Thursday, December 18, 2008

More perspective on last year's team

Eric Gordon may not be playing for the Hoosiers, but he is making news about them today in the Indianapolis Star.

If what he said is true, it changes the way I viewed that team and adds to the reasons for its downfall. Maybe placing all the blame on Kelvin Sampson is a mistake?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Finding a silver lining

The Hoosiers didn't look all that impressive in a 18-point loss at Kentucky. However, I still think I would pay to see this team.

The game was won within the first 10 minutes of the game. After going nearly 7 minutes before scoring a point, IU found itself down 23 points at halftime, 36-13. It was the second half where the Hoosiers showed me something.

How many times have we seen a team go into halftime down a ton of points and just packed it in going into the second half? The Hoosiers came out with more grit and began to chip away at the huge Wildcat lead. It was helped by UK falling into a general malaise that led to sloppy play. The Wildcats shot 57 percent in the first half, but it decreased to 42 percent in the second half. IU was able to up its shooting percentage from 23 percent to 48 percent in the second half. So it appeared they improved their offense and defense.

The Hoosiers never closed the deficit to less than 15 points. It was clear there were chances for them to get a lot closer had a few more shots fallen, over even some free throws. IU shot 8 for 17 from the free-throw line, a 47-percent rate. Kentucky shot 73 percent from the line, making 16 out of 20.

There may be no moral victories, but the Hoosiers can take some positive things away from this game. They did win the second half, 41-36 and outscored Kentucky in the paint. The Hoosiers also won the points-off-turnovers battle.

For the game, IU was out-rebounded by 8, but it could have been a lot worse. They had 20 turnovers, which is not stellar, but UK had 23.

Is it possible to call this a good loss? I didn't turn this game off thinking the Hoosiers were destitute. I think they may be getting better.

Notes from the game are here.

I think I would pay money to see these Hoosiers

As I wait through the final hour before the annual Indiana-Kentucky game, I began thinking about why I have come to enjoy watching these 5-4 Hoosiers.

I didn't start out all that excited about the team. I watched the blow-out by Notre Dame and Wake Forest and thought I would only be interested in maybe the first few minutes of an IU game this year. But then I saw them beat Cornell, hang with Gonzaga and then take apart TCU and became a little more optimistic.

This team appears to be improving. The first two blow-outs I mentioned, there was almost no rebounding. But against TCU, the team was all over the boards. My only complaint now is they miss too many lay-ups for my taste.

The key thing for me is I can see the effort the players give each night. And it appears other fans can as well. After a 16-point loss to Gonzaga (don't kid yourself, that game was a lot closer that the final score), the team got a standing ovation from the Lucas Oil Stadium crowd. They may not the most-talented team, but these Hoosiers appear to give the winning effort for 40 minutes a game. I'm not sure we could say that about previous years' Hoosiers.

Terry Hutchens in today's Indianapolis Star wonders whether this year's team could emulate the early 90's Kentucky teams. Then UK coach Rick Pitino inherited a team banned from the post-season with a bunch of young players. The rebuilding job was complete by 1992, when UK got to the regional finals of the NCAA tournament and lost what is considered one of greatest college basketball games ever played.

I don't think these Hoosiers have that much potential, but I still applaud the effort. As another friend of mine said this morning, people want to see them play this year because they appreciate the underdog. I hope they can get maybe one or two quality wins this year to boost their confidence.

And hopefully I'll be able to witness that big effort this year, because it won't be long before tickets will be hard to come by again.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A new story

I have completed a short story. It is one of my first real attempts at fiction.

I called it "A Familiar Scene from a Bar."

Enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Root for Mizzu and Florida today

If you are a true college football fan, you should be rooting for Missouri and Florida to win their conference championships today.

Missouri plays BCS No. 2 Oklahoma today in the Big 12 title game, while BCS No. 4 Florida plays No. 1 Alabama in the SEC championship. A win by Florida leaves all the contenders with a loss, forcing a complicated computer and pollsters formula to decide which two teams deserve a to play for the national championship.

I have written in this blog before that I want a playoff in the college football bowl subdivision. And later this month I will stage my fantasy college football tournament. For the health of college football, the BCS needs to be thrown in to chaos and put more pressure on the powers-that-be to create a playoff system.

Assuming the Tigers and Gators win today, it would give a lot of teams a claim to a title-game spot. And the arguments aren't as long-winded as you might think.
  • Florida should into the title game by knocking off the No. 1 team, and they likely would deserve a spot. But the loss to Ole Miss, at home no less, still weighs on me.
  • A Missouri win would knock Oklahoma out of the discussion. Texas, BCS No. 3, has one loss and beat Oklahoma in the regular season, but how can you put a team in the national championship game that couldn't win their conference division? Texas beat Oklahoma and Missouri during the regular season. That should count for something.
  • Texas Tech, BCS No. 7, also has a claim, because they beat Texas. But are you really going to put a run-and-shoot football team in the national championship after they gave up 60-plus points to Oklahoma?
  • USC, BCS No. 5, clinches the PAC 10 title today with a win over UCLA. The Trojans' only loss is to Oregon State on the road. But the lack of quality competition in the PAC 10 has kept them out in the past. It seems to me they would have a beef if they are kept out of the game.
  • Nobody believes Penn State, BCS No. 8, should be included in the national championship discussion because the Nitnany Lions didn't play anyone except Ohio State and Oregon State. I am a Big Ten fan, an Indiana alum, but rationally it's hard to say Penn State doesn't have a shot at the national championship. The lions beat Ohio State on the road and their only loss was to Iowa on the road on a last-second field goal. Florida's only loss was a home.
  • Utah and Boise State, BCS Nos. 6 and 9, respectively, are undefeated. If I root for those teams, I would feel a little cheated. They beat everyone on their schedule. Both are faulted by their lack of competition in conference. How do you solve that problem?

In this scenario, there are arguments against EVERY potential national champion. The key problem is the voters and computers are forced to make a decision. If they would settle it on the field with a tournament, the teams make the decision for them. There are no beefs, no politicking, no complaints about writers changing votes.

When will college football wake up? Institute a playoff.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Are the Hoosiers the Big Ten's worst football team?

I began thinking about this yesterday after watching (thankfully only bits and pieces) another IU beating, this time at the hands of Purdue. For a while I thought it was a no-brainer, the Hoosiers and Boilermakers had the worst conference records going into the game, and the Boilers won. So IU clearly was the worst team in the Big Ten. But then I watched Michigan lay another egg against Ohio State and I thought there may be another contender.

Michigan's offensive struggles were legendary, as were IU's defensive struggles. Michigan and Indiana didn't play each other. So I began to wonder who was worse.

Indiana finished 3-9 with one conference win over Northwestern. That included non-conference losses to Ball State and Central Michigan. Michigan also was 3-9, but tallied two conference wins over Wisconsin and Minnesota. Their non-conference losses included Toledo, Utah and Notre Dame.

