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.


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