The Morning After: Purdue

  • 02/20/2008 12:20 pm in

sampsonlast.jpgThis is weird. Isn’t it? Isn’t it strange to be in this position right now? To gather, as I did last night, with friends at a bar, to celebrate another game with a Fat Tire and a sandwich, and to know all along that no matter what happens, your team’s coach is going down? He can beat your most hated rival (who just so happens to be the Big Ten’s top team) and still, against his will, it will be the last win of his tenure.

That’s two such wins now. The first was Saturday against Michigan State, a dominating performance that showed a resilient team rallying around their coach. The second was last night. Was it me, or did the focus seem to shift? Maybe it was because I was in a bar and couldn’t make out the commentary very well, but did last night’s audience — swept up in an important rivalry atmosphere — seem to forget about the sanctions for 40 minutes? I know I did.

It will be jarring to lose Sampson on Friday, but at this point, I’m not sure his presence is needed on the sidelines anymore. Stay with me here. It’s hard to complain about distractions after two very solid wins, but Sampson’s saga is a distraction. His assistants have been coaching this team all year; no doubt IU’s players feel just as comfortable with each of them as they do with Sampson. (Perhaps moreso, given the player-assistant-as-friends dynamic a lot of teams have.) It will be a difficult adjustment, seeing Dan Dakich running up and down the sidelines, but if the Hoosiers showed anything last night, it was a level of maturity and self-definition that gives me confidence in the coming games.

But that confidence doesn’t mean part of me won’t miss Sampson. He’s only been here for two years, yes, and even if this eulogy is premature (we still think Sampson’s going to be suspended Friday rather than fired), it will be a different place without him. He’s a frustrating coach, but if the past two years have taught us anything about his style it’s that his teams improve. They get better. They can make you miserable in November and December and even January, but come February and March they coalesce. They play hard together. They defend. And they’re fun to watch.

It’s a shame we can’t have a third year, but it’s a self-inflicted shame. And we know what we have to do. The dog might be cute. You might love the dog. But if the dog can’t control his bite, you put him down. It sucks, and it’s sad, but it’s best for everybody.

— Part of my confidence in a post-Sampson team this year is, like I said, that improvement. If the coach has given us one present before he’s suspended/fired/never heard from again, it’s in progressing his team forward by leaps and bounds in the past two weeks. This is a team, remember, that barely squeaked out an away win at Illinois, a team that I had all but written off as a serious contender. That team had brutal flaws: couldn’t defend the perimeter, couldn’t play man-to-man, couldn’t find a decent four spot, couldn’t get decent point guard play. Are any of these problems anymore?

— Armon Bassett is playing as well as he’s ever played, not only in shooting the ball — if he keeps improving, he’s going to be an incredible shooter — but in the way he runs the offense. He still had too many turnovers (5), as did IU (23. Eesh.). But he was focused, efficient, made good decisions, got IU into their half-court sets quickly … he was what you need a point guard to be.

— Turns out IU can defend the perimeter: Purdue took 72 shots in a 72-possession game last night, and only happened to connect on 25 of them. What’s worse, they were 7-25 from three, and posted a 39.5 effective field goal percentage, the type of shooting night that will kill you regardless of the defense you’re facing. Still, call me optimistic, but given the way Purdue’s been shooting from three the past few games, IU deserves a lot of credit for challenging those perimeter shots both in the zone and in man-to-man defense.

— As for the four spot, Kyle Taber is, well, he’s Kyle Taber, but it turns out Kyle Taber is all we need at the four. Compared to Mike White and DeAndre Thomas, who are both incredible mistake- and foul-prone, Taber is a breath of fresh air. Where Thomas believes it’s important to get himself shots, Taber actually refuses to shoot the basketball unless he’s three feet from the hoop. Seeing as we have the country’s best big man — that’s right, D.J.’s better than Tyler Hansbrough — across from that four spot, all we really need is Kyle Taber. Now, if we could only find a spot for Adam Ahlfeld …

— The one overriding negative about IU’s performance last night was the turnovers. Those have to get cleaned up. Fortunately, IU was efficient in every other phase of the game. Check it out, courtesy of Statsheet:

That chart shows a team that outplayed Purdue in every offensive phase of the game. The only thing Purdue did demonstrably better than IU was score more field goals, but it happened to take them, oh, 30 more shots to make an extra five. In the meantime, IU was getting to the line and making 88 percent of their free throws. Perhaps my favorite stat is total possessions: The Hoosiers weren’t afraid to get up and down the floor last night, a major plus playing against a strong Purdue team that seems comfortable bruising under the basket.

