IUSC editors Tony Adragna, Cody Harner, Drew LaMontagna, Will Chukerman and Jimmy Cavanaugh cover four of the biggest questions in the world of IU sports. This week, they recap Kevin Wilson’s first B1G win, gauge basketball excitement, break down an implausible scenario and look at the recruiting trail.
IU Varsity Sports
October 31, 2012
The Starting Five: A Long-Awaited Win, Roundball and… A Rose Bowl?
More articles by IUSportCom Staff »Written by: IUSportCom Staff
Tags: B1G Championship, Cody Harner, David Kenney, Drew LaMontagna, Indiana Basketball, Indiana Football, Iowa, iu basketball, IU football, IU Rose Bowl, Jimmy Cavanagh, Kevin Wilson, Rashard Fant, spotlight, Tom Crean, tony adragna, Troy Williams, will chukerman, Wisconsin
It finally happened guys – Indiana won a B1G game under Kevin Wilson. What did we see from the Hoosiers this weekend?
Tony: I actually was only able to follow the game via Gametracker on my phone, then saw the highlights later on due to a charity event I was at on Saturday, so I got a chance to watch the Hoosiers in a different perspective. It was actually kind of a neat experience to actually not watch the video stream, but to just see words running across my phone. Obviously Stephen Houston had a monstrous game with three touchdowns, but I think the defense was pretty impressive. Last weekend the defense gave up 31 points, and only gave up 17 to Illinois, so it does seem like they are getting better. All in all, nothing seemed perfect about Indiana’s effort on Saturday, but it was one of the first well-rounded games I’ve seen them play under Kevin Wilson.
Cody: Personally, I finally saw Nate Sudfield get an opportunity to prove how the Hoosiers play better when he is under center. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Cameron Coffman has played badly at all, but the demeanor and performance of the rest of the football team seems to be so much more positive and the level of play appears to increase immensely when Sudfield is in. By going 10 of 15 for 107 yards and two touchdowns, I think Sudfield may have sent coach Kevin Wilson a message that it might be time to make a permanent switch. The important stat for me is Sudfield’s seven touchdown passes compared to zero interceptions. That translates to an impressive 168.5 passer rating. Put him in coach! More importantly, keep him in for a full game and let’s see where it takes the Hoosiers. On another important note, fans finally saw signs of life from this IU defense. IU racked up seven sacks accompanied by two forced fumbles while just harassing Illinois all game. I think we finally saw what the Indiana Hoosiers were truly capable of. With a solid recruiting class, the maturity we are seeing from current players, and the increased level of play we have seen week to week, I think IU is well on its way up.
Drew: I saw a defense that finally showed up, and an offense that once again found a spark with the insertion of freshman quarterback, Nate Sudfeld. Finally, this team was able to play a full 60 minutes. And let me tell you, being in Champaign-Urbana over the weekend for the game, it was a great feeling walking down the street dressed in the cream and crimson – I haven’t had any feeling like that in a while in regards to Indiana football, particularly against a Big Ten opponent.
Will: We saw a pass rush that I didn’t really know existed. The Hoosiers came into the game with 12 sacks through the first seven games, but incredibly enough had seven sacks in just this one game. What’s even crazier in my mind is that it wasn’t just 2-3 guys, eight different players combined for the seven sacks. Nate Sudfeld also played a majority of the game, which I was very happy to see. Cam Coffman looked off from the get-go, and hopefully what Kevin Wilson realized, was that with Nate Sudfeld under center for a whole game, the Hoosiers have a better chance to win.
Jimmy: Basically what you guys said. Defense. Pass rush. Sudfeld. Houston. There were a lot of things that went well for Indiana, and still plenty of room for improvement. The fact that there was so much room for improvement in a win over a conference opponent though was probably the most impressive part. IU is officially no longer the doormat of the B1G! Sorry Illinois…
Word’s been going around that Indiana has a realistic chance at the conference championship game with wins over Iowa and Wisconsin. What?
