The way too early pre-season rankings mean nothing really, but slight evidence that the Indiana Hoosiers are righting this ship. Short thoughts.

Well there’s a little faith booster for you. While these ultimately mean nothing, it means we are on the radar. CBS writer Gary Parrish said on the Hoosiers in his 19th spot, “The Hoosiers’ ranking is based on Indiana returning the top three scorers from a team that made the NCAA Tournament – among them Trayce Jackson-Davis, who could be a candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year. Indiana’s recruiting class is ranked in the top 20 and highlighted by 5-star guard Jalen Hood-Schifino”.

ESPN staff writer Jeff Borzello ranked the Hoosiers 21st saying, “Trayce Jackson-Davis falls into the same category as Cockburn, Dickinson and the UNC and UCLA players — not projected to be drafted in 2022 at this point but could certainly opt to leave. If Mike Woodson does get Jackson-Davis back, however, Indiana will return most of the core that got the Hoosiers back to the NCAA tournament. Miller Kopp was the only senior, and he appears likely to return for another year. Xavier Johnson and Race Thompson are back in the starting lineup, and Woodson had other options in Trey GallowayJordan Geronimo and Tamar BatesJalen Hood-Schifino is a top-25 recruit, and I’m very high on fellow incoming freshman Kaleb Banks.”

While ultimately, these “far too early” preseason top 25s mean less and less now the the transfer portals come to be more active than any professional free agency, but Indiana fans should see this as a great validation in our reasserting of the Indiana University basketball program. The Hoosiers under Mike Woodson in their first year have established a trend upward in national prominence. While our end may have ended in an objectively terrible fashion, however you may try to defend what the game against St. Mary’s was (tired, overworked, etc), our team’s season was still a success. We know the ultimate success is a national championship but it doesn’t happen overnight and having made the tournament is a genuine success for any coach in his 1st year following a firing of the prior head coach.

We are on the national radar. And that is the first step back to prominence. We need to be in the discussion to go and get the guys that will absolutely cement us as one of the top programs in the nation. By finding ourselves ranked in the preseason (albeit these will shift drastically with the transfer portal) it’s fair to say many will have their eyes on the Hoosiers, most rooting for us to fail, but nonetheless watching us. Getting into the mix is a step in the right direction for a program that lacked direction under Miller’s tenure.

After the ephemeral drought that was the Archie Miller era. Mike Woodson has immediately started steering this ship in the right direction. Say what you will about all these transfers. But that is just the nature of the beast now, and I genuinely believe that both Indiana University and the guys leaving mutually benefit from the breakups. All the guys leaving are not irreplaceable and we also can free up room for the needs of our team that truly need addressed. Least of which are shooting and a larger presence in the paint.

And again, these rankings don’t mean a thing. But it can lend insight into the thoughts of the nation in general and often manipulate thinking of the people reading these rankings. Just glad to be on them and be a topic of discussion and observation for fans outside our fine state.

Also…

Purdue finds themselves behind us among all of these pre season rankings, and I’ve got to say I’m not surprised… Ivey’s gone. Painter’s a proven dud, and that loss to St. Peters, whatever you think about that team, was the type of loss that leaves a shadow, a stink on your program for a few years to follow. Not good Matt… not good.

How inept do you have to be not to exploit this matchup nightmare? They don’t come up to the Big Man’s shoulders.

While the transfer portal could have these shifting by the hour, we currently sit higher than little brother. After all of the frustration from Xavier Johnson’s latest actions, it is nice to get a win. As small and meaningless as it is, the nation thinking we are going into next season better off than Purdue has me feeling just a minuscule amount better. And I’ll take it!

We comin’ for your job next year Matt.

LUX ET VERITAS!!!

“The Honorable Judge Mike Woodson” (Thoughts on the Xavier Johnson charges and how this could be handled).

So I’m sure everyone has read the news being spread around regarding Xavier Johnson’s arrest… and boy it does not sound great. If you haven’t heard the details here’s a solid, to the point explanation. I don’t feel like really retreading the details here. While Xavier was included in those previous “curfew violations” that resulted in self imposed suspensions for those players involved, this one is far more serious. Whatever those previous curfew violations entailed of, I can’t imagine that they were potentially so dangerous.