In terms of quality wins, Michigan gets the nod. One win was on the road and another was against a bowl-bound team. One of IU's wins came against a team with less wins than it (Western Kentucky) and another was against a non-FBS school. The third came against a bowl-bound team.

Offensively, the Hoosiers get the nod. The two teams averaged about 21 points per game, but IU was better in total offense than Michigan, 348 to 291 yards per game. The Hoosiers had almost 40 yards passing per game and 20 yards rushing per game more than Michigan.

Defensively, the Wolverines were much better. Michigan gave up 367 yards per game in total defense, while the Hoosiers gave up 432 yards per game.

According to the statistics compiled at Bigten.org, the Hoosiers were worst in the conference in 12 categories: scoring defense, pass defense, total defense, pass defense efficiency, opponent first downs, fourth down conversions, opponents fourth down conversions, red zone offense, opponents third down conversions, sacks against, field goals, and time of possession.

Michigan was the conference worst in seven categories: scoring offense, pass offense, turnover margin, total offense, pass efficiency, first downs, and third down conversions.

I would say settle this on the field or the XBox, but would you really want to see this game? Unfortunately, I suspect the IU defense would not be able to contain the Rich-Rod spread and the Wolverine defense would keep Kellen Lewis and Co. in check.

My fantasy prediction: Michigan wins 17-14.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Refections on a forgettable season

After another beating, this time at the hands of Penn State, the Hoosiers head to Purdue this weekend. Most of us Hoosier football fans are hoping this game goes quickly so we can wake up from this nightmare.

The funny thing about this match-up, is that it's not a mismatch. Purdue has struggled just as much as IU has this year. If the Hoosiers can put together some defense and get some quality quarterback play, this game could be tight.

There are no bowl games on the line this year, just the Old Oaken Bucket. Unfortunately, it also is Purdue coach Joe Tiller's last game. That means the players will be emotionally up for this one.

The Boilers also are second in the Big Ten in passing yards per game, averaging 229 a game, which could pose a problem for the depleted IU secondary. But Purdue is last in points per game.

IU isn't much better in that department, at less than point per game better. But their offense is more balanced than Purdue. If the IU defense can stop or slow down the Purdue passing game, namely quarterback Curtis Painter, they could have a shot.

IU has not won on the road this year and I don't think that will change this week. Tiller goes out in style and IU finishes the season in last place in the Big Ten.

Soon, I'll be able to put all my energy into IU basketball. Is that such a good thing?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Badgered and tortured

The IU defense was run over this week. Wisconsin thumped the Hoosiers 55-20. The second half was the back-breaker. Wisconsin scored 31 points, the Hoosiers none.

I've said it for several weeks: teams cannot win without at least a little defense. IU has a couple defensive linemen who are playing well, namely Jammie Kirlew, but a sack here and there is not enough. The IU defense gave up 601 total yards, including 443 yards rushing. Wisconsin rushed for almost twice as many yards than the entire IU offense.

The lack of offense can be attributed to injury once again. Ben Chappell was hurt on a QB sneak late in the first half. He was near the goal line, took a hard hit and fumbled. Instead of the Hoosiers taking the lead (they were down one point at the time), they gave up a field goal and trailed by four at halftime.

Wisconsin running back David Gilreath averaged 21 yards per rush, including a 90-yard run in the third quarter that really ended the game. He ran for 168 yards on 8 carries and P.J. Hill ran for another 127 yards, scoring three touchdowns.

Now the Hoosiers have allowed 400 total yards or more in six of their seven losses. Hopefully the coaching staff knows what to look for on the recruiting trail.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Where is the love?

When I was an IU student 14 years ago, I had to get in line to get my season tickets for men's basketball. We marked our calendars for the day we could pick them up. I even remember jumping for joy in 1995 when learned I would be sitting on the floor for a game against Michigan. By the way, I even appeared on ESPN. I was signaling a three-pointer when the now infamous Neil Reed made in the first half. ESPN used the shot in their lead-in to a commercial break during halftime.

Imagine my surprise when I saw a commercial on the IU Web site advertising student tickets for men's basketball. And this story appeared in today Indiana Daily Student. Four thousand student ticket packages are unsold and now available to the general public.

We all know the Hoosiers are going to struggle this year and may not have a winning record. But that is not a reason for students to abandon the team. IU basketball is not inconsistent like IU football. Five national championships, nine final fours, more NCAA tournament berths than I can count. The tradition is there. And Assembly Hall is what makes it really special.

The students are who make it tough to play in Assembly Hall. Get out there and buy some tickets.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Print is dead, right?

Not after last night's election. According to this post from Poynter.org, you couldn't find a copy of the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post or New York Times in their respective cities.

Journalism may be shifting to the Internet, but newspapers still provide permanency. Our words will be remembered, and cherished, because they can be kept in shoe boxes, closets and basements.

I don't think too many people are saving Web pages that appeared this morning.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

No bowling date this year

I don't have to hope any more this year.

The Hoosiers lost to Central Michigan 37-34. The Hoosiers stand at 3-6 with three games to go. A .500 record still is possible, but consecutive wins over Wisconsin, Penn State and Purdue seem highly unlikely, if not impossible.

It was another embarrassing display for the IU defense. Big-time CMU QB Dan LeFevor didn't even play, but the back-up rolled up 485 yards passing. CMU accumulated 522 total yards for the game. The Hoosiers now have allowed more than 400 yards in five of their six losses. It is the second time in three games the Hoosiers have allowed more than 500 total yards.

What's worse is IU was winning the game in the fourth quarter, and after holding CMU to two field goals, gave up the game-winning touchdown. The Hoosiers also spent most of the game running the ball (43 attempts for 272 yards), a move to keep the CMU offense off the field, and still could not control the time of possession battle. CMU held the ball for 33:19, IU for 26:41.

The fix is becoming increasingly clear. Better defense, check that, any defense, will lead to more wins. The magic number for total yards allowed appears to be 400. More and its usually a loss, less and it could be a win.

Next week: Wisconsin is in town, smarting from a last-second loss to Michigan State. But you know what the best medicine for that is, right?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Studs Terkel -- RIP

Chicago literary giant Studs Terkel died today at 96.

Aside from being a popular radio and TV personality, he also was a Pulitzer Prize winning writer. I had one of his books signed when he came to speak in Woodstock, Ill., but I was not able to talk to him. My friend Dan was able to get a couple seconds with him.

Dan asked if he had any advice for a young reporter: "Yes. Keep giving 'em hell," he said. I think Terkel inspired him.

Studs now is reunited with his wife Ida, who died in 1999. Rest in peace.

Here is the official Studs Terkel Web site.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What's that? IU won?

Yes, the Hoosiers squeaked past No. 22 Northwestern, 21-19 in Bloomington.

This will go down as an upset on paper, but Northwestern probably didn't deserve a ranking. They have won six games, but haven't beaten anybody. The Wildcats biggest win was at Iowa, a team that now is 5-3.

