Archive for Ball State

Inside the Man Room

All basketball all the time on this week’s podcast.  I look at the Pacers-76ers trade that brought Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen to Indy.  I also give my theory on why college basketball teams in the state are so bad this year.  Plus my soapbox rant on getting out to see high school basketball.  Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer.

Basketball State in a Troubled State

Indiana is known as the basketball state.  Stories are told about the legends that came before and the gyms that are packed by rabid fans in every corner of the state.  But these legends and fans may not have any thing to cheer about in March this year at the college basketball level.  It has been well documented the struggles some of the state schools are going through.  After this weekend though, the state that prides itself on the quality of basketball it has is at risk of completely missing the NCAA tournament.

The state is home to ten Division I basketball programs across seven conferences.  At the current time only three of these ten teams have winning conference records and most of these teams are looming somewhere in the bottom half of their league’s standings.  The lone bright spots are Indiana State, IPFW, and Valparaiso.  These teams are near the top in their respective conferences with Valpo actually with a chance of winning the regular season crown.  The issue with these squads and an NCAA tournament bid is that all three will have to win their conference tournament to secure an automatic bid.  None of these teams would be awarded an at-large bid.  Putting all three teams in a tough position to have to win multiple games just to get in.

The marquee intra-state match up has always been Purdue and Indiana.  That game took place Saturday in West Lafayette with the Boilermakers completely dominating IU 82-64.  Of the “big boys” in this state, most people adhere to one of these two schools.  They have be the dominate programs throughout history in this state.  They are both going through a less than stellar season.  Going into the game on Saturday they had identical 14-10 records and were 4-7 in the Big Ten.  Even with this win, Purdue has a lot of work to do just to get in the NCAA tournament discussion.

The next two schools to look at our Notre Dame and Butler.  Both of these teams moved to new conferences this year and have struggled.  Notre Dame has gone into the ACC and have not performed as hoped sitting at 5-8 in the league.  They have also dealt with a lot of upheaval within the program.  Butler left the “mid-major” ranks this year to join the Big East.  This step up has not gone well for the Bulldogs.  They are just 2-11 in conference and are at risk of their first overall losing record in 9 years.

The remaining teams are all middle to lower level teams in their conferences and would have to go on a miracle run to win their conference tournaments.  Ball State, IUPUI, and Evansville have struggled for various reasons but the results have been similar.  Evansville has been the best of this group but have an incredibly young team.  They are building for next year.  IUPUI has been down the past several years.  Last year suffering through injuries and this year just not playing consistently.  Ball State is under first year head coach James Whitford.  They are looking to the future in Muncie and Whitford has hit the recruiting trail hard.

So this begs the questions- What is going on? and How does it get corrected?  The easy answer is that all of these programs are just having bad years.  That all of them have the chance to get back on track next year.  In some cases that is true.  Indiana State has been the beacon of hope this year and have put together a very solid four year run under Greg Lansing’s guidance.  Along with Valpo they are the best two chances the state has at NCAA appearances.  Both teams are in second place in their respective conferences, but will each have to win their conference tournaments to sneak in.  Most people would talk about the struggles of IU, Purdue, Notre Dame, and Butler being the biggest issues.  Each fan base has different reasons they will offer about why each program is down.  The simple rebuttal is that none of these four teams are that good.  Whether it be coaching, young players, player turnover, or injuries the fact remains that these are not the caliber of teams we are used to seeing at these institutions.  Overall, there is a lack of confidence right now.  Losing can do that to a team.  Doubt creeps into their minds and makes it difficult when the going gets tough.  The answer to how this gets corrected is probably one of two options.  Either your team gets hot and closes the season strong.  Building up the confidence level of the players, coaches, and fans.  Or you start building for next year now.  Get the young players on the team the reps they will need to gain experience.  The coaches can look at different player combinations and what may work moving forward.  That is always a tough pill to swallow, but when the postseason is very nearly out of the question you start playing now as if you are playing for the future.

