Indiana University baseball has had a historical season to this point. They have won the Big Ten regular season championship, the Big Ten conference tournament, and are hosting a NCAA Regional for the first time ever. Jeremy Gray from the IU Athletics Department and baseball play-by-play announcer joins me to talk about the season and the upcoming Bloomington Regional. Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and follow Jeremy @jfgray.
Can Pacers Bounce Back in Game 2?
Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals was a great one. An overtime thriller that was decided by a buzzer-beater. Unfortunately for the Indiana Pacers, this game did not finish in their favor. After dictating the tempo and style of play and holding a one point lead with just 2.2 seconds remaining, LeBron James received the inbound pass and went uncontested to the basket. Laying it in at the horn giving the Heat a 1-0 series lead and putting major doubt in the Pacers chances.
Now you have to look forward to Game 2 tomorrow. The Pacers had a chance to steal a game on the road against a team that has lost 4 times in the last 4 months. Most people will look at this game as their one chance to win in Miami. Their one chance to put the Heat on notice. However, I believe the Pacers will bounce back in Game 2. Not only will they bounce back. They will win.
As most of the national media will focus on James’ game winner, the Pacers are focused on winning the series. Game 1 was definitely an opportunity the Pacers would like back. As you look closer though, Indiana has to feel good about what took place regardless of the loss. The Pacers turned the ball over 20 times. They were out rebounded by 2. They allowed 60 points in the paint. The Heat had five players in double figures including 16 points from Chris Andersen on 7-7 shooting.
In reality it took an excellent game from the Heat to beat Indiana. Turnovers were viewed as a major area of importance going into the series. It was Wednesday. Indiana will need to take care of the ball and it will be tough to have as many struggles in back to back games. With their size advantage, it will be tough for Miami to consistently out rebound them and get to the rim to score. Plus there are the wild cards in Chris Andersen and Mario Chalmers. Andersen will not be expected to deliver that offensive punch again. Chalmers suffered a shoulder injury and his health could be a factor.
Indiana needs to tighten their play up, but cannot be discouraged by the outcome of Game 1. They played well enough to win. Their young team will put this behind them just as they did in Games 3 and 6 against New York. The Pacers have shown in their first two playoff series that they have done well in making adjustments. They will do it once again and steal home court advantage in the process.
Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer.
Chris Denari, the television voice of the Indiana Pacers, joins me to preview the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pacers will take on the Miami Heat in Game 1 tomorrow night. We discuss match ups and what area may be the biggest difference maker. Plus how Larry Bird may be feeling about this team now. Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and follow Chris @ChrisDenari.
Mark Jaynes of the IMS Radio Network joined me to discuss qualifications for the 97th Indianapolis 500. We talk about parody in the IZOD IndyCar Series and who the favorites may be tomorrow on Pole Day. Plus he gives us his favorites for the pole and the race. Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and follow Mark @JaynesMar.
IUPUI head basketball coach Todd Howard and I had a lengthy talk about the big announcement from last week that starting in 2014 the Jaguars will play their home games at the renovated Indiana State Fair Coliseum. What this move means for his team and the future of the program. Plus Coach Howard talks about the roster for next season. Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and subscribe to all podcasts on iTunes.
Do you remember the questions after the Pacers acquired Roy Hibbert back in July 2008? Do you remember his rise to an All-Star level last season, but the questions that followed when the Pacers signed him to a max contract? Do you remember his struggles the first half of this season? There have been many questions about Hibbert, but it has become obvious that how Hibbert goes so goes the Pacers playoff run.
Hibbert is the barometer for this Indiana team. When he plays as well as he did in Game 3 versus the Knicks, the Pacers play well. Hibbert poured in 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in the win giving Indiana a 2-1 series lead.
The larger impact of what Hibbert gives Indiana is just his shear size and strength. This may seem simplistic, but as you look across the NBA landscape, especially the Eastern Conference, Hibbert gives the Pacers an asset very few other teams have- a legitimate BIG man. This is an advantage both offensively and defensively.
Roy is a mismatch down on the block posting up. He can use both hands to score around the rim and can step out to knock down a fifteen foot jumper. His defense may be even more important. The way he protects the rim is a strong back line of the defense for a defensive minded team. At 7’2″ with a monster wingspan, he makes finishing in the lane difficult.
This weapon is what gives Indiana a chance to make a deep run. Dominating on the glass and making it tough on the opposition to score is the M.O. Hibbert is the anchor. No team in the East has the same abilities at this position.
Even with all of the questions he has faced, namely the max contract given to him last summer, Hibbert gives the team their best chance of winning big. Getting ready for Game 4 versus New York and the chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead the Pacers will lean on Big Roy. Can he rise to the occasion again? Will he continue to control the paint making it tough for Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith to get to the rim? These are the questions people are asking now. This is why the Pacers acquired him and stuck with him. This is why they have a chance to advance. This Roy Story is still writing itself and Indiana hopes it will have a story book ending.
Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer.
Pacers-Knicks Game 3 Preview
Finally the Pacers-Knicks Eastern Conference Semifinal series will resume Saturday night. The teams are even winning one game a piece. With the next two games in Indianapolis, here are my keys to Game 3 for the Pacers.