The Hoosiers played well in the game, especially on the defensive side. After giving up more than 400 yards four of the last five weeks, the defense gave up 316 this week. They got two interceptions and recovered three fumbles.

The offense out-gained Northwestern, amassing 319 total yards with no turnovers. Nearly all of that came through the air, with Ben Chappell throwing for 219 yards.

It's easy to say win will help the Hoosiers get back on track, especially after I predicted no more wins after last week's loss to Illinois. There may be one or two wins left this season. Next week is home against Central Michigan, which is a potential win. CMU 6-2 after beating Toledo by one today. They did lose to Purdue, so it is possible with a quality defensive effort IU could get win number four.

Wisconsin is playing bad enough lately to keep IU in the game on Nov. 8, but Penn State is going to spank the Hoosiers and I just don't see IU beating Purdue on the road in Joe Tiller's last game.

It was a nice win this week over a good team, but this will not turn the season around. IU's fate has been sealed.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The truth hurts

The game of the weekend (surprise!) doesn't involve the Hoosiers. It is No. 3 Penn State v. No. 9 Ohio State. There is more on the line here than the lead in the Big Ten football race.

There is national significance, not just because Penn St. needs to win to keep pace with Texas and Alabama, Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, but to show the Big Ten is more than a doormat, also ran conference.

Already, the pundits are talking about how Penn St. could lose this game and how they'd be forced to consider Ohio State for the BCS title game again. After two straight blow-out losses, the Buckeyes don't have much clout left as a national championship contender. But yet after five straight wins, the word is Ohio State could make it back to the big game again. It is getting so bad that ESPN.com writer Ivan Maisel was compelled to write this column.

The IU season is over, so I am becoming a Big Ten fan. That means rooting for Penn State this weekend. Pundits, and more importantly writers and voters, tired of the Buckeyes getting spanked in big games. If the Nittany Lions stay undefeated, they may be able to gain a little more respect for the conference and will have a better shot at getting in the national championship game.

If there is only one undefeated team and two one-loss teams to chose from, there is no way Ohio State gets the nod over say, Texas or Alabama. But a one-loss Penn State team (with a win over Ohio State) has a much better chance. On the flip side, an undefeated Penn State team would hold a lot more weight in the remaining weeks of the season over two one-loss teams.

For once, the eyes of the Midwest won't be fixated on the Ohio State-Michigan game as we near Thanksgiving. Instead, we will be watching Penn State-Michigan State game, and wondering whether 1994 will repeat itself.

Yes, that Penn State team also went undefeated, including a convincing win in the Rose Bowl. But they did not get a piece of the title. Nebraska was the consensus No. 1 team. I saw them play IU in Bloomington that year. That team was special, even if they couldn't blow out the Hoosiers.

I just hope the Lions get some respect from the voters this year. It would be a crime to see them run the table twice in the Big Ten and get nothing both times.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Looking to the future ... IU football

Another week, another loss. This time at Illinois, 55-13. But this time it begs another question, one that has been lingering the last 10 years:

Where is the IU defense?

Out of 14 possessions, Illinois scored on 8 of them. Two of the possessions where they didn't score were the end of the first and second halves. That means the defense stopped Illinois only four times out of 14.

During the five-game losing streak, the IU defense has given up a ridiculous amount of yards:
  • 563 (Illinois)
  • 422 (Iowa)
  • 333 (Minnesota)
  • 497 (Michigan State)
  • 463 (Ball State)
Giving up more than 400 yards four out of five games is not going to get it done, no matter how many points the offense can score. It is the same problem the Hoosiers had during the Antwaan Randle El years. They could score 35 points per game, but gave up 36.

I still don't understand how a team could recruit so much offensive talent year after year, but not find enough on defense to keep the Hoosiers in the game consistently. I didn't watch much of the game against Illinois Saturday, but what I saw was Illinois running and throwing the ball all over the lot. It seemed every completion was to a wide-open receiver. Juice Williams didn't have many difficult throws to make because the defenders were never around his receivers.

I'm not a football coach, so I don't understand the problem. Is this a problem with the defensive system ... the players ... the coaches?

The above numbers are unacceptable for a high school football team.

Speaking of unacceptable, the second half last night ridiculous. When the game is out of hand (IU was down 34-7 and then 48-10), why would you kick field goals of 23 yards and 31 yards? This team has major offensive problems. Why not go for the touchdown?

To me it looked like the team and everyone else gave up? I don't think much of losing by 42 instead of 48. It was almost laughable.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Enjoy your basketball holiday

Happy Midnight Madness all you IU fans. Although, that is pretty much where the joyous part of the official start to basketball season ends.

If you can get an A on this quiz by Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reporter LaMond Pope (Part 1, and Part 2), you are a much bigger IU fan than I am.

As you might recall, last spring's coaching change led to a mass exodus of players. Only Kyle Taber was a scholarship player last year. And with most of the other Big Ten teams returning or reloading with top talent, the prospects of winning season are dim. New coach Tom Crean has been preaching patience throughout the offseason, which also doesn't inspire much confidence.

I remain somewhat hopeful. Bob Knight started four freshman in the 1994-95 season (my freshman year in Bloomington) and was able to get to the NCAA tourney. Stranger things happened.

The good news is these guys could buy into Crean's system fast and play well together quickly. And with no expectations around the country, they could sneak up on a lot of teams. This season may not be as bad as most people think.

The 2008-09 IU Men's Basketball prospectus is available here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A revised prediction for IU football

I admit it. I made a HUGE mistake before the season started in predicting a 6-6 record for the Hoosiers. So now, after an embarrassing 45-9 loss at home to Iowa, it is time to revise my thoughts.

Here is the bold statement for the rest of the year: IU will not win another game. That would result in a 2-10 record, not bad coming off a bowl bid and all kinds of optimism, right?

Here is the remaining schedule:
  • At Illinois Oct. 18 -- The Illini offense is just too good for the IU defense. Even if Kellen Lewis and the Hoosiers get their offense in gear, the likelihood of outscoring Illinois on the road is low. Should be a double-digit loss.
  • against Northwestern Oct. 25 -- The Wildcats have surprised everyone this year, but lost some luster after losing to Michigan State at home yesterday. In the loss, the Wildcats still ran up 459 total yards. That is a bad sign for the Hoosiers. This game may be close, but I think Northwestern will pull it out.
  • against Central Michigan Nov. 1 -- I said in my pre-season prediction that the Hoosiers would lose this game. CMU has not disappointed this season. They are 4-2 and undefeated in the MAC. Their losses came at Georgia and at Purdue. QB Dan LeFevour has thrown for nearly 1,400 yards and 9 touchdowns. They are giving up more points than they are scoring, but the IU defense seems to be the remedy for offensive troubles. Another close loss as the criticism of the Hoosiers grows.
  • against Wisconsin Nov. 8 -- Wisconsin was a Big Ten title contender until they lost three straight. There is a reason the Badgers were highly thought-of. They have the talent and are able to run the football, ranking second in the Big Ten in rushing yards. That is bad news for the Hoosier defense. Big loss, invoke the 21-point rule early.
  • at Penn State Nov. 15 -- My heart wants to say trap game for the Lions, but my head says no way. Penn State maybe looking to secure a BCS National Championship game berth with wins the last two weeks. They will be focused. Invoke the 21-point rule.
  • at Purdue Nov. 22 --It's a rivalry game, that likely will mean little except for who will get the Old Oaken Bucket. It's in West Lafayette, and is coach Joe Tiller's last game. It will be an emotional game for the Boilers, which should take care of business.

