sports

Yes, the Clippers

Dear 13-year-old me –

This is the much older version of yourself writing to prepare you for a sport that somewhat resembles the NBA that you know. In the year 2015, there are now a whopping 30 teams in the NBA. That’s not even then most shocking thing about this year’s league, wait until you hear about the playoffs. Continue reading

Indiana, sports

Indiana departures

With the confirmation that Austin Etherington and Jeremy Hollowell are leaving the Indiana Hoosiers basketball team, there has been quite a flurry of emotions stirred up again among those in the Hoosier Nation. There are many that want Coach Crean’s head on a stick again (see the past uproar when the Hoosiers had their end-of-season losing streak). What I don’t get is that the fans were unhappy with how the team was playing and now they are unhappy when players that have statistically underproduced are leaving the program? There’s a great analysis of the impact that the departing players will have on the program (got to throw in Marlin’s departure as well) on btownbanners.com and, in all honesty, the team isn’t going to be hurt that badly due to the departures. When you look at the class of recruits that we already have coming in and now add in three more spots to fill on the roster (don’t forget Vonleh’s early departure) with some potentially choice transfers, next year looks like it could be a very exciting year.

Indiana, sports

Indiana Basketball season 2013-2014 post-mortem

I posted the following on Facebook on Monday, 3/17/14:

The Hoosier basketball season is over and I’m strangely OK with it. I’m going to miss seeing Will Sheehey in the candy-stripes. He has been one of my favorite Hoosiers to don the cream and crimson. I hope the off-season is full of a lot of introspection and soul searching within the program to figure out what caused such a talent-rich squad to fall short on so many occasions. This season is over so the anticipation for next season starts today.

The more I think about this season, I really am sad for Will Sheehey. He has put so much into the Hoosier program over the last four years and it’s unfortunate that he didn’t get to play in the post-season to finish out his Senior year at Indiana. I hope that the underclassmen on the team have learned from Will about how to preserver.

Most folks will now start the talks of if Noah Vonleh will stay or enter the NBA draft. I hope he stays because the Big Ten season showed me that he has a whole lot of growing to do. We saw flashes of things that he can build upon but he needs to get stronger and learn how to play against players more his size. If he dreams of playing in the NBA, he has to learn how to play against guys his size or bigger because almost every team in the NBA has a 7-footer these days. Another reason for him to stay is that it will help the program out a great deal. Cody Zeller was a good player as a freshman but he really became comfortable with the game his sophomore year. Staying that extra year was one of the wisest decisions that Zeller made (second only to choosing to wear the candy-striped pants in the first place) and you can point to a large part of the success of the 2012-2013 team being due to Zeller being down-low.

I am optimistic about the team that the Hoosiers will field next year. We got to see some good growth by our freshmen this year towards the end of the season. I think they are starting to understand how grueling a Big Ten season can be and they’ve experienced the humbling switch from the high school game, where they were each the best of the best, to the Big Ten season, where their talent level is average. Now the question is if they will learn from this and work to improve their skills to take them to the next level when compared to other Big Ten talent. Now that you’re a sophomore, no one cares what you did in high school.

The elephant in the room

There are a lot of folks that are calling for Tom Crean’s head in all of this. I think it’s time to stop, count to 10, and think about some perspective. Last season was a good team with a lot of good talent. They made a great run through the tournament and lost to a very good Syracuse team. All of the Indiana forums this year are covered with folks that thought that last year’s team should have won it all. To them, it’s Tom Crean’s fault that they didn’t hang a banner. Don’t forget that Jim Boeheim is no slouch of a coach. He has averaged a 75% winning percentage over 37 years at the same school. He wins 63% of his tournament games. Loosing to that coach should not be a surprise. He has spent a long time learning how to beat teams and putting what he has learned into practice.

I’ve helped coach youth basketball before and you’re going to have kids that may not follow your game plan or buy into your vision. Some of the season looked like that is exactly what was happening. When that happens, you’ve got to let them fail a bit and turn them over to the team’s leader to let them work together to get everyone on the same page. In Boy Scouts, the adult leaders are there to guide the boys and to provide a safe environment but they are led by their fellow Scouts. It’s fairly obvious when there are no Scouts leading from within. I believe that what we saw for a large part of this season was a group of players that were missing an active leader on the team. Towards the end of the season, the team started to come together better and I think that was due to Sheehey accepting and exerting his role as the leader.  The coach can come up with a game plan but he can’t run the plays from the sidelines. There is a point in time when he hands it over to the players to execute. Hopefully next year we’ll see a team a little more mature and ready to execute the plans drawn up by the coaching staff. I’m also curious to see who is going to be the leader of the team next year. Ferrell is the obvious choice since he’ll be a Junior and runs the offense as the point guard. In the end, we can all call him the leader but it’s a role that he has to accept and embrace for it to be successful.

In Summary

So, how was the season? Well, if you’re an Indiana fan, it felt a little like this:

general, sports

Recruiting your own problems

The other day I was listening to the Big Ten media day speeches from the Leaders division (really, what is up with those names?) and while waiting for Coach Kevin Wilson to speak I listened to Wisconsin’s coach Bret Bielema.  He was an absolute pleasure to listen to.  I sensed a passion for the game and a desire for coaching it the right way.  He said something that really got me thinking about things even beyond football.  He said “I think you recruit your own problems”.  It was said in context of trusting the character of the recruits because you know that you recruited good young men.

How many of our own problems do we invite in to our lives on our own?  Just think that if we would be more careful to let into our lives only the things that will produce good fruit, it should reduce the amount of self-inflicted problems/drama we have.

sports

When coaching and social media meet

As a fan of Indiana basketball, I started following Coach Tom Crean as soon as I heard that he had a Twitter account.  I can tell you that his posts are some of the best posts that come across my timeline (no offense to the other Twitter users I follow).  It’s really amazing to get a peek into the inner-workings of a program on the mend.  Coach Crean took over a program that had was left with very bare cupboards and he uses his Twitter account to give updates to the Hoosier Nation about the rebuilding process.  His posts constantly address the toughness and character of the team and how it’s developing over time.  He also

If you enjoy college basketball and want to see a glimpse of how a major college program is coached, I’d highly recommend following Coach Crean at www.twitter.com/TomCrean.

Go IU!

sports

The most wonderful time of the year…for four schools

This magical time of the year is when the fans of four schools across the nation have reached the point where bragging rights have been earned.  It’s Final Four time!  The combination of the Butler Bulldogs reaching the Final Four for the last two years (who saw that one coming?) and the rebuilding state of the Indiana Hoosiers has made me reflect back to when Indiana had an annual presence in the NCAA tournament.   Continue reading

sports

Missing: Hoosier Hysteria

We went to the Auburn A-Day game this weekend and enjoyed the game with over 63,000 of our closest friends.  I was reading this morning how the Indiana University version of the same game (the Cream & Crimson game) had a record turn-out, which is awesome for our football program.  The kind of sobering detail is that Indiana’s record crowd was just over 5,300 fans.  That is an amazing difference in scale.  An order-of-magnitude more fans showed up for the Auburn practice game.  I can’t imagine the uphill battle that the Indiana staff has when it comes to recruiting players.  When you’re up against a conference that brings in over 60,000 for practice games (Alabama had over 92,000), you are at a serious disadvantage.  Even within the same conference, I’m sure other Big Ten teams draw larger crowds than Indiana for their spring games.  I hope that the Hoosier fans realize how their lack of support for their football team impacts the football program not only for now but in the long term recruiting picture.  We really can’t expect top-name talent to glance the direction of Indiana while the football program is hidden in the shadow of the basketball program.