Friday, February 20, 2009

The IU Football Mt. Rushmore has an interesting series going asking fans to name the four best sports figures from each state -- their Mt. Rushmore.

One of my favorite blogs, the Big Ten football blog, is asking for the Mt. Rushmore of every school. At the time of this post, an IU football Mt. Rushmore hasn't been named. It got me thinking who are the four more important IU football players or coaches. My picks:

Anthony Thompson: The best running back in Hoosier history, he graduated with the NCAA Division I record for career touchdowns. Was runner-up in the Heisman voting in 1989. Now a member of the college football hall of fame.

Antwaan Randle El: One of the greatest running-throwing quarterbacks in NCAA history with more than 11,000 career yards in total offense. He threw for nearly 7,500 career passing yards and ran for 3,895 yards in his career. He now is a wide receiver in the NFL.

Trent Green: Probably IU's best-ever pocket passer. He is in the top five in career and single-season passing yards and completions. Also played several years in the NFL.

Bill Mallory: He had a losing record during his 12 years as head football coach, but Mallory still has the school record for career wins. He led the team to six bowl games, winning two. Top to bottom, his tenure may have been the best-ever stretch of consistent excellence.

Others I considered: James Hardy, one of the best wide receivers in IU history, holds the school record for career receiving yards and touchdowns; and Adewale Ogunleye, among the best defensive linemen in IU history and career sack leader. He now plays for the Chicago Bears.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Horizon

Big Ten basketball teams have to feel lucky.

I saw some flashes of how good this Indiana team could be today in their loss to Illinois.

Yes. I said this Indiana team. The team that averages more than 18 turnovers a game. The team that only six field goals in the first half today.

There was a 4-minute stretch in the second half where it seemed to click. The Hoosiers closed to within six points in what was a brilliant display. It didn't come from a barrage of three-pointers. It came from good play. They made good passes, took good shots and played tough defense. Their play matched the effort.

Illinois was stunned by the punch and looked out of sync. I saw the Hoosier players playing confidently, like they felt like they could win ... until Chester Frazier drilled a three-pointer to put the Illini up by nine, ending the threat. The Hoosiers reverted back to their old selves and stumbled to a 13-point loss.

While the team looked like it was intimidated, out-played and out-talented in the first half, the Hoosiers played like they belonged on the floor a good portion of the second.

Coach Tom Crean is building a team from scratch this season. But I wonder how good they could be, or could have been, if the Hoosiers could put together an entire game similar to those 4 minutes.

Maybe some of those close losses (Michigan, at Iowa, Minnesota) would have gone the other way. Confidence feeds on itself. Maybe the Hoosiers begin to believe a little more. Maybe they manage 10, 12 or 15 wins. Maybe they get a home win over an elite Big Ten team like Michigan State, Wisconsin or Purdue.

I don't want to be the coach that runs into the buzz saw if the Hoosiers figure it out this season.