Final Statements, Mike Woodson needs to back Xavier Johnson in this moment (optics people. optics.) Short thoughts.

I posted why I thought Xavier Johnson should be held to a 5 game suspension in order to reconcile (hardly) for the charges brought against him, barring any further ramifications. I read many of the comments and the discussions across a few platforms and just wanted to elaborate a bit on what there is to lose from a potential dismissal.

I know the arrest of Xavier has been the subject of our discourse for the last few days, I just really want to alleviate, even a little, those calling for a Xavier Johnson’s dismissal from the program that is so dear to so many of us. I want to make make the case that whatever you may think, if this ship can be steered in the right direction, Mike Woodson stands to gain a significant feather in his coaching and recruiting cap.

Many of those calling for his head, point to the stupidity of the actions that Xavier made the night of his arrest. And I am not here to defend those actions as they are just that, stupidity incarnate. The dumb decisions of a truly unappreciative individual. The actions made by Xavier Johnson were incredibly air headed and dangerous.

But for the betterment of the Program, I say those in power to do so have to aid Xavier in rehabbing his situation and his character altogether. Mike Woodson can’t simply turn his back on a guy that chose to come and contribute to Indiana Basketball. Yes, I get that he doesn’t have the perspective to truly appreciate the situation he finds himself in. But where better to instill that in him than Indiana University?

Being a starter for Indiana University, heck as a player at all, is a role that kids dream of, that many of us taking the time to read about Indiana Basketball and consume it religiously would have killed for. A role that Xavier Johnson has truly, undoubtedly, and absolutely taken for granted. While that alone can piss any of the Hoosier Faithful off to no end, for the sake of the Program we need to look for anyway to make this story have a happy ending.

I’ve seen many people arguing that they would never do this. While I get the reasoning, its a fairly narrowminded way to frame this situation. We don’t know Xavier Johnson’s upbringing. While some may have had parents and a network coming up that instilled core beliefs of discipline and proper societal decorum, we can not speak to the upbringing of others. We can not speak to his life experience. This man needs personal accountability. And ultimately maybe it will take losing everything for him to appreciate anything, but I really hope we can exercise our options before calling for Xavier to be booted out the door.

IF ONLY FOR RECRUITMENTS SAKE!!!

In the days of some people backing Juwan Howard’s actions as defending his team, optics are everything. When times get tough the recruits around the nation want to play for a guy that will go to the mat for them. And while this is for better or worse, it is what it is in today’s recruiting game. We need to adapt or continue to live in our stagnant state. Hoping to get back to the Indiana days of old is becoming more and more a pipe dream in the ever evolving days of the NIL and more and more extensive recruiting. The top tier athletes are pampered because they’ve been hearing they’re the best all their lives. Because for most of them it is true. This is just the nature of the beast now. The carrot beats the stick on the recruitment trail these days. If we want the best, we need to play the game. Rehabbing Xavier’s character and perspective will greatly aid Mike Woodson in the frontier that is recruiting today.

What presents a better image and representation of Indiana University, kicking him out the door, or proving to others that you leave Indiana University a better person than you arrived?

All this being said, we don’t even know he’s cleared the justice system yet. So by God, who knows…

LUX ET VERITAS…

Your “Blind Faith Boost” before Indiana takes on Wyoming.

“‘Cuz you gotta have faith. Faith. Uh Faithah!!!” -George Michael’

-Trayce Jackson-Davis

Alright folks. I just wanted to go ahead and send this post out, hoping to get anybody a little confidence and good vibe boost before we start our March Madness campaign. I do believe in the power of collective thought. So selfishly I am going to post this to attempt to aid the Hoosiers however I can for their First Four game tomorrow against the Wyoming Cowboys.

No put downs, just gas ups here. The time to be critical is over for us Hoosier fans. This is the team we got. Time to flip the switch to Rabid, unrelenting, unflinching support. There’s no room on this wagon for anything else if we want our boys to play up to their potential. No room for negative thoughts now that we are in. It’s anyone’s title to win with this year. Just had to get in and we did.

If any of you have read any of my previous posts here you’ll know I am dropping quotes on the regular and I have just a few to mull over for ya.

Saint Augustine, the 4th century theologian and philosopher once spoke of faith. “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” Now I’m sure he was speaking on faith in God. But I think that quote speaks to faith and belief in general. I mean it’s the old “whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re usually right” just worded more poetically. But the quote rings true. The craziest thing is our faith should come even easier than that as WE HAVE SEEN what this team can do when firing on all cylinders! So have faith Hoosier Nation!