Driving 90 down Walnut Ave. for anyone unfamiliar with Bloomington, IN is an absolutely bananas move. This should result in some games missed for the Hoosier guard, that much of our success may hinge on next year. While I know we have some serious guards coming into the program next year, we will still need Xavier’s game to develop so he can contribute at a high level if our team wants to build on this year. Such an absolutely terrible look for Xavier Johnson. I am just so happy for this young man that he hadn’t been drinking prior to his flight from police.

It’s inexcusable but I am going to cut him some slack. While extremely dangerous and stupid, in such a pedestrian and bicyclist community like that area of Bloomington is, this behavior is truly reprehensible. But we need to remember that while these guys are top of their level athletes, they are still relative children. They are still learning how to conduct themselves and operate within the “real world”. They are superstar celebrities in this world. Especially in Bloomington. I’m self conscious as it is. I couldn’t imagine being ogled everywhere they go around Bloomington, as they are.

It’s moments like this that can either be the worst or the best moment in a young man’s life. For Xavier Johnson, the challenge isn’t defending your actions. The challenge is addressing the issue and finding out how you conduct yourself from this moment on. This needs to be a learning opportunity for a boy to realize what it takes to be a man and not a menace. Ruining a young man’s life is no way for this story to end. Xavier needs the opportunity to rebound from this. And hopefully even look to commit harder to his game so as to avoid the more destructive distractions that may present themselves from time to time.

For this reason I really hope that no heavier toned facts come out. Because at this current stage I believe this is repairable. No one was hurt. While people possibly could have been, thank the Lord above that no one was injured during the course of these events!

All that being said think about the Good Book itself, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone” John 8:7. Especially some of us kids in Bloomington for our college years. I’ll be the first to say while I never endangered others so drastically I still am not without fault. Kids learn from their mistakes, you just hope none of their mistakes are irredeemable. For this reason I hope Mike Woodson seeks to use this as an opportunity to show mercy and investment in these boys rather than just wield a strict hammer of discipline to make an example out of him on the exact opposite end of the spectrum. I think Mike Woodson’s handling of this situation and Xavier Johnson’s next season could speak volumes to recruits one way or another. Show these guys that we don’t give up on the boys who choose to throw on the Cream and Crimson and show them that we are invested in making these sometimes naive boys, great men.

On a separare note, sadly for Xavier Johnson the big ten is home to some of the most passionate and educated fans and home court advantages there are. And unfortunately this will be brought up each time he goes to the line this year. Every stadium he goes into chanting some b.s. about this crime, it’s not going to be fun for him. I hope that he can persevere and find a sense of peace, maybe this will aid his game on the court, slow down his own mind and maybe he will slow down his game a bit. I believe that Xavier Johnson could be an Indiana great if he were able to slow down and let the game come to him. Maybe a long reflection is exactly what the doctor ordered.

I would have to hope that we will make him sit 4 or 6 of the first games of the season. Following that, let him get back at it. We need the development of Xavier Johnson to continue to contend. Let’s not give up on this one!

LUX ET VERITAS!

Why you should not be concerned about the Indiana Hoosiers entering the often feared Transfer Portal.

Everyone who sees the four most recent players to enter the transfer portal, you need to think about the circumstances pertaining to each players future, and just what the transfer portal stands to be in the age of the NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) agreement. So I’m going to write this in order to talk the less rational off the ledge and to put some minds at ease.

In 100 years when people look back on the history of NCAA Basketball, I honestly believe that the history will be divided and discussed in terms as two different eras, the pre-NIL era and NIL era. The ability to capitalize financially on your brand has established an unprecedented and monumental shift in the landscape of college athletics.

