Crean is preaching defense. Last year IU had an offense you could win a national title with, and just an average defense. This season the Hoosiers figure to be even more explosive offensively. If they can improve that defense, well, there’s a reason why they’re a preseason No. 1, and it’s not because the experts are stupid.


It’s been a while, but the Big Ten Network, now known as BTN, is in another negotiating stare down with a provider. This time it’s DISH Network (previously it was Comcast) and if things aren’t resolved by Friday at midnight, about 2.5 million DISH subscribers who take the BTN won’t be able to. That includes Saturday night’s Indiana-Indiana State game.

Basically, BTN officials say they want a deal that that is “consistent with the current market value.” They also say that Dish “insists on preferential treatment, seeking terms that are significantly below market value.”

DISH officials counter that they want good, quality programing at a good value. DISH is in a similar battle with AMC and has previously battled such entities as The Weather Channel and Fox.

Reasonable people can disagree. You can debate who’s right. In the end, DISH subscribers who want the BTN will be out of luck if a deal isn’t reached by Friday night. Subscribers and fans seeking more information can try

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Looking Good – Cheaney Gives Early Hoosier Assessment

You know all about the hype surrounding Indiana’s rejuvenated basketball program. The Hoosiers are a powerhouse again, boasting a preseason No. 1 ranking and Final Four, if not national championship, prospects.

It’s still about seven weeks before practice officially starts, although they are heavy into preseason workouts now.

As for how things are going, we turn to Calbert Cheaney, the Hoosiers’ director of basketball operations. He spoke Saturday during a break in the ProCamp at Assembly Hall and Cook Hall that also featured coach Tom Crean and his staff, plus the players and NBA player and ex-Hoosier D.J. White.

“(The players) look good,” Cheaney said. “The kids have been working hard. They’ve been here the majority of the summer. They’ve done a wonderful job. They’re getting better.”

The heavily hyped freshman class has been on campus since late June other than a mini break in early August. Point guard Yogi Ferrell, small forward Jeremy Hollowell and center Peter Jurkin look fit and ready to roll. Power forward Hanner Perea is limited by a walking boot because of a foot injury, but expectations are he’ll be ready for practice.

The freshmen are dealing the challenges of moving from high school to college. It’s safe to say they are not dominating right now, which is what you’d expect given the Hoosiers return most of their top players from a Sweet 16 team.

“There will always be an adjustment when you come from high school to college,” Cheaney said. “The work you have to do, the classes, the conditioning their muscles and minds and bodies to deal with all that.

“It’s been a transition for them, but at the same time what’s great about these freshmen is they never quit. Their work ethic is excellent. The sky is the limit for them. They have to keep going at it like they are. They’ll end up catching up to our (veterans). They will eventually. The transition from academics and classes and workouts and lifting weights is the biggest thing.”

Cheaney took a pass when asked about who’s looked impressive so far in preseason workouts.

“I don’t want to talk about who’s standing out,” he said. “We’re a team. It’s not like golf or tennis. This is a team sport. Everybody is doing a great job.”

For the record, Matt Roth was there as well. With bachelor’s and master’s degrees under his belt, and one year of eligibility remaining, his status with the team is uncertain. Playing opportunity likely revolves around his willingness -- and financial ability -- to walk on. There are no scholarships for him and sophomore Austin Etherington is expected to take his three-point-shooting role. Or, he could take a grad assistant role. Or, well, nothing official has been announced.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

IU Offense Looks To Be Building for Better Future

Are you like us? Are you so shaken by the thought that Prince Harry went nude in Las Vegas (can you believe somebody has actually posted photos on the Internet! No, we didn't look!) and Taylor Swift crashed a Kennedy wedding (yes, one of THOSE Kennedys) that you’ve lost sight of what’s really important, which is that Indiana is starting to build a solid offense.

Now, the Hoosiers aren’t ready to challenge Oregon or USC or Michigan for the nation’s most prolific offense, but there are signs these guys are going to score some points.

We’ve seen some of that in practice. Coach Kevin Wilson is hinting at that, as well.

