Thursday, January 17, 2008

Minnesota, Hoop thoughts, and the Colts

There's been some noise around the blogosphere parroting Sampson's line that Indiana's win over Illinois showed that the Hoosiers can win when they're not playing well. I don't think that's an accurate read of last Sunday's game. While I think Indiana has a lot more talent than Illinois and will certainly go further in March, we have to give Illinois some credit, and give the Hoosiers some blame. They made Indiana look pretty shoddy on both ends of the floor, and our guys didn't respond all that well. Particularly ball-handlers Ellis and Crawford got frustrated and were unable to make good decisions on offense, and that seemed to affect their defense as well. When Armon Bassett is clearly our best perimeter defender, somethin's up. I said earlier that I don't know what the Hoosiers would've done if we didn't have BOTH Ratliff and Bassett back last game... well, they would've lost at home to a team that was under .500 for the year. Even so, we needed some breaks to fall our way at the end of the game to pull it out, a deflected pass goes right to our best three-point shooter, a ball-out-of-bounds goes back to us, and when Calvin Brock tries to get fouled in the closing seconds, the whistles stay quiet.

What does this all mean? I think it means IU was more lucky than tough in this game. And going to Minnesota always requires some toughness, but this year Tubby Smith's got a whole new team to try against us. Don't forget that last season Smith had a mediocre team that beat us on their home floor. The situation looks about the same, and the Hoosiers are more turnover-prone this year. I always root for the Hoosiers, but if I had to put money on this game, well.... I wouldn't go with my heart.

Speaking of, my heart goes out to Geary Claxton of Penn State, that perennially forgotten talent mired in the conference cellar. The irony is that this year Penn State actually had a very good chance at the postseason, chances that have now taken a serious hit. Poor Penn State, and poor Nittany Lion fans. Speaking of Nittany Lion fans, check out the tempo-free stats page that Happy Valley Hoops has posted. Nice work, HVH!

I'll never understand Craig Moore of Northwestern. Every year he starts out shooting great, and then at the start of the Big Ten play, Moore goes ice-cold. Last night against Chicago State, he makes 6 of 9 threes. What's up, fella? Now that I've said something, watch him go off for 10 threes against IU.

The Colts lost in tight game to San Diego that I couldn't watch the second half of. Peyton Manning is awesome, but just imagine the game he would've had if guys hadn't fumbled, dropped his passes, or tipped them into interceptions. So much had to go wrong for the Colts not to win that game, and I think they would've beaten New England if they'd won this one. But they didn't, and now I just have to hope someone else beats the Patriots.

Go Hoosiers, and go anyone but the Pats!


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