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!

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…

“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!

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.

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!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On to dismantling the Big Ten this week,

LUX ET VERITAS!!!

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