Let us all hope that when the calendar turns to March some magic happens statewide and we get some surprises via the conference tournaments.  Our attention will be kept in Arch Madness rooting on the Sycamores and in the Horizon League tournament for Valpo.  Maybe one of the major conference teams get hot at the right time.  We will see but as for now this could be a dark season in Indiana college basketball history.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer.

Who? What? When? Where?

College Football Recap Week 14

Who?

Indiana quarterback Tre Roberson had a career day against Purdue on Saturday.  Roberson tied a school record with six touchdown passes tying a mark that had stood alone since 1943.  Roberson guided IU to an Old Oaken Bucket victory by going 25-37 for 273 yards and the six touchdowns.  He also rushed for a career-high 154 yards.  The Hoosiers hung up 56 points as they captured the Bucket for the first time since 2010.

What?

Indiana and Purdue’s atrocious defensive performance.  The Hoosiers and Boilers have struggled all season defensively, but on Saturday their ineptitude reached an all time high.  IU accumulated a school record 692 total yards of offense while picking up an incredible 42 first downs.  See the Who? section of this post for all of Tre Roberson’s accomplishments, but Roberson along with Stephen Houston and D’Angelo Roberts all rushed for over 100 yards.  That is a first for IU.  Cody Latimer had seven catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.  All of this was en route to 56 points.  Not to be outdone IU’s defense allowed the dormant Boilermaker offense to explode in the second half.  Purdue racked up 516 yards of offense with basically all of it coming through the air.  QB Danny Etling had shown signs of improvement down the stretch of his freshman season, but no one expected this.  As my friend James Motz said, leave it to the IU defense to make Etling look like Drew Brees.  Etling finished the day 33-49 for 485 yards and four touchdowns.  Everything on this day was a career-high for Etling.  Purdue had two players go over 100 yards receiving as Danny Anthrop and DeAngelo Yancey both cleared that mark while catching one touchdown apiece.  The best part about this game for all parties involved is that it is over.  It was ugly and frustrating.  Even for the winners in IU they still feel like losers with a defense that bad.  Almost forgot to mention with Purdue’s offensive outburst, IU’s defense gave up the most points of any Big Ten team ever in one season.

When?

Although they still have a bowl game to play (most likely the Pinstripe Bowl), Notre Dame fans are turning their attention to next season’s quarterback.  The reason this is in the when category is because ND is waiting to see if/when Everett Golson will be re-admitted to the school.  Golson is the quarterback that lead the Irish to the National Championship game last season.  Most Golden Domers will be glad to see Tommy Rees go, but Golson coming back to the program may pre-determine their fate in 2014.

Where?

The waiting game is being played in Muncie as Ball State sits around to see where they will be playing their bowl game.  The Cardinals dismantled Miami (OH) last Friday 55-14.  The win gave BSU their 10th of the season and the second best record in the conference.  Unfortunately they will be the third team available from the MAC as both championship game participants will get first dibs.  What could help them is Northern Illinois reaching their second consecutive BCS bowl.  If that happens Ball State should easily land in one of the conference’s automatic bowl tie-ins.  It would most likely be the Little Caesar’s Bowl in Detroit but there are a few other options in the Poinsettia Bowl or any of the new MAC-Sun Belt bowl games.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer.

Who? What? When? Where?

College Football Recap Week 12

Who?

Purdue quarterback Danny Etling finally showed some promise under center for the Boilermakers.  The freshman signal caller had looked very over matched before yesterday’s game at Penn State.  Although the Boilers lost, Etling guided the offense to their most production (21 points) since facing Northern Illinois back on September 28.  Etling finished the game 21-33 for 223 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception.  The young QB showed more poise in the pocket and was following his progressions much better than in his previous starts.  In a 1-9 season thus far, Etling finishing the season strong could be the lone bright spot moving forward for Darrell Hazell’s program.

What?

