Thursday, March 27, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
The only new information we learned about the status of Kellen Lewis is that Lewis will miss the entire spring. Coach Bill Lynch said he’s hopeful that Lewis will be back with IU’s team for voluntary workouts this summer.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
- I would guess that any IU fan who watched Washington State's demolition of Notre Dame's potent and fast-paced offense came away impressed with Bennett. I've been high on Bennett from the beginning and came away from that game completely impressed. His Cougars play top-ranked North Carolina.
- The other game in the East features two guys, Rick Pitino and Bruce Pearl, who have been mentioned as possible candidates. Clearly, Pearl would seem to be the more realistic candidate.
- In the Midwest, 12 seed Villanova and Jay Wright will play Kansas. I don't know that Wright would be interested in or a good fit at IU, but he seems to be drawing some mention.
- In the West, Sean Miller, whose Xavier team beat Purdue on Saturday, will face the 7 seed West Virginia with a chance to play the winner of UCLA-Western Kentucky.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
- DJ White weas reasonably good: 22 points on 10-16, 9 rebounds.
- Armon Bassett is the only reason last night wasn't a Colorado/St. Johns/Pepperdine style blowout: 7-9 from the field, 5-7 from three, 21 points.
- Lance Stemler, after slumping for the better part of his two year career, of course rediscovered his stroke in his final game as a Hoosier: 9 points on 3-5 from behind the arc.
- In my discussion with Hawgblog, I mentioned that Jordan Crawford might be a surprise. Well, he certainly surprised me: 0-5 from the field, 2 rebounds, 0 points, 4 assists.
That was a predictable end to a once-promising season. Now, it's on to the coaching search. There is an interesting nexus between games of local interest and IU's coaching search:
- Purdue plays Sean Miller and Xavier today at 4:40.
- Notre Dame plays Tony Bennett and Washington State at 6:40. This will be a really intriguing game, to see how ND's highly efficient, fast-paced offense compares to WSU's highly efficient, slow-paced offense.
- Michigan State plays Jamie Dixon's Pitt squad at 9:10. Dixon is getting some mention these days.
- Tomorrow, Butler plays Bruce Pearl and Tennessee.
Dan Dakich made some interesting comments after the game. He seems to be getting beaten up for those comments in some quarters, but I'm not quite sure why. He thinks he should get the job, and made a forceful argument about the culture and tradition of IU basketball. Hoosier Scoop has the transcript: I don't agree that Dakich should be the coach, but I don't disagree with much else of what he says. Davis didn't understand the tradition or culture of IU basketball at all. Sampson paid lip service to it. I don't think IU's next coach has to have an IU background but he does have to understand, appreciate, and live by IU's standards.
Friday, March 21, 2008
- Senior Darian Townes averages 12 points and 1 blocks a game and shoots 54 percent from the field;
- Seven-footer Steven Hill plays only 19 minutes a game but averages 2.4 blocks per game. He doesn't shoot much (4.4 ppg) but he shoots 68 percent from the field;
- Senior Sonny Weems (6-6) is the Hogs' leading scorer at 14.3 ppg and shoots 36 percent from three point range;
- Sophomore Patrick Beverly averages 12 points a game and shoots 38 percent on about 5 three point attempts per game;
- Gary Ervin appears to be the point guard and averages 9.6 ppg/3.7apg. He shoots quite a bit, but not with much success: 44 percent from the field and 29 percent from behind the arc (although Eric Gordon's numbers are rapidly descending to that level);
- Charles Thomas averages 8.9 ppg despite only 21 minutes per game.
Overall, Arkansas has a balanced attack, with five guys averaging between about 9 and 14 points a game. Well, as usual, no grand predictions from me. On paper, IU had a much better season than Arkansas and should be able to win if the Hoosier can recapture their ways of the first three quarters of the season. Unfortunately, IU has shown no signs of returning to form, so if forced to pick a straight-up winner I would pick Arkansas. Still, hopefully some combination of Dakich, DJ, and self-respect will compel the team to play well and advance to the second round.
