Tonight’s even was fairly typical for these sorts of things.
Tom Crean spoke first, apparently so he could make it to his son’s baseball game. He told the crowd that his program is still in the early stages of a rebuilding project. He said the fans were an important part of that because they helped the program overcome the stigma of a 6-25 season. The support makes a big difference, he said.
Bill Lynch spoke of the future and of the past and of how they are intersecting this year. It’s the 125th birthday of the program, but this year represents a new beginning with the completion of the North End Zone project. He said he hopes the new facility will attract top recruits and, ultimately, fans. I wrote about the end of his speech in my story for tomorrow:
But he ended his speech to the crowd, which included former soccer coach Jerry Yeagley and other such luminaries of the IU athletics world, with an anecdote from a graduation celebration held for athletes over the weekend.
Each year, he said, one person is chosen to speak for the group of graduates. Sarah Stockwell, a senior swimmer from Kent, Wash., stood up and told the story of how she answered the ubiquitous question posed to her by the people back home: what’s a Hoosier?
“She always told them, ‘It’s a way of life,’” Lynch recounted, drawing cheers. “And I thought, ‘Wouldn’t you know it would take somebody from out of state to answer that question?’ But she’s right.
We’re going to teach our kids the Hoosier way.”
The setting here next to the DeVault Alumni Center is positively bucolic as about 150 people await the beginning of what’s been dubbed the IU Tailgate Tour.
Tonight, all four of the involved coaches — Tom Crean (men’s basketball), Bill Lynch (football), Felisha Legette-Jack (women’s basketball) and Sherry Dunbar (women’s volleyball) — are expected to address the crowd. I don’t know that what they’ll say will amount to anything more than the usual pep rally hype, but I’ll have updates a little later.
In the meantime, I will listen to the soothing tunes of Clayton Anderson. This can only lead to a Tom Crean Tweet later: “The performance by CLAYTON ANDERSON today was Strong. That’s what we need from our players!”
What I like most about Andre Kates, the first player to commit to join the Indiana football program as part of the 2010 class, is that he called us.
On Friday afternoon, he found the phone number for the local newspaper in a town he’d never been to and called to tell them he was coming.
Jim Gordillo eventually spoke to Mr. Kates and put together the following story.
So far, Andre Kates’ life out of high school has emulated his new position on the football field.
The 6-foot, 193-pound freshman cornerback at Erie Community College, who announced Friday his verbal commitment to Indiana as a part of the incoming group of 2010, had to backpedal the moment he graduated from high school in 2006.
His plans changed dramatically after committing to Florida, but now, he is charging forward with his life and picking off a Big Ten scholarship instead. He intends to sign a letter of intent in February.
Indiana won out over a number of big time programs, Ohio State, Florida, North Carolina, Miami (Fla.), Baylor, Memphis, Maryland, Illinois, Clemson, sight unseen. He was persuaded in part by by Hoosier assistant coach Joe Palcic, current IU defensive back and Florida transfer Jerimy Finch and the chance to come in and play right away, an important factor for the JUCO transfer with just two years of eligibility. North Carolina and Florida were the only schools he’s visited.
Bloomington South point guard Dee Davis has been offered a scholarship by both Xavier and Ohio.
Davis visited Xavier this weekend on an unofficial campus visit, and was told by the coaching staff he was their top priority at the point guard position, his mother, Leslie, said.
The Musketeers are expected to have four open scholarships for the class of 2011, and have yet to take a commitment. The Atlantic 10 school recently promoted assistant coach Chris Mack to head coach (replacing Sean Miller, who departed for Arizona) and then hired Pat Kelsey as associate head coach.
Kelsey, then at Wake Forest, visited Bloomington in April to watch Davis, Erik Fromm (also a Xavier recruit, though he has not been offered) and the rest of the South Panthers during an open gym workout.
Ohio, who sent two coaches to the same workout, has also offered Fromm.
Davis has an unofficial visit to Purdue scheduled for later this week.
Indiana is also recruiting Davis (he has taken a visit to the campus), as is Virginia and a host of other schools. Schools can begin directly contacting Davis and the rest of the class of 2011 on July 15.
Davis averaged 13.2 points and 5.2 assists a game for the Panthers as the team’s primary point guard and best on-ball defender. He was named MVP of the state tournament.
A press release for you….
ESPN Regional Television, Inc. (ERT), a subsidiary of ESPN, announced today the complete field for the 2009 O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off, to be held Nov. 19-22 at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico, located in the cosmopolitan Hato Rey district of San Juan.