After losing on Wednesday night, Ball State’s MAC title chances are gone.  The Cardinals went up to Northern Illinois for the game of the year in the MAC and came away with a 48-27 loss.  The game was tied at 27 after a BSU field goal with 3:07 remaining in the third.  It was all Huskies after that.  NIU’s Jordan Lynch made two huge plays on critical third downs that turned out to be back breakers.  The Cards are still 9-2 with one conference game remaining so they should feel most assured of a bowl bid.  Pete Lembo and the crew had higher goals than that this year but still a solid season to this point.

When?

When Indiana faces Wisconsin, expect a bloodbath.  This is a simplistic take on this situation but over the last decade it has held true.  The Badgers have been the worst match up for IU of any Big Ten opponent.  They bring everything that the Hoosiers cannot stop which is basically a huge, strong, and talented offensive line with good running backs.  For the past twenty years, IU has struggled stopping the run and yesterday was no different.  Wisconsin rolled up 554 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 50 rushing attempts in a 51-3 demolition.  IU now sits at 4-6 with two games remaining.  They will have to beat previously unbeaten Ohio State and arch rival Purdue to qualify for a bowl game at this point.

Where?

The Pinstripe Bowl is looking like the postseason destination for Notre Dame at this point.  With West Virginia’s loss to Kansas, the Big 12 will not be able to fill their bowl allotment.  This would leave a spot open for Notre Dame who did not have a conference affiliation this season which made their bowl opportunities an interesting situation.  There may be a few other spots that could be available since the Big Ten and SEC may not fill all of their bowl slots either, but nothing makes more sense than ND playing in New York at Yankee Stadium given the opportunity.

Additional Who?

Major kudos to several small college football teams around the state from yesterday.  Butler beat Morehead State to clinch a share of the Pioneer Football League title.  Butler and Marist are co-champs with a computer ratings driven tiebreaker to determine who will participate in the FCS tournament.  The University of Indianapolis scored a touchdown with just 1:03 to go to beat Truman State.  The win secured the GLVC conference championship and an automatic berth into the NCAA DII playoffs.  Franklin pounded Hanover to win a share of the HCAC title.  They became the first team in HCAC history to win the conference four consecutive years.  The Grizzlies will share the title with Rose-Hulman who grabbed their first league title since 1983.  As the result of their head-to-head meeting Franklin gets the automatic spot in the NCAA DIII tournament.  In the NAIA, St. Francis beat rival Marian to clinch the conference title, keep Marian out of the postseason, and lock up a spot in the NAIA tournament.  The Cougars have been a top ten team all season in the NAIA and expect to make a deep tournament run.  Lastly a shout out to Wabash who beat DePauw in the 120th Monon Bell Game.  The Little Giants enjoyed their fifth straight win in the series.  They finished the year with one loss but did not win the conference so they will wait to find out if the selection committee will be putting them in the DIII tournament.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer.

Who? What? When? Where?

College Football Recap Week 6

Who?

Jahwan Edwards rushed for 155 yards and 3 touchdowns in Ball State’s huge win over Virginia 48-27.  This is the third consecutive game Edwards has found pay dirt three times.  Nine touchdowns in three games normally garners some major attention but when you are on the same team with Keith Wenning you can get overlooked.  Edwards missed two games earlier in the season but since his return he has been awesome.  Wenning leads the drives and Edwards is the hammer that caps them off.  BSU still has some big games coming up and Edwards may be the key to them winning the MAC Championship.

What?

Indiana, Ball State, and Notre Dame all got huge wins that have bowl game impacts.  IU beat Penn St. for the first time ever 44-24 yesterday.  Their first win in 17 tries against the Nittany Lions was not only a major program victory, but it puts the Hoosiers in a much better position for a bowl.  With three winnable home games left, they have the opportunity to go bowling.  Ball State won their third straight game against BCS competition beating Virginia.  It is also their fourth BCS win in the last three seasons.  Although they let one get away at North Texas and should be undefeated, this win gets their momentum rolling again and puts them in a much better light when bowl selections come up.  Notre Dame is in a unique situation this season with bowls.  Since their tie in with the ACC does not start until next year, the Irish could be shut out of a bowl game if they don’t reach a BCS bowl.  All of the other bowls have conference tie-ins making it tough for an independent to crash the party.  I find it hard to believe ND would get left at home, but beating a ranked Arizona State team at a neutral site may go along way towards their bowl chances.

