The Morning After: Chattanooga

  • 11/13/2007 11:15 am in

ericgordon.jpgThanks to the scurrilous Big Ten Network situation and the inability for RCN cable in Chicago to set up my cable within two hours of my calling to install service — the nerve!* — I was pushed out into the Second City’s soggy streets last night, landing at the Kirkwood with a few friends, more than a few beers, and some $2 burgers. Delicious.

Thanks to the crowded bar, though, I wasn’t able to take my usual semi-diligent in-game notes. Instead, the following is randomly culled from notes written to myself on my phone, text messages to friends, and memory:

*First, a brief note on RCN: They’re coming to my apartment at 5 today to install service. That’s a really fast turnaround from my mid-afternoon call yesterday, and a very friendly customer service woman gave us an unbeatable deal on cable, HBO, and an HD-DVR component. For what it’s worth, consider this my tenuous approval of RCN, to be revised as necessary. And now back to your regularly scheduled basketball talk.

— Eric Gordon is an incredible offensive player. (No kidding, right?) This is probably the easiest, least surprising thing about last night’s game; what was surprising was just how quickly Gordon seemed to integrate himself into the flow of the game. Rarely was a shot forced, and when shots were forced, natural talent took over. Everything he does is tinged with talent: No one has talked about his passing ability, but the downcourt pass he flicked, ever so easily, into Jordan Crawford’s hands in the first half was the most sublime measure yet of how much better he is than everyone else on the floor. And there was that dunk; that wasn’t so bad either, was it?

That said … Gordon still has a long way to go defensively. His ball defense is stellar thanks to his athletic ability; he can recover and stretch offensive players simply thanks to his superior physical structure. The problem is when the ball is in another player’s hands. Right now, Gordon looks lost in his rotations. I’m sure that area of his game will develop with strong tutelage and time, but for now, it’s a glaring issue with his game. But yeah: He’s freaking good.


— I hate to say it, but Lance Stemler is a superfluous piece. Talking with a friend last night, he questioned why Stemler should ever see the floor, and he has a major point: Stemler really doesn’t do anything helpful at all. Last year, with a deficit of athletic players, I could understand Stemler’s playing time. Sampson clearly wanted a solid guy to stretch defenses at the four and free D.J. to work on the block. That worked fine until Stemler stopped hitting shots, at which point he became dead weight. Now, in his second season, Stemler’s shooting doesn’t seem to have recovered, and his mistakes and general lack of athleticism make him dead weight yet again. If Sampson wants a small lineup, he can play Jordan Crawford and Jamarcus Ellis with Bassett, Gordon, and White. If he wants a big lineup, he can play DeAndre Thomas. Stemler will have to get a lot better in a lot of ways if he plans to make the starting lineup as the season progresses.

— D.J.’s head injury looked like it could have been much worse than it was … but in retrospect, I’m glad D.J. landed on his head. Obviously, I hope D.J. doesn’t take any hard falls, but if he is going to fall hard (D.J., stay on your feet!), then a crack on the head is preferable to a rolled ankle or a jumbled, swollen knee. It looks like White will be fine regardless, which is a relief given how small the rest of this team is.

— One camera angle last night — a behind-the-basket view of a Gordon-Ellis-Crawford fast break — gave me chills. I’m not afraid to admit that.

— As much as that pure offensive potential excites me to my very core, every time the Hoosiers put together an impressive offensive play, they surrendered an equally sloppy bucket on the other end. Credit Chattanooga, who looked like a slightly better-than-average mid-major, but also credit a sloppy IU defense. IU was a mediocre defensive team last year even with Earl Calloway’s constant point-pressure and Rod Wilmont’s strength; I worry that a younger, less experienced, more lithe lineup is going to be a downright bad defensive team. Especially on the perimeter, where the lineup is likely to include at least three first-year players. Sampson has to get those guys playing lock-down defense if he wants to sniff a national title in what is certain to be Eric Gordon’s only year in cream and crimson.

