Archive for November 30, 2011

Inside the Man Room

This week in the Man Room we covered a wide range of topics both from football and basketball.  On the gridiron we look at the Colts, college teams from across the state, and even some high school action.  While on the hardwood, we delve into some early season college hoops including the big IU-Butler match up.  Take a listen and let us know what you think by following us on Twitter @IndySportsCrew.

The Flying V

 What I Think About What I Think

Colts: Nobody saw this season coming!! With Peyton Manning in there I can promise you our record would be 7-4 or 8-3 at this point….don’t believe me go look at some of the teams that have beat us this year! That being said Curtis Painter got benched late in his senior year….Joe Tiller knows something about QB’s that Brees guy played for him(he was pretty good, if your into winning and setting all kinds of passing records) So why in Sam Hill does Painter continue to take the snaps for the Colts? Great question I know but come on Caldwell, Orlovsky played better than Curtis in the pre season and now while we aren’t making the playoffs we surely can let Dan give it a shot. Unless like many conspiracy theorists you believe the front office is truly sucking for Luck!!! Ya I know they are….they can’t admit it but let’s be honest we have Sucked for Luck since Peyton was ruled out for the season! Peyton goes back to the DR. on Wednesday for a checkup. We hopefully will know something good or bad by Wednesday night. I hope its good but when you’re dealing with a third neck surgery and hoping and praying that nerves refuse together in your throwing arm. I believe it’s a 40% chance we ever see #18 behind center again. This is his life; he’s got 2 small children, more cash than anyone, a Super Bowl Title and MVP, and a house full of trophies. He needs to be there for his kids as they get older and if that means walking away from us…GO!!!! I also think it’s time for Caldwell to make like a Tree and get the HELL outta dodge!!! He sucks and we all know it! Bring in a young coordinator or up-tempo coach. I have these candidates; Jeff Fisher (yep I want him) Winston Moss (packers linebacker/defensive assistant) and Russ Grimm (Arizona Cardinals, but most remember him with Pittsburgh) those are my top 3 candidates for the job! It’s a matter of time for Caldwell and the players know it….and know you know it!

Notre Dame Football: Here’s what I learned from the Irish trip to Palo Alto….we aren’t there YET. We are getting there but in all phases of the game Saturday night I felt the Irish were a step or 2 behind the Cardinal. I like Brian Kelly and continue to support him, but he should’ve gone to Andrew Hendrix weeks ago( check out my story about Rees in the archives) Tommy Rees should get with Dayne Crist and find a school to transfer to and stay best friends! Michael Floyd will be missed next season but if Tyler Eifert leaves for the NFL Draft that’ll hurt more than Floyd’s departure. Eifert is an absolute beast and a mismatch at every turn. The ND wide outs will need to get better but as long as Eifert finds his way back to South Bend next fall the O will be fine…especially if Hendrix is running the show. The defense is solid and continued to show the nation why. Only gave up 28 points to the #1 pick in the NFL Draft (it’s not even close) Luck played pretty well but the Irish D played good enough to win, but the offense was so bad in the first half Stanford coasted much of the 2nd. With 2 key d-line starters out super frosh Aaron Lynch continued to strike fear in the hearts of offensive coordinators across the nation with his performance. He is going to be a beast for at least the next 2 years in South Bend and the country had better take notice. I am a card carrying member of the “Lynch Mob” and by this time next year people will be saying he’s the next BIG thing!

Notre Dame Hoops: The Irish took a huge hit last week when SR. wing Tim Abromaitis was lost for the season with a torn ACL. The men’s team will now be lead by sophomore PG Eric Atkins and frosh Jerian Grant. The role players will be asked to do more, score, more, rebound more, and be better. Is that possible for this group to make noise deep into March? I’d say no, but how many times have Mike Brey’s teams been looked at like Lazarus only to rise from the dead and make the Big Dance? The young Irish will take some lumps and lose some games but better times are ahead for ND and I’ll be excited to see it happen.

Notre Dame Women: The 4th ranked Irish women went to the Bahamas and played in the Junkanoo Jam. They Irish played opened with USC and hammered them and in the title game against 7th ranked Duke fell behind 16 only to explode in the 2nd half and win on Natalie Novosel’s bank shot at the horn! The 3rd ranked Irish continue to get better and better and the Nation better watch out for this group! National Title or Bust!