When?

Indiana beat Penn State on the strength of their impressive second half.  The Hoosiers scored 31 points after halftime to take command.  The most important stretch was a three minute and forty second stretch at the beginning of the fourth quarter.  After Penn State had cut the lead to 21-17, IU put together a scoring drive that was capped off with a Tre Roberson two yard TD run with 14:10 remaining.  That put the score at 28-17 in favor of IU.  The IU defense then stopped PSU on downs and took the ball over offensively at the 33 yard line.  Two plays later QB Nate Sudfeld hit Kofi Hughes for a touchdown that made the score 35-17 with 10:42 to go.  The ensuing kickoff saw Penn State fumble and Indiana recovered it on the nine yard line.  The next play Tre Roberson was in again and rushed for a 9 yard touchdown.  That score put the game away with 10:30 left to play and IU’s largest lead at 42-17.

Where?

Coming off of a big win against Penn State, Indiana travels to Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan to take on Michigan State next week.  The battle for the Old Brass Spittoon is a big opportunity for IU.  This will be the Hoosiers first road contest in 2013 and comes with a lot of momentum on their side.  Michigan State got a win yesterday at Iowa.  The Spartans are a defense first team and have struggled offensively.  This could be a classic offense versus defense match up as IU is twelfth in the country in scoring offense (44.4 ppg) and Michigan State is seventh in the scoring defense (13.4 ppg allowed).  A road win for IU here puts them in great position for a bowl game and gives them a 2-0 start to conference play.  A great opportunity for Coach Wilson and company.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.

Who? What? When? Where?

College Football Recap Week 4

Who?

The vaunted Notre Dame defense finally rose to the occasion yesterday in 17-13 win.  The Irish defense had struggled the first three weeks of the season giving up major yards and points.  Yesterday they held Michigan State to just 254 total yards of offense.  More than that their defensive presence was much more physical than it had been especially up front.  Louis Nix III, Stephon Tuitt, and Sheldon Day dominated the line of scrimmage.  Perhaps they were still learning how to play without the same linebacking corp as last year, but the defense stepped up yesterday.  With Oklahoma coming to town next week it was a good time for them to sort it out.

What?

Ball State got a big bounce back win rolling Eastern Michigan 51-20.  After they let one slip away last week, it was nice to start the conference schedule off with a win and a road win nonetheless.  The Cardinals still have some major goals ahead of them this season with the MAC West championship, MAC conference championship, and a bowl game, but to bounce back was nice to see.  Of course Keith Wenning had a huge day.  Wenning was 17-28 passing for 317 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Wenning’s efficiency has been impeccable this season as he leads the #12 passing attack and #20 scoring offense in the country.

When?

When will IU ever put together a decent defense?  I know I am asking a question here but this is the same question that has been asked about IU football forever.  The Hoosiers improved last year in Kevin Wilson’s second season.  They upped their win total by three.  Their offense became one of the top units in the Big Ten.  The defense however continues to struggle.  Last week they showed what looked to be improvement playing a nice bend but don’t break game and not allowing an offensive touchdown to Bowling Green.  However, Missouri lit up the Hoosier defense last night producing 623 yards and 45 points en route to a road victory.  IU is now searching for answers and searching for a way to possibly sneak into a bowl game with a defense this porous.

Where?

Notre Dame Stadium will host the next big game on the Irish schedule next week as Oklahoma comes to town.  The Sooners will try to return the favor to ND as they went to Norman last season and won.  Oklahoma will be looking for a big win to sneak their way into the top ten and keep their National Championship hopes alive.  Notre Dame is still playing for a BCS bowl game appearance after dropping a game earlier.  This is also a high profile stretch of the season for ND.  After their three game Big Ten swing, they now play Oklahoma, Arizona St., and USC in the next three contests.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer.