“I think offensively we’re maybe a little more complete as far as pieces of the puzzle,” he said. “We’re getting to where the lines can be consistent, we have a decent player at tight end (Ted Bolser), a couple of receivers (Kofi Hughes, Shane Wynn, Duwyce Wilson), a couple of running backs (Stephen Houston, Tevin Coleman and D’Angelo Roberts) and a quarterback (Tre Roberson) that is getting good. Not just someone who can move around, but also throw. So we’re a little more complete on offense.”

Granted, Wilson isn't as enthusiastic as, say, Dick Vitale, when it comes to praise, but the point is there's reason for offensive optimism.

In the end, though, the offense will only be as good as the offensive line will allow it to be. While veterans such as Will Matte, Cody Evers, Collin Rahrig, Bernard Taylor are doing fine, left tackle Charlie Chapman remains out with a concussion. He’s missed a couple of weeks and Wilson said he’s still not ready to return.

Even when Chapman returns, he won't immediately be in the lineup.

"If they (trainers) hold them out, they don't practice and if they don't practice, they don't play in games," Wilson said. "Right now, the guys who have been held out significantly are not going to be playing with us in Game 1 and Game 2. We've got a lot of timing going on, a lot of special teams work going on, a lot of teaching."

As a result, true freshman Jason Spriggs has taken over the spot. That’s a little concerning given the importance of the left tackle in protecting a right-handed quarterback, which Roberson is. Do you want a guy that young with that responsibility, especially considering the 6-7, 270-pound Spriggs is light for the position and was recruited as either a tight end or defensive end?

Ideally, no, but life in general, and IU football in particularly, doesn't always deal with ideals.

The good news -- Wilson is impressed with the way Spriggs has responded.

“He’s gotten the bulk of the work there, and he’s done well,” Wilson said. “We’ll do things to help him, whether it’s having tight ends help, backs help or throw more quick passes, or schematically look at matchups. It’s always matchups.

“But he’s awfully good. He’s actually played better than the guy who got hurt (Chapman) from a physical stand point. Outside of experience and youthfulness, he’s as good, if not a better player.”

Still, Chapman’s injury creates a depth problem. Peyton Eckert has the edge at right tackle, with no clear backup.

“We’re a little thin at tackle,” Wilson said. “I think our offense is actually reasonably good if we get good tackle play. But until you get out there and play against some ends for real, and there’s some upper level ends in our conference, you don’t know. We’ll play on the first week a young man (Ben Obaseki) from Indiana State who is as good as most Big Ten ends we’re going to play, if not better. So we’ll find out early what Jason is about.”

As far as the rest of the line, freshman Dan Freeney is battling returning starter Bernard Taylor at left guard. Center Will Matte looks solid. Collin Rahrig and Cody Evers are in a good battle for right guard.

"Bernard's doing OK inside," Wilson said. "Dan Freeney's as good as him. That's a nice little deal. You've got some depth there. Collin Rahrig's doing well with Cody. Evers and Will Matte, so you've kind of got five guys in those center-guard spots."

The defense remains a work in progress, but it has to be better than the unit that gave up 37.4 points a game last season.

“We have more speed and consistently seem to be in the right spot,” Wilson said. “If we’re talking about things to work on, it’s making tackles and creating turnovers.”

Then there is special teams, which has gotten plenty of work this month.

“We’ve put in a significant amount of time,” Wilson said. “We’ve got to get some of our best players in the mix, but we also have to be smart and don’t have them play on multiple teams.

“Typically you always start where you want your very good players on the punting team and the kickoff cover team because that’s really your first defensive plays.

“If a guy is starting you don’t like him on more than two teams. And we’ll have starters playing on two teams. Guys like (linebackers Jacarri Alexander and David Cooper). (Tight end) Ted Bolser and (running backs) Stephen Houston and D’Angelo Roberts and Tevin Coleman will be on teams.

“You can be a starter, but you’ve got to play special teams. We try to keep it at two and the cover units get first go.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

IU Receivers – Step Up, Put Up, Catch the Darn Ball

It’s time for Indiana’s receivers to step up.

Coach Kevin Wilson and his staff have tried public criticism (at one point Wilson called the receivers the worst part of the offense) and hard coaching.

There is improvement, he said, but it remains a work in progress.

“We’ve had too many competitive or casual drops,” he said. “The other day we had one of the times we didn’t score, we had a wide open pass for 7 yards and we dropped it.

“It’s about 80 percent of the time that you punt if there’s a dropped pass. It’s not that much different than a penalty or a negative play. It’s like, ‘Hey, everything worked. You’ve got everybody blocked. The receiver is open. The quarterback makes the right choice, but you don’t make the play.'”

Still, there’s plenty of potential at the position with juniors Duwyce Wilson (still recovering from last year’s knee surgery) and Kofi Hughes (suspended for a game), sophomores Shane Wynn, Nick Stone and Cody Latimer, and freshman Ricky Jones.

Hughes led IU last year with 35 catches for 536 yards and three touchdowns. Shane Wynn had 19 catches for 197 yards. Wilson had 17 catches for 217 yards and three TDs.

Kevin Wilson said he’s seeing a lot from sophomore Tre Roberson at quarterback, but Roberson can only do so much. He has to be in synch with the receivers, and that needs a lot of work. It needs consistency.

Time grows short. We’re about 10 days from the season opener against Indiana State. If the Hoosiers are to show they are ready to avoid a 1-11 repeat, they have to beat the Sycamores, and beat them soundly.

The receivers will play a large role in that.


Ron Patterson made the wise decision to attend Brewster Academy in New Hampshire for this basketball season rather than try to land with a college. Prep school will give the shooting guard a chance to work on his academics, which cost him his shot at Indiana.

Beyond that, a year should boost his maturity, both on and off the court. That will better prepare him for what he’ll face in college.

Brewster Academy, by the way, is a national prep school power. It won the national prep school title this past season with a 33-1 record.

All of this means Patterson is now part of the Class of 2013. It also means he’s unlikely to ever join the IU program. The Hoosiers already have a more heralded player at the shooting guard position for the Class of 2013 in Stanford Robinson, and don’t need Patterson. They also are over-signed for the Class of 2013 (haven’t we seen that before?) and are still recruiting other players in that class.

Sure, scholarship space could open if players leave early for the NBA draft (can you say sophomore Cody Zeller?) or transfer, but the bottom line is Patterson is no longer in Hoosier plans. And, really, the Hoosiers are no longer in his.


We can say, with absolute certainty, that cornerback Lawrence Barnett, receiver Kofi Hughes, and reserve safety Forisse Hardin will be suspended for one game for violation of an unspecified team rule. It likely will be the Sept. 1 season opener against Indiana State, but there are no guarantees.

Why? Because Wilson wants to hedge his bet in case there are injuries or other glitches and he needs them against the Sycamores. He did say he wanted to keep Indiana State coach Trent Miles in the dark about what the Hoosiers might do.

 “I don’t think I want to let Coach Miles know that,” Wilson said. “Everybody knows him. I tried to hire him here and almost did. I can’t give him all the words. He called me about a couple of transfers and we talked about them. We’re good friends, but I’ll just let him figure that out.”

Suspended or not, Barnett, Hardin and Hughes are getting practice reps to prepare them for when they do play.

“There’s a point where if you’re going to have a role (for the season) we need to keep you into it because if we put you on a shelf, it takes forever to get you back,” Wilson said. “So (next week) we’ll have them do a little bit more work to get them polished up, but at the same time, they’ll be doing more with the scout team.”

Indiana is picked to share the Big Ten soccer championship with Northwestern. That’s based on a preseason poll by conference coaches.

The Hoosiers are ranked No. 12 in preseason polls while the Wildcats are at No. 20.

IU is used to thriving in conference play. It has won 14 Big Ten regular season championships, plus 11 conference tourney titles.


If ESPN is right, Indiana is looking at a long football season. ESPN writers Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett took a long look at each Big Ten team and evaluated every position.

The Hoosiers came in last with 85 points. Their best positions, according to Rittenberg and Bennett, were running back and tight end. They rank eighth out of 12 teams at those positions. The offensive line, linebackers and the secondary were IU’s weak links. Each position was ranked last in the Big Ten.