That is 2-10, the worst record for an IU team since 2003 and the first time the team does not win a Big Ten game since 1995.

A side note: How can this team be third in the Big Ten in yards per game (410.7) and 9th in points per game (23.5)? The two teams ahead of the Hoosiers in yards are Penn State, which is averaging 45.3 points per game, and Illinois, which is averaging 33 points per game.

Monday, September 29, 2008

One more game...

The White Sox beat the Tigers today in game 162, 8-2. That means they must play game 163 tomorrow in the stadium formerly known as Comiskey Park.

I was close to throwing things at the TV in the sixth inning, when a throwing error by pitcher Gavin Floyd caused a run to score. It was 2-1 Tigers in the bottom of the sixth, when a bunch of walks and a wild pitch tied the game.

Then Alexei Ramirez, the presumptive AL rookie of the year, came to the plate. The result was a grand slam and a Sox win.

One more win and the Sox are in the dance.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Swimming in quicksand

IU losses to Michigan State 42-29.

The good news: Javon Ringer didn't get 200 yards for the third straight game. He only got 196.

Last week's loss was embarrassing. This one was just painful. IU easily could have won this game and I venture to say they SHOULD have won this game. But it seemed for every good play that was made, there were two bad plays.

The microcosm of the whole game: Third quarter, 4:12 to go. Third down and 8 at the IU 3 yard line. Kellen Lewis throws a 97 yard touchdown pass that gives IU the lead. But it's negated by a holding penalty. And it occurred in the end zone, which is a safety and Michigan State goes up by 7.

IU had nine penalties for 89 yards and it seemed a lot of them came at the worst possible time. Personal foul penalties were called to killed first-down gains. A holding call in the end zone. You name it, every time IU tried to get back in the game a crippling penalty was called.

The Hoosiers slipped to 2-2 and head to Minnesota next week. The Gophers are playing much better, in spite of a loss today at Ohio State. I'm not feeling very good about a bounce-back next week.

Memorize this phrase...

Actually, Hoosier fans probably won't have to, but they likely will not forget it until well after this week's game against Michigan State: "Ringer gets the carry."

Spartan running back Javon Ringer is a Heisman Trophy candidate. And the Hoosier defense had trouble stopping the run against Ball State last week. The Cardinals' top back rushed for 166 yards last week. Expect Ringer to get a lot of carries and a ton of yards, maybe more than 200. Hopefully the IU offense will be able to keep up, otherwise it will be a long day.

Michigan State is an 8-point favorite. Kick-off on ESPN is in 20 minutes.

I'm hoping I don't have to invoke the 21-point rule this week. It was the unofficial football rule when I was a student: when the Hoosiers went down by 21 points or more, you left. Sometimes it was in the fourth quarter, sometimes it was in the first quarter. In either case, it was strictly followed by hundreds of fans.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Finally, a win

Phil Mickelson didn't deliver in his singles match, but the Americans still won the Ryder Cup 16.5-11.5, thanks to some great shots made by the young guns of the U.S. team.

I watched almost the entire six hours of coverage on Sunday without changing the channel, except for updates on the Bears and White Sox games. Almost every match was close throughout and for the most part the play was outstanding.

It was amazing drama to see. I found myself yelling "Boo!!" whenever Boo Weakley made a great shot, or siting on the edge of my coach watching Hunter Mayhan, J.B. Holmes and Anthony Kim make big putt after big putt.

It was a great weekend. Congratulations to Captain Paul Azinger. Now let's keep it in 2010.

Update (Sept. 22): The European press was not impressed with losing Captain Nick Faldo.

The Ryder Cup, Mickelson's dream chance

The U.S. has the lead heading into the final day of the Ryder Cup. After two consecutive beatings, and five losses in the last six competitions, the Americans have a chance to win the cup for the first time since 1999.

For Phil Mickelson, this is his chance to make a name for himself and cement his career legacy. Tiger Woods is not at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. after suffering a knee injury that required surgery. Meaning, the world's best golfer is not leading the U.S. charge. That leaves Mickelson as the U.S. team leader.

While Mickelson has won several majors, he has lived in Woods' shadow the last 10 years. But even Woods has not been able to bring multiple Ryder Cup victories. The U.S. has been the underdog in this event almost since Woods announced after the U.S. Open he wouldn't play the rest of the year.

Mickelson said each of the five matches feel like the final round of a major, all jammed into three days. If the Americans can handle the pressure and hold on in the singles matches to win the cup, much of that praise will rest on Mickelson's shoulders. While not playing brilliantly at times, he has done well, accounting for 2 full points in his four foursome matches, the second highest total on the American squad.

Mickelson, with a U.S. win, will be able to say he led a U.S. team to a victory over a better European team, without the best player in the world. Woods hasn't been able to lead U.S. teams to victory that were better than Europe on paper.

Mickelson will play Justin Rose in the fourth match of the day today, to help set the American tone. Winning The Masters may have been Mickelson's greatest golf moment, but winning this Ryder Cup may be his career-cementing moment.

A real test? A real failure

Hoosier fans were waiting for a measuring stick of how good this year's team is and we got it. Instead of taking a step forward by beating a quality team, they took two back with an embarrassing loss to Ball State 42-20.

Ball State is undefeated, but there was no reason the Hoosiers should not have won this game. The Cardinals, a pass-happy team running the spread offense, ran the ball all over the lot, amassing 224 yards. And they also put up 239 yards passing. The Hoosier offense couldn't keep up and didn't score in the second half.

The worst part of this game may be that 41,349 people were in the stadium to see it. IU football boosters, me included, have been crying for more fans to show up and watch this team as it has improved. We could win even more games and recruit better players if the fans created a better home field advantage. But who wants to play for IU after this game? And how many IU fans left Memorial Stadium Saturday night saying this team was no better than previous incarnations. How many left thinking last year was a fluke?

I said before the season started IU needed to beat one of the Big Ten's elite to take the next step. But that step also means winning games its supposed to win. The Hoosiers won't be taken seriously until they can do those two things.

Up next: Michigan State next Saturday. After this defensive performance, a win next week is becoming less likely.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Ball State game, a real test

The Hoosiers take on Ball State tonight at Memorial Stadium. This game is expected to be close, because both teams have high-powered offenses. Even ESPN's Big Ten blogger picked IU to lose in overtime. The line on this game is IU by 3 points.

