This is a pretty interesting time for IU sports, with an expected bowl announcement looming, possibly this weekend as well as the announcement that Bill Lynch will remain as IU's head football coach.
When you tack on the curious spectacle that Hoosier basketball has been over the early games this year, then you have plenty of things to mull over if you're a Hoosier fan.
Being one myself, bred on Hoosier basketball since I was old enough to toddle to the TV to watch the title years of Bob Knights' reign, I've got some mixed results about the basketball team thus far.
But one thing I am sure of is that Lynch deserved a shot to coach the Hoosiers after carrying out the plan that the late Terre Hoeppner had in place. The program's goal of making the postseason for the first time since I was a high school senior (Wow, that puts it in perspective!), is ready to become a reality.
The question lies right now in where the Hoosiers could play for that 13th game this year. Most websites and prognosticators have IU either heading to the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ari. or in the Motor City Bowl in Detroit.
Hmm, spending the holidays in Detroit. I thought you were supposed to be rewarded for going to a bowl game, not possibly shot?
But a trip to Tempe or Detroit could perhaps open up some new recruiting avenues should the Hoosiers show the rest of world what IU fans have seen this year on the football field. Kellen Lewis is an exciting player to watch and with such a young team, the Hoosiers could be on the upswing if we can keep building and improving the tplayers we have.
Another bonus for being bowl eligible that isn't always pointed out, is that IU is able to get an entire extra month of practice in which is invaluable in developing younger players. If a team isn't bowl eligible, than your not allowed to practice during this period.
According to the Herald-Times newspaper in Bloomington, Franklin Central running back, Darius Willis, rated as one of the Midwest's best running backs, will visit IU soon. Hard to do that when a team is sitting at home. Other teams interested in Willis: Purdue, Kentucky and Boston College.
This trip to a bowl game could be the first step in making December and January about more than just basketball and the Colts and including Hoosier football.
The IU basketball team has had some impressive moments this year, but most of them have been on the offensive side of the ball.
With early blowout wins over Nobody U. and Nobody State, the Hoosiers ran roughshod over their overmatched opponents. But IU's defensive ineptness caused them a loss at Xavier and almost did the same against Georgia Tech, two teams that IU should have beaten. However, a lack of rebounding ability and a tendency to play a style closer to And-1 street ball then hardnose Big Ten defense opened some fans' eyes.
While our overall youth and college inexperience is likely a big reason for some defensive lapses, it still clearly has coach Kelvin Sampson peeved.
For instance, he threw his team out of practice after their effort and hustle left plenty to be desired last week. But the fact that Sampson's teams in the past have been known for their 'D' is a good sign.
You have to feel that Sampson will get things straightened out and fans can look forward to the return of IU's best on-ball defender when A.J. Ratliff returns after the holidays. But as this team matures, I think we'll learn to defend better, especially with our athletic ability. Taking the redshirt off of Mike White was a necessity considering his biggest strengths are what this team needs most.
Hustle, rebounding and tenacity.
Afterall, there are plenty of athletically gifted teams out there, but what separates those teams from championship teams is toughness.
Blame AAU basketball's emphasis towards showcasing offense for the lack of defensive knowledge of many kids. Find me a coach who wouldn't trade a good offensive player for a kid who can flat out get inside your jersey and lock a team's best offensive threat down.
Everyone loves to shoot the ball and score, but it's the kid that absolutely takes offense to his man scoring that I want on my team.
I'm just hoping that IU can find that kid before the Big Ten wolves come knocking.