Gents, ladies, friends of the ITH blogging republic. Today I meet you at an impasse. Today I greet you with somber news. For today is, unfortunately, my last day on the site. I know, I know. You’re devastated.
In fact, many of you probably won’t even notice. With the way my non-ITH work has bundled in the last few months, I haven’t made much of a contribution to this fine site in a while. And now, thanks to a new job blogging college basketball at ESPN.com, I can safely linger on the fringes no more. I must leave.
Speaking at a fundraiser for the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame on Thursday night on the southside of Indianapolis, former IU coach Bob Knight voiced his displeasure with the lack of integrity that exists in college sports today. That included this gem of a quote about first-year Kentucky head coach, John Calipari:
“We’ve gotten into this situation where integrity is really lacking and that’s why I’m glad I’m not coaching. You see we’ve got a coach at Kentucky (John Calipari), who put two schools on probation and he’s still coaching. I really don’t understand that.”
“And very few people know this, but a kid can play the first semester as a freshman, pass six hours of anything and play in the NCAA tournament without ever attending a class in the second semester. I don’t think that’s right.”
The second part of Knight’s quote is precisely what was running through my mind as I sat in Calipari’s postgame press conference last Saturday and listened to him talk about John Wall as if he was a Rhodes Scholar.
I’m pretty sure this isn’t what Tubby Smith envisioned when he signed the No. 19 recruit in the country, but White clearly has problems beyond basketball that need to be addressed. So, what’s next for White? Most likely a program willing to give him a second chance (where have you gone, Jerry Tarkanian?) or if he tries to go pro, presumably the NBDL.
It’s been lost in my mind — as things often get — since the last time I visited Bloomington and saw it over the summer, but yeah: Indiana is still constructing the new basketball practice facility. According to a release from IU Athletics yesterday, we still have some time to wait till this puppy is complete. Construction is scheduled to run for several more months, and they’re looking at a spring 2010 completion date.
The Basketball Development Center isn’t going to make every top recruit rush to IU, but the Indiana mystique, Tom Crean’s charm and an improving team can only go so far: at some point, you have to show a teenager something fancy. This practice facility is it, and it’s a facet the Hoosier basketball program has lacked. Other top programs can bust out the trump card with one of these facilities. Right now, IU only has a virtual tour to show off. Actually taking a kid inside this thing when it’s complete is a whole other level.
Throughout the season, Inside the Hall will keep you posted on how Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey and 2011 commitments Austin Etherington and Matt Carlino are performing at their respective schools. Here’s our latest update:
+ Victor Oladipo: DeMatha moved to 6-0 with a pair of wins over Carroll (10 for Oladipo) and Benedectine (9 for Oladipo). The Stags are ranked No. 15 in the USA Today Super 25.
+ Will Sheehey: Playing in his first season at Sagemont, Sheehey returned from an ankle injury recently and scored 35 points in a 75-65 win Friday over Palmetto and had 10 points in a Saturday win over Gainesville Bucholz. Sagemont is 5-1.
+ Austin Etherington: Hamilton Heights (3-2) snapped a two-game skid with a pair of weekend road wins over Lewis Cass and Tri-Central. Etherington scored 35 in Saturday’s win over Tri-Central.
+ Matt Carlino: Bloomington South continued its winning ways with a 72-43 win on Friday at Southport and a 54-42 win at home over Terre Haute North on Saturday. Carlino scored 18 points on Friday and five points on Saturday. The Panthers are No. 1 in Class 4A and No. 10 in the USA Today Super 25.
+ Cody Zeller: The Hatchets, No. 2 in Class 3A, moved to 5-0 with a pair of wins — 61-37 on Friday at Edgewood and 67-46 on Saturday against Forest Park. Zeller had 19 points in the Edgewood win.
+ Jeremiah Davis: The Muncie Central guard returned from a one-game suspension to score 14 points in a 70-64 home loss against Kokomo on Friday. The Bearcats are 2-2.
+ D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera: Smith-Rivera scored 10 points in a 83-79 North Central loss on Friday at Carmel.
+ Ron Patterson: The 6-3 Broad Ripple sophomore had 17 points and seven rebounds in a 82-48 Friday win over Indianapolis Ritter.
After their failed venture in Puerto Rico and subsequent loss to Maryland at home, expectations for this team shifted. Where once IU fans had hopes of flirting with .500, a sobering reality hit: maybe our expectations for this team were too high, maybe this team wasn’t going to eclipse 10 wins after all.
But things changed, as they often do.
In the Hoosiers last two contests — a win over Pittsburgh, the biggest win of Tom Crean’s tenure, and a solid showing against Kentucky, one of the best teams in the country — they’ve shot the ball better, played some great zone defense and turned the ball over at a lesser rate. They’re starting to look like they belong. And so I think expectations are back where they were to start the season: this team, with an influx of talent and new faces, has enough going for it where, at their ceiling, they might be able to hit .500. As you can see with the use of the italics here, I stress might. Because heading into Big Ten play, IU will likely be 7-5. Which means the Hoosiers are going to have to go 8-10 during Big Ten play — I’m not counting the Big Ten tourney here — to finish the season at 15-15. Is this out of the realm of possibility? No. Is it likely? Probably not. It’s a safer bet to project IU in the 10-14 win range right now.