Mike Woodson has all the tools to create an offensive identity for the Indiana Hoosiers. Short Thoughts.

Mike Woodson has settled into Bloomington. The new office smell is gone. Mike has gone out and got true talent to trust him to nurture that talent, and to commit to Indiana University. He has gotten a rudderless program has gotten back on track. Time to really get to building on the momentum he had gained following bringing the Indiana Hoosiers back to meaningful March basketball. The next thing to be addressed is our offensive woes. This offseason Mike Woodson will seek to establish an offensive identity within the Indiana Hoosiers, I truly believe he can do it.

At times this year, Indiana’s offense seemed loss. That last stretch of regular season games were painful to watch at times. The manner in which our offense was coming out flat (largely in the second half for most of that final stretch), was truly astonishing at times. The team could look at times as if they had no game plan whatsoever on the offensive end. Which would often lead to Xavier Johnson having to try to win on his will alone, leading to poor shot selection and often stagnant possessions. Or it would lead to Xavier and Trayce Jackson-Davis playing their over the shoulder dish game in the post, that they would fail to connect on more often than not.

The lack of offensive structure and consistency was never more apparent than in that final tournament game against St. Mary’s. The juxtaposition between the Hoosiers’ and the Gaels’ offense was truly eye opening to just how shallow our offensive game plan could be. St. Mary’s was truly offensive, each man on the floor moving to open up the floor and create spacing for one another. They were operating like the gears of a finely tuned Rolex, while Indiana’s sense of creating space entailed of a two man game with 3 guys waiting on the wings stationary. If we want to compete consistently in the fatigue riddled games in March, we need to establish an offensive game plan, so deeply instilled in the Hoosiers, that they can almost pop into autopilot at their most tired, and still run it competently.

This identity doesn’t have to be complicated, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We just can’t have so many people waiting on the wings for a pass to come that just isn’t going to. We need to have off ball players creating opportunities. It’s not a total system rebuild. We can build upon the brighter points of the pick and roll that we were seeing between Xavier and Trayce earlier this season. Jalen Hood-Schifino and Malik Reneau ran a pick and roll dominant offense at national champion Montverde Academy. I see no reason why they wouldn’t come in and immediately be able to contribute to the offense. Their game should be able to translate immediately to the next level. Given this summer into next season, I think they could quickly gel and learn to work in harmony with some of our veterans come the season tip-off. That with the underlying potential for many of our players to contribute, with no potential ceiling higher than Jordan Geronimo, our team could be very dangerous.

The new weapons rolling into Bloomington next year are very promising. These new guys stand to potentially blow the roof off Assembly Hall each game. The incoming recruits skill levels are hopefully going to be something to behold. How will Mike Woodson utilize each of these guys’ skills and who’s skill will be brought to the forefront in the offensive gameplan? All questions that I believe Mike Woodson can answer this coming season.

Our defensive identity is present. Just keep sharpening that where you can. Here’s hoping we can still lock down a big body just for my own reassurance, but even then we are fine on the defensive end. Their attitude and commitment to a defensive game plan and identity must bleed into the other end of the court if we are to take the next step in our reemergence to national prominence.

Last thing, I’m not an offensive mastermind. I’ve never played a second of competitive ball passed the 8th grade. I don’t know what the answer is. I just trust Mike Woodson to know what it is. Here’s hoping that he can get the job done!

Mike Woodson is showing us he can recruit. Now it’s time to prove he can develop. Short Thoughts on Jordan Geronimo.

Jordan Geronimo ended last season showcasing some of his superb athletic capabilities. Through the Big Ten Tournament and into the First Four game, Jordan began displaying bits of his potential. While he wasn’t getting any starting lineup love, he was given prominent minutes in our tournament run, including the Big Ten Tourney). Jordan Geronimo’s 15 pts against Wyoming were essential in locking up and validating our tournament bid in that First Four game. He has showed hints of truly elite and dominant play. But has yet to string it all together for any substantial amount of time. His raw ability and athleticism are present. I believe he just needs to tighten up his game and grow in consistency, and this 2022-2023 Hoosier squad that is beginning to take shape is just the team to do that on.

Whenever I reflect on our more recent teams I often find myself comparing them to the teams that I was most familiar with, the teams that were playing in the Hall during my time on campus (2011-2015). Which in the context of wanting to see a raw talent blossom into an NBA talent, may be unfair to Jordan, because I was consistently in the Hall to witness Oladipo’s development into the second pick in the NBA draft after entering Indana University as a 3-star recruit out of the DMV.