IU football: The Kevin Wilson Era hasn’t quite gotten off to the start that many Hoosier fans had hoped. But when you look at what Wilson has had to do this year it’s understandable. I mean Bill Lynch didn’t leave the cupboard bare for Wilson but what he left in it were combustible ingredients that didn’t mix well in the Kevin Wilson kitchen. Then throw in Gunner Kiel committing to IU and then de-committing and message boards and radio shows going nuts about it. Then throw in a lot of lopsided losses and nail biting loses (Virgina) that is a recipe for an awful season. But I do feel as a non IU fan I can say I see Phoenix like qualities out of Coach Wilson and the young Hoosiers. I feel he will rise from the ashes of this agonizing first season and have IU in a bowl game in 2 years! OMFG I said it………2 years. Roberson is Randle El esque, Hughes is a full season away from full time beast mode and when you play as many frosh as you did this year they will be seasoned and primed to rise up and win some games in the next 2-3 seasons. People in B-Town have to stay positive and realistic. I don’t see IU winning the Rose Bowl but you can’t tell me the Hoosiers can’t make the Motor City, Little Ceasers, New Mexico, or the Terre Haute Bowl!!!(The last one is made up…DUH but that would be sweet if the Haute got a bowl game, I’d go FO SHO!!) So hang in there Hoosier faithful….play some Bon Jovi “LIvin on a Prayer” and adopt that as your theme song!

IU hoops:  The Hoosiers are off to a rip roaring 5-0 start with a big win Sunday night over Butler. That being said I thought Cody Zeller looked fragile and well 18 years old Sunday night. I thought Garrett Butcher for Butler was by far the toughest player on the court! IU won and it was a great building block game for Crean and the rising Hoosiers. However I feel IU plays too fast, and out of control at times and this isn’t hurting them yet but it will in Big Ten play. I know it will because MSU, OSU, MICH, Purdue won’t allow them to do some of the things they are doing right now. On paper this looks like a NCAA team, but to be the eye test revealed an NIT team this year and next year an NCAA squad. Sorry IU fans that is the truth!

Purdue football: The boilers went into Bloomington on Saturday and notched a huge win. They are now bowl eligible and going to probably play in the Terre Haute Bowl…again I wish! But this win probably saved Danny Hope from falling along the wayside like Ron Zook at Illinois along with a list of D-1 coaches. Hope and the boilers can relish in the fact that they didn’t play the best game of the season, but they played well enough to go bowling! Brighter days are ahead for the Boiler nation and going to a bowl only increases that!

Butler Hoops: The back to back National Runner up teams are GONE!! Don’t believe me…go ask Brad Stevens. When you look at this young Butler team you see guys who were on the team but you don’t see 2 major pieces. Shelvin Mack and the best player in school history Matt Howard! You don’t replace Mack’s big shot ability and Howards well EVERYTHING. Not this early in the season. I said in the pre season Butler would struggle to score and they have, but to me they are going to be just fine. They might not have the life changing wins yet this year but by March the Dawgs will be right back where they belong….playing some high major down to the wire and making America fall in love with them all over again!

follow me on twitter @ckosiak

The Crimson Corner

One Step Closer to Getting the State Back

Coming off the heels of a dominant 5-0 start, Indiana University took to the court on Sunday night, in Bloomington, to play their most pivotal game of the young season against the Butler Bulldogs. Butler is fresh off two consecutive National Championship appearances and had quickly won their way in to the hearts of most Hoosiers and the nation, while Indiana looked to continue their rise into relevance in the Big Ten and did so by fending off the Bulldogs 75-59.

Don’t let the score fool you as Butler truly played to their name for 30 of the 40 minutes in the game. While Indiana held the lead for most of the game, Butler hung in tough led by 19 points from Chrishawn Hopkins. Butler kept the Hoosiers within arms reach by doing what they do best, play tough defense and crash the boards. Indiana was off to a very sluggish start as Victor Oladipo and Verdell Jones III both picked up 2 quick fouls and forced Indiana to go deep in to the bench early and often. The score remained close at halftime with Indiana leading 32-31. Butler held IU to 32% shooting and quickly reminded everyone of the National Championship game in which Butler and UConn fought tooth and nail for every point.

The second half, however, brought about a different Hoosier team as they began to find their identity by feeding Cody Zeller and establishing a possible new go-to scorer in Will Sheehey who added a game high 21 points. Aiding in the Hoosiers win were pivotal contributions from Tom Pritchard and Jordan Hulls. With 10:07 remaining in the game IU took its first double-digit lead and never looked back. Butler, despite their best defensive efforts, had trouble finding ways to score as Hopkins seemed to wear down as the second half played out and the Hoosiers picked up the defensive intensity, nearly beating their 6th consecutive team by 20+ points.

