Iowa game presents Indiana a new kind of test

  • 01/22/2010 5:15 pm in

Well, OK then, Indiana can win on the road in the Big Ten.

No, Penn State hasn’t won a conference game yet, and yes, the Hoosiers almost let a comfortable lead slip away, (again) but given all that this team has endured — and must still endure — opponents really aren’t the concern right now.

And, given all their lessons in the stark reality of college basketball, surely the Hoosiers know what comes next: another test.

Iowa makes the trip east Sunday evening to meet Indiana inside Assembly Hall. Beset by transfers, player ineligibility and a general post-Steve Alford malaise that’s left the program appearing almost drunken at times, the Hawkeyes were the one team in the Big Ten that stood any chance of being worse than Indiana when the season started.

Now the Hawkeyes, led by former Butler coach Todd Lickliter, are 7-12 and 1-5 in the Big Ten, the lone conference victory being a three-point home win against the absent Nittany Lions.

Second-leading scorer Anthony Tucker, suspended after a second arrest in December, will return to practice with his team Monday, but he’ll miss the trip to Bloomington. That means Iowa brings just one double-digit scorer — Matt Gatens — east for Sunday’s tussle.

This is all a drawn-out way of saying the Hoosiers should (and will) be expected to win come Sunday’s tipoff. It seems simple enough, but consider this: Indiana was pegged right around a 10-point underdog at Penn State, a team that had not won a Big Ten game in five tries, and oddsmakers don’t have their jobs just because they know a guy who knows a guy.

As has been repeated ad nauseum, expectations for this team are bottom-of-the-barrel. But when you beat Michigan and Minnesota and you manage a 3-3 start in conference play, said expectations are raised, if only slightly.

So for quite possibly the first time since Tom Crean’s first Big Ten game, Indiana will be expected to win a conference game. So now it’s time for the Hoosiers to learn how to play with real expectations, if only briefly. Just another step up or down the ladder, depending upon the performance IU turns out.

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  • Uncle-Kerfuffle

    Of course, I hope for and expect a win on Sunday evening. After the longest Big 10 winning streak in a long time for the Hoosiers, I am more focused on how they win, assuming that is the outcome. Consistency and having the ability to stick the dagger in for the kill are two things that this game should provide an opportunity for the Hoosiers to demonstrate before the home crowd.

    I think this game can have some similarity to the Minnesota game in that the Hoosiers have a chance to get a moral victory and a win at the same time.

  • Dirk

    It's a sign of progress that we're worried about a letdown.

  • IUMIKE1

    This season was, is, and still is, full of tests of all kinds and that is just the way it is right now and we can be almost sure that some of the ones that we have passed will end up having to be passed a second time which I guess is actually a test in itself in that how many will we have to pass again, which ones will we have to pass again and will we put that kind of thing behind us once we have to pass certain tests a second time. No one likes having to take baby steps but once again that is just how it is right now. Beating MN was a test we passed, getting any kind of a road win, even if it was against Penn, was test that we passed. We may be having to take baby steps but at least we are passing most of these tests and it appears that we are contining to make progress. At this point in our rebuilding any kind of step forward is good thing and Coach Crean and the team should be applauded for it. Now we have still yet another kind of test on Sunday against a team, that as Zach has said, we will be expected to beat and not by just the IU faithfull. The question is can we pass it and if we do will we barely pass it or will we ace it. While I'm hoping that they ace it I am willing to be OK with just passing it. If after Creek had went down someone told all of us that seven games into the B10 that we would be .500 or even a game over that I think most if not nearly all would have said that they would be more than happy with that kind of a record but that they just didn't see any way that that was going to happen. The fact that most will we be expecting us to win this game is in itself a step forward. The unusual feel of favorite rather than underdog (Vegas will probably have Iowa as the favorite though) should be enjoyed because I feel reasonably safe in saying that we will not be in that position until we play Iowa again and that one is not in the friendly confines of AH but I guess that is still yet another test in that will we be able to beat them on the road (OK I'm not getting ahead of myself just trying to think positive) after going thru some more growing pains over that eight game stretch. This may just be “what we are” but it is what we are becoming that has me excited. Heres to studying hard and aceing the next test on Sunday.
    GO HOOSIERS !!

  • aerialM

    I agree; there aren't any games but this one where we'll be expected/favored to win, so taking care of business is a new(er) challenge for us. I'm confident, at home, we answer the call.
    I live in Iowa City & let me tell you: Iowa is terrible. I'm amazed when they keep a game close. We should be able to out-muscle them, out-rebound them, out-defend them and out-run them. They have their moments from outside, but we should be able to take their best shot and keep rolling. Go IU!

  • iumarine

    I agreed with all that the win at Penn State is huge for this team. I am concerned, however, with this being a young team that they may “look” past Iowa and allow an upset. This is an unfamilar position for this IU team to be in. I expect Rivers to bounce back after his last night out in front of his dad. His leadership will be key to keeping us focused as the “coach on the floor.” I have been a Dumes critic, but was impressed by his “best game as a hoosier” when we needed it.

