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.