The Morning After: Wisconsin

  • 02/14/2008 11:12 am in

bbutch.jpgBy far the saddest part about everything that happened yesterday is that a fine performance by the Hoosiers — a well-executed gameplan against a good team — went totally by the wayside. It was overshadowed. Overshadowed not only because Brian Butch hit a lucky (yes, it was lucky) banked three-pointer from about 24 feet to win the game, but overshadowed by the giant inky-black specter of the NCAA’s announcement about major violations yesterday.

Sunday, the Hoosiers (to my mind, at least), took a significant step forward to alleviating a lot of the obvious concerns about them as a whole. Last night, they continued that pattern, albeit in a flawed loss. That progress — think how bad they looked the first game against Wisconsin — should be the story. But as I sit and write this, attempting to write about what’s happening on the floor reeks of blind fandom. It feels like ignoring the giant elephant in the room. Be positive! Think good thoughts! Talk about basketball! Easier said than done.

And that’s the problem. It’s not the sanctions themselves — we’re all adults here, and we can get over it. Kelvin Sampson getting fired? C’est la vie. Life goes on. Another lost scholarship? Sucks, but it’s not devastating. Kent Benson getting all worked into a froth again? Not exactly newsworthy.

No, the problem is that because of Kelvin Sampson’s utter stupidity, enjoying the game for what it is in its rawest, purest form — a group of almost-student-athletes competing with their school’s name on their shirts — is now impossible. Watching this team develop into a tournament contender is ruined. Our expression of basketball fandom is tainted. To paraphrase Christopher Hitchens, sanctions poison everything. That’s not fair to D.J. White and Eric Gordon and Armon Bassett and the rest, and it’s not fair to us.

So thanks, Kelvin. Thanks a lot. Idiot.


— Despite all that, it’s at least worth discussing the game in some detail. And if any lesson was learned from last night, it’s that everyone — even D.J. White — cools off sometime. After the tear D.J.’s been on in the last, oh, 15 games or so, I was actually getting used to him playing at an outsized, ridiculous level. 15-footers were guarantees; giant one-arm rebounds were the norm; ferocious put-back dunks have become an expected treat.

But in the second half, that waned. D.J. was still rebounding, still providing the rock in the middle of the defense, but he was missing the sort of easy turnaround jumpers that have become surefire scores. It was an ebb and flow thing; as D.J.’s misses got worse, IU’s guards picked up the slack. Still, the first-half performance was anchored by D.J., and in the second half, IU wasn’t the same.

— On Brian Butch: I should hate Butch for hitting that 24-foot bank shot. I should hate him for being a big lurchy white guy. I should hate him for being nicknamed “The Polar Bear.” Butch’s shot was the kind of thing that gets you laughed at on a pickup court; you’d never celebrate a bank to win a game like he did last night.

Then I remember Eric Gordon’s banked three at Illinois. Gordon’s shot was probably no less lucky than Butch’s; Butch is a decent outside shooter, after all, and you can bet Gordon wasn’t trying to hit the glass any more than Butch was. It happened in inverse order this week, but a lucky bank shot was crucial. It was pretty hard to be angry about it after that. (Plus, we still beat Illinois and their Screech Powers of a head coach, and isn’t that all that really matters?)

— It was easy to see a team confidence last night, especially in getting looks at the rim. Maybe that stemmed from playing Ohio State’s soft zone, which practically begged to be penetrated. (“Begged to be penetrated” is today’s “palpable mass on the buttox.” So you know.) Whatever it was, Eric Gordon and company were less hesitant about getting into the lane last night than they’ve been all season. The Hoosiers are a good perimeter shooting team, but it’s nice to be reminded that’s not all they are.

— I’m sure some will question, or already are questioning, why Sampson deigned not to call a timeout after Butch’s shot. I, personally, didn’t mind the call. I would have preferred Jamarcus Ellis not to have been the guy taking the final shot, but he got a good look against a Wisconsin team still kinda-sorta celebrating Butch’s lucky bank.

— DeAndre Thomas is an incredibly flawed player, but he did show flashes last night. It’s clear that he has touch on the offensive end. He can score it in advantageous positions. Now, if he could figure things out defensively and stop bear-hugging people 94 feet from the basket, IU could get a lot more out of his big body on the interior. That’d be nice.

— See? Basketball talk. Fun, right? There’ll be plenty more about Sampson later today — including a wild prediction from the blogosphere — but for now, your additions to the fun in the comments below.

Filed to:

  • FireHimNow

    Wonder if theres any truth to this

    Source: Indiana’s Kelvin Sampson to Be Fired Friday

    http://thebiglead.com/?p=4613

  • kelin

    E-Good recap but I can't even comment on the game cause I can't focus on anything other than, how much I want KS fired. Sorry bro…..

    I kinda heard Greenspan say something about going through protocol in his weak presser yesterday……maybe they have to get there ducks in order before they can him! I look forward to throwing names out there…..I like Chris Collins, being snatched away from Duke……if not Johnny Dawkins…..

