by Kent Sterling
Nothing is done quietly in Assembly Hall. Winning, Losing, cheating, rebuilding, and hanging a banner are all done under a bright spotlight in front of fans, alums, and national media that pays very close attention 365 days a year.
As the Hoosiers continue to search for their collective personality, others are beginning to weigh in. The numbers are starting to mount in Indiana’s disfavor, and the coming games (minus those against Northwestern and Nebraska) all look like serious challenges.
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ESPN’s Joe Lunardi assessed the chances of three “blue-blood” programs earning a berth in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. North Carolina and Connecticut join Indiana as programs that are struggling as the conference season gets cranked up.
The likelihood for UNC making the field is assessed at 70% while UConn is a coin flip. Lunardi believes the Hoosiers have a 20% chance of getting their ticket punched.
Lunardi cites Indiana’s Charmin (squeezably soft) non-conference schedule as problematic, “The Hoosiers have lost every one of their ‘up’ games to date, several in convincing fashion, and their nonleague profile outside of those contests is truly dreadful.
“If you subtract home wins against sub-200 competition — which I do in determining a team’s “effective record” — Indiana is 3-5 (not 10-5) in what I like to call “real” games.” Lunardi writes. “It’s one thing to schedule the occasional Chicago State; it’s another to add LIU Brooklyn and Samford. And Evansville and North Florida. And Nicholls State and Kennesaw State. You get the idea.”
Former Big Ten MVP and consensus first team All-American A.J. Guyton spent four years playing for Bob Knight in Bloomington, and he had some interesting thoughts on both Wisconsin and Indiana basketball today on his Facebook page, “Wisconsin (the old Indiana) is dominating most of their opponents. Why? How? Do they have players with the longest wingspan or highest vertical?” Guyton, a high school coach in his native Peoria, IL, continued, “Do they have 6 mcdonalds all Americans or top recruiting classes? No. What they have are players with the necessary skill & ability but more importantly COACHABLE players who buy in to Bo Ryan’s teachings.
“UW scored 85pts against ILL, this is a team who doesn’t talk about “playing fast”. If your child is blessed to become a future student/athlete understand how important having a great coach is. Once you get past the smoke & mirrors of recruiting, make sure the guy recruiting your kid can make him/her the best player THEY can be. Not by promising you “the nba”, but by placing you in an environment of teaching and learning as Bob Knight did for me. Congrats to Bo Ryan, absolutely enjoy watching him coach by frustrating opponents!”
On kenpom.com, which is to college basketball as baseball-reference.com is to baseball in that the clicking and processing just never stops, Indiana’s current projected record is 17-14 with a 7-11 Big Ten finish.
John Calipari refused to continue the home and home series against Indiana after Christian Watford hit a buzzer beater to send his undefeated team back to Lexington with a loss. He still hasn’t forgotten that Hoosier fans rushed the court in a spontaneous outburst of long sealed joy, and he inexplicably talked about it this week on his radio show, “We don’t have obnoxious — well, we may, but I never hear them — but we don’t treat the other team with disrespect. If we won a game against the No. 1 team in the country in Rupp Arena, would people charge the court? No. You’re supposed to (win.) You’re Kentucky. We don’t do that here.”
TypiCal and hysteriCal. No, obnoxious Kentucky fans don’t exist. What that has to do with the current unraveling state of Kentucky basketball, I have no idea. Shuttling in new groups of freshman every year makes winning tough, as Cal is discovering. You can always tell when Cal is getting nervous – he starts taking easy shots at other programs.
The fish bowl at Indiana is going to be gazed into and interpreted as this season continues. It will be seen as either an outstanding evolution of a program that lost 70.1% of its scoring and 66.7% of its rebounding for 2012-2013, or a step backward in trying to find the right combination of assets to bring consistent success back to Bloomington.
And in Bloomington, success is measured in banners hung in the south end of Assembly Hall.
Youth is certainly a factor, as the Hoosiers average 1.11 years of experience for those on the floor, which ranks 321st of 351 division one teams. But young isn’t always bad as the two programs immediately beneath IU – North Carolina and top-ranked Arizona. Last in the country in experience are Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats.
“Current unraveling state of Kentucky Basketball”? Didn’t Kentucky just handily beat the defending national champions? Isn’t Kentucky rising in the rankings while Indiana’s chances to make the NIT are dwindling? Isnt Kentucky bringing in another top recruiting class for next year — a class full of solid two to four year players? What are you going to cry about now that Cal decided to recruit some kids that aren’t one and dones? You’ll find something, trolling Kentucky fans is the only way your crap writing attracts readers. By the way, PROOF READ.
Never too hard to get a rise out of UK fans who scan posts like Nazi code breakers trying to find any hint of an insult. I don’t troll, but would never have to with Kentucky fans who are to this site as the elderly are to a McDonald’s. They just keep showing up to drink their senior discount coffee and eat table space.
Your jokes certainly would fit in at the elderly table at McDonald’s. Yikes.
Are we calling Connecticut a “blue blood” now? They seem rather new money to me.
Lunardi did. UConn isn’t just “new money,” it’s new money gained badly. They are Bernie Madoff at a party with the Rockefellers, Morgans, and Carnegies.
The real question for me, at any rate, is : How long will IU fans continue to stay loyal and keep buying in with Tom Crean, and how long before he ends up being fired?
It’s been how long since IU last won a title? Since 1987? It’s approaching 30 years! Also, how long has Crean been at the helm for IU ? 6 years? All Hoosier fans have to show for his time are two sweet sixteen appearances. I thought it wasn’t acceptable for IU to have zero titles in what soon will be 3 DECADES ?!?!
The truth of the matter is that any rational observer would say that Crean will not last long enough for that streak to be broken with him as head coach.
When he does get fired, I imagine the major push to get Brad Stevens will be on, but there will inevitably be that rebuilding phase. So the beat goes on.
It’s a long drought to endure, and it appears it’s going to continue.
Hard to argue with your position, but it’s quite possible that other options are possible. Indiana has the talent to be quite good, it’s just a very young team without a clear path to a great result. That doesn’t automatically mean they are doomed to failure. They could find the answer starting tomorrow. It might take until next year. We don’t know.
I do remember another IU team that started a season 7-5 before finding itself. That was 33 years ago.
Even if they fired Crean and hired someone else, I don’t think you would see a major rebuilding. The foundation is there. The question is can Crean take them to the next level. We will see by the end of next year.
You say it’s easy to get Kentucky fans riled up, but you don’t troll. You mentioned Kentucky in a blog post about the outlook of Indiana’s season. Cal shared his opinion, and I get that you disagree with him, but why not be respectful about it?
Also, it appears you could use an editor.
Paragraph 4 “Lunardi believes the the Hoosiers are have a 20% chance of getting its ticket punched.”
In closing, Calipari won a national championship with his carousel of freshman, and has sent a good many to successful careers in the NBA and basketball leagues abroad. Maybe you should be worried about IU’s low basketball student-athlete graduation rate before you throw rocks at a program showing peaks of great success despite a few valleys.
Just F3 the page and search Indiana, 2nd result. 48%… really?
if only I had the cash reserves of Mr. Pitt on “Seinfeld” to employ a woman with grace like Elaine Benes to buy my socks and make sure that each sentence was constructed perfectly. Mistakes like those drive me bat shit crazy. Perfection isn’t an option, so I deal with the occasional sick feeling in my stomach when I botch my own internal review – although that is the most egregious I’ve seen.
I have no respect for Calipari, so if what I write about him seems to lack respect, it’s no accident. He embodies all that’s wrong with college basketball whether he wins or loses.
The IU grad rate, if I’m correctly reading the methodology used to track the data, stretches back into the Sampson Era. IU’s APR has been 1,000 for several years running, and most IU basketball players graduate in three years while earning a grad degree in their fourth. Indiana’s numbers will rise as each additional four-year Crean class cycles.