Summer Camp Time for Colts
The Indianapolis Colts are reporting for camp that officially starts today. No, Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney are not checking in to Camp Anawanna to bunk with Eddie “Donkeylips” C. Gelfen nor is Andrew Luck hanging out with your kid at YMCA day camp. This is the actual start of training camp. It doesn’t feel like football season should be here yet but it is. So as all the players file into Anderson, here are a few things I am looking for during the preseason.
First, is the new #1 pick Andrew Luck himself. As everyone had anticipated since late September of last year (as you could tell from all the Colts Luck jerseys being worn to games last October), Luck was drafted by the Colts with the first pick in the draft. Luck will be stepping into the shoes left by the legendary Peyton Manning. It will be interesting to see how Luck performs early and how quickly he shows improvement. Quarterbacks the past few years have had success in their rookie season throughout the league. Luck will be under much scrutiny as he slides in under center replacing Manning and as the first overall pick. He has been touted for having all the tools needed to be a successful player in this league. Luck’s early season performance will be a key for this team.
The next thing I will be keeping tabs on is the defense. Coach Chuck Pagano is implementing his 3-4 defense that he used in Baltimore. This calls for some players to learn new positions and bringing in some new personnel on that side of the ball. It will be interesting to see how Mathis and Freeney adapt to playing an outside linebacker position. I expect both will be utilized more similarly to James Harrison (Pittsburgh) or Terrell Suggs (Baltimore) as predominately pass rushers. They will still be coming after the quarterback off the end, but doing so from a standing position rather than having a hand in the dirt.
The linebacking corps along with the defensive backfield will also be some units to keep track of. Will Pat Angerer be able to play as well as he did last season in this new system? I think he will still be a solid player, but moving to the inside will be a learning process for him early in the year. The defensive backs were a weak spot last year for the Horseshoes. Antoine Bethea has proven he is a high level safety, but he did not have a lot of support last year both from injuries and lack of talent. Adding Tom Zbikowski at the other safety spot and getting Jerraud Powers healthy will help improve the backfield. The new defensive scheme that will include more blitzing should allow some big plays to be made by both the linebackers and defensive backs.
The last thing I will hope to get a feel and sense of is the overall vibe of the team. This may be hard to gauge in training camp or the pre-season, but this will go along way to the team winning some games this season. With all of the new players and coaches joining the organization, training camp will be key to bond everyone together. The other thing that will help that is winning some games early because as we all know winning cures all.
This is a brand new team for the fans of Indy to get to know. Lots of changes and lots of new faces around the organization, including my man Matt Taylor in radio communications. Newness can sometimes revive organizations and fan bases and we will wait to see how all of this shakes out this season for the Colts.
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This week’s “Inside the Man Room” we welcome back the Coach- Chris Kosiak. We discuss the start of football season as the Colts start training camp on Saturday. The difference between Colts fans and Pacers fans comes up. We spend a few moments on the Penn State situation, but then wrap up the show on a positive note by honoring Mason Plummer and his Shelby County Player of the Week honor!
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The next part in my off season series of interviews with college basketball coaches is with Indiana State’s Greg Lansing. Coach Lansing gives us a look at what the Sycamores have been doing this summer. We discuss the health of Jake Odum and look ahead a bit to the upcoming season.
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This week in the Man Room I am joined by a very special guest and my good friend Jon Pratt. JP and I talk about all the moves the Pacers have made and what they will look to do next. JP gives his take on the end of the IU-UK series as UK announced its non-conference schedule this week. Then we roll through the rapid fire session with several different topics.
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Note: This podcast was recorded on Wednesday 7/11/12, the day before the Pacers signed D.J. Augustine and Gerald Green.
As part of our summer series of catching up with college basketball coaches around the state, I speak with Evansville Head Coach Marty Simmons. Coach Simmons talks about the workouts his Purple Aces have been doing, the beginning of the July recruiting period, and how the new Ford Center and practice facility helps UE with recruits.
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Part two of my interview with Bob Lovell goes over Butler’s move to the Atlantic 10 conference. We take a look at this from two different viewpoints- Butler and the Horizon League. How much does this help Butler? How much does this hurt the Horizon League and where do they go from here? Listen to the interview and let me know your thoughts on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew. Also check out this post after the official announcement was made.
Here is the first of a two part interview with Bob Lovell, the host of Indiana Sports Talk radio show. With the announcement coming from the IHSAA a few weeks ago that the state tournament classes will be on a new two year performance-based cycle now, Coach Lovell and I discuss the changes. We look at how this move came about as well as some of the big changes and challenges that could follow. Listen in and let me know what you think by tweeting me @thadvandeventer or @IndySportsCrew.
Finally, I am back in the Man Room and talking some sports. I discuss all the latest happenings with the Indiana Pacers from the front office changes, the draft, and free agency. Plus some rapid fire topics and our Celebrity Gossip and Pop Culture Correspondent Jessica Vandeventer stops in at the end of the show.
Like what you hear? Then follow me on Twitter and let me know @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.
Pacers Draft Thoughts
I have had a few days to soak in what the Indiana Pacers did on Thursday night in the NBA draft and I have come to a few conclusions. First lets look at what Indiana did. They drafted Miles Plumlee, a center from Duke, with the 26th pick in the first round and made a trade to pick up Orlando Johnson in the second round for cash considerations. Johnson is a shooting guard that comes from UC-Santa Barbara.
The pick of Plumlee makes some sense as a backup center was an area the Pacers were looking to fill. There was a lot of negative reaction that came from the fans after the selection as some thought Perry Jones III or Draymond Green would be much more of an impact player. The Plumlee pick makes it clear that the Pacers feel they can make a run with the core of players they have. Although Larry Bird is stepping down, you can tell that the new (in some cases new and old) front office members like the progress that Bird made and want to keep it intact.
The next thing the first round pick tells me is that the Pacers will be bringing Roy Hibbert back. I fully expect a few teams to offer Big Roy a max contract but as a restricted free agent the Pacers will match any offer that is put out there. Hibbert is part of that core the blue and gold have and is the backbone to their tough defense. Plumlee will only be asked to spell Hibbert and while out there play tough defense and rebound. Plumlee is a little underrated as far as his athleticism goes and hopefully will be able to give the Pacers some quality minutes off the bench.
Trading and picking of Orlando Johnson is an attempt by Indiana to try and fill the expected departure of Leandro Barbosa. Johnson is a big two-guard and showed in college his ability to score. He had a very good career at UCSB and averaged 19.7 ppg his senior season. Larry Bird said after the pick of Johnson that he liked the way he “attacks all the time”.
The pick of Johnson is a pretty good indicator that Barbosa is out and the Pacers will be looking for some bench scoring to fill that role. It also may open up the possibility of Indiana going after the veteran Brandon Roy as he tries to make a comeback. Roy had a great start to his career in Portland but announced his retirement due to chronic knee problems. Now on the comeback trail, Indiana could be a landing spot for him as the Pacers need to add some scoring off the bench and Roy could be joining a team ready to contend in the Eastern conference the next few years.
Overall, I do not think either pick should come as a big surprise. Both guys fit the mold of what Larry Bird typically likes which are four year college players who he feels are ready to contribute right away. It also shows that the front office shuffling is not a major factor yet as the team is looking to mature and try to take down the defending champion Miami Heat.
Follow Thad on Twitter @thadvandeventer and @IndySportsCrew.