  • BigT

    did anyone else think it was pretty classless that the whole Wisconsin team ran right to our center court logo and started jumping on it?

  • T: I didn't see that as anything more than just a celebration. Doubtful it was malicious.

  • Post coming in a little bit on that.

  • Snipper

    My daughter, an IU grad, said it as well, I believe, as it can be said:

    “I am sick to my stomach over this! IU basketball has been my pride and joy since they were ranked #1 in 1975. I remember how excited Dad as when they won the national championship in 1946. I could not wait to go to IU and support the Hoosiers. I got season tickets all four years. I attended every possible game. I was so proud to be in the same class as Mike Woodson. I remember my senior year when we beat Ohio State for the Big Ten championship. I love this current team. They are now my boys! I will continue to root for IU. Go Hoosiers! Yes, Kelvin and Rick have got to go!”

  • HoosierSmitty

    I think it was more of a team celebrating a big win rather than trying to disrespect IU. They were happy with the win and center court is a place to celebrate.

  • Abs

    Maybe I remember incorrectly, but I really thought Wisconsin's D did a good job limiting DJ's touches in the second half. In the kenpom parlance, DJ used 23% of the team's possessions in the first half (and still put up an absurd 205.8 O rating), about normal for him, but only 17% in the second half. Granted, his paltry 70.1 O rating in the second half shows that he was inefficient with the ones he did use. Still, his first half was off the charts.

  • kelin

    Here is some more good news that we all need…..

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/k

    Devin, at least give the new coach a chance to woo you…do it for the fans….

  • jaime gongora

    Once a hoosier, always a hoosier. I will always root for my fellow hoosiers, during the good and bad. I'm not going to lie, its going to be a difficult valentines day with my girl because hell I'm pissed off at coach sampson, and all i'm going to do is complain about it ( not really, she has a good left hook). At least when we eventually become a powerhouse ,it will be that much sweeter.

  • Jeff

    IU won in 1940 and 1953 but not 1946. I think the 80 team was fabulous. They just ran out of gas. Woodson's mid season back surgery hurt. We were still coming back but got beat by Joe Barry Carroll and Purdue in the regional final.

  • HoosierSmitty

    Unfortunately, kids of his caliber rarely come to a place like Indiana because of the tradition anymore. Kids with oodles of talent didn't grow up dreaming of playing for IU, they grew up dreaming of making it to the NBA. They want someone who is going to help them get there.

    Chances are that we lose Ebanks because he's going to turn to a program that will get him to the next level. Whoever our next coach is…be it a heavily sanctioned Sampson, an unproven young coach, or a traditional “IU guy,” it's unlikely they'll be in position to woo him to stay.

    It will also be interesting to see what happens with someone like Armon, who only came to IU for Davis, then was wooed to stay by Sampson to not transfer.

    I wish we could focus solely on the on court season, but unfortunately that's not really possible while Sampson is still running the team.

    If it's this tough on us as fans, think about how horrible it is for the players…

  • jaime gongora

    you can't blame the kid. every time he's renewed faith in us, we completely screw him over. If he does leave, i will wish him the best.

  • JamesHardy

    I was more impressed with how CLASSY Bo Ryan gave a compliment to EACH and EVERY IU player after the game. Perhaps the Big 10 should dub that footage and ship it to Champagne for “DICK” Weber (no not the bowler!) to watch so he knows how to act after a game. After watching Bo Ryan's teams for the past several years, I doubt there was anything negative about his team's celebration. Just my opinion though.

  • Nick

    I, as well as the rest of you, have been a life long IU fan. A fan from a family of fans as well as a graduate. I hate to say this, because at the moment I would love to hate of KS as much as the next guy, but we as IU fans should try to focus on DJ White, Eric Gordon, and the rest of the Hoosiers and provide as much positive talk as possible. They are going to see this stuff on Sports Center every night and you know that at least some of them have to read your blog (because it's excellent) so I think you guys should focus on the incredible season they're having and if this situation screws that over then we can break out the hang Coach Sampson dolls and wish him a fiery grave!!!

  • mkeBrian

    Why Wisconsin won (Brian Butch did not win that game…DEFENSE did!) :
    ..and the proof is here: According to Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency rankings, the Badgers are first in the country. They’re surrendering just 54.1 points per game and holding opponents to a 37 percent mark from the field.

    Cheesehead Indiy PackerBackers.com appreciate disciplined players like Brian Butch and Joe Krabbenhoft who play defense the way Bobby Knight taught …so neat being a Badger fan in Hoosier land.

  • Nick

    I'm not sure but you should check stats from last night because I'm pretty sure that IU shot like 47 percent for the game and got to the basket repeatedly. Wisconsin had a great night shooting from behind the arc and we as IU fans have to take our hats off to them for that because a good team does what's needed to win big games, but defense wasn't it last night.

  • kelin

    E-Good recap but I can't even comment on the game cause I can't focus on anything other than, how much I want KS fired. Sorry bro…..