Inside the Man Room

Colts talk is the prominent feature for this week’s show.  Matt Taylor from the Colts Vectren Radio Network joins me leading up the team’s trip out west to take on San Francisco.  We will also touch on some college football and a quick second on the Pacers.  Tune in and let me know your thoughts on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.

Who? What? When? Where?

College Football Recap Week 3

Who?

Indiana defensive coordinator Doug Mallory somehow got his defense refocused.  The Hoosier defense did not allow an offensive touchdown to Bowling Green and limited the Falcons to just three points.  IU bounced back a week after getting shredded by Navy’s triple option offense.  Navy had 515 yards of total offense with 444 coming on the ground.  Bowling Green was still able to move the ball churning up 409 yards of offense, but IU’s bend but don’t break D came through.  With the super powered offense IU has, the defense just needs to be solid and hold teams at bay.  They did that yesterday beating BG 42-10.  A bowl bid is still possible if the defense can hold up.

What?

The scare that Purdue put into Notre Dame was unexpected and gave two fan bases two different feelings.  Notre Dame came from behind for a 31-24 victory in West Lafayette.  Purdue was much maligned in their first two games.  Darrel Hazell’s first season was expected to be a work in progress, but the worry was put into the Boiler faithful after the first two outings.  The 21st rated Irish came to Ross-Ade a very healthy favorite.  The Boilers had other plans controlling the game for the first three quarters.  Notre Dame scored three consecutive touchdowns to open the fourth quarter to take the lead for good.  For Purdue fans, this was the sign they were waiting to see.  Hazell and company putting together a complete and solid effort and with it against rival ND made it feel better.  The Irish fans have more concerns now than they have had in a year and a half.  The defense they had last season is not showing up.  The offense has not found a good rhythm.  Rees has been solid but they have not been consistent.  There is a lot of season left but the questions for Coach Kelly are plentiful right now.

When?

A three and a half minute stretch to begin the fourth quarter spelled the end to Purdue’s upset bid.  The Boilermakers led 17-10 going into the fourth quarter.  With 14:47 remaining, Tommy Rees hit DaVaris Daniels for a 9-yard touchdown pass.  Moments later after a Purdue punt, Rees connected with Daniels again.  This time for an 82-yard touchdown pass and ND took the lead 24-17 with 12:40 to go.  Purdue’s chance to respond ended when Bennett Jackson stepped in front of a Rob Henry pass returning the interception 34 yards for a touchdown with 11:18 to play.  The Irish scored 21 points in exactly 3:29 to go from trailing by seven to leading by 14 on their way to a 31-24 win.

Where?

Ball State stubbed their toe in Denton, TX yesterday blowing a lead allowing North Texas to come from behind for a 34-27 win.  The Cardinals led 20-3 in the first quarter and looked like they would not look back.  The offense then went stagnant and BSU did not score in the second half.  The Mean Green scored the final 25 points of the game.  This was shaping up to be a special season for Ball State.  The team had some big expectations.  They can still reach most of their goals but the possibility of being a BCS crasher are now slim.  A lot of time remains as the MAC West title, MAC conference title, and a bowl game still remain.

Bonus What?

What in the hell was going on with Coach Darrel Hazell’s hat bill?  Does he not know how to properly break in a cap or did someone hand him that right before he took the field?  Hazell had the two sides of the bill bent but the top was flat and straight across.  It just looked incredibly goofy.  As someone who works at the corporate office of Lids, I would gladly send him a tool that would break a hat in correctly.  If you have not seen this please try to find a picture from last night’s game and report back on your thoughts.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer.

Who? What? When? Where?

College Football Recap Week 2

Who?

I might have to rename this honor the “Keith Wenning stat update” as the Ball State quarterback did it again yesterday.  Wenning threw up 325 yards passing and two touchdowns in BSU’s 40-14 victory.  Through two games this season Wenning has thrown for 665 yards, 5 touchdowns and has a ridiculous 165.8 quarterback rating.  The Cardinals are 2-0 which is the start to this season they expected.  Wenning and company are looking to turn this into a record breaking season in Muncie.

What?

