Friday, February 23, 2007

Doing what needs done

I've been a little busy my work and personal life, so my obsession with IU (& Big 10) basketball has lessened ever so slightly. But I did watch IU's 71-59 tight victory over Minnesota. There were certainly good and bad moments. The worst was probably watching Minnesota come down the floor midway through the second half on four consecutive possessions down just 48-50. And DJ White, Earl Calloway, and AJ Ratliff were all sitting on the bench. Uh-oh. But on the good side, Minnesota didn't score on any of them, and neither of their two shots drew iron.

And on the really good side, Minnesota's been a mediocre team this year, but when they have Spencer Tollackson playing, they're not that much worse that NCAA bubble teams Iowa, Purdue, Michigan, and Illinois. And IU looked like the better team for most of the game, even with their starting (& the conference's second-best) point guard still sitting out. And there are definitely some young Hoosiers with upside here. I've raved before about Joey Shaw (who really hit the glass in this one: 6 rebounds) but Armon Bassett has handles and quicks and an ability to hang and get his shot off. I think he'll be a pretty solid point guard after a summer's worth of figuring out his role at this level. And Ben Allen played pretty well in his time, too, hitting shots in the paint with either hand and generally playing tough inside. That's really good to see, especially if DJ goes pro (please, please, no).
But again, Mike White and Ben Allen combined for 22 minutes, while Lance Stemler got 30. I'm not sure why Mike White played so little, but poor FT shooting generally gets you the hook, even though it's really not terribly costly over the course of game (White missed 3 of 4 FTAs, which still gave IU one more point on those two possessions than Stemler's two missed 3-pointers). Give Stemler his due, he hustles and did grab 5 rebounds.
IU goes on the road to Michigan State, who's flying high after a big win over Wisconsin. This could really go either way. Either MSU has a let-down and allows IU the chance to steal one on the road, or they play with huge confidence and Indiana gets shellacked for its worst loss of year. Odds are not good for a Hoosier victory, which means they have to win at Northwestern and versus Penn State at home to get to 20 wins overall, 10 wins in-conference, and assure a spot in the NCAA tourney.


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