That about does it for my phone notes, or what I can remember of them. Expect more diligence, and fewer Bud Selects, next time out. And please leave your notes in the comments.

Filed to:

  • Love your blog. I’m glad that I stumbled across it. The Hoosiers looked great last night despite trailing at the half. I’m looking forward to this season, and I hope that the NCAA does not slap the program with post season restrictions. We’ll only have Gordon this year. We need to make the most of it!

  • Love your blog. I’m glad that I stumbled across it. The Hoosiers looked great last night despite trailing at the half. I’m looking forward to this season, and I hope that the NCAA does not slap the program with post season restrictions. We’ll only have Gordon this year. We need to make the most of it!

  • Love your blog. I’m glad that I stumbled across it. The Hoosiers looked great last night despite trailing at the half. I’m looking forward to this season, and I hope that the NCAA does not slap the program with post season restrictions. We’ll only have Gordon this year. We need to make the most of it!

  • Parker Seaton

    I’m the biggest IU fan alive

  • Parker Seaton

    I’m the biggest IU fan alive

  • JohnMoc1

    Solid second half. We hung with you for a half, but the second half, Gordon could not be stopped. If Gordon shoots that well in every game, you will win every game by about 20. Amazing night for Gordon. Good luck the rest of the way. I guess we’ll have to try our luck against Southern Illinois and Tennessee if we want to beat a ranked team this season.

  • JohnMoc1

    Solid second half. We hung with you for a half, but the second half, Gordon could not be stopped. If Gordon shoots that well in every game, you will win every game by about 20. Amazing night for Gordon. Good luck the rest of the way. I guess we’ll have to try our luck against Southern Illinois and Tennessee if we want to beat a ranked team this season.

  • Ollie Skrivanie

    Mystery? What has happened to Stemler? No offense(doesn’t even look for shot which was supposed to be his forte), no defense, no rebounding, poor passing, and ostensibly no enthusiasm. The return of AJ will make the offense even more potent. Defensively, there are a lot of question marks. But we always seem to look for negatives!!!! Considering this group has not played together in prior years, they look potentially formidable. The S. Illinois, Uconn, and UK games will give us a better llok. But other than those teams as Al Mcguire used to say “this is a cupcake schedule”! Why? You only get better by playing better teams. Enuf said.

  • Ollie Skrivanie

    Mystery? What has happened to Stemler? No offense(doesn’t even look for shot which was supposed to be his forte), no defense, no rebounding, poor passing, and ostensibly no enthusiasm. The return of AJ will make the offense even more potent. Defensively, there are a lot of question marks. But we always seem to look for negatives!!!! Considering this group has not played together in prior years, they look potentially formidable. The S. Illinois, Uconn, and UK games will give us a better llok. But other than those teams as Al Mcguire used to say “this is a cupcake schedule”! Why? You only get better by playing better teams. Enuf said.

  • hoo hoo hoo hooosiers

    Lance stemler is the next ben allen or for u real haters out there shaun”I can’t do anything right” kline. He will definitely be seeing the pine after the next game. He does not deserve to wear the same jersey that the great isiah thomas as well as bracey wright and marco killingsworth have worn. Lance should go play for purdue cause we sure as hell don’t want him takng up a spot that my main man jordan crawford should have in the starting lineup. Lance is a complete disappoint and mockery.

  • Lance stemler is the next ben allen or for u real haters out there shaun”I can’t do anything right” kline. He will definitely be seeing the pine after the next game. He does not deserve to wear the same jersey that the great isiah thomas as well as bracey wright and marco killingsworth have worn. Lance should go play for purdue cause we sure as hell don’t want him takng up a spot that my main man jordan crawford should have in the starting lineup. Lance is a complete disappoint and mockery.

  • ray

    JohnMoc1

    good luck to your team as well. you have a talented group that should do quite well in your conference this year. hope to see you guys in the tournament this year.

    best of luck,
    ray

  • ray

    JohnMoc1

    good luck to your team as well. you have a talented group that should do quite well in your conference this year. hope to see you guys in the tournament this year.

    best of luck,
    ray

  • kelin

    In Defense of Lance, it was the first game of the year against a good and athletic team.

