Saturday, March 15, 2008

Minnesota 59, Indiana 58.

Here's the box score. I'm not going to elaborate on the game much. Minnesota owned the first half of the first half, and IU stormed back in the next 20 minutes so that the teams could fight it out at the end. While I don't think any of the foul calls in IU's favor at the end were bad calls, I do admit that it's unusual for officials to blow the whistle so often in the closing seconds. I think officials should apply the same rules in the last 30 seconds that they apply in the first 39:30, but unquestionably, IU benefited from this rarity but could not capitalize. I have a hard time blaming Dan Dakich for much regarding this team. He's in an tough spot. But Dakich was on the bench as an assistant coach for the 1987 NCAA final. In light of that and Knight's philosophy on guarding the in-bounds man (Derrick Coleman in the 1987 game--He threw a full court pass with one second remaining that was intercepted by Keith Smart), I was surprised that Dakich had Jordan Crawford guarding the in-bounds pass instead of serving as a free safety. Perhaps Dakich feared, given how whistle-happy the officials had been at IU's end of the court, that a 5 on 4 situation might increase the risk of a foul.
I may come back later and break down the box score, but probably not. Yesterday, PJS mocked the common cliche that it's tough to beat a team three times in a season. While it isn't universally true, when the twice vanquished team is a decent, well-coached team (as opposed to a cellar-dweller), I think it applies. Now the shoe is on the other foot. As PJS reports today, Illinois has defeated Minnesota 19 times in a row, including twice this season.
Well, perhaps the only people more disappointed than IU and Purdue players and fans in yesterday's results are Jim Delany and ticket brokers. As I discussed earlier, both sides of the most intense rivalry in the conference have been down during the 11 year history of the conference tournament. Just when it looked as if the Big Ten was looking at a marquee semifinal matchup and a local school in the final, Illinois and Minnesota intervened. It will make for some compelling TV, however. Both the Illinois-Minnesota semifinal and the title game now will be essentially NCAA play-in games. I'm sure I speak for 99 percent of IU fans when I say go Gophers. Better Tubby than Squeaky.


PJS said...

Thanks for the linkage, John. "Better Tubby than Squeaky." Love it!

Chris said...

Never before have I felt the type of apathy for Indiana basketball as I have since Sampson's situation came to a head. I, like many others, am among the fiercest of Indiana fans and have been since childhood, yet I can't seem to shake the overwhelming sense of utter indifference towards this team. How did it come to this? The most highly-anticipated season in well over a decade, and a roster with arguably the most talent in the conference. Yet this team, sans D.J., the only member who seems to have his head on straight, would rather sulk over the loss of its former coach than ban together and prove something to the rest of the league. Last night's game would go down in history as one of the most dumbfounding, stomach-punch losses ever if not for the numbness I've felt since the East Lansing beating. Instead, it's merely another chapter in the ongoing tragedy that is (or should I say "was") this season.

SpartanDan said...

>> While I don't think any of the foul calls in IU's favor at the end were bad calls

Then you didn't see the replay of the tip-in by White. No Gopher player touched him, unless it happened before he even touched the ball (in which case the tip-in doesn't count). Watch the BTN highlights at about the 3:10 mark of the video, they show a view of it from above the rim, and it's obvious that there's no contact whatsoever when he has the ball.

The rest were okay (you could argue for a charge on Gordon on the one that set the whole thing up, but it's tough to tell from what I've seen and Gordon's been getting those calls all year), but that one was blatantly wrong.

John M said...

I thought a Minnesota player hit him on the arm on the one replay that I saw. I don't really have any interest in watching more of it.

PJS said...

I agree with Chris. As a Minny fan, i'm obviously still high from last night, but I can't imagine what it's like for IU fans right now. Ya'll had everything to hope for this year with the Diaper Dandy in Gordon and DJ White capable of having a mostrous year.

I feel for you guys. But I have to ask this. In the three games I watched Eric Gordon closely--the three Minnesota games--it never seemed like he was part of an overall plan. There was rarely a two man game between Gordon and White. It was always either or.

John M said...

Many IU fans were frustrated with this team long before the latest NCAA news broke. There always seemed to be something missing with this team, even when the record was excellent. I'm no x's and o's guy, but I never had a clear concept of what IU was trying to do to get opportunities for these guys. I think Sampson had more of a matchup approach than a scheme approach on offense, and even after six years of Mike Davis that still seems a bit foreign to us.

As for the overall program, I'm not suicidal. I feel good about the long-term prognosis. Hell, we went to the title game with the worst coach ever, so I feel pretty good about our built-in advantages as a program. I feel sorry for this year's team and disappointed that our return to prominence is going to be delayed, but I don't have any doubt that it will happen eventually.

Like Chris, I thought I was indifferent to this team. Unlike Chris, I took last night's loss very poorly (although nothing broken, either bones or household objects). I have accepted that this team is going nowhere in the Big Dance, but especially in light of Purdue's loss, I was really hopeful that this once-promising team could at least make a little bit of school history by becoming IU's first BTT champion. I didn't quite realize how much I wanted them to win the BTT until Hoffarber's shot went in. Oh well. One more game and then a new chapter begins.