The Hoosiers moved to 6-0 while Butler moved to 3-3. The Hoosiers did what was expected of them but no doubt it was a very satisfying win for a fan base that is looking to re-claim their prestige as the best team in the state. Butler will have a tough time re-creating their success of the past two seasons as their NBA caliber talent has moved on. They still play very well as a team but winning their conference will be tough and making the tournament will be tougher.

Indiana has its toughest test of the young season on Wednesday at North Carolina State. If this team can pull off a huge road win, they will possibly be undefeated heading into a matchup with bitter rival #1 Kentucky. Notable standouts included a great intangible effort from Tom Pritchard as he gave the Hoosiers a sense of toughness inside and caused a pivotal turnover that seemed to shift the momentum towards the Hoosiers for good. Notable low points of the game were the performances of Verdell Jones III and Christian Watford. Most notably Watford continued to have trouble finishing easy looks and did not look in sync in the teams offensive system. As a result, he saw fewer minutes throughout the game and the team seemed to perform better without him. It will be interesting to see how this young team continues to move forward distributing minutes throughout the season as the contributions of Watford and Jones will be crucial in order to make a run towards the NCAA Tournament.

Follow me @IndySportsCrew and @Kipicher

Rise and Fire

Boilers Regain Possession of Old Oaken Bucket

On Saturday, the Purdue Boilermakers walked into Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, IN with a mission and walked out with an air of achievement- and the Old Oaken Bucket.  The Boilers took down the Indiana Hoosiers 33-25 in what turned out to be a very well played football game.  This game was a huge win for Purdue as it made them bowl eligible for the first time since 2007 as they finish the season 6-6 overall and 4-4 in the Big Ten.

The game was highly competitive as most rivalry games are but the difference came on the defensive side for Purdue.  Early in the game the Hoosiers offense was rolling as they marched down the field on 3 of their first 4 possessions for scores (two touchdowns and one field goal).  The Hoosiers were utilizing their triple option attack led by quarterback Tre Roberson and running back Stephen Houston.

The game changed midway through the second quarter when the Boilers defensive front seven started to shut down the Hoosiers.  The holes that were opening up early were closed down.  Led by stud defensive tackle Kawaan Short, Purdue’s D-line started to get penetration and the short passing attack for IU was kept in check mostly by shut down corner Ricardo Allen.

As the Purdue defensive started to step up, the Boiler offense hit its stride.  Behind the two-headed QB monster of Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve the Boilers from the 6:50 mark in the 2nd quarter to the middle of the 4th quarter out scored the Hoosiers 33-10.  The key was third down conversions as IU’s defense just could not get off the field when they needed to and TerBush/Marve were making the necessary plays (with their arms and legs) to keep the chains moving.

The game was not without some controversy though.  In the 4th quarter, the Hoosiers tried to mount a comeback.  With 8:22 left in the game, IU scored on a five yard touchdown run by D’Angelo Roberts (who to my knowledge is no relation to former IU basketball player “The Amazing Elbow Pad”- Mike “The Snake” Roberts).  The Hoosiers then converted a 2-point attempt to cut the lead to eight, 33-25.  Following the scoring drive the Hoosiers D forced the Boilers to a short 6 play drive resulting in a punt.  The punt in itself was a good kick that landed around the 5-yard line and bounced towards the goal line.  As Purdue players began to flock to the ball, one Boiler slid in after the ball and with his legs laying in the end zone touched the ball to down it.  This should have been ruled a touchback but was a missed call.  The Hoosiers then began to drive on the Boiler D looking for a chance to tie the game up.  On a first down and with the ball resting on the IU 35-yard line, QB Tre Roberson looked to go up top to wide out Nick Stoner.  Stoner and Purdue DB Josh Johnson both went up for the ball.  It appeared that Stoner had the initial possession and as they fell to the ground both players arms were around the ball.  Then after they hit the turf Johnson ripped the ball away from Stoner and the play was ruled an interception.  The replays showed that as the two players came to the ground they both had their hands on the football and in the case of dual possession the reception is suppose to go to the offensive player.  The officials however ruled that is was Purdue football.  When IU coach Kevin Wilson tried to challenge the call he was told that it was not a reviewable play as dual possession in the middle of the field of play is considered a judgment call.  So the Boilers took over with 4:11 remaining and were able to run out the clock.

All in all this was a big win for Purdue becoming bowl eligible, finishing .500 in the conference, and regaining the Bucket.  The win was also big for head coach Danny Hope (and his mustache).  Hope was seen to be on a little bit of a hot seat in West Lafayette.  This win and the impending bowl game is a big step forward for Hope as he tries to get the Boilers program back on the winning track.  It is not known yet what bowl bid Purdue will accept but what is known is that this is a nice winning note for them to build on and the extra couple of weeks of practice will help their team moving forward towards next season.