I was able to watch Ball State's win over Navy two weeks ago and I saw some potential weaknesses that IU can exploit. Navy rushed for 346 yards rushing, an enormous number. Certainly Kellen Lewis and company should be able to chew up some yards on the ground, which would keep the Ball State offense off the field.

Ball State is a passing team, they ran up 326 yards passing. That could be a problem for IU, which comes into the game with safety Austin Thomas questionable. Cardinals quarterback Nate Davis and receiver Dante Love will get their yards. But the key will be not letting them control the game. The Hoosiers should be able to do that.

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. tonight. I'm still expecting an IU win.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

An interesting question

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports had an interesting column this morning about what is now known as the "Great Home Run Chase of 1998." He apologized for basically getting caught up in the hype.

Rosenthal said almost no one is marking the 10-year anniversary of No. 62 going over the fence because of what we now know about the kinds of drugs the players were using at the time, including Andro and steroids.

He brings up a point I think most of us were victims of -- we were more enamored with the McGwire and Sosa hitting the ball out of the park than we were what it (allegedly) took for them to do it. I got my first job in journalism during the chase. We had a front-page graphic every day detailing whether McGwire or Sosa hit a home run the night before.

ESPN had live cut-ins during their at-bats. That never happened before, and not again until Barry Bonds was chasing 755 home runs.

I think all baseball fans should consider apologizing. We forgot about clean play and embraced excitement. We wanted baseball to "matter" again in American culture. Baseball does matter again, but a big reason is because of the alleged and admitted drug-use.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A beat-down, but expected

The Hoosiers beat up on Murray State tonight, taking a 45-3 lead in the third quarter. The first two offensive drives were nothing much to speak of, but after that things started to click. I was particularly pleased to see the IU running backs play so well. That had been a mentioned point of emphasis for the team on many pre-game shows and throughout the media.

The idea is Kellen Lewis is not going to single-handedly beat a quality team. You need a couple running backs that can get tough yards on third down and move the chains. Today we got that, from Marcus Thigpen, who had 100 yards rushing. According to the ESPN box score, Lewis had one rush for -2 yards in the game, which is really surprising. Ben Chappell is in the game now and has already led the team on a two TD drives.

Unfortunately, this win doesn't really show much about how good the Hoosiers really are. Next week, we'll know a little more. Ball State (2-0) comes to town after beating Navy on Friday night. The Cardinals can score points. It will be a good test for the Hoosier defense.

Note: It's now final: IU wins 45-3. It was a pretty impressive game statistically -- only 149 total yards allowed, including 27 yards rushing. The offense ran up 475 total yards, 261 on the ground.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Are you ready for some football?

The NFL season gets underway for almost everyone on Sunday, including the Steelers and Bears.

The Steelers play the Houston Texans here.

I like the Steelers in this game. They are a 6 1/2-point favorite and I think the Texans just don't have enough defense or offense to stay in this one. I also have fantasy issues, as Willie Parker is one of my starting running backs. So I'm hoping the Steelers run the ball a lot.

The Bears on the other hand, visit the Colts in the first game at Lucas Oil Stadium. As much as I would like to see the Bears take care of business, I suspect the Colts will tear the Bears a new one. The line is 9 1/2 in favor of the Colts, and I have to think Peyton Manning (my fantasy QB), Joseph Addai (my other fantasy RB) and Marvin Harrison (my fantasy receiver) will have a good day.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A good win

The Hoosiers beat WKU 31-13. Offensively it was a good day for the most part, thanks to two big plays by Kellen Lewis. But I was a little concerned about the sputtering at the start of the second half. They let WKU get back into the game and if two WKU field goals had been touchdowns, who knows what would have happened.

IU ran up 450 net yards, including nearly 300 yards rushing, according to the IUHoosiers.com gametracker. The one ugly stat: 7 penalties for 63 yards.

The defense played surprisingly well in the first half, giving up no points and not much in terms of yardage. It was the 210 net yards they gave up in the second half that was a problem. WKU seemed to find a rhythm and the no-huddle seemed to tire the Hoosier defense.

Next week: Murray State comes to town. Kick-off is at 7 p.m. Sept. 6.

Second half sputter?

The second half did not start well, but the Hoosier offense appears to be back on track. The score is 31-13 with eight minutes to go, after a 65-yard Lewis run for a touchdown. It was a similar play to the 75-yard score in the first half. Lewis ran the entire way up the middle almost untouched.

The Hoosiers had to be shaken to wake up, however. Western Kentucky closed to 24-13 before Lewis's run. The Hilltoppers have been moving the ball in the second half. That may have to do with the IU defense tiring somewhat (WKU is running a no-huddle offense) and the lack of some starters, who were suspended.

The Hoosiers could put them away with another score on the upcoming drive, especially if it takes some time off the clock.

By the way, there are some stats available at iuhoosiers.com if you click on gametracker.

Note: My dad's alma mater, Pitt, is on the ropes at home against Bowling Green. They have the ball down 3 points with 13 minutes to go.

The Hoosier season is underway


That is a picture of the IU game. On my TV. And its not on ESPN, ESPN 2, Versus, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox or another traditional college football network. It is Big Ten Network. Did I mention it's on my TV?


It's halftime and IU leads 17-0. I liked Kellen Lewis' 75-yard TD run in the first quarter. He outran four defenders the last 30 yards or so. The defense is looking good too. Western Kentucky is not doing much in terms of running the ball. I'm not crazy about some of the big penalties, but that problem should be fixed as they shake off the rust.

For some reason, the stats on the ESPN.com, CBS Sportsline and Big Ten Network sites are not available. But IU needs to come out in the second half and deliver the knock-out blow.

Another alma mater wins

We talk a lot about Indiana University, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears at this blog. But there also is a high school football powerhouse that I am proud of. The Carmel Corsairs in Mundelein, Ill. (I'm class of 94) were ranked No. 7 in the Chicago Tribune pre-season poll. Last night was the season opener against No. 12, and arch-rival, Joliet Catholic. Carmel took care of business, winning 24-12, but may have lost a star fullback.

Next week, the Corsairs take on rival Libertyville. It may seem like a home game, however, because the campus is about a mile away.

The Corsairs are looking for their second trip to the state finals. I was at the game in Champaign, Ill. in 2003 when the team won it all and finished ranked No. 1 in the state.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Don't stop believin'

An interesting story in today's Chicago Tribune by baseball writer Phil Rogers. He argues the worst-case scenario for the Cubs is an all-Chicago World Series -- a match-up with the White Sox.

Sure it would be great for Chicago to be the center of the baseball universe. But the Cubs would have to play up to four "away" games across town on the south side. Rogers said the Sox would have nothing to lose in such a series. I agree. If the Sox lose, that means the Cubs will have won and and broke the curse, and the team that is clearly favored in Chicago will finally have something to celebrate.

