Monday, November 30, 2009

Long tough weekend

It was rough, but I've come through it. Sickness, deadlines, and a funeral. Not the most fun holiday I've experienced. But, y'know, it was what it was. And, just one more week (or so) of deadlines and I actually get to start watching the basketball I'm DVRing.

IU Men's Soccer lost at UNC, which is not surprising, but a even a sweet sixteen finish only raised the Hoosiers to a 12-10-1 overall record, and the offense had real problems. Is Freitag's job safe? Is he capable of getting the Hoosiers back to being a consistent championship challenger with his own recruits? I don't know. If former Hoosier and current Akron coach Caleb Porter wins the championship and sets the division I record with 25 consecutive wins, he should probably get a long look as the new direction for the Hoosiers. I'll be rooting for Akron from here on out in the tourney.

IU Men's basketball snapped their three-game losing streak with a win over the Northwestern State Demon Deacons, who I actually literally bumped into at Nick's. I was struck by how tall they weren't, as a team. A much stiffer challenge awaits the Hoosiers at home when Maryland comes to town. I'd love to see the Hoosiers get this one, but I think Vasquez and Hayes will carve up any zone that Crean might throw at them. Best go man-to-man in this one, methinks. If IU can notch the upset -yes, UM looks vulnerable, but it still would be an upset- then I think the Big Ten has an excellent chance of finally nudging out the ACC for the first Challenge victory. It's a big If, tho, and the Big Ten had a pretty spotty weekend going into this. Still, I'll be rooting for the Big Ten this week.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mixed results

I had little time to watch sports this weekend, which was generally a good thing because there wasn't a lot of good news for fans of Hoosier teams. There were a couple of standout events, tho-

1) IU Soccer moves to the 3rd round. One of only two Big Ten teams to get to the Sweet 16, the Hoosiers avenged last year's loss to Butler, beating the Bulldogs 1-0. This looked like a pretty classic Mike Freitag win, with solid defense and just enough offense to move up. It is very good news that the defense is finally solidifying, as a lack of composure has been plaguing the Hoosiers all year, and if the defense stays tough and Darren Yeagle & Will Bruin start getting consistent help from Eric Alexander & the rest of the midfield, who knows? Maybe IU can spring an upset at North Carolina and be playing for yet another NCAA College Cup berth.

2) The Colts extended their regular season winning streak with a little more luck than pluck. The Ravens couldn't finish in the red zone, and the Colts dodged any miracle finishes due to a fumbled punt return that essentially ended the game. The Colts could actually pass the Patriots' streak with a winnable three-game stretch coming up (Houston, Tennessee, and Denver) but need to tighten up on both sides of the ball.

The bad news was that Purdue again won the Oaken Bucket challenge, and that the Hoosier basketball team went 0-3 in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. George Mason banked in a three-pointer with less than a minute to break a tied game. The last-place finish, where the feeling is a couple of games got away that the Hoosiers should have won, have other fans feeling not so down about the team. I feel like a couple of opportunities were lost here, and these Hoosiers have got to put in some work now. Nobody's starting job should be safe- Watford needs to be more consistent on the boards, Pritchard has been near-invisible, Creek has yet to learn how to play good defense, and Jones & Rivers are shooting poorly while coughing up the ball. Northwestern State is up next, and then Maryland comes to town. The Hoosiers need to do a lot better if they hope to have any chance against the Terps.

I did find a quality soccer blog, which is a little rare. For the latest chatter on the Men's national team, College Soccer, or even last night's MLS championship game (congrats Real Salt Lake), check out Soccer by Ives.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fingers crossed for a Hoosier turnaround

Falling to Boston was inexcusable, not so much losing to possible NCAA team as the poor shooting, a late collapse, and particularly the getting totally out-rebounded is really shameful. I think maybe Watford needs a seat on the bench for a little bit, as at least Elston can hit the glass.

I certainly didn't expect IU to beat Purdue in the bucket game, but I'm sorry it didn't happen for the Hoosiers. Great season guys, it was supposed to be a bit of rebuilding year, and you almost -on so many occasions- pulled out a winning record. Hard work eventually pays off, so keep at it, gentlemen!

Here's hoping that Sunday brings a couple of Hoosier victories, IU Soccer over Butler and IU basketball over George Mason. Go Hoosiers!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A swing and an Ole Miss

I did think that IU would be a longshot in this game. Yeouch. Hey, uh, guys? You wanna stay between the basket and the guy with the ball. Crean needs to teach these how to lock down the paint, and soon. And where did that nice free-throw-shooting go? It's getting worse every game. Ah, well. It's looking like it will be a roller-coaster of a season.