Follow Thad on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.

Rise and Fire

What A Difference A Decade Makes:

A Look At the Status Changes of Butler and Indiana Basketball

The past ten years have been an interesting time for both Butler and Indiana basketball fans.  Both programs have changed dramatically over this time.  The Hoosiers have historically been the basketball gem in this round ball crazed state bringing home numerous conference titles and five National Championships. All the while producing players that will forever be remembered and a coach in Bob Knight that was beloved.

Butler on the hand was a small school with a good basketball tradition.  They were best known for the gym they play in, Hinkle Fieldhouse, because that is where the IHSAA state finals were held and because it was where the movie “Hoosiers” was shot.  The Bulldogs also had some very well known players go through their program such as Bobby Plump- the real life Jimmy Chitwood.  They also had a beloved and legendary coach in Tony Hinkle who built the Butler program into a winning tradition.  The two schools played throughout the years but were never seen to be on the same level.  IU was always the big kid on the block and Butler was just the scrappy kid you wanted on your pick up team.

This past decade has changed things drastically.  IU is no longer the powerhouse it use to be while Butler has risen to national prominence.  Many things have changed in this time span causing almost an inverse in the way and direction each program has gone.  To better illustrate this lets look back at the way each team has fared in the NCAA Tournament since the 2000-2001 season:

Butler

2000-01
1st Round     Win     Butler 79-Wake Forest 63
2nd Round    Loss    Arizona 73-Butler 52

02-03
1st Round     Win     Butler 47-Mississippi State 46
2nd Round    Win     Butler 79-Louisville 71
Sweet 16     Loss     Oklahoma 65-Butler 54

06-07
1st Round     Win     Butler 57-Old Dominion 46
2nd Round    Win     Butler 62-Maryland 59
Sweet 16     Loss     Florida 65-Butler 57

07-08
1st Round     Win     Butler 81-South Alabama 61
2nd Round    Loss    Tennessee 76-Butler 71 OT

08-09
1st Round     Loss    LSU 75-Butler 71

09-10
1st Round     Win     Butler 77-UTEP 59
2nd Round    Win     Butler 54-Murray St. 52
Sweet 16      Win     Butler 63-Syracuse 59
Elite 8          Win     Butler 63-Kansas St. 56
Final 4          Win    Butler 52-Michigan St. 50
Nat. Champ. Loss    Duke 61-Butler 59

10-11
2nd Round    Win     Butler 60-Old Dominion 58
3rd Round    Win     Butler 71-Pittsburgh 70
Sweet 16     Win     Butler 61-Wisconsin 54
Elite 8         Win     Butler 74-Florida 71
Final 4         Win      Butler70-VCU 62
Nat. Champ. Loss     UConn 53-Butler 41

Indiana

2000-2001
1st Round     Loss     Kent State 77-Indiana 73

01-02
1st Round     Win      Indiana 75-Utah 56
2nd Round    Win      Indiana 76-UNC Wilmington 67
Sweet 16     Win      Indiana 74-Duke 73
Elite 8          Win      Indiana 81-Kent State 69
Final 4          Win      Indiana 73-Oklahoma 64
Nat. Champ.  Loss     Maryland 64-Indiana 52

02-03
1st Round     Win       Indiana 67-Alabama 62
2nd Round    Loss      Pittsburgh 74-Indiana 52

05-06
1st Round     Win       Indiana 87-San Diego St. 83
2nd Round    Loss      Gonzaga 90-Indiana 80

06-07
1st Round     Win       Indiana 70-Gonzaga 57
2nd Round    Loss      UCLA 54-Indiana 49

07-08
1st Round     Loss      Arkansas 86-Indiana 72

In looking at the past ten years through NCAA tournament results, you can see how the roles of these two programs have almost reversed.  Seemingly forever IU was the team and program everyone was striving to be.  They had the tradition.  The power and awe to recruit.  A winning legacy of greatness.  Not only had they made 8 Final Four appearances with 5 National Championships, but they also have made 35 NCAA tournament apperances including 18 consecutive trips from 1986-2003.  The Hoosiers are now in the midst of rebuilding and have not sniffed the NCAA tournament since 2008.  

