Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Well, the Hoosiers didn't quite knock the Yellow Jackets to pieces as I thought they would last night. While that was a bit discouraging, the fact that IU managed to overcome deficits no less than four times in this one to ultimately take their four-point victory was very nice to see. Instead of folding up under pressure like they did on Saturday against Xavier, the Hoosiers found their stride and, with a little help from the Assembly Hall crowd, managed to overwhelm Georgia Tech in the second half.

One total bright spot for the Hoosiers was the absolutely inspired play of Lance Stemler. Ever since getting kicked in the head during a Fall '06 practice by Xavier Keeling, then spraining his ankle later in the season, Stemler had not been the same person he was early in the '06-'07 season. He did pick up the pace a little bit when IU played UCLA in the NCAA Tournament, but this season started off rather slow. Tuesdaynight, however, everything seemed to change. Playing with the same intensity that he began exhibiting during IU's game with UNC-Wilmington a week prior, Stemler did things like drive the lane for floating layups, tip offensive rebounds for two points and, most importantly of all, knock down a few threes. The fans had been waiting for this from Stemler, and when it happened, the crowd just exploded.

On the other side of things, Eric Gordon still looks a little shaken up after the game against Xavier. I think the problem in this situation was that someone told him he needs to dish the ball a little more and stop trying to make things happen on his own. Now, Eric had the right idea going when he made pretty much all of his passes and he showed that he can certainly dish the assist every now and then, but almost all of his passes sailed over everyone or was deflected out of bounds. When Gordon made his drives to the basket and finished them off, he was unstoppable. He should really keep up with that and only pass out of the drive when he knows the guy on the other end is open and he can make the pass actually happen.

One other note is that Jordan Crawford got suspended for three games for "violating team rules". My guess is that he screwed up somewhere on the Chicago trip last weekend and Kelvin Sampson was less than pleased. Of course, three games may seem a little steep given that we do not know the offense, but it does bring Jordan back off the bench just in time for one of the more interesting story lines of the early season: Jordan vs. Joe on December 8. I think Coach Sampson decided that three games would be perfect because it would still allow Jordan to come off the bench to face his brother, who plays for Kentucky. Unfortunately, the lack of Crawford's presence off the bench and the fact that Brandon McGee is sick forced IU to play a zone defense to avoid foul trouble -- a move that nearly killed the Hoosiers' chances on Tuesday.

Next game is going to be a real doozy when the Hoosiers go to Carbondale, IL to take on a ridiculously good Southern Illinois team. This is the one I picked the Hoosiers to lose in the non-conference when I looked over the schedule, but I was not expecting the loss to Xavier. Maybe the Hoosiers have learned from the Xavier and Georgia Tech games and can pull off the big win on Saturday.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Forgetting the Weekend, and Looking to Tomorrow

I know I didn't write about the bucket game, and here's my opinion: 1) Austin Starr is the greatest thing that ever happened, and 2) Insight Bowl.

Since bowl selection day is a painful six days away, we're going to move on to something that totally matters: BASKETBALL. Okay, I realize that Saturday may not have been the best day ever for the basketball Hoosiers, but let's look on the bright side of things. First of all, this Xavier team is a very similar one to the team that played Gonzaga tough in the '05 Dance, and was just a bit of completely blown officiating away from knocking down eventual runner-up Ohio State last year. The Atlantic 10 conference may not be the Missouri Valley Conference, but it's certainly nothing to laugh at. I expect Xavier to make the NCAA Tournament and maybe get through the first weekend.

As for the Hoosiers, they looked like a total mess, but everyone has to do it at some point in the season (see Michigan State, Kentucky, USC, Louisville, etc.). Luckily, the Hoosiers got this nasty loss out of their way nice and early, instead of putting it in sometime during Big Ten play. Knowing the tenacity of one Kelvin Sampson (which has gotten him in trouble in the not-too-distant past), I would say that practice has been tough and nasty since the Hoosiers returned from Chicago. The boys will be pouring over the tape and understanding that they simply cannot do things like play Mike Davis' old 4-around-1 offense, take shots when they should pass, and pass when they should take shots.

The other bright spot that comes out of this one is that Eric Gordon had a bad game. While one might say, "How on Earth is that a good thing?!" I would respond by saying that this could very well be the low point of his collegiate career. Given the work ethic that Gordon reportedly has, I would imagine he went to the nearest basketball hoop after he got back to Bloomington and just started throwing basketballs at it until he couldn't miss. Also, since he found the breaking point of his ridiculously stoic demeanor on Saturday, he and Coach Sampson will know exactly what to do to keep him cool and collected and doing what he should be doing on the floor.

Honestly, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets should be shaking in their Nikes right about now. First of all, the team will be mad. Second of all, the coaches will be mad. Third of all, there will be 17.456 very scary Hoosier fans looking for someone to take their disappointment over Saturday out upon, and those gold-uniformed Yellow Jackets will provide the perfect target. I'm not saying the atmosphere will be anything like the Duke game in the fall of 2005 (we save that sort of atmosphere for Kentucky and Michigan State this season), but it will certainly be loud in Assembly Hall. I can only hope that the 7 PM start time does not throw off the alumni and the students, who will be somewhat hard-pressed to get away from evening classes or jobs and get to their seats. Having the game on ESPN will help a lot on that front, and it will certainly be fun to attend an ACC/Big Ten game that the Hoosiers are actually picked to win.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mah Bukkit!

In honor of tomorrow's game (which I will cover in greater detail later) and as a shout out to one of my favorite things of all time (The LOLrus), I present you with the following...

For the inspiration behind this magical picture, go here. Come to think of it, Joe Tiller looks an awful lot like a walrus...