Nebraska, by the way, was No. 1 with 29 points.

Monday, August 20, 2012

IU coach throws out practice-by-the-book mentality

Kevin Wilson isn’t a by-the-book football coach. He’s willing to change if it can help the Hoosiers win.

So this season he’s scrapping the traditional afternoon practice schedule in favor of a morning one. There’s 6 a.m. lifting, and then meetings and practice. Basically by noon football is over and players can focus on class.

“I’ve never done it. I’m not truly a great morning person. We’ll try it.

“So physically (when practice is over) we’re done,” Wilson said. “They might get back over later and watch a little tape, but they’re done physically. Their football day is over and now they’re students.”

Oregon has had success with morning practices. Wilson checked it out a couple of years ago while he was still offensive coordinator at Oklahoma. He asked a couple of players if they liked the early format.

“They said, ‘I’m done. I’m done. I’ve got my classes, but I’m done (with football for the day).”

The new format went into affect on Monday, when fall semester classes began.

“We’re hoping this going in the morning will get the academics going in the afternoon and get (the players into) more of a normal biological clock.”

Last year, and pretty much every year for Indiana coaches over the years, practices ran from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wilson would have liked to have started an hour earlier, but because so many Indiana classes are at 1 p.m., and so many football players wind up with classes at that time, they struggled to get to Memorial Stadium and get taped and ready to go by 3 p.m.

“I thought 3 to 7 was too late,” Wilson said, “especially when the sun starts setting. You’re leaving when it’s dark and it’s dreary and it’s dull and there’s not a good vibe.

“We were practicing too late, and then study hall/academics was starting too late. For me, I don’t care what time I get home. If I’ve been out recruiting and don’t get home until 11 or (midnight), I’m going to watch a couple of hours of TV to veg out. You need your getaway time.”

Wilson didn’t want that schedule for his players, although he said he knows sleep isn’t usually high on a college student’s priority list.

“By the time they waste all of that time facebooking or twittering, then doing your job and academics, what gets deprived is the sleep. It’s hard to be a good football team when you’re not resting. You don’t recover physically. You’re not fresh. You can’t practice fresh.”

Last year Wilson eventually adjusted his practice schedule from 3 to 6, while also going about an hour in the morning.

“We started out by doing meetings,” he said. “I don’t think those meetings were very productive, because I don’t know if we were awake.

“So then we said, well, let’s practice for 45 minutes in the morning, and come back in the afternoon. Well, if you’ve got a bad groin, you’ve gotta stretch twice. If you’re a quarterback, you’ve gotta get heated up twice. You’ve gotta tape twice, you’ve gotta shower twice. It was just a lot of stress.

“As young as we were last year, I don’t know if it mattered, because we were trying to practice and toughen up and get some young guys ready. But this year, I didn’t want to practice that way. I didn’t want to split it. So we’re going with the morning.”

Because IU’s season opener with Indiana State isn’t until Sept. 1, the Hoosiers have this week to get the kinks out before entering regular game week preparations.

Several years ago, when Gene Keady was coaching Purdue basketball, he tried early morning practices. It was hard to tell how much effect it had, good or bad, and it had no lasting impact. Current coach Matt Painter runs afternoon practices, as does Hoosier coach Tom Crean.

The bottom line in all this is IU has to play better, and it has to win. If early practices help with that, morning practices will become the norm. If it doesn’t, look for a return of the afternoon schedule.


Granted, a 1-11 record –- as IU was last year -- doesn’t inspire a team to draw a lot of NFL scouts. But representatives from four NFL teams attended Monday’s practice. They were the Indianapolis Colts, the Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots and the Washington Redskins.


You might think veteran running back Stephen Houston would be set in the starting lineup after rushing for 802 yards in his Hoosier debut season.

You’d be wrong.

Wilson pushes the compete-hard-or-else message. He said Morehead State transfer Isaiah Roundtree was pushing hard for a starting role until missing the last couple of days with a concussion. Wilson said Roundtree was right in the running back mix, and will be again when he returns. He also said sophomore D’Angelo Roberts and true freshman Tevin Coleman were practicing ahead of Houston.