In the past decade, they have had four head coaches- Mike Davis, Kelvin Sampson, Dan Dakich, and currently Tom Crean.  Davis took over the team after Coach Knight was fired.  He rallied the players and in 2002 led them on a run through the NCAA Tournament to the National Championship game.  That was IU’s first Final Four trip since 1992.  Two years after that the Hoosiers missed the tournament all together and finished with a losing record.  Kelvin Sampson was the next coach of the team taking over for the 2006-2007 season.  He led the team back to the NCAA Tourney in his first year and won a game there.  But Sampson did not make it through 2 seasons in Bloomington as an impermissable phone call recruiting violation struck the program.  An unbelievable black eye for a program that had never even suffered minor NCAA violations.   Sampson was on probation from his time at Oklahoma for similar offenses and was fired.  Dakich took over a disfunctional team at that point that appeared to give up at the end of the season.  Those violations led to a player exodus and 3 consecutive losing seasons under new coach Tom Crean.  The Hoosiers went from the brink of a 6th banner hanging in Assembly Hall to the basement of the Big Ten in the past decade.  An almost unbelievable fall from grace for a school and fan base with so much passion and pride.

Butler on the other hand has risen from a good mid-major basketball team to a national program.  Butler was a program that was building in the 1990s under coach Barry Collier.  Before they made the tournament in 1997 their only other appearance was in 1962.  Starting with those late 90s teams Butler started to make a habit of winning their conference and making the NCAA Tournament.  At first it was an achievement to just be there but quickly it was apparent that they were there to win.  The Bulldogs won a few early round games and advanced to the second weekend of the tournament on two different occassions.  Unlike the Hoosiers which seemed to be a power forever, the Bulldogs were building a program with a winning and competitive nature.  They were getting good Indiana kids to play in their system and the cohesion came easy. 

Through this same amount of time Butler went through some coaching changes as well.  But not for the same reasons IU did- losing games and breaking NCAA rules.  Instead the Dawgs had coaches leave for what they considered bigger jobs.  Thad Matta was there for only one season in 2000-2001 before moving on to Xavier and eventually Ohio St. As per usual the Bulldogs promoted from within and Todd Lickliter took over the reigns. Lickliter took Butler to their first two Sweet 16′s in school history in ’03 and ’07.  He then moved on to take over at Iowa.  Once again the Dawgs promoted an assistant, this time moving Brad Stevens into the head role in 2007.  No one could forsee where Stevens would take the program.  Under his leadership he steered the Bulldogs to unprecented heights.  The Bulldogs have played in back-to-back National Championship games.  Let me repeat that.  The Butler Bulldogs have played in back-to-back National Championship games.  A small school with limited resources has gone from a team you recognize on selection Sunday to the ultimate bracket busting squad.

This decade has brought so many new things to both programs and fan bases.  IU has gone from the penthouse of college hoops to a relative non-factor, while the Bulldogs have gone from nationwide unknowns to the country’s darlings two consecutive years.  Now I am not trying to say that Butler has completely replaced IU.  The Hoosiers still have an incredibe following and that has been proven by the continued sell outs at Assembly Hall even through these past three losing campaigns.  But the Bulldogs are now a program to reckon with- not only in this state but around the country.  Their recruiting has improved and they have been able to expand their recruiting reach.  Another sign of their rise is the fact that Butler games are now broadcast on ESPN 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis and home basketball games are televised locally on WNDY-TV.  This has changed how people even think about Butler.  You now see so many more people walking around with Butler shirts on then ever before.  These are just the after affects though that come from success.  The tell-tale sign that things have turned around though is wins.  Wins are what fans and alumni want and the reason good players go to good programs.  Wins make programs relevant.  Wins drive the bandwagon.  Wins in March are what makes tradition.

Coming into this Sunday’s contest between Butler and IU people are looking at both teams and feeling differently.  Butler fans are still riding high from their recent success and expect their team to be able to compete at a high level once again when it counts come March.  They almost expect their team now to at least make the second weekend of the tournament.  IU on the other hand is a team that looks like this could be the season they start to turn things around.  Get back to being competitive once again and just hoping to make the postseason.  What a drastic change there has been in the past ten years.  Butler is the team coming into this game with the national presence and IU is the team looking to break onto the scene (again).  We will learn a lot about both teams this weekend and we will see how things evolve this season.  But for the time being what an amazing change in the status quo we have seen in the last decade.

Follow Thad on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.     

The Flying V

Irish Lose Abro…Now What?

The news out of South Bend today wasn’t about the football teams trip to Stanford. Or the highly ranked men’s hockey team beating Lake Superior State 4-1. No instead this news came from men’s basketball headquarters, and it was that Senior G/F Tim Abromaitis was lost for the season and possibly his career with a torn ACL.