You know who can’t make a cent of the millions upon millions of dollars to be made by student athletes now? Athletes with dwindling play time. Many people think that the NIL agreement would mean the top schools with the largest fanbases will get the largest name recruits. Which will be the case. But think about the 8th, 9th, 10th, or 11th guy on a squad. You honestly stand to make more money on endorsements by being the 1st or 2nd top billed guy within a mid level fanbase. So for all the athletes out there who realize that the NBA doesn’t seem like a valid possibility, it’s time to go out and make the money and find opportunity while you can. And none of these athletes should be demonized for it.

This is the new normal folks. Guys who see more earning potential for themselves elsewhere are going to be going into the portal. The 2nd guy on a mid major probably stands to make more in the age of NIL than the 8th or 9th guy at a power 5 conference. College town businesses will look to make deals with them far more often.

And just to express my speculation as to the reasoning, let’s just take a look at the 4 who have decided to test the waters of the portal this year, and where each of them currently stands within the program.

Rob Phinisee, while making a huge and iconic shot in Assembly Hall, his prospect for many minutes next year doesn’t look too promising. With the guys we’ve got coming in, I’ve got to believe that he sees the writing on the wall. The duties of bringing up the ball look on track to be split between Xavier Johnson and Jalen Hood-Schifino, whose size at 6-5 and his .998 247sports recruiting score looks to put him on pace to be the major catalyst of our offense next year. It looks like Rob will be playing even less minutes next year if he decides to come back to Indiana.

Khristian Lander, while I am sorry that Lander’s tenure as a Hoosier was most unremarkable, Mike Woodson has stated that he simply can not put such a defensive liability on the floor. If Mike Woodson’s program identity is going to be based on a lock down defense, I just don’t see him trusting Lander. And I’m sure Lander knows this. I am sorry that he didn’t develop more here in Bloomington. But if he isn’t gelling well with Mike Woodson’s game plan, he simply will not do. And if he finds success elsewhere, good for him. I hope he does find a welcoming home.

Parker Stewart, thank you for your efforts this season. I think that Mike Woodson knows shooting needs addressed and that means the team may look vastly different next year with who we could potentially get within the transfer portal. I think Parker Stewart sees an opportunity to play elsewhere to profit financially, honestly maybe even potentially play overseas and earn some coin. Could you blame him? The guy already has his Masters degree. Let him go elsewhere. I’m sure he may be ready to head out anyway. And good for him.

And Michael Durr. I appreciate the efforts, for better or worse. I wish you all the best. Don’t mind getting another scholarship in the chamber. Hope he finds a place that best serves him.

This is the future. The wild west of the NIL era. No rules. Just right. This is going to happen, guys are going to transfer. It’s happening elsewhere too. Don’t you worry. All of this transfer movement is for good reason, there are better things to fall in their place. Here’s to these guys finding better opportunities and here to whoever we decide to go after within the portal now.

In the words of John F. Kennedy, “We stand today on the edge of a new frontier”. While he was talking about the 1960’s I think his words speak true about the NIL. Now’s the time to test this thing. To go out and win in the new era.

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!!!

Your Indiana Hoosiers vs. St. Mary’s Gaels Primer / Blind Faith Boost!

Here we are. Round 1 officially… Following the First Four victory I was high on life. While the game against Wyoming was at some points painful to watch, we pulled out the win. And I will take ugly wins each and every day! Hey, so long as we can bring the opposition down to our game tempo and rhythm we will be just fine. This team is no stranger to adversity, so now is the time to weaponize that familiarity to low scoring yet still competitive tempo and gameplay. I mean we’ve seen our play drop at points over the course of the season. So, I feel like the Hoosiers had to have learned a thing or two to address these situations. And, while the First Four was close, I believe we addressed it. There were points I thought Maldonado may get hot but our boys were able to sever that before it got rolling each time! That’s growth people. But hey, that games behind us, time to press forward and go get the win over the Gaels of St. Mary’s College

St. Mary’s Primer

Listen, we know they play in Gonzaga’s conference. But what an absolute joke of a conference! The Hoosiers have been able to hold their opposition to 65.7ppg (58th across college basketball) in a conference of consisting of legitimate powerhouses of collegiate athletics. St. Mary’s held the opposition to a respectable 60.5 ppg. I say respectable because while that is the spot for 12th fewest across college basketball, THEY PLAY IN THE WEST COAST CONFERENCE!!!! While we were getting beaten and battered by the gauntlet of the Big Ten, St. Mary’s was beating up on schools like San Diego and Portland. So if there is an advantage to playing in that league, it is lesser skilled opponents may take less out of you over the course of your season. But I don’t resign to this. They had competed with Wisconsin and actually beat Notre Dame early in the season, but what does that mean in March? Jack squat. Teams can be entirely different entities by March. Look no further than the Hoosiers for that. We started the season hot, but settled into where we are currently. St. Mary’s has been playing very well, but ultimately against who?!

Many can say that IU is playing ugly basketball, but I say it does not matter if we can drag you down into playing that same basketball. Just did it to Wyoming. While some may attempt to battle us in slower, physical, iso, backdown play. You can try to adopt that play style, our boys were born into it, it seems.

The Gaels’ are extremely well balanced. Their leading scorer, 6-10 senior Matthias Tass, averages 12.6 points a game. Each member of their offense contributes though with no one being left off of the box score for them. But the only problem with matching up against us, is our defensive liabilities are few and far between. We never even really had to transition to a single double team against Wyoming’s “stellar big men”.

St. Marys can shoot the basketball. Which means we can not be cutting under the picks in this game. The second we give them an opening it’s daggers. Daggers that could spell a heartbreaking momentum shift. Our boys will need to be playing tight man throughout. I have full confidence in our boys to do just that. I see a lot of venom for Parker Stewart out there. But that guy has got some clamps. Needs to cut down on just some poor decisions on overcommitting on defense, but nonetheless he is giving it his all and can guard any 2 or 3 we may need him to.

I say we ride the hot hands and look for Xavier to get the ball to 2 guys, Trayce and Geronimo. Let’s hop on this wagon, currently being driven by Trayce with Geronimo riding shotgun, and ride them as far as they will take us.

Blind Faith Booster

For this Blind Faith Booster I would like to shortly discuss the words of one of the GOATs, a true champion, Muhammed Ali (ever heard of him?).

Muhammed Ali spoke about belief in oneself when he said, “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.

Words from a true legend to ponder heading into our bout against St. Mary’s. We all gotta believe it will happen tonight Hoosier Nation. You’d be amazed at the power of wishful thinking. Nothing in life is won without first imagining the manner in which it can possibly be won! No time for critiquing (after I had critiqued a bit earlier, I know). Our lads need our utmost support. They need to get out of this stretched out funk of limited shooting, and I think we can aid our guys in that endeavor through our support and appreciation. No doubt. No pessimism. Just optimistic unyielding, unbending, and unbreaking support.

LUX ET VERITAS!!!!

HOOSIERS COLLECT THEIR BOUNTY AND BEAT THE COWBOYS!!! WE ARE ON TO THE NEXT ONE!!!

LET’S GO Hoosiers!!!!!

Quick first half recap. Slow start lead to a defensive battle to start this one. Seemed like neither side could buy a bucket. Our defense is dominant and was the key to the first half score ending 30-25. Neither team seemed to want to make a shot, but dang both sides were playing tough as nails. Thank your higher power that Maldonado didn’t want to play on the floor, but rather in the air. His turnovers and play in the first were pivotal in that first half. Missed layups and free throws abound. But nonetheless we got out of the first half with the 5 point lead.

2nd half finally started to pick up. Ike started to pick up his game for Wyoming. The game definitely built a bit of momentum and our boys picked it up right in step. Causing 17 turnovers through only 32 minutes, tying Wyoming’s season high. That would be broken shortly after that point. The game picked up significantly while both teams seemed to piecemeal some semblance of a rhythm together. But even then the defense remained stout as the score ended 66-58.

Trayce put on a clinic. His game is something else to watch. He lacks size on pretty much every man he’s guarding and yet he makes big men actually terrified at the rim! Guys with 4 inches on him are afraid to get stuffed at the rim. His game is also smooth as a baby’s bottom. He makes that post up teardrop look easy. For anyone watching only the Hoosiers all year you may think it is easy, when it most certainly is not. That’s just the level of game Trayce is dishing out each game.