If the Sox win, well, the Cubs are once again leave expectations unfulfilled. All the pressure clearly would be on the north side, not the south side.

Rogers said Cub fans should pray the Sox are eliminated early. Are you sweating TJ? And Cubs Nation?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Finally ... a starting QB

In what may be the "Duh" moment of the week, IU Coach Bill Lynch named Kellen Lewis the starter over Ben Chappell.

Lewis led the Hoosiers to a bowl game last year. He was an All Big Ten selection and led the team in rushing and passing. IU's spread offense was implemented with him in mind.I know Chapel looked good in spring practice, but really ... Did anyone expect Lewis would not be taking snaps this season? Did Western Kentucky's coaches develop a defensive game plan for Ben Chappell and not Kellen Lewis? I supposed Chappell got enough reps with the first team offense that he could step in more easily if Lewis gets hurt. But I think every Hoosier fan knows who must be under center if we are to expect wins.

On a side note,
Terry Hutchens, the Indianapolis Star's IU beat writer, shows me up and predicts the Hoosiers will go 8-4 this year and plan Wake Forest in the Champs Sports Bowl. Go figure.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Hoosier Season ... Big Ten

The key to the Big Ten season for the Hoosiers will be to win the games they should win. There are probably four games that even the most optimistic fans would say would end up in losses.

Game 4 -- Michigan State
The Hoosiers' first conference home game should be a tough one. The Spartans are picked to be among the best in the conference this year and typically play well in the first two months of the season before dropping off. The Spartans will be coming off, potentially, a big win over Notre Dame the previous week and should be ready. I don't think the IU defense will have enough to keep the Spartans at bay.

The game should be close, but MSU pulls this one out. IU drops to 3-1.

Game 5 -- Minnesota
This game is on the road, but IU should have enough offense to hammer the Gophers. The team had one of the worst defenses in the conference last year and doesn't have much in the way of returning talent. The problem here is IU thinking they win in a romp. A few mistakes and Minnesota is in this game at the end. The Hoosiers remain focused and move to 4-1.

Game 6 -- Iowa
This is possibly an even match-up, but the game is in Bloomington, giving IU the edge. Iowa is well coached by Kirk Ferentz and will be ready for this game. But I think Kellen Lewis will take over and the Hawkeyes will fall. IU moves to 5-1.

Game 7 -- Illinois
The Illini are facing some of the same issues at the start of the season as the Hoosiers: validate an outstanding 2007, which included a berth in the Rose Bowl. This game will be in Champaign, where Illinois plays well. While both teams run the spread offense, I don't think the IU defense will be able to contain Juice Williams. In a high-scoring affair, the Hoosiers fall to 5-2.

Game 8 -- Northwestern
Homecoming in Bloomington is a wonderful time. And just like the leaves, the fortunes of the Hoosier football team are changing. The Wildcats likely don't have enough to hang with the Hoosiers. It's a happy homecoming and IU avenges last year's lost in Evanston, moving to 6-2. That ensures a second straight .500 season.

Game 9 -- Central Michigan
This doesn't seem like much of a game, but it is another trap. Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour is getting a lot of pub as one of the top QBs in the conference. He through for nearly 3,700 yards and 27 TDs last year. He also rushed for 1,100 yards and 19 TDs. He is as much of a force as Kellen Lewis.

While the Chippewas averaged 34 points a game, they gave up 36. This game may come down to who has the ball last. The Hoosiers are due for a head-scratching loss, and this may be it. IU losses and drops to 6-3.

Game 10 -- Wisconsin
The Badgers are expected to compete with Ohio State for the Big Ten title. Even though this game is at home, I don't think the Hoosiers can stop the Badgers power game. It's a two-game losing streak. IU is now 6-4.

Game 11 -- Penn State
A trip to Happy Valley can never end well. The Nittany Lions may not be a Big Ten title contender, but they will play well at home. IU may put up a fight, but they lose this game too. Now the Hoosiers are reeling at 6-5.

Game 12 -- Purdue
It's not looking good for the Hoosiers. They enter the Bucket Game in the same situation as last season, needing a win to secure a bowl bid. This time the game is in West Lafayette and it is Purdue Coach Joe Tiller's last game. Put aside the rivalry. The Boilers will be playing for Tiller. They win it. IU finishes on a four-game losing streak and ends at 6-6.

There should be a bowl spot available for a 6-6 team. The question will be should IU get it? They will be able to score points, which will impress bowl committee members. But they will have lost four in a row, which may turn them off. I think they squeak into the Motor City Bowl. Book your tickets for Detroit now.

The Hoosier Season ... Pre-conference

We're less than a week from kick-off. Most fans know this season is important for the future of the program, maybe more important than last season's drive to play 13. This is the validation year, the chance to prove last year was no fluke. The full schedule is here, and here are my predictions, game by game:

Game 1 -- Western Kentucky
The Hilltoppers are known more for basketball than football. But this team could surprise the Hoosiers, especially in week one. The team is coming off a 7-5 season and has 14 returning starters. ESPN thinks WKU will scare someone this year, but in their seven wins last season, the Hilltoppers beat no one of consequence. They lost to Ball State and Indiana State, teams IU took care of with relative ease. I think the Hoosiers will win this game.

Game 2 -- Murray State
The Racers play in Division I-AA and really shouldn't be in the Hoosiers league. They were 2-9 last year and have a new coach this year. The Hoosiers offense should overpower this team, taking them to 2-0.

Game 3 -- Ball State
This match-up has trap game written all over it. The Hoosiers had trouble with the Cardinals last year (I was at the game). The teams traded scores in the first half before IU pulled away. Ball St. QB Nate Davis was impressive running their spread offense. Davis passed for nearly 3,700 yards and accounted for 30 touchdowns.

IU Coach Bill Lynch should have the team ready, however, and barring injury, the IU defense should make the difference here. IU wins and goes to 3-0.

And now on to Big Ten season.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thoughts on the upcoming football season

We're less than a week away from the start of the IU football season and I've been reading a lot Hoosier previews talking about the next step. Can the Hoosiers take the next step after the big step forward last year (winning seven games, appearing in a bowl for the first time since 1993) and become relevant in the Big Ten?

The schedule this year is filled with many games we should win. There are eight home games, an automatic advantage, and four non-conference games against teams that should be below Big Ten caliber. So the Hoosiers should win seven games again this year and should get to another bowl game.

What I'm looking for is the win we're not supposed to get. The upset no one thought would happen. Last year, (in conference play) it was Illinois beating Ohio State in Columbus. The Illini were talented and went to the Rose Bowl, but OSU was a national championship contender and ranked No. l at the time. It was a game where Illinois coach Ron Zook earned a lot of respect around the country, and the Illinois program was thought to have taken a major step up in the college football landscape.

It is a game where your team plays over its head and their team plays down just enough. A game where the students storm the field. Where the highlights make it to SportsCenter at the top of the show instead of on the ticker.