This news couldn’t have come at a worse time for Mike Brey and the Irish. Notre Dame is coming off an 0-2 trip to Kansas City at the CBE Classic with losses to Missouri and California. Mizzou was outright dominate and Cal just made a few more plays down the stretch to send ND back home searching for answers. Now with this heart breaking news Brey and Co. have to ponder a few questions; whose going to score, whose going to stretch the opposing D, whose going to lead us, but most importantly….where are we going to find some wins?

Even with Abro I wondered where the Irish were going to find a lot of Big East wins. But now I have a strong feeling Notre Dame could be looking up at many Big East teams as the season wares on. Mike Brey has made it through injuries to players before but never on such a major scale. Luke Harongody got injured his senior year and ND still got into the NCAA’s. PG Kyle MacAlarney got kicked out of school over drug possession charges and ND was able to make due with T Jack and get to the dance. But if you look at this Irish squad through a looking glass, you will see a young, unathletic squad without their pre-season all Big East performer. Never has Brey had a team this dependent on 1 guy to do so much and now Brey will have to figure out a way to replace 20+ points, 6 boards, and 3 assists a game. You can’t find too many teams in the country who can replace that and if they can that guy won’t be as good a person as Tim.

In our college basketball preview I had ND in the NCAA’s but after the injury to Abro’s knee I think Notre Dame will struggle to finish .500 in the Big East and get past the opening round of the NIT. I hope I am proven wrong but I honestly don’t think the Irish have enough weapons to get through this storm. In my all time ND favorite player list Tim Abromaitis is in the top 10 and as the season goes on I believe more Irish faithful will see why. In the movie of Tim Abromaitis’ career he would’ve led the Irish to the Sweet 16 of the Dance and been voted 2nd Team All-American. But since this is real life and nobody writes this script Abro will go out without much hoopla and that is an absolute shame. But don’t feel too bad for Tim, he’s got an undergrad degree and MBA from ND.  He’s going to be just fine….the hoops team maybe not so much!

Follow Chris on Twitter @ckosiak and @IndySportsCrew.

The Shipyard

No Nonsense Preview: Sycamores VS Texas Tech (Old Spice Classic RD1)

 

The Sycamores are spending Thanksgiving in Orlando this year, participating in the 2011 Old Spice Classic. The trees match up in round 1 with big 12 member Texas Tech. Odds-makers currently have Indiana State as a 6 point favorite in the contest, a sign that experts aren’t sold on Tech’s 3-0 start to begin the year. Lets take a look at the Red Raiders.

 

Location: Lubbock,TX                                                                                                  

Enrollment: 32,327

Notable Alumni: John Denver, Wes Welker, Sheryl Swoops

Conference: Big 12

Texas Tech is projected to be a lower level Big 12 squad this season. New coach Billy Gillispie has a rebuilding project on his hands, as the failed Pat Knight reign left the cupboard pretty bare. Tech comes into the game with an unblemished 3-0 record. This includes two 5 pt victories over Troy and North Texas and a 12 pt win over Stephen F. Austin. The Red Raiders are led by high scoring Canadian guard Ty Nurse (19.3 ppg) and Soph. forward Jaye Crockett (11 ppg, 8 rbs) along with the inside presence of the lone Senior on the squad, 6’10″ 260 lbs, Robert Lewandowski.

Prediction: Trees 64  Red Raiders 61 

This is a big game for the Sycamores. Not only are they playing a beatable power conference opponent, but this is a national televised game on ESPN2. Jake Odum always seems to elevate his play in big games, so hopefully his track record will hold true and he’ll be at his best today. ISU has to find a way to slow down Ty Nurse, that assignment will likely fall to Steve McWhorter as he is the best defender of the 3 guards in the normal starting line-up. This could be a good opportunity for Myles Walker, Justin Gant, and Jake Kitchell to dominate the interior. Besides Lewandowski the Red Raiders are pretty thin inside. Ultimately I think ISU’s depth and  continued hot shooting from Jordan Printy and RJ Mahurin will lead the trees into the winners bracket and a probable 2nd round meeting with Minnesota, who matches up with DePaul in rd 1.

Happy Thanksgiving !!

The Shipyard

Sluggish Sycamores need late 3 to down UW-Green Bay

 

It wan’t pretty by any means, but Indiana State moved to 4-0 on the season defeating Green Bay 57-56 on Monday night. The Sycamores were bailed out by sharpshooter Jordan Printy who nailed a deep 3 with 15 seconds left to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Printy led the trees on the night with 12 pts, knocking down four 3 balls. Other contributors included Myles Walker and RJ Mahurin both chipping in 10 pts each in the victory.

