Hoosiers over Spartans 72 – 68

Austan Kas, writing for the Crimson Quarry has a blog post entitled Road warriors: Indiana rallies past Michigan State. For those of you unfamiliar with the site, the Crimson Quarry is a great blog for following IU sports.

This most recent post was on the subject of Indiana’s first basketball win at Michigan State in 22 years. If that drought were a person, it would’ve been legally drunk after last night’s game. It was a near thing and hard to watch at the end. I don’t know if I can blame last night’s officiating on the NCAA’s worst referee, TV Ted Valentine. But, he was there, so I will. The guy running the Breslin Center’s game clock became mysteriously unable to start the clock when MSU was down by a couple of points with 13 seconds to go. After a vigorous monitor review, the officiating crew decided it’s not a foul when a MSU player punches Cody Zeller in the nuts. However, by contrast, it is a three-point shooting foul when Will Sheehey stands still and straight up while an MSU player shoots.

That grousing out of the way, the Hoosiers pulled off a narrow win on the strength of some strong play from Zeller, Watford, Hulls, and, of course, Oladipo. My favorite Oladipo play last night was when he was inbounding the ball under the basket. An MSU player was guarding an IU player with his back turned to Oladipo. Oladipo threw the ball off the MSU guy’s back, stepped in bounds, grabbed the ball, and laid it in. Meanwhile, Dick Vitale and Magic Johnson were too busy gabbing about something or other to even discuss the play at first.

So, the players and coaches – IU and Michigan State alike were high quality. The officiating, clock running, and commentating were all horrible. And IU gets a road win over the 4th ranked team in the country. In doing so, it solidified its hold on the Big Ten, its place at #1, and continues to make a case for itself as a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. It still has big games against Ohio State and Michigan left on its schedule, then the Big Ten tournament; so there is a lot of tough basketball to come. But, after some time in the wilderness, it’s great to see the Hoosiers back among the top teams in the country.

Coaching a Peewee Football Team to Victory Won’t Make Your Dad Love You More

Ken Belson, writing for the New York Times, brings us an infuriating story entitled Pee Wee Football Game With Concussions Brings Penalties for Adults.

It was a peewee football game in central Massachusetts where five prepubescent kids got concussions in the course of a single game. Two got hit so hard on the first play that they were pulled from the field. These are kids as young as 10 years old and five of them were diagnosed with concussions. The winning coach blamed the losing coach for not coming to him and forfeiting during the course of a game.

I’m not one for treating kids as delicate flowers, but when the coaches allow the game to proceed in a way that five kids get concussions in a 52 – 0 blowout, the coaches are no longer teaching the kids anything of value. I don’t know if their dads didn’t love them enough or what; but at that point, the coaches are compensating for some deficiency in their own lives.

It’s not the Super Bowl. You’re out there to encourage the kids to get some exercise, learn the value of team work, learn to compete, develop your motor skills. Maybe the coaches would say this incident falls under the category of “learning to compete” but based on the score and the number of injuries, it wasn’t a competition, it was just one group of kids under the supervision of adults delivering a beating to another group of kids directed to receive the beating by another group of adults.

And now five of the kids have sustained head injuries that have at least the potential of affecting them negatively for the rest of their lives. Hell of a way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

IHSAA: The Lobotomy Worked; Hoosier Hysteria is Cured!

Once Indiana had the best high school basketball tournament in the world. Now, we no longer do. We gave it away so that more people could get trophies and more athletic directors could feel good about themselves. The people who gave it away and feel good about themselves studied themselves and concluded that they are A-OK.

Current students who were, at oldest, three years old when the single-class basketball format was abandoned don’t know anything about it. They and the administrators of their schools voted heavily in favor of the current class-based system. On the other side, a self-selecting group of people who showed up at hearings on the issue voted overwhelmingly in favor of a return to the single class system. I don’t know whether there has been reliable polling of the state as a whole. Measuring attendance, it is abundantly clear that spectators like the current system much less than the old one.

All I know is that Indiana once had something special; something transcendent and state-defining. Now we don’t. Maybe it’s better for the boys playing basketball to have their end-of-year tournament normalized with the other sports and the other states rather than doing something a little different and exciting. It’s not especially good for a state that used to have a special passion for the sport. We’ve been lobotomized and our Hoosier Hysteria is cured.

Kyle Stokes has more.

The One True Basketball Tournament

Maureen Hayden, writing for CNHI, has an article on the IHSAA conducting hearings on a return to the unified high school basketball tournament instead of the multiple class abomination it adopted in 1998. Attendance is in the toilet, but that’s not why the IHSAA is holding hearings. Rather, it got enough static from Indiana legislators that it’s holding hearings — probably just hoping to show enough effort to get the folks at the State House to leave them alone.

