Archive for December 31, 2011

The Shipyard

No Nonsense Preview: Sycamores VS Bradley

 The Indiana State Sycamores look to even up their Missouri Valley record, welcoming the Bradley Braves into town for a New Years Eve clash. Bradley is fresh off of a 90-51 thrashing at the hands of Wichita State, by far their most lopsided defeat on the year. Let’s examine this years Bradley Braves:

 Location: Peoria, IL
Enrollment: 5,301
Notable Alumni: Hersey Hawkins, Former Colt Marcus Pollard, Former ESPN personality Charlie Steiner
Conference:Missouri Valley

Bradley comes in with a 5-8 record while riding a 4 game losing streak. Their most impressive victories up this point are a home win against Northeastern along with a 1 point victory @ George Washington. Years ago a win @ GW would have been impressive, but the years of Mike Jarvis and his International All-Star squads have passed and the Colonials are now a cellar dwelling A-10 mess.

The Braves are led by Senior forward Taylor Brown (15.2 ppg, 7 rpg) and a respectable pair of guards: Walt Lemon (Great Name!) and Dyricus Simms-Edwards (Long Name!). Jordan Prosser is a talented post player who garnered interest from several Big Ten schools before committing to Bradley. He seems to be developing as a quality prospect coming in averaging over 9 pts and nearly 9 boards per contest.

Prediction: Trees 67  Bradley 56

I’m concerned with ISU’s inability to score points, and I think they’ll have to grind out another win today against a team they should be able handle. This is a win the Trees must have as they can’t afford to fall to 0-2 in conference play!

The Shipyard

Hot Shooting Drake Sends Indiana State Home With a Loss

 

Indiana State found out just how difficult it is to play on the road in the Missouri Valley Conference, losing 79-64 @ Drake on Wednesday night. The Bulldogs dominated virtually the entire contest, demonstrating that they might be a surprise competitor in this year’s conference race. The Trees had no answer for the backcourt duo of Rayvonte Rice and Karl Madison who combined for 46 points, with Madison going a perfect 9 for 9 from the field. Jordan Clarke took care of controlling the boards, grabbing 12 rebounds on the night while controlling the paint. Dwayne Lathan was the lone bright spot for the Sycamores on the night, scoring 24 points in 28 minutes of action.

 My take on the game:

If Drake consistently plays like they did against ISU, their going to be a top 5 conference finisher. In my opinion, Rayvonte Rice is the 3rd best player in the conference behind Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Missouri State’s Kyle Weems. The knock on Rice is that he’s not always motivated coupled with the fact that he has had some off-court issues. There are also constant rumors of his intentions to transfer to a “higher” quality program. He put all of that behind him as he threw up 22 pts, 8 rbs, and 4 stls being without question the best player on the court.

 

Not a good night for the Trees. Jake Odum had more turnovers then assists, Printy didn’t make a 3 ball, and the Carl Richard-Myles Walker combo combined for 7 points. Those numbers add up to a loss on most nights! The Trees did luck out as Creighton and Northern Iowa both lost their conference openers, so ISU is still on a level playing field with 2 of their projected top flight foes. The Trees must bounce back on Saturday and beat Bradley, falling to 0-2 would be a deep hole to dig out of.

 Player of the Game:

Dwayne Lathan (24 pts, 2 blks, 3 stls)

 Next UP:

Bradley 12/31  1:05 tip @HulmanCenter

Rise and Fire

Take a look at this video blog as I recap the conference openers for Notre Dame, Purdue, IU, and Indiana State.  ND and Purdue got off on a winning note while IU and ISU had some difficulty on the road.  Check out the video and as always let me know what you think by following me on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.

The Shipyard

No Nonsense Preview: Sycamores VS Drake

 

Indiana State returns to action tonight traveling to Des Moines,IA to battle Drake in what will be both squads’ Missouri Valley Conference opener. Drake is projected as a lower ranking conference foe; nonetheless they have a few talented weapons and could be a difficult opponent, especially on the road. Let’s take a closer look at the Bulldogs.