    I kinda heard Greenspan say something about going through protocol in his weak presser yesterday……maybe they have to get there ducks in order before they can him! I look forward to throwing names out there…..I like Chris Collins, being snatched away from Duke……if not Johnny Dawkins…..

  • BigT

    did anyone else think it was pretty classless that the whole Wisconsin team ran right to our center court logo and started jumping on it?

  • T: I didn't see that as anything more than just a celebration. Doubtful it was malicious.

  • Post coming in a little bit on that.

  • Snipper

    My daughter, an IU grad, said it as well, I believe, as it can be said:

    “I am sick to my stomach over this! IU basketball has been my pride and joy since they were ranked #1 in 1975. I remember how excited Dad as when they won the national championship in 1946. I could not wait to go to IU and support the Hoosiers. I got season tickets all four years. I attended every possible game. I was so proud to be in the same class as Mike Woodson. I remember my senior year when we beat Ohio State for the Big Ten championship. I love this current team. They are now my boys! I will continue to root for IU. Go Hoosiers! Yes, Kelvin and Rick have got to go!”

  • HoosierSmitty

    I think it was more of a team celebrating a big win rather than trying to disrespect IU. They were happy with the win and center court is a place to celebrate.

  • Abs

    Maybe I remember incorrectly, but I really thought Wisconsin's D did a good job limiting DJ's touches in the second half. In the kenpom parlance, DJ used 23% of the team's possessions in the first half (and still put up an absurd 205.8 O rating), about normal for him, but only 17% in the second half. Granted, his paltry 70.1 O rating in the second half shows that he was inefficient with the ones he did use. Still, his first half was off the charts.

  • kelin

    Here is some more good news that we all need…..

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/k

    Devin, at least give the new coach a chance to woo you…do it for the fans….

  • jaime gongora

    Once a hoosier, always a hoosier. I will always root for my fellow hoosiers, during the good and bad. I'm not going to lie, its going to be a difficult valentines day with my girl because hell I'm pissed off at coach sampson, and all i'm going to do is complain about it ( not really, she has a good left hook). At least when we eventually become a powerhouse ,it will be that much sweeter.

  • Jeff

    IU won in 1940 and 1953 but not 1946. I think the 80 team was fabulous. They just ran out of gas. Woodson's mid season back surgery hurt. We were still coming back but got beat by Joe Barry Carroll and Purdue in the regional final.

  • HoosierSmitty

    Unfortunately, kids of his caliber rarely come to a place like Indiana because of the tradition anymore. Kids with oodles of talent didn't grow up dreaming of playing for IU, they grew up dreaming of making it to the NBA. They want someone who is going to help them get there.

    Chances are that we lose Ebanks because he's going to turn to a program that will get him to the next level. Whoever our next coach is…be it a heavily sanctioned Sampson, an unproven young coach, or a traditional “IU guy,” it's unlikely they'll be in position to woo him to stay.

    It will also be interesting to see what happens with someone like Armon, who only came to IU for Davis, then was wooed to stay by Sampson to not transfer.

    I wish we could focus solely on the on court season, but unfortunately that's not really possible while Sampson is still running the team.

    If it's this tough on us as fans, think about how horrible it is for the players…

  • jaime gongora

    you can't blame the kid. every time he's renewed faith in us, we completely screw him over. If he does leave, i will wish him the best.

  • JamesHardy

    I was more impressed with how CLASSY Bo Ryan gave a compliment to EACH and EVERY IU player after the game. Perhaps the Big 10 should dub that footage and ship it to Champagne for “DICK” Weber (no not the bowler!) to watch so he knows how to act after a game. After watching Bo Ryan's teams for the past several years, I doubt there was anything negative about his team's celebration. Just my opinion though.

  • Nick

    I, as well as the rest of you, have been a life long IU fan. A fan from a family of fans as well as a graduate. I hate to say this, because at the moment I would love to hate of KS as much as the next guy, but we as IU fans should try to focus on DJ White, Eric Gordon, and the rest of the Hoosiers and provide as much positive talk as possible. They are going to see this stuff on Sports Center every night and you know that at least some of them have to read your blog (because it's excellent) so I think you guys should focus on the incredible season they're having and if this situation screws that over then we can break out the hang Coach Sampson dolls and wish him a fiery grave!!!

  • mkeBrian

    Why Wisconsin won (Brian Butch did not win that game…DEFENSE did!) :
    ..and the proof is here: According to Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency rankings, the Badgers are first in the country. They’re surrendering just 54.1 points per game and holding opponents to a 37 percent mark from the field.

    Cheesehead Indiy PackerBackers.com appreciate disciplined players like Brian Butch and Joe Krabbenhoft who play defense the way Bobby Knight taught …so neat being a Badger fan in Hoosier land.

  • Nick

    I'm not sure but you should check stats from last night because I'm pretty sure that IU shot like 47 percent for the game and got to the basket repeatedly. Wisconsin had a great night shooting from behind the arc and we as IU fans have to take our hats off to them for that because a good team does what's needed to win big games, but defense wasn't it last night.