Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mike Montgomery

Gregg Doyel, after saying some strange things about the MSU-IU game, reports today two pieces of good news for the Hoosiers.

1) Alford & Greenspan may have a less-than-friendly history

2) Former Stanford coach Mike Montgomery is interested in coaching Indiana. Considering the program Montgomery built at Stanford, basically out of nothing, he immediately jumps to the top of the list. Listen up, Hoosiers:

Get Mike Montgomery if you can!

Outside of the not-gonna-happen scenario of Thad Matta bringing a newly-freed Greg Oden & Mike Conley Jr. to Indiana with him, Montgomery is far and away the ideal candidate (yes, even beating a fictiously healthy Majerus). I don't care that he's West Coast, I don't care that he's not of the Knight coaching tree, I don't even care that his inside guys were a little nasty at times. He wins ballgames. Get him.

Speaking of the Alford-wanna-haves, Big Ten Wonk writes a pretty funny letter to the Hoosiers.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Indiana: NCAA's?

While not likely at this point, it is still a possibility. Win at either Purdue or Michigan, and then pick up a couple of wins in the Big Ten Conference Tourney, and I think they'd be in. The RPI (at 44 before the last two wins) and Sagarin (37) numbers are still not bad, and there's enough meat in non-conference schedule to keep them in at-large contention even with a 8-8 conference record. Playing Duke & Connecticut close and the whipping of fellow at-large hopeful Kentucky (sans DJ White) may be the sort of iconography that keeps Indiana in the Selection Committee's mind. But with a hungry and well-coached Purdue team waiting and Michigan not choking on its own lack of execution at this time of year make getting a victory pretty unlikely given this club's road history. But the possibility is still there.

Ryan ruminates on the ridiculous idea of the next Indiana head coach having to be an Indiana alum. I only have two words to add: Cam Cameron.
Is that what you want, people? Mediocrity at best, even if is home-grown mediocrity?

I'll plug the College Bloggers' Poll one more time, which is a great idea, but maybe it'll take off next season:

I don't agree with this guy on few points (and man, he sure looks like a toolbox) , but he is sort of right about this point:

However, the flub that hurt the most occurred in the process of recruiting Indianapolis’ Robert Vaden. Many coaches felt that Davis steered Vaden toward a prep school his senior season. His transfer likely cost his team a state championship and scarred Davis’ relationship with many Indiana prep coaches.

Davis didn't ever get a good relationship going with the local talent base and the Indiana High School coaches. He stated on more than one occasion he was going after the best talent, and ended up whiffing on Luol Deng and Charlie Villaneuva, and got Josh Smith who skipped the Hoosier experience. I remember during this time Davis was musing on how to get the next Tom Coverdale, and I thought to myself: "Just get the top two or three Indiana Mr. Basketball candidates." It's not hard, just recruit the best local talent, and outside of Greg Oden & Sean May, I don't remember him doing that. And I don't agree with Gregg Doyel's (at cbs sportsline) savaging of the Indiana Fans for cheering Mike Davis in his last home game. His best evidence to the contrary is only that at the end of the Connecticut game, the Hoosier Nation was depressed, quiet, and filing towards the exit. So?
We can wish Davis well, and want him to part ways with Indiana with class, and still be looking for a better head coach. I scratch my head. I really don't know what Doyel is on about.

New Cbba Poll & Last Week's action


1. Memphis
2. Duke
3. Connecticut
4. Villanova
5. Gonzaga
6. George Washington
7. Texas
8. Tennessee
9. Pittsburgh
10. UCLA
11. Ohio State
12. West Virginia
13. North Carolina
14. Georgetown
15. Illinois
16. Oklahoma
17. Louisiana State
18. Iowa
19. Florida
20. Nevada
21. Missouri State
22. Marquette
23. Washington
24. Boston College
25. Wichita State

Also Receiving Votes:

Air Force, Bucknell, George Mason, Kansas, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Northern Iowa, UAB, Wisconsin

What Happened Last Week

1. Villanova W at Cincinnati, L at UConn
2. Memphis W v. UTEP, W v. Tulsa
3. Duke W at Georgia Tech, W at Temple
4. Connecticut W v. Notre Dame, W v. Villanova

There was some reshuffling among the #1 seeds with UConn's home win over Nova. So, Memphis gets a turn at the top. I think they are closer to the 5th best team in the nation rather than the top, but they are good enough to go on a run.

5. Gonzaga
W at Pepperdine, W v. San Diego
6. George Washington W v. Lasalle, W at Fordham
7. Texas W at Kansas State, W v. Kansas

The #2 seeds roll on, but only Texas gets a wins of any note, but even these were "should-win" games.

8. Tennessee W at Florida, L at Arkansas

Tennessee stays put only because of the massive meltdown in the teams below them. Also got a a great win at Florida.

9. North Carolina State L v. UNC, L v. BC
10. Florida L v. Tennessee, L at Alabama
11. West Virginia L at Syracuse, W v. Providence

Disaster strikes! Only WVU gets a win, but Florida & NCSU suffer wicked home losses.

12. Pittsburgh W v. Providence
13. UCLA W v. Oregon State, W v. Oregon
14. Ohio State W at Michigan State, W v. Michigan

This group did pretty well. Ohio State looks ready to slide into its first Big Ten Championship under Thad Matta.

15. Iowa L at Minnesota, L at Illinois
16. Illinois L at Michigan, W v. Iowa

The Big Ten teams are knocking each other off. I can't wait for the conference tourney!

17. Georgetown W v. Rutgers, W v. Syracuse
18. North Carolina W at NCSU, W v. Maryland

The Hoyas get a good couple of wins, but the Tarheels W's are considerably more impressive.

19. Michigan State L v. Ohio State, L at Indiana

Tough luck at Indiana, with some plays (& calls) predictably going against them after a solid effort. But it's really the home loss to Ohio State that drop them out of the top 25.

