Malik Reneau just made a great recruiting class SUPERB. Credit Jalen with his first career assist. Short thoughts.

I’m kind of in shock. Really when it was all playing out it made some semblance of sense, but nonetheless, I’m still in shock.

What an absolutely awesome thing to happen on what is normally one of the worst Mondays back to work. This is an absolutely incredible moment for our program. When Malik Reneau decommitted from Florida following their coaching change, I had the smallest glimmer of hope. Hope that Montverde forward Reneau would want to follow up his high school national championship run with a college run along with the same man dishing him the assists, Jalen Hood-Schifino.

So I’m going to come out and say that this big get is Jalen Hood-Schifino’s first assist for the Indiana Hoosiers. He really had to play the most essential role in convincing Malik to commit to play ball in the Hall. Credit to him. He is racking up wins for us and has yet to take the court. I love it!

These guys have championship chemistry. Their time together in high school is going to pay dividends on their ability to produce for the Hoosiers right out of the gate. The 5 we stand to have taking the court if our recruits are able to step up to the college game is truly dangerous. And elaborating a little on whether or not they will translate their games quickly to the college level, I have to say, they were playing at Montverde! Each game they played, they were playing against top recruits in the nation and BEATING THEM! They’ve been playing the most talented future stars of the game for much of their recent years and coming out on top with a High School national title again this year. I have no worry that these boys will step on campus and quickly prove that they not only have the goods, but they have got the GREATS.

Remember when Trayce and Xavier were playing the pick and roll to success this season? Jalen and Malik have been running the pick and roll at Montverde heavily, to much success. Their game is going to greatly impact the flow of the offense, allowing various guys relied on heavily last year to get open and freed up, thus creating other offensive threats. And with the prospective shooters coming in as well, this is very promising. Whatever gameplan Mike Woodson will seek to utilize on the offensive end Malik and Jalen stand to find immediate roles.

Renaue is ranked #21 on ESPN nationally. A certified stud. Joining Jalen Hood (#24), Kaleb Banks(#79), and CJ Gunn as the freshmen on the Hoosiers team next year. And what does this mean?

This means Indiana has jumped up the recruiting rankings into the 5th spot (according to 247 sports) for the upcoming season. The top spot in the Big Ten. And that is what it takes to compete in today’s NCAA landscape. You need to get the top recruits to consistently be battling in March and into April. And after his first season on record, he is bringing in top talent! It’s great to see that the program is in the hands of a true recruiter now. Above all else in NCAA Basketball, RECRUITING IS KING!

We finally got a closer.

Mike Woodson has been able to make such an immediate impact that I believe that this should absolutely be enough for the few dejectors to see that Indiana is on the mend. We are making the necessary moves to compete at the truly elite level. We are getting the guys, and if that means we need to trust that Mike Woodson’s disciplinary or administrative decisions, we need to do just that. The program is in good hands and we need to believe that and trust that until we can no longer do so.

Here’s to Coach Woodson for coming into Bloomington and changing the program for the better right out of the gate.

Just a little fan boy tangent, I can’t take the off season. I’m chomping at the bit to get back in front of the TV and watch the Hoosiers. This transfer portal era has made the offseason so much more open and really anxiety inducing. I am just hoping we win more than we lose in the portal. This team is going to be a lot to be excited about. This is the beginning of many good things to come. Here’s hoping we can capitalize on some of this elite talent while we still got them. These guys may not be long for college basketball. I NEED COLLEGE BASKETBALL BACK!!!

LUX ET VERITAS!!!

Let me convince myself this is a good move for Indiana. Thoughts on the Dane Fife dismissal.

So Dane Fife was dismissed from duty as assistant coach yesterday, and I’m sure most of us have seen the statements made. So I won’t dive into those any further. We’ve seen visible contention and frustration between Dane Fife and Mike Woodson this year. I just had no idea it was to this extent. So here’s just a few thoughts on the matter.

I’m going to first delve into some of my reservations before allowing to let my unrelenting loyalty to this program take over and convince myself this is a good thing. At the end of the day I’m just a self proclaimed fanboy who will ride with this team until the day the good Lord calls my number… heck even then, I’ll be using my totally awesome angel magic or whatever superpowers I get to help raise the Hoosiers’ shooting 5% at the least.

But on to my reservations…

This seems flippant. This seems illogical. After a long tenure as Michigan State Assistant, Dane Fife had decided to leave what looked like the heir apparent role for Tom Izzo. I was convinced this was to help Mike Woodson redefine a once storied program looking to get back to national relevancy. That’s the type of guy I personally would ride with. That’s the type of guy who will take chances and risk it for a cause he believes in, and one close to his heart.

Dane in the Knight era

I know the animosity between the two was sometimes visible, but I never thought that losing Dane was even on the radar. I for one thought that his decision to leave Tom Izzo and his ever so sweet role waiting in the wings would have bought him Mike Woodson’s loyalty for life. I thought we had the Robin to Mike Woodson’s Batman. It appears this was not the case.

If Tom Izzo held him in such high regard, he must be a great addition right?

And while this does seem like a gut punch out of the blue, I am beginning to almost delusionally sell myself on the idea that this is for the best…

For one, in his year at Indiana Dane Fife was unable to secure a single recruit. Now, I can’t speak to how difficult it may have been to get the guys that Woodson may have had Dane Fife targeting, because I’d imagine as our most recognizable assistant Woodson probably had him focused on some of the top tier guys. The same guys getting offers from programs firmly established, not programs looking to reassert themselves. So to be fair that sales pitch could be more difficult. But honestly. We need the guys who can get those guys in spite of that… we need some salesmen at assistant coach.

We need assistants who can get THE GUYS. Nothing less will get us to national prominence again. RECRUITING IS KING! In today’s NCAA you need a game changer or two that can dictate the game when it’s truly on the line. And if Mike Woodson doesn’t think Dane Fife was the guy to do it for us, we owe it to him and the program to trust the vision, until we can no longer do so.

Mike Woodson deserves the freedom to establish his network of lieutenants in the manner he sees fit. This isn’t a democracy, it’s an advised dictatorship. And honestly, that is how it has to be. In his first year, he’s got us trending upward. Give him every resource and allow him any action he needs to keep that trend elevating.

We don’t need some Head Coach-Assistant Head Coach tandem to lead us too our elusive 6th banner. I mean how many true HC-AC tandems are title winners? I’m going to say coaches are like quarterbacks, in that if you have two, you don’t have THE ONE. Yeah Dane Fife was a big name assistant, but assistants come and go, a program is defined by their leader.

Also it seems like this should weirdly be seen as a win for those among us who are convinced that we need to find “the next Bobby Knight”. This action should tell you that Mike Woodson is committed to creating a program that will be held to his standards and his expectations, under his direction and vision. So honestly in this regard this is a very “Bobby Knight” move. Being ruthless in the pursuit of athletic dominance is soooo Bobby.

On an almost totally unrelated note, while I’m starting to convince myself this is a good move, one thought that I’ve been having over the course of a few years now is I may think the answer to winning in today’s NCAA is not “the next Bobby Knight”. Sadly, I feel like the Bobby achetype may have no place in today’s NCAA landscape. It seems more and more that today’s top tier recruiting game is dictated by the carrot, not the stick. Seems more and more like the slimeball coaches are the ones finding ways to win, Calipari and Coach K being my prime examples. The priorities of these top athletes now seem more focused on “their brand” than a commitment to winning. Call me the oldest 29 year old you’ve ever heard, but they just don’t have the same priorities as they did back in the days of Bobby. So while reverting back to discipline and determination is Mike’s way, I can only hope at this point that this is the answer.

I really am hoping that all of this culminates in Mike Woodson establishing a program, nay a culture of commitment to excellence. Both on and off the court. His self imposed suspensions were my personal prime evidence of him willing to cut off a leg to stop an infection of unaccountability. Which I love. It’s Mike’s way or the highway now, for better or worse. He is looking to establish accountability at Indiana, in an age that accountability seems to be less and less of a priority for others. I will rooting for him to pull that off and I have to think I can’t be alone.