That being said, I genuinely believe there is a chance that the Jordan Geronimo we see next season could be a shocking surprise to those not on watch for it. In my personal, and very biased opinion, Jordan Geronimo can absolutely improve to an elite level by next season’s tip.

This will be Jordan Geronimo’s 3rd season within the Indiana Hoosier’s program, his 3rd season training in Cook Hall and its many resources. I feel it in my bones, this is the year that Jordan Geronimo takes the jump. Pure conjecture here, but he sees that more and more talent coming in means less and less minutes up for grabs. The frame and game is there for Geronimo, he now needs to work to sharpen his strengths and address his weaknesses. This offseason could potentially be career defining for Geronimo.

With Malik Reneau and Jalen Hood-Schifino already well acquainted with each others’ game and tendencies, much of those being shaped by Montverde’s pick and roll oriented offense, I think they can easily fold into whatever scheme Mike Woodson comes up with. This offense stands to be moving with a rhythm and tempo that has been lost in Bloomington for quite sometime now.  This is going to open up the floor, and not allow defenses to simply target our one producer in a given night, an occurrence that seemed all too familiar with anyone watching the second half of last season. These new opportunities allow guys to develop, by allowing hot streaks to play out. It’s in those hot streak moments where guys start to see what they can truly do on the court. It’s about getting as many of these guys to believe that they can go off at any moment by tournament time. The confidence truly bleeds into the player’s game and onto the court. I think a more fluid offense will help enforce this confidence for each player across the board.

If Jordan Geronimo can take this offseason to fill up the tank, gain some more muscle, work on that jump shot, and see that his game is going to be best used banging at the rim. I could see him being a key piece in our starting lineup by March. While shooting will be key, we’ve seen that from time to time he can still shoot. Again the guy has shown glimpse after glimpse of his potential. He just now needs to put it all together.

He needs to be the focus of moments like these.

Mike Woodson is showing that he can recruit. Now it’s time for him to show that he can develop. This will be Mike’s year ro prove that he can take the guys he’s getting and make them even better. This offseason for him will be crucial for the development of the program as a whole. If he is able to invest enough into Jordan Geronimo’s development, I think he stands to gain a rather impressive feather for his cap.

This article was written by a total biased fan boy. Just writing to pass the time until he can sit back and watch the candy stripes get back at it in Assembly Hall. Pure conjecture. Pure anxiety therapy.

LUX ET VERITAS!

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!!!

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…

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!!!

Jalen Hood-Schifino (The Future of the Program) has me very excited for the 2022-2023 season

I wanted to take a moment in case anyone wasn’t aware, our team, while having plenty of returning players, is gaining an absolute stud of a freshman next year. Jalen Hood-Schifino!!!

Credit Phenom Hoops on YouTube

Those were only highlights for his sophomore year. He’s only gotten stronger while maintaining the touch at the rim visible throughout that video.

This man is absolutely lighting it up for Montverde High School. At 6-5, and with moves smooth as Tennessee whiskey, I have to believe he will immediately make an impact and shoulder a large portion of our offense next season. Playing at schools such as Monteverde he is already becoming acclimated with playing with top level D1 talent alongside him. It’s playing at schools like this that allow guys to have the inate ability to trust their teammates. A lot of guys who are top dogs in High School can often seek to overcompensate when they feel they must carry their squad. This is not the DNA needed for an NCAA championship team.

The kid is a walking bucket. Not only that, he also primarily runs the offense off the pick at Montverde a system that, barring a total system shift from Mike Woodson, will aid him greatly in being able to jump into Indiana’s starting 5 at the 1 or 2 and have an immediate impact. His coach at Montverde has stated that his maturity over the course of his senior season has been something to behold. He is allowing the game to come to him and being patient. An attribute that was lacking in Xavier Johnson over the course of this season. I feel like whenever I say something like that about Xavier I must leave a disclaimer stating that a large portion of this last season Xavier Johnson largely rushed and forced things because he had to. There were some games this year, none of the other guys wanted to score. So Xavier (in my personal All-Indiana Heart team) needs to be given some slack on that. But having Jalen will only help him slow down his own game while knowing he has a reliable offensive engine in Jalen Hood-Schafino.