Is that the cold-hearted truth, some verbal old fashioned motivating or a little bit of both.

We’ll know when Indiana State comes to Memorial Stadium.

Friday, August 17, 2012

IU Football Excitement; Nunn to Assembly Hall Rescue

Fred Glass says he likes what he sees in Indiana football practice. Granted, a cynic would gripe, what would you expect him to say, but this isn’t the time for cynicism. We’re still two weeks away from the season opener and all things are possible, even a winning record for the Cream ‘n Crimson.

Possible doesn’t mean probable given the program’s history of struggles, but let’s not quibble about realistic outcomes when dreams are so much more enjoyable.

Anyway, Glass has been to practices. He’s been there with basketball coach Tom Crean. They’ve seen what coach Kevin Wilson and his staff have done in Year Two of this new era and the result, Glass says, has been impressive.

“I’m excited about football,” he says. “The energy seems great. The focus seems great. Coach Crean, in his description about how intense the (football) coaches are, how specific they are in instruction, their enthusiasm and teaching technique, was very enthusiastic. That was encouraging.

“I like our coaches. I feel like Kevin has grown into the role and is very effective.”

Everybody has learned from last year’s 1-11 disaster. Players are stronger and more experienced. They have a better understanding of what has to be done and how to do it. Coaches have a better feel for getting them to play to their potential.

What will that mean for the season? We’ll start getting an indication with the Sept. 1 opener against Indiana State.

Wilson says he and his staff took advantage of a preseason camp schedule that included a five-day break from summer classes. That meant players could spend more time focused on football. Of course, when you have 29 intense practices over four weeks, football can be a grind, but these players seem to be making the best of it.

“We’ve tried not to wear them out with over and over things,” Wilson says. “It was a much more teachable situation, more coachable. For the most part our kids come to practice with a good mindset.”

Coaches are demanding in practice. They coach with an intensity that is not for the sensitive or meek, which isn’t a bad thing. Football is a tough sport played by tough guys and the Dr. Phil approach ain’t gonna fly.

“Every year you have to build toughness and physicalness,” Wilson said. “You start somewhere near ground zero. You pop the pads off. It’s like a boxer. You’ve got to get in the ring, toughen body up, learn how to strike and how to take a strike. You have to build that.

“We’ve done a boat-load of hitting. The kids have responded and consistently practiced at a better level than they did before. It’s fun to go to practice. I think the kids like it. I do. Practices are enjoyable and we’re getting better.”

Like we said, all things are possible.


Assembly Hall is an impressive basketball facility. It is not, however, a fan friendly place, especially if you have to deal its steep stairs that can rattle an experienced mountain climber.

Coming to the rescue is Bloomington attorney Ken Nunn. He provided a financial gift that has enabled university officials to install 350 handrails in Assembly Hall.

“From basketball games to commencement, hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers navigate Assembly Hall steps each year,” Glass said in a university release. “As one of the largest multi-use facilities on campus, these handrails are a long overdue addition. We are thrilled that the university and Ken Nunn came together to make this happen.”


You almost certainly have seen this already, but just in case, here is the statement Ron Patterson and his family released after it was announced earlier in the week he would be transferring from IU. Summer school academic problems cost him an opportunity to play for the Hoosiers.

“It is with disappointment that I won’t be a part of the Indiana men’s basketball program. While it was an opportunity I didn’t fulfill, I am looking forward to learning from this and moving forward to another program. Having spoken with my parents, we are not entirely sure if I will enroll into a prep school or not for this year, but I am eligible to participate for the 2012-13 season.

I’d like to thank Coach Crean and the coaching staff for their time and help this summer, especially Coach Buckley during this process, as well as the Indiana academic staff. I also truly want to thank the Indiana fan base. They have been visible since my commitment, and that type of support has been very appreciated.

Thank you.

Ron Patterson”

As first reported by Jeff Rabjohns of, a number of schools are interested in Patterson, including Purdue, Louisville, Illinois, Villanova, Missouri, Ohio State, Memphis, Xavier, Wright State, IUPUI, Dayton and Providence.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

On IU Basketball, Patterson and Moving On

So now the focus is on what should be a dynamic Indiana basketball season.