Tony: It still is quite a longshot for Indiana to get to the conference championship game. Let us not forget that this team just won its first conference game in two years, and now all of the sudden they’re thrown in the mix as Big Ten title game contenders. With that said, if Indiana beats a 4-4 Iowa team this weekend, their home game against Wisconsin would be for first place in the Leaders division of the Big Ten. Well, kind of. Ohio State and Penn State are actually first and second in the Leaders division, but neither team is eligible for the Big Ten Championship. That leaves a realistic shot for Indiana to get hot and play in the Big Ten Championship.
Cody: What? Can this seriously be a topic of conversation. Well, despite five losses in a row, the Hoosiers have shown that they can hang with the best of them. IU has been in three games for which it had a great chance of winning, but let slip away. These included the last second loss to Ball State, the Michigan State game in which IU just disappeared after halftime, and finally the fourth quarter collapse against Navy. Had these games gone the other way, IU would be sitting at 5-2 and perhaps getting some national attention. However, getting away from IU fans’ wishful thinking, I think the Hoosiers have showed they can play against top teams in the B1G and for that reason I am not counting out the possibility of this crazy notion of a legitimate run to the conference championship happening. However, IU needs to show up against Iowa and Wisconsin because if they play poorly in either one of these games, then they fall of the radar again and back into irrelevancy.
Drew: The scary thing about that statement is that it is actually…true. Now, by no means am I about to start putting my life savings on these two conference games, nor just a few bucks for that matter, but it can be done (mostly because Penn State and Ohio State are ineligible this year). If Indiana can put a string of wins together, these opponents included — and I can’t believe I’m saying this — they may be in the conference championship. I know what you’re thinking: ‘That just doesn’t sound right.’ You probably made the face similar to putting a Sour Patch Kid in your mouth – I definitely just did – but it’s true. Time will tell.
Will: You can actually make a very compelling argument that Indiana can win its last 4 games. Its crazy that we’re even talking about it, but if I had a little more room in this column, I could make a case for each of the games and why they’re winnable. I don’t think they’ll go 4-0 the rest of the way, but what I’m saying is that it’s not inconceivable. Mindset is something I think is really important down the line and I think we’ve already seen a change from last season. This team knows they can beat anyone out there, its now just a question of whether or not they can do it on the field.
Jimmy: Who let Will play with the lead paint? I can’t believe that we’re even having this discussion … and I can’t believe it’s so realistic. IU doesn’t even need to win its last four games – if the Hoosiers beat an average Iowa team in Memorial Stadium and a mediocre Wisconsin team on Indiana’s Senior Day they stand a very real chance of finishing the season in 1st place in the Leaders’ division. Wow this conference is bad, but there’s no way Kevin Wilson is complaining.
Indiana basketball season gets (unofficially) underway this week as they host Indiana Wesleyan. It’s an exhibition game and it’s sold out. Is this campus ready for basketball or what?
Tony: I think Hoosier Hysteria was a pretty strong indication of exactly how ready this campus is for the basketball season to begin. With Indiana being the unanimous number one in both the AP and Coaches Poll, it makes sense why the campus is buzzing. Add Cody Zeller being pre-season Player of the Year in multiple polls, and I think it’s safe to say that this campus is giddy and can’t wait for the season to begin. Personally, I’m interested to see how the team handles all of the hype, and I’m really interested in seeing how the fans handle adversity. Indiana is in arguably the toughest conference in the country, and they’re bound to lose a few games, possibly even some that they shouldn’t. How will campus react when their lovable Hoosiers go down? I think it could get ugly, so I’m worried about how high people are setting their expectations for this team.
Cody: This IU campus is more than ready for IU Basketball to start to say the least. With the preseason No. 1 ranking and immense expectations from the entire nation, it is easy to say that many more than just people on IU’s campus is ready to see what the Hoosiers are made of. As you can see through the IU ticket office website and other sources such as Ticketmaster and Stubhub, tickets are hard, if not nearly impossible, to come by this year. Tickets I have seen are going for prices through the roof even for our “easy” non-conference games this season. After last season’s Sweet Sixteen run, fans on campus and through the nation are holding their breath in anticipation for this season. Banner six is in the consciousness of many and because of this, I believe everyone is more than ready for this 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball season to kick off.