I really hope we can find the guys who will recruit with the best of them. But just lastly in regards to our breakup with Dane Fife (still always a Hoosier), I’ll ask you to ponder a quote from the oft revered thespian and cultural supericon Marilyn Monroe…

“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things could fall together.

Here’s hopin’ your right Marilyn!

LUX ET VERITAS!!!

A Love Letter to the 2021-2022 Indiana Hoosiers Basketball team.

I hope I’m not alone in truly loving this year’s Indiana Hoosiers team. Going into this season Mike Woodson was playing with house money. When Mike Woodson was handed the reigns to the program in March of 2021, he was given them with the understanding that in order to get a program back on track it may take some time and effort. A new coach is offered a position with a shot to install his gameplan with the guys he recruits to execute that gameplan. So a team made up of some of the old regimes guys can often times take time to adjust.

This team has bought in from the ground floor of Mike Woodson’s gameplan. They aren’t all truly his guys but I think we can see that they fell in line and really bought into his way. Even when there were lapses in judgement (whatever those self imposed suspensions were) he’s holding them accountable and each one of our boys has responded in kind.

This year could have been just another system transitioning year, but it’s not. And here we are at the precipice of an NCAA tournament bid. Which of course should be expected for the Blue Bloods like Indiana but newsflash to anyone who hasn’t been watching this program year after year, it hasn’t been the expected outcome in quite some time. This team is on track to something great if we can build upon a head coach transition while still competing! You don’t get new head coaches because you’re programs on a hot streak. But this year isn’t just a wasted transitioning effort and that is based on Mike Woodson’s ability to get the boys to buy in and the players ability to run with his new gameplanning and techniques in stride.

So I just wanted to write this piece to just voice my opinion that this Indiana University team deserves an applause. We will see a return to form as if this season is anything its up from last year. However this season may end I’m proud of our boys for fighting each and every game. The Big Ten’s an absolute gauntlet and these guys have taken their beatings while also making sure we are dishing more damage than we are taking. I love it!

From Race Thompson coming onto the scene to become a vital cog in our offense. Or Xavier Johnson developing in his own right to better see the game play out in front of him, rather than forcing unwarranted drives. Each member of this team is committing to his role and understands its through combined and continued effort they could do something truly special.

I had ZERO expectations for this team other than TJD to remain a standout. Other than that, not one man does a Big Ten Champion make so I was resigned to some growing pains for the 2021-2022 season. Instead I get the rush of watching my team play for a shot in the Big Dance our first round coming in the form of the pseudo-elimination game against Rutgers (with a win either team looks to seal a spot in the NCAA tournament). For this I will be forever grateful to this Indiana team. The Hoosiers playing for something in March is just the best feeling for this hopeless idiot of an IU fan.

So whoevers going to be pessimistic about this season or the 5 game losing streak needs to take a breath and get the dookie out their candy stripe pants and let’s just enjoy and appreciate what else this year may have in store. I mean the field for possible NCAA Champion almost looks to be about 68 teams with how equal the playing field seems. Get in and there’s always a shot. Cheers to Mike Woodson. And Cheers to this year’s Hoosier squad for making the more appreciative and understanding of us proud! LUX ET VERITAS!!!

On to Rutgers!

Sincerely,

This hopelessly optimistic fan boy

What’s it going to take to get into the Big Dance for Indiana?

Throughout this post will be quotes by Jerry Palm CBS sports bracketologist…

“It’s not over yet,” Palm said of IU’s tournament chances. “(When) people say that (IU won’t make it), what they’re not saying is — if they keep playing the way they are, there’s no chance of them making the tournament.””They look like they don’t know what they’re doing on defense. They have one, maybe two weapons on offense. … If they keep playing like that, they have no shot.”