Small schools appear to like the class system – especially small schools that have been winning under the system. My guess is that, taken on a one-school, one-vote basis (as opposed to a one-student, one-vote basis), the preference is for class basketball. It’s easier for small schools to win when they only play each other.

And, possibly it’s easier for me to win cases if I only had to compete against other three-lawyer firms. But, as it turns out, the real world doesn’t work that way. I guess we could just give everyone a trophy and skip the basketball.

(This is just a preview of my greatest hits when, one day, I reach my aspiration of becoming Grumpy Old Man Masson; sitting on the front porch holding forth on the Good Old Days, drinking from a jug with a thumb hook and scaring the neighborhood kids.)

Hoosiers Beat Boilermakers on Senior Night

Just so you know where I’m coming from, I was raised in a house where we had a hat on display that read, “The Lord is my shepherd, but Bobby Knight is my coach.”

What a turn around for IU’s five seniors: Verdell Jones, Tom Pritchard, Matt Roth, Daniel Moore, and Kory Barnett. They capped off a regular season by sweeping Purdue for the first time since 2005 – 2006, and made up for three years of futility. After three losing seasons, they finished this regular one at 24-7; beating teams ranked #1, #2, and #5 along the way.

Some commenter mentioned that the time in the wilderness really makes Hoosier fans appreciate being relevant again. Probably true. And, now it’s time for the Big 10 tournament – which could justifiably be its own region of an NCAA bracket all by itself. Then, at long last, back to the NCAA tournament itself. Glad to have some excitement in March again.

Hoosiers Beat #2 Ohio State

Teams who end up with the #3 college basketball ranking will probably want to avoid Bloomington this season. The Hoosiers seem to be working on a straight. They defeated #1 Kentucky and, last night, #2 Ohio State.

Indiana beat OSU 74 – 70, suggesting that win over Kentucky wasn’t a fluke. After years in the wilderness, IU basketball seems to be back, at least a year earlier than predicted.

SB 84 – Restoring the One True Basketball Tournament

Sen. Leising has introduced SB 84, designed to end the abomination of class basketball in Indiana.

It provides that a school corporation may participate in an interscholastic athletics association only if the association does not conduct boys’ or girls’ interscholastic basketball games in which the teams are divided into classes

I think the ship has probably irrevocably sailed on this one, but I appreciate the sentiment.

Hoosiers Beat (Soon To Be Former) #1 Kentucky

Christian Watford probably ranks #2 behind Keith Smart in terms of momentous last second three point shots for IU. Watford hit a three as time ran out to put IU over #1 Kentucky, 73 – 72. The resulting full throated roar in Assembly Hall was not just the thrill of a last second win; not just the thrill of a last second win over a ranked team; not just the thrill of a last second win over a #1 ranked team; it was a buzzer beating win over a #1 Kentucky team after years of futility for a once proud program.

Looks like we’ve got a solid team on our hands.

IU v. Butler

It’s probably not quite time to declare that the Indiana men’s basketball program is back; but it’s hard not to feel like they’re working their way back into the conversation. Tonight’s game against Butler was a big deal for the Hoosiers. Sure, they were 5-0 coming into the game, but they played teams that weren’t very good. Time was, you wouldn’t say Butler was a test, but the Bulldogs made the National Championship game the past two years.

So, tonight’s 16 point victory is reason for Hoosier fans to hope that was left unbalanced by Mike Davis’ tenure and destroyed by the Kelvin Sampson debacle. Tom Crean might be a guy we can stick with for a little while. Of course, hope will make it hurt more on those occasions when they don’t live up to their potential. But, that’s part of the fun.

Manningless Colts – Unfamiliar Territory

It looks like Peyton Manning will be out for a good long time. Reports are that he got cervical fusion surgery today.

My experience with cervical fusion surgery is from automobile liability defense cases and, in my line of work, a Plaintiff who required or who might require cervical fusion surgery is bad news. It ups the payout considerably. What it tells me about Peyton is that the prospect of him playing this year are probably dim. I’m no doctor though, so hopefully, there is a “good” kind of fusion surgery and he’s getting one of those. But, based on my present level of knowledge, I’m not buying the 2-3 month recovery. If I had to guess, I’d say he’s out for the season.

We’ve been spoiled a long time. The last Colts game where Peyton didn’t start was December 21, 1997. I did a quick search for that day in history – nothing much jumped out, but I found this guy telling us that the Web may have some innovative potential in the future, but Usenet a truly valuable resource. You could search it with Alta Vista. (Google had been live for about three months at that point.)

Part of the collective freak out among Colts fans has to do with how awful our offense has looked any time Peyton was out. There are reasons to hope that things won’t be quite that bad; but, time will tell.