Image courtesy of IU Athletics
IUSC Editors Drew LaMontagna, Jordan Jackson, Will Chukerman, Tony Adragna and Jimmy Cavanaugh cover four of the biggest questions in the world of IU sports. This week, the guys try and figure out where IU’s performance against Ohio State came from and whether the Hoosiers can parley that momentum into wins. They also discuss Hoosier Hysteria and handicap the dunk contest between Victor Oladipo, Will Sheehey and Hanner Perea.
What in the name of Anthony Thompson happened to the IU football team Saturday night against OSU?
Drew: I don’t think it’s a question of what happened for IU, but what didn’t happen. Indiana simply cannot play defense, there isn’t really a better way to put it. Don’t get me wrong, Braxton Miller is one of, if not the best quarterback in the Big Ten right now and that OSU offense is potent, but far too many times has Indiana given up an absurd amount of points. And it’s not just points, it’s the small stuff too. The missed tackles from not wrapping up, taking poor angles, etc. That stuff can be corrected. Sure, it’s nice to see this young, surprisingly explosive offense put up numbers against a good Ohio State squad, but I just wish the defense could keep up. It’s a shame to see that great of an offensive performance go to waste.
Jordan: Maybe the more fitting question would be what didn’t happen. This game had everything (when was the last time you saw two blocked punts in one half?). The Hoosiers gave a spirited effort, but after relinquishing their 14-10 lead, they could never come up with a defensive stop to close the one-score gap; Braxton Miller answered every time. In the end, it took an onside-kick recovery and a two-point conversion to get the Hoosiers close again.
Tony: Absolute craziness. I’m not sure how else to put it. It was such an odd game, and I saw a lot of resilience from the IU football squad yet again. A blocked punt? Really? When was the last time we’ve seen that from IU? 49 points against a very physical Ohio State defense has to be encouraging for the Hoosiers as well. With all of that said, there are no such things as moral victories, but there is such a thing as momentum, and I’ll address that in the next question.
Will: If I could shamelessly plug my article that I wrote yesterday I’ll do it to describe this one. This IU team might just be better then we all thought. No more excuses need to be made for this program; they’re capable of hanging with anyone in the Big Ten. Ohio State is a very good football team, but Indiana showed how much fight they have. If you’re a Big Ten team and you have the Hoosiers scheduled on your calendar, watch out because you’re going to be getting a hungry team looking to shake things up in the Big Ten.
Jimmy: In a way, it was the same old scenario that we’ve seen with this IU team, only instead of falling just short against the Ball State Cardinals or the North Texas Mean Green (damn, last year was awful) they were a few plays short of knocking off the #8 Ohio State Buckeyes. Is this improvement or IU playing up or down to their level of competition? Only time will tell, but the signs are encouraging. Like Kevin Wilson and Greg Heban said, this team has played with a lot more physicality over the past two weeks than Hoosier fans are used to seeing from them. If they keep doing that, this team is going to be a lot better.
What are the chances they carry that momentum into this weekend’s game in Annapolis? Do they pick up a win?
Drew: The last two games in which the offense has held it’s own were at home, so I’m not sure how that will carry over on the road. My hope is it will, but I’m not putting all of my eggs in this newly-faced program just yet. If Indiana can hold off Navy’s strong rushing attack (they are 17th in the nation), I like their chances, but thats a big ‘if’.
Jordan: After the efforts put forth in the past two games in which nobody gave them a shot, I think Indiana’s resolve will finally pay off against Navy. The Hoosiers, despite four consecutive losses, are playing better than anybody–save maybe themselves–expected them to. Say what you want about “moral victories,” but Indiana has gained confidence from their most recent performances. I think it will translate into a “W” come Saturday.
Tony: I think Indiana absolutely has to capitalize off of the momentum they are bringing into Annapolis this weekend. If not, solid efforts against Michigan State and Ohio State will all be for not. Navy has a pretty bad offense, but their defense isn’t all that bad, so it will be a nice measuring stick week for Indiana. Obviously the Hoosiers D has struggled all season, but this could be a week for them to gain some confidence. On the other side of the ball, it will be interesting to see if Indiana can continue to rack up points against a defense that is only giving up 22 points a game. Ultimately, I think IU comes away from Annapolis with a victory.
Will: I don’t even know if they need the momentum. I think Indiana is the better team here and I do believe they pick up the win. The fact that Navy is at home might be the only thing working against the Hoosiers. They also have to be prepared to stop the Midshipmen’s triple option attack, that Navy is using to average 231 rushing yards a game. Navy lost to both Notre Dame and Penn State, getting outscored 84-17, which shows what happens when they go up against some higher end competition. I think this weekend has the ability to start a three game win streak, and if Indiana loses, consider me a jinx and someone who is way too optimistic.