20. Oklahoma W at Texas Tech, W v. Kansas State
21. Louisiana State W at Vanderbilt, W v. Kentucky
22. Nevada W at Idaho, W at Utah State

Good wins, although Oklahoma has beens kating on thin ice all season long. Nevada gets a pair of solid road wins, and is starting to look pretty dangerous.

23. Boston College L at Virginia, W at NCSU
24. Northern Iowa L v. Bradley, L at SIU
25. George Mason L at Hofstra, W v. James Madison

Northern Iowa has a bad week as the MVC has gone topsy-turvy, but BC hangs on to the ranking only because of up-and-down week of all of the other contenders for the top 25 ranking. GMU just won at Wichita State in Bracketbusters, but the loss at Hofstra makes them #26 this week.

Air Force W v. New Mexico, W v. UNLV
Bucknell W v. Lehigh, W v. Army
Creighton W v. Indiana State, L at Missouri State
Kansas W v. Baylor L at Texas
Marquette W at ND
Michigan W v. Illinois, L at Ohio State
Missouri State W at Illinois State, W v. Creighton
UAB W at Southern Methodist
Washington W v. Stanford, W v. California
Wichita State W at Drake, W v. Illinois State

Friday, February 24, 2006

Been away

Now back from a small vacation and caught up at work a little.

Well, Indiana may have clinched a postseason berth with the home win over Penn State. Too bad it's a NIT berth that they clinched. To get to the NCAA's, IU will have to beat Michigan State this weekend, beat either Purdue and/or Michigan on the road, and pick up at least one win in the Big Ten conference tourney. Can it happen? Sure. Will it? Let's just say I'm very afraid of a 0-3 finish going into the conference tournament.

The big questions now are:

1) Will Mike Davis coach next season?

I'm guessing yes. He will recognize that there is a good, rare opportunity to take some of his top talent (namely DJ White, Rob Vaden, and AJ Ratliff have all vowed to follow Davis) along to his next job and get a real boost of talent in his second year. There's always jobs open, and he'll grab one, especially if UAB's Mike Anderson heads for greener pastures (Cincinnati? Missouri?).

2) Who will leave/return?

Well, Marco, Marshall, Sean Kline, and Lewis Monroe are all out of eligibility, so they're gone either way.

As above, DJ White has been the most vociferous about leaving IU, so he is probably gone. Rob Vaden & AJ Ratliff have also avowed to follow Mike Davis. So, as long as Davis gets a new job, they are probably gone, too.

I don't know if freshmen Armon Bassett and Xavier Keeling can break their letter at this point. Keeling probably will not because I doubt he'll get a chance to go to any better school than Indiana.

Who does that leave?

Earl Calloway, Rod Wilmont, Ben Allen, Cem Dinc, Joey Shaw, and former walk-on Erreck Suhr will all probably stay. It doesn't really matter what Adam Ahfeld and Kyle Taber do.

3) What does next season hold for the Hoosiers?

So, whoever comes in next year will have Calloway & Suhr at point, Allen & Dinc at center, Wilmont on one wing and Shaw on the other, and maybe frosh Keeling starting at power forward? Ouch.

Short of landing some Jucos or getting some real unforeseen coaching brilliance, anyone from the Knight coaching tree outside of Kryzsewski will probably be happy to notch 4 wins in the Big Ten.

If Davis doesn't land a coaching job in the next... oh, say 8 months, IU has a good chance of hanging on to at least Vaden & Ratliff, who alone would improve IU's talent to at least a NIT level.

Outside possibility that the NCAA comes down hard on Ohio State, giving Oden & Conley a chance to back out of their letters, Thad Matta then jumps ship to Indiana and takes them with him, instantly making the Hoosiers a competitor again. Very slim chance, but it could happen.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Mike Davis out

Davis resigns, no longer Indiana Head Coach.
And I wish him well. And I think Big Ten wonk hit some of the right notes in talking about this.
But it was time Davis was gone.
Whether you believe he got a fair shake, or should've ever gotten a fair shake, I think everyone recognized that Davis and Indiana had to part ways.

So, this being one of George Bush's internets, let's start talking replacement, because what else can we do but talk?

Rick Pitino
Lateral move, secure at UL. Why Move?

Bob Huggins:
Please no. No more bullying jerks.

Steve Alford:
Covered it all below. No.

Quin Snyder
What, we're gonna take Missouri's rejects?

John Beilein
I guess he signed a seven-year contract extension with a buyout clause is reportedly $500,000 per season. With Six seasons left, that's a chunk o' change.

Mick Cronin
Who? Murray State? What? No.

Tom Crean
He's making good money at Marquette, and doing well. And do we want a Spartie?

Mike Anderson
He is good, he's doing well at UAB. But the Hoosier Nation may not want someone who's a longshot this season for the NCAA tourney.

Mark Few
West -coaster, just unlikely.

Dana Altman
He's a Midwest guy, yeah, an upgrade, yeah, but is it really something he would want?

Isaiah Thomas
131-115, 5-10 playoffs w/ Pacers

Danny Dakich
Hasn't done great at BGSU.

Jim Crews
Didn't do fantastic at Evansville. Got canned in fact.

Dane Fife
Maybe if he proves himself at IPFW. But that won't happen until after next year, at least. And too close to Mike Davis, probably, even though his coaching philosophy is much closer to Knight's.

Randy Wittman
62-102 at Cavs

Mike Woodson
13-69 w/ Atlanta

Keith Smart
9-31 w/Cavs

Quin Buckner
13-69 w/Mavs

Rick Majerus
He didn't take the USC job b/c of health concerns, and Missouri wants him, too. But he's a good coach who could capitalize on Indiana's traditional recruiting advantages, and he's so charismatic and witty he could endear himself to the Hoosier fans like few others. If any job could lure back him into coaching, it's IU.

