Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Can You Handle the Truth on Zeller-Nix Contact?

Today we’re going to solve, once and for all, the mystery that is, for want of a better term, Package Gate.

Yes, we mean the drama swirling around Tuesday’s late-game contact between Indiana’s Cody Zeller and Michigan State’s Derrick Nix.

Was it just inadvertent contact, as the officials decided after reviewing a monitor replay? Was it something sinister, as the Cream ‘n Crimson faithful shout? Or, was it something sneaky or devious, as some Spartan supporters and radio personalities suggest?

It all comes down to a video and perspective.

The ESPN video replayed during the game indicated Nix initiated the contact, which left announcer Dick Vitale pontificating that a grave injustive had been done to Zeller and that there’s no place in college basketball for such behavior (Vitale later tweeted that he went too far). Another video, which received HEAVY emphasis Wednesday afternoon by ESPN announcer and Indianapolis radio host Dan Dakich, showed Zeller grabbing Nix’s arm, pulling it toward him and then, well, perspective is everything.

It looked like Zeller pulled on the arm and Nix’s hand bumped Zeller’s sensitive area. Zeller buckled in a scene familiar to any guy who has ever had his, well, sensitive area hit.

That’s when controversy broke out. Some insisted Zeller intentionally caused the contact trying to draw a foul. Others insisted it was Nix’s way of retaliating for an earlier drive and contact by Zeller.

No way, Zeller said.

If you’re a guy and you’ve ever been hit in that area, you’re not going to want to hit yourself in that area,” Zeller told Gottlieb.

Zeller added that, “I guess that stuff happens. I’ve just come to expect it because I’m kind of the marked guy.”

To find the truth, we had a national expert in such matters analyze the video. For security purposes, we’ll call him Jack Bauer. Here’s the transcript  of our ABSOLUTELY true interview.

HH: Did you look at the video?

JACK BAUER: When will I get my check? My fee is $10,000, plus expenses.

HH: It’s in the mail. Did you see the video?

JACK BAUER: Of course. But I need to talk to the players. I’ll get the truth out of them.

HH: How will you do that?

JACK BAUER: Let’s just say I invented the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

HH: That’s way too extreme. The NCAA tourney is coming up. You’ll have to base it on the video.

JACK BAUER: If you look at the facial expressions, it’s obvious Zeller was in real pain and Nix was really surprised. Nix’s hand is unclenched. If you’re going to hit a guy there, you’ll make a fist. There was no fist. Therefore, there was no intent. For him, at least, it was an accident.

HH: So you’re saying Zeller did this intentionally?

JACK BAUER: No. Only a provocative person, or a highly biased person, would say that. Zeller grabbed Nix’s arm, which probably happened a couple dozen times in the game. You can tell he pulled on the arm. Again, that probably happened a couple of dozen times before. But this time, Nix’s hand accidentally hit Zeller’s private area. There was no intent from Zeller. There was no dirty move. 

Here's the bottom line. There was no conspiracy. The no call was the correct call.

HH: So you’re saying this was just a bunch of hot air or, perhaps, a radio publicity stunt?

JACK BAUER: Not exactly. If you look in the background, on the court behind Zeller, you’ll see who the REAL instigator is.

HH: Who is that?

JACK BAUER: Look at the video.

And then he was gone.


Yes, we know that you know that Victor Oladipo is really good. His performance in Tuesday night’s win at Michigan State was yet another example of that. He had 19 points, nine rebounds and five steals. He went over 1,000 career points.

But mainly, though, Oladipo was the catalyst for the victory that stamps Indiana as THE national title favorite.

Let’s face it. You win at the Breslin Center, which is so hard on opposing teams that the Hoosiers hadn’t won there since 1991 before Tuesday night, and you’ve made a major statement.



The Hoosiers did, and Oladipo gets plenty of credit. He’s one of the nation’s top defenders. What makes him so good? Here is a coach Tom Crean response from one of his recent radio shows:

“It’s instincts. It’s continuing to build his knowledge. It’s continuing to build his knowledge that go into his instincts. It’s determination. There’s no question it’s athleticism. He’s got a strong determination, will. He wants to be great at that.

“He’s a very good anticipator and is getting so much better off the ball. The athleticism and the ability to move his hands, his head, his feet and keep his body in front, and then have that quick mind that comes from his instincts and then adding knowledge from film work is really a big part of it.”

Here's the bottom line in all of this: Oladipo will win Big Ten player of the year. It's a no-brainer.

As for national player of the year, he's become a front runner, although when asked about it after the Michigan State game, he deferred to Zeller (who also went over 1,000 career points in the game).

“It’s a blessing,” Oladipo said. “But at the same time, I already know who the Player of the Year is, and that’s Cody Zeller. There’s no question. Without him, we couldn’t win. Without him, I wouldn’t be successful. Nobody here would be successful. Indiana basketball wouldn’t be back without Cody Zeller. He’s the Player of the Year in my eyes.”

Zeller basically said the same thing about Oladipo.

“He’ll be the Player of the Year. He can have it. . He would think that I would want it, but I think he deserves it.”

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