Tuesday, December 16, 2008

An expected split.

Hola, amigos- been a while, but I've had Finals week to contend with, proposals to write, applications to submit etc. Life sometimes gets in the way of sports enthusiasm. But that's why I've got the DVR, eh?

Notes on the Hoosiers from the TCU & UK games:
Between the last minute of the TCU game and the first 12 minutes of the Kentucky game, Hoosier fans watched the nightmare scenario of this season unfold. The Hoosiers were unable to hold onto the ball, had no shooting ability, and were completely without any composure in trying to run their game. In those 13 minutes, the Hoosiers were outscored 42-6. Luckily, CBS spared IU fans from most of the carnage of the UK game, not tuning in until the Wildcats already had a 20-point lead. And this may be the scrappiest squad I've seen in 15 years, short of the '02 team (at times), and the '98 team (until they burnt out). However, those teams had a *lot* more talent than either of these squads.
In the TCU game, IU had a very good run against TCU, where just about everything *went right* for them, resulting in a safe 20-point lead going into the last minute. Hopefully they get a couple of these games in conference play, and have learned the lesson not to cough up the ball in the last minute. And even though they got down 26 against UK early, they didn't quit and managed to narrow the lead to 15 midway through the second half. They just couldn't make any more headway than that, though- Kentucky, even "down" this year, has a lot more talent on hand the Hoosiers. But I was expecting a split between these two games, and that's what happened.

Unfortunately, although I love Daniel Moore's effort, vision, and Mark Price-esque fearless drives to the hoop, he hasn't got the offensive stroke to make defenses fear him, and he hasn't the defensive chops to really cause trouble for opposing offenses. He definitely does better when Verdell Jones is available and he's not having to carry the entire load (even if Jones isn't adding much value right now). But I think what gets lost here in all of the "walk-on" talk is that Moore is a freshman- he's seeing these defenses for the very first time and just doesn't have a good feel of how to punish defenses for pressing him or draw fouls. Tom Pritchard is a good back to the basket player (really showing a great knack as a freshman), but he either needs to develop a high-post game immediately, or the Hoosiers have to find another way to move shot-blocking defenses around in order to get high-percentage shots. From the Kentucky game, I also liked Matt Roth's new-found willingness to go after the ball- there should be more of that. Williams, Story, and Dumes all just didn't shoot very well, but they can't stop- they really are the best options when things aren't going for Pritch. And Taber put decent stats up defensively, but he just doesn't have a place in the offense at the moment. He's got a decent set shot and solid passing, so there's both the opportunity & the need. Hopefully the long break will help.

In the upcoming days, I'll put together a state of the Big Ten rundown, but overall most of the teams that have positively surprised me nationally have been the Big Ten. Which I guess isn't great for Indiana in the short-term, but good for the future.


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