Please add others in the comments if you can think of them.

Looking over the records from the Knight coaching Tree, outside of Kryzsewski, it seems that Alford is one of the best coaches (ouch!). I like Danny Dakich, and would be happy to give any of the old Knight guys a shot, but none of them have proven themselves, really. Right now my wish list goes:

1. Rick Majerus (given that the job doesn't actually kill him)
2. John Beilein (given enough cash to buy him out, if he would come to Bton)
3. Tom Crean (I would take a Spartie, I guess)
4. Isaiah Thomas (if IU could afford him)
5. Dane Fife (given that he runs a motion offense and if he could come off as not Davis' man)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Here's the problem

Just as it was with Knight, all the talk is about the coach rather than the program.

So, I'm gonna talk about coaches, despite the ESPMSM's plea that all this talk is hurting the players. Which I frankly don't believe; I believe idiots that want to protest Assembly Hall or have a "black-out" are hurting the program, and their own cause by giving Davis the chance to use them as a foil to make himself seem reasonable/victimized). I'm not going to list the possible replacements, but talk about the coaches who's names are being mentioned most often to provide some context. So here's some stats on Mike Davis, Knight, and because the latest embarassing loss was to Iowa, I'll throw in some bits about Steve Alford & his predecessor, Tom Davis.

Some of this I've said before, but here I'm really spelling it out. Despite all the "Davis-wrecked-our-beautiful-program", Bobby K. is not blameless. Knight was key in getting Kirk Haston out to the NBA early, and dissuading Sean May from attending IU (in fairness, he probably dissuaded him from going to Texas Tech either, given all the baggage that would've come along with it). But I have less of a problem with either of these cases (Haston had his diploma, and May hearing that he should be his own man is not bad advice) as much as the state of the program before Knight left.

Knight had talent leaving left and right, and I've covered the Luke Recker bit here, but even before that, there were major problems with Knight not being able to reach the kids or keep top talent in the program. At one point in 1997, Knight had recruited the leading scorers at three different schools, none of which were Indiana. Jason Collier at Georgia Tech, Neil Reed at Southern Mississippi (with whom I went to high school, incidentally) , and Rob Hodgson at Rutgers. Players were transferring from IU by the boatload. Besides the above names, guys like Michael Hermon and Steve Hart were athletes that often were starters when they left. And this affected the team. It wasn't just malcontents or bench-warmers, it was top players that Knight couldn't integrate and the team needed. And it showed up in the record.

Bob Knight's Big Ten records last 5 years

1995-1996: 12-6
1996-1997: 9-9
1997-1998: 9-7
1998-1999: 9-7
1999-2000: 10-6

for a grand total of 49-35. Compare this to Mike Davis' first five years in the Big Ten at 46-34, and it's pretty darn close.

And then take a look at Knight's NCAA record in those last five years: 1-5. And it's not just that they lost in the first round almost every single time, but that they lost badly, with a 17.2ppg difference in the margin of those defeats. That's huge.

Throw in uninspired loss to Missouri (60-65) in 1995 where Steve Hart was the only guy playing, and IU just looks like a program mired in mediocrity from 1995-2000.

So, in contrast, Mike Davis should feel pretty good about himself, right? He took Knight's players, let them play, and they blossomed into a contender for a couple of years. But! Here's the kicker:
since Jan 21 , 2003: Davis' overall record is: 49-50
and in the Big Ten: 26-28

Not so great, huh? Davis needs to go, and he needs to quit playing the media game. Just win some games and work a buyout with IU and then move on, Mike.

So, some folks might look at Iowa's win over the Hoosiers and say, hey, they're doing pretty great this year, they beat IU at Assembly Hall, what about Steve? The answer is, 1) did you watch the game? It wasn't the genius of Steve Alford that won that one. And 2) take a look at what Steve Alford has done with the Hawkeyes. This season is an anomaly.

Iowa: 41-55 in the big ten for the last 6 years under Alford. Even with this great season, Alford is now only 50-58. And this despite keeping talented convict Pierre Pierce on the team, until he screwed up again and predictably shamed the program.

If you think that Alford was rebuilding the Haweye program or any such nonsense, here are some numbers about his predecessor. Tom Davis last five years in the Big Ten: 9-7, 9-7, 12-6, 11-7, 9-9= 50-36
Yes, that is the best five-year mark we've mentioned so far.
Tom Davis' overall Big Ten record: 125-105

Tom Davis' last five years NCAA record: 6-4, with 2 Sweet Sixteen appearances, and one NIT appearance (when 6th place Indiana was selected over Iowa, 5th in the Big Ten standings).

This was not a program that needed rebuilding, only fine-tuning, and Alford has not done it. What's to make anyone think that he'll make Indiana better? He's got four senior starters, and the first big man off the bench is also out of eligibility after this season. If he's at Iowa next season (and he probably will be), tell me one year from now if you still think he's a great coach.

It's time for Davis to go, but Knight-worshippers need to calm down, and Alford is absolutely the wrong answer.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Indiana loses at home to Iowa

And I've seldom seen a stupider game. For 32 minutes of Indiana trying to give the Hawkeyes an insurmountable lead through incredibly ugly shooting, poor rebounding, and keystone-cop type turnovers that would've made Todd Lindeman feel better about his handles. Then after I tell myself that even if they come back and win this thing, it's no still no good; then Iowa goes and says, "just watch us pull defeat out of the jaws of victory!" Iowa was exceedingly lucky not to lose this game, but they still deserved to win way more than Indiana did.

And What the H... was up with Rob Vaden? Ever since Davis identified him as one of our best players, he's stopped being able to shoot, and during the Iowa game it seemed like every decision he made was the absolute worst one. I was shocked to find he only had 5 turnovers. It honestly seemed like at least 10 while I was watching.