Speculation is left for how many games the Hoosiers will win (figure 30-plus), can they win a Big Ten title (yes), will they go on to win a national title (why not?) and whether Cody Zeller will cap a national-player-of-the-year performance by turning pro (probably).

Freshman shooting guard Ron Patterson’s exit from the program -- he didn’t do well enough in two summer classes to meet the school-imposed academic guidelines set for him -- means the Hoosiers are at their allowed total of 13 scholarship players. Coach Tom Crean has the pieces in place for a season to remember.

The backcourt is loaded even without Patterson, considered one of the best defenders in the nation among incoming freshman. Veterans Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Remy Abel and Maurice Creek (who apparently is on his way to a full recovery from his Achilles tendon injury) will be joined by super freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, Hulls has been looking very good in off-season workouts. He’s developed a solid mid-range offensive game to go along with his impressive three-point shooting.

As for Patterson, he’ll have to grow from this. It won’t be easy, but then, so many things in life aren’t. He’ll have to apply himself to his academics with the same zeal and determination he did to basketball. His options are prep school, junior college or another four-year school.

Ferrell, tweeted this about Patterson, who had come up with the term, “The Movement,” to reflect the class’s determination to help restore the glory to the program:

“Good luck to my dude Buss (Patterson’s nickname). “Wherever he ends up, he will always be part of The Movement.”

For those wondering what this means for graduated guard Matt Roth, the answer is nothing.  There is no scholarship for him. IU has Etherington to fulfill that three-point specialist role. Etherington barely played last season, but his hard work and long-range shooting will give him the opportunity Roth had last season.

Finally, some readers suggested Hoosier Deep Throat was unfair in naming names in an earlier blog that revealed Patterson would be the player to go. In truth, the unfairness was in signing 14 players when only 13 scholarships are allowed.

This is not a knock on Crean. He’s not the only coach who over-signs. It’s part of the sometimes ruthless nature of recruiting. In an era where players transfer or go pro at any time, you have to protect yourself.
The dilemma came when Zeller (an almost certain lottery pick) and Watford (who was expected to enter the draft before wisely deciding to stay for his senior season) passed on the NBA draft.

Then, no other returning player transferred or became academically ineligible. IU had a problem that lasted until Wednesday.

Hoosier Deep Throat kept some information vague, intentionally blurring the distinction between losing a scholarship and a transfer because, well, there were discrete reasons. Losing a scholarship can sometimes mean exactly that rather than have it taken away.

That’s irrelevant now. What is relevant is the Hoosiers can have a season for the ages, and Patterson can still achieve so many impressive things.

It’s all about how badly do they want it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Early Or Not, IU Basketball Gets No. 1 NCAA Attention

So now we know, courtesy of ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, that IU will be one of four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.

Yes, that tourney is seven months away, and a lot can happen by then, but enthusiasm waits for no one.

The Hoosiers, by any factor you want to look at, are loaded. Sure, they are overloaded, with 14 players and 13 scholarships and a situation that has to be resolved sometime soon unless IU officials can find some obscure NCAA loophole that allows the advantage.

Still, they have sophomore forward Cody Zeller, who just might be next year’s No. 1 pick in the NBA draft if he leaves early (odds are good that will happen); Kentucky-killer Christian Watford, super-accurate shooter Jordan Hulls; super athletic Victor Oladipo; versatile Will Sheehey; rapidly improving Remy Abel; energetic Derek Elston; and a freshman class as good as any in the country.

Lunardi has IU in the East Region. It would open at Lexington’s Rupp Arena with a regional in Washington D.C. and the Final Four in Atlanta.

The other No. 1 seeds are Kentucky, Louisville and UCLA. Louisville is the overall No. 1 seed and the No. 1 seed in the Midwest.

If Lunardi is right, the Hoosiers main challengers in the East Region would be No. 2 Syracuse, No. 3 Florida and No. 4 Duke.

How likely is this to happen? Who knows? Lunardi is a smart guy, but he’s no Nostradamus. Still, it shows there’s a lot to be excited about for the upcoming season.