Nate Sudfeld will be the starting quarterback for Indiana moving forward.  Sudfeld entered the game after the Hoosiers went three-and-out and four-and-out in their first two series.  He went 31-42 for 362 yards and four touchdowns.  IU dug themselves a 17 point hole against Navy and were never able to pull out of it.  That was not the fault of Sudfeld and the offense who nearly scored every time, but the defense could not stop the Midshipmen triple option.

When?

Ricardo Allen saved the day for Purdue with 19 seconds remaining to seal a 20-14 victory over Indiana State.  The Sycamores were driving with a chance to tie and take the lead at the Boiler 36-yard line when Allen dove in front of a Mike Perish pass attempt.  This game was tight throughout but Purdue came through with their first win of the season and the first for Darrel Hazell in West Lafayette.

Where?

Where has the defense gone for Notre Dame?  The Irish were torched on Saturday night as Michigan hung 41 points on them.  ND was the number one scoring defense in the country last season allowing just 10 points per game.  The final scheduled match up between these two teams at the Big House was a high scoring contest, but Michigan’s Devin Gardner stole the show.  Gardner went over, through, and around the Notre Dame defense throwing for 294 yards and 4 touchdowns plus rushing for 82 yards and another score.  Notre Dame will need to sort these issues out as they continue their Big Ten swing playing at Purdue in another Saturday night prime time game.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer.

Who? What? When? Where?

College Football Recap Week 1

Who?

Keith Wenning and Tommy Rees set a high standard for their 2013 seasons.  Wenning went 24-40 for 340 yards and 3 touchdowns as Ball State beat Illinois State 51-28.  Maybe even more astounding is the fact that the Cardinals trailed 21-9 late in the second quarter before scoring 42 consecutive points.  Wenning and company have some high expectations this season especially on offense and they did not disappoint.  Rees set a career high with 346 passing yards.  He was very efficient only needing 23 passing attempts to get there.  He completed 16 attempts with three going for touchdowns.  This was a great opener for Rees who is back in the starting role for the Irish.

What?

The Indiana offense came into the season expecting to be explosive.  In their Thursday opener against Indiana State, they set a school record with 73 points.  The Hoosiers rolled up 623 yards of total offense on their way to scoring nine touchdowns.  The quick strike ability of the offense was in full affect.  This was all done with a three man QB rotation.  Tre Roberson got the start and threw for two scores.  Then the offense really took off when sophomore Nate Sudfeld stepped in.  He went 12-17 for 219 yards and a very impressive 4 touchdowns.  IU will lean heavily on the offense this season to put up major points and they showed that ability in a big way.

When?

Most of the early season games for the in-state schools are not huge heavyweight battles.  The one big exception is next week when Notre Dame travels to Michigan.  This is the last scheduled meeting for these long time rivals.  Notre Dame is moving to the ACC in all sports other than football but with that agreement the Irish will play five ACC schools each year.  The annual match up for these two schools was a casualty of the move.  This will be a top 20 match up with emotions running high.  The last time the Irish traveled to Ann Arbor it was a primetime classic with Michigan scoring a touchdown late for a come-from-behind win.  This one is shaping up to a be another late night thriller.

Where?

Where did Purdue go at halftime in Cincinnati?  Darrel Hazell’s first game as Boilermakers head coach started off slow, but in a tight contest.  The end result however was a blow out with the Boilers on the wrong end.  It was a 7-7 game before Cincinnati scored a touchdown with just :17 seconds remaining in the first half taking a 14-7 lead to the half.  That score started a Bearcat onslaught of 35 straight points resulting in a 42-7 victory.  Purdue never found a rhythm offensively and when Cincy gained the momentum the Boiler defense had no answer.  This was a disappointing opener for Hazell.  The new pro-style offense he is installing never got off the ground and turned the ball over four times.  The 35 point loss was the worst season opener for Purdue since a 52-14 loss at Michigan State in 1996.  PU will look to get on track next week when Indiana State comes to Ross-Ade Stadium.

Follow me on Twitter @thadvandeventer.