 Location: Des Moines, IA
Enrollment: 5,221
Notable Alumni: NFL kicker Billy Cundiff, PGA Pro Zach Johnson
Conference: Missouri Valley

Coach Mark Phelp’s Bulldogs come into this game with a 7-4 record. They have posted quality wins over Iowa St, and perennial mid-major threat Winthrop. They have lost to in-state rival Iowa, Ole Miss, Boise St, and nationally ranked Virginia. Drake is led by talented sophomore Rayvonte Rice. Rice is averaging 18 ppg and 5 rpg coming into the contest, and at 6’4” 235 lbs, he’s a load for any guard to handle. Forward Ben Simons is the 2nd leading scorer on the club (15 ppg) and 6’8” 255 lbs Vermont transfer Jordan Clarke has manned the post averaging 8 ppg and close to 8 boards per contest. The bulldogs are without the services of projected starting center 6’11” Seth Vandeest who is still recovering from a torn labrum. Vandeest is a serviceable post presence who along with Rice, Simons, and Clarke would have gave Drake a solid core of performers.

Prediction: Trees 68 Drake 59

This will be a good test for the Sycamores. If the Sycamores want to compete for the conference title then they must be able to beat the lower level conference opponents on the road and at home. Drake has been pretty successful playing at theKnappCenterand Rayvonte Rice is a talented scorer capable of putting up 30+ anytime he steps on the court, so this could be a dangerous game for the Trees. I think the extended Christmas break will bring us a fresher version of the Sycamores, and I expect them to come our fired up to move to 1-0 in conference play. The Trees will bring their usual air-tight defense and hopefully find a way to make more shots then they did against UL-Monroe. Look for a good performance out ofIowaproduct Jordan Printy. I’m sure the senior sharpshooter will want to leave a lasting memory for his home state fans!

Rise and Fire

Hoosiers’ Litmus Test Begins This Week

Is Indiana back?  Are the Hoosiers for real?

These are the two questions that have been asked ad nauseum.  Over and over people have questioned the Hoosiers surprising 12-0 start this season.  While others are asking these, the IU faithful is hoping that this start is real and not a fluke.  Well good news for people of both parties.  Over the next three games, we should have a good read of where this squad is.

The Hoosiers open Big Ten play today in East Lansing to take on #17 Michigan State.  This is followed by two home games against #2 Ohio State and #16 Michigan.  This is obviously a tough stretch to open conference play but should tell everyone right off the bat if the Hoosiers are contenders or pretenders.

Speaking of pretenders I love this song “The Pretender” from Foo Fighters:

Back to basketball now, this opening for IU will be a good test to see where they are at and test their mettle against some very good competition.  The Breslin Center in East Lansing has been a very tough place for anyone to play especially the Hoosiers.  IU has lost its last 16 games at MSU dating back even before the days of the Breslin Center and the “Izzone” student section.  The Hoosiers have lost 5 straight in the overall series with MSU with the last win coming February 16, 2008 in Bloomington. These losses include a tough one point overtime lost last year at MSU 84-83.  Needless to say if the Hoosiers can prove they are tough enough to travel north and get a win over a team that has had their number and are riding an 11 game winning streak themselves it would provide a lot of confidence and answer some of those questions.

The real test will be to see how this team responds with three consecutive big games in a row.  We saw how they were able to get prepared and execute against #1 Kentucky at home, but now they have to be able to do it every game in the conference.  This is where the leadership on this team will be key.  You can’t just rely on Coach Crean to give an endearing pre-game speech each night or show amazing clips from movies such as “Gladiator” or ”Braveheart” or “Air Bud” to get the team riled up.  It has to come from within and from the players themselves.  This is the true assessment of how good a team is and how far they can go along with their talent and cohesion.

This opening Big Ten schedule will show everyone a lot about this IU team this season.  Not only do they play three consecutive ranked teams but match up against #2 Ohio State twice in the first six contests.  With a healthy Jared Sullinger, OSU is possibly the best team in the country and a serious National Championship contender.  Although these games are big, they will not make or break the season for the Hoosiers either.  If you take a look at the back half of their schedule, they play five of the last eight games at home.  Only one of which, Michigan St., is against a team that is currently ranked.  Most of those games are against teams in the middle to bottom of the conference.

These first few games will give us a good eye test on where IU is at as a team and a program right now.  It will also answer the questions that everyone has been asking.  The great thing about sports is a lot of times (I’m talking to you here BCS) you can get your questions answered on the court/field of play.  That is just what will happen over the next two weeks for Indiana.

Follow Thad on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.

 

Rise and Fire

Pacers Excitement Riding High

Indiana Takes Out Pistons in Season Opener

The Pacers blasted the Detroit Pistons on Monday night 91-79 and it wasn’t even that close.  They handled the Pistons on both ends of the court and did what a good team is suppose to do- beat an inferior opponent.  Now the question is “Is this a sign of things to come?”.  Coming into this season there were higher expectations and excitement for the Pacers than there had been since the 2004 pre-season.  They have a young group of talented players and added two very good pros in George Hill and David West.  But is what I witnessed at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in front of a standing room only crowd what I should get use to this season?  Lets hope so!

Indiana put together a very well rounded victory on Monday with five players scoring in double figures and holding Detroit to 36% shooting from the field.  The Pacers dominated on the boards by winning the rebounding margin 53-40.  Roy Hibbert and Danny Granger led the team with 16 points a piece.  Not only that but the blue and gold had three players chalk up double-double nights (Hibbert 16 pts-14 rebs, Tyler Hansbrough 15 pts-13 rebs, and David West 11 pts-12 rebs).  When the heck do you ever see that other than a fantasy team or in a coach’s dream?

More importantly than the statistics in the win was the atmosphere and buzz around downtown and the Fieldhouse.  This is the biggest part of what I am talking about when saying I want to get use to seeing what happened last night all season.  The place was electric and without a doubt the players fed off that energy.  My girlfriend, Jessica, and I went to several games last season including match-ups with Chicago and Miami.  Yes those games were sold out but it did not have the same feeling as last night.  When you walked into the building last night, there was a palpable feeling of anticipation of seeing a big victory and of the possibility of things to come.  Kind of like the feeling most kids get going to prom for the first time.

The Pacers have worked hard in the front office to finally put together a squad that should be competitive.  The other thing the Pacers front office has done is work to gain favor back with the fans.  Many fans had left during the fallout from the “Malice at the Palace”.  The Colts were the darlings of the city/state and rightfully so with their success.  But this is Indiana and this state is known for and loves its basketball.  The Pacers knew this and knew they had to take their time to put together a team with players the community could get behind.  They have that now.

The next big thing on the docket for Indiana is winning.  Winning can cure a lot of things.  It can also put people in the seats.  Last night everyone saw a glimpse of where this franchise could be headed.  A sold out Fieldhouse and a dominating team on the court is what every fan wishes they had.  Pacers fans are on the verge of that.  Now they are not all the way there yet to beat Chicago, Miami, or Boston for Eastern Conference supremacy, but there is plenty of room on the bandwagon now for when that comes.  Jessica and I are already on board so get your seat now and buckle in because this could be the start of one heck of a great ride.

Follow Thad on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.


Inside the Man Room

Take a listen this week to Inside the Man Room as the Coach and I are joined by fellow Crew member Albree “Hollywood” Halstead.  We spend a lot of time discussing the Indianapolis Colts recent winning streak and how it may affect the organization’s future.  Plus we give you an Indiana Pacers preview for the upcoming season.  Albree and I also go over the recently announced Izod IndyCar Series schedule for 2012.  Check it out and let us know what you think by email (indysportscrew@hotmail.com) or on Twitter @IndySportsCrew.

The Flying V

What I Think About What I Think…….

Notre Dame Football: Brian Kelly’s troops will wrap up this roller coaster season with a match up with the CrimiNOLES of Florida State. This game is a match up of two of college football’s most historic programs. Both have fallen on tough times as of late, but what a great way for one of them to get a jump on next year. What I want to see is Notre Dame to use Andrew Hendrix ALL THE TIME! I’m over the Tommy Rees experiment, and feel that youth should win out and Hendrix should get most of the snaps on Thursday. I think Rees will however get a lot of snaps and if he doesn’t throw it to FSU and just to Michael Floyd or Tyler Eifert ND will be OK. The Irish D will need to tackle and play fast, so that means Manti Te’o will need to have 15+ tackles and run sideline to sideline. I feel ND is fresh and ready to get a big W in Orlando. That being said I see the Irish to come out of the Champs Sports Bowl with a hard fought win. Picture this if you will; down 31-27 with just under 2 minutes. Andrew Hendrix leads the Irish 85 yards for the game winning score which is a QB draw on 4th and goal from the Noles 5! BOOM IRISH!!!!!

Notre Dame Basketball: The Irish ballers will begin Big East play on Tuesday night at home against 22nd ranked Pitt. The Panthers are coming off a huge upset loss at home to Wagner…..yes Wagner! I know Danny Hurley and Bobby Hurley were ballers in college but they didn’t play for Wagner they just coach there. But a monster W for Hurley and an awful loss for Pitt. That being said the Irish will need to play hard nosed D and make some shots. Yes I’m talking to you Scott “the invisible man” Martin. If Scott Martin had a super power you could bet it would be the power of invisibility, cause that’s how he tends to be in big time spots. INVISIBLE! So for the Irish to get a huge W to start Big East play Martin needs to knock down some jumpers, Jack Cooley needs to channel his inner Luke Harangody, and Jerian Grant needs to be the athlete the Irish need. My call is Pitt will come to The Joyce Center on Tuesday and leave with a much needed victory. My call is Pitt 74-ND 66 The Irish will need newly added Captain Eric Atkins to step his game up and if he does along with Grant, Cooley and Martin the Irish could send Pitt back home with there tails between their legs.

IU Hoops: The hysterical Hoosiers and their fans are getting pumped for Big Ten play to open up. The Hoosiers will travel to Michigan State on Wednesday to start and with it comes the first REAL road test for the young Hoosiers. I feel IU has better talent then MSU and better scoring, however IU doesn’t have the experience in big time games to get through this match up in East Lansing. I think the experience of MSU gets them a big W over Crean and the Hoosiers. Final score Hoosiers 72- MSU 77.

Tidbits to Talk About:

Movie to See: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. If I was a movie critic and I AM!!! I would give it 2 thumbs up. It’s a bit graphic at certain parts but it works well with the movie. The twists and turns are intense and acting is awesome! Go see it, but leave the kids at home!

Colts looking to get #1 pick in the draft…secure it with a loss vs Jacksonville or a win by St. Louis….Some will say you should try to win. I say we need to LOSE for the sake of the franchise over the next 10 years. Just my opinion!

Pacers open up the season tonight vs Detroit with a blowout W. The young Pacers are looked at as an up and coming team to be reckoned with by the NBA media members. I say if they get off to a good start the sky could be the limit for the baby ballers from Naptown.

In honor of Scott Martin I’d like to play you his theme song thus far during his career:

 

Rise and Fire

Pacers Roundtable

Leading up to the opening of this shortened NBA season, The Crew put together a roundtable discussion about the Indiana Pacers.  The Pacers look like a young team on the rise coming off their playoff showing last season.  I posed three questions to each Crew member and they will be showcased in a 3-part series leading up to the blue and gold’s opener against the Detroit Pistons on December 26.

Question #3:  What are your predictions and expectations for the blue and gold this season?

Thad Vandeventer:  Personally I am very excited about this team as I know many others in Indiana are.  After suffering through several lean years and starting to see some signs of life last year, this is the year the Pacers get back to winning.  The additions of Hill and West are a big part of this but also the growth of the young core of players that they have had.  I see the Pacers battling in the second tier of the Eastern Conference (behind Miami, Chicago, and Boston) with Orlando, New York, and Atlanta.  The Pacers should battle for home court advantage in the playoffs but I see them coming out with the 5th seed behind Orlando if Howard stays with the Magic for the whole season.  The Pacers have more winners than the Knicks and are deeper.  Atlanta has had their chance to improve and did not so I see them taking a step back.  The next step for this team is getting to the playoffs and winning a series and I think they get that done this year before being eliminated by the Heat in round 2.

Chris Kosiak:  My predictions for the Pacers this year are simply another playoff push and here are the playoff matchups:

Bulls vs Bucks (1-8) Heat vs Hawks(2-7) Celtics vs Knicks (3-6) Pacers vs Magic (4-5) Round 2: Bulls vs Pacers Celtics vs Heat
Confrence Finals Bulls vs Heat….Bulls. So that being said I see the Pacers winning a playoff series and giving D Rose all he can handle…This playoff plan is contingent on Dwight Howard still playing for Orlando. If Howard is in Orlando then I’ll keep Indy at 4 but if he gets traded to NJ or someone else in the east this is thrown out the door. So we shall see what happens.
Chris Marcum:  Larry Bird and David Morway were smart with the cap space fans have been craving for years. Vogel is the right leader to lead a young, scrappy team that pushed the #1 seed Bulls farther than they ever thought the Pacers would last year. If West regains his form and Hibbert, Paul George and Collison continue to develop the Pacers will be at worst the 5th seed in the East. If Danny Granger tries to do too much it could hurt the development of the young talent and the Pacers might move him by February. He might be moved no matter how he plays. The youth, depth and up and down style of the Pacers are going to be a huge benefit in a shortened season. The seats in Conseco are going to be filled and fans are going to get Boom Baby v2.0.

Albree Halstead:  My predictions for the Pacers this year would be a 5-6 seed in the NBA playoffs and close to 35 wins in the 66 game season. Looking at the rosters the Pacers probably have the 5th best team, and may be one of the deepest teams in the east. I foresee Atlanta and the Pacers battling for that fifth seed all of this season, baring catastrophic injuries on either side. I figure the Pacers will finish 2nd to the Bulls in the Central Division, and depending on who they draw in the 1st round, would expect them to be able to win the first round matchup, and bow out in the 2nd round to the Bulls, Celtics, Knicks, or Heat. That type of playoff performance would be a nice building block for the Pacers, and a step in the right direction toward building a championship contender.

Bret Shipman:  I think the Pacers are moving in the right direction. Vogel is a quality coach. They didn’t overspend on questionable free agents, and their young core of talent is developing nicely. Hopefully they’ll have the funds to acquire Eric Gordon when he hits the market in the near future!!

I think the Pacers will build on last years success and definitely make a repeat playoff appearance. 3-5 seed in the East is very obtainable for this team.

 

The Shipyard

Stingy Sycamores hold Warhawks to 35 points, move to 9-2

 

In a game that horrified fans of “good” offensive basketball, Indiana State defeated UL-Monroe 50-35 on Wednesday night. ISU once again ratcheted up their defense holding the Warhawks to 31% shooting on the contest, ensuring the ugly victory. This was the final pre-conference tune up for the Sycamores as they begin Missouri Valley play next Wednesday (12/28) in Des Moines taking on the Drake Bulldogs.

 My take on the game:

They might have well played this one with peach baskets instead of rims!!  Neither team could do anything offensively, evident with both teams shooting under 40% on the night. The Sycamores were impressive on the defensive end. The 35 points they surrendered set a school record for fewest allowed in the modern shot clock era. I honestly think this team is taking on the mentality of the old Baltimore Raven teams (pre Joe Flacco-Ray Rice era) where they look to beat teams into submission with their defense and hope to be able to muster up enough points to scrape out victories.

 I think the Trees have to be happy with their non-conference performance. Standing at 9-2 with quality victories over Vanderbilt and BallState, ISU is right where they need to be at this point in the season.

 I don’t have much to say about the ULM Warhawks. Their 1-12 for a reason, if they make it to 5-6 wins I would be surprised. I also think they should change their name and be the ULM Warlocks instead of Warhawks, it just sounds better.

 Player of the Game:

Carl Richard (12 pts, 8 rbs)

Next UP:

@ Drake  12/28  (8:05 tip)  Missouri Valley Conference Opener