 

My take on the game:

A ugly victory is always better then a well played defeat! That’s what the Sycamores have to take from this outing. Green Bay missed several opportunities to put this game away, the trees did what quality teams should do, and made them pay in the end. It’s possible that the trees were looking past Green Bay in anticipation of their Old Spice Classic match-up with Texas Tech, that’s the only valid reason I can come up with for this sluggish outing. Regardless Indiana Sate heads into their ESPN televised Thanksgiving Day match-up with a 4-0 record and hopefully motivation to play at a much higher level.

Player of the Game:

Jordan Printy: 13 pts (4-7 3pt) game winning 3 !

Next UP:

Texas Tech (Old Spice Classic RD 1) Turkey Day 12:00 Tip on ESPN

Rise and Fire

Battle for the Old Oaken Bucket Story Lines

This Saturday will mark the 87th time that Purdue and Indiana have played for the Old Oaken Bucket trophy and it will be the 114th time overall that the two schools have battled on the gridiron.  The Boilers hold a big advantage in Bucket games with a record of 56-27-3 but the teams have split the last 4 meetings.  The Hoosiers won last season’s contest in West Lafayette 34-31 in overtime to regain possession of the Bucket.

The game on Saturday is obviously not going to be one of the most hyped in this rivalry’s history as both teams come in with losing records.  But that does not mean this game is without interesting story lines on both sides.  Lets take a look at them for both teams.

Starting with Purdue there is the huge opportunity for the Boilers, who are 5-6, to become bowl eligible with a win.  A trip to a bowl game would be the first for the Boilers since the 2007 season when they went to the Motor City Bowl.  A bowl game appearance would be a nice step forward for the program as they try to regain their status of a few years ago of consistently making bowl trips.  Another way in which a win and bowl trip would help the Boilers is the extra practice time it enables the team to get.  With that extra time it would allow Junior quarterback Caleb TerBush to gain more experience in the system and get him ready for next season.

The biggest story line entering this game for Purdue though is head coach Danny Hope (and his mustache).  This could be a make it or break it game for Hope.  In his third season at the helm for the Boilers, Hope has recruited some nice talent and has gotten several prospects from Florida to come up to West Lafayette.  But that has not paid off into very many wins.  With two losing campaigns to open his career at Purdue, a win on Saturday is needed to avoid three bad seasons in a row and at least give the school some signs of hope (no pun intended) in the football program.  Losing back to back seasons to IU would not help either.  Also looming out there are the rumors and thoughts of University of Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin.  Sumlin is from Indianapolis, where he attended Brebeuf Jesuit Prep School, and attended Purdue.  Sumlin played linebacker for the Boilers from 1983-1986 earning four letters and was even an assistant coach at Purdue from 1998-2001 (some of the best years in school history with coach Joe Tiller and QB Drew Brees Boilering Up).  Sumlin has his Houston Cougars squad sitting at 11-0 and rated #8 in the BCS standings going into this weekend’s game at Tulsa.  The whisperings are there that maybe Purdue would make a play for coach Sumlin and try to lure him back to his roots.

Now on to the Hoosier’s story lines.  This has been a rough first season for head coach Kevin Wilson.  The team comes into this game with a record of 1-10.  This is obviously not the start to his head coaching career he had envisioned.  Much like coach Hope, Wilson needs this win to show improvement.  Now Wilson’s job is not on the line as Hope’s might be, but he does need the positive feeling and momentum of a big rivalry win to take into the off-season that a Bucket win would give him.  The Hoosiers have seen many departures this season and this win would give them some confidence not only with the current players on the roster but also for any incoming recruits.

Another story line I am interested in is the continued progression of the young offensive weapons the Hoosiers are now using- starting with QB Tre Roberson.  When Roberson first came in to play he gave the offense and team as a whole a jolt of new life.  They looked much better and more confident even in losses to Iowa, Northwestern, and Ohio State.  But in those games they at least showed some competitiveness.  Now coming off a 55-3 beat down at the hands of Michigan State (in a trophy game for the Old Brass Spittoon), how do these young Hoosiers respond.  Will they limp their way out of this season with their tails between their legs?  Or will the stand up and compete with the Boilers and try to keep the Bucket and keep Purdue from a bowl game?