— What little commentary I heard last night was from Steve Lavin, who was actively campaigning for D.J. White to receive player of the year honors. I think it’s official: Steve Lavin loves IU. Earlier in the season his hyperbolic love was directed toward Eric Gordon; now, it’s White. We have to ask the question (jokingly): Does Steve Lavin want the IU job? Would we want Steve Lavin? I can just imagine the press conferences — Lavin using every goofy catchphrase he’s come up with in broadcasting. “Well, you know, Armon Bassett’s just our energy guy out there, he’s our little pepper pot …”– Finally, in closing, a note to Purdue fans: If your social scene is so broke that you have to congregate in alcohol-less Mackey Arena to get your kicks for IU-Purdue, I’ve underestimated the lameness of your college experience. Please, please don’t do that again. Go get some beer in your system. Live a little.

Also, Scott Martin looks like he’s 14. That’s all.

Anyway, if we have to lose our coach, and say goodbye to the promise of his tenure, last night was a pretty damn good way of doing it. Pat Forde summed up how to feel pretty well this morning:

“We love your team. We hate your ethics. We’re confused as hell. We want to thank you for beating Purdue — and now we’d like you gone.”

Farewell, Kelvin.

Filed to:

  • tberry

    “We love your team. We hate your ethics. We’re confused as hell. We want to thank you for beating Purdue — and now we’d like you gone.”

    DITTO! DITTO!! DITTO!!!

  • Kyle

    I would have to say that Taber was a breath of fresh air last night but he needed to be on the bench late in the game. He was able to do a lot of positive things on both end of the court but I was going to scream if I had to watch another more athletic Purdue player drive past him one more time in the final minutes.

    Also,,,think back a couple years ago when Purdue wouldn't even come to Mackey when there as a game being played there let alone just one being shown on the jumbotron. Fair weather fans.

  • Quincy

    Another good article E man. It is tough , but the Hoosiers seem to have really rallied around there coach, these games. Random thoughts of the game: Turn overs… Pleaseee, Tabors slam… yeah babbeee…. DJ s one arm monster rebound! Lavin s comment on indiana haircuts, ie, Martin & Hummel, they do look 14… (if they stay togather, they will be tough) Erin, the lovely…. Time to cut bait and move on, KS we hardly knew you…

  • Willis

    Scott Martin looks like Peter Pan.

  • Jerry

    1. Are we sure Dakich escapes w/o problems ? Wasn't he also cited in the NCAA report ? If so should he be the face of the team on the bench ?

    2. Can IU trade KS firing in exchange for elimination of all sanctions on the next coach ? If this is possible then it will not be over on Friday

  • Jerry

    A high school friend of mine was captain of UCLA team years ago and helped mount the effort to fire Lavin. It worked out for UCLA. Not sure he is coach material at the level we want

  • When Davis resigned, I also got the feeling that Lavin wanted the IU job from his commentary.

    I don't know if he just has THAT much respect for Indiana and it comes off that he's positing for the IU job, but it's refreshing to hear someone from ESPN who isn't slobbering over Duke/UNC all the time.

  • MikeyD

    So who's going to break the story? ESPN, ITH or the Star? I'm sure “they've” (IU & KS) all known all week what the decision will be. I won't be surprised if IU keeps him on and goes to bat for him. If “they” all did in fact know what's up last Friday, and were indeed going to let him go, why would they have kept him on the sideline. If I had to bet, I'd bet IU keeps KS. If they feel they can weather this storm with no post season ban, I believe they will roll the dice one more time with a serious zero tolerance…step up the monitoring, etc. I'm fine with it either way. He skirted the rules, yes, twice…and lied…but he ain't no criminal. I'm not pulling for him either way, but I think he'll remain.

  • Steve

    Dakich was not in the report. Senderoff and Jeff Meyer were the only assistants mentioned.

  • DavidC

    You know shortly after that photo, Kelvin walked into the locker room and said:

    “I put it to you, Indiana University, as we spend our final game together, be proud of who you are!Look at me Ma, I made it! I'm okay!”

    As DJ and EJ slowly roll a fridge into the Indiana University locker room…

  • jaime gongora

    ok I'm going to say it. I think we should keep Kelvin Sampson until the end of the season. We can wait to the end of season and as soon as we win our lose in march we do the investigation. Oficially these are still allegations, and if we decide before the hearing we should be in the clear. Yeah I know he probably broke the rules but I don't like to assume. The McCarthy era assumed, I want a thourough investigation. I orginally wanted him gone oafter the news last week but I've changed my mind. For one these are phone calls, and personally I would rather have this, than a coach who chokes or belittle his players (at leaat until the end of the year). It will be fine which ever they decide but I'm tired of us not putting things into perspective, and thinking that phone calls are more severe than a coach being a bully ( a genius yes, but a bully none the less).I blame this on the national media as well for not making that connection ( except jay bilas).
    One more thing isn't it bothering anybody that the ncaa is using these gestappo methods on us and bullying us around. I say that if we fire coach sampson and they still ban us for a year we sue the living f%@k out of them. They have no basis if we probably end his tenure before june. The kids love this coach and is entitled to at least finish this season.