An Incredibly Early Look at IU’s Football Schedule
This week the Big Ten Network announced their primetime football schedule. Indiana will host three games under the lights- Indiana St. (8/29), Navy (9/7), and Missouri (9/21). Looking at the press release made me think about how the Hoosiers schedule is shaping up and what the season will hold for them. So no better time to to look ahead at college football than early May.
Coach Kevin Wilson is in his third year at IU. He made some improvements in the program from the first year to the second. Now with eight home games on the horizon can the Hoosiers make the most of it.
Indiana will play their first five games at home. Opening on a Thursday night in their primetime match up with ISU. They follow that up with Navy the following weekend again at night. Both of these teams are solid but should be victories for IU (2-0). Bowling Green is next up. Last season IU had an opportunity to get to 3-0 when another MAC school in Ball State came calling. The Cardinals won a thriller with a last second field goal. BGSU is not as good as Ball State and the Hoosiers are improved. IU wins this one taking another step forward (3-0). Getting off to a good start in the non-conference is key as the Big Ten schedule is as tough as ever.
Week four brings a major test to Bloomington. Missouri comes calling in the third non-conference primetime game. The Tigers are the first BCS conference opponent for IU. Recently moving to the SEC from the Big XII, Missouri is no stranger to big boy football. The 8:00 PM kickoff and 3-0 start gives IU a lot of energy, but I think Mizzou gets this one (3-1).
The Big Ten schedule opens with Penn State at home. The Nittany Lions were a surprising team last season. This season will be even tougher for PSU. Here comes the first big win of 2013 for Indiana. The Hoosiers beat Penn State for the first time (4-1).
The next two weekends the Hoosiers will spend in Michigan. First up is Michigan St. This game is always a tough one for IU. They play for the Old Brass Spitoon and this time it stays in East Lansing (4-2). A trip to Michigan comes the following week. Indiana has not beaten Michigan since I was in pre-school in 1987. It doesn’t change this year (4-3).
After a bye week comes the biggest two week stretch of the conference season. Homecoming sees Minnesota at Memorial Stadium. The Gophers have improved and find themselves in a similar position as IU. This is very much a swing game for both squads. Indiana has been very good of late on Homecoming and they find a way to get a win here (5-3). Illinois comes to town the next week. The Illini really struggled last year. The Hoosiers won in Champaign last season and will continue their win streak in this border war (6-3, yes I know but at least I’m explaining how I got to this point).
The toughest two game road trip is up next. Wisconsin and Ohio State have owned the Hoosiers. I don’t see that changing. Even with a new coach, Wisconsin will line up that huge offensive line and run all over Indiana. Urban Meyer has a ton of talent in Columbus and should have an even better team than his 12-0 squad last year. These are both losses (6-5).
The Old Oaken Bucket game closes the season as always. Purdue will come to The Rock on Thanksgiving weekend. Under new coach Darrell Hazell there are a lot of changes in West Lafayette. It will be similar to Coach Wilson’s first year in Bloomington. Changing the way things are done in the program and cleaning up attitudes and work ethics. IU will get the Bucket back this year. Wilson gets his first win in the rivalry and in doing so puts IU into a bowl game with a 7-5 record.
It is only May and things can change, but after this I believe all Hoosier football fans will be clearing their calendars for a late December bowl game. IU will use everything that comes along with a bowl trip to continue progressing the program. This team is definitely on the upswing.
Derek Schultz, the co-host of Query & Schultz on Sports Radio 1260 WNDE, joins me this week to talk Pacers-Knicks. The Pacers earned a split in the first two games at MSG, but got blindsided by a late 30-2 run in game two on the way to a 26 point defeat. We take a look back and forward to the much anticipated Game 3 in Indianapolis Saturday night. Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and follow Derek @Schultz1260.
Quick Reaction: Pacers Take Game One
Indiana Beats New York 102-95
The Pacers went to Madison Square Garden on a mission. The quick turnaround from Atlanta seemed to set their workman-like attitude. Indiana outplayed and was much more physical than the Knicks.
Indiana never trailed in the second half. They even stretched their lead to as large as sixteen to close out the third quarter. The Pacers took the lead and control of the game by dominating the interior. They out rebounded NY by fourteen and held the lead in paint points 46-32. Roy Hibbert protected the rim superbly. Keeping Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith off balance when they drove the lane.
The two biggest surprises for the blue and gold came from Lance Stephenson and D.J. Augustin. Stephenson, the Brooklyn native, went for a career high thirteen rebounds. He finished with a double-double by chipping in eleven points. The Pacers bench has been a major question mark for the entire season. Augustin answered the bell today dropping in sixteen points. He was 5-6 from the field and 4-5 beyond the arc.
Augustin’s production combined with all five starters being in double figures supplied the offense. Hibbert’s presence along with the return of Indiana’s defensive prowess was the combination they needed. The Pacers put together a complete game to take game one. Game two now becomes a big swing game before the teams head to Indianapolis.
Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer.