Archive for March 29, 2012

The Fast Track

Round Two of the IndyCar Series Heads to Alabama

The IZOD IndyCar Series will head to Alabama this weekend for round two of the 2012 season. Barber Motorsports Park will give the drivers a challenge throughout the 16 turn, 2.3 mile road course will keep drivers on their toes with major elevation changes as well as fast winding turns. This is the third time the series has made a stop in Birmingham, with Helio Castroneves and Will Power taking the checkered flag in the previous two events.

Penske has been strong at this course, winning the first two events. Will Power will need to bounce back after a seventh place run at St. Petersburg last week. Power said it was one of his worst races in an IndyCar. Ryan Briscoe was solidly in the top 5 last week, but will need to improve at Barber where he has finished 6th and 21st in the first two races there. Look for Helio to continue momentum and be on the podium once again.

The top three teams in the series were accounted for on the podium last week with Scott Dixon and Chip Ganassi 2nd and Ryan Hunter-Reay 3rd for Andretti Autosport. Five teams were represented in the top 10 as well. This weekend at Barber, I think it’s up for grabs and a driver like Justin Wilson is my dark horse for Dale Coyne Racing.

Penske’s dominance of the track will continue, as I will pick Will Power to take the win. Yes, I realize I am going out on a limb here, but he is hungry to still prove he is the man to beat on the road courses. Helio will also be up front, I think he has the confidence after winning at St. Pete, he was in Houston with Shell this week to announce the Houston Grand Prix for 2013, and he is a guy that needs to prove that he is still a contender for wins week in and week out.

WINNER Will Power
Runner Up Scott Dixon
Podium Helio Castroneves
Darkhorse Justin Wilson

Inside the Man Room

The Coach and I this week look back at the NCAA tournament that was for the three Indiana schools.  We focus on IU and Coach’s post about the future of the Hoosiers.  We also chat up the IHSAA State Finals and the season opening IndyCar race in St. Pete.  Remember to follow us on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportCrew.  Notice no link for Coach’s Twitter account because your assignment this week is to find the Coach on Twitter!

Hollywood’s Minute

Helio Captures Touching Win at St. Pete

The opening race for the 2012 IndyCar series in St. Petersburg was an extremely emotional start to a much anticipated season. With the event being in Dan Wheldon’s American home town, and it being the first race since his untimely death, many of the prerace thoughts and comments were focused around Wheldon and his family. Dan’s sister Holly dropped the green flag for lap one, and the new race year was underway.  Team Penske dominated the early going leading the first 20 laps between Power and Briscoe, but with an early Lotus caution on lap 13 Mr. Penske decided, as he normally does, to have one of his cars off strategy from the rest of the field. Penske seems to do this in every race that has an early caution, so Will Power raced into the pits even before the caution was officially waved on the race track.  After leading the first 11 laps, Power wouldn’t lead again for the rest of the race. I questioned the move when it happened since Power was upfront at the time, and Rodger usually does this with the car furthest back in the field… which would have been Helio at the time. Once Power was behind cars instead of leading, he was unable to turn the lap speeds necessary to get back to the lead pack; however Power did finish 7th, helping Team Penske land all three of his cars in the top ten (Helio 1, Briscoe 5, Power 7). The driver that led the most laps during the race was the 9 of Scott Dixon who led 37 laps, and went on to finish second. Much was made during the race of Dixon’s previous struggles at the track, but that discussion was all for not as Dixon showed why those finishes were flukes by running near the front all race long.

Top race performers also included two Andretti Autosport cars in Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe, who finished third and fourth respectively. Other than Marco who finished 14th Andretti’s team, in my opinion, exceeded expectations in the first race by placing two cars into the top five.  This may partly be due to the slight advantage the Chevrolet engines currently occupy over the other two power plant manufacturers.  Chevy qualified seven cars in the top ten, and claimed six of the top 8 spots in Sunday’s race. Though Chevy dominated the race, it’s clear there are still kinks that need to be worked out with the battery and electrical systems, which took Tony Kanaan out early. Lotus only had two of five cars finish the race, and also had two cars die on the track for what sounds like unknown reasons. Bourdais seemed poised to finish the race in descent position as the top Lotus car, but mechanical failures also took him out of the race. There were 10 drivers credited with leading a lap in Sunday’s race, and I was happy to see Takuma Sato lead 11 of them. The former F1 driver has struggled much of his time in the series, but at times also shows flashes of brilliance, which are many times overlooked due to abrupt bad luck, or silly driving mistakes. It was much of the same luck in this race for Sato, who led nine laps early in the race, returned to lead lap 71, entered the pits with the lead on lap 71 and never got back on the race track. This guy has really taken his lumps in the past few seasons and I for one hope his luck can turn around this season with the RLL Racing Team.

Shortly after Sato’s departure Castroneves took control of the race late by not leading until lap 69, he took the lead again on lap 75 and never looked back. Helio finished the race having more than a five second gap on Scott Dixon when he crossed the line. Quickly after his victory Helio raced to scale the fence at Dan Wheldon Way, having a heart wrenching moment while pounding his chest simultaneously with the Dan Wheldon Way sign… a scene that instantly put a lump in my throat and covered my body in goose bumps.  I have never been a big Helio fan, but I have to admit I really enjoyed seeing him win Sunday, thanks to his post race actions. I believe Helio and TK are two of the closest drivers with Dan, and two guys I knew would make the moment about Dan rather than being about themselves, and that’s the way it should have been.

 

The Flying V

The Calm Before the Storm……Hoosier Hurricane Headed College Basketball’s Way

The Indiana Hoosiers had an incredible run this season and frankly, I think they were a year early! I expected them to make a deep tourney run, but I was expecting it next March. The Hoosiers were out and running early this year and never really looked back. I will tell you now I am not an IU fan and if you have read my blogs or listened to me on the podcasts this season you already know that. I’m more of a Purdue kind of guy. Blue collar, hard nosed, rebounding, defense, not a lot of style, a lot more substance kind of guy. That being said, there is a lot to like about this Indiana team. For example, Cody Zeller, the graduation of VJIII, Will Sheehey, Victor Oladipo, Jordy Hulls and the incoming recruits. Now, before you all get together and try to put a New Orleans style bounty out on me listen to my point. Sheehey is a fake hustle kind of player and gets beat off the dribble all the time! He couldn’t keep Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in front of him at all Friday night. Yes MKG is a NBA lottery pick but if a guy keeps punishing you off the dribble play off and make him make one or two beyond three feet! Oladipo is a high energy guy and gets to the rack almost every time he wants but he misses point blank shots way too much to get major minutes! He also goes for EVERY ball, shot, and shoulder fake any opposing team’s guards or slashers give him. He has potential to be great but until he finishes at the rim more and makes open J’s he will be a concern offensively. Then we get to every IU fan’s favorite player…JORDY HULLS. Yes, I know we all like the under dog and in Jordan Hulls you have a player who is slow, white, short, and doesn’t have a great handle. So in large part Jordan Hulls shouldn’t be the starting 1 at IU. If the recruits coming in next season were already in B-Town when Hulls was a senior in HS you can bet your last dime he wouldn’t have been an Indiana Hoosier. If you want to argue with me about that listen to this before you do…..the first day that Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell steps foot on IU’s campus he will relieve Hulls of his starting PG spot. I think Hulls is a big shot maker and will benefit most of anyone next season by playing with Yogi, Zeller, Watford, Hanner Parea, etc, etc. His minutes will go down and if you don’t believe me now you will next January when the rugged Big Ten season gets in it’s “dog days” and Hulls is watching Ferrell and wait for it….. Remy Abell close out road games. Sorry but the fairy tale is over for Hulls, but it’s just beginning for IU fans!

There will not be five teams in the nation that will be more talented than IU next season on paper. Yes, there is a reason why we play the games.  Ferrell, Parea, Jeremy Hollowell, Peter Jurkin (best name in the country next season), and the most forgotten man Ron Patterson will keep the Hoosiers stacked next season. I honestly think Patterson could be the man that steals major minutes from Olly and Sheehey. I like how rugged he is, and there is just something about him and the chip on his shoulder he plays with. If you add in the recruiting classes Crean has coming the next few seasons, IU could potentially have a dynasty starting…..hold your horses but based on talent level IU should be playing in Atlanta next year in the Final Four. I don’t think Crean is the best coach, in fact I believe he is the eighth or ninth best coach in the Big Ten. That being said, the Hoosiers will have so much talent next season that his short comings won’t hurt the Hoosiers. So I’m going to go out on a limb and tell you IU fans to get your names in the lottery for Final Four tickets in HOT-lanta next March. Get a hotel, rental car, dinner reservations, and some bling bling so you fit in while in Buckhead. My Final Four teams next season as of today are IU, NC State (boom), Michigan State, and North Carolina. Again people I know it’s early and this season isn’t complete yet but it’s never too early to look ahead. The days and nights are looking awful bright for IU in the coming months. I will leave you with a quote that hung in my locker and bathroom in High School. “There is no greater burden….than great potential.” The Hoosiers have the potential to rise above the rest and cut down the nets in Atlanta next March but potential is what gets coaches FIRED!

Be happy Hoosier faithful because you arrived back on the national scene a year early, and a parade of greatness is coming to B-town. It’s definitely going to be a fun ride for IU in the coming years. Get the bandwagon seats dusted off, they are about to start filling up!

Like what I have to say? Hit me up on Twitter @c_edward42 and @indysportscrew

Hanner Parea Highlights…..WOW

Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell….is he really this good? YES

Inside the Man Room- IZOD IndyCar Series Preview

In the Man Room this week, I sit down with fellow Crew members Tony Donohue and Albree Halstead to discuss and preview the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series.  We look at all of the new changes to the cars as well as new drivers and teams.  There is a ton to talk about so join us and let us know what you think.  Follow us on Twitter @thadvandeventer, @TonyD1070, @albreeh, and @IndySportsCrew.

The Crimson Corner

The Empire Struck Back

Friday night marked the end of the road for the Indiana Hoosiers as they were defeated by Kentucky 102-90. The highly anticipated rematch was one of the most exciting games of the season and had no shortage of offensive firepower. When it came time for a defensive stop however, the Hoosiers simply couldn’t muster enough energy and were outmatched by Kentucky’s size and athleticism.

Right from the start Terrance Jones sent the message that Kentucky didn’t forget their last matchup in December as he powered his way to a quick five points. Indiana responded well and the teams continued to trade blows throughout the first half. With four minutes remaining the first half, IU took their only lead of the game. Less than two minutes later Kentucky grabbed the lead and put a cap on what could have been the most exciting half of basketball I’ve seen this season.

It would have been but there was a variable that has affected the play of many games this year and that was the officiating. I normally don’t like to rant and rave (in writing anyway) about the officiating because I somewhat understand what these guys go through. I officiated six years of basketball at Indiana University and the University of Florida’s Intramural Programs as well as at the High School level. By no means am I Lil’ Ted Valentine but I know enough to understand when the officials are taking away from the game. This season’s officiating, as a whole, has been subpar. Specifically reasons: officials taking control of games, inconsistency on how they will call the game from half to half and breaking up any type of team momentum by using the replay monitor as their crutch. By giving Anthony Davis and Cody Zeller each two early fouls, the officials robbed everyone of the premier matchup of the game. (Both players only played 25 and 27 minutes in the entire 40 minute game.) The second foul on both players were fouls that just weren’t there. For better or worse, it changed the way both teams wanted to play in the first half.

The second half picked up with Kentucky taking a lead and basically never looking back. IU did their best to keep it close but Kentucky was just too big and too physical for IU to matchup with. The frantic scoring pace remained the same but strong offensive sets broke down into Kentucky fast breaks and scrambles for rebounds and loose balls. When those rebounding battles took place, IU was no match for Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrest and Terrance Jones. With the entire Zeller family down low, IU had a chance. When the threes weren’t going in however, IU couldn’t muster the inside presence to compete with the superior athleticism of the Wildcats.

The officiating didn’t exactly improve in the second half as IU lost their best defender and off the dribble threat when Victor Oladipo was called for a fifth foul that could be described as laughable with over 5 minutes remaining in the game. Additionally, Kentucky shot an incredible 37 free throws during the game. Is that the officials fault or IU’s? Might be a little bit of both but IU had no answers for Kidd-Gilchrist or anyone that decided to put up an attempt inside. To Kentucky’s credit, they fixed the problem that might have been their downfall in the first meeting and that was making free throws. UK made an incredible 35 free throws and shot 94% from the line.

Don’t get me wrong, the officiating wasn’t good but Kentucky won this game outright. Indiana did what they could and put up a great effort on offense as Christian Watford, Oladipo and Cody Zeller provided an incredible amount of scoring. When you give up 100 points to the #1 team in the nation, however, you are going to lose every time. While the pace of the game dictated some of the lack of defense, it was IU’s inability to make a stop or create a turnover when they needed to most. Kentucky is too big and too good and you need a near perfect game/game plan. The first meeting in December was just that and IU was the better team that night. This was a different and more mature Kentucky team and the night that mattered most this year belonged to them.

Follow me @IndySportsCrew and @Kipicher

Rise and Fire

 

2012 IHSAA Boys Basketball State Finals Recap

 

Class 3A

Guerin Catholic Pulls Away From Norwell; Claims First Ever State Title

The Guerin Catholic Golden Eagles won their school’s first ever State Championship in just their sixth year of varsity play beating Norwell 64-48.  The Golden Eagles outscored the Knights 26-14 in the fourth quarter to put the game away.  Guerin Catholic was led by their big men 6’5” sophomore Aaron Brennan and 6’3” senior Adam Hufford.  Brennan recorded a double-double of fourteen points and twelve rebounds with Hufford contributing twelve points and nine rebounds.  Also in double figures were the brothers Rapp- Riley and Whit who scored fourteen and thirteen points respectively.  Norwell was led by senior guard Grant Baker with eleven points along with senior forward Kyle Fillman who added eight points and nine rebounds.   

Class 4A

Carmel Take Down Pike to Win First Boys Basketball State Title Since 1977

The Greyhounds of Carmel High School took down the Pike Red Devils 80-67 to clinch the school’s first title on the hardwood in 35 years.  Carmel controlled the game’s tempo and held the lead after every quarter.  Pike led 2-0 just twenty seconds into the game but after that it was all Greyhounds.  Carmel senior guard Ben Gardner set a 4A Championship Game record by pouring in 31 points in the contest.  Sam Curts, who was named the Arthur L. Trester Mental Attitude Award, winner also put in eighteen points for CHS including four 3-pointers.  Pike was led in scoring by junior point guard Zavier Turner with twenty points and fellow junior Taishaun Johnson with nineteen.  Senior guard R.J. Hunter chipped in fifteen points and nine rebounds in the defeat.

Rise and Fire

2012 IHSAA Boys Basketball State Finals Recap

Here are some quick recaps of the morning session games from Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Class A

Loogootee Gets Past Rockville

The Loogootee Lions beat the Rockville Rox in the 2012 State Championship Game 55-52.  The Lions never trailed but fended off a furious comeback to win the school’s first state championship.  Loogootee’s junior center Conner Wittmer led all scorers with sixteen points.  Senior guard Bryant Ackerman finished with a double-double fifteen points and twelve rebounds.  Rockville was led by Lane Mahurin with fourteen points.

Class 2A

Park Tudor Wins Second Straight Title

The Panthers of Park Tudor won their second consecutive State Championship winning 79-57 over Bowman Academy.  Park Tudor was a leader throughout the game and lead by as many as 29 points in the third quarter.  The Panthers had some standout individual performances by seniors Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell and Paul Bayt.  Ferrell had seventeen points, 9 rebounds, and 12 assists while Bayt had eighteen points on six made three pointers.  Ferrell set a championship game record for assists and Bayt broke the 2A championship game record for 3-pointers made.  Bowman Academy was led by senior Elijah Ray who had fourteen points and 6 rebounds.

Follow on Twitter @thadvandeventer for updates of the games this evening.

The Crimson Corner

The Empire Looks to Strike Back

Tonight will bring the most anticipated game thus far of the tournament. Yes, it is a bias opinion but what were the odds that the upset of the year would be replayed again in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament? These two programs are two of the most elite, blue-chip programs in college basketball history. Most importantly these two teams are bitter rivals. Kentucky is looking to validate their talent and their coach with a National Championship. The Hoosiers are looking to continue a season that can only be described as miraculous.

If you turned on your TV today you were reminded of the result of the first game. That game, however, was played by two different teams that won’t be on the court tonight. Kentucky is a team that plays out a normal 4 year college career in one season, as most of their players will leave after their Freshman Year. This team is composed of players that have matured and grown into their potential and giant, grown-man, 18 year old bodies. Besides an SEC Championship loss to Vanderbilt, the Wildcats have been unscathed after IU. Anthony Davis has transformed from an awkward freshman to the awkward Player of the Year. Defensively he is a nightmare inside and offensively he can do everything from post-up to step out and hit the three.

IU is a team that by all rights shouldn’t be in this game. After an up and down Big Ten season, IU cruised past New Mexico State only to lose all semblance of an offense against VCU. 23 turnovers and under 25 points scored in the second half. Those two stats would all but guarantee a loss but IU rode their defense and poise in the clutch to a win. In order to beat Kentucky they will need to take a look at where they struggled in the first matchup at Assembly Hall. IU led for almost the entire game yet faltered in the end due to sluggish ball movement. The loss of Verdell Jones will hurt in this game as VCU exposed the Hoosiers lack of talent in regards to ball-handlers. Look for constant pressure by the supremely athletic Wildcats.

All eyes will be on the matchup of Cody Zeller and Anthony Davis. Zeller is going to be the focal point on offense and defense for the Hoosiers. Anthony Davis can get into foul trouble and Zeller needs to keep him working on defense. That being said, Zeller could just as easily get into foul trouble this game so he’ll need to be smart. Big bodies like Kidd-Gilchrist and Jones will be looking for redemption and will look to punish IU down low. Zeller is going to need help from everyone on the glass. Another key matchup will be Jordan Hulls against Teague. In the first game, Teague began to realize that he could get past Hulls nearly every position and began to take advantage in the second half. The help defense will need to be crisp on their rotations and don’t be surprised if Crean again goes to the 2-3 zone. Kentucky would rather take you off the dribble and on the break than outshoot you. IU cannot afford to have an off night shooting.

Kentucky is a better team than they were the last game. Athletically, they are much more gifted than IU. There is no way they have forgotten about their loss to IU and have to be ecstatic about the chance to redeem themselves. IU is also a better team than when they last met. They have improved by learning from their mistakes and taking their lumps. In order to pull off a second win against Kentucky they will need to take advantage of what they do better than Kentucky, team basketball.

Follow the Hoosiers tonight at 9:45pm.

The Fast Track

IndyCar’s Facing Unknown

Indy Car Kicks off in St. Pete-
The IZOD Indy Car Series heads to St. Pete this weekend for the season opening race. A race where many questions will hopefully be answered. New cars, new drivers and new owner driver combinations will have everyone on their toes come Sunday to track down who is in what car. Here are five questions I will be looking for when the green flag drops Sunday.

The New Dallara DW12 Chassis- St. Pete is a log jam of a street course. There will be some bumping and banging throughout the race, how will the cars hold up? Can the damage be fixed without losing too many laps? What will the lap times look like and who is ahead of the pack in adjusting to the new chassis?

How will Rubens Barrichello’s perform? Rubens Barrichellos will make his Indy Car debut this weekend after spending 18 seasons in Formula 1. This brings great compeition to the series and brings a wider fan base outside of the United States. It’ll be interesting to see how he does in his debut in KV Racing Technologies second car.

Will the Dominance Continue? Ten of sixteen races last year were won by Dario Franchitti and Will Power. Twelve of the sixteen races saw a Ganassi or Penske car taking the checkered flag. Seven cars will be under the Ganassi or Penske banners this weekend, will anyone top them at St. Pete? Or at all this season?

How Far Behind is Lotus? Lotus seems to be a bit behind on the development of their new engine. They have some talented drivers in Alex Tagliani, Oriol Servia and Simon De Silvestro. Servia was 11th fastest in the final test at Sebring. Honda and Chevy seem to be the top dogs to start the season.

Who Wins? Plenty of drivers will be in contention for the win. Will we see fuel mileage come into play? Helio Castroneves is the only repeat winner of the even, five different winners have won the last five seasons. This could be one of the most competitive races at St. Pete yet.

My Winner: Ryan Hunter- Reay. A Florida boy who is always strong on the road courses and with Chevy power, I think Ryan is poised for a championship run.

Podium- Dario Franchitti and Will Power

Darkhorse- Watch for Mike Conway in the #14 ABC Supply Car. A team and a fresh start for the winner at Long Beach last year, Mike could be a top ten contender come Sunday.