There are two games this season I would count as true upset, completely unexpected, wins: Wisconsin (at home) and at Penn State. Both are BCS contenders and should be favorites against IU.

In my mind, that is the one thing missing from this football program -- the ability to beat a team no one ever thought they could.

Any thoughts out there? Did I miss the "milestone" victory?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Favre to the Jets

So Brett Favre now is out-of-sight and out-of-mind.

The news broke late last night to the football-speaking world that the Green Bay Packers traded the future-Hall-of-Fame QB to the New York Jets late last night. It allows the Packers to move on with their new guy, Aaron Rodgers, and ends the media circus surrounding training camp.

The Packers even get a Favre break for the rest of the season. The Jets will not play the Packers this season. But is anyone wondering whether the NFL is penciling that match-up into next year's schedule maker?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sox acquire big bat Jr.?

The White Sox reportedly have made a deal to bring Ken Griffey Jr. to town, according to a report on FoxSports.com.

Griffey still must approve the deal, and the story also did not mention what the Sox would give up to get him.

Junior has been with the Reds for several years and fought numerous injuries during that time. But he has been more consistent the last couple years and this year hit his 600th career home run.

plays first base, but Swisher played there this season while I wonder where he is going to play. The story mentions center field, but that is where Nick Swisher and Brian Anderson play. Carlos Quentin and Jermaine Dye play left and right, respectively. He can't DH, because Jim Thome takes that spot. Manager Ozzie Guillen would have to sit someone and the Fox Sports story indicates that may be Paul Konerko. KonerkoKonerko was hurt.

Konerko could go to the bench (or see less time), Swisher to first and Griffey to center, according to the Fox story.

The deal is not done yet and the trade deadline is this afternoon, so maybe some more moves are coming. This could be an offensive upgrade, but I don't know about a defensive improvement.

Update (1:104 p.m.): Griffey accepted the trade, according to a new FoxSports.com story. The Sox will give up Nick Masset and Danny Richar, the story said, citing CBS Sportsline.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Jello Stapler


My wife and I are fans of The Office, and on occasion we like to imitate some of jokes from the show. That includes the now famous stapler-in-jello prank. Someone will be getting this one on July 30 ... but who?

There is even a Web site devoted to the stapler-in-jello prank. Here is a link to the recipe.

And here is the video of the very first stapler-in-jello prank, from the British version of The Office. The NBC show was adapted from it.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hoosier football begins anew

Football season once again is upon us. Today is Big Ten media day in Chicago, where reporters will be asking all the tough questions of the top returning players and voting for their pre-season favorites. New coaches (aka Michigan's Rich Rodriguez) also will be on the hot seat. IU coach Bill Lynch also should face some scrutiny, at least from the Indiana media, about how he's going to follow up on last year's bowl berth, the new no-huddle offense and the Kellen Lewis suspension.

At the very least, someone will say something quotable that will make all the newspapers and TV shows tonight.

The media votes for pre-season conference champ (Ohio State) and offensive and defensive player of the year already were released. ESPN's Big Ten blog, which I really enjoy, should be updating throughout the day.

Game one for the Hoosiers is Aug. 30 against Western Kentucky, only five weeks away.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

From a Bears fan: Favre needs to stay retired

Picture this: Aaron Rodgers is about to run on the field after the Green Bay Packers recover a fumble. He is getting the final instructions from Coach Mike McCarthy. As the two huddle, another player is looking in, but not really part of the conversation. He is wearing No. 4 -- I remember him -- and his uniform is strikingly clean, considering it's a cold, muddy late October Sunday in Green Bay.

The sideline chat breaks and Rodgers heads to the huddle on the field, his huddle. The crowd noise still is higher than normal, hoping the Packers can capitalize on the turnover. Rodgers strides to the line of scrimmage, calls the signals and takes the snap. He drops back three steps, looks left, then right and spies receiver Donald Driver a step ahead on the post. He lets it go ... the pass sails perfectly on an arc about 40 yards, hits Driver in stride and he gallops the last 10 yards for the touchdown. Lambeau Field is in a frenzy, and Rodgers runs joyfully to the end zone to celebrate, then to the sidelines. No. 4 pats him on the shoulder pad, then returns to his clipboard and headset. That used to be him, he thinks.

Brett Favre made Packer fans forget about Don Majkowski and now Rodgers had made fans forget about him. Instead of doing what he loves -- playing football on Sundays -- he is watching others play football from the best seat in the house.

As a Chicago Bears fan, I would like to see Brett Favre come back, be released, and subsequently sign with the Bears for one more shot at the Super Bowl. But the Packers have said he is not going to be released. If the team is committed to Rodgers becoming the starter, does Favre really want to carry a clipboard this season and listen to the fans chant his name after every mistake Rodgers makes? Or worse, have Rodgers play well and everyone forget about him?

Brett, I feel your pain. You want to continue enjoying the career you had for so long. You should stay retired. Go out on top. Don't fade away on the sidelines clinging to the dream.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Steelers sale update

Here is another story published today in the Post-Gazette. Stanley Druckenmiller told the paper he would not move the team out of Pittsburgh if he was the owner. Like that would EVER happen. Moving the Steelers would be like the Cubs or Bears leaving Chicago or the Packers moving from Green Bay.

Another interesting note at the end of the story. There were concerns among the Rooney brothers that dividend payments had been decreasing over the years. According to the paper, shareholders have been getting less because of increasing player costs.

Here is the statement on the ownership transition from Pittsburghsteelers.com.

Training camp begins July 28. Anyone think this will be a distraction?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

How could this happen?

The Rooneys are in danger of losing control of the Steelers, a team they have run since 1933.

This story from the Associated Press indicates the chairman of a Pittsburgh investment firm could get control by buying the shares of several Rooney family members. Dan Rooney and his son, Art Jr., had been trying to buy out their relatives to keep family control, according to the above mentioned story and another I read July 8.

Maybe I'm not thinking about this correctly, but I don't think the NFL would go for this. The Steelers are a model NFL franchise, and Dan Rooney is among the best and most-respected owners in all of pro sports. Aside from all of this is the Rooneys have owned the team for 75 years, which I don't think the other NFL owners would discount easily.

Family ownership has been cited by numerous people on numerous TV shows and in newspaper articles as one of the reasons for the Steelers' success (five Super Bowl wins, tied for the most all-time). The family also is revered in Pittsburgh and I suspect there are quite a few people angry at the potential change.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has its story up as well. It indicates Dan Rooney is apparently up against his brothers in this fight. Several of them went to the financier, who is a die-hard Steelers fan.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

There goes the neighborhood...

The situation outlined in Rick Reilly's latest column for ESPN.com is just plain wrong and unacceptable, if it's true.

A Georgia high school baseball team, playing in the state championship, got so irritated with the umpire's call against him that they may have tried to do something about it. In the fourth inning, the pitcher threw a high fast ball and the catcher put his glove up to catch it. But, according to Reilly's column:
"... He drops to his knees before the ball gets to him. Doesn't even try to catch it. Just flops to his knees, with his head looking down at the plate. Never looks up or back. The ball, meanwhile, conks umpire Jeff Scott square in the face mask. Rocks him back. Then squirts up the third-base line."
If this in fact was done intentionally, how low can people possibly get? We've all played in or watched games where the officiating was awful, but come on. Is this really how we fix problems now?

The catcher explained he was expecting a curveball and just dropped the ball. Reilly didn't believe him:
"Yeah, surrrre. I used to catch a little. Happens all the time. You're expecting a curveball and instead you get a fastball so you say, 'Boy, didn't see that coming. I'll just drop to my knees and wait for the next one.' "
My friend TJ may be able to tell some umpiring stories. He was an umpire for Little League games at one time.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Today is the day

IU makes its case in front of the NCAA infractions committee. Former coach Kelvin Sampson, some of his assistants, IU officials and a bunch of lawyers will be present to defend their actions.

The hearing is closed to the public and media. The Indianapolis Star ran a great story today outlining the charges, process and potential outcomes.

Keep your fingers crossed...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hold open tryouts...

If you wouldn't admit it before, you have to now. Tom Crean is rebuilding the IU program, not reloading, literally from the ground up. Jordan Crawford announced yesterday he is leaving IU.

That leaves Kyle Taber as the only scholarship player returning from last year's team, according to media reports. He averaged 1.3 points per game last season. Crawford was expected to be the focus of Crean's first team, according to this report.

That's 12 players from the 2007-08 team that are now gone, if you include graduations and leaving early for the NBA draft, according to the Indy Star's count. Should IU fans start to wonder if the players know something the rest of us don't? IU is going in front of the NCAA this week to deal with the pending infractions from the Kelvin Sampson administration.

On the plus side, Crean may start the 08-09 season with his own version of the Fab 5. And who knows, I could enroll in graduate school there and use the four years of eligibility I have left...

Friday, June 6, 2008

D-Day nears...

IU will go before the NCAA infractions committee next weekend, hoping the proverbial book will not be thrown at them for issues related to the basketball program.

A summary of the NCAA's case was released Thursday. Media accounts are available here and here (including a pdf of the summary).

According to reports, the summary includes transcripts of three-way phone calls as well as testimony from potential recruits about what subjects were discussed. Former basketball coach Kelvin Sampson has disputed some of the claims.

IU thinks its self-imposed sanctions are enough and its decades-long clean record should count for something. The fate of next season and beyond is in NCAA's hands. Hopefully, they don't make an example of us.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The run ends

After a valiant effort, the IU baseball team fell in the Big Ten tourney semi-finals, losing 11-7 to Purdue.

I wasn't able to watch the game, because I was enjoying my Memorial Day weekend and I am not able to get Big Ten Network. But it didn't look like the Hoosiers were ever in the game. They were down 8-2 going into the seventh inning and 10-3 going into the eighth. IU scored four runs in the top of the eighth, but could not come up with any more in the ninth.

It was a good run. The Hoosiers finished the regular season 28-28, 15-17 in conference. A run to the semi-finals certainly was not expected.

Only three months until football season begins ... Game 1 is at noon Aug. 30 against Western Kentucky. It will not be on TV, not even BTN.

Friday, May 23, 2008

On to the semis

Believe it or not ... a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Hoosiers the win over Penn State 11-8. Big Ten Network coverage is available here.

The Hoosiers move on to the semi-finals at 3:35 p.m. tomorrow, where they will face the loser of Michigan and Purdue, to be played later tonight.

IU was down 8-7 going into the bottom of the ninth after giving up four runs in the top half of the inning on four hits and an error.

The Hoosiers started the bottom half of the inning with two singles, and after a fielder's choice, had runners on first and second with one out. An infield single loaded the bases, bringing up the No. 9 hitter Tyler Cox. The grand slam won the game. Cox was 3-5 on the day.

The Hoosiers had 15 hits in the game. It wasn't a bad double-header. The Hoosiers scored a combined 25 runs on 31 hits. Chris Squires was the winning pitcher.

Boys of summer move on

The Hoosier baseball team took care of Illinois 14-7. They advance to play Penn State at 3:35 p.m. today. Another win would get them to Saturday's semi-finals where they would play the loser of the Michigan-Purdue game tonight.

IU catcher Josh Phegley went 4-4, including two homers, and drove in six runs in the win. IU had 16 hits in the game. Pitcher Tyler Tufts got the win, going nine innings and give up six earned runs.

Hold open tryouts Part II

More news comes out today as Tom Crean continues his house cleaning. The latest casualty is Brandon McGee, who would have been entering his sophomore season. He apparently didn't meet academic and team guidelines, according to the Indystar.com report.

That leaves us with two (yes, two) players remaining from last year's team: Jordan Crawford and Kyle Taber. Crean still has 11 scholarship players, a mix of freshmen and junior-college transfers, coming to Bloomington in the fall.

I must admit, I didn't think Crean would clean out the program as fast as he did. Maybe it's a good thing. Since Hoosier Nation expects him to win now, he has to get his ideal team put together as quick as possible.

The IU boys of summer

Those of us who are IU alumni likely don't have too many fond memories of Hoosier baseball. Not because the team isn't a national powerhouse ... OK because the team isn't a national powerhouse. But the Hoosiers are competitive and this year qualified for the Big Ten tournament. Only the top six teams are invited the the double-elimination event. The winner gets a bid to the NCAA tournament.

IU was the last team in. After getting clobbered by Penn State 6-1, IU beat Ohio State in 10 innings Thursday to stay alive. The team plays No. 4 seed Illinois at 12:05 p.m. today. A full bracket is here.

Michigan is hosting the tournament this year and is the top seed.

Update (1:11 p.m.): I almost forgot, my friend and fellow IU alum T.J., knows all too much about IU baseball. He covered the team one spring for the IDS.

The Hoosiers are leading Illinois 7-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning after a three-run homer by Josh Phegley.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Schedule open tryouts

The Hoosiers are down to three returning scholarship players for next season, according to this report from ESPN.com. The program is supposed to announce today that Armon Bassett,
Jamarcus Ellis will not be reinstated and that DeAndre Thomas and Eli Holman also are leaving.

Holman's departure is no surprise after the issue yesterday where police had to be called when he lost it during a meeting with Head Coach Tom Crean.

According to the story, there are eight players returning, including the incoming JC players and freshmen. Maybe Crean should scout the IU intramural basketball games or hang out at the HPER and watch the pick-up games this summer. There probably is someone there worthy of wearing the Indiana uniform. Either way, IU may end up with only five or six players in its rotation next year.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Two Hoosiers in a row

Just as I think Hardy is going to drop a ton, he is picked right after Porter. Hardy is going to the Buffalo Bills, who used the 41st pick to get him.

Hardy was the fourth wide receiver taken overall, which is one better than he was projected. Most of the grades I saw had him as the fifth-best in the draft.