    Go Hoosiers!

  • Kelin Blab

    I think Crean has done a good job this year getting the guys mentally prepared after some of these tough losses, i'm sure he has the formula for after winning two in a row and playing a team they should beat…. I want to see our first 20 point win.

    IU beats Iowa, Colts beat the Jets…could be a perfect weekend.

  • JerryCT

    AGREED. A win is good but a blowout would show we have made big progress.

  • HoosierSmitty

    This is a critical game for the Hoosiers. We have to keep building confidence. The upcoming 8 game stretch between our contests v. Iowa starting with a road game at Illinois is brutal. Then it's home v. Purdue, at Northwestern, home v.Ohio State, at Wisconsin, home v. Michigan State, at Minnesota, and home v. Wisconsin.

    If we can win just ONE of those games I'll be pleased. But if we go into that stretch on a 3 game winning streak, we might be able to sneak out a few wins at home.

    With a win or two during that stretch, we'd be 11-16 or 12-15 I think heading into the game on the road against Iowa. Say we win two…beat Iowa, lose on the road at Purdue, and beat Northwestern at home.

    That realistically puts us at 14-16 and all of the sudden we're wondering how we didn't beat Loyola at home and how we laid an egg in Puerto Rico against Boston or George Mason.

    Now you can look at that and be depressed, but I think it's awesome we can even consider those scenarios given the start to this season and the injuries the team has suffered.

    Granted, nothing is a given with this team, but if we can knock off Iowa, perform respectable at Illinois and then shock Purdue in Assembly Hall, we'd be on a pretty sweet high.

    Go Hoosiers!

  • HoosierSmitty

    Add to that the fact that we'd be 8-10 in conference play and you have to wonder if Crean (who I and many others have been critical of) is then the favorite candidate for Big Ten coach of the year?

    Long way off…but it's fun to think about…

  • GFDave

    Epic opening sentence.

  • GFDave

    No doubt that the roller coaster ride continues and right now we are riding high. I agree with everybody in that what we need to avoid is a self-induced crash, like a mental let-down against Iowa.

    IMO things are too fragile and uncertain to be looking at the schedule and counting W's and L's. As we get closer to the end the shoulda, woulda, coulda stuff will be there waiting. Until then I'm just going to take my meds and gut it out one game at a time (lol).

  • JerryCT

    Good, Bad ,Unexpected…………I like it.

    CTC in my opinion is a long way off from COY candidate because other coaches may have overcome issues and have more success ie. Bill Carmody if NW finishes strong, Bo Ryan, Thad Matta if OSU finishes strong…and any coach of the B10 winner.

    Now if we start knocking off Wisc, PU, MSU, OSU then we have a case.

    To do that I believe that the changes we need to see are Rivers needs to be a more efficient scorer, Watford becomes unstoppable at something, Dumes plays under control and Pritchard gets 10pts and 8rebs a game. Its actually not too much to ask but too much to expect

  • cooper

    The motivation for this game should be this is a chance to show IU can do more than just beat teams. IU should blow them out, Iowa is an awful team.

    Game is ripe for IU to open in the press and blow off the floor early. Would also like to see a two man game between Hulls/Dumes and Pritchard/Elston. Give those guys the ball in the post one or twice and see what happens. Let them make a move or two and if they get doubled kick it out for the open jumper

  • cooper

    I think 13 wins is realistic. I think IU has a better chance against Purdue at home than they do against OSU. I think Purdue is overrated. They are a solid team but they do not have a star. IU seems to do better against teams that don't have one or two great players but are overall good teams like Pitt and Minn.

    Smitty, I'm liking 24 so far this season too. I like how Renee has become so dark and crazy. She may need her own show if she keeps it up.

    Jerry for any post player to score double figures they are going to have to get the ball. the only way they score now is on put backs or drives to the hoop. How about some passes to the post? Where did the 10ft jumper from TP go?

  • Super Suhr

    Depending on how the cards fall, 8-10 could get us a 7 seed in the Big 10 Tournament which means we'd have a pretty good shot of adding one more win to our season total against the likely 10 seed (Iowa or Penn State).

  • redinthehead

    But can we out philosiphy them, Counselor?

  • IUMIKE1

    Thanks, but have got to learn to rein in the word count. That seems to happen when posting late at night. I hear you on the “meds” thing you mentioned below sounds like we care about and watch the games in a very similar way.

  • MillaRed

    Goodness I would be happy with a one point win over Iowa. There is still such a long way to go.

    When I watched the Penn State game I realized we were actually a better team out there. We had better athletes, size, shooters and ball-handlers (doesn't say much for PSU does it?)

    We are better than Iowa. Let's hope we play as hungry as we have the last two weeks.

    Major props to Coach Crean for holding this team together after Creek went down. It's a shame he's not on the court to be a part of the development.

  • illinoishoosier

    I thought you were rooting for the jets