  • kelin

    In Defense of Lance, it was the first game of the year against a good and athletic team.

  • JohnMoc,

    Thanks for stopping by. You guys should be a force in the Southern conference. That was a great opponent for Indiana to open up with.

  • JohnMoc,

    Thanks for stopping by. You guys should be a force in the Southern conference. That was a great opponent for Indiana to open up with.

  • Hoosier Hound

    It’s one thing for Stemer to be less athletic, but he played dumb basketball last night. In 16 minutes he had 2 missed shots, 1 turnover, and 3 fouls with no points, no rebounds, no assists, and no steals. Those fouls were all dumb slaps at the basketball, plus, he was one of the worst contributors to the horrible team defense. I’ve seen nothing from Lance to show me that he should be on the floor.

    The problem becomes that if Stemler isn’t playing, Sampson only has a six-man rotation. McGee looked great in the second exhibition game, but he’s in Sampson’s doghouse for practicing like Allen Iverson. Plus, all he did against UTC was force up a couple of bricks from behind the arc in his few minutes. Maybe Eli Holman, but he has yet to look actually comfortable on the court yet. For now, start Thomas and give him more minutes, but Stemler is still going to be the frontcourt sub.

  • Hoosier Hound

    It’s one thing for Stemer to be less athletic, but he played dumb basketball last night. In 16 minutes he had 2 missed shots, 1 turnover, and 3 fouls with no points, no rebounds, no assists, and no steals. Those fouls were all dumb slaps at the basketball, plus, he was one of the worst contributors to the horrible team defense. I’ve seen nothing from Lance to show me that he should be on the floor.

    The problem becomes that if Stemler isn’t playing, Sampson only has a six-man rotation. McGee looked great in the second exhibition game, but he’s in Sampson’s doghouse for practicing like Allen Iverson. Plus, all he did against UTC was force up a couple of bricks from behind the arc in his few minutes. Maybe Eli Holman, but he has yet to look actually comfortable on the court yet. For now, start Thomas and give him more minutes, but Stemler is still going to be the frontcourt sub.

  • Zappatista

    E, bud select, are you kidding me……ugh, that takes the cake. Maybe you could buy Stemler a few of them to help him get over his PATHETIC defense. I sat 7 rows up on the east side, and Stemler was lost. Actually this was the most glaring weakness throughout the game. Crawford was lost several times as well. The D really needs some work, the intensity was there, but the assignments were not.

    Please save your taste buds from that horrible gimmick of a beer, how ’bout a guinness or new castle?

  • Zappatista

    E, bud select, are you kidding me……ugh, that takes the cake. Maybe you could buy Stemler a few of them to help him get over his PATHETIC defense. I sat 7 rows up on the east side, and Stemler was lost. Actually this was the most glaring weakness throughout the game. Crawford was lost several times as well. The D really needs some work, the intensity was there, but the assignments were not.

    Please save your taste buds from that horrible gimmick of a beer, how ’bout a guinness or new castle?

  • Luke

    So this is what this guy thinks about our hoosiers. I don’t agree with any of what he is saying but do you all think?
    http://www.epiccarnival.com/2007/11/why-your-team-wont-get-to-final-four-or.html

  • Luke

    So this is what this guy thinks about our hoosiers. I don’t agree with any of what he is saying but do you all think?
    http://www.epiccarnival.com/2007/11/why-your-team-wont-get-to-final-four-or.html

  • kelin

    Well will we add K.Jones tomorrow anyone?

  • kelin

    Well will we add K.Jones tomorrow anyone?

  • Luke

    I don’t have any idea what will happen with K. Jones. I don’t think anyone does. I do think IU, Pitt, and WV are all at the top but other than that don’t have a clue.