At least the Soccer team got won, posting a 2-0 revenge win over Louisville, who blanked the Hoosiers 4-0 a few weeks ago. Way to go, Hoosiers!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

USC-Upstate Reax

I actually don't have a lot to say about USC-Upstate game. I've watched all but about the last 5 minutes now, and it was... well, it wasn't exciting. At first, when Rivers took it right at the gargantuan Schneiders and laid the ball off for to a teammate for a lay-up, I was like- that's how you do it! And Rivers and Jones had a number of very good passes, but overall the team was pretty poor at handling the ball and not very savvy about attacking a shot-blocker. Watford and Elston are players, tho. Good to see them still playing well. And it was good to see IU come out strong in the second half and build a 20-point lead, even if they let get down to eight at the end.
However, either Dumes isn't 100% back yet, or he's seriously regressed. He was good on the boards but couldn't hit anything and committed some terrible turnovers. Right after a particularly egregious turnover, I was watching the score updates (during class) on the Hoosier Scoop, and I thought the line of the night was "Dumes thought he was playing the X-Box and hit all the buttons at once." Also, that fiesty 'tude had better improve, because right now his minutes could go to Roth, no problem.

For the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, I would guess IU's chances at beating Ole Miss are pretty low. But if the Hoosiers can come out of this tourney with a 2-1 record, that'll be something to build on. Win the tourney and we're a NCAA tournament contender... but that'd probably require taking down not only Mississippi but also Villanova, and that's just not going to happen.

Congrats to the Men's Soccer team for getting into the NCAA tourney again. Their 10-9-1 record is not impressive, but the murderer's row of a schedule is, getting them to #6 in the RPI. Why is IU #6? Look at the RPI top 25 foes - how about *non-conference* games against St. John's (t), Wake Forest(L), Akron(L), Kentucky(W), Butler(L), and then throw in Notre Dame(W), Louisville(L), New Mexico (W) and yes, even the criminally under-rated UCSB (L). That's 5 top 25 non-conference games, and 9 total in the top 32. And that's still not counting the Big Ten foes (Northwestern #3, Michigan St. #17, Penn St.#13, Ohio St.#11, Michigan #33, and Wisconsin #38). Indiana probably isn't a top 25 team, but they did belong in the tourney. Here's hoping they can pay Louisville back tomorrow night!

Monday, November 16, 2009

USC-Upstate Preview, Weekend Recap

So, how 'bout that Bill Belichick?

What I especially liked what SportsCenter having Merril Hoge defend Belichick's call as "brilliant" because.... Belichick is awesome? Seriously, that was the argument. Uh, Bobby Knight was a genius of a basketball coach in his day, but who's going to argue he never made any mistakes? The man has my respect as a winner (and my disrespect as a cheater) but Belichick screwed up a game his team had won, and that's all. Hey, I was happy to see the Colts capitalize, but they got lucky.

Um, the weekend saw most Big Ten teams roll over their opponents, the notable exception being Iowa. My goodness, they're in for a rough season. The bright spot for the conference was Manny Harris' triple-double, which he completed in 29 minutes. In case you were wondering, Evan Turner played 30 minutes in his season-opening triple-double. The conference has some serious talent this season. Which is both good and bad for the Hoosiers.

Speaking of, game 2 tips off tonight against South Carolina-Upstate. I mean no disrespect, but I try to keep abreast of who's joining D-I, and I can't remember them at all. It would appear this is their third D-I season. Anyway, it does look like they'll be tougher than Howard as they return a better team and have better recruits. But they won't be that much tougher than Howard. Again, if this is not a blowout, then it is cause for serious concern.

Tonight, I'll be watching for how the Hoosiers attack 7-3 shotblocker Nick Schneiders. Go Hoosiers!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Illinois grad students go on strike

Not that anyone reads this, but after reading the shockingly uninformed boards at Illinois Loyalty, I gotta say this publicly:

As a current student at Illinois, I'd like to state my support for the UIUC GEO strike to protect their tuition waivers. If you committed to a school and then discovered that your tuition waiver went away, you'd probably consider that a breach of contract. It's not like I think that strikes are awesome, or that unions should be walking out every year, but this is the only recourse the grad students have to guard what they have, and I support them.

Howard Reax

With IU football and soccer teams suffering unfortunate losses this weekend, it's time to once again focus on basketball.

The Hoosier men took care what's likely to be one of the worst teams in D-I, downing Howard 83-60, in a game that wasn't that close. Next up is USC-"upstate" before they head to Puerto Rico. John M of CQ has a nice wrap-up, and ITH has some impressions (from the balcony), too.