Kudos to Rick Majerus. Often during the game, I was thinking, I wish he was saying these things to our players in the huddle. But he made prescient call after prescient call on the telecast.

I didn't feel really all that bad about this loss. It wasn't depressing in the way UConn was, in that we just couldn't compete athletically, or soul-crushing like the games at Minnesota and Wisconsin, where Davis got completely out-coached and the players looked like they just didn't care that they were getting thumped. But this was a game against a decent team that IU could've really walloped if they'd just passed decently, sealed on defensive rebounding, or shot a little better.

And as we were losing, I thought, well, this is it for Davis. And I hope that they don't hire Alford. I'm sorry Davis was sick. I hope he gets well soon, and I of course wish him well in life and at his next head-coaching job. But the time for him and Indiana to split ways has now come.

I did back the hiring of Mike Davis in 2001, b/c at the time, because the players were loyal to him, and who knows where Jared Jeffries, AJ Moye, et al would've gone if the coach they had tried to save (after losing the coach they couldn't save) had been let go. And I wanted what was best for the players, and at the time, best for IU. And I felt my trust in that decision was repayed with thrilling run to the Final Four in 2002. Since then, just about nothing has gone right for Davis, and even if it's all just bad luck, we need a coach with good luck on his side, or at least even luck.
I feel like Davis has gotten a completely fair shake, and if this isn't going to be a special season after all, then we need to move on. Mike Leonard, a local columnist I always felt was sensible, says much the same thing.

I mentioned after the Wisconsin loss that I wondered what Bo Ryan would do with this sort of talent, and the answer was as plain as the nose on my face: He took them to the Elite Eight. Last year's Wisconsin club equates very nicely with this year's Hoosiers. Without DJ White:

C Mike Wilkinson= Marco Killingsworth (undersized double-double machine at center)
PF Alando Tucker= Robert Vaden (undersized but deadly four-spot)
SF Zach Morley= Marshall Strickland (solid senior multi-position scorer)
SG Clayton Hansen= AJ Ratliff (good shooters, solid defenders)
PG Sharif Chambliss= Earl Calloway (transfer point guards)

Brian Butch= Ben Allen (big heralded frosh center/shooters)
Ray Nixon=Lewis Monroe (multi-position perimeter players)
Kammron Taylor= Rod Wilmont (instant offense off the bench)
Andreas Helmigk=Sean Kline (fifth-year "hard man" senior)
Michael Flowers=Errek Suhr (back-up point guards)

Greg Stiesma, Jason Chappell, Tanner Bronson= Cem Dinc, Kyle Taber, Adam Ahfeld
(little used bench-warmers)

There a few mismatches here, notably Morley & Strickland playing different roles, and Hansen has much better numbers than Ratliff (altho' AJ's frosh year is more comparable). But considering Wilmont brings way more this year than Taylor did last season, and the better numbers that IU's big three put up (Killer, Vaden, & Strick) vs. Wisconsin's big three (Wilkinson, Tucker, and Morley) I think it's giving Wisconsin the benefit of the doubt to call the talent even.

If Davis ends up wins the last six games, going 11-5 in the conference, wins the Big Ten conference tourney, and goes to the elite Eight, thus equalling the 2005 edition of Wisconsin's mark of 25-9, I'll get off his case. But that doesn't look like what's gonna happen.

Next up, a look at the candidates who could replace Davis.

CBBA poll & What Happened Last Week 2/13

1. Connecticut
2. Memphis
3. Duke
4. Villanova
5. Texas
6. Gonzaga
7. Tennessee
8. George Washington
9. West Virginia
10. Florida
11. Pittsburgh
12. UCLA
13. Ohio State
14. Iowa
15. North Carolina State
16. Georgetown
17. Oklahoma
18. Michigan State
19. Illinois
20. Northern Iowa
21. North Carolina
22. Louisiana State
23. Nevada
24. Boston College
25. Bucknell

Also Getting Props to a lesser extent:
Colorado, Creighton, George Mason, Sna DiegoS tate, Seton Hall, Southern Illinois, Syracuse, UAB, Wichita State, Wisconsin

What Happened last week

1. Connecticut W v. Syracuse, W at Seton Hall
2. Memphis W at Marshall
3. Duke W at North Carolina, W at Maryland
4. Villanova W v. St. Joe's, W at DePaul
5. Texas W at Texas Tech, W v. Nebraska
6. Gonzaga W v. St. Mary's, W v. Stanford
7. West Virginia L at Pittsburgh, W at Georgetown
8. Tennessee W at Kentucky, W at Georgia
9. Florida L v. S. Carolina, W v. LSU
10. George Washington W v. Dayton, W at St. Joseph's

Top teams all win with only two exceptions. West Virginia goes ice-cold and loses at Pitt, which isn't really an upset, but Florida losing at home to South Carolina is.

11. UCLA W at Washington State, L at Washington
12. Illinois L at Ohio State
13. Michigan State W v. Purdue, L at Minnesota
14. Georgetown W v. St. John's, L v. West Virginia
15. Iowa L at Northwestern, W at Indiana
16. Pittsburgh W v. West Virginia, W v. Cincinnati
17. North Carolina State W at Miami, L at Georgia Tech

Big Trouble in this group. Only Pittsburgh did well this week.

18. Ohio State W at Michigan, W v. Illinois
19. Oklahoma W at Oklahoma State, W v. Baylor

The onlyBig Ten team to have a really good week (besides Northwestern) was Ohio State, thumping Michigan at Ann Arbor and waxing Illinois at home 3 days later. Oklahoma got a good road win against their state rival.

20. Northern Iowa W v. Wichita State, L v. Missouri State
21. North Carolina L v. Duke, W at Miami
22. Louisiana State W v. Arkansas, L at Florida
23. Nevada W v. New Mexico State

Nobody here did anything great or surprising. Predictable losses were offset by solid wins. But check out Missouri State taking down N.Iowa on the road. The Valley has five good teams.