Jalen Hood-Schifino will be playing in the Jordan Brand Classic on April 15th this year. The game is now the premiere high school showcase game in the country. This game is made up of many faces that are destined to be the future of not only college basketball, but the NBA as well! If you would like to check out the alumni including Trae Young, Zion Williamson, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Romeo Langford, and Trayce as well, you can check the WIKIPEDIA on the classic. Being invited to this game is a career achievement. An invite to this showcase is a badge of honor given to those blessed with the natural gifts that they then honed over their 18 years on earth and proof that they are on track to be true greats in the game of basketball.

Getting guys like Jalen Hood-Schifino, especially getting him out of the state of North Carolina, is the difference between the good teams and the great teams. This is the first major and I mean MAJOR get for the Mike Woodson era. If we can really show out with some young guns this coming season that will just snowball into more top tier recruits and more success in Assembly Hall!

While this year ended on a shallacking from the St. MARY’S Gaels, I still believe this season ended as a success. And with the recruiting class we’ve got coming in next year, our tournament bid looks to be only the start of some very beautiful basketball to come.

In the words of the late, great Frank Sinatra,

The best is yet to come!

LUX ET VERITAS!!!!

Indiana vs. Saint Mary’s. “The Mourning After” short thoughts on March.

Well… here we are. Bounced from the tournament, after getting taken to the woodshed. And while I will get into what we have to appreciate about this team. I can’t sit here and say I’m not feeling crushed. Because I really am. How excitingly nervous I was yesterday at this time, I am equally bummed now. But that’s all just me being selfish for that one. So I’m writing this almost as a self therapeutic exercise in counting the blessings we got out of all this. But before all that let’s just quickly run through some of my feelings on the game.

Quick notes on the St. Mary’s game

-When Parker hit the first 3 attempt of the day I was feeling pretty dang good. Dumb to go off a sample size of 1 but I couldn’t help but be feeling good after that one. Was feeling ridiculously optimistic as it’s not often we’ve been hitting that first open 3. But alas, the shooting did not continue through the course of the game.

-No matter how often our team goes into the half with a large deficit, it never gets easier to watch. Even when we were down by 12 at half. That Michigan Big Ten Tournament game has proven to me that anything is possible in this league and selfishly I almost expected the come back a little too optimistically. I think I am so hopelessly, irrationally, and painfully optimistic about anything Indiana Basketball that I can’t be objective at all. No way we can do anything of significance down the line without cutting those halftime deficits out.

-St. Mary’s ran an actual offense. Indiana did not. While I love how HARD Xavier was playing out there, unfortunately, it was just a lot of effort with no objective game plan. Again, I appreciate it, but without having a gameplan other than the hopeful pass over the center or sprint to the rim every time, it just won’t do.

-St. Mary’s offense was impressive to watch. Each man on the floor had a role each time down the court. It wasn’t just a 2 man play with everyone else opening the floor by standing on the wings. Credit to them.

SHORT THOUGHTS ON MARCH AS A WHOLE

Our boys scrapped hard to get into this thing at all. The Hoosiers deserve credit for that. The First Four being in Dayton and not at the respective sites of Round 1 is absolutely absurd when games don’t end until after midnight. Such an unfair way to go about it. Also, I still say it should have been Michigan playing in that First Four game and not Indiana. BS that we even had to play that one. But, you have to win the games you get.

All in all, this season has ended as a success. Our boys were dead tired heading into that game, and I really think I could see it from the jump even though we were leading there for a bit. We made the tournament that’s all I needed personally. But I also am not going to say I wouldn’t have loved a little run here now. But really, the boys saw the goal of the tournament for THIS YEAR and got there. I say THIS YEAR because that will not be the goal in the seasons to come. Making the tournament his first year, Mike Woodson has gotten a program with no direction and has us trending upward. That’s all I wanted, and I believe that’s all any rational Indiana fan should have asked for. Again, next season we will be looking to keep this trend towards success going. I have confidence that this can be the case.

If the devil had come to me with a contract saying Indiana will make it as far as Kentucky at the beginning of the season, I’d have signed that for sure. So while they are currently at risk of setting their whole state on fire. I believe we should be grateful for our expectations were far lower and more realistic. Also, it does alleviate some of my personal pain knowing Calipari and the Wildcats will be watching right along with us. Selfishly, I do relish the anguish of a cheater.

