IU-Northwestern Link Roundup: “There was no defense.”

indiana-link-roundup
Has a quote ever summed up a season better than Troy Williams’ postgame quote tonight?

Troy was asked about the defense in the first half, which was as bad as Indiana’s defense has been all year. And that’s saying something, considering this may be the worst season-long defensive performance in school history.

He summed it up bluntly and perfectly:

Giving up 40 points, there was no defense.

He then added:

Like I said before, we just have to do better.

Ah yes. “Do better.” We’ve heard that refrain a lot this year, but with no actual “doing better” to speak of.

Troy actually played well tonight. He fought his ass off. He was the one guy you can look at and say came to gut out a win on the road. If some of his teammates had brought the same fight, Indiana may have escaped with a win.

Alas.

Here are the links.

The standards:

“This loss wasn’t a good look for the Hoosiers,” says Ryan Corazza in The Minute After.

“That was a bad sign for Indiana, and what happened next was even worse.” Find out what Justin Albers was referring to here.

“Zeisloft and the rest of the team cooled off in a big way in the second half,” says Alex McCarthy. Boy, did they ever. (Enough that not even 5+ rebounds from James Blackmon Jr. could overcome it!)

And Mike Miller just comes right out and says what we’re all feeling: “Indiana waited until the penultimate week of the regular season to post its worst loss of the season.”

Hmm … those losses at Michigan State and Purdue were pretty bad. Then again, those teams have been better over the balance of the season than Northwestern has been. Eh. This is too unpleasant to consider any further.

What happens when Indiana’s shooting dries up? “Nothing remotely pretty,” says Zach Osterman.

In his five takeaways, Alex Bozich begins with an important point that should not be overlooked: Indiana played with a lack of urgency defensively for the first 36 minutes.

The Crimson Quarry guys echoed what we said on the postgame show: “Starting at the top, Tom Crean and the coaching staff has to shoulder some of the blame for this loss.”

Terry Hutchens asks a very valid rhetorical question about that IU-Iowa game coming next Tuesday: “How can anyone possibly predict the outcome of that one with any relative certainty?”

And just in case you ever want to have a basketball nightmare, bookmark this article and read it before it bed.

More links to come …

Commentary: Despite Purdue Loss, Hoosiers Peaking at the Right Time

Yogi Ferrell and the Indiana Hoosiers are playing some of the their best basketball with March right around the corner -- even if Purdue loss suggested otherwise. (Image credit: Scout.com)
Yogi Ferrell and the Indiana Hoosiers are playing some of the their best basketball with March right around the corner — even if the Purdue loss suggested otherwise. (Image credit: Scout.com)

For the second time in the last three games, Indiana’s KenPom rating has seen a huge jump up.

In both the 19-point blowout win over Minnesota and last night’s 30-point demolition of Rutgers, Indiana has outperformed the KenPom pregame projections by quite a wide margin.

Indiana also outperformed KenPem expectations, albeit slightly, when it lost by only two at Maryland — a game Indiana was one Yogi Ferrell 3-pointer away from winning.

What does this mean?

Well, if you just look at those three games, all of which have been played within the last 11 days, you would say Indiana is a team that is peaking at the right time and that looks like a team poised for a successful March.

But, of course, there was that dadgum Purdue game.

While an objective viewer might reasonably take some solace in only losing by four points to a team that crushed you by 16 earlier in the season — especially when you were, again, just one Yogi Ferrell missed 3-pointer away from taking a last-second lead — this is Indiana.

Thus, any home loss, and especially any motherf$%&ing home loss to motherf$%&ing Purdue, is viewed through a decidedly bleak and black prism that refuses to allow any silver light to shine through.

And I generally agree with that latter sentiment. Games at Assembly Hall should be expected wins. Especially against Purdue. Period.

But if you’ll indulge me, for just a moment, I’m going to slip out of my candy stripe pants and remove my cream-and-crimson-colored glasses and attempt to offer a bit of perspective …

Is it at all possible that you, me, and everyone else who felt crushed by that Purdue loss might have allowed it to skew our perspective about this team too far in the negative direction?

I say this, of course, with the hindsight that is only possible when the Purdue loss in question is followed by a 30-point rebound win on the road that allows us all a collective exhale. (The sky is not falling! The sky is not falling!)

Now that Indiana has put the Purdue game behind it by delivering a dominant performance, I submit that we can look back on the totality of Indian’s last 160 minutes of basketball and say the following:

  • This team’s fatal flaws make it vulnerable to falling prey to particularly bad matchups from a specific type of team — the kind of team that Purdue is, unfortunately.
  • This team’s offensive talent and togetherness — its two most clear strengths — make it a threat to beat any team, anywhere … that does not present that particular (and pretty rare) type of matchup issue.
  • This team has delivered three of its best overall performances of the season over the last two weeks, which suggests it is peaking at the right time (not something we have often been able to say about Tom Crean IU team come February).

Which leads me to believe, with one week left in February, that this Indiana team has a successful March ahead of it.

Granted, we may not be cut out to beat Purdue, should we have to face them again. And we may not have what it takes to beat a team as complete as Wisconsin. (So, yes, there is still plenty of work needed to get this program back to the consistently elite status to which we all aspire.)

But I like our chances right now against anyone else in the Big Ten, no matter where we play them.

We’ll get a chance to test this theory in Evanston and then with two home games against Iowa and Michigan State, followed by the Big Ten Tournament — where, if we get a matchup break, I can us going on a run to the final game.

And then it would be on to the NCAA Tournament, where we’d likely be a 5- or 6-seed, and where, again, I could see us going on a run … provided we don’t run into a team right away that is built in that particular kind of way to exploit what we do worst.

But a lot of teams — good teams — could say that.

My big picture point is this: while games against Purdue always carry more weight than games against anyone else, let’s be careful not to let that one loss overshadow the really good basketball that has surrounded it.

This Indiana team is night-and-day different from last year’s team, for which the end of the season could not come soon enough.

This year’s Hoosiers are worth embracing. They’ve earned it.

Yes, it’s a roller coaster with this bunch. But it’s the kind of roller coaster where as soon as one ride ends you are running right back in line to go again.

I’m looking forward to seeing just how many more rides we get with this team. There will be five for sure. We can rest assured of that. And there will be many more than five if the Maryland, Minnesota, and Rutgers games are any indication.

I think that they are.

Which is why I am excited and optimistic about the rest of this 2014-15 season.

*****

What do you think? Are you feeling good about how the Hoosiers will close out this season?

Drop your comment below.

 

An Open Letter to Dan Dakich Explaining What The Assembly Call Stands For

dan-dakich

Dan Dakich’s voice is an important one in the realm of Indiana basketball.

  • He grew up in the state.
  • He played at Indiana.
  • He coached under Bob Knight.
  • He coached under Kelvin Sampson.
  • He spent some time as head coach during one of the most tumultuous periods in program history.
  • He is the color commentator on many important IU games.
  • He now hosts a midday radio show in Indianapolis that features a lot of Indiana basketball talk.

And, of course, this happened, which to this day continues to mean a lot to a lot of people.

Like him or loathe him, Dan Dakich has a lot to say about Indiana basketball, and the vast majority of it is worth listening to and considering. He’s earned that level of authority, even if it must be given begrudgingly at times.

Personally, I enjoy his IU hoops talk most of the time — especially when he and Fisch start reminiscing about the Knight days. For me, and for many lifelong IU fans, that is sports talk radio gold.

Having said that (to borrow his oft-used transition line), just because Dan Dakich’s voice is an important one doesn’t mean it will always necessarily be a fair one or even a reasonable one.

And sometimes the unfairness and unreasonableness hits a little close to home, as it did on his show earlier today and yesterday.

To sum it up briefly, Dakich insinuated that The Assembly Call is simply an uninformed fanboy site that is just trying to make a buck off IU hoops. He mentioned something about us charging for our pick ‘em contest, which of course we don’t. (We are, however, offering a generous prize to the winner.)

I quickly sent Dakich a series of tweets explaining his mistakes. I have to assume he didn’t get them, because he blocked our @AssemblyCall account long ago. (Update: we are no longer blocked.)

Many of you, who actually do understand what The Assembly Call is and is about, came to our defense in the aftermath of Dakich’s comments. I appreciated this greatly. Perhaps he saw a few of those tweets because, ostensibly after reading one or a few of them, he said something on air to the effect of: “I don’t know what Assembly Call stands for, but if it’s something good, then so be it.”

I had to tune out for a bit soon thereafter, but at the end of the show he apparently retracted his negative words toward us. Perhaps he had us mixed up with someone else. Regardless, I appreciate that he did that.

Still, I had planned on sending Dan an email explaining what we stand for, because it is good, and frankly because I found myself looking forward to the exercise of codifying it in words.

And then I realized it might be useful to put this out there for everyone to read instead of sending it to Dan privately.

It’s never a bad thing to publicly state what you stand for, because it helps hold you accountable to it.

I hope we always hold ourselves accountable to what I’ve written below.

And I hope you hold us accountable to it too.

So here is my open letter to Dan Dakich, and also to everyone who supports what we do, explaining what The Assembly Call stands for …

*****
Dear Dan,

Nearly four years ago, sometime not long before the 2011-12 Indiana season started, with Indiana having lost 66 games over the previous three seasons (of which I watched them all), a thought popped into my head:

What if we created an online postgame show for IU basketball games?

There wasn’t one out there yet. There were just message boards where fans could go after games to cheer, celebrate, vent, commiserate, whatever. I had a gut feeling there would be an audience for an IU postgame show, if it was done well and done consistently.

I’d had some experience launching a successful sports blog and hosting a podcast, so I thought I would be able to do an okay job of hosting the show and get better with time.

I hoped that what I might lack in advanced basketball knowledge, I could make up for with professionalism, enthusiasm, love for the program, and a deep knowledge of IU’s history and traditions (having grown up in Bloomington as the son of an IU football coach).

Plus, it just so happened that I had done some work with a couple other IU grads, Andy Bottoms and Ryan Phillips, who were already accomplished writers and analysts and who would add a significant level of expertise to our content.

Andy, for example, has been the most successful of all of the many “bracketologists” out there at predicting the NCAA Tournament field — he’s literally #1 according to Bracket Matrix. That’s why FoxSports.com featured his bracket for years. Andy knows college basketball inside and out.

And Ryan is a graduate of IU’s journalism program who has written for some of the biggest sports sites on the web, in addition to running his own properties. He also played high level basketball in high school. He knows the game. They both do.

Plus, they were each just crazy enough to commit to co-hosting the show with me after every single game.

So we launched The Assembly Call.

And then nine games into that first season, Christian Watford hit The Shot that beat Kentucky. It was all the momentum we needed to solidify our commitment to this new show idea and begin building our audience.

As we sit here today, in the middle of February 2015, now our fourth season doing the show, there have only been a small handful of non-conference games against nondescript foes that we didn’t produce a show for.

Midday Sunday games. Late-night weekday games (with an early alarm clock set for the following morning). Stretches of four games in ten days. Doesn’t matter. We show up and broadcast, and then work for hours after to publish the podcast and get the postgame email analysis ready.

And we do it because we love it.

We certainly don’t do it for money. Although, I should say that I don’t see any reason why it would be a negative if we did do it for some money.

In fact, we’d love to build an audience so large and loyal that it creates revenue streams for the site. Who wouldn’t? That would be amazing!

And we have tried a few strategies here and there to bring in a few bucks to pay for expenses like the cost of our domain and web hosting.

For example, earlier this year, around Christmastime, I sent some affiliate links out to our email list and Twitter followers. These links were for significant deals on IU merchandise (25-50% discounts) that I was privy to as part of the ShareASale program. When someone clicked on the links and made a purchase, we made a few bucks as a commission. This brought in a few hundred dollars of revenue.

I have already reinvested this revenue back into the site, the majority of which was used to fund an idea one of our student interns came up with.

I should mention this, the internship program. Because it’s become a big part of what we stand for.

This is the second year that we have had IU student interns working for the show. Last year we had one. This year we have three.

Our goal for the internship program is to give IU students valuable experience in new media creation, social media marketing, and content marketing strategy. I am the VP of Marketing for Copyblogger Media, one of the world’s leading authorities about online marketing. Teaching these concepts to people who do work online is what our company does. So I have some experience in this area.

I want our interns to gain knowledge and skills that any young person would benefit from in our ever-digital world, especially if they are interested in a career in media, broadcasting, or journalism.

A few weeks ago, one of our interns, Taylor, had what I thought was a brilliant idea to distribute wristbands with “Hoosier 4 Life” on them as a way of promoting The Assembly Call on campus. I wanted to empower her to run with the idea. So I spent nearly as much as we made from our holiday affiliate sales to have wristbands printed and shipped to her and our other two interns, Walter and Will.

They are now coming up with the strategy to distribute the wristbands while incorporating social media to spread the word, and executing on it. I can’t wait to see what they come up with, and to see what they lessons they learn (and I learn) from the experience.

I explain all of this to make a simple point: some people give back to their university by donating money. (My fiancee, for example, donated enough to her alma mater, Texas A&M, that they just sent her a plaque.) I have chosen, as have Andy and Ryan, to give back to Indiana in a different way.

We donate our time, our energy, and our passion to creating a show that people seem to really like and to cultivating the worldwide community that has grown around it.

I say “worldwide” because already just this season I have received emails from three different people, who live in different parts of the world, expressing their gratitude for our show because it helps them feel connected to the university and program they are otherwise so far away from.

And our show’s growth has given us the opportunity to give back even more by opening up this internship program that offers opportunities for real-world experience for IU students.

Damn it makes me proud to type that. :-)

Hopefully, all of this explains a bit more about what we stand for.

There is one other element of our show that I believe is also important to mention, because it’s at the heart of what we do: we stand for celebrating and supporting IU’s players and coaches, not denigrating or defaming them.

The reason I begin every show with a “Banner Moment” is to make sure we always start with a positive.

And the reason I get into tiffs on Twitter with people who cast personal aspersions on our players and coaches is because I just don’t believe there is any place for that in the dialogue.

We will criticize a player’s actions and we will criticize Coach Crean’s decisions … but I firmly believe that if you asked our audience what we stand for, they would tell you that we stand for fostering a fair, supportive, and respectful dialogue about Indiana basketball that never loses sight of the fact these are real people and never stops appreciating the efforts they put in to improve and win.

I’m the son of a coach. I remember what it was like.

That empathy is, I believe, what makes our show special and why people appreciate it.

That empathy, for the human beings who wear the Cream and Crimson, is an essential part of what we stand for.

In closing, I just want to say that we take a lot of pride in The Assembly Call someday becoming a small piece of the special fabric of Indiana basketball — perhaps like a postgame “Martha the Mop Lady” for this new era of Indiana basketball. We realize that doing so requires the humility to show up and be prepared, when and where people expect us, every single time that final buzzer sounds.

We are serving an audience and celebrating a basketball program and university that we love, and it’s both a privilege and a responsibility — one we don’t ever take for granted or lightly.

And we feel so fortunate to have an ever-growing audience that reciprocates our commitment by showing up for the live show, listening to the replay on our podcast, and subscribing to our newsletter.

My guess, Dan, is that you feel the same way about your audience that we do. You can’t build one like you have without taking that privilege and responsibility to heart.

And hey, who knows, someday The Assembly Call might actually have opportunities to make legitimate revenue, the same way you do, because we are in possession of a media property that has earned a consistent audience. It’s not the ultimate goal, but it’s certainly not something we’d avoid either. That would be silly.

But the revenue would be a byproduct of a large group of people, one by one, choosing to buy into what we stand for. And that’s a really pleasant thought to me and to our team, because we’re proud of what we stand for.

Because we think that what we stand for is in the spirit of what Indiana basketball stands for.

And deep down, Dan, I know you stand for something similar because I know you love Indiana University in your own way. I know how special it has been to you, even if your feelings now are more conflicted than they once were.

So in a few important ways, I don’t think you and I are very different, even if we are in many others.

But having said that (to again borrow your line), from one Hoosier to another, I hope this helped to paint a picture of what The Assembly Call stands for, why our show exists, and what we want our little spot in Hoosier Nation to mean.

Basically: This is Indiana. We love it. And we just want to do our part.

Sincerely,

Jerod, Ryan, and Andy

IU-Maryland Link Roundup: Summer Dreams Become Winter Reality at Assembly Hall

indiana-link-roundup

The standards:

Here is the link of the night, from Ryan Corazza’s Minute After:

His summer dreams became winter reality tonight inside Assembly Hall.

Read the article for context.

In his five takeaways, Alex Bozich describes how Collin Hartman is flipping the script on IU’s much-discussed size deficiency.

Zach Osterman explains how Thursday night showed what this Indiana has become.

Justin Albers describes how a win like tonight’s brings all of the excitement back to Bloomington.

Terry Hutchens focuses on Collin Hartman — who did the unexpected again on Thursday night.

Andy Wittry recounts the story of Yogi Ferrell putting in time working on his shot after the Illinois game. It worked.

Inside the Hall has video of Mark Turgeon describing how electric the atmosphere was tonight in Assembly Hall.

Have a look at three things Crimson Quarry says they learned from tonight’s game. I take exception with #1. We didn’t “learn” that tonight. We’ve always known it. ;-)

It’s a late night and an early morning, so I may not add more links to this. Please feel free to post any good ones you find in the comment section.

All I have to say is: HELL YES.

So proud of these players, this coach, this fan base. GO IU!

IU-Illinois Link Roundup: “They’re growing up.”

indiana-link-roundup

The standards:

Zach Osterman explains how Indiana survived the wild swings of momentum because these young Hoosiers are, in the words of their coach, “growing up.”

In his five takeaways, Alex Bozich says this was James Blackmon Jr.’s finest Big Ten game. (I agree.)

Jeff Rabjohns says James Blackmon Jr. was huge today for Indiana, and he contributed a lot more than just points.

Justin Albers echoes what we said on the postgame show: Yogi Ferrell is leading without scoring. And is it time to respect Indiana? Albers says it is (premium).

In his Minute After, Ryan Corazza says exactly what we were all thinking: finally, after many recent missteps, the Hoosiers take care of damn business in Champaign.

Jordan Littman explains how Indiana quieted the rocking Illinois crowd at exactly the right time.

What did we learn today? Crimson Quarry says it’s not just the shooting that is improved — the effort is much more consistent too.

Pete DiPrimio says Indiana exorcised some demons in Champaign today. And DiPrimio asks: did you see Indiana in early contention for the Big Ten title? Because they are.

Terry Hutchens talked about the good and the bad from today’s game. You know the good, but Hutch highlights IU’s need to stop giving up such long runs, plus the need for Emmitt Holt to do more with his minutes.

And here’s something to think about as we close the link roundup …

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 6.30.19 PM

In consideration? I say yes. What do you think?