HR: Well, the short story is that when IU hired Sampson in 2006, he was under investigation for improper phone calls at Oklahoma. In October 2007, IU self-reported to the NCAA that Sampson's staff had committed violations and included him in three way calls, in violation of NCAA rules and of Sampson's probation, but supposedly without Sampson's knowledge. In February, the NCAA enforcement staff issued its report, which concluded that Sampson knew he was involved in three way calls and had lied to IU and to the NCAA about it. After a short investigation by IU, Sampson "resigned" and took a pennies-on-the-dollar buyout. It's all pretty ugly. Just two years after our first true coaching search in 35 years, our once-pristine basketball program is without a coach and headed for probation.
I'm not sure if I'm surprised about the team's play. I really didn't know what to expect, because when has a team as highly ranked as IU was ever lost its coach a month before the NCAA Tournament? There's just no precedent. It does seem that there is some dissension on the team and not much rapport between interim coach Dan Dakich and many of the players. While I'm disappointed that the team hasn't been mentally stronger, I wish those who are sulking, if anyone, realize they are only hurting themselves. While IU hasn't played well since the resignation of Sampson, IU's biggest problem has been Eric Gordon's shooting slump. From the Purdue game (Sampson's last game) to present, Gordon is 33-96 from the field (34%) and 8-47 (17%) from three point range. He may have aggravated a wrist injury from earlier in the season, but for all the strife and sulking and subpar play, if Gordon were shooting just a bit closer to his ability we would have won a couple more games in the last three weeks.
If there's any basketball program that rivals IU for soap opera stuff, it's Arkansas. Like IU and Bob Knight, Arkansas and the great Nolan Richardson are on the outs. And then there was the whole Dana Altman episode. How do Arkansas fans regard Richardson and his legacy today? Are the fans divided about him or is there consensus? Any hope for reconciliation?
HB: Last March I figured if Stan Heath didn't pull thru and win at least a game in the NCAA's he'd be done and ol' Frank Broyles still had one good firing in him. Sure enough Stan was gone after the loss to USC and the search was on. The thing was this...Frank was sure he could get Billy Gillispie to come to Fayetteville from Texas A&M. What Frank didn't count on was the Kentucky job opening up and Gillispie passing him over. Which left Arkansas scrambling to fill it's vacancy. Enter Altman from Creighton...and Exit Altman. This left so much egg on Broyles' face that he gave up the search to a search firm where we were extremely lucky to land Pelphrey.That's the funny think about Broyles, it was always hard for him to let things go. Which leads me to Richardson. Most of the wounds are healing around the state in regards to Nolan. It took longer than it should have since Richardson sued the University for discrimination and wrongful termination. But now most regard him as a great basketball coach who let his personal political feelings get in the way. Although, most who wanted him gone now recognize how good he was. Richardson and 9 members of the '94 championship squad were recognized at a Northwest Arkansas Tip-Off Club meeting last month. New Arkansas AD Jeff Long was in attendance and met Richardson for the first time. Media reports from the meeting stated that there is a possibility of a ceremony recognizing the 15th anniversary of the '94 title team being set for next season and that Long and Richardson planned to talk more at a later date. This was all before Richardson flirted with the Arkansas State head coaching job last week. So, we'll see what happens.
There seem to be two schools of thought on the issue. Some think that IU will attempt to hit a home run and will attempt to land someone like Bruce Pearl of Tennessee or Rick Barnes of Texas, guys who are doing well where they are but who will never be "the king" in the way that a basketball coach is at IU (Sampson to IU and Gillispie to Kentucky fit this general pattern). The other school of thought is that IU, particularly given the sanctions issue, might be a better fit for a young up-and-comer. The most common names mentioned from that category are Tony Bennett of Washington State (Wisconsin native with strong midwestern ties), Sean Miller of Xavier (recruits Indiana well, humiliated IU in a preseason tournament), and Brad Brownell of Wright State (Indiana native who has taken two mid-major programs to the NCAA Tournament).
One thing that IU fans have learned in recent years is to distrust information from those who claim to be in the know. When current AD Rick Greenspan hired the late Terry Hoeppner to coach the football team, news didn't leak until Hep told his players at Miami. During the last basketball search, Sampson's name didn't leak until Andy Katz broke the story hours before the introductory press conference. Whether the involvement of a more high-profile search committee will result in more leaks, I don't know. But just to be clear, all of the above is speculation. If history is any guide, IU will hire someone not on the list.
As for the sanctions, I really don't know. I'm not sure that successful coaches are terribly intimidated by such things. While I think it's unlikely that IU will face a postseason ban, unfortunately, IU is in uncharted water. IU has never had a major violation in basketball and hasn't had one in any sport since the late 1950s. While that would normally work in IU's favor, on the other hand, IU hired a coach who was in NCAA trouble and he and his staff committed the similar offenses at IU. So, will the NCAA treat IU as a repeat offender even though we technically are not? Will we get brownie points for self-reporting and an aggressive investigation? Those are the big questions, and any new coach is going to have to accept some short-term uncertainty. I tend to think that the prestige of the IU job along with some ongoing facilities improvements will allow IU to hire a very good coach, but it may dissuade some of the household names from considering the job.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
- From 1990 through 1996, Arkansas reached the Sweet 16 or beyond 6 times in 7 seasons. Arkansas hasn't played on the second weekend since then.
- Arkansas's current coach is John Pelphrey, a former Kentucky player who was a member of "the Unforgettables," Kentucky's 1992 team that exceeded all expectations and is best remembered for losing in the 1992 Elite Eight on Christian Laettner's shot.
- Arkansas has lost in the first round in its last four NCAA Tournament appearances. The Hogs last won a Tournament game in 1999 (Siena). Arkansas last defeated a team from one of the six "power conferences" in 1998 (Nebraska in the first round).
- On the flip side, IU has now won four consecutive first round games (Utah in 2002, Alabama in 2003, San Diego State in 2006, and Gonzaga in 2007). IU's last first round loss was to Kent State in 2001.
- IU won its first game of the Tournament in nine consecutive appearances from 1973 through 1984. After winning in the first round in his first nine NCAA appearances, Bob Knight went 8-7 in the first round from 1986-2000. Mike Davis and Kelvin Sampson then went 4-1 from 2001-2007.
- Since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, this is the seventh time IU has faced a "power conference" opponent in Round 1. IU is 2-4 with wins over Oklahoma (1998) and Alabama (2003) and with losses to California (1990), Missouri (1995), Boston College (1996), and Colorado (1997).
- Arkansas is 4-1 all time in NCAA Tournament games against Big Ten opponents: Arkansas beat Purdue (second round 1983), Iowa (first round 1985), Michigan (regional final 1994), and Penn State (first round 1996) and lost to Iowa (second round 1999).
- IU is 9-2 all time in NCAA Tournament games against SEC opponents. IU beat LSU (national semifinals in 1953), LSU (1954 consolation game), Tennessee (1955 consolation game), Kentucky (1973 regional final), Alabama (1976 Sweet 16), LSU (1981 national semifinal), LSU (1987 regional final), LSU (1992 second round), and Alabama (2003 first round). IU lost to Kentucky in the 1975 regional final and the 1983 Sweet 16.
- Beating an SEC team historically is a good omen for the Hoosiers. IU has defeated an SEC team en route to six of its eight Final Four appearances and four of five NCAA championships. Indeed, setting aside the 1954 and 1955 consolation game wins, the 2003 win over Alabama is the only win over an SEC team that didn't lead to a Final Four bid.
