Sunday, November 25, 2012

IU’s Bad Defense Pays Off; No. 1 Hoosiers Roll

If you were a stud defensive player seeking instant major college playing time, why wouldn’t you look at Indiana?

Heaven knows these guys need the help.

That leads to Indianapolis North Central defensive tackle Darius Latham, who is big and strong and athletic in ways that seem to defy belief. The guys is 6-5 and 290 pounds and he plays elite AAU basketball. He’s not filling a roster spot. The guy is good. Not LeBron James good or Cody Zeller good, but let’s just say he has enough game that Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean is willing to CONSIDER giving him a walk-on chance.

But that misses the point, which is Latham has committed to the Hoosiers. He did it during Sunday’s unofficial visit to campus that includes watching Indiana’s top-ranked basketball team crush Ball State Sunday night.

Latham is good enough and athletic enough to have received a scholarship offer to Wisconsin, and then accept it. And then, of course, he took a pass.

Latham is a four-star recruit by, a national Internet recruiting service and the Class of 2013’s No. 73 player by He says he wanted to stay closer to home. At one time, the last place that would have meant was IU. But the Hoosiers have boosted their facilities and their staff, and suddenly this looms as the IT program for guys in the area.

Earlier, Indianapolis Ben Davis safety Antonio Allen switched from Mississippi (yes, a guy going from the SEC to the Big Ten) to the Hoosiers and Indianapolis Pike defensive end David Kenney went from Iowa to IU. Both of those guys also are four-star recruits, as is athlete Rashard Fant.

Coach Kevin Wilson now has 14 committed players for the Class of 2013. At least half of them are defensive players, and that’s no accident.

The Hoosiers might be the worst tackling team in the history of the program. They gave up 42 points to Purdue in the second half, 56 overall. They gave up 62 points to Wisconsin and 45 to Penn State and …

OK. You get the picture. IU has need and if Latham is as good as his ranking, he will help immediately, especially considering the Hoosiers are losing two of their best players in defensive tackles Adam Replogle and Larry Black.

Sometimes, it seems, being bad is very good.


Was that right? Was Victor Oladipo REALLY playing point guard during Sunday night’s wipe out of Ball State?

Yes, he did, but that doesn’t mean Yogi Ferrell and Jordan Hulls are in danger of losing their positions.

Oladipo ran the show with an all-guard lineup in the second half of IU’s 101-53 victory.


Let associate head coach Tim Buckley explain.

“Coach (Tom Crean) is really big on expanding guys’ games,” Buckley said. “Vic is an example of not only playing on the wing, but playing some point guard to expand his game. We’ve put Cody (Zeller) out on the floor. Cody’s been in the post.

“We want those guys to be basketball players. Vic ran the pick-and-roll quite a bit last year toward the end of the season. It was kind of like he as running the point. It put him in a situation where he had to be more vocal and get guys where they needed to go. I thought it was really good for him to be in that spot.”

The No. 1 Hoosiers (6-0) did plenty of good things while beating Ball State, such as holding the Cardinals to 30.9 percent shooting, forcing 18 turnovers, shooting 60.3 percent from the field and getting five guys to score in double figures.

But mostly, their play didn’t slip despite the lopsided score (it was 50-19 at halftime).

“In order to be a championship-caliber program,” Buckley said, “that’s the way you have to play it. You can’t take any possessions off. Every possession is just as important as the last possession.”

Easy to say, not so easy to do.

Figure IU (6-0) won’t have any reason to relax Tuesday night, when it hosts No. 9 North Carolina (5-1) as part of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. It will be basketball as track meet, with both teams busting up the floor non-stop.

More on that coming up.

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