Author Archives: The Truth

Native Indiana High School Boys Making Their Mark in the NBA Playoffs

by Kyle Miller

Indiana high school basketball pumps out talent like no other state.  If you need proof just look at the Butler Bulldogs over these last two years.  With Butler’s magical run, now just over two months removed, it is time for Indiana to showcase its talent at the highest level.

Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and Jeff Teague have been exceptional thus far in the second round.  Zach Randolph is out of Marion High School and played AAU with the Spiece Gym Rats, Mike Conley Jr. is out of Lawrence North High School where he was teammates with Greg Oden (everyone who didn’t play against that duo thought Conley was highly recruited only because he played alongside Oden. Oops.) and Jeff Teague is from Pike High School in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Randolph and Conley were sensational in their upset of the elderly number one seeded San Antonio Spurs.  Conley against the Spurs averaged 14.3 points and just over six assists, all while taking Tony Parker completely out of his game.  Randolph, who is now with his fourth NBA franchise, is becoming an unstoppable force from 15 feet and in.  He averaged 21.5 points and 9.2 boards per game against the senior citizen front line of the Spurs.

The Grizzles have proven knocking off the Spurs in the first round 4-2 was no fluke.  They are currently tied with Oklahoma City 2-2 after a thrilling three overtime loss in Memphis, which would have put the Grizzles up 3-1 (sadly, I didn’t stay up for the whole thing due to early summer classes, but I heard it was thrilling). Conley has upped his points average to 18.3 points per game and Randolph has upped his to 26 points and 14 boards per game causing Kevin Durant to call him “the best power forward in the league” after Game 1.

Teague faced a different challenge than either Conley or Randolph.  Teague played a total of nine minutes in their first round series against the Orlando Magic, but because Kirk Hinrich is ailing from a hamstring injury Teague has been promoted to ATL’s starting point guard.  And boy has he taken advantage.

Teague is averaging 16 points on 49 percent shooting with just fewer than four assists per game.  His main contribution is pushing the basketball for Atlanta; in fact, he is now so relied upon that he is playing over 41 minutes a game.  Atlanta, athletically, is the most superior team in the NBA.  Between Josh Smith, Al Horford, Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson, Atlanta needs to play at a fast pace mainly to prevent Josh Smith from shooting anything outside of arm’s length from the basket.

Their only problem was Mike Bibby who played at an 18-wheeler’s pace.  Then Kirk Hinrich, who played a little faster almost like a Ford Explorer.  However, Teague is a far better defender than these two, which is nice considering he’s matched up with the league’s MVP Derrick Rose, and he plays at a much faster pace, which is how Atlanta needs to play.

Teague plays tonight in Chicago in a pivotal Game 5 to further prove he deserves the starting role in Atlanta, if he already hasn’t.  Randolph and Conley get the day off to lick their wounds and play again at Oklahoma City on Wednesday at 9:30.

The Importance of This Year’s Recruiting Class for Indiana University

by Kyle Miller

It’s really quite simple.  Competition drives success.  Crean has come up empty on some top recruits (Selby, Irving, and most recently Abraham, to name a few), but there is no reason to fret.  If Crean wants to establish a solid foundation, he must produce and excel with the core players we currently have.  Would landing a top 10 recruit be nice?  Of course.  In time I believe Crean will land his fair share of those players, but not this year.

Players spend a ridiculous amount of time throughout their playing career in practice and working out.  Practice and off-season workouts are where the majority of players improve and sharpen their skills.  Crean commented late in the season about how players seem to compete in practice but lack that same type of aggression and drive in games.  This statement did not come as a surprise to me for one simple reason:  IU lacks competition in practice whether it is five-on-five or one-on-one due to the lack of depth at all positions.

In order to mimic the intensity of games, practice must match that sort of intensity.  Imagine a one-on-one dribble drive drill between Verdell Jones III, arguably IU’s most explosive offensive player, and Kory Barnett.  How does Jones’ game benefit?  It doesn’t.  In certain practices and drills, I’m sure Jones is matched up against the likes of a Maurice Creek, but not on a day-to-day basis.  Skills are perfected through repetition, so when Oladipo (number 23 in white in video below) and Sheehey become official Hoosiers this summer, Verdell will face stronger competition.  This is apparent at each of the five positions for the Hoosiers.

I expect exponential improvement from the returning core players, especially Watford and Elston.  They ought to push each other each and every day.  This will make them both better.  If Rivers sticks around, his athletic ability will help prepare Jordan Hulls and Maurice Creek for the defensive pressure they will face in games.  We lack an inside presence, obviously.  We need a skilled big man to help Bawa develop.  Hopes are lost on Pritchard, and Cappobianco is a solid four.

Is it too early to talk Indiana Hoosiers basketball?  Hell no.  Indiana basketball is on my mind 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  Football season is simply a prerequisite to basketball season.  I wish Crean would allow practices to be watched by the public more.  I would be very interested to see how he conducts his practices.  I’ve heard rumors on which I won’t release because half of rumors are lies.

Practices are where players improve, bond, and win championships.  The foundation needs to be built on the basis of competition.  We need our top guys competing each day with players that can challenge them.   This recruiting class can provide that.

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