Indiana. Back?I know better than to count too heavily on the continued accuracy of Marshall Strickland's jump shot. Or to make too much of beating a team that Northwestern's already beaten. Or to assume that Marco Killingsworth and D.J. White are going to dominate the glass merely because they're bigs with big names.That being said, I liked what I saw last night in Indiana's 71-54 win over Charlotte at Halton Arena in Charlotte. The Hoosiers' very body language is different than the team-wide Wrightesque moping we saw last year--of course, it's easy to have a spring in your step when you're hitting 13-of-23 threes. Still, I saw a lot to love: --A minimum of dribbling and (dare it be said?) an almost Illinois-in-2005-esque willingness to share the ball. --Appropriate X's-and-O's (it's true) from Mike Davis, specifically: isolating Killingsworth and the hot shooter of the moment (often Strickland--who also had nine boards) on one side of the floor for inside-outside sets (though Killingsworth missed a ton of bunnies, did he not?). "They space you very well," Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz said after the game. --An emphasis on pushing the ball up the floor. This wasn't a particularly fast game (66 possessions) but the Hoosiers took what was offered, both in terms of threes and breaks to the tin. I've commented on Killingsworth's ability to run the floor previously. This is something that doesn't get mentioned enough in traditional beast-on-the-block treatments of the big guy--and he showed it again last night. D.J. White played 17 minutes and saw his first action since breaking his foot in IU's first exhibition game. He's going to have to get a few more games under his belt to truly return to form but he showed glimpses of what he can give: post scoring and shot-blocking (one more than he was credited with, actually). If he can match his frontcourt mate in the rebounding and interior passing departments, watch out. (Box score.)BONUS quizzical note! Is Ben Allen doomed to this kind of reduced role (six minutes) now that White's back? Just asking!In today's less Wonk-ish venues.... Iowa plays Drake tonight in Iowa City. Jeff Horner remains sidelined with an injured knee and will not play--December 30 (against St. Louis) is the current estimated time of return for Horner. The Hawkeyes are shooting just 21.4 percent on their threes in games without Horner....The Bulldogs, looking for their first win in Iowa City since 1967, are coached by former Hawkeye coach Tom Davis. Canonical blogger Ryan Kobliska, comfortably ensconced in his spiffy new Hawkeye Hoops 2.0 home, says Davis's team looks a lot like "his old Iowa teams. Just like the guys I grew up watching, Drake excels at forcing turnovers, getting to the free throw line, and crashing the offensive glass."Purdue plays IPFW in West Lafayette tonight, a game that will mark the Boiler debut of Connecticut transfer Marcus White. Matt Painter says White won't start but he will see minutes. "There's not a coach in America that doesn't play his best rebounder. Marcus White is our best rebounder."Penn State plays New Hampshire tonight in State College. Ed DeChellis says he starts whoever plays hardest in practice. PSU fans are happy that Jamelle Cornley, Ben Luber, David Jackson, Geary Claxton, and Travis Parker are practicing so diligently. Note to all other Nittany Lions: slack off. (Remember what AI said!) This is your best five. Guess which Michigan State player Tom Izzo is referring to: "Incredible." "Monstrous." Yup, you got it--it's Idong Ibok.In the span of just a few weeks, Minnesota has gone from being the subject of unjust blogospheric neglect to an almost Michigan-like embarrassment of blog riches. First came the arrival of the outstanding Gopher Hoops blog. (Essential-read backfill: GH sent some educated love Jamal Abu-Shamala's way recently.) Now fans also have the already quite promising Golden Gopher Hoops blog for their reading pleasure: this morning blogger Bob Wothe peers fearlessly into his crystal ball and forecasts the Big Ten race. I don't want to say my fellow Illinois fans are excited about high school junior Eric Gordon's verbal commitment to join the Illini or anything but orange-clad fans are reportedly showing up en masse at Gordon's games in and around Indianapolis....Alert reader and Illinois fan Brian M. asks Wonk: "Are we currently in the golden era of Illini basketball?" Oracular Illini observer Mark Tupper says yes! Tupper counts the ways: Bruce Weber is the winningest coach in the nation since the start of the 2000-01 season, one game ahead of a certain dude in Durham, NC; Illinois and Duke are the only two teams to have won at least 25 games each of the last five years; the Illini have won 50 of their last 51 regular season games; etc., etc....In his blog Tupper says backup point guard Chester Frazier, sidelined with a torn left quad, is currently slated for a December 28 return--far ahead of schedule and good news for Illini fans worried about Dee Brown's minutes....Profile of Jamar Smith here. Wonk back! Don't just mutter ineffectually; email me! The PO era in Columbus Yesterday I offered some thoughts on the pre-Oden Ohio State Buckeyes. Wonk's readers respond!Wonk,
I agree with most of your assertions. Furthermore, I appreciate any analysis of OSU in the “pre-Oden” years—you’ve earned a loyal reader by providing something other than the normal game recaps.
However, I think there is a certain aspect that you aren’t fully discussing regarding tOSU hoops. First, Terence Dials isn’t doing anything for this team. Currently, this team is a slower version of the 1990s-era Loyola teams: deadeyes from outside with no significant inside threat. Undoubtedly, Je'Kel Foster is threat to be reckoned with, as evidenced by his Big Ten POW award for last week, but he is not a Wooden award candidate. While he might be deadly right now, he’s not a Redick-type threat that can crush teams single-handedly. Secondly, OSU hasn’t played any big-body teams yet this year. In order to compete with the bigger bodies in the Big Ten, two things have to occur: (1) Dials needs to become the player we all thought he was; and (2) Matt Terwilliger needs to grow two inches and add about 20 pounds. If a team effectively pounds the inside game against tOSU, there's no reason to think the Buckeyes will win--they are very small compared to other Big Ten teams.
Trent D.ColumbusEfficiently done, Trent. Thanks!