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

No comments:

Post a Comment