The field for the third annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off will include Boston University, Dayton, George Mason, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Kansas State, Ole Miss and Villanova. UAB, which had been previously announced as part of the field, will be unable to participate due to a scheduling conflict.
Four of the eight teams announced reached the 2008-09 postseason. Villanova and Dayton played in the NCAA Tournament, with the Wildcats reaching the Final Four and the Flyers advancing to the second round. George Mason and Kansas State played in the National Invitation Tournament.
“The Puerto Rico Tip-Off continues to develop into a premier basketball tournament, as this year’s field represents outstanding conferences from around the country,” said Pete Derzis, Senior Vice President and General Manager, ESPN Regional Television. “We’re looking forward to this event, in its third year, showcasing such quality competition and a memorable experience for the fans, student-athletes, coaches and staff on and off the court in the great destination of San Juan.”
The 2009 O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off will feature 12 games in three days, Nov. 19-22. Each team will compete in one game per day, advancing through a bracket-tournament format. The two teams that remain undefeated throughout will face off in a championship match Sunday, Nov. 22.
In November 2008, Xavier defeated Memphis, 63-58, in the championship game. Both teams were eventually ranked in the top 10 in the polls later in the season. Miami (Fla.) won the inaugural O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off in 2007.
Additional information, including travel packages, can be found on the O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off Web site at www.PuertoRicoTipoff.com <http://www.PuertoRicoTipoff.com> .
Indiana baseball picked up a big commitment Friday, when 6-foot-4, 215-pound Trace Knoblauch signed with the Hoosiers. From an IU press release:
The Indiana baseball team has announced that Trace Knoblauch has signed a National Letter of Intent to join the Hoosiers in the fall of 2009. Knoblauch, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound first baseman and outfielder, is currently in his third year with Bellaire High School in Houston, Texas, playing under Rocky Manuel.
“Trace has been a leader of one of the best baseball programs in the country, and he has a strong baseball pedigree,” IU Head Coach Tracy Smith said. “He is a power hitter who can drive the ball to all fields, and with his size, he could become a big-time player in the Big Ten. He’s also a young man who is gifted academically, so we know he’ll be a great addition to the university as a whole as well as to our team.”
Knoblauch comes from a baseball background, as he is the third generation of Knoblauchs to coach or play for Bellaire High School. The team plays on Ray Knoblauch Field, named after Trace’s grandfather, who was the longtime coach of the team. Ray and his brother Eddie Knoblauch both had long careers in the Texas League, and Trace’s uncle, Chuck Knoblauch, played 12 years in the major leagues and was a four-time all-star who finished his career with 407 stolen bases.
Knoblauch is currently hitting .450 with five home runs and 30 RBI. He is the team captain of a Bellaire squad that is ranked first in the nation by Baseball America at 20-1-1. The high school season has been suspended in the state due to health concerns.
I remember Chuck Knoblauch (pictured above) fondly. I was a second baseman, and he played second base. After Mark Lemke, he was perhaps my second-favorite second baseman (and I was more than a bit of a baseball nut, so that meant something). He was a star for the Minnesota Twins, went the New York Yankees and got the yips. Couldn’t make the throw to first base and, well, that’s important.
For Indiana, this is a fairly big commitment. Texas has a lot of good baseball players — 63 Texans are in the major leagues right, second-best to California.
If you’ve done any traveling around the Big Ten during football season, you know that one of the greatest mysteries known to man is how Indiana manages to have some of the worst traffic on game day while also having the smallest crowds. It defies logic.
This year, things could even be worse. Construction to the 45/46 Bypass will choke the avenues usually used to reach the stadium.
Never fear. IU has a plan. You can discern it from the diagrams below.
Doug Wilson has been covering Indiana athletics for The Herald-Times for the last seven years. He’s been sports editor for the past three. He’s chronicled the strange end of Mike Davis, the rise and demise of Kelvin Sampson and the efforts of Tom Crean to resurrect the program. It was through Doug’s words that you read of the energy Terry Hoeppner brought to the Hoosiers football program, and of the illness that took Hoeppner … and of how it failed to extinguish the hope he’d instilled in so many.
Our Thursday chat — at the usual time of 11 a.m. but not at the usual place — will be an informal discussion of all Doug has seen and covered in his time here. You can use the chat window below to ask questions, share observations or even gripe about his work.
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