  • Luke

    I don’t have any idea what will happen with K. Jones. I don’t think anyone does. I do think IU, Pitt, and WV are all at the top but other than that don’t have a clue.

  • Craig

    After the first half which saw Kevin Bridgewaters score in double digits (12?), Kelvin Sampson assigned Gordon to defend him. The second half was very different than the first for Bridgewaters. Gordon played almost flawlessly, and I wouldn’t make a point of criticizing his defense.

  • Craig

    After the first half which saw Kevin Bridgewaters score in double digits (12?), Kelvin Sampson assigned Gordon to defend him. The second half was very different than the first for Bridgewaters. Gordon played almost flawlessly, and I wouldn’t make a point of criticizing his defense.

  • PMK

    Thanks for the shout out in your original post. I was so happy to see Lance benched (hopefully for good) last night. Enough with the excuses about the concussions, bad ankles, etc, the kid has flat out stunk. I hate to bash our own players, but the facts are that Lance has done so very little in his time here.

    Kelin- it seems like you usually have some valuable input for the site here, but the excuses of “first game of the year against a good, athletic team” is just not it my man. However, I will compromise with you. We will just sit Lance for the games in which we play good and athletic teams for the rest of the year. Deal? Lance, please take your seat next to AJ at the end of the bench.

    I was most impressed by Gordon’s on the ball defense. He was absolutely hawking the ball handler, I hope he has the stamina to keep making shots late in the second half if he is going to be pressuring the ball like that. Something to keep an eye on as the season progresses and the legs get a little rubbery.

  • PMK

    Thanks for the shout out in your original post. I was so happy to see Lance benched (hopefully for good) last night. Enough with the excuses about the concussions, bad ankles, etc, the kid has flat out stunk. I hate to bash our own players, but the facts are that Lance has done so very little in his time here.

    Kelin- it seems like you usually have some valuable input for the site here, but the excuses of “first game of the year against a good, athletic team” is just not it my man. However, I will compromise with you. We will just sit Lance for the games in which we play good and athletic teams for the rest of the year. Deal? Lance, please take your seat next to AJ at the end of the bench.

    I was most impressed by Gordon’s on the ball defense. He was absolutely hawking the ball handler, I hope he has the stamina to keep making shots late in the second half if he is going to be pressuring the ball like that. Something to keep an eye on as the season progresses and the legs get a little rubbery.

  • Tom

    in defense of lance, he stunk last year, too.

  • Tom

    in defense of lance, he stunk last year, too.

  • kelin

    PMK-I just think Lance had a bad game thats it. I am not making excuses for him last night…(ofcourse I didn’t see 1 second of it thanks to the BTN and Comcast) but according to some other posters..even EJ and Jordan looked lost at times on defense because of some of the rotations. I like Lances toughness and his hustle. I think he will be ok…he looked good int he exhibition season. I don’t discount the need for that good ol’ senior leadership…..Lets not forget how well he played in the NCAA tourney doing all the little things…..

  • kelin

    PMK-I just think Lance had a bad game thats it. I am not making excuses for him last night…(ofcourse I didn’t see 1 second of it thanks to the BTN and Comcast) but according to some other posters..even EJ and Jordan looked lost at times on defense because of some of the rotations. I like Lances toughness and his hustle. I think he will be ok…he looked good int he exhibition season. I don’t discount the need for that good ol’ senior leadership…..Lets not forget how well he played in the NCAA tourney doing all the little things…..

  • kelin

    PMK…the other problem with lance is it is difficult to make a chant for his name due to the one syllable in Lance….I think those chants help the kids.

  • kelin

    PMK…the other problem with lance is it is difficult to make a chant for his name due to the one syllable in Lance….I think those chants help the kids.

  • kelin

    PMK…the other problem with lance is it is difficult to make a chant for his name due to the one syllable in Lance….I think those chants help the kids.

  • Zappa:

    Not much choice man, it was 12 dollar buckets of any Bud bottle, but they were out of Budweiser and Bud Light. What’s a guy to do?