24. Colorado L at Texas A&M, W v. Texas Tech
25. Creighton W at Evansville, L v. Southern Illinois

The loss at Texas A&M wasn't all that bad for Colorado, but then they barely pulled out a home win vs. Texas Tech. The Buffs are just struggling. And Creighton gets upended at home as well by Southern Illinois., who just had a fantastic week.

Boston College, W at Wake Forest, W v. Clemson
Bucknell, W v. American, W at Holy Cross
Indiana, L at Wisconsin, L v. Iowa
Michigan, L v. Ohio State, L at Purdue
San Diego State, W v. Air Force, L v. Utah
Seton Hall, W at South Florida, L v. UConn
Syracuse, L at UConn, W at St. John's
UAB, L at UTEP, W v. East Carolina
Wichita State, L at NIU, W at Indiana State
Wisconsin W v. Indiana, W at PSU

Friday, February 10, 2006

Conference smack-talking

Although IU is not doing so well, my good friend The Taco pointed out that the conference is really good. So, let's pat ourselves on the back for at least being in arguably the best conference in the country, which shouldn't have been an argument after losing to the ACC in the challenge and with the wicked powers atop the standings in the new Big East.

The Big 10 is good this year. Even the bottom teams aren't total slouches.
There were 7 teams in the top 25 (or very nearly) just a couple of weeks ago. But check out the RPI numbers:

NCAA official: 2/7/06

Michigan State #6
Iowa #7
Ohio State #12
Illinois #13
Michigan #17
Indiana #24
Wisconsin #25

7 in the top 25. That as much as the next two conferences combined! It's a great conference.
Next best is the Big East with 4, then the SEC with 3, then the ACC, Big 12, and MVC only have 2 apiece.

& the Other Big 10 teams:

Northwestern #93
Minnesota #99
Penn State #109
Purdue #167

Keeping in mind there are 334 teams rated, the worst Big 10 team is still in the upper half of the ratings, even after losing Five starters this season. (All-conference selection Carl Landry, David Teague-14ppg last year, Juco Brandon Crump -who was drawing comparisons to Dee Brown, frosh Nate Minnoy- 11ppg before injury, frosh Korey Spates, 10ppg before getting booted). All of those players but Spates will be back next year, and probably starting.

While the Big 10 is a really good conference, it might seem less great at the end of March,
because there are no odds-on favorites for the Final Four.

UConn's a lock, as is Duke. It'll be a major upset if either one of them doesn't make it to Indy.
Villanova, Memphis, West Virginia, and Texas all have good shots.

But all the Big Ten teams (of which Michigan State & Illinois are probably the best) are on the "it could happen" list with Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, Tennessee, George Washington, Florida, UCLA, NC St., Oklahoma, and Georgetown. For a Big Ten to make it, everything will just have to fall right and/or someone will really have to catch fire. IF MSU could start playing actual defense and Illinois could figure out how to run a consistent offense, they would be on the second level with 'Nova, et al. But right now, I don't foresee any Big Ten presence in the Final Four.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

It came to this

IU loses at Wisconsin.

For Mike Davis, roaring down the stretch, or at the very least, making a lot of post-season noise is all that may save his job.

What else can I say?

How 'bout this: Imagine what kind of record Bo Ryan would notch with this Hoosier squad's talent. Or Tom Izzo. Or Bruce Weber. And Weber and Izzo recruit at least as well as Davis, if not consistently better.
With the programs of Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Illinois rising and Michigan State looking solid, and Purdue looking stacked for next year at least, the near future doesn't look much brighter.
Does IU really want to be annually competing with the likes of Penn State, Minnesota, and Iowa to get out of the NIT? Is 8-8 in the Big Ten good enough?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

It comes to this

An angry squad on a losing streak faces an IU team needing a road win where they've not had much success in the Mike Davis era. No, this isn't a re-hashing of Minnesota, but a similar situation awaits the Hoosiers tonight in Wisconsin.

If IU wins tonight, suddenly victories at Penn State, Purdue, and Michigan all look possible, and maybe IU can roar to a 12-4 finish. Lose, and Saturday's home game vs. Iowa may become very important in terms of Indiana even getting a NCAA bid.

For Mike Davis, roaring down the stretch, or at the very least, making a lot of post-season noise is all that may save his job.

I hope the Hoosiers win tonight. I'll be rooting for them (and yes, even Davis) to get their first conference road win. But if they don't, I wonder if John Beilein could be lured to coach at IU? Sigh.

Despite the Randolph Morris foolishness, I also think Tubby Smith would be pretty great. And John Thompson III wouldn't be too bad either, but I doubt either of them would be too tempted to rebuild under such high-level scrutiny.

To stop picking on Davis, I will say that UConn looks as good as any team I've seen all year long. I'm way impressed with their depth and versatility, especially with Rudy Gay's ability to hit outside allowing to him to play the 3 and Hilton Armstrong's ability to go high-low with Josh Boone on the court. But getting Marcus Williams back was the key for this club. Whether they can beat out Duke for the National title, I just don't know. I would say UConn has a better shot at the title except for the Duke-friendly referees. The ESPMSM can debate it all it wants, but Duke gets the key calls to keep them on top/in the games. There are exceptions, but they are rare. This year's championship game could be like Duke's title win over Arizona, where the Wildcats were a superiorly talented team, but the whistles were unkind.

Monday, February 06, 2006

UConn Triumphant

The game was mostly a disappointing loss. IU fought bravely, but the Huskies are just not a team that this Hoosier squad is going to trump more than once or twice if they played each other ten times.

IU loses at home to #1 for second time this season by eight points. But this was not the same.

