Blogger's been acting funny this summer
And not ha-ha funny. Couldn't access any sites yesterday, and last time I tried to post on this site it was taking an hour before I gave up.
Astute observers might've have noticed my Librarything.com blog widget on the bottom of this page with books from my library. I'll add some sports books onto my catalog, which I'm keeping pretty topic-specific for the time being due a presentation I'm doing at my institution. But it is a pretty cool social networking site for people who like books.
Back to Sports! Specifically, IU basketball.
There's been a lot brouhaha over the (un)ethics of recruiting of Eric Gordon, and I frankly just don't care. I think Sampson knows he's not going to get the kid, but wants to show the state he's willing to push the envelope to get Indiana kids. What concerns me more than this is the Phil Jones saga. Phil Jones is a 2006 top 100 recruit who stands 6'-10", 260, and is not known for his outside game. He verbally committed and then de-committed to Indiana, evidently having not gotten enough romancing by all the coaches. It'd be nice to have another big body off the bench, but I'm not sold on this kid right now. I think IU should rescind the offer at this point, as the very last thing we need is another George, Bracey, or Marco who'll think it's all about them and pout when they don't get every play called for them.
I am excited about next year's squad. While they won't challenge Ohio State or Wisconsin for the title, and probably won't be all that impressive in road conference games, Kelvin Sampson did exactly what the program needed in getting DJ White & AJ Ratliff to return, getting freshmen 6-2 Armon Bassett & 6-6 Xavier Keeling to honor their committments, and then getting top Juco forwards 6-6 Mike "King Kong" White and 6-8 Lance Stemler to shore up the frontcourt.
There's now talent in Assembly Hall, and while maybe not as much overall as last year, it shouldn't be too far of a drop. And while I think Mike Davis isn't a terrible coach, he's not a coach on the level of Kelvin Sampson. For that matter, Sampson isn't on the level of a Pitino or Roy Williams, but he is a good coach.
I don't think it's unreasonable for IU to contend with Illinois for top three in the Big Ten, and to be a lock for the NCAA (barring injuries).
Forward: Lance Stemler
Mike White is the higher-ranked, but I could see Stemler starting to open up the offense with his shooting. If he or DJ get in foul trouble, or Stemler's throwing bricks, look for MW to on the floor in a hurry. In fact, I would look for Mike to get more minutes than Stemler.
Forward: Rod Wilmont
Rod's been working hard since he arrived with Bracey & Marshall five years ago. It finally started to pay off last season when he showed some defensive skills, rebounding, and streak 3-pt. shooting. A little more consistency and better decision-making will see him getting major minutes all season long.
Center: DJ White
What, you were expecting Ben Allen? As long as DJ's foot problems are over, he should be one of the premier Big 10 big men. In fact, only frosh phenom Greg Oden could be expected to perform any better.
Guard: AJ Ratliff
AJ destroyed Kentucky in the second half of last year's game, but pretty much never reappeared. Part of the problem is that when his outside shot wasn't falling, he wouldn't take it to the rack, and on defense he just made a lot of silly fouls. Let's hope Sampson can bring out the best in AJ, because there's a LOT of potential there. Jay Edwards-type potential. But if AJ continues downhill, IU might have to turn to freshmen Armon Bassett or Joey Shaw to start.
Point Guard: Earl Calloway
EC was clearly the point guard of the future for Indiana last season, and even in the loss to Gonzaga, he put up 13 points, 10 assists, and 9 rebounds. As long as Sampson can keep Calloway dangerous but still in control, there's few guards in the country that will be able to stay with him. One of the big problems with Earl was the surprising blow-by ability of players that he was guarding. No one should've gotten past him with his speed, and hopefully Coach Sampson can take care of that deficiency.
As discussed, Mike White (or Lance Stemler) should be a 6th starter, and Sampson will look to 6-10 Ben Allen to play some serious minutes inside as well. Frosh Bassett and especially Joey Shaw (a 2005 top 100 recruit) should get some decent playing time, and former-walk-on Erreck Suhr will still play spot minutes at least. The question is whether Sampson feels that the athletic recruit Xavier Keeling will be needed this year or not, as Keeling could probably use a year to hone his shooting and BBall IQ.