But then, you already knew that.


You’ve gotta love Chase Dutra’s versatility. He’s a do-it-all standout from Brownsburg High School just outside of Indianapolis who has become IU’s eighth football commitment, and third from the state of Indiana.
At Brownsburg, he’s a safety/wide receiver/running back. He might play one of those positions for the Hoosiers. At 6-2 and 195 pounds, he might grow into a linebacker.

No matter. He’s an in-state kid with potential and if he didn’t overwhelm the recruiting world -- IU beat out Western Michigan and Indiana State for him -- doesn’t mean he won’t be a significant college contributor.

The guy did rush for 750 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior. He also caught 16 passes for 390 yards and four TDs. ranks him as the state’s No. 9 player and a three-star recruit.

IU coaches got a bunch of looks at him because he attended a bunch of IU camps. They were able to see if he had the toughness they’re looking for.

The answer, it seems, is yes.


Mike Davis gets a third chance to prove he can thrive as a college basketball coach, and if the opportunities keep dropping down the big-time list, at least they still come.

He is the new Texas Southern coach. That program will never be confused with Indiana, which he directed for six years before resigning under pressure in 2006 following a 19-12 NCAA tourney season. He then was 122-72 at Alabama-Birmingham, but went to just one NCAA tourney and got fired after last year’s 15-16 record.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

IU's Glass And How to Clean Up Basketball Recruiting

Basketball recruiting has a problem.

Yes, that’s shocking. Imagine that college coaches would push the limits of what the NCAA allows, and then blast past it.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo recently told USA Today that cheating is probably 20 percent of the game, and that, in essence, cheating is involved in 14 of the nation’s top 20 recruits. ESPN announcer Dick Vitale told Louisville TV station WDRB’s Rick Bozich he’s “embarrassed” to be part of the game and thinks a basketball “czar” with the appropriate power is needed to clean up the mess.

It’s human nature, of course, the desire to win and damn the cost. IU faced that reality with what was a much lesser sin -– impermissible phone calls under former coach Kelvin Sampson.

Indiana athletic director Fred Glass has a solution, and if it seems harsh and extreme, well, maybe that’s necessary given the level of corruption that exists.

“I would encourage the NCAA to hire a bunch of former FBI guys that know how to follow the money,” Glass said. “I think we get caught up in the number of phone calls and stuff that isn’t a big deal. I think the really corrosive thing is people getting paid to play, to have official visits, to have unofficial visits. I think you need to hire guys that know how to find bad guys that know their way around tracking money. That’s what I’d do.”

If that means having subpoena power, so be it.

“If we’re serious about cleaning that up,” Glass said, “we need to have some people who have a real ability to track money and require people to give them the information they need to do that.”

As far as how bad the problem is, Glass didn’t mince words.

“It’s terrible, man. I mean, it’s gross. I always had a sense of how gross it was before I had this job. I have more of a sense now. I think A: because I’m closer to it, and B: it’s gotten worse in the few short years I’ve been here.

“I think it’s a very serious problem that potentially challenges the nature of the game. I applaud the NCAA, the basketball focus group which was formed to take a very aggressive approach with that. I don’t know about czars or not czars, but I think extreme situations call for extreme measures, and we ought to figure out what we can do about it.”

Football recruiting has its own recruiting issues, but is it as bad as basketball? Glass doesn’t think so -- yet. One potential problem is the explosive growth of summer 7-on-7 leagues -- it’s HUGE in Texas -- that are coached by parents or former players or, in some cases, the football equivalent of AAU basketball coaches.

“My perception is worse in basketball than football, but football is catching up with 7 on 7 leagues, all that stuff that’s the corollary of the AAU situation for basketball,” Glass said. “Now in and of itself it isn’t a problem, but it creates a vehicle for a problem.”

Glass was speaking during Thursday night’s final IU Tailgate Tour stop. This one was at Memorial Stadium. He was asked about how the Hoosiers can get out of the mess of having 14 players and 13 scholarships. Was there a way to get out of it, at this point, other than having a player leave/transfer.

Glass’s response: “I don’t know of anything other than the same rules that you know of.”

So now you know.