What a weekend to be an Indiana Alum living in the Chicago area. But, the NFL in just a minute.
First, Indiana gets out of Hartford with a nice road win. I think it was also needed, as IU had a very good non-conference schedule, but lacked any quality wins outside of Assembly Hall (and yes, I do think SIU was a quality win). It was touch and go, but there were some things to really appreciate in the 77-73 victory.
Coming out of the gate, IU ran their offense, hit their shots, and scored 24 points in their first 12 possessions. Coming out of the half, Rod Wilmont scored the first 5 points, making Calhoun call a timeout. And at the end of the game, although I wouldn't call Rod's heroics "execution" exactly, IU played the last minute exactly right, not turning the ball over, only fouling once, and getting the ball to the guy who was hitting free-throws (Armon Bassett).
Even during UConn's big run to erase IU's 28-14 lead (which you knew was coming), the Hoosiers looked calm the whole way. They ran the offense, got open shots (a couple of good looks at three that didn't go down), and slowly but surely rebuilt a lead that Uconn managed to erase with a leaning three at the halftime buzzer.
3) Aggressive Defense
Yeah, the Hoosiers payed the price in rebounding, but they really got in the faces of the Huskies, not allowing open shots or passes, and running to help cut off the lanes. Mike White in particular was tough inside, which is what we've been looking for all season. I'll take the odds of an overly-aggressive defense, as long as Kelvin Sampson can find someone to grab those weakside rebounds.
UConn is going to be very good (although maybe not this year, but maybe so), and Stanley Robinson is a future NBA lottery pick. That guy's got it all, and putting him on the floor with Thabeet and Adrien makes for a very fearsome frontline. The Huskies' guards are starting to figure it out, especially in terms of getting the ball up the floor in a hurry. Wow. That sideline passing gets the ball from end to end before most of the defense is back, and IU has pretty decent transition defense.
(although I can't say I'm a big fan of Jerome Dyson, who eats up crappy teams but can't seem to beat good ones).
Part of our rebounding problem was the strategy on both sides. Sampson went large stretches of the game with a zone defense, the weakness that everyone knows giving up outside shots, but the lessor-known one is giving up offensive rebounds. Calhoun recognized that Sampson was going zone, and rather than having his guys shoot threes (which they aren't good at, and outside of that halftime leaner, they went 1-4), he had them drive and throw up shots that weren't likely to connect, but which drew the defense to them, and the rest of the Huskies went to the glass for putbacks.
The Fab Five had a similar offense, move the defense and allow your talented bigs to eat up the missed shots.
But the Hoosiers need DJ to get more than 3 rebounds, and hopefully AJ gets heatlthy sometime and decides to come help on the glass. When AJ & Rod are coming to help DJ and Mike White on the defensive glass, we can look pretty tough. But that combo doesn't happen very often. But I bet Sampson starts making it happen.
Are you kidding me? Colts and Bears in the Superbowl! Talk about your dream match-up.
Famed Offense vs. Notorious Defense, Peyton Manning vs. the kid from the Bloomington, the Magnificent Midwestern Melee in Miami! (tm).
I didn't watch the Bears game except for a little at the end of the first half and at the end of the game, in which I saw a sloppy, loosey-goosey game that Bears had control of.
I did watch the a lot of the Colts game, rather in spite of myself, because every time in the first half that I turned it on, something awful was happening to the Colts. I turned it back on to see the Colts get within 8, and then tie it up. Maybe the best pass Peyton threw all night was the 2-point conversion to Harrison. Patriots fans are all abuzz with the dropped passes, but Harrison flat-out missed one too. Just because you've got good receivers doesn't mean they won't miss a pass in a game of this magnitude.
Btw, what is with replays always showing you the play right after the part your looking for? When every Colts' fan in the world is looking to see if Gaffney was out-of-bounds before he caught the pass (& incidentally the part the announcers are talking about as well), why keep on showing the part where Gaffney's in the air?
But I guess I'm more of a Colts fan than a Bears fan, because I couldn't stop watching the Colts. No matter who wins the Superbowl, it's all gravy. But if I have to root for one team, I guess it's the Colts.
Still, I'll end with this: