by Bert Beiswanger
Indiana’s 14 point dismantling by Iowa Tuesday night leaves the Hoosiers in a not so satisfactory position heading into tournament time. Beat Michigan State this weekend or… Even if Indiana can beat Michigan State, it’s one heck of a bind the Hoosiers have put themselves in.
While a segment of Hoosier Nation was giddy a few weeks ago, I followed Indiana with caution. I never looked at Indiana as the overachievers some did. Their schedule, to me, hadn’t been a shock and awe of results some were making it out to be. I felt IU won the games it should’ve won.
Maybe playing one true road game the past two years – not neutral court, but true road game – before conference play (at Syracuse last year) doesn’t exactly prepare a team for tough stretch runs like this. I don’t have the answer. But when you rely so heavily on perimeter shooting and rank at the bottom of the conference in defensive efficiency, well, you sometimes get what you got against Iowa.
Take time to pull up IU’s schedule and tell me why, in a year the Big Ten is pretty average top to bottom, IU deserves a tournament bid right now. Indiana is eight games above .500, overall. They can thank Miss. Valley St., Texas Southern, Lamar, UNC Greensboro, Savannah St., Grand Canyon and New Orleans for that. Plus, they have an abysmal road record and nothing of significance to show for their road efforts (TWO true road wins all year – not neutral court wins – true road wins).
What will happen is anyone’s guess. This season is still a work in progress, so lets let this play out. A win over Michigan State may have people breaking out the “We’re Back” shirts. Who knows?
But the big picture, to me, all depends on if IU wants to truly be IU Basketball again or just pretend it’s a very elite program. IU fans like to think of IU hoops as elite. If that’s true, short of a major turnaround starting Saturday, this chapter may be over.
Ask yourself, what would Kansas do? North Carolina? Kentucky? Louisville? It may soon be time for athletics director Fred Glass to put on the big boy candy striped pants and make a very big decision.
When the sectional draw came out, Fishers coach Joe Leonard probably didn’t feel like putting on a party hat. Coming off an emotional conference championship victory over favored Zionsville, the party came to an abrupt end when the draw came out. The sound of helium releasing from a party balloon is also the sound one might hear when you draw North Central in Game 1 of the sectional, only to have host Carmel awaiting the winner.
But Fishers made people take notice Tuesday night, getting tournament play off to a loud start on a usually quiet Tuesday evening. Fishers led post-to-post and upset the eighth-ranked North Central Panthers 70-64.
“We wanted to control the tempo and not let them get a lead on us,” Leonard said. “This was important to us because we wanted to play man-to-man.”
The man-to-man certainly worked as North Central struggled to find an offensive flow all night. The Fishers defense set the tone early and held the Panthers to 36 percent shooting.
On its own offensive end, Fishers picked North Central apart with 3-point shooting and back door cuts, making 52 percent of its shots on the night. Senior Keegan Kollmeyer (maybe the most under-the-radar scorer in the area) was on fire. He lead the Tigers with a game-high 27 points on 9-14 shooting (4-7 from 3-point range). Junior Cam Wolter chipped in 21 points.
“I’ve had seniors come out and get me three points and a loss,” Leonard said. “He (Kollmeyer) came out and gave me a bunch of points and a win. He is the true definition of a senior for me.”
North Central, once down by as many as 18 in the third period, pulled to within five by dominating the offensive glass in the second half and forcing Fishers into some turnovers and rushed decisions. But a timeout by Leonard with three minutes to play got the Tigers re-organized and North Central was never able to get closer. Fishers sealed the game at the line.
Friday night will be Fishers against No. 2 Carmel and the Westfield/Hamilton Southeastern winner versus the Noblesville/Zionsville winner. It’s safe to say the Carmel gym will be packed will all corners of Hamilton County represented.
Cathedral over Warren Central
I must admit, I wasn’t initially a fan of the IHSAA’s decision to make Eron Gordon eligible to play for Cathedral this year after transferring. But I trust the ultimate decision made by the IHSAA was in the best interests of everyone involved. It’s safe to say it’s in the best interests of all who love watching great players perform. It’s certainly in the best interests of Cathedral to have Eron Gordon playing for them. As was discussed on Breakfast with Kent, Gordon sparked a Cathedral team that got off to a rugged start with 17 fourth quarter points (31 total points) as the Irish knocked off Warrren Central 72-65. Next up for the Irish will be a battle Friday night with recent rival Tech.
Hoosier Hysteria is well under way thanks to these two big games Tuesday night. Get out Friday and take in some great high school sectional action and some great March atmosphere.
Follow on Twitter @BertBeis
“big boy candy striped pants.” nice.