Thursday, February 01, 2007

Here's your bandwagon, jump on it

Any former IU Basketball fans who aren't behind this Indiana Basketball team at this point should just go ahead and sell all of their old Hoosier paraphernalia and move to West Texas. At the very least, they should have the decency to never to talk about basketball again. Because what's happening in Bloomington's Assembly Hall is good basketball. Last night's 71-66 victory over #2 Wisconsin was a great game, and a perfect example of the excellence returning to college basketball in the state of Indiana.

This Hoosier squad's defense may not be as fearsome as it is hyped to be, but it's scrappy, imaginative, and adaptable. The offense swings the ball, looks for the open man, the extra pass, and relies on sweet-scoring DJ White to abuse any defense that dares to play him one-on-one. For tough games, the offense seems to have found a nice formula, go with DJ to keep you in it for 30 minutes, and then find a swingman's hot hand (Rod or AJ, most likely) to carry you down the stretch.

A good mix of personalities also feeds their success, Wilmont's unwavering belief that the next shot is going in and IU is going to win seems spread contagiously, DJ White constantly yelling and getting everyone pumped up, Earl Calloway playing the Scottie Pippen role, keeping spirits up and telling guys that the next pass is coming their way, the undersized Lance Stemler scrapping for every loose ball, every rebound. These guys set the tone, and it's a large reason why you've never seen IU phone in or even quit on a game this season.

And finally, let's give it up for Kelvin Sampson. This guy came to IU under a bit of a cloud, to a less-than-thrilled reception (Sampson was a hot commodity 10 years ago, not so much last season), and to a team that had lost its top three scorers and five players from its rotation. Let's just say there were a lot of question marks.

But Sampson has worked his tail off. He came in and persuaded DJ White and AJ Ratliff to stay, he persuaded Armon Bassett, Joey Shaw, and Xavier Keeling to stick around, he went out and got Lance Stemler & Mike White from the Juco ranks, and then for good measure, he nabbed the best junior guard in the country from the teeth of Illinois.

The season started, and he gave this team an identity, and he has worked just as hard as any of the players, if not harder. He paces the sideline, is talking to every one of our guys, lobbies the refs, adjusts the defense, comes out with offense game-plans that adapt to what the opponents are giving them (does anyone else remember past Indiana squads trying to solve the zone?).

If you can't appreciate what Sampson is doing on the sidelines, and what these Hoosiers are doing on the floor, then college basketball isn't your sport. And that's the last I'll say about it.

Great game, Hoosiers. Welcome to the Big Ten Title chase!


Post a Comment

<< Home