Catching up with IU commitment Will Sheehey

Playing on ESPNU is already out of his mind. Will Sheehey’s focus is squarely set on Friday.

Sheehey’s Sagemont School met Monteverde Academy Feb. 5 in an ESPNU-televised match-up that featured fellow top recruits Rod Days and Fabricio Melo, Sheehey’s Syracuse-bound teammate. Sagemont came up just short, losing 57-52, but Sheehey’s focus is already focused on this Friday, when district playoffs begin.

“It’s going great,” Sheehey said of his season thus far in an interview with Inside the Hall. “Our team has been playing really well.”

Sagemont finished its regular season 20-7, and should it make district finals, the Weston, Fla., school will book its place in the state tournament. Sheehey missed the early part of this season with an ankle injury, but he said when he returned, “everybody started to gel,” giving the 6-foot-5 guard confidence that Sagemont’s state tournament run could be a prolonged one.

“I think that we’re playing our best basketball right now,” he told Inside The Hall.

Since signing his letter of intent to play at IU in November, Sheehey says he’s stayed in regular contact with the coaching staff in Bloomington, Tim Buckley and Tom Crean in particular. He said he tries to meet up whenever recruiting brings Crean or another of the Hoosiers’ coaches to the Sunshine State.

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Rumor Alert: Rick Pitino interested in Nets job?

By now, you’ve likely read the New York Daily News report published this morning linking Louisville coach Rick Pitino to the New Jersey Nets coaching job. If you haven’t, here are the pertinent details:

Sources close to Pitino said that the Louisville coach has reached out to Nets brass in recent days, making himself a candidate for the job now held by GM and interim coach Kiki Vandeweghe, and due to open after their woeful season is completed in April.

According to sources, Pitino had intermediaries recently contact Nets president Rod Thorn on his behalf. Thorn himself is in the final year of a contract, and is looking to get a new deal from incoming owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

Pitino, unsurprisingly, has denied any interest in the job to ESPN.com’s Pat Forde:

“There’s not an ounce of truth to it. I have no interest, period. I’m done with coaching professional basketball. I’ve put the professional ranks behind me.”

So, why, you ask, is this pertinent information for this here blog? Two words: Marquis Teague.

Louisville has long been recognized as the leader to land Teague. This rumor, regardless of its validity, only aids Tom Crean and other schools in the pursuit of Teague, no? The wildcard in all of this is Kentucky, where Teague will visit Saturday for a game against Tennessee. Also still reportedly in the mix: Cincinnati, Purdue, Ohio State and Wake Forest.

Leary enters plea of not guilty, surrenders passport

We’re a bit late on this one, but Todd Leary, the ex-IU guard and radio commentator who was arrested last week at Assembly Hall on 17 felony charges related to a scheme to misappropriate title funds, appeared in court on Tuesday. A judge entered a plea of not guilty for Leary, according to the Associated Press:

A judge has made a preliminary not guilty plea for a former Indiana University basketball player charged in connection with an ex-business partner’s multimillion-dollar fraud scheme.The plea was entered for 39-year-old Todd Leary of Carmel during an Allen County court hearing Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Rebecca S. Green of the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, who has been all over this story, reports that Leary surrendered his passport:

A clean-shaven Leary, 39, of Carmel, stood next to his Indianapolis-based attorney, Ginny Maxwell, in a dark suit with his hands in his pockets as Allen Superior Court Magistrate Robert Schmoll asked him whether he understood the charges.

Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Tim McCaulay asked Schmoll to order Leary to surrender his passport while the case is pending. Schmoll granted the request.

Leary remains free on $60,000 bond.

The Minute After: Ohio State

Men and boys tonight, kids.

I know the Hoosiers haven’t played the Badgers or Spartans yet this season, but there’s been no other team that’s outclassed them like the Buckeyes this year.

OSU is just a well-oiled, highly-efficient machine. Tonight’s win was its eighth-straight conference victory; in their previous seven wins, the Buckeyes were shooting an insane 58 percent on 2’s. Their effective field-goal percentage is 56.7 percent — good for third in the nation.

Watching them tonight, it’s easy to see why their offense is so efficient: they take a ton of high-percentage shots around the rim, and just about everybody outside of Jon Diebler, Dallas Lauderdale and Kyle Madsen can penetrate to the bucket for an easy two. They scored 40 of their 69 points in the paint tonight. The Buckeyes just have so much length and athleticism; it’s difficult to matchup against them because of it.

And that size and athleticism also helps them create easy buckets: steal and blocks — they had a healthy nine swats tonight — lead to fast breaks, which leads to easy 2’s. It certainly helped their cause that IU turned the ball over 14 times, which lead to 18 points.

What’s a little maddening on IU’s end is that they executed the gameplan in the first half: the Buckeyes don’t go that deep, so Tom Crean wanted to get into their bench. And when Evan Turner and P.J. Hill left with foul trouble, Ohio State went deeper into its bench than usual. Problem was, that bench outclassed the Hoosiers, too. By the end of the night, the Buckeyes posted 15 bench points, to the Hoosiers’ paltry three. And Madsen, off the bench, ended up with a career-high 11 points.

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Indiana falls 69-52 to Ohio State, drops fifth straight

The first meeting between Indiana and Ohio State produced a woefully one-sided contest, 79-54, back on January 6 at Value City Arena.

Fast forward the calendar five weeks and the rematch was the same old story.

Too much Will Buford, Dallas Lauderdale and Evan Turner. No offensive cohesion. And not nearly the defensive intensity needed to be competitive.

The result: A fifth straight loss for Indiana – 69-52 – dropping the Hoosiers to 9-14 overall and 3-8 in the Big Ten.

“It was pathetic in a lot of ways,” Tom Crean told Don Fisher on the postgame radio show. “It was pathetic defensively. It’s inexcusable, but I don’t have a lot of avenues to go right now in the sense of making different decisions. But we will and we’ll be able to correct it and fix it as we move along.”

Through the first 12-plus minutes, Indiana looked like it might make a game of it. With Turner on the bench with two fouls, the Hoosiers were within one at 18-17.

Ohio State responded with a 16-3 run the last 7:48 of the half to grab a 34-20 halftime lead. And the Hoosiers never got within 12 the rest of the way.

“The margin for error against teams like that are so poor for us, but we don’t have any chance when we don’t play harder than that,” Crean said.

Buford finished with a game-high 21 points, Lauderdale added 14 points and eight rebounds and Turner, the front runner for Big Ten Player of the Year, had 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 21 minutes.

It was the eighth straight Big Ten win for Ohio State, moving the Buckeyes into a tie for first place.

Indiana, which shot just 37 percent from the field, got 15 points and seven rebounds from Christian Watford and 13 points from Jordan Hulls.

+ Box score

Live Blog: Ohio State at Indiana

Eric Gordon among 27 named to USA National Team

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Los Angeles ClippersIn a press release issued this morning by USA Basketball, former Indiana guard Eric Gordon was among 27 players named to the National Men’s Basketball team for 2010-2012.

The fact that Gordon was named to the team doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll compete in either the FIBA World Championships in 2010 or the London Olympics in 2012, but it’s a good sign for his future with USA Basketball that he’s getting involved with the program in just his second NBA season.

Gordon, who will face-off against DeMar DeRozan on Friday night for the right to compete in Saturday’s Sprite Slam Dunk, is averaging 17 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists in his second NBA season for the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Clippers are 21-30 and in third place in the NBA’s Pacific Division.

Gordon will also compete on the sophomore squad in Friday’s T-Mobile Rookie Challenge, which will be televised by TNT at 9 p.m. ET.

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