Friday, August 28, 2009

Early Hoosier basketball thoughts

The Hoosiers won't begin year two of the Tom Crean era for another six weeks, but I want to present my theme for the season.

One word: Finish.

The Hoosiers had a 10-point halftime lead against Lipscomb before losing by five. They were up as many as 20 in the second half against Michigan, before losing in overtime, and had a lead with less than four minutes to go at Penn State before being outscored 6-1 to end the game.

Is it clear yet? The Hoosiers had trouble putting teams away last season. They had trouble playing with a lead and in seemingly every situation demanding a clutch play, no IU player was to be found.

Crean will have nine non-freshmen on the team this year, which is a boat load of experience compared to what he had at the start of last season. I expect team growth, experience and improvement will go a long way toward fixing the clutch problem. The question is will it translate into more than six wins?

Just looking at the schedule, I could see 16 or 17 wins this season, maybe more if the ball bounces the right way. It will depend on the strength of the Big Ten conference this year and whether teams like Kentucky, which has a new coach, and Maryland, which is coming off a sub-par year, play at a level most fans expect.

Bottom line, I'm expecting the Hoosiers to take an adult stride forward this year, not a baby step. And I think that is what Crean is expecting as well.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hall of Famer Bob Knight

Bob Knight deserves better.

The news this weekend that Knight has been selected for the IU Athletics Hall of Fame is really a no-brainer. The fact that he isn't already a member is an insult. The man has been a member of the basketball Hall of Fame for 18 years.

Now the debate rages about whether Knight should return to Bloomington for the induction ceremonies in November. Athletic Director Fred Glass apparently sent a hand-written note to Knight requesting he attend and has enlisted Bob Hammel, one of Knight's friends, to beg for his attendance.

I like the olive branch approach by the university. And I want to say Knight will decide to let bygones be bygones, attend the ceremony and receive the appreciation of the Hoosier faithful. But I suspect he will decline.

Knight may not want to upstage the other members of his Hall class, as was one guess, which include former soccer coach Jerry Yeagley, who won six NCAA championships at IU. Knight also may not care about the recognition. If he wishes to repair his legacy, honoring him like the other Hall of Famers would be unfair.

Like it or not, Knight is a special case and should be honored in a special way. It should be done in Assembly Hall.

There's no question Knight did not always bring honor and distinction to Indiana University. We are not asking anyone to forget that. But I think it's also time to stop ignoring his accomplishments.

IU clearly wants to mend the fence, and may need to considering the men's basketball program's recent turmoil and rebuilding. Glass wants to gather as many fans as he can, including re-engaging those who left the program after Knight's departure.

If that's the case, why not honor Knight during a basketball game this season? During halftime of a game against Kentucky, Purdue or Ohio State, bring him out to the floor for a few minutes. A great number of former players would gladly speak on his behalf. It may even provide some extra motivation for this year's team in a tough game. Imagine the hype if ESPN had Knight call the game and then televised the halftime ceremony.

Knight deserves better than halftime at a football game. Honor him at the place he made famous and maybe he will return.