All in all, it sucks to be eliminated. Feel bad now, let it hurt, get it all out because come April we are back at it. The hunt for Banner 6 continues! The Hoosiers fought to enter the tournament, and they did. We just need to this to snowball. I mean, hey we finally have a chip on our shoulder from March heading into next year. I will be doing a deep dive all weekend on what exactly next years lineup looks to be (barring an inevitable crazy transfer portal just for every team), as well as working on a season recap. Thank you for taking the time to read this and Go Hoosiers.

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!!!!

Time to dance like EVERYONE’S watching… because they are. (Big 10 tourney recap/Wyoming Primer)

Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me.

Oscar Wilde, 19th century Irish poet and probable Hoosier fan.

I think that’s exactly what this Big Ten Tournament run the Hoosiers went on was. Unexpected. It was unexpected for these guys to go on a tear like they did. It was unexpected for Trayce to play like we all knew he was capable of. And, it was unexpected for the Hoosiers to plant their stake in the NCAA tournament. If you say you saw this coming… you did not watch the last 10 games of out season… These boys need applauded for showing up. If this can snowball into a tournament run, I’m sure quite a few of us will be eating crow for our thoughts on how the regular season had ended.

Indiana really did let that Iowa game slip away. But nonetheless I’m very happy with what we just saw this week. Mike Woodson had flipped something in these guys that made them start believing in themselves and eachother.

Trayce is an Indiana legend now. I don’t care what you think! What an absolute monster out there! Iowa looked small. And funny thing is Trayce doesn’t play big, he’s just uber athletic. His game just made him look like a giant amongst men. Unfortunately, it still wasn’t enough. But a credit to TJD this postseason. Just need to keep this thing rolling.

I can’t begin to explain how proud I am of these boys. They deserve all the credit in the world. The Indiana team that showed up to this Big Ten Tournament is an entirely different group of men than the boys we saw close out the Big Ten regular season.

You can say what you will about how the Iowa game ended. All I know is the show these boys put on locked up our placement in the tournament. So…. we are dancing this year!

We dancin’

Now onto Wyoming…

The Hoosiers found themselves in the first four games with our spots being taken by some bid stealers, Virginia Tech stealing an ACC bid being the best example. We are matching up against Wyoming for the 12 seed play in game. Tuesday, March 13 at 9:10 PM. I fully expect to come out and beat the Cowboys. I’m looking for Xavier to step up in this one, this game will largely be played in the post between Trayce Jackson-Davis and Wyoming’s Graham Ike, and we will need Xavier to step up and produce when the frontcourt battle may seem blow for blow. Although if Trayce can keep his momentum rolling from the Big Ten tournament, I don’t believe Wyoming will have an answer. Indiana’s roster is objectively more talented than Wyoming’s. Indiana is opening as -3.5 favorites.

Both teams top scoring players, are undersized 5s. Now while Indiana’s got maybe the best undersized 5 in the NCAA, Wyoming’s Graham Ike is no joke. He is nearly averaging a double double, with 19.6 ppg and 9.6 rebounds. These battle will be continuous. So while these guys may, for lack of a better phrase, “cancel each other out. It will be crucial to see who can step up among the supporting casts on either squad. I’m looking for Trey to absolutely make a statement in this tournament. Hoping to see him get some good shots up, lord knows we could use it.

While I fully expect to head into Dayton and handle our business tomorrow night, I’m going to say win or lose, this season is a success folks. In 1 season Mike Woodson has gotten us back to the Big Dance! What an awesome first year it’s been for the true Hoosier. We outperformed during the initial parts of the season, but are again starting to find our pace. I really think that Indiana has a chance to make a run this March. While the Big Ten hasn’t really had the greatest showings in recent years, mostly due to them beatin’ the heck out of each other and limping into the tournament, I really think that Indiana could go on a run. Why not!?! If we are making any shots, we can absolutely beat anyone in this tournament. Purdue is an awful matchup for us with their large frontcourt, but we beat them once and nearly beat them again, so I’m confident we can step up to the occasion again.

Get ready folks!!! It’s going down tomorrow night! March basketball is here and man… if it doesn’t feel amazing… Here’s to pumping our boys today and tomorrow before the game. Here’s to Indiana finally being back in the tournament. Here’s to first year coach Mike Woodson, keep trending up Mike. Lastly, here’s to Trayce Jackson-Davis, he’s going to have to work to show up and dominate this game… Which bodes well, because TJD is just now hitting his stride. Get excited yall!!!!

LUX ET VERITAS!

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