I actually don't think Calhoun is a significantly better coach than Davis, as his teams have always displayed poor shot selection and poor perimeter defense (& did again in this game). Only the multitude of shot-blockers this squad has gives them the ability to overplay and get away with it.
But I love Calhoun's aggressive offense. Davis also lets his guys shoot themselves out of slumps, but Calhoun's players really want to punish their opponents, and IU guys rarely have that edge. In Davis' defense, his guys almost always have played aggressively on defense. Except for Marco, who when he wants to can impose a tough wall to shoot over, commit the hard fouls and gather the rebounds, but his matador D was on full display on Saturday in all of its pathetic glory.

During key stretches, the Huskies hit threes and fadeaway jumpers, and IU missed lay-ups. Those stretches should have been where Indiana went on big runs to counter UConn's big runs. But IU could only hold them even, and the Connecticut runs were too much to overcome.

Kudos to Rudy Gay. I would've given him for the open outside shot, but he was on fire, going 3-4 outside the arc. But other than that UConn did not shoot well, and IU didn't turn it over. But when it mattered, UConn got offensive rebounds until they scored, often with a silly foul giving them a chance for a three-point play.

Inside play a major, major concern. Killer's got to score, as he's not doing anything else. Big Ben's got a future, but right now he plays like a freshman.
DJ White? Not playing this season. And IU is simply not a contender this season.

I don't want to take this opportunity to kick Davis (it'd be a cheap shot right now), but to explain my concerns, take a look at
this article about Louis Orr:

And now, some want to believe that Orr is saving his job with this run. They want to believe that there's no way that he could make the NCAA tournament and get fired. That's the kind of narrow thinking -- the kind of fool's gold trap -- that could cripple the Pirates' program in the Big East. . . .

Seton Hall is desperate for someone dynamic and that's never been Louis Orr, and it never will be him.
Maybe that's cruel, but that's the reality of life in this market for Seton Hall. Orr could be the right coach for a different program, in a different market, but face facts: This program has turned irrelevant, even with this nice winning streak.
Quinlan's job isn't to reward Orr for overachieving with some tough-minded seniors, but make a statement about Seton Hall's identity for the long run.

Compare this with Davis' situation at Indiana, and I think these are some valid points.
I'm not worried particularly about this loss, or with getting things turned around this season, or even next to some extent. But what worries me is the long-term picture at IU. Are Hoosiers going to take a permanent back seat to Michigan State and Illinois and Ohio State?

Silver linings. Uh, not many. Strickland handled his combo role well, and Calloway finally played up to his ability. Just imagine if he had gotten some time in the first 29 minutes. It makes me feel like he could handle full-time point duties after a year in the system and a summer working on shooting. We'll need someone for next season, as Suhr and incoming frosh Armon Bassett will both probably be good for spot minutes, but we can't expect either one to provide starter minutes.

What was with all the shots that Vaden (5-19) and Wilmont (5-14) were taking? If you're not hitting... Also, Marco went a more understandable 4 for 13, but he was throwing up air-balls and bricking lay-ups. Davis should maybe get Ratliff (2-4) and Strickland (5-9) some more shots, eh? But really, I don't know how much better IU could've played. Sure, Killer, Allen, and Vaden could've hit some open shots, and Wilmont jacked a couple of off-balance prayers, but after a brief run when Calloway came in, UConn reasserted its dominance and was up 85-68 before IU made it look not so bad.

This next week, the Hoosiers have to get it turned around. The good news is they can look a lot better if they get wins at slumping Wisconsin and at home against Iowa, both of which are totally possible. But even a split will build the heat on Davis.

Cbba Poll and WHLW

My Latest for the College Basketball Bloggers' Association Poll.
It was a feast for the teams at the top, the teams at the bottom had a rough week:

1. Connecticut
2. Memphis
3. Duke
4. Villanova
5. Texas
6. Gonzaga
7. West Virginia
8. Tennessee
9. Florida
10. George Washington
11. UCLA
12. Illinois
13. Michigan State
14. Georgetown
15. Iowa
16. Pittsburgh
17. North Carolina State
18. Ohio State
19. Oklahoma
20. Northern Iowa
21. North Carolina
22. Louisiana State
23. Nevada
24. Colorado
25. Creighton

Also Receiving varying fractions of a vote:
Boston College, Bucknell, Indiana, Michigan, San Diego State, Seton Hall, Syracuse, UAB, Wichita State, Wisconsin

What Happened Last Week: (1/30-2/05)

1. Connecticut W v. Pittsburgh, W at Indiana
2. Memphis W at Tulsa, W at Rice
3. Duke W at Boston College, W v. Florida State
4. Villanova W v. Louisville, W v. Marquette
5. Texas W at Mizzou, W v. Texas A&M
6. Gonzaga W v. Portland, W v. Santa Clara
7. West Virginia W v. Notre Dame, W v. Cincinnati
8. Tennessee W v. Vandy, W v. Mississippi

Top teams win as expected. Connecticut and Duke register big wins.

9. Illinois W at Wisconsin, L v. Penn State

So close to escaping, but no way the Illini should've let the Nittany Lions have a chance to steal in Assembly Hall

10. Florida W at Mississippi, W v. Kentucky
11. George Wash. W at Xavier, W v. Richmond

Good wins. Florida beats Wildcats for 3rd straight time, and GW gets big road win at Xavier.

12. Pittsburgh L at UConn, L at Georgetown

Rough week for Pitt. Two road games, two losses.

13. UCLA W v. Arizona State, W v. Arizona
14. Michigan State W at NU

Win the games you're supposed to, and you'll move up in the poll.

15. Oklahoma W v. Tex A&M, L at Kansas

The Sooners have 3 losses in the Big 12 by a total of 4 points. But opportunities like winning at Kansas don't come around all that often.

16. Northern Iowa L at Creighton, W v. Indiana St.

The Missouri Valley is so tough this year. But it may not be going away anytime soon.