My impressions 1) these guys could be better than expected this year. The freshmen have game- I like Elston & Creek better with each game, and Watford and Hulls give Crean options that simply weren't there last year. 2) The Hoosiers are going to be pretty good next season and even better in 2011-2012, the future is bright. 3) Hoosier fans should prepare themselves for some really frustrating losses this season. A major point of concern is that the turnover problem isn't going away. A second point of concern is that I saw a lot IU players getting pushed around going for defensive rebounds. IU actually did ok on the boards last season, but how to put this... the other guys didn't miss much. And the backcourt -Jones & Rivers- looked outright out of control at times. If the Hoosiers can start cutting down the turnovers, force opponents' into more misses while continuing to defend the glass, all in the top conference in the country- then the postseason beckons.

I still think the experience of other Big Ten teams and the Hoosier turnover problems keep IU from getting over .500 this season- but I'd love to be proven wrong.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Howard Preview & Soccer

The Men's basketball team kicks off their season against Howard. What kind of test will they be? Well, most computers/analysts put Indiana's team as ranked somewhere around 200 (I think Sagarin had IU at about 190, while KenPom & ncaaRPI had us around 210). Howard lived around 330. As bad as last year's team was, Howard would've been a welcome foe. And you won't see Howard's recruiting class on any top 10 list. This should be a blowout, and if it's not, that'll be cause for alarm.

If I was in Bloomington today, nothing would keep from cheering on the Soccer team in the Big Ten Tourney and Bill Armstrong stadium. It's at 2pm ET, but the Hoosiers are very close to keeping their season alive. They went a long way last night by beating #5 seed Wisconsin 2-0, to improve their overall record to 10-8-1. They also earned a rematch to top-seeded Ohio State who beat them 1-0 in overtime in a very closely contested match a couple of weeks ago. If IU can take down OSU to earn a spot in the Championship game, the odds of getting a NCAA at-large invite will be greatly improved. Of course, win today and on Sunday, and they're automatically in. I, for one, don't want to see any other teams hoisting the championship trophy on Jerry Yeagley field. Go Hoosiers!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

2nd exhibition game a win

Indiana crushed another in-state small college team, beating St. Joseph's 95-67. Although the final score wasn't markedly different than against Grace, IU pulled away early in this one and cruised. Maurice Creek had a monster game, and showed everyone why he was considered the most college-level-ready player of the recruits coming in. Hulls had a pretty poor game, at one point in the first half committing three straight turnovers. Watford and Rivers were steady again, as was Jones, although Jones had some serious turnover problems. As for the team stats, IU shot 5 of 10 from three, 32 of 46 from the stripe, and had 15 assists to 18 turnovers.

What can be gleaned from these games? Well, I did my own little number-crunching of the stats, and while the low level of competition can't give a reliable forecast, you can tell that the freshmen plus Rivers are pretty decent in comparison to the returning Hoosiers. In fact, the seven newcomers would've probably won more games than all of last season's roster. Verdell Jones and Tom Pritchard were two of the best IU players last year, and while they still look like they belong in the starting lineup, they're not better than newbies Rivers, Creek, and Watford.

Also, the bench- the Hoosiers will actually have one this year as Hulls & Derek Elston (boy, they could've used Elston last year) will make positive contributions off the bench. And Capobianco and Roth will fill in as depth, but I don't expect either of them to top 10 min./game. Muniru and Dumes are a bit of a mystery still. Dumes was the leading scorer last year and perhaps the best on-ball defender, but where will he fit in once he's healthy? And Muniru- well, he had a nice night against a team that wasn't very big or very good. But he can block shots and dunk- great upside. Jobe and Moore, barring incredible improvement or disastrous injuries, will probably see a lot more of bench this year.

In other Big Ten news, Ohio State kicked off the real season with a real game (altho it was just Alcorn State), and Evan Turner had a night for the ages with a triple-double, just stuffing the stat-sheet. Enjoy him in his last go-round here in the college game. Michigan State also beat Grand Valley State, exacting some revenge for a loss a couple of years ago, but they were still without Morgan, Roe, and Allen, and Summers got poked in the eye and only 19 minutes. Also, Kalin Lucas shot 6-for-18 from the floor, bringing his preseason total to 11-for-39. I've mentioned my reservations about Lucas' shooting percentage in the past, and shooting 28% against D-II competition isn't exactly alleviating my concerns.

Friday, November 06, 2009


The Big Ten teams are starting to kick off their exhibition schedule, blowing out various Junior College & NAIA schools.

