The Morning After: Minnesota
All we are past the mopey part of the season now? I’ll admit, I’ve gone through some weird attitudinal shifts toward the 2008-09 Indiana Hoosiers — going from depression to blind faith to cheeriness and back again a couple of times. The past week or so has been the worst. Just as the college basketball season is taking off, earning more nightly attention than at any other part of the year, the cruel reality about Indiana basketball was finally sinking in: IU is just plain awful. They’re going to be awful for the rest of the season. And no amount of rationalizing is going to make the experience any better.
So yeah, the past few weeks — the Michigan game, then the Illinois debacle, and so on — have been pretty depressing. It’s enough to challenge one’s sanity. Why am I watching this team? What’s the point? Do I really not care about Indiana basketball?
Of course I do, and the Hoosiers’ game against Minnesota proved why: They’re getting there. It might not happen on the road, and it might not happen soon, but IU will win a Big Ten game, and it will be awesome.
Until then there’s not a lot to analyze, really. The Hoosiers are just as bad as they look. They’re inefficient offensively because they turn the ball over like crazy. They allow far too many open looks, they don’t have the size to match up, they’re inexperienced, and so forth. There are only so many ways to write that brilliant batch of analysis you just read without getting sick of writing it, let alone reading it. But at one point, I now feel confident in saying, the stars will align, the opposing team won’t knock down those shots, the game will come down to the last few plays, and the Hoosiers won’t turn the ball over, or miss a free throw, or do something utterly erratic that boggles the mind and makes one throw a pillow at the opposite couch. They’ll complete that pass; they’ll make that shot; they’ll avoid weirdness. And they’ll win.
It will be short-lived and it might only be one game. But like I said: It will be awesome.
BRIEF, UNIMPORTANT MISCELLANY:
Without this turning into one of those gawd-awful notes columns some writers still do (Unfortunately Mike Downey retired from the Chicago Tribune; I so miss his wacky observations about American Idol and kids these days!), some random periphery stuff:
— The Indy Star’s always-interesting, always-verbose (really, though, who am I to talk?) Terry Hutchens is asking today why Devan Dumes wasn’t in the game down the stretch, even with his foul issues, which was hard not to notice during the game. It was made more obvious by Dumes taking that last three, which appeared to be a play set up for Matt Roth on a double screen. Roth was too slow getting around, Minnesota defended it well, and it was left to Dumes to take one of his wild-but-somehow-still-occasionally-goes-in 3-pointers. So, where was Dumes? And to a larger point, as a commenter noted under Alex’s wrap yesterday, are Tom Crean’s substitution patterns a teensy bit unreliable?
I don’t really have an answer, not only because it’s not something I’ve really noticed but I’m sort of hesitant to question how Crean could better maximize this team’s limited human capital. There’s not a lot of wiggle room there; they’re just bad, and he knows it. Tinkering too much with the Hoosiers’ lineup is a little like a fly adjusting its above-highway flight by a few inches. Recalibrate all you want, but that truck’s windshield is still coming.
— People actually showed up! To the game! And wore the right color shirt! And got to keep that shirt! And the shirt had a Winston Churchill quote on it! This is a win-win for everyone; as long as tickets remain $5 and t-shirts remain plentiful, maybe the Hoosiers can keep that attendance ticking in this, our year of recession (both athletic and economic).
Lowering cost, matching price to demand — sounds like a smart business strategy to me. But then my only business course was in sixth grade, when I played Lemonade Stand on my Apple IIE at study hall.