Renowned architect, and undercover Indiana fan Frank Lloyd Wright had this to say about belief, “The thing always happens that you really believe in, and the belief in a thing makes it happen“. Not quite as eloquent as St. Gus up top but nonetheless on the nose. No great deed has been done in this world without first imagining the victorious and beneficial outcome. The drawbacks and potential loss are always the second thought. No need for that second thought heading into this tournament. Let’s just have faith these boys leave it all our there and that we’ll be able to respond to adversity in the face of opposing runs.

Lastly, it was the 20th century poet and bard Billy Idol that said, “Well there’s nothing to lose And there’s nothing to prove… I’ll be dancing with myself.” That’s just it. We have nothing to lose people. Mike Woodson got us to the tournament and in doing so solidified this season as an uptick in our trajectory. His first year he improved us, when I expected a down year rife with growing pains. We have nothing to lose this year. No expectations for Final Fours. As far as “nothing to prove” goes… We’ve already proved what needed to be proven this year, and that was program growth and improvement. So let’s just get out there and and keep on dancin’ through this tourney!

I have faith in this program. But I also have faith in us! The fans. Indiana fans are unlike any other. The single most basketball obsessed, rabid and educated fan base out there in my book. Indiana fans travel like a wave of Ghenghis Khan’s hoarde, with the manner in which we invade arenas! Our fans are always an x factor in neutral sites. Because we show up for the Hoosiers even when there’s nothing of circumstance on the line. Just a clear cut above the rest!

I would not want to play Indiana in this tournament. Our ceiling is non existant in my mind, because this team has yet to hit it and we are still here. We just need the boys to be feeling their best!  An Indiana team operating at ALL SYSTEMS GO can not be beat this year! I have faith that it can happen. That’s all I really got, but I’ll give it all to the boys in Crimson!

Let’s take this one game at a time. Let’s all support this squad with all we’ve got because these boys deserve it. They’ve been beaten and battered learning a new system in the gauntlet of juggernauts that is the Big Ten regular season, and are now tougher for it. The strongest swords are forged in the hottest of fires, and I don’t know of any fire hotter than the Big Ten.

To any and all making the trip to Dayton for the game. Bring the ruckus, pump up our boys, and the rest of us will be sending the positive vibes from afar. Godspeed.

Indiana’s Blind Faith Apostle,

Burke

LUX ET VERITAS!!

THERE IS NO RIDE LIKE COLLEGE BASKETBALL! (Hoosiers Big Ten Tournament Pt. 2 of 5)

This is why we do this to ourselves. That feeling we have right now. This is why we are glued to our seats each and every single game. Because the lows of college basketball, make highs like this so much sweeter. I could not believe what I was witnessing… I just saw Indiana make a 28 to 4 run to close out what appears to be a tournament bid solidifier. Writing that after watching the course of this season is almost unbelievable. I say “almost” because there were hints of THIS squad sprinkled earlier in the season.

Early 19th Century writer William Hazlitt once said, “If you think you can win, you can win. Faith is necessary to victory”. And I believe that quote rings true throughout the Hoosier’s response to Michigan’s first half ravaging. The guys came out of halftime with the faith that they were not out of it. I’ll be the first among us to admit I was resigned to defeat by halftime. Who could blame me? I am just so glad our Hoosiers did not fall into that mindset at all. We saw a team with faith in each other, come out and fought their way back into the NCAA tournament in that second half! The craziest thing is you can see their faith and confidence just snowball out of control. It was truly special to witness. The Indiana team in that second half, was no team I’ve watched this year. They played with confidence. The shots weren’t taken in fear, as so many appear to have been in our prior 8 games or so.

Tjd had a gre….. sorry.

TJD!!!!!!! was a man possessed in that 2nd half. That is what he is capable of when playing at his most confident, and trusting that his guys will open the floor just enough for him to mess up the paint! 19 second half points while holding Hunter Dickinson to 2 points in the second half. Trayce has this in him. I just hope to God he realized it this game and can carry this confidence into Illinois.

That was fun basketball to watch, and the guys looked like they were legitimately enjoying their time on the court for the first time in who knows how long. Shooting is contagious, confidence is contagious, and playing with an edge is contagious. I honestly am picking my brain for a different word, but the only word I can really use to describe the x factor of that second half is “swagger”. Our Hoosiers looked to be carrying themselves like a new group of men out there. The boys got on a run, built their confidence and started believing in themselves. The swagger was a product of that and I am here for it.

Geronimo with the +22 while giving Race the rest he needs is the stuff March legends are made of.

We needed this one against Michigan folks. With a shot to play for the NCAA tournament still a very real possibility, Indiana had to do everything in its power to will out a win after the crushing blow that was that 2 point Purdue loss. And after a crushing first half, mental toughness and self confidence prevailed. I’m proud of our team for this one.

But alas… we’ve got a big one ahead of us! Illinois is the 1 seed for a reason, they are a powerful team this year. But the team I just saw come out at the half was a collection of world beaters. After watching what may be the most emotionally exhausting season of Indiana Basketball I can remember, I am confident that this can carry over into the next. Meaning Indiana will be getting hot at the most important time to. March. While the evidence to the contrary is apparent through our season I will say there is a difference. Indiana didn’t just steal a game back in the second half. They came out and dictated it. Dictated the game in a manner that has yet to be seen this season. I am so glad this game is the very next day. Doesn’t give the guys time to get in their own heads and thus get in their own way. Don’t think, just trust. Trust your game, trust your brothers’ games, and trust that the Hoosiers can be absolutely dominant.

On to Illinois!!!!

LUX ET VERITAS!!!!

-pt 1 of 4: https://flyoverwire.com/2022/03/09/your-indiana-hoosiers-vs-michigan-wolverines-primer-big-ten-tournament-pt-1-of-4/

Had to digest that one for a while. Here are some thoughts after that Purdue loss.

Alright. I think I gave myself sufficient time to digest that loss. What a ride. An absolute battle between 2 staples of college basketball. I don’t write on stats so much as I do the eye test and emotion, but want to know an absolutely bananas stat? In all-time win percentage Indiana (2,945 games played) is at .635 and Purdue(2,898) is at .634. While we may potentially be two ships passing in the night. I truly believe this team is on the precipice of widening that .001 gap in the coming seasons.

Indiana fought hard. And while the loss was absolutely defeating and emotionally draining. No Indiana fan should look back on this year and see it as a failure. You know what Archie was never able to do? Win against Purdue. Mike Woodson’s first season. He is one possession from winning 2 matchups against them this season. We are trending up and that needs to be remembered. And Mike showing Purdue that things are different in his first year is a promising start to his tenure back where he belongs.

This is the reason Purdue was out for blood friday, and we still nearly stole it from them. If it wasn’t for Stajochskwfictiistz, or whatever the heck, making some ball(d)er shots. We would have went into “Mt. Mackey” and stole one.

The game yesterday was a heartbreaker… while simultaneously being a heart bearer. I don’t care what you think about Xavier Johnson’s game. If you think he forces it. Speeds up his game to much. Whatever… That guy is all-Indiana in my book. I’ve never seen someone want it so bad. The ferocity he played with is exhibit A on why I will I will go to the mat with XJ trash talkers any day all day.

I mean expecting him to ball out like a 5 star is unfair. But the tools he got he is going to utilize to the umpteenth degree to try to will Indiana to the W in a given game. His skills may not be Yogi-esque but his willingness to fight for this squad most certainly is. So crazy that a transfer can cement himself so firmly in the hearts of us who actually sit down and watch his effort for the course of 40 minutes.

He took bad shots. Yeah. But what was the man supposed to do? No one. And I mean no one else was looking to get one off. So he went full thanos.

And like thanos he ultimately came up short. He didn’t rely on his team. Because he really couldn’t. Nobody wanted to miss shots, so nobody wanted to take shots.

I know we are all licking our wounds from that loss. But we must cut the fat from this one, see what we can salvage and get to building on next season. The shooting is coming folks. The boys didn’t have their second half flat start this game. So there’s a plus.

Also we didn’t let Zach Edey absolutely dictate the paint. Our undersized guys stood tough. Even though Edey made Trace Jackson-Davis look like a high schooler in size on him. Now Mike can go get some of his guys. A few guys to matchup specifically for larger front courts that we will consistently face in the Big Ten, will go a long way in solidifying a contender.

And just a sidebar in case you weren’t aware, Purdue still very much has a little brother complex with Indiana University. I can speak for that by how insufferable my own traitor of a little brother (current Purdue student, even though he grew up rooting for our boys) was blowing me up. They love to see us lose, because they haven’t done anything of significance since integration.

Purdue’s last National Champions (named retroactively). I can’t speak to whether or not the crossover was even invented yet.

All this being said. Our dreams for banner 6 are not dashed yet. Win the Big Ten Tournament and we are in. While the highest seed to ever win the tournament was Michigan at the 8 seed in 2017, Indiana could be the first 9 seed. Now I understand how unlikely this is. But hey, why not us? Why can’t our boys come out like men on fire and secure the tournament bid? I mean we play the games for a reason people. If we truly find a way to shake off the second half slow starts, there isn’t really a team this year we couldn’t contend with. The big ten is a bunch of good teams beating up on eachother. For that reason I’m going to take our fighters chance and absolutely wear my heart on my sleeve this week! Lets put on a show and sneak into the party!