17. Georgetown W at DePaul, W v. Pittsburgh
18. Iowa W at Purdue, W v. Michigan
19. North Carolina St. W v. Virginia, W v. Maryland
20. Ohio State W v. FAMU, W v. Minnesota

Good wins by all four teams, Iowa looking good in Big Ten race, and Georgetown cements status as Big East contender with home victory over Pitt.

21. Colorado L at Iowa State
22. Wisconsin L v. Illinois, L at Purdue
23. Boston College L v. Duke, W at VT
24. Indiana W v. NU, L v. UConn

Can't fault any of these teams too much for the losses, but Wisconsin's looking like the odd man out in the Big Ten after really hitting the skids. The Badgers needed the win at Purdue badly.

25. Nevada W at La Tech, W at NMSU
Two great road wins, but the W at Louisiana Tech may end up deciding the WAC regular season.

Bucknell W at Army, W at Colgate
Creighton W v. Northern Iowa, W at Drake
Kansas State, L at Baylor, L v. Oklahoma State
Louisiana State W at Mississippi, W v. Auburn
Maryland, L v. UNC, L at NCSU
Michigan, W at PSU, L v. Iowa
North Carolina, W at Maryland, W v. Clemson
San Diego State, W at Colorado State
Seton Hall W at Providence, W v. Rutgers
Southern Illinois, L at Indiana State, L at Wichita State
Syracuse, W v. Rutgers
UAB, W at Central Florida
Washington, L at Stanford, L at Washington State
Wichita State W v. Evansville, v. Southern Illinois
Xavier L v. George Washington, L at Saint Louis

Friday, February 03, 2006

A bit of advice for tomorrow's game

Against Connecticut.

Let everyone except Rashad Anderson shoot from outside. He's the only player who's hitting over 33% on threes, at 44.3% (excepting 6-10 Hilton Armstrong's fluke 1-1).

I'm especially looking at whoever is guarding Rudy Gay. You want him shooting outside. Go Danny Dakich v. Michael Jordan: drop back 10-15 feet everytime he gets the ball.

Box out. BOX OUT. BOX OUT. Gay killed us last year with three tip-jams. Don't let him near the rim without paying a price.

Run some screens trying to get contact with Josh Boone and Hilton Armstrong. Maybe you get some home whistles, and then there'll be a world of difference for Marco in trying to score against those two vs. shooting over Jeff Adrien and Ed Nelson.

Maybe run some two or three point guards sets with Strickland and Monroe, and maybe Suhr rather than Calloway, to try to limit turnovers. Do NOT turn the ball over, and get back on every missed shot a la Northwestern to keep UConn from getting points off the break or secondary break.

The Huskies are very good, but I don't think they are a team that will beat you by running screens and shooting jumpers, like Duke did. Just limit their chances for points in transition or off offensive rebounds, and you'll have a very good shot of getting them at home. This will be the toughest road game that UConn will have played yet. Don't make it easy for them, hit your shots, limit their possessions, and control the game.

IU over UConn... Can it happen? Sure.
Will it? ....

Go Hoosiers!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Indiana beats NU at home

Not by a big margin, but NU's not a terrible team this year. Nobody in the conference is really.

Nothing reassuring here, exactly, but the Hoosiers needed to get the win to unwind before taking on UConn. Should be a good game, as IU led the Huskies in Storrs last year for about 30 minutes, and will almost certainly lead for a while again. But will it be at the right time (when the buzzer sounds at the end of the game), who knows?

I wrote to Big Ten Wonk and pointed out that with Illinois road win against Wisconsin, now Iowa was probably the new favorite thanks to their soft schedule and having already beat Illinois at home.

I'm betting Iowa finishes at 12-4, with losses only coming at Indiana and at Illinois.

Tying for second place:

Illinois 11-5 (Predicting Further Losses at Ohio State, at Michigan, & at Michigan State)
Michigan 11-5 (PFL: at Iowa, at MSU., & at OSU)
Michigan State 11-5 (PFL: at Iowa & at Indiana)
Wisconsin 11-5 (PFL: at MSU and at Iowa)

Sixth goes to Indiana 10-6 (PFL: at Wisconsin, at Illinois, & at Michigan)

with Seventh to Ohio State 10-6 (losing tie-breaker to IU on head-to-head, with PFL at Michigan, at Wisconsin, & at MSU)

That means IU would probably have a rematch with Minnesota in the first round of the Big ten Tourney, perhaps face Michigan in the second, and then probably square off against Michigan State in the semifinals. But just thinking about it all makes my head hurt, so I'm signing off for now. A win v. UConn would be huge for the confidence of this squad, tho'. Go Hoosiers.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The quest for the At-large bid

As soon as I plug the mid-majority report rpi, it gets pulled b/c of lack of funds. I can't help Kyle out at the moment, but if you can and plan to read a good c-ball website, please throw him a few paypal bucks.

Here what I think of as a comprehensive list of those teams competing for the 34 at-large bids the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee awards:

The Key:
listed by
Team overall record (conference record) #RPI ranking {# Sagarin ranking}

win the home games, and you are in.
good= If there are no major slip-ups, or too many road losses, you have a very good chance of getting.
?= Can play your way in with some big wins, or a good winning streak.
NO= highly unlikely to get any bid but one to the NIT, short of winning your conference tourney.

George Washington 16-1 (6-0) #44 {#22} lock
Xavier 13-4 (5-2) #51 {#24} good
Temple 11-7 (4-3) #39 {#55} ?
St. Joseph's 9-8 (3-4) #41 {#49} NO

Duke 19-1 (7-0) #1 {#1} lock
North Carolina State 16-4 (5-2) #31 {#13} lock
Maryland 14-5 (4-2) #28 {#28} lock
Miami-Fla. 13-8 (5-3) #67 {#67} ?
Boston College 16-4 (4-3) #24 {#25} lock
North Carolina 12-5 (3-3) #38 {#31} good
Virginia 10-7 (4-3) #62 {#65} ?
Florida State 12-5 (3-4) #94 {#46} ?

