With the recent news that Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller will indeed be heading to the NBA draft, the speculation as to who will be playing when, where, and how much for the Hoosiers come next November is plentiful.
Before the 2012-2013 college basketball season got underway last month, the Indiana Hoosiers’ pre-season All American Cody Zeller was featured on ESPN the Magazine, Sporting News, and Sports Illustrated’s covers. SI labeled him the “best player” on the “best team” (with the best pants, for good measure).
So if being the most popular man in Bloomington wasn’t already enough pressure on the sophomore center, he then had the entire nation’s attention shifted to him.
Terry Hutchens wrote a terrific piece this morning that reminded me of a topic I’ve been wanting to address: Indiana’s scholarship crunch for the upcoming 2012-13 season.
Hutchens’ piece – entitled “Hoosiers need to find a scholarship for Roth” – echoes exactly what I have been thinking about this issue.
Nearly four years ago today, in March of 2008, I flew into Dallas from Indianapolis and landed just in time to watch Indiana’s first round NCAA Tournament game with Arkansas.
It turned out to be a particularly awful game to watch as the 8th-seeded Hoosiers lost to the 9th-seeded Razorbacks 86-72. A year that had begun with such promise ended with a whimper.
Little did I know that game was merely one more crashing swing of a wrecking ball that was intent on obliterating Indiana basketball.
And obliterate it did.
One reason why wins like today’s are fun is that I don’t feel the need to watch every single second during the second half, and I can indulge in a statistical curiosity or two.
Today, that curiosity revolved around Victor Oladipo, whose season can pretty well be split into two sections: pre-Purdue and post-Purdue.
And a random thought hit me today: Oladipo’s role is morphing into one consistent with athletic, multi-talented Tom Crean guards of years past – the kind he hasn’t had at Indiana. Of course, the most famous of Crean’s such guards is Dwyane Wade, who played two seasons for Crean at Marquette.
So I wondered: how do Oladipo’s numbers over the last six games compare to Wade’s numbers as a sophomore? I was pleasantly surprised with the answer.
We do a lot of nit-picking on tonight’s show. We discuss the struggles of the Hulls/Watford/Elston trio. And we take Tom Crean to task for a few specific decisions we disagreed with.
But make no mistake, we never lose sight of the fact that four years after total destruction leveled this program, Indiana is back to 20 wins after tonight’s 71-66 victory over Northwestern and sitting pretty for an upper-division finish in the Big Ten; and most importantly, the program has done it the right way with a coach and young men that we can be proud of.
After a slow, decade-long erosion that saw Indiana fall below Purdue, Notre Dame, and even Butler in the Basketball State both in terms of on-court play and recruiting, we have now re-emerged as the recruiting leader in a state stocked with talent and beaten Purdue, Notre Dame, Butler, and Evansville this year to reclaim our place as the on-court leader as well.
Hey, it’s called the Hoosier State for a reason. And we’ve scratched and clawed our way back to the state living up to its official nickname.
And we’ve done it with class, with kids who go to class, and in a way that’s built to last.
Well done Tom Crean. Very well done.
The coffee always tastes a little better the morning after beating Purdue, and such feelings have been far too few and far between lately. So proud of the team after last night’s win. Victor Oladipo took IU’s road monkey, snatched it off everyone’s back, and stuffed it into the Mackey rafters where it can stay.
Update: And as Chronic Hoosier just tweeted out, Indiana governor Mitch Daniels has introduced modifications to the state flag after last night.
Oh, and random thought: Tom Crean is now 46-72 at Indiana…but he’s 18-6 with one new #40 making his mark on the floor, and one former #40 who you may be familiar with now back helping to lead this program again:
My email address has always been firstname.lastname@example.org for a reason. Good to have it back in Bloomington.
Okay, time to turn the page and get ready for the Super Bowl and then the February/March stretch run. Last night’s win reconvinced me that this team has the potential to be special. I can’t wait to see how we come out against Illinois on Thursday. Big chance to really harness some momentum and finish this season strongly.
Indiana’s victory over Kentucky earlier this year was as cathartic and exciting as a basketball victory can be, especially in front of the home crowd.
Tonight’s victory over Purdue was simply as satisfying as a win can be, both because of who the win came against, where it was earned, and how Indiana played to get it – which was simply fantastic.
Another road game for Indiana, and unfortunately another road loss.
Michigan jumped all over Indiana early, racing out to a 13-0 run. In his postgame press conference, Tom Crean called his starters “a joke.” From that point, Indiana outscored the Wolverines by one, but a valiant effort from Jordan Hulls and a few others wasn’t enough as the Hoosiers lost 68-56.