Geronimo is the GARBAGE MAN!!!! Picking up and putting back the trash at the rim! What a huge game from him. When he was a possible scratch with injury. I thought that would be a loss. I just had NNNNNOOOOOOO IDEA just how big of a loss it would have been. Man… we NEEDED HIM in this one, and he delivered 10 fold passed expectations against Wyoming. Give him this next off-season of training in Bloomington, Geronimo is going to be a scary matchup for anyone in the Big Ten! GERONIMO WAS THIS GAME’S X-FACTOR. While Trayce remained as reliable as ever it was absolutely paramount that Indiana had another contributer to act as any sort of fuel for our game. I mean he seemed to be the only one sinking anything at one point. What an absolute stud. No critiques from this guy… only unrelenting appreciation!

Shout out to the Hoosier faithful in the arena today. You were doing the Lord’s work! That arena was ruckus with the cream and crimson blooded. Your presence had to be felt in that arena I’m sure. It was felt through the TruTV(whhhhyyyy are they still trying to shove that channel down our throats), so I know it had to be quite audible in Dayton.

Only minor critique was the lineup on the floor at when Durr was bumbling around a bit. That was rough. I don’t want to get into it too much while trying to only send out the most positive of vibes to Indiana’s tournament run. But let’s just take a note of that and learn from it moving forward.

So proud of these boys for sticking in the fight. It wasn’t the prettiest fight, but man if they weren’t willing to get as gritty with it as it took! Huge day for the boys! Huge day for Hoosier Nation. Nothing but good vibes to follow! We are playing with house money. Surpassed all our expectations for a growing season with new leadership already. Nothing to lose. And there is nothing more dangerous than men with nothing to lose!

So now we face St. MARYS! The ultimate game of “what’s your mascot?”. They are a good squad. Indiana is going to have to address these free throws being thrown away if they want to beat them.

Also in case you were wondering a Gael is a person originating from Gaelic cultures. A little knowledge for you. Know thy enemy and what not.

All in all, I think the 21st century mogul and poet Jay-Z can some up my current mindset.

On to the next one!!!!”

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/

Your Indiana Hoosiers vs. Michigan Wolverines Primer (Big Ten Tournament Pt. 1 of 5)

So our boys are heading into to the game tomorrow in the #9 seed facing off with the #8 seed Michigan. Now at the beginning of the season I fully expected for us to find ourselves playing on Thursday for Mike Woodson’s debut Big Ten tournament. Who I did not expect to see playing Thursday at the beginning of the season was the Michigan Wolverines. I mean guys… I know we’ve taken some tough heartbreak this season… but Michigan’s season must be another rollercoaster of let downs. Being preseason #6, they thought the Big Ten was there’s to lose, and if everyone’s honest with themselves, so did the rest of the Big Ten. But here we both find ourselves playing in the same game to potentially square off against the #1 seed Illinois.

Both of these team’s are currently sitting just on the fringe of most bracketology reports. ESPN has Indiana as the first team out, while Michigan is one of the last four bye teams so one of the last 8 in reality. Which means both teams will be giving it their absolute all Thursday.

Indiana needs guys willing to shoot. We ended that last Purdue game down 2 points. For the final 10 minutes of that bout, our boys were passing up wide open shots like the entire team had no interest in scoring. Nobody wanted the pressure of potentially missing that shot so nobody took it. They flipped the ol “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” quote, and made it “you miss 0% of the shots you NEVER take”.

So Xavier Johnson (1st Indiana All-time heart team if you ask me) put it upon himself to win the game. Taking poor shots, sure, but shots that needed to be taken with the mentality of his teammates at the time. And that’s not to say they weren’t putting forth an effort it was just everyone else was playing so timid, that Xavier had no choice but to be a little reckless if we had any shot in that one.

He’s going to do everything he can to take care of us.

After pondering what it will take to beat Michigan, I really saw two glaring issues that need to be addressed.

