I think last night told us a lot about the college basketball teams still vying for their shot at a national championship (North Carolina is really, really good). Among my conclusions and a few predictions for tonight:
- As great as Stephen Curry is- and for my money, the most exciting to player to watch in this year’s tourney, including Michael Beasley- giving Bo Ryan and his Wisconsin staff five days to prepare for a Davidson team means only one thing: a Badgers win. Ryan is not only the best coach in the Big Ten but one of the very best in all of college basketball. Wisconsin is also one of the most underrated teams left in the tournament, but that will change after they easily dismantle the Wildcats, setting up an Elite Eight showdown with the ever-so-deep Kansas Jayhawks. Wisconsin 74, Davidson 58.
- Stanford and Texas will be the game of the night. Both teams have legitimate Final Four chances. As good as I think Stanford is- I went out on a limb and have them in the Final Four in my bracket- I just can’t pick against Texas right now. Rick Barnes has his club playing as well as anyone I’ve seen. