Some Non-Conference Numbers

After going bust in Vegas, the Hoosiers headed home for a 3-day respite before the commencement of conference play tonight.

Now that we've closed the book on the non-conference portion of IU's schedule, let's take a look at a couple of points of interest about the season-to-date:

  • IU's assist to turnover ratio is -.005 (198 A's-199 TO's).  That's not good. Considering the fairly soft strength of schedule IU has faced, it's disconcerting to still see the persistent bumblefuckedness with the ball in Crean's 3rd season.  

Coffee & KenPom

(Or whatever Don Fischer says his name should be.)

There's nothing quite like the silent illumination of Sunday mornings spent enjoying Sumatran coffee and the Sunday papers before the rest of the house begins to stir.

I've always taken great joy in the opportunity to consume copious amounts of bold, black java while quietly taking up pageloads of information before my snot-dripping tornadoes are unleashed about the house again.

This morning provided one of those wonderful moments of peaceful reading when I happened upon Ken Pomeroy's Indiana statistics and noticed.....OH...MY...GAWD.

JORDAN HULLS CURRENTLY RANKS 2ND IN THE NATION IN EFFECTIVE FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE!!! Oh, and he's rated the 44th most efficient offensive player in the nation (both as of Ken's last-updated individual stats- 12/12/10).

That just peeled my eyes open like a pot of coffee before sunrise.

Wow. Talk about slam shifting your brain into drive on a gameday morning.

If you can't believe how such an offensive performance could fly under the radar amidst this season's noteworthy developments, it's probably because Jordy has thus far only accounted for just about 10% of IU's total field goals attempted (53-532).

With an effective TO rate of 22.5%, compared to Jones' 30.6% & Rivers' 39.7%, we can hopefully expect to see increased doses of #1 liberally applied to the rotation as the season progresses.
Also of note in this morning's numbers:

-IU remains in the bottom 16.5 percentile of experience, yet has rapidly improved to become the 10th ranked most offensively efficient team & the 26th ranked on defensive efficiency. Think about that for a second. After the last two seasons of...well, you know what, that just blew your mind.

Sure, we're still turning the ball over at a pretty high clip against a soft strength of schedule so far, but there's no denying the year-to-year improvement is off the charts.

Yeah, there's also that thing about our opponents headed to the line on almost 1/2 of their possessions, putting IU in the bottom 10% in the nation in that category. But hey, if you ain't foulin', you ain't trying. Right?

-Big Tom is 26th in the nation in block % & 143rd in offensive rebounding %. 

-Vic the quick ranks 27th in the nation in steal %.

-Jeremiah Rivers leads all players in ft%: .875!!! Ha!

While you sip on those stats, I'm off to Uptown for a Popeye omelette and some more coffee.  See you at the game later today. 

Season's Greetings From The Hoosier Chronicles

Because an envelope can only hold so much awesomeness,
holiday cheers, bitches.

Sunday Night Chat After-Party

I think it's time to light a new joint after the game and pass around an endgame chat while the other chat hosts punch out tomorrow's copy. Get ready to hit it.

Zellerpalooza Chat

I'm drunk. It's Zellerpalooza eve. Let's talk.

Tijan & His Liger: A Gallery of Awesome

So...I'm in the process of revamping the blog and likely having some t-shirts made.  And while brainstorming ideas for the Tijan & his liger shirt, I had to indulge myself in the images found below. You're welcome. 

IU's most recognizable icons.

Killing the Messengers: the IU Media Challenge

It appears the good folks in IU Media Relations misunderstood my suggestion that press credentials be issued based on the results of a hot dog eating contest.  Instead, they decided to take 25 members of the IU basketball media and subject them to "Survivor-Crean and Crimson Media Challenge." 

While it's clear to this observer that by naming this a "survivor challenge," athletics implicitly intends for a majority of the participants not to survive.  Nonetheless, willing participants lined up at the chance to have Je'Ney Jackson kick their ass and humiliate them in front of their peers. 
So, let's take a look at the events, handicap the participants, and vote on the most likely outcomes. 

The Chris Korman Exit Interview

After having pestered him for the better part of his four years at the Herald-Times, Chris Korman graciously agreed to sit down with me at Nick's several weeks ago and provided the Hoosier Chronicles with its first interview.  As luck would have it, the day was Friday the 13th.  As I would have it, we laughed heartily, drank heavily, and talked Hoosiers over the course of an entire afternoon- Korman's last afternoon working for the H-T. 

Why do you hate Bloomington?
(Laughter) Ah, man, I absolutely do not hate Bloomington.  That is definitely a falsehood.  Dustin and I are two Penn State guys from State College, and I think he would probably agree, I know I definitely feel that Bloomington has such a better vibe.  It's got the little Midwest thing to it.  It's got a little bit of the southern thing to it.  You know, it's like I talked a little bit about on the chat the other day, it's this stuck in the middle place.  And then it hates both of those things, too.  It's like "We're Bloomington. We're totally different.

A Birthday Fit For A Badmotherfucker

If you ask either my mom or the Monroe County Health Department, they will happily confirm that this Friday is my birthday.  And unlike those other 364 days of the year where my preferences generally don't mean shit to, well, most everybody I encounter, I'm seizing the opportunity this year to take full advantage of the privileges traditionally conferred upon the birthday boy. So, in a nod to Drew Magary's Father's Day itinerary, I'm scheduling out my day in advance and would appreciate it if those involved would just see to it that it happens exactly as I fucking choose, for a change. 

7:13AM- Wife wakes up without having to hit snooze (x2).  After dressing and using the bathroom with ninja-like stealth, returns to bed without waking me. She's feeling frisky.  I rise; she shines.  We repeat. 

7:36AM- Having achieved a climax that registers on the seismic station in Evansville, I instantly return to R.E.M. sleep and finish off crazy flying dream for 1st time ever. 

The Shit I Say: A User's Guide

So I've got this blog. And whenever people find out about it, I'm inevitably asked, "what's that all about?"

"Well, it's the shit," I say. "If you like IU, you should check it out.  I try to put some interesting stuff on it."

Then I'll usually throw in some self-depreciating comment to lower the expectations if they do chose to visit, and it usually ends there.

But the other day I was reading another blog I really enjoy on its 3rd birthday.  And in recanting how the blog started with a story about Bud Mackey, Alex mentioned that, in hindsight, an introduction might have been in order first.  (I still say leading anything off with the #KSAS is a surefire recipe for success).

The Pitch: Beyond Titties, Beer, & Banners

It turns out today was a popular day for pitching IU.

First, Kravitz started the day by making a tongue-in-cheek attempt at impartiality in not suggesting a school for Cody Zeller.

Then, after Indiana Elite's morning tilt at the Adidas Invitational, Austin Etherington got straight to the point and said his top priority this summer was to "get Cody." You can see it for yourself, thanks to the dedicated work of Inside the Hall. 

But as I sat in the main gym at North Central High School and stared at the life-sized cut-outs of former Indiana Mr. Basketball winners Eric Gordon, AJ Ratliff, and Jason Gardner adorning the wall, I felt the need to expand on these pitches for Zeller to IU.  There's a lot at stake for all parties, and I've never been one to shy away from resolving conflicts.

(Un)Official Kelvin Sampson All-Stars Roster

So, I'm not exactly sure how this matter has been neglected for so long, but I felt the time has finally come to compile an unofficial roster for the Kelvin Sampson All-Stars.  The list below reflects, to the best of my clouded  memory, those epic, infamous, and, sometimes, nefarious legends who became endeared to Hoosier fans as the KSAS.  Please feel free to leave comments about notable additions or subtractions which you may believe are in order. 

  • Eric Gordon
  • Armon Bassett
  • Jordan Crawford
  • Jamarcus Ellis
  • DeAndre Thomas
  • Lance Stemler
  • Mike White
  • Eli Holman
  • Xavier Keeling
  • Brandon McGee
  • Tom Pritchard
  • Matt Roth
  • Lance Stephenson
  • Devin Ebanks
  • Terrell Holloway
  • Bud Mackey
  • Demetri McCamey
While I'm sure there are several other deserving members, I'm starting to think this distinguished list may require 1st/2nd/3rd teams and/or an honorable mention designations.

Some popular misnomers:
*Joey Shaw (Mike Davis All-Star)
*Ray McCallum Jr. (Ray McCallum Sr. All-Star)
*Ben Allen (Kerry Rupp All-Star)

So, who'd I leave out, who doesn't belong, and why, after all these years, are these figures still haunting my memories? 
KSAS Away Jersey featured in county orange

Answering the Call: Out

For days now, I've been out. Out of words, out of patience, and virtually out of hope. It seems now, however, "out" is the new in for the Indiana Hoosiers.

After being called out for being...well, flaccid by their coach, Indiana finally showed the fight that's been missing from their play for well over a month now.

On an afternoon when four improbable Hoosiers would close out their Assembly Hall careers, it was tomorrow's Hoosiers who stepped out and provided positive punctuation to the latest chapter in Tom Crean's Hoosier resurrection.

In a game where history's cruel glare was squarely fixed on our young, floundering team, IU stamped out any chance of being labeled the worst team in IU history.

Following more than 5 weeks where the Hoosiers spent virtually every minute playing from behind, IU spent the day playing out front for a change. And when the 'Cats clawed their way back into the mix at the end of regulation, Indiana's underclassmen closed out the overtime period in convincing fashion.

Man, yesterday had more "outs" than a pride parade in San Francisco. Did I mention that Jordy Hulls was fucking lights-out? How about Elston wiping out any doubt that he deserves minutes, and lots of them? Is it now safe to say Capobianco relishes boxing out? And Bawa, well he's still pretty much out in general.

Nevertheless, hope is back in Bloomington, and doubt is out, at least for the moment.

Not only did yesterday's win keep the '09-'10 Hoosiers from setting the IU record for most consecutive losses, it allowed Crean's 2nd year squad to quadruple last year's conference win total- no small feat for a team that lost its leading scorer on the eve of Big 10 play and during a season where the Big 10 was about as competitive as it's ever been.

And now, a few more "outs" before I put this baby to bed:

-Devan Dumes not only failed to act out my predicted 9.5 3PA's, he notably left out any gratitude towards the coaching staff that brought him to Bloomington in his senior speech.

- For an advertised sell-out, the Hall was shockingly bare for the better part of the 1st half and didn't even come close to filling out until after halftime.

-Out of the ranks of those in attendance: the IU gorilla??? On what I believed to be his senior night, too, the Hoosiers' unofficial mascot was nowhere to be seen.

-Also out of the Hall: Roshown McLeod, on a recruiting trip. Seeing as the 1st weekend of March brings with it sectional play at high schools around the nation, it actually surprising most coaching staffs aren't dispatched away from the bench during games.

-If ever Hoosier hearts should go out to a candy-striped warrior, Tijan must be atop that list. Period. With a smile that lights up all of B-town, a personal story that commands admiration, and a pair of elbows that spare neither friends nor foes, Tijan deserves his own section of big-heads behind the buckets. He will be missed.

-After briefly showing up for a stint, Pritchard has officially checked back out.  For the week, Big Tom logged 31 minutes and posted 2 points, 2 assists, 6 boards, and 7 fouls.  And while only 1 turnover in 31 minutes may be a personal best for him, that has more to do with the fact that his teammates have all but given up on feeding him in the paint.  With Crean actively pursuing capable big men for next year, have we seen the last of the Big Tom Snizz in Assembly Hall? 

And with that, just like Ryan Seacrest, I'm out (but only without the intention of quietly seeking hot man-sex afterwards).

A Public Service Announcement

That is all.  You may now return to your regularly scheduled 11-game losing streak. 

Rites of Passage

Well, fuck me.  "It happened.....I don't know really what else to say."  Well said, Coach Crean, very well said.

Happen it did.  After almost 2 years of watching his team play the Rodney Dangerfield of the Big 10, Tom Crean finally lost it, and, as predicted here, the place went fucking nuts.  Despite the fact that IU was down 25 at the time and the post-ejection surge was only evident from the hearty roars from the heavily depleted crowd, it was finally time for an epic and symbolic gesture of disdain with the bullshit that Indiana basketball has been reduced to since Crean inherited the Sampson/Greenspan shit-show. 

Not content to go quietly like Norman Dale after receiving his marching orders, Crean kept coming back for more.  Shit, I thought for a second he was seriously thinking about punching Tom O'Neill.  No matter his intentions, Crean sold it and had to be restrained, multiple times, before officially making the locker room door his bitch (1:31 mark). 

But for ITH mentioning it later, I'd have never known it was IU's largest margin of defeat ever in Assembly Hall.  No, that won't be the event for which this one will be remembered; this night will forever be known as the night Crean had finally seen enough and let go of all the pain, anger, and frustration that 2 years of getting the shit kicked out of his team has caused him...and it was fucking awesome! 

From all accounts afterwards, it appears the post-game locker room talk was equally impassioned and on par with prior motivational speeches given there

As if the events of this night weren't meaningful enough in and of themselves, they coincidental happened on the very week of the 25th anniversary of Bob Knight's chair toss.  Talk about dramatic irony, my friends.  Add in the handful of coins and some other shit that was briefly tossed towards the court, and the whole scene was eerily similar to Bobby's infamous evening. 

Now that Crean has completed his Hoosier coach's rite of passage, I'm curious to see where things go from here.  Crean's ejection and its appurtenant tantrum should put to rest, at least temporarily, his image as the eternal optimist on the sideline.  No longer may misguided fans point to his relentless cheerleading as evidence of his disconnection with the dire nature of his team's situation.  After the press conference following the Wisconsin game, there's little doubt that he's finally removed the kid gloves when it comes to calling out his team's failure to fight through adversity. 

Going forward, only the remaining games will show whether Crean's outburst achieved the impact his team and fans needed to rekindle the belief that this IU team can still compete and win.  Because if the players can't match their coach's passion, it seems clearer than ever that next year's roster may be far more fluid than anyone ever expected.  And deservedly so after seeing how little fight this team has put up over the course of its latest losing streak.  Nobody wants to see a 10+ game losing streak become IU's newest rite of passage with each passing season.

*A special tip of the hat to Hugh Kellenberger for his selection of Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" video in Hoosier Morning.  I thought the IU band missed a perfect opportunity to make the most out of Crean's ejection by not immediately breaking into that tune.  Oh, well.  A little Johnny Cougar always makes a fine substitution, right?

Aloha All Over Again

Aloha.  Man, that's a useful word (but not the most useful word).  Hello and goodbye, all rolled up into one nice, little word.  I can't stop thinking about "aloha" lately. 

I know it's been a while since I last posted, so let's recap: IU comes into the game highly disfavored, keeps in it for a hot minute, and then promptly folds it up under the weight of its crushing talent deficiency. 

Sounds familiar, right?  Yeah, no shit it's familiar by now, but I'm not talking about Minnesota.  Let's rewind 15 months ago to the date:  IU v. ND in Maui.  Nov. 24, 2008, the date when the depths of Crean's rebuilding project became inescapably apparent.  Fucktastically undersized, athletically outmatched, and as thin on experience as they come, we got pounded on the boards, coughed the ball up like a TB patient, and shot the ball like an amputee in an arm sling.

Fast forward to the present and it's like aloha (hello) Maui all over again.  Sure, we've lost Maurice & Matt to injury and our freshmen have hit the wall at about the exact same time last year's boys did, but today's Hoosiers aren't in a whole lot better shape than they were that day on the island (okay, we're not as dependent on walk-on talent this year and Daniel Moore doesn't use the basketball to take out his anger on his foot anymore, point: you).

Nevertheless, I still can't get past that sunken feeling that comes with actualizing just how far we have to go.  With each passing defeat, I'm forced to confront the reality of our basketball ineptitude... and it sucks.

So, as we say aloha (goodbye) to this chapter in Crean's IU basketball resurrection, I'm anxious as ever to get off the island of fuct teams and back into Big 10 contention.  And with 5 games left on this season's slate, it seems that all eyes are already cast on next year's roster and the names that might yet fill it or be missing from it.  Not exactly the position you want to be in as March rolls around. 

Past that, there's not much else to say that hasn't already been said a thousand times this year.  The numbers don't lie, we're not good (and Corazza has graphs to prove it at ITH).

Aside from how awful we are right now (like I said, we are to basketball what Gene Keady's comb-over is to sexuality), I couldn't help but notice a few things on the newly christened Cook Hall.  So, what's up with all the limestone barricades in the front lawn?  Are we expecting Purdue Pete to try to barrel into the fucking thing with his little choo-choo?  And when is somebody going to erect a statue of Bob Knight on 17th St.?  Seriously, of all the coaches who are inexorably intertwined to their program and immortalized in sculpture, it's time for Bobby to be set in bronze outside Assembly Hall. 

So, yeah, good talk and aloha.

Lifting the Curtain on All the Questions

Who knows whether the gods will add tomorrow to the present hour? -Horace

I started the day thinking about a paradigm shift; realigning my expectations of this team to the reality of our current situation.  Rather than clinging to the improving promise of Minny, PSU, Illinois, and Purdue, I was prepared to accept this team for who they really are (like anybody truly knows at this point) and seek signs of measurable improvement in the areas we'd need to work on to make the next step in our return to competitiveness.   

My untenable expectations had given way to the cruel reality that is being the 11th youngest team in the nation, absent the services of our most prolific scorer, without the presence of a reliable post option, and lacking a team identity that suits the program's legacy.  I was ready to see something from the cauldron of conference play that would show me how today's Hoosiers will be forged into tomorrow's team?

And then the whistle blew, and the Hoosiers never started playing.  Once again, IU came out completely flat with piss-poor execution and pathetic effort. For the 3rd consecutive game, and the 4th in the last 6 outings, the Hoosiers got their doors blown off right out of the gate.

My initial hopes of coming out with a chip on our shoulder were crushed long before IU had dropped 20 points back only 7 1/2 minutes into the game. After starting the game at a clip that would've allowed Wisconsin to put up 148 on us, Crean finally went to his bench and put Elston and Capobianco on the court. By the time the big freshmen sat back down, IU had almost matched Wisconsin's points (10-9 Elston & 12-9 Capo). And that pretty much ended any meaningful resistance by the Hoosiers for the duration of the game.

Numb from the ugliness and not quite ready to drink this one away yet, I'm at a loss for answers. I have only more questions than before the game. What the hell is going on with my Hoosiers? Where did our will to compete go? When does it end and what will it take?

The other day on the Scoop chat I questioned whether Crean had lost his team; Korman thusly replied, "the Hoosiers are lost." The questions of whether Crean has lost contact with his team and whether the players have lost their will to compete not only linger after Wisconsin, but greatly intensified. 

Having stewed on the matter all evening, I'm now convinced that the time has come for Crean to open up a practice to the media.   At the very least, shoot and edit his own video showing what's going on when the popcorn isn't popping.  Because the on-court product has been so disappointing and because his press room proselytizing is starting to ring hallow, we need to see exactly what's going on and how it's being addressed.  Just give me something to let me know we're still fucking trying.   

Seriously, I'm way past the point of hoping for upsets, and I've all but given up in seeking multiple, measurable improvements within each game.  Anymore I'm just looking for signs of life.  Give me something, anything that let's me know we're not already done playing basketball with 7 games still remaining.  Let me know that our locker room isn't so fractured that it can't spend 40 quality minutes together a couple times a week.  Show me that the players are trying to improve and that the coaching staff is facilitating this goal. 

Otherwise, save me the bullshit about stages and hurting and all the rest.  Because no matter how young or fragile these players are, that's still no excuse for playing like nutless pussies for 3 consecutive games.  There isn't a stage where not trying is acceptable. 

Seeing how the opposite of these views is all we've seen lately between the whistles, it's time to lift the curtain on practice and show us something that addresses the increasing questions about this team's will to compete and the coaches' means to this end.   

That's about the only answer I can come up anymore.  Well, that and the fact that it's now time to drink the ugly away once again.  Slainte, ugly motherfuckers. 

Drinking Away the Ugly


Part of Speech: adjective
Definition: unattractive

Synonyms: animal, appalling, awful, bad-looking, beastly, deformed, disfigured, foul, frightful, grisly, gross, grotesque, hard-featured, hideous, homely, horrid, ill-favored, loathsome, misshapen, monstrous, not much to look at, plain, repelling, repugnant, repulsive, revolting, unbeautiful, uncomely, uninviting, unlovely, unprepossessing, unseemly, unsightly

Pick one, any one.  Yep, that about sums it up tonight. 

My eyes burn after this one. 
<--Watching this one wasn't much better.

So, yeah, good talk. 

I'm going to go pour myself an unreasonably tall drink for a Wednesday night & try to forget about the horrors of this evening. 

Wanna know something meaningful about the game?  Go here, here, or here. This place, well, this place is shutting down before it ever got going (kind of like Dumes tonight).  I'd say goodnight, but I'd be fucking lying to ya.  This was not a good night. 


Overlooking, the Details

True story:
No sooner than I typed the title of this post, I get a tweet from the Scoop about Crean's radio show tonight.  Yeah, the same radio show where Crean acknowledges his team overlooked Iowa.  Well, fuck me.

After spending the past day and some change pissed off about IU's lackadaisical escapade in Evanston, I was determined to convince everyone with this post that we're actually a far better team than they think and that the hideous loses to Northwestern and Iowa were the result of IU overlooking its opponents.  Not expecting many readers to immediately buy what I was selling, I amassed an arsenal of examples and correlations to support my conclusion.

Now that Crean has admitted it, I'll save you your time.  We overlooked Iowa and got our asses kicked at home because of it.  And while Crean wants to split hairs about Northwestern's loss being caused by mistakes, let's not parse our words about overlooking = failing to prepare = making mistakes.

The many, many mistakes we made against Northwestern were the result of overlooking yet another opponent and not mentally preparing ourselves for the challenges of defending the Princeton offense.  There can be no severing of the causal connection between the 3 sins.  We also overlooked Northwestern and again got our asses kicked because of it.

Now that we've established this unsettling fact, let's see what Coach Crean is going to do about it.  We've long heard how Crean's team his too fragile to treat heavyhandedly.  Fortunately, I've got a copy of the Hoops Rules (Old Testamate) handy and it clearly states that, "if a team is tough enough to overlook an opponent, said team shall be adequately capable of having its ass chewed out and its balls run off until the situation subsides- public humiliation & puke-inducing wind sprints are advised." 

There you have it.  If they're big enough to look past a conference opponent, they've got to be big enough to be held accountable for their bullshit play.  It's time to take the kid gloves off, coach.  Benching Dumes sooner would have been nice, but running his ass off until he puked the last time he pulled that shit would've purged his brain of any fleeting thoughts about chucking up another 28-footer in the future.

We've already agreed that some games which are clear losses early on should be used for developmental purposes, so what's the deal about burning minutes for punitive purposes?  Shit, don't let Devan dress for OSU after that nonsense; we don't give a fuck.

As we've previously discussed, we've seen some crazy shit on those sidelines.  Benching guys for dumbass decisions will not only make this team more accountable, it will earn you extra points from the Faithful, lots of 'em.

And going forward, I'd make damn sure they never, ever forget that we lost to Boston, GMU, and fucking Loyola at home this year.  There's no goddamn excuse for allowing them to overlook a Big 10 opponent now.

Whether it's failing to move away from the ball on offense or busting ass back on defense, there can be no tolerating half-assed effort under any circumstances, our present plight not excluded.  I'd just as soon see Finkelmeier, Moore, Gambles, Barnett, & Bawa bumblefuck their way through a half and know that they're at least gaining valuable experience than watch our starters grabasstically pretend they're immune from now working their asses off after playing a couple of decent games in a row.  Fuck, play with four players if you have to, the place will know exactly what you're doing and love you for it.

No matter how Crean approaches the matter, it's gotta be addressed, and quickly.  Because keeping these boys' asses grounded in reality is the coach's job, and that's a detail that isn't being overlooked around here lately.

Closing the Gap

What a difference a month makes.
Just 29 days after Indiana's conference wake-up call in Columbus, the Hoosiers have covered some serious ground. What appeared to be a hopelessly young team destined to bumble their way through the conference season has morphed into a legitimate conference contender. The magnitude of their metamorphosis is Kafka-esque.

Sure, January saw its share of youthful blunders and execution-ineptitude, but think about what's become at the beginning of February. After taking a giant shat at Value City Arena, IU started the month on a 3-game skid. Then, half-way through the month, the Hoosiers showed us what's to come. With back-to-back wins against Minny and Penn St., the loss of Mo Creek no longer seemed to be the death nail in our conference coffin. And while Iowa proved to be an unlikely trap game (which we leisurely strolled into at our own volition), the past 3 weeks have, for the most part, revealed what inspired basketball looks like again.

No longer must Hoosiers fans loathe tip-time when a ranked opponent rolls into B-town or when the Hoosiers visit a hostile venue. IU somehow found the fortitude to compete these past 3 weeks. Not only is IU competing, they've learned to stop beating themselves in the process. Excluding Iowa, IU has averaged a stingy 12.75 turn-overs a game and a relatively impressive 70.5% from the free throw line. These stats bear witness to the progress Crean has made in teaching his squad the value of ball possession and the essential element of capitalizing on our free throws: our 2 greatest self-inflicted liabilities thus far.

Not surprisingly, this period of improvement has directly corresponded with a marked display of leadership from some of his players. Verdell Jones has shown a visible sense of floor command and situational awareness by timely delivering critical shots at exactly the moment IU needs them. Jeremiah Rivers unfucked his head and moved past his Shaq-tastic free throw hurdles. And dare I say, Tom Pritchard's testicles finally descended and allowed him to play with some nuts for the first time in almost a year (you had to know that one was coming, Chris & Dustin). Jordy is shooting the ball with confidence and no longer hesitating to take the open looks. Add to the mix Capo & Elston's developing roles, and IU is rapidly closing the gap that has kept it from competing on a night-in, night-out basis in the Big 10.

While I'm not ready to bet the farm on a +.500 season, it's growing clear that the resurrection is coming full circle. On any given night, IU can be in the thick of things at the end of the game. And what was previously easier to dismiss as an opponent simply looking past IU to their next game (cough, Pitt, cough, Michigan pt. 1), IU's recent play has erased any chances of being a gimme game going forward. How they respond to the new found attention, however, remains to be seen. But there can be no more arguing that IU is once again relevant in conference play.

I'm increasingly anxious to see if there's not a big upset looming somewhere on the horizon for the young Hoosiers. No matter, the gap between last year's shit-show and this season's promise is growing larger by the minute; the distance today between wins & losses is much, much closer than it was at the close of 2009. Best of all, IU basketball is fun again, and that makes all the difference in the world for this Hoosier.

Game Notes:

-The debut of the Crimson Guard was...uninspiring, to say the least. With the student section less than 1/2 full at tip, it seems clear they've got their work cut out for them. Seriously, Pur-fucking-due for Christ's sakes...on national 7 pm... for the first red-out in school history. If that doesn't get your dick hard, there may be no amount of Viagra to get the students up for a big game. Speaking of the red-out, or "Crimson Vision," let's call a spade a spade and throw in the towel on color themed promotions. The visual effect of the event provided a view no different than the average outing at Assembly Hall. Because "it's Indiana," let's stop trying to be something we're not. And we're apparently far too independent minded to comply with wardrobe requests (though refuckingdiculous costume sightings were marginally down last night). If we've proven to consistently half-ass attire-based promotions, let's punt the whole fucking notion of creating a dramatic visual theme. Once the gym finally filled, I was adequately impressed with the energy and noise it provided. Shit, my entire section was standing at the 13 minute mark of the 2nd half- a rare feat for my neck of the woods. Let's acknowledge who we are and embrace it for what it is: we just don't seem to give a fuck about color coordination (hence, red v. crimson). And before this portion of the rant concludes, let's talk about the costumes. Why must whomever is in charge of selecting the honorary flag bearers only select costumed buffoons?!? If this is going to get any better, stop highlighting these bastards. Pick a couple of students who are crimsoned out and into the game. It's basic child psychology: encourage the behavior you desire your children to display and ignore that which you'd like not to see repeated.