Here's the numbers I'm interested in:

Purdue over "Cal U" on Tuesday: The Boilers hit 8 of 21 threes, 16 of 26 frees, and had 17 assists to 15 turnovers. The real California will be tougher.

Last night:
Minnesota really pasted Minn. Duluth, 114-47. The Gophers still only shot 5 of 15 on threes, 21 of 29 on frees, but had an eye-popping 32 assists against just 5 turnovers.

Northwestern took down "Robert Morris" of (Ill.). What's with all the playing Juco teams with D-I names? Anyway, NU shot 9-of-31 from three, 3-of-7 from free, and had a very good 24 assists against 7 turnovers. Notably, Shurna & Coble, who will be taking most of Craig Moore's threes, went 6-for-9 behind the arc.

Ohio State beat on Walsh, shooting a very nice 8-for-17 on threes, 4-of-6 from the stripe, and 16 assists vs. 11 turnovers.

Finally, the UW Badgers jumped on Bemidji State 90-54, but shot a miserable 5-of-20 from three, and 19-of-32 from free (59%), but had 19 assists vs. 13 turnovers. For reference, Indiana beat Benjy St. 72-54 last season.

So, how did Indiana's Wednesday win over Grace stack up? The Hoosiers shot 4 of 13 on threes, 22 of 29 on free-throws, and had 21 assists to 17 turnovers. What's notable here is that Indiana has posted the best free-throw percentage so far of any Big Ten, after ranking last (I think- not 100% on this) last season. Not crowing about it, mind you, but it'd be nice to take ourselves out of close games by bricking free-throws this time around. It's also nice to have more assists than turnovers (which Illinois did not), but I think Indiana is still going to challenge for the conference lead in this category- there's just too many low-turnover coaches in the league now. The lack of three-point prowess doesn't worry me yet- most teams, excepting OSU and Purdue, had a pretty rocky start here.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


A beautiful, insightful post on tonight's game eaten by blogger.

Basically, IU pulls away from Grace in exhibition, I'm not worried that it didn't happen until second half, most of our freshmen look talented.

Box score breakdowns will come later.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Comment to Crimson Quarry.

CQ has a nice run-down of the returning guards here, and I'm too impatient to wait for my SBNation ID and permissions to come through.

"Great work! I'm sure that it won't be the happiest year to be Hoosier basketball fan, but it'll be a long sight better than last year.

I did want to mention a couple of things about Roth, 1) he almost *never* shot inside the arc, unless his foot was on the three-point line. Mostly he ran off picks and backdoor slips to the hoop hoping to draw some contact and hit some free-throws (which he did well). However, the one time that I saw when he actually received the backdoor pass, he almost didn't know what to do with it- he bricked the lay-up badly. 2) Roth did a great job of not turning the ball over. Besides Jones, he was the only IU player with more assists than turnovers in Big Ten play. 3) Roth never gave up on a play. There was a long stretch of the season, after the Iowa game I think, where he was IU's leading shot-blocker just because he got back on transition defense.

I don't see him starting this year, he's just not big enough, but I think he'll be a very useful player to bring off the bench for offense, or even just to calm things down."

Monday, November 02, 2009

Countdown to the beginning...

of the future of Indiana Basketball. The exhibition game is against Grace on Wednesday night, and I believe my DVR will be taping it early in the morning on Thursday, and some point after that, I'll be watching to see what the new Hoosiers look like. Speaking of exhibition games, I generally watch the box scores of other Big Ten teams for three-point and free-throw shooting, and the assist-turnover ratio. Generally, the exhibition foes are so much smaller that it's hard to get a read on the accuracy of our league foes' FG% and rebounding acumen. Not that shooting is much easier to predict, but good shooting always stands out. Purdue plays tomorrow night, but two exhibition games have actually already occurred.

MSU trounced Northwood, with 18 assists to 11 TOs, going 18 for 30 on frees and 4 for 18 on threes.

Illinois beat down Southern Missouri, 16 assists/19 TOs, and went 26 for 37 on frees and 3 for 15 on threes.

So, no good shooting to really standout here, although Alex Legion hit a couple of threes for Illinois, and frosh Paul & Richardson showed some scoring abilities. For MSU, Morgan and Chris Allen (not Chris Hill, as the MSU website listed complete with a link to Hill's senior profile) were out and Roe only played 7 minutes. Of the newcomers, Derrick Nix showed a nice ability to score in the low post and Summers scored from all over. But Kalin Lucas did go 5 of 21 from the field. That's gotta be a little worrisome for the green gang.

Good bit on the improvement of returning players at Big Ten Geeks. I think an improvement from Tom Pritchard specifically, would go a very long way in helping the Hoosiers.