Indiana University is expected to contact former Bulls coach Scott Skiles as it launches its coaching search, according to a source. Skiles was born in LaPorte, Ind. and led Plymouth High School to the 1982 Indiana state championship.He’s maintained a house in Bloomington, Ind., where he is now and lives during the NBA’s offseason. The Bulls fired Skiles on Dec. 24. He went 165-172 and helped turn around a laughingstock of an organization into a playoff team that advanced to the second round last year. Skiles would not comment on the possibility of coaching Indiana.
- Yes, IU appointed a committee this week. I haven't commented because I don't think it's a big deal. I would guess that Greenspan still be be doing the legwork on the candidates and that the committee will be in more of a strategic, thumbs-up-thumbs-down position rather than watching game film and breaking down statistics.
- This has nothing to do with IU or with basketball (and it's about Northwestern, so it certainly has nothing to do with the NCAA Tournament), but Lake the Posts, an excellent blog that covers with good humor the Big Ten's least prestigious athletic department, has committed acts of journalism. In 2005, before the LTP blog existed, its author conducted an in-depth video interview of former Northwestern football coach Gary Barnett, and LTP is rolling out the video in a multi-part series this week. Even if you don't care a bit about Northwestern, it's no exaggeration to say that Barnett's turnaround of the NU football program is one of the most remarkable stories in the history of American sport. Check it out. Part one is here.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
- It seems that the NCAA loved some clever matchups this year: the two freshman phenoms, Michael Beasley of Kansas State and OJ Mayo of Southern Cal, will play in the first round. I wonder if the possible UNC-IU matchup in round 2 was at all influenced by the opportunity for some more blathering about Dan Dakich's defense against Michael Jordan during IU's 1984 upset of top-ranked UNC.
- Not that I am banking on IU beating Arkansas--not in the least. The last time the committee tried to set up an IU-UNC matchup in round two was in 1997, when Dean Smith was on pace to break Adolph Rupp's record in the second round (in Winston-Salem, of course--has a highly ranked team from Duke or UNC ever had to leave the state for a first round game?). Unfortunately for CBS (I'm sure Jim Nantz had some schmaltzy catch-phrases ready for the Knight-Smith matchup), Chauncey Billups and Colorado made damn sure that IU wasn't going anywhere.
- Speaking of Arkansas, this will be only the second meeting between these two tradition-rich programs. I have no idea if the committee knew that. The only previous meeting was in Bloomington on December 15, 1949. IU won 75-50.
- Another little tidbit: the East region is the honorary "IU coaching search bracket." Including Dakich, five of the 16 coaches have been the subject of media speculation about the IU job: Washington State's Tony Bennett, Notre Dame's Mike Brey, Louisville's Rick Pitino, and Tennessee's Bruce Pearl.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Comcast agreed to launch the conference network on expanded basic through most of the Big Ten Conference’s eight-state region, as much as 94 percent of it, according to one source. Previously, Comcast was adamant against launching on expanded basic to a such a wide area. Meanwhile, Big Ten Network relaxed its demand to launch the channel on expanded basic everywhere in the eight-state market. The channel will allow Comcast the flexibility to place it on digital basic in various markets within the footprint, including Philadelphia.
BTN made a similar concession with Insight, which allowed the cable operator to launch it on digital basic in Louisville, Ky., on the outskirts of what BTN originally considered its inner core market.
While it looks like Comcast is getting the win — after all, the Big Ten Network’s original pitch was that it deserved to be alongside ESPN and Comcast Sports Net as basic programming for everyone — the bottom line is that IU fans will be able to see games they’ve missed this year. That’s no doubt a good thing, even if you’re stuck paying for 12 or 14 extra channels you’ll never use once.
- DJ White was named Big Ten player of the year, apparently unanimously, by both the media and coaches.
- Eric Gordon was named Big Ten freshman of the year, apparently unanimously, by both the media and coaches.