  • MLOVE

    Jamie-
    I have said it all along… You keep him until the end of the season… No coaches in America are talking to you right now in the middle of the season ANYWAY thats #1, #2 is that these kids love Samspon and love playing for him WHY STRIP them of that at this point of the SEASON. You will lessen the chances of guys LIKE CRAWFORD, BASSET, ELLIS, DEANDRE from leaving next yr bc it shows them that INDIANA UNIVERSITY CARES abt them. #3 YOu will still have PLENTYYYY of time before the NCAA rules to FIRE him or to do whatever and also LOOK into this SOME MORe….

  • Mark

    Good win last night, but I get the feeling we would have killed them had we not turned the ball over 23 times. Sure PU has played some good ball lately, but are they as good as their ranking and record? They beat MSU at home and we killed MSU at home. I just think we were our worst enemy last night with the turnovers and we still won, so I'm not sure I'm sold that PU is all that great. Also, I was stunned seeing the amount of PU fans in our house last night. That's the most opponent's fans I've seen in a long time, maybe ever. IU fans just cannot give up their seats to PU people. Come on people, I'll take your tix if you don't want them and I'd give them to IU fans. We should never see more than a few opposing fans at our place. I counted over 50 in 2 sections alone around me last night and they even had the nerve to start that stupid Boiler Up chant. What the heck does that mean anyway?

  • MikeyD

    See what I mean? What is the benefit of firing him now? After the season, we will have plenty of time to save face before the NCAA rules. I don't think he goes anywhere until the end of the season. I also think that if they were going to let him go sooner rather than later, he would have resigned to put himself in a better light for a future job, and leniency from the NCAA.

  • Willis

    They did beat UW twice…

  • BigT

    did basset re-injure his ankle at the end of the game?

  • I thought they deserved a higher ranking, that is, before last night.

  • T

    Basset looked like he was limping, but then when D.J. fouled out with 10 seconds left Basset came in for him…so he couldn't be that hurt if they threw him back out there for the last ten seconds of the game

  • Nick

    I hate to say this, but I've been firm in my stance that IU is better than Wisconsin. The first game we started off horribly and outplayed them in the second half and the game at home was a fluke! Wisconsin is 6th in the Big 10+1 in three point shooting and they hit everything including a banked three pointer a possession after a lousy NO CALL! I think we're better just fate played for them this year!

  • VA HoosierMama

    Scott Martin actually looks like that bad kid in Pinocchio – the one that takes Pinocchio to play pool and turns into a jacka$$. Some sort of metaphor there…

    I'm in Virginia, on local radio today they were talking about the Sampson Situation. They asked how in the world Sampson would even think of risking this great job over some phone calls. Big time college coaches have GREAT salaries & perks, fame, and, let's face it, a FUN job – beating Purdue, how much more fun can you get? He was handed a Second Chance on a silver platter and threw it away.

  • b_side

    Think he just had some cramps — looked like the trainer was giving him a good ol' rub down to loosen the calf muscles.

  • IU will undoubtedly have recruiting restrictions similar to those we were under the last year. However, I believe the head coach will be allowed to recruit off campus and make some phone calls. Except the restrictions to be spread amongst the staff. There is still the issue of needing to prove to the NCAA that the administration is on the right path as well.

  • b_side

    Just a side note on that Mich St victory, Purdue won without Hummel. But we won without 25 minutes of DJ. Call it what you will, but we just match up great with both of those teams. It's Wisco and their size that give us trouble.

  • Ellis and Deandre aren't going anywhere. They've waited far too long to be Division I basketball players. They aren't going to sit out another year, and I don't even know if they can as juco transfers.

  • They also have an incredibly high pressure job, where thousands, maybe millions of people are demanding results from them. They get paid a lot of money because their job isn't all speaking engagements and getting your name chanted. All credit to Mike Davis: he was in one of the best jobs in his profession and wasn't getting it done. Yet never did he cut corners in NCAA compliance or academics. If anyone had incentive to cheat those last couple of years in college basketball, it was him and he didn't do it.

    In addition, anyone who gets to the level that Sampson got to did so because they are insanely competitive people. I'm sure every recruiting loss that Sampson suffered pissed him off to no end. The guy is extremely competitive and wanted

  • (trailed off there)

    to make win every battle, not just the war. I'm not a psych major, but if that's not addictive behavior, I don't know what is.

  • when you're 0-2 against a team you just have to tip your cap and call them your daddy.

    frankly, wisconsin has a higher basketball IQ, that's why they won those two games.