First, our boys need to bring their hands this game. The Hoosiers seemed to be playing volleyball with their rebounds last weekend. Like past the point of errors, into full blown yips territory with it. We were tipping every rebound in every possible direction it seemed. That cannot happen Thursday or we are dead in the water. The only thing that kills momentum more than a dagger three pointer, is a second chance dagger three pointer. We definitely had a few of those last game. While Purdue was dribbling off their own feet to keep us in that game, we just can not count on Michigan to be so courteous. Grab the ball, record the board, and let’s get on with it. Can’t be ping ponging it around the basket with Michigan.

Second, the Hoosiers ABSOLUTELY MUST be willing to fail. Theordore Roosevelt once said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Our boys played timid in West Lafayette. If they can step up their own confidence and trust their game to take more chances we could eliminate the need for absolutely bananas shots from Xavier Johnson (again no disrespect on him. The man did what had to be done. Left it all out there for better or worse). What have you got to lose boys? Indiana is a rabid, very well versed fan base. I can’t speak for everyone. But I’m not expecting world beaters to all of a sudden show up. All I really want is to see the team play with more confidence… and in turn, really just more fun. What’s fun about timid play. Isn’t fun to watch, can’t imagine it’s too fun too play.

All talk of confidence and fun aside, this is a huge game. MASSIVE. Indiana looks to have a 3rd chance to make a last ditch statement to get into the tournament. Beat Michigan we are mmmaaayyybbbeee in the dance, barring just a slew of tournament upsets resulting in automatic bids being dished out to otherwise excluded teams around the country. Beat Michigan and Illinois, we are in. I have to imagine that if it’s between Indiana and a mid major jockeying for an at large bid, a tie in resume would go to Indiana. Because, the selection committee can say there is nothing but the resume considered, but they would definitely like the large and willing to spend Indiana fan base to be attending the NCAA tournament.

So here’s to 3rd times the charm on big, crucial, resume building games after the Rutgers and Purdue losses. Here’s to Mike Woodson giving us games in March to care about again, even in this his transition year. And here’s to gassing our boys up. Confidence will be crucial in this one.

Lastly, Mike may want to keep a lookout for rogue head palmings.

On to dismantling the Big Ten starting with Michigan,

LUX ET VERITAS!!!

Why Purdue is STILL Indiana’s little brother (an observation on what matters in College Basketball)

So I was defending my comments regarding Purdue still being Little Brother to IU in the comments of various boards, Twitter (@flyoverwire) and facebook, and figured I’d just really lay out my defense rather than keep defending my points in the comment sections. I want to lay out the facts and really “hammer” it home to all of you that Purdue is still very much little brother, and I think anyone with half a mind for what the top teams are really vying for in college basketball would agree.

Just a little backstory. I graduated from Indiana with a history degree. While that certainly didn’t give me the keys to the Brinks truck after graduation, it certainly gave me a hunger and appreciation for perspective. Because really, that’s all history is. Perspective on the past. That if understood, can help with your present or provide any sense of foresight for things to come. And I have to say whoever thinks Purdue is now Big Brother of the Indiana-Purdue rivalry, lacks perspective.

Let me give you some.

It’s 1980. President Reagan was just elected to his first term as the President of the United States. The top song is “Call Me” by Blondie. And the US Men’s hockey team just beat the Rooskies in the “miracle on ice”. That March Purdue Men’s Basketball played in their 2nd and most recent final four appearance…

That’s right. This was the fashion during Purdue’s last Final Four…

Actually kinda drippin’

0 NCAA Championships… I don’t know why this post has to continue any farther than that. Zero. And you can say we haven’t had one in decades. To which I’d respond at least we made a Final Four in the current millenia (2002).

Sure they’ve won 10 of our last 11 matchups… sure. But we’ve been to 8 of the last 10 (also the last 4) Final Fours among the two of us. So all you “what have you done for me lately” folks saying they’re the bigger program now… I could argue what has Painter done for the Boilermakers lately?