- White and Gordon were both named to the all-Big Ten first team. The reason I said "apparently unanimously" above is because the link indicates that all caps denotes a unanimous selection. While White's name is in all caps as Big Ten POY, it is not for First Team. Is it possible that White was the unanimous Big Ten POY but not unanimous first team all Big Ten? Odd. Gordon and Robbie Hummel of Purdue were both noted as unanimous first team selections.
- Armon Bassett was selected to the third team by both the media and coaches.
- Jamarcus Ellis was honorable mention by the media.
- Eric Gordon was a unanimous all-freshman pick, along with Hummel and E'Twaun Moore of Purdue, Kosta Koufos of Ohio State, and Manny Harris of Michigan (all unanimous).
Monday, March 10, 2008
- As I said yesterday, the Big Ten brass must be happy to see IU and Purdue on the same side of the bracket. If both teams win their opening games (by no means assured, especially the way IU has been playing) the conference would get not just a high-interest semifinal matchup, but would be guaranteed a local team in the title game (and the resultant full house).
- It's been ten years since the only IU-Purdue game in the BTT. #3 Purdue defeated #6 IU 76-71 in the first-ever BTT.
- IU is 1-5 against Illinois and 7-5 against everyone else. If yesterday's result has any positive, it's that IU likely will not have to play Illinois.
Illinois has never failed to reach the semifinals, not even in 1999, when the Illini were the #11 seed but upset #6 Minnesota, #3 IU, and #2 Ohio State to reach the final.TAFKABTW informs me that Illinois did lose in the quarterfinals in 2006 as the #3 seed, suggesting that the slot is cursed. IU has indeed lost its first game the two previous times that IU was the #3 seed.
- There have been only two overtime games in BTT history: in 1999, #10 Michigan defeated #7 Purdue; last year, #6 Illinois beat #3 Indiana.
- ADDENDUM: unsurprisingly, the Wonk is on to something. Purdue in 1998 [plus Wisconsin in 2004; at least I can blame the Big Ten results page for that error] is the only #3 seed to reach the final, and no #3 seed has won the BTT. Indeed, the #3 seed is 4-6 in the quarterfinal round, meaning that the majority of the time, the third-best team in the conference has lost its first BTT game. Given the Hoosiers' stellar BTT history, I'm even more encouraged about our prospects. Of the 20 participants in the title game, 7 have been seeded lower than #3: #4 seeds are 1-2, #6 seeds are 1-0, # 8 seeds are 0-1, #9 seeds are 0-1, and #11 seeds are 0-1. I guess that means Ohio State is the real loser here: only the #5 seed has never reached the final.
- ADDENDUM: In the first six Big Ten Tournaments, every final game included a team seeded #4 or lower. But #1 has faced #2 in three of the last four tournaments, and no seed lower than #3 has reached the final.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
- DJ White wasn't as dominant on the boards as he has been for most of the Big Ten season, but finished his Assembly Hall career with 17 points on 7-12 from the field.
- As has become standard, Eric Gordon struggled from the field, but scored 20 points on 11 shots thanks to 12-14 from the line. As I mentioned above, he really picked it up in the final eight minutes. Still, four turnovers.
- Armon Bassett had a rough shooting day, 3-11 from the field, but did score 11 points thanks to three pointers and a couple of free throws.
- Jamarcus Ellis was great. 10 points on 7 shots, 13 rebounds, no turnovers, four steals.
Posted by John M at 1:50 AM
Friday, March 7, 2008
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Monday, March 3, 2008
- Eric Gordon was respectable: 22 points on 7-14 anf 7-9, only 2 turnovers.
- Armon Bassett scored 13 points on 12 shots.
- Jordan Crawford scored 12 points on 8 shots.
- DJ White had a rough day: another double-double, but 5-13 from the field for 12 points.
- Everyone, everyone, everyone played poor defense.
Dan Dakich has a tough task. IU's schedule now eases up, with the home finale against Minnesota and a road trip to Penn State. Still, considering IU's performances at Northwestern and at home against Ohio State, losses are not out of the question. A similar defensive effort in either game could spell IU's demise.