Big East:
West Virginia 15-4 (6-0) #32 {#18} lock
Connecticut 19-1 (7-1) #9 {#2} lock
Villanova 16-2 (7-1) #3 {#4} lock
Pittsburgh 17-2 (6-2) #5 {#8} lock
Georgetown 15-4 (6-2) #29 {#12} lock
Marquette 15-6 (5-3) #30 {#42} good
Cincinnati 15-7 (4-4) #21 {#26} good
Seton Hall 12-6 (3-3) #37 {#52} good
Syracuse 15-6 (3-4) #33 {#37} good
St. John's 10-8 (3-4) #104 {#91} NO
Rutgers 13-7 (3-4) #73 {#61} ?
Louisville 14-7 (2-6) #63 {#53} ?

Big South:
Winthrop 14-5 (8-1) #81 {#63} ?

Big 10:
Illinois 20-2 (6-2) #7 {#6} lock
Iowa 16-5 (5-2) #10 {#21} lock
Michigan 15-3 (5-2) #17 {#15} good
Wisconsin 15-6 (5-3) #8 {#27} lock
Indiana 12-5 (4-3) #20 {#16} good
Michigan State 16-5 (4-3) #6 {#17} lock
Ohio State 15-3 (4-3) #15 {#10} lock

Big 12:
Texas 17-3 (5-1) #14 {#3} lock
Colorado 15-3 (5-2) #47 {#19} ?
Kansas 14-6 (5-2) #60 {#36} ?
Oklahoma 13-4 (4-2) #27 {#35} lock
Nebraska 14-6 (4-3) #95 {#105} NO
Kansas State 12-5 (3-3) #49 {#60} good
Iowa State 13-7 (3-4) #57 {#58} ?
Missouri 10-8 (3-4) #86 {#118} NO
Texas A&M 13-5 (3-4) #106 {#76} NO
Oklahoma State 12-9 (2-5) #82 {#77} NO

Big West:
UC-Irvine 12-8 (8-0) #129 {#123} NO

George Mason 15-5 (9-2) #35 {#40} good
NC-Wilmington 16-6 (9-2) #43 {#54} ?
Old Dominion 15-6 (8-3) #40 {#62} ?
Virginia Commonw. 14-5 (8-3) #58 {#80} ?

Memphis 19-2 (5-0) #2 {#5} lock
UTEP 12-5 (5-0) #125 {#121} NO
UAB 15-4 (5-1) #46 {#48} ?

Wisconsin-Milwaukee 16-4 (5-1) #18 {#44} good

Pennsylvania 10-6 (2-0) #118 {#71} NO

Iona 15-4 (9-2) #45 {#69} ?
Manhattan 13-6 (9-2) #56 {#90} ?

Akron 15-4 (8-1) #75 {#70} ?
Kent State 14-6 (8-1) #126 {#89} NO
Ohio 12-5 (6-2) #89 {#78} ?

Northern Iowa 19-4 (9-3) #13 {#20} lock
Creighton 15-5 (9-3) #25 {#29} good
Southern Illinois 16-5 (9-2) #23 {#38} good
Wichita State 17-5 (8-3) #26 {#23} good
Missouri State 13-6 (6-5) #42 {#33} good
Bradley 12-7 (6-5) #55 {#47} ?

Air Force 17-3 (5-2) #48 {#45} good
San Diego State 14-6 (7-1) #77 {#79} ?

Pac 10:
UCLA 17-4 (7-2) #12 {#30} lock
Arizona 13-7 (6-3) #16 {#39} good
California 12-6 (6-3) #72 {#59} ?
Stanford 10-7 (6-3) #92 {#92} NO
Washington 16-4 (5-4) #54 {#34} good

Bucknell 16-3 (7-0) #34 {#32} lock

LSU 14-5 (6-0) #22 {#11} lock
Tennessee 14-3 (5-1) #4 {#9} lock
Florida 19-2 (5-2) #19 {#7} lock
Kentucky 14-6 (4-2) #36 {#43} ?
Alabama 11-7 (4-2) #52 {#50} ?
Vanderbilt 12-5 (3-3) #50{ #56} ?
Arkansas 14-6 (3-4) #59 {#41} ?

Davidson 13-7 (6-2) #85 {#103} NO

Northwestern St. 13-6 (6-1) #78 {#88} ?

Sun Belt:
Western Kentucky 16-5 (8-1) #64 {#74} ?

Gonzaga 17-3 (7-0) #11 {#14} lock

Louisiana Tech 14-7 (7-1) #68 {#106} ?
Utah State 15-4 (6-2) #45 {#57} ?
Nevada 15-5 (5-3) #53 {#66} ?

A couple of notes:

Good RPI/Sagarin ratings won't overcome mediocre record, for example: Temple & St. Joesph's. Temple can get in with a nice winning streak, but St. Joe's is NIT fodder at best.

Cincinnati looks good, but after losing Armein Kirkland, they have to prove they belong, and the back end of their schedule is tough. The Bearcats could well finish 2-6 down the stretch, and even a 3-5 finish would leave them on pretty shaky ground.

Michigan & Indiana could both suffer melt-downs, and both have before under their current coaches. Watch these two team's road games carefully as they play in the nation's toughest conference (7 teams in the RPI top 30!).

I also kinda get the feeling that every team in the country is a bit over-rated this year. There just isn't a feeling of much depth or strength out there, but maybe I'm spoiled from last year's great season. Still, the only league races worth watching this season are the Big Ten and the Big East.

Indiana hosts Northwestern tonight. Lose this one, and Davis may not make it through the week. Davis supposedly premiering a new starting line-up, but just about any change couldn't hurt right about now.