Jimmy: It depends on what IU team shows up to play. If it’s the same group that lost to Michigan State and Ohio State by 7 combined points, not only do they have a great chance to beat Navy, but just about every game remaining on their schedule. Everyone and his mother has opined about the B1G being mired in a down year, and it seems apparent that the Buckeyes are the class of the conference – no other team is even ranked. We’ve now seen that the Hoosiers have what it takes to hang with the best team in the conference. Now, can they be that team consistently?
Did you learn anything new from watching IU’s practice on ESPNU? Was watching worth it?
Drew: Considering I already knew that Tom Crean’s slicked hair part always looked great, particularly when the light hits it just right, I didn’t learn much on Friday evening. I did however love the coverage. As Will stated in last weeks addition, any coverage right now is good coverage. It’s a great feeling as a student to see IU atop the national spotlight. I loved seeing the new faces. However, I’ll enjoy them more when they suit up for the first time.
Jordan: I think the Hoosiers looked as good as advertised. Zeller and Oladipo looked particularly sharp, and it was nice to see Maurice Creek back on the court. I don’t think the Hoosiers did anything to dispell the lofty expectations for this team. It was definitely worth the watching just for the fact that I was Indiana-basketball-starved.
Tony: I learned that ESPNU was focused on having Jay Williams and Dan Dakich talk about the Hoosiers far more than I would have thought. I was looking forward to seeing the practice to get an inside look at what goes on during practices from a coach and player standpoint. However, ESPNU didn’t really do a good job of letting their audience get too much of a look at the practice, but it was still fun just to see basketball in Bloomington again. With that said, there wasn’t a lot that I actually learned. I knew that the guys are all much stronger, and that everything surrounding practices was probably pretty intense. If for no other reason than just watching Indiana basketball again, it was definitely worth watching.
Will: The only thing I really learned is that this team looks to be in tremendous shape. A lot of guys on the team look noticeably bigger. That should be a good sign for Hoosier fans, as I believe this translates to more physical play both on offense and defense. I thought this would be a very vanilla practice and it was. You didn’t see much offense being worked on, but you saw a whole lot of focus on defense, which is really the only question mark heading into this season. I think it was worth watching though. This could be the only time you ever get to go inside a Tom Crean led practice. Ah, I forgot one other thing. I also learned that I’m in no shape to go through an actual Indiana practice.
Jimmy: Firstly, well-played Drew. I had already known that Tom Crean was a hard-driving, borderline maniac with an immaculate center-part to boot, but seeing him in action was something else. He didn’t curse – as he’s said, he quit that before last year – but he still didn’t pull any punches. Last year’s team played harder than any team with comparable talent than I had ever seen and I had wondered if this group would be able to repeat that performance. There’s a long way to go, but if that opening practice is any indication, the answer may be yes.
Alright guys, change of pace: handicap the Hoosier Hysteria Slam Dunk Contest. Sheehey, Oladipo or Hanner?
Drew: This is tough. Sheehey’s dunk against Iowa a few years ago was phenomenal, and I can still replay it in my head.
However, Oladipo has put on a clinic the past two seasons around the rim. With that said, I’m extremely torn, as it’s hard not to favor Perea looking at his highlight reel. The dude is a monster. It’s always a nice bonus to see that Yogi is the one tossing him the ‘oops in most of the footage. A preview of things to come? Maybe. Either way, I think I have to go with the rook on this one. Don’t let me down, Hanner.
Jordan: Ooh, that’s tough. I know in the past, I’ve been most blown away by Oladipo’s dunking ability–it always seems to come out of nowhere and with a whole lot of authority (sometimes so much that it results in a “T” for rim-hanging). That’s not to say that he’s the run-away favorite, however. It should be competitive and veritably entertaining.
Tony: I’ve got to go with Oladipo as #1.
I feel like he’s the best finesse dunker on the team. I think Hanner is just a cram it as hard as possible type of guy, and Sheehey’s specialty seems to be posterizing people, which isn’t necessarily the best format for the dunk contest. With all of that said, Hoosier Hysteria should be a ton of fun for the fans, and I’m definitely looking forward to it.
Will: I’m going with the new kid on the block. The only thing I really knew about Hanner coming into this year was that he had a freak vertical leap and could throw down some monster dunks. I do hope whatever was ailing him the majority of the offseason doesn’t restrict him from doing anything on Saturday night, because I really want to see him put on a show. I’m not taking anything away from Victor or Will, but come on now, watch Hanner on YouTube and then attempt to disagree with me.
Jimmy: I actually asked Will Sheehey about this at the Media Challenge a couple weeks ago and he was very diplomatic in his response, saying that both Vic and Hanner were really athletic and that I should bet on one of them to win. Problem is, he was almost too diplomatic – almost like a cobra laying in the grass, ready to strike. It’s easy to forget that he actually beat Oladipo last year. He’s the defending champion, he’s ridiculously competitive and he’s rocking a new number that he’ll want to bring in with style. It just doesn’t sound like Will Sheehey to let a freshman walk in and take his championship belt without a fight.
Holy crap. I’m still going with Agent Zero, but… dang, Will’s got a point.