    For the record (and as those who know me well would attest) my favorite beer is Guiness, my favorite drink is a black-and-tan, and I usually enjoy dark beers. But it’s not always the most cost-effective route.

  • Zappa:

    Not much choice man, it was 12 dollar buckets of any Bud bottle, but they were out of Budweiser and Bud Light. What’s a guy to do?

    For the record (and as those who know me well would attest) my favorite beer is Guiness, my favorite drink is a black-and-tan, and I usually enjoy dark beers. But it’s not always the most cost-effective route.

  • Zappa:

    Not much choice man, it was 12 dollar buckets of any Bud bottle, but they were out of Budweiser and Bud Light. What’s a guy to do?

    For the record (and as those who know me well would attest) my favorite beer is Guiness, my favorite drink is a black-and-tan, and I usually enjoy dark beers. But it’s not always the most cost-effective route.

  • PMK

    Also for the record and in the interest of full disclosure: PostmanE enjoys Jack Russell Terriers, movies no one else likes or understands, brownies, and tractor rides to find the perfect pumpkin or Christmas tree. Thank you.

  • PMK

    Also for the record and in the interest of full disclosure: PostmanE enjoys Jack Russell Terriers, movies no one else likes or understands, brownies, and tractor rides to find the perfect pumpkin or Christmas tree. Thank you.

  • chris

    The one thing I disagree with you on is your assessment of our defense last year and last night. Last year i thought we were an excellent defensive team, we barely scored 60 points against UCLA in the tournament yet took them down to the wire with our defensive play. Last night we looked slow and sloppy when switching to the open shooter but once we get AJ back in about a month, I think our perimeter defense will imporve remarkably. For that very reason I think AJ will get more minutes than some expect where he will typically use his long arms to defend the other team’s best shooter. Once we get some games under our belt I fully expect this team to approach the defensive prowess of last years team, and with the increased scoring this year overall we will be a much more difficult team to beat. Thats my two cents.

  • chris

    The one thing I disagree with you on is your assessment of our defense last year and last night. Last year i thought we were an excellent defensive team, we barely scored 60 points against UCLA in the tournament yet took them down to the wire with our defensive play. Last night we looked slow and sloppy when switching to the open shooter but once we get AJ back in about a month, I think our perimeter defense will imporve remarkably. For that very reason I think AJ will get more minutes than some expect where he will typically use his long arms to defend the other team’s best shooter. Once we get some games under our belt I fully expect this team to approach the defensive prowess of last years team, and with the increased scoring this year overall we will be a much more difficult team to beat. Thats my two cents.

  • PB

    We had a rough first half against a team with a collective hot shooting hand. The second half was much better. Eric Gordon looks like a shutdown defender out there, and we put more pressure on their shots as a whole. The defensive rebounding is the only thing that worries me after game 1. No more second and third chances!

    I do think fatigue is an issue with Thomas, but understandably so. He will be in much better shape by the end of the year. The freshman were probably fatigued as well. That will all get better as they get used to the college game.

  • PB

    We had a rough first half against a team with a collective hot shooting hand. The second half was much better. Eric Gordon looks like a shutdown defender out there, and we put more pressure on their shots as a whole. The defensive rebounding is the only thing that worries me after game 1. No more second and third chances!

    I do think fatigue is an issue with Thomas, but understandably so. He will be in much better shape by the end of the year. The freshman were probably fatigued as well. That will all get better as they get used to the college game.

  • L. Rubes

    I think Lance gives us quality minutes during Big Ten play. CHATT was just to quick and athletic for him. Then again he also didn’t rebound, dish out any assists, or any intangibles that game but I truly believe he tries his hardest out there. Im going to give him a pass for that game.

  • L. Rubes

    I think Lance gives us quality minutes during Big Ten play. CHATT was just to quick and athletic for him. Then again he also didn’t rebound, dish out any assists, or any intangibles that game but I truly believe he tries his hardest out there. Im going to give him a pass for that game.