Friday, March 21, 2008

Reflections on the NCAA first round

Am I the only one that has a nervous feeling about IU's first round game tonight versus Arkansas? Not because the Razorbacks are a good team that won 22 games this year. Not because they like to run the floor and score a lot of points, which could cause IU problems.

It's because tonight could be an embarrassing loss. The kind of loss that makes potential recruits go somewhere else.

The Hoosiers are in a mini-slump. They have played two games in a row where they looked a good high school team could beat them. The players have been accused of giving up on the season by at least one pundit. For some reason, I have images of the 1997 first-round loss to Colorado dancing in my head. The team didn't look interested throughout the game and lost 80-62. I sat in my frat house room and watched the debacle on my little 15-inch television, wondering why the players even made the trip.

Another disappointment comes to mind: the 2000 first-round loss to Pepperdine 77-55. Same problem, the team didn't seem to be ready or in the proper mindset for the game. Luckily I was on a plane and missed that one.

Will I be praying for something to throw at the wall tonight? I hope not. But this is setting up to be a classic Hoosier give-up moment. I want this game to be a season re-start and this weekend to be a proper send-off for D.J. White, and likely Eric Gordon as well.

The talent is there to beat Arkansas and even give North Carolina a good game in the second round. Dan Dakich needs to find the confidence and attitude the Hoosiers displayed in victories over Kentucky, at Illinois and Michigan State. All they need is a spark.

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