  • tberry

    I think that the reason that you and many of the others changed your mind is because IU has started plying well and we beat Purdue and now you think we have a chance to go far into the NCAA.

    You are willing to accept the notion that, “The ends justify the means.”

    IU should never accept cheating and lying in exchange for winning. Fire Sampson now! End the repeated cheating and lying!

  • CB in OR

    thanks postman,
    if I could i would live in a perfect world where bball players and coaches didn't have drama and beaucratic mazes to tip-toe through. Where AJ would get his personal life together, get a give-a-guy-a-hand-up redshirt and scholarship so he can finish his senior year )08-09( with dignity. I'd like it if the basketball God would return Vaden to the IU 4 spot. I really wish there were a way to solve Sampsom's recruitimg telephone calls. If the media would say “recruitung telephone calls” and not “major infractions” it would make me feel less like we Hoosiers cheated but it is on us all no matter how we try to fix the blame. I'M SPARTACUS. GO IU!3
    .

  • TEAM PLAYER

    Out of the roughly 8,831 posts, on 352 websites, that I have read over the last week, this is the most simply put and heartfelt post I've seen. Thanks for reminding me of how insane this has all become. You can sure put it into perspective! Until now, I have not posted to a single site with a bitch, moan, or complaint and now I know I won't. I think I'll just hang out with you and see what happens. Let's just be there to support our team in whatever form it may take. SPARTACUS (CB) ROCKS! YOU'RE MY NEW HERO!!

  • Vaden at the four would be an unmitigated disaster. We don't need Vaden, he would be a detriment to this team unless he took Crawford's minutes.

  • b_side

    Think he just had some cramps — looked like the trainer was giving him a good ol' rub down to loosen the calf muscles.

  • IU will undoubtedly have recruiting restrictions similar to those we were under the last year. However, I believe the head coach will be allowed to recruit off campus and make some phone calls. Except the restrictions to be spread amongst the staff. There is still the issue of needing to prove to the NCAA that the administration is on the right path as well.

  • b_side

    Just a side note on that Mich St victory, Purdue won without Hummel. But we won without 25 minutes of DJ. Call it what you will, but we just match up great with both of those teams. It's Wisco and their size that give us trouble.

  • Ellis and Deandre aren't going anywhere. They've waited far too long to be Division I basketball players. They aren't going to sit out another year, and I don't even know if they can as juco transfers.

  • They also have an incredibly high pressure job, where thousands, maybe millions of people are demanding results from them. They get paid a lot of money because their job isn't all speaking engagements and getting your name chanted. All credit to Mike Davis: he was in one of the best jobs in his profession and wasn't getting it done. Yet never did he cut corners in NCAA compliance or academics. If anyone had incentive to cheat those last couple of years in college basketball, it was him and he didn't do it.

    In addition, anyone who gets to the level that Sampson got to did so because they are insanely competitive people. I'm sure every recruiting loss that Sampson suffered pissed him off to no end. The guy is extremely competitive and wanted

  • (trailed off there)

    to make win every battle, not just the war. I'm not a psych major, but if that's not addictive behavior, I don't know what is.

  • when you're 0-2 against a team you just have to tip your cap and call them your daddy.

    frankly, wisconsin has a higher basketball IQ, that's why they won those two games.

  • tberry

    I think that the reason that you and many of the others changed your mind is because IU has started plying well and we beat Purdue and now you think we have a chance to go far into the NCAA.

    You are willing to accept the notion that, “The ends justify the means.”

    IU should never accept cheating and lying in exchange for winning. Fire Sampson now! End the repeated cheating and lying!

  • CB in OR

    thanks postman,
    if I could i would live in a perfect world where bball players and coaches didn't have drama and beaucratic mazes to tip-toe through. Where AJ would get his personal life together, get a give-a-guy-a-hand-up redshirt and scholarship so he can finish his senior year )08-09( with dignity. I'd like it if the basketball God would return Vaden to the IU 4 spot. I really wish there were a way to solve Sampsom's recruitimg telephone calls. If the media would say “recruitung telephone calls” and not “major infractions” it would make me feel less like we Hoosiers cheated but it is on us all no matter how we try to fix the blame. I'M SPARTACUS. GO IU!3
    .

  • TEAM PLAYER

    Out of the roughly 8,831 posts, on 352 websites, that I have read over the last week, this is the most simply put and heartfelt post I've seen. Thanks for reminding me of how insane this has all become. You can sure put it into perspective! Until now, I have not posted to a single site with a bitch, moan, or complaint and now I know I won't. I think I'll just hang out with you and see what happens. Let's just be there to support our team in whatever form it may take. SPARTACUS (CB) ROCKS! YOU'RE MY NEW HERO!!

  • Vaden at the four would be an unmitigated disaster. We don't need Vaden, he would be a detriment to this team unless he took Crawford's minutes.