Akeem Glispie, indystar.com

Now this quote is pulled prior to Indiana losing to Wisconsin. Unfortunately, that game… they still looked like absolute crap. Not getting anything done at the line and leaving every point possible on the table. It’s been a painful, painful February for any Hoosier fan. An all-too-familiar feeling that I for one, am absolutely sick of.

The Indiana Hoosiers are hot doo doo right now. And unfortunately, I don’t see us getting in with anything shy of a Big Ten Tournament Championship. It’s absolutely insane how this is all happening again. After Archie Miller already killed us with these year after year. Life as a Hoosier fan is the sweetest pain.

I’m really hoping that even a decent tournament run will get us in the field. We will also have to go ahead and win out. Even so, I have a feeling that the championship is our only ticket. To elaborate on this Akeem Glispie quoted Palm saying..

“They’re not even going to get a sniff if they’re not four games above .500,” Palm said. “Historically the committee has only taken one team in 25 years below that. And that team played the most ridiculous schedule ever.”

Akeem Glispie, indystar.com

Indiana is currently 7-8 in conference play. With some alarmingly bad losses. Such as the Northwestern loss or the Michigan whomping at home. So if Palm is to be believed, following that Wisconsin loss Indiana’s fate may be all but written.

Going into this Ohio State game on Monday. We would need to come out and beat the heck out of them. I mean really put it on them, and the rest of our opponents if we are to even stand a chance. There’s always hope. The one thing Indiana has going for them is the money and viewership that follows them. I know it’s corrupt and broke but I will take each advantage that I can get with the sorrowful situation we find ourselves in. We’ll let’s buckle up for a wild ride to the end, because as is the case with any other Indiana Hoosiers season in recent years, it may be a tough one.

On the brightside, I am excited to see Mike Woodson get the guys hes been recruiting. Guys he can see thriving in Indiana. We gotta give the man a chance to field a team of HIS players before we can pass judgment on how Mike Woodson’s been coaching this season. I imagine he’s going out and finding guys that fit his system and not just the top dogs. I love it and I will still go to the mat for Coach Mike.

Indiana loses a Heartbreaker to Wisconsin. There goes the Big Dance…

Going into this game. Mike Woodson had to be feeling some pressure. I mean these aren’t trul HIS guys. By that I just mean he didn’t really recruit anyone other than our transfers and I will add keeping Trayce Jackson-Davis to that, because as far as I’m concerned he had to recruit him to IU from the NBA draft. Even though these aren’t really HIS guys Mike Woodson came into this game seeking to keep this year from looking straight out of the Archie Miller era. Get everyone’s hopes up in December. Play like crap and tank any shot at the tournament come February. Mike Woodson needed this win to prove to Hoosier Nation and the Indiana boosters that he is going to be changing this program right out of the gate. And what did we just witness…

Not. That.

Devastating. Absolutely devastating. Last night, Wisconsin beat Indiana 72-69. In what was a dramatic game coming down right to the last minute. Indiana got beat in the Holy Cathedral of Basketball that is Assembly Hall. At one point in this game Indiana missed 8 of 13 layups. That with any missed free throws is unacceptable. Indiana seems to leave points on the table as often as a team can sometimes.

What a heartbreaking turn of events. This season looks poised to end just like the last few seasons. In disappointment. God forbid they hole the NCAA tournament in the middle of the season. If that were the case we’d be March Madness mainstays. Our first half of the season and the second always look like it would have to be two entirely different teams playing them.

The annual tailspin is full speed ahead right now, and you know what really sucks… It doesn’t even bother me like it used to. This Indiana team has gotten me used to getting my hopes up only to fall. I’m basically a master at coping following losses like this at this point. So sad.

I mean Indiana has dropped the ball so often that coping with this exact situation is almost learned behavior at this point. I don’t see anyway Indiana turns this around and gets a bid in the tournament barring a miraculous run in the Big Ten Tournament.

This post was far less a recap of the game and more so a rant on the state of Indiana Basketball so I apologize.

-Burke

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