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Someone must have been praying for me

Matt Howard, a 6-foot-8 junior forward for the Butler Bulldogs, will create his own Final Four memories this weekend.

They’ll fight to crowd out the basketball memory that defined his childhood in Connersville: Indiana’s run to the 2002 national title game.

“Following Dane Fife and all those guys,” he said, “that’s my first tournament memory.”

When Howard, one of 10 children, grew into one of the most coveted players in the state, new Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson came calling. This was the summer of 2006, just a few months after Sampson arrived. Howard knew the program would be in transition.

He still didn’t like the experience in Bloomington.

“I did a little bit, but, man, somebody either must have been praying for me or something,” Howard said Thursday after Butler practiced at Lucas Oil Stadium in preparation for its national semifinal game against Michigan State Saturday. “In my mind it didn’t feel right when it was Sampson there. I’m really glad that was the case. Once I went there and visited and got that feeling, it never really was an option afterward.”

Later, Howard reflected how “interesting” it was that things have worked out the way they did for the school he dreamed of playing for and the one he ended up playing for. In his hometown, he said, people wouldn’t think of spending a game night doing anything other than listening to Don Fischer and Todd Leary on the radio.

“That was pretty much it,” he said.

His run with the Bulldogs, though, has earned Butler a few fans, he said.

“They sent 800 people up here on buses for a game once,” he said. “That’s pretty substantial for a town of 15,000, maybe smaller.”


Crazy rumor or April Fools? You decide

izzo-crean

That photo is not a joke. The rest of this very may well be. But I am thinking the use of April Fools for one part of the story (easily the most insane part) may mean the rest has some morsel of truth.

Midwestsportsfans.com, a site I have never heard of, is reporting Tom Izzo will leave Michigan State for the New Jersey Nets. That’s not surprising. Been reported before. Will be reported again. May even be true. Izzo does not have much left to accomplish in the college game — he’s too old to take down Bob Knight’s wins record and he’s made Final Four the Tom Izzo invitational.

But here is where the whole thing gets fun:

The next obvious question for Spartan fans and Big Ten fans is who would take over at Michigan State in the event that Izzo leaves. When I posed this question to my source, he answered almost before I get the question out: Tom Crean. In fact, the ability to hand the job over to Crean would be a motivating factor in Izzo leaving.

Oh yeah, he went there. He also provided that great photo above. We’ll be saving that one. I am sure Chronic will as well.

So who replaces Crean at Indiana? Brad Stevens? Nope — the grumpiest man to ever wear a red sweater.

The university is reportedly ready to offer Knight a blank chank, rename Assembly Hall after him, replace the statue in Showalter fountain with one of Kent Benson boxing out, and give him final say over everything basketball-related, as well as a 50-tolerance policy in place of his previously mandated zero-tolerance policy — meaning he can engage in 50 blowups, assaults, profanity-laced lambastes, etc., before the university will consider action…like how things were in the 80s.

That’s the April Fools part, the writer claims.

So is the rest true? Or just an elaborate April Fools joke designed to send traffic rushing towards a rather obscure site?


Hoosier Morning

sports_rsg_Jack1

Indiana women’s basketball coach Felisha Legette-Jack walks her team to center court after a win against Penn State. Monty Howell | Herald-Times

(more…)


Thursday chat, Final Four coverage

We’ll be hosting our regular Thursday discussion at the usual time (11 a.m.) today. Hope you join us.

I may be a bit late in providing answers because I will jump in Matt Dollinger’s freshly purchased mobile and ride with one of the H-T’s top 100 interns, all time (without a doubt), to the Final Four.

Dollinger and some of the other Indiana students you’ve come to know well — think DeAntae Prince, Zina Kumok, Greg Rosenstein, Sean Morrison, Stephanie Kuzydym, Nathan Hart, James Brosher (a current, and dominant, H-T photo intern) — will be working for a Student News Bureau being run by IU’s fledgling, but so-far-excellent sports journalism program. Find them here, and read often.

I’ll be providing coverage for, well, us. Should be interesting. Be sure to check in with me tomorrow, either here or on Twitter.


Harris confirms commitment

Kirk Harris, a 6-foot-5, 278-pound offensive lineman from Blue Valley High School in Stilwell, Kan., confirmed a report that he has committed to Indiana for the Class of 2011. He committed Thursday after visiting Bloomington for spring practice the last two days.

“I flew up there Tuesday morning,” Harris said. “We took a tour of the facility. It was amazing, I loved it. The staff was great. I love coach Mo (Moriarity) and coach Kyle (Conner). They’re really great guys. They know how to coach me. Coach (Bill) Lynch had a great vibe about him. He has great ideas. I think he’s going to lead the program in the right direction and I want to be a part of it.”

Harris had yet to receive a scholarship offer, but said he had attended several junior days at Big 12 schools including Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State and Nebraska. He said he was also receiving interest from Texas A&M among others.

He was so sure about Indiana after he took his visit, however, that he saw no need to wait for more offers.

“The people stood out,” he said. “They were all really nice. It’s like everyone up there is like family. They’ve got each other’s back. That was the special part about it.”


Harris’s coach says he has “great size, great feet”

Scout.com reported earlier today that Kirk Harris, a 6-foot-5, 278-pound offensive lineman from Blue Valley High School in Stillwell, Kan., became the Indiana football team’s second commitment for the Class of 2011. Blue Valley coach Eric Driskell was not aware of this when contacted Wednesday.

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” he said. “I knew he went up there, and he just got back this morning so I haven’t talked to him yet.”

However, if the Hoosiers do in fact have a commitment from Harris, Driskell says they have a lineman with the size to play tackle but the ability to move inside if necessary. Harris started at right tackle as a sophomore, which Driskell said is a rarity, then at left tackle as a junior helping Blue Valley to a 10-2 record and a berth in the state semifinals.

“I think Kirk’s a tremendous athlete,” said Driskell, who has been the offensive line coach for 14 years and is going into his first season as Blue Valley’s head coach. “He’s got great size, great feet, and he has a tremendous work ethic.”

Hope to have more on this later, including confirmation from Harris.


Etherington named to Junior All-Stars

Austin Etherington, a 2011 verbal commit out of Hamilton Heights, has been selected as one of six northern players for the Indiana Junior All-Stars.

Etherington will play in one of two exhibitions against the Indiana Senior All-Stars.

The core six (which will play in both games) is Pike’s Marquis Teague, Lawrence North’s Michael Chandler, Bloomington South’s Dee Davis, Gary Wallace’s Branden Dawson and Washington’s Cody Zeller.

Etherington is joined in the north six by, among others, Muncie Central’s Jeremiah Davis.

Princeton’s Jalen Packer, Terre Haute North’s Justin Gant and Bloomington South’s Matt Carlino are among the southern six.



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Assembly Hall Renovation

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