I would say you can settle for Big Ten Titles and sweet 16 exits, but that’s not our goal in Bloomington. We are going to try everything we possibly can to get back to the National Championship. If that means down years, heck down decades, on our way to another title, so be it. The next title is always the sweetest. So we will chase that centuries if need be (God I hope not). The real ones here know settling for the annual tournament exit is not an option.

We strive for far more than our Purdue breathren. In the words of the philosopher-poet Robert Matthew Van Winkle… (Vanilla Ice), “anything less than the best is a felony”.

Please put that quote on my tombstone.

I’m sick of hearing even a few Indiana fans gas up Matt Painter. Guess what you hypocrites, if an Indiana coach was here for as long as he’s been at Purdue we’d expect him to have 3 made final four appearances and have won at least one national championship. That Indiana coach would never get the chance to win as many games as Painter has because the same people who gas him up in the Indiana camp, are some of the same people who would be calling for an IU coach’s head for not doing diddly squat in the tournament. No Final Fours. Not one in 16 years with Painter. If any Indiana Coach let us down in the tournament that consistently we would have fired him ten times over. Heck, we did it with Crean. And he was only half the tease Matt Painter is. That’s what you call higher standards. And we do have just that, higher standards. Mike Woodson is currently sitting at .500 against Matt Painter and also already has the same amount of final four appearances, and National Championships for that matter (0). Facts. Very. Recent. Facts.

You can say we are tied to our history too much but anyone who has common sense on what really matters, Final Fours and Championships knows Purdue hasn’t done squat to take the Big Brother monicker from us. Anyone who doesn’t think that… think bigger. College Basketball amongst the TRULY elite schools out there is an all or nothing game. You either get all of the glory with a national championship or you end up with nothing to show for it.

So you say “Purdue has more Big Ten Titles“…

In the national zeitgeist do you think Big Ten Champs are remembered?… GET OUT OF HERE!!! To the common fan nationwide the Hoosiers are synonymous with basketball, because Indiana’s got serious hardware. Some serious hardware collecting some serious dust, but nonetheless there isn’t a bare trophy case! OH!!! Sorry, Purdue did have that one retroactively awarded pre-NCAA, pre-integration, and pre-crossover “national title” in 1932.

This is Rucker Park legend and drug kingping Pee Wee Kirkland, credited with inventing the crossover. (He was born 12 years AFTER Purdue’s only “title“)
Credit:slamonline.com

Yeah… we rushed the court against Purdue this year. I’m not proud of the younger, less versed Indiana fans for that one. In their defense, that student section is packed to the brim with young, dumb, and drunk kids (I know because I was one of them). They lack PERSPECTIVE. Also, I’ll give them a little more leniency for being a minor milestone on our track to turning this program into a title contender again. Mike Woodson did in his first matchup what Archie couldn’t in 7. And come on, when you’re in college aren’t you looking for any reason to throw a party?!

I may be a dumb Indiana fan boy… but I know history remembers the champions. Everybody asks “what have you done for me lately?” I say what has Purdue done for their fans lately?!?! Except let them down in March to an extent that would never be accepted in Bloomington. We expect more because we’ve had more. And I for one don’t want to settle for less than our greatest efforts, trying anything and everything to get back there. I think Matt Painter’s had enough squads with enough talent have their expectations dashed to know… HE AINT IT CHIEF!!

All this being said, I’ll be the first to point out that this could be seen as Purdue living rent-free in my mind. But that isn’t it. It’s people who can’t see the forest for the trees. What is the point of all this but to be the best? Indiana has been the best before, so we are always striving to get back there. That’s why we would never accept Painter’s current tenure. Everyone wants to anoint him a living legend coach, but what has he got to show for it?!!! Jack squat.

Would any of us really accept the “stability and success” of the Painter era? 16 seasons. No Final Fours. You can be stable amongst the second tier all you’d like. I’d risk losing seasons in the pursuit of a national championship any day.

Until they win anything that demands NATIONAL attention, they will continue to live in our shadow. Don’t ever let those Purdue fans forget. Our final four drought is 20 years, but theirs is 42.

Rant over.

Down with Michigan. Mike, keep your head on a swivel and watch for stray open palm punches.

LUX ET VERITAS!!!

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