Don’t worry little brother, we’ll be back, and we’ll be out for blood. We just won’t make such a big deal out of it when we get back to fully expecting to whoop some boiler butt. We know how to act like we’ve been there before because well… we have.

On to dismantling the Big Ten this week,

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

Xavier Johnson everybody!!! Indiana at Minnesota recap

Going into this one Indiana was in desperate need to follow up the 5 game losing streak snapping victory over Maryland. Indiana University had to come out swinging if it didn’t want to backslide right back into the lows that were so apparent throughout that epic February losing streak. I mean no hyperbole whatsoever when I say this was a must win. Indiana is without a doubt on the fence come selection Sunday, and can not afford to put anything other than the hits out.

And the boys did not disappoint!!!

IU came out with their second win in a row. And what a game it was for Xavier Johnson! Xavier dropped 24 as he led the Hoosiers to victory in this one. Let me really lay out for you what Xavier Johnson’s been up to… In the last two games Xavier Johnson has racked up 48 points 14 assists, and 7 boards. All of this against 4 turnovers committed. What a pair of games!! He is also 7 for 9 from the 3 point arc. Xavier is stepping up like only a few Hoosiers ever have! Xavier Johnson continues to carve out his own area of my Hoosier fan heart. His game has been outstanding and he deserves all the praise heading his way!

That was a fun game to watch on our end. The Hoosiers were absolutely draining them from beyond the arc yesterday. As a team the Hoosiers shot 10 of 21 from 3 point range. If your team is sinking them, you’re going to have a good time. This hot handed Hoosier team must keep rolling, and building on this momentum if we are going to bring this absolutely necessary shooting to compete in March.

What a strange second half of two one sided acts. After going on a 30-10 run to begin the second half. They closed it out by letting up a 36-14 run by the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Honestly, the game was still very much in contention until who else but Xavier Johnson sank the dagger free throws to close it out. Never not stressful watching the Hoosiers play ball for me.

These last 2 games were must wins. Looking to what’s left, I believe that Indiana gets in if they win 1 of the remaining 2 games. We still have Rutgers at home and then… at Purdue to close out the season. Both very good teams. I believe, should the Hoosiers pull one of those two out, they will be dancing.

Here’s to Xavier Johnson and our boys for stopping the bleeding and salvaging something from this season.

On to Rutgers!

Team need a drastic shift in momentum? How about some new uniforms! Indiana Hoosiers vs. Maryland postgame

MIKE WOODSON IS PLAYING 4D CHESS FOLKS!!!! Need a drastic shift in your teams emotional direction… NEW UNIFORMS BABY! Worked for the Mighty Ducks against Iceland, worked for the Indiana Hoosiers last night. These black history month inspired uniforms are an absolute thing of beauty. I’ve got to get one. The peonies (Indiana’s state flower) are an awesome addition to an ephemerally classic design.

Hoosiers ball together!!!!

Banner 6 is back on TRACK BABAY!!!! God, the month of February has made me forget why I love college basketball, hell, WHY I LOVE SPORTS!!! I didn’t play a single second in this game, but I slept the best I have all month after that one. The joy I feel in this moment is why I do this to myself. Can’t appreciate the highest of highs until you’ve experienced the lowest of lows. And yes, I get it was Maryland at home, but it snapped our monumental losing streak, so I’m going to appreciate the heck out of it.

I’m going to be honest with you, about 3/4 through this game I was pretty convinced that the Hoosiers would find a way to screw this one up. Thank God they didn’t!

The Indiana Hoosiers played well yesterday, headed by Race Thompson with 19 points. Race has become an absolutely essential piece to this team. His game gets better each day and it’s awesome to see! It was an absolute block party in Bloomington while the Hoosiers tallied 6 total blocks. Race and Trayce dominated in the front court and this aided in propelling the Hoosiers to their first win in six games.

Xavier Johnson balled out. The stat line is impressive in its own right dropping 24 points and dishing out 6 assists as well. But watching, you saw a senior that was facilitating like a master composer at times. He really was a floor general in this one.

So let’s give it up for the boys. They earned the win last night and the Hoosiers are officially out of a monumental backslide. That being said, these next 3 games are Indiana’s last chance to make some noise with some good, and solid wins. Need to be heading into March with all guns blazing. This is absolutely a step in the right direction, but we can not regress to the mindset or whatever it was that led to this epic downfall in February.

Here on out we got @Minnesota, vs. Rutgers, @ Purdue. This is where we circle the wagons and make our last strong stand. Those last two games are going to be drag out battles. Minnesota, while no slouch, does not present nearly the threat the other two teams do. I’m hoping winning 2 of these 3 will be enough to secure Indiana a bid in the NCAA tournament. If we can win out, especially with that last win in West Lafayette, Indiana would have to be in.

Dear God, please no NIT.

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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