My feelings about these story lines vary in terms of importance but all are very relevant to their respective teams.  I believe that a win is much more important to Purdue at this point.  Making a bowl game is not only big for the program but for coach Hope.  As I stated before Hope needs to get the program back on track and back to winning.  He also may be under a little bit of fire for his job if he loses to a team that to this point is winless in the Big Ten.  Now I am not one that believes Kevin Sumlin is walking through those doors at Ross-Ade Stadium any time soon- but somebody else might be next year instead of Hope.  Sumlin is a hot commodity in college football coaching right now and with jobs such as Ole Miss open in the SEC I just don’t know if coming home to Purdue would be at the top of his list.  In terms of importance for IU, winning this game does not put them in a bowl game or put them back into Big Ten relevance.  But what it could do is propel them towards their future.  This is the Hoosiers bowl game this season.  They have played so many young players this year that will be able to take a lot of experience out of this season.  Capping it off with a win for the Old Oaken Bucket would make this tumultuous season end on a high note and cause a good vibe for partying down on Kirkwood Saturday night- not that IU students need any help with that.

I will stick by my prediction that I made on our Inside the Man Room podcast and pick the Hoosiers to win 38-34 in a shootout.  And let the ridicule begin if I am wrong.

Follow Thad on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew

The Crimson Corner

Reality Bites: Indianapolis Colts

Ever seen the show Fringe on Fox?

Of course you haven’t, you aren’t a super nerd. Luckily I am. In this show there exists an alternate reality where you are the same person yet different choices have been made. What could the Indianapolis Colts players and coaches maybe have done differently or better? Does Tom Moore speak? Is Ryan Leaf a Colt? Endless possibilities, endless explanations. This is my article, however, so for a moment let’s hypothesize that in Fringereality:

In 2004 – The record-breaking offense doesn’t freeze in the snow at Foxboro against the New England Videographers.

In 2005 –Mike Vanderjagt makes that game-tying field goal or Nick Harper doesn’t get stabbed.

In 2006 – I hadn’t ashed my cigar on my couch.

In 2007 – The Colts beat the heeeaaaavy underdog San Diego Chargers.

In 2008 – Gijon Robinson remembers the snap count and the Colts beat the underdog Chargers, again.

In 2009 – We go for perfection. Kendra Baskett knows how to catch. Tracy Porter doesn’t come back to haunt his home state.

In 2010 – We figure out how to keep players healthy and shut Rex Ryan up?

In 2011  - The Lockout happens and Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter only ever meet at a charity event for retired players in 2013.…

Damn you Fringereality…..Look at all these opportunities missed by this franchise. That seems to be the conundrum of being a Colts fan in the Manning Era. Granted, we have more success than any team besides the Steelers and Patriots but there also seems to be a void. A void that two or three more Super Bowls could have filled. One was great but a Colts fan can’t help but feel as though there should have been more. Perhaps, that’s what makes Manning going down so sudden hurt even more, because we’ve always had next year. It was just assumed that every year Peyton was behind center we would shuffle enough players around to get into the playoffs and then sheer Math would take over right? I count 10 years where the Colts have been legitimate contenders for the Super Bowl. My math also has us at a 10% success rate. Sports are tough and will always be a little bit of luck. So are the Colts cursed, soft, choke-artists or something completely different?

If you are reading this and aren’t a Colts fan, you are probably thinking, “how about you shut up” and a lot of “it could be worse” claims. It could…It could be the season that we are going through right now. Then I sat and thought, for all of our near misses at a Dynasty and frustration at being so close to true excellence, let’s celebrate what we have had:

-       A Super Bowl Championship

-       Peyton Manning and a slew of other Pro-Bowlers

-       A chance to witness one of the greatest offensive seasons of all time (2004)

-       A chance to watch playoff football for the last 10 seasons

-       Sustained regular season excellence that may never be matched (say what you will about the value of winning regular season games vs. playoff games but I guarantee you the players care and if the players aren’t trying to win every single game they play, they wouldn’t be in the NFL)

-       Lucas Oil Stadium

-       Hosting a Super Bowl

I could go on but hopefully you get the point. Yes, we did lose the chance to have the first 16-0 season. We have had more disappointment in the playoffs than most and we are the worst team in the league right now. Honestly though, tell me that it has not been an absolute blast watching #18 orchestrate the offense or Freeney bring down an opposing QB when we need it most. Tell me it isn’t a sports fans dream to watch the Vince Lombardi Trophy being hoisted or walking in the cathedral of sports that is Lucas Oil Stadium. This season, we might not win a game. Next season we might not have Peyton Manning. That’s sports and that’s life. Part of life is also enjoying the ride and if this season is cosmic Fringereality payback, then I’ll take that trade. The Colts will be back. Jim Irsay will rebuild or we will have #18 leading us once more. The Indianapolis Colts don’t owe you or me anything this season but from here on out and beyond we owe them.

Remember that every time you take off your Colts jersey in disgust. Remember to Believe in Blue.

Follow me @IndySportsCrew and @Kipicher