- Todd Leary. Dude. Oh, dude. Really, dude? It's bad enough to get caught up in something like this, but to have a former teammate thrust into the investigation and be hauled off in the Assembly Hall tunnel in front of your family is simply awful. Now that it's happened, just please don't do anything that would make this worse on your family or those who care about you.

-Scoop Talk. I was compelled to stick around after the game and experience the behind-the-scenes magic of Scoop Talk. And though I allegedly cursed Chris' computer (I thought Macs were immune to that shit) (and apparently curse way too much for the HT to risk making a deposit with the FCC), I enjoyed getting the chance to talk shop with the guys. Watching them ad lib Scoop Talk live proved to be far more entertaining than watching their always-entertaining webcasts. With any luck, there may be a road trip in the future. We'll keep our fingers crossed. As for the swearing, I swear because I care, Chris. And let's just say I care a lot. I could tone it down I guess, but I prefer to keeps it real. Besides, isn't fuck the most useful word?

The Guard's Duty

After 109 years, the time has finally come. The basketball Hoosiers have an official student section.
What has always been one of the largest, most passionate, and faithful student sections in the nation now has a name: the Crimson Guard. Representing a team whose own nickname isn't easily defined, this development is a significant step towards creating a cohesive identity for this historically intimidating collective of appreciative hoops fans. Better still, they're getting their shit together and getting the word out.

Well....great. So, where does this go from here.? While having a name and an organizational structure are good places to start, what shall be the IDENTITY of this group? Because one can make certain that a name alone does not an identity make.

And while I saw the group is putting together a constitution (good), encouraging early arrival times (great), and specifically denouncing court stroming (outfuckingstanding), the success or failure of the group will likely depend on whether or not they can achieve a buy-in from the students.

The name, Crimson Guard, achieved only a plurality (about 700) of the paltry votes cast (around 3,000 total, or less than 10% of the undergraduate population). Thus, getting the 8,000 or so students who regularly attend games to participate in the group's initiatives could be challenging.

In order to minimize the introduction of potentially divisive or outright fucking ridiculous ideas, I'm proffering a list of some of the things I've learned to loathe around the world of student section shenanigans. 

-Bouncing up and down the whole game.
This is just plain fucking stupid. End of story. Any douchebag who wants to tell you how much he's into his team and how hardcore his student section is because their bouncing energy somehow drives the homeboys is a fucking moron of the highest order. Seriously, any dickhole who bounces up and down for nearly two hours should be the poster-child for Adderall, not the model by which all student sections are judged.

-Coming up with cheesy-ass routines for random situations.
Ooooooo. You orchestrated a bunch of spooky gestures to mindfuck your team's opponents. Go fuck yourself and choreograph dance ballet if that's what you're into. Let's keep the focus on the bigger things: helping IU win more games and distinguishing our program from inferior legacies.  I know there's some obligatory free throw voodoo that must be created and the like, but try to keep things within reason.

-Be more concerned with the game than showing up on the fan cam.
The level of attention whoring at games has become a serious issue. There's no plausible excuse for showing up with court-level seats dressed a fucking duckling. There just isn't. It's one thing if you feel the need to attract a little attention to yourself, but it's an entirely different matter when you and the gang insist on breaking out the fucktarded superhero costumes every trip to the Hall.

-Don't lose focus of what separates IU fans from the rest: we know, love, and appreciate well-played basketball. True Hoosiers are as easily excited about IU taking a charge as we are a nasty dunk. Seeing a man hit the deck for a lose ball should demand our admiration as much as a streaking shooter knocking down a 3. Assembly Hall has long been home to one of the world's most knowledgeable and appreciative basketball communities. It's student-spectators should strive to display the energy and appreciation deserved by its hallowed hardwood.

-Don't be afraid to disagree with the administration.
While I completely believe you'll need to reach out to many partners for support with guidance or resources, I'd be careful not to buy everything they're selling when it comes to making decisions affecting the group's identity. These are the same people who would have you holding a 4' cut-out of Bart Simpson's head while playing Wii under a disco ball in Assembly Hall wearing a white t-shirt. It may serve you well to thoughtfully review their suggestions in the future before accepting them as presented.

*Editor's Note: Generally, I've been thoroughly impressed with the manner in which Glass' administration has re-directed the athletics dept. Further, I wholly understand the unprecedented nature of the challenges they've faced in filling the stands on 17th St., even the Assembly Hall balcony. That said, however, let's learn from the successes and failures from the last year and make these marketing initiatives first pass a legacy test: run that shit by a non-invested party who possesses a solid understanding of IU's legacy to see if you're creative ideas pass the point of marketability and are generally incompatible with our storied legacy. Ergo: keep the disco balls at Sports.

-Don't underestimate the value of creative thinking. knowledgeable
Sure, anyone can chant "Purdue Sucks" or "Shut Up Weber" in unison. But how many groups can fully describe the horrific wonder that is Gene Kedey's comb-over or articulate the douchey nature of Bruce Weber's whiney persona? With students from all corners of Big 10 country and beyond, the Guard should have a plethora of resources available to come up with original material that properly reflects our basketball passion and intellect.

Assembly Hall shall forever be held in esteemed reverence and renown as a true cradle of the game of basketball. It's students are, and have always been, representative of the character of our beloved program. And with the current incarnation of the basketball Hoosiers being some of the youngest ever to dawn the candy stripes, the energy, enthusiasm, and support of IU's Crimson Guard could not come at a better time. With some proper leadership through its initial period of actualization, it will hopefully grow and prosper into the most feared and intimidating student body in the land. With some proper planning, it will remain in close contact with the qualities that have come to define Indiana's legacy.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot

A New Perspective

Oh, young Hoosiers. You toy with my heart and mess with my head like no other group ever to wear the candy stripes.
Just when I feel like I know what to expect from you, you turn around to do something completely unexpected. I should know by now that you're young and unpredictable, but goddamn! You turn it around like few teams mine eyes (or Vegas') have ever seen.

But wait, did you really turn it around today, or were you this team all along? Was Iowa just an aberration? Come to think of it, I kind of like that notion: you really did turn a corner against Minnesota and then parlay your roll in Happy Valley. When I erase Iowa from my dissecting mind, you've actually grown up before my very eyes.

Just like the "bad Devan" likes to make occasional appearances, so too the "young Hoosiers" like to pop in every now and then and make everyone think they're too immature to finish a game without self-imploding.

Not today they didn't. Today was a day for the fightin' Hoosiers. Today was a day when young men would put their team on their shoulders and refuse to let the Illini run away from them. Today was a day that made the 6 days since Iowa seem like over a year ago.

The young Hoosiers don't pull down 35 boards to best Illinois' 31. The young Hoosiers don't shoot 86.2% from the line and hit 11 of 12 in the final 10 minutes...on the road. The young Hoosiers don't come back from a 13-point 1st half deficit. Only 13 turnovers, that's not how the young Hoosiers possess the ball. No, these were tomorrow's Hoosiers- in today's bodies, unfortunately.

We were at last tough, but it's too bad there's no "D" in "tough." At least, not as it relates to Demetri McCamey.

No matter, Thursday night just got a whole lot more interesting.

Game notes:

-Hulls' 8 points in the first 7 minutes prevented this one from becoming a run-away right out of the gates, ala last year's tilt.

-VJ3 is the motherfucking man. He, alone, refused to let his homecoming become another embarrassment, again. When he decides to turn it on, he leads these Hoosiers, on both ends of the court.

-Elston found his mojo, but the defensive match-ups & foul-related line-up shuffling made it tough to keep him on the court. His 5 points and 5 boards were humble, yet huge. Given more minutes, I can only imagine his role can expand as he gains more confidence in himself and from his coaches & teammates.

-Capo is beginning to show us why he was given the moniker "Vanilla Gorilla" prior to his arrival on campus. He isn't afraid of a fight or putting his large frame on the floor. With some more development on his footwork and offensive post moves, his contributions should grow exponentially.

-When Rivers stepped to the line with 22 seconds left and the game on the line, I must have done the best Judge Smails of my life. "Oh, Jeremiah. Jeremiah, Jeremiah, Jeremiah, Jeremiah. This is a biggie, Jeremiah. a70-68 Jeremiah." Danny Noonan didn't feel this good after the second free toss fell. "Hey, everybody! We're all going to get laid!!!"

-While Watford spent most of the game iced over, his clutch free throw shooting late in the game was impressive for the freshman.

-Pritchard continued to be Pritchard: lazy with his feet, often out of position, and unable to keep from benching himself with foul trouble.  He's well on his way to being relegated to only spelling Capo, Elston, and, dare I say, Tijan. 

-Team Africa combined for 12 minutes, 3 boards, and only 2 TOs & 1 foul. 

And despite the 600 words above, Ryan Corazza owned this game summary.  Korman's perspective shows it's all all making sense, as usual.  That is all.    

Turbulence Ahead

Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the fasten seat belts sign. We're expecting to hit some turbulence ahead. Please sit back, relax, and do your best to remain calm.

So much for clear skies through Iowa. It looks like the rough patch came a little earlier than expected. And based on the level of turbulence last weekend, the coming weeks could be brutal.

Not only does Pomeroy have us losing out to finish the season, his recent predictions have IU keeping it within single digits only twice in the next eleven predicted loses (Iowa & Northwestern).

And if the drubbing Iowa delivered to the Hoosiers in Assembly Hall has already escaped your memory (I actually wish it would leave mine), keep in mind our remaining home schedule features visits from: Purdue, Ohio St., Michigan St., Wisconsin, and Northwestern. So, yeah, it's not looking real good for our chances of feeling the home-town love and pulling off an upset. Shit, I'd only consider a home win over Northwestern a true upset; a win over any of the other teams would probably qualify as an outright fucking miracle.

I'd like to say our stop in Happy Valley provided me with some solace about our pending road stops, but I'm not quite ready to suspend my disbelief after all the gains of PSU and Minny were seemingly flushed down the tubes last weekend. With remaining tilts at Illinois, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Purdue, we may well stand better chances of stealing a road win than defending Assembly Hall (read: Iowa revenge and Assembly Hall North's (Northwestern) super support).

This, however, is the point of our journey where things get really bumpy. Crean could reasonably spend some portion of the remaining schedule preparing his team for future success, and not necessarily fielding the players which would keep his team closest to their competition. Because developing his future talent may be more valuable to Crean's rebuilding project than playing the best available players throughout the game, Crean may inevitably walk into a catch-22. Rancor could grow to a fever pitch if Crean is perceived to be tanking games for the benefit of giving a few guys (Capo, Elston, & Bawa) some quality minutes where they'll be supremely challenged. On the other hand, should Crean continue to try to scratch out wins by keeping Pritchard and Dumes' rotations around their average, he will likely be criticized for not using the opportunity to develop his future workhorses for their coming battles.

Granted, with Creek out at the #2 spot, there's certainly an argument to be made that Dumes' presence isn't stealing much time from any one player, and that his defense abilities give IU a net gain with him in the rotation. I'd counter this position by noting his propensity to derail the offense with his untimely shots and inconsistent will to drive the lane; VJ3 and Rivers seem to be far more predictable in these regards and more frequently fit within what Crean appears to want out of his offensive action. And on the defensive end, forcing Hulls & VJ3 into more difficult assignments now can only improve their ability to step up their D in the coming years.

And if my position needed further muddling, there's Tijan. The founding member of Team Africa never quite developed into the, um, defensive specialist many Hoosiers hoped he might become. But while his contributions to the box score have been anemic, his presence in fans' hearts has rivaled few others. Crean may face a tremendous obstacle in deciding how, if at all, to pepper in some Tijan-time throughout the remainder of the schedule. Personally, I'd like to see Tijan to return to his point position in the 1-3-1 zone for at least 5 defensive possessions a game.

Tomorrow's trip to Champaign should provide a good indicator as to how effective Crean & his staff have been in using the bye week to re-instill the fight in his young team. Playing in front of one of the most hostile crowds they'll see this year, IU's re-forged mettle will be put to the test. The results of which should give us an idea just how bumpy the path ahead is going to be. Moreover, we'll see how Crean plans to utilize the battles ahead to set the course for next year a little early.

*As an aside, does the Illinois rivalry really qualify as a rivalry if most Hoosiers fans could give a shit about the Illini? Sure, most all of us would agree that Bruce Weber is a classless, whiny fuckstick, but that's mainly our feelings about him, individually. The fact that he happens to coach a conference opponent only makes his team rivals by association. Further, the fact that most Hoosiers could really give a shit about Illinois (save their punk-ass coach) should completely disqualify them from being considered our rival. The truth is most Hoosiers only really care about beating Kentucky & Purdue on a regular basis. Sure, nobody wants to ever lose or be another team's perennial bitch, but a loss to Illinois does not a broken Hoosier heart make.  Now, when the shoe's on the other foot...

Our Turn

On a night when foul trouble could have easily substituted for free throws as our fatal flaw, IU turned on its swagger and turned off its youth.
After waiting for Vega's prophecy to come to bear (a late game melt-down after 35 minutes of decent ball), IU turned a page on the record books and likely a turned a corner in the Crean resurrection project. It was a veritable Hoosier trifecta: 1st true road win in almost 2 full years, a wire-to-wire lead (save 2 brief ties) that would have been surrendered on any other night before this, and a boost to 5th in the conference standings (forget the fact that it's just the 3rd week of conference play, we're in 5th-FUCKING-PLACE!!!). Oh, yeah. We also pissed on PSU's 3-game streak against IU.

This was big. Real big. I'd almost have sanctioned the road fans storming the Bryce Jordan court after this one (but I'll donkey punch anyone who ever tries to strom a PSU win at home). This win, however, has nothing to do with Penn St. (save the fact that their poor selection of basketball players to accompany Taylor Battle all but handed us this win).  This was all about what IU took and not what Penn St. gave us. 
IU took a sweeping turn for the better tonight.

This turn is where Crean has been dying to take his players and followers since he arrived.  For all his rah-rah tweets, Crean has been spot on about his young squad needing to learn to compete and using every small success as a stepping stone to its next challenge. Winning on the road and at least competing for something other than bottom of the conference is absolutely essential in building confidence in the program, inside and outside of it.

College Station marked the turning point where the Hoosiers started dictating pace and matching its opponent blow for blow after establishing a lead. The new direction revealed a team that played comfortably within the boundaries of its limitations and without its familiar, self-defeating tendencies (read: free throws, turnovers, & ill-advised shots at exactly the wrong moment).

We've all heard of the "Michigan left turn," but IU seemed to have taken the "Minnesota right" after Sunday's overtime win. Suddenly we're heading towards a 3-game conference streak and a plus .500 record past the mid-way point of the season.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not seeing a mirage of post-season play & conference relevance, but let's savor the view for just a moment before we resume what could soon be another 10 or 11-game losing streak. No matter what the road ahead may hold for our Hoosiers, we'll never again speak of Crean's 1st IU road win. We'll never again see a 1 or 2 win conference season. We'll never lack a positive reference point when the game's on the line, the crowd and the refs are against us, and our opponent's on the ropes.

All those things are in the rear view mirror now. We've turned that corner. Hopefully, Crean's Tom-Tom knows the fasted route to the next turn.

Love on the Rocks

Another loss, another reason for the message boards to ignite with inflammatory opinions on the fitness of Coach Crean to lead the Hoosiers.

It appears as though the honeymoon is officially over for Tom Crean & the Indiana faithful.  And while the marriage is nowhere near splitsville yet, the time has arrived for some newlywed counseling.  Being one who is deeply enamored with both parties, I will take it upon myself to try to mediate this dispute.

To the Faithful:
To begin, we need to clear the air about a few things.  Let's acknowledge that you've brought some baggage into the relationship.  Lots of it, actually.  You're clearly still recovering from 3 recent divorces in the last 10 years.  It's understandable that you're a little bitter with coaches following all the pain caused by your prior, failed relationships.  Coach Kinght was your long-time steady, but was abusive, insensitive, and known to toss your shit around when he got mad.  Coach Davis was there for you on the rebound and swept you off your feet when he took you dancing, but he was aloof & uncomfortable in your presence.  Coach Sampson...well, you knew he was a bad boy when you started with him, but he told you everything you wanted to hear at the time and then turned around and cheated on you...a lot.

So, you've now found your prince charming, and you were sure this would be the one.  But faster than the ink can dry on your nuptials, you're already upset with the direction things are going.  Specifically, you're unhappy with the kids your new coach has brought into the relationship.  (Actually, they're your kids, too, and they bear your name.)  And while you did a good job dealing with them as infants last season, your tolerance has all but disappeared now that they're toddlers. 

This is most disappointing.  I understand you're excited to get back to the glory days, but you need to keep things in perspective.  There's only 10 teams in the country with less D-1 experience this season.  It's going to take some time (and an influx of more talent) to turn things around.  Besides, if banners were that easy to hang, Purdue would already have a couple (but they don't!!!)   

Worse yet, you're bitching to anyone who'll listen about the job Crean is doing in raising these boys.  Sure, I'll admit I'm often frustrated at the seeming lack of coordinated offense, but I know this isn't the way Crean would ideally run his offense.  Until he gets the proper pieces, he's gonna have to play the hand he's been dealt as best as he can.

In sum, you need to come to grips with the fact that that you're in this thing for the long haul.  There are no magic bullets to make a 6th banner miraculously appear.  It's going to take some time and a heckuva lot more patience on your end.  Moreover, you need to stop being so damn high-maintenance about this thing.  Everybody knows you're not happy with 6-win seasons or 20+ turnover games.  I promise you Crean isn't either.  But the more you piss and moan about it, the harder you're making it on everybody else.  Continuing to publicaly rant about our family struggles only makes the family look more dysfunctional.  Because while you can't choose your family, they're the only one you've got.  Love it for what it is and embrace it.  The sooner you come to grips with this, the soon your beloved family may once again be at the pinnacle of success and stability. 

To Coach Crean:
I've gotta believe that you knew exactly what you were getting into after your whirlwind courtship.  You said so much when you said, "It's Indiana."  And because it's Indiana, you know the expectations are high (if not impossible). 

And while you've wholly embraced the challenges of this particular relationship, you've got to know there's certain things which come being the man of the house Hall.  Just as graduating players and running a clean program are expected of you, so, too, discipline, determination, and effort are not negotiable, under any circumstances. 

Now, nobodys saying you personally lack these traits, but your boys are a direct reflection upon you.  Their faults are vicariously your faults.  Nobody ever said it was fair, but it is what it is and it's been very difficult to watch.  I'm not saying you don't know this already (you're anything if not acutely aware, I'm sure), but understand it's not just about wins and losses.  It's how you win and lose.

And when I say "how you lose," you might think I'm talking about those losses to Northeastern, Lipscomb, Michigan, Boston, Loyola, et al.  I'm not.  (Well, kind of, but not in the way you think.)  It's not so much as the lowly caliber of the teams that have beaten us or the leads we've surrendered in the process, but rather the way in which you've gracefully taken it all in stride.  Don't get me wrong, I deeply admire your composure and respect you a ton because of it.  As far as I can tell, however, your greatest personal flaw seems to be a one-year Diet Coke binge (and possibly a crippling aversion to recruiting capable big men). 

But here's the rub: we're used to accepting flawed characters as our coach.  After a lifetime dealing with emotionally unstable men in this position, we've kind of grown to become dependent on our coaches' personal shortcomings to reflect our own emotional instabilities over the declining status of our beloved program.  Following a decade and a half of diminishing prominence, we've become quite insecure about our family's shortcomings these days.  And when we post a historically horrible record, blow a 20-point lead against Lipscomb at home, or take a giant shit in the clutch of a Big Ten game which we should have won, the Hoosier Faithful begin to flip shit.  Big time. 

You on the other hand, manage to take it all in stride, barely waivering from the predictable objectiveness which has become the hallmark of your public comments.  Sure you pace from the coach's box to the end of bench like a caged beast, but your composure compels you to keep from berating the refs over their obvious disrespect for your team.  And while you tweet your less-than-ambiguous criticisms like the best of 'em, you steadfastly avoid throwing any players under the bus for their bumblefuckedness.

Please don't take these examples as suggesting that you're probably not doing the "right thing" by treating the refs with respect and protecting your players' fragile psyches.  You unquestionably are.  But you've got to understand that your partner in this relationship, the Faithful, sometimes need some not-too-subtle reminders that you feel their pain, that you agonize over their plight (like I said, they're high-maintenance).

Thus, let me offer a few suggestions for you to show a little empathy.  The next time your team is blatantly getting buttfucked by the zebras, light one of those blind bastards up and take a T (I know you've previously said your stature and salary demand more of you, but trust me on this one- the place will go fucking bananas). 

When the boys fail to get off the bus for the next embarrassing road loss, leak a little locker room audio of you reaming some ass (and if you wanted to mention that Pritchard needs to wipe his vagina before putting on the candy stripes, that'd be pretty cool, too). 

When Korman needles you about the next "what exactly was ______ all about" in next post-game presser, unleash a profanity laden tirade about exactly what the fuck that was and how you're gonna stomp that shit out before the next time they take the court. 

You see, we've seen some pretty crazy shit from our coaches around here.  And while most outsiders view this kind of behavior as anti-social and unbecoming of a major D-1 coach, we've actually learned to love seeing our coaches' passion reflect that of our own and, just like we ourselves tend to do, lose control a little bit on occasion.  Though the bar has been set pretty high, we need you to reach for it every now and then.  Just to let us know you feel our pain.

In addition to some of our emotional needs, there's some other things festering under the surface here.  After nearly 3 decades watching some of the most disciplined teams ever to take the court, the past several years have been rather difficult, to say the least.  Watching Coach Knight's motion offense was like listening to Motzart conduct.  And while running pure motion offense is about as popular as Motzart with today's players, that doesn't make it any easier watching poorly executed NBA sets at Assembly Hall.  Don't get me wrong, you shouldn't have to change who you are or what philosophies you subscribe to, but some effective screaning would be a welcome sight and probably free up some looks (Capo seems to relish this role).

Also, we need to talk about your charitable efforts.  Charity has always been a hallmark of the Indiana family, specifically our efforts at the charity stripe.  You even discussed so much after Ill-annoy.  We've always made more free throws than our opponents attempted.  This fact has about as much to do with those conference championship banners as anything.  Call it Hoosier sensibility if you will: they're called "FREE" throws because they're free, you might as well fucking make them.  Most Faithful would sooner see Gene Keady take a grumpy at center court than watch the Hoosiers shoot 66% from the line

Lastly, something needs to be said about your house Hall work.  Assembly Hall isn't just a gym, it's a national basketball cathedral.  Your efforts to re-fill the stands, while well-intentioned, have bordered on the blasphemous.  It's one thing pump a little rock and roll over the speakers.  It's an entirely different sin to turn the student section into a caricature of a passionate student body.  And ever since the big heads have come out, refuckingdiculous costumes have skyrocketed.  To add insult to injury, other sinners are beginning to take notice.  Let's work a little more on winning games, and less on gimmicking it up, and the Hall will be full and rockin' again, I promise you.

See, doesn't everyone feel better now that we've had a chance to talk about some of our needs, wants, and differences?  I sure do.  If we can work a little harder on communicating, meeting each others emotional needs, and focusing on our shared visions, there's no reason this marriage shouldn't last a lifetime.  And with a little luck, we'll once again renew our vows and exchange rings real soon. 

Well, That Blows

The Ilini Whistle Stop Tour blew threw Assembly Hall (the one with the banners, that is, not the space ship) tonight like the shuddering winds that Bloomington has grown accustomed to lately. 

And man was it cold. 

Not cold like the 8 degree temps outside, but cold like a 27.4%  drop off field goal percentage in the second half.  Cold like being 55.6% from the charity stripe (20% in the final 5 minutes).  Cold like 28 whistles against IU to Illinois 17.  Cold like 19 2nd half points.  Burrrrrr

Following a half spent watching some of IU's most inspired play this season, it seemed inevitable that winds of fortune were going to change direction when play resumed.  And just as surely as you can count on Bruce Weber making an ass out of himself on the bench, IU's luck slowly froze up in the critical final minutes of the game. 

Gone were the grit and toughness Tom Crean had all but begged for following the embarrassment that was the OSU game.  Gone was the team ball on both ends of the court that propelled IU to a 13 point halftime lead.  Gone was our ability to keep Illinois from exploiting Tisdale & McCamey's inside-out effectiveness against our undersized squad.  In the end, we were left only with a magnet for whistles tied around our necks, a recurring paralysis at the free throw line, and a healthy serving of some vintage Bruce Weber whine. 

And without resorting to the moral victory trap which Tom Crean avoids at all costs, there were some promising signs in tonight's performance.  Bobby Capobianco earned his first start and repaied the honor by plastering his body against any Illini within his reach and pulling down a couple boards, while keeping several more alive off his tips.  Though his 2 points came off of the only field goal attempted, it's not a stretch to imagine him filling in more in place of Tom Bitchard, who in almost as many minutes as Capo was able to pull down 3 boards, 0 points, and 4 impressive fouls.

Hulls not only continues to display more confidence in his jumper, but the team increasingly feeds off of his leadership.  The ball rotation that led to his open looks was tremendous.  Similarly, the communication on defense also seemed to peak during this period. 

Rivers, likewise, seemed to find his stroke a bit and let his defense fuel his offense.  (For the life of me, however, I will never understand how a guard who's dad is a fucking NBA coach can be so abysmal from the line.  Seriously.  It's beyond comprehension.)

Having no idea what in the hell is going on in practices, save the absence of shoulder pads this week (wtf, Weber?), I'm left wondering what's driven a wedge between Elston and his prior playing time.  Reduced to Danny Moore minutes tonight, Elston seemed to bring the inside toughness Crean has been lacking.  I'm just not sure what gives there.

Bitchard, you're possibly the biggest pussy ever to dawn an Indiana jersey.  Dude, you're 6'9", 250 lbs.  Fucking do something with that big ass body to justify your minutes, if not also your scholarship.  Play with some pride and find a way to contribute something to your team.  It appears Crean is squarely referring to you in most of his disgruntled comments about lazy bullshit.  Get it together or get to looking for a place to transfer.

If there's any cold comfort to take away from this game, nay this season, it seems few teams are as capable as the Hoosiers in beating IU.  We simply seem to lose more games on our own than the other teams beat us.  And while that's correctable, well, that still blows. 

The Relapse

relapse, noun
-Middle English, from Medieval Latin relapsus, from Latin relabi to slide back, from re- + labi to slide 1 : the act or an instance of backsliding, worsening, or subsiding
2 : a recurrence of symptoms of a disease after a period of improvement

24 turnovers, 9 assists, 34% from the field, 46.2% fga allowed, and a defense that guards beyond the arc like France defends its borders.  It was like '08-'09 redux. (and if you believe the official box score that OSU didn't block us, I've got some ocean-front property to sell you.)

Considering IU came into the game averaging 15.6 TOs, 15 assists, 74.6 pts/gm, 44% fg, and 40.8% fga, it's amazing how fragile progress can be, especially on the road. 

So much for the exuberance following the Michigan victory, it's gonna be a long fucking season

And as though the pains of watching IU take a shit at OSU weren't bad enough, BTN has to pour Shon Morris into my wounds. At this point I'm ready to amputate my ears.  I'm dumber for having to listen to his mindless babble.  Note to the BTN: Shon is not good at: talking, talking about basketball, or talking about things even tenuously related to basketball.  Come to think of it, it appears as though he pretty much sucks at life.