Drew: Something tells me this campus has been ready for about a month now. I think the snake of a line outside of Assembly Hall prior to Hoosier Hysteria was evidence enough. And as Forrest Gump would say, “That’s all I have to say about thaaaaat.”
Will: Was that a Forrest Gump reference? The ’90s called… never mind. Its almost a shame that what this football team has done this year is seemingly going to be thrown in the rear view mirror, as in years previous, the start of basketball season is the end to the Indiana football season. Being ranked #1 in the preseason is special, and I know that everyone wants to see this team validate that ranking and no longer have to talk about why Louisville and Kentucky deserves votes. We saw Assembly Hall filled to capacity for Hoosier Hysteria, I cant say I’m at all surprised to hear that a game against an actual opponent will have the stands packed yet again.
Jimmy: This campus is so ready. That’s really all I can say without being redundant. IU struggled to pack Assembly Hall at the beginning of last season, but at the end of the year – when people realized how good the team was – the building was stuffed against North Carolina Central. Get ready for more of the same. IU is going to be a hot ticket all season, starting with Indiana Wesleyan.
The Hoosiers made some news this weekend as they landed another big-time recruit, while the football team has continued to make waves on the recruiting trail. All things considered, which team had the better recruiting week?
Tony: I don’t think you can underestimate how important of a week both the football and basketball team had recruiting-wise. On the basketball side, picking up Troy Williams was huge for Indiana’s 2013 recruiting class. Williams is one of the best small forwards on the high school level, and he’s got the athleticism and length to continue to get better. He doesn’t have every part of his game polished yet, but I think Tom Crean has proven that he can develop players with similar skill sets (Sheehey, Oladipo). On the football end, the fact that Indiana was able to land 4-star recruits Rashard Fant and David Kenney in the same week that they had just lost their 5th straight game speaks volumes to how Kevin Wilson has people believing they are just a few guys away. The Hoosiers already have three 4-star and six 3-star recruits in their 2013 class, so things seem to be looking up for the Indiana football program.
Cody: I think the basketball team had the better recruiting week. Troy Williams is a four start recruit coming out of the, yes THE Oak Hill Academy. This 6’7″ small forward provides the epitome of athleticism and is somewhat of a reminder of Victor Oladipo in terms of his electrifying ability to finish at the rim. What is even more intriguing is the other institutions in which Tom Crean was able to sway Williams away from in order to join the Hoosiers. IU beat out the likes of North Caroina, Louisville, and Ohio State as well. The combination of all these successes just makes this recruit commitment all the sweeter.
Drew: Honestly I think I have got to hand it to the football team, mostly because the school isn’t used to it. I had my doubts but I have got to give credit where credit is due, second year head coach Kevin Wilson has done an excellent job rebuilding this seemingly forever lifeless program. Talking with a buddy of mine today, being a young freshman this year would make an interesting four years here considering where both basketball and football currently stand — a lot different than it was when I was a freshman.
Will: I’m going to go with Tom Crean and the basketball team here. Getting a top flight recruit from ACC country to come and play in the Midwest is no easy task, and especially when you’re going up against North Carolina. We knew Crean could recruit kids from the Indy area as seen by the last two classes, but getting someone like a Troy Williams, shows just how far this program really has come. Indiana is now looking like its one of the destination basketball schools again, where the top recruits want to go. Also, for the record, Tom Crean is 2-0 against Roy Williams in big time recruiting battles in the past few years.
Jimmy: Basketball definitely had a good week, but considering the types of recruits the Indiana football team usually gets, I’ve got to give football the edge. Remember a few years ago when people were freaking out about Jerimy Finch committing as a 4-star prospect? This class has three 4-star defenders – and is rumored to have more room for growth. Staying away from speculation though, I love what Rashard Fant brings. He’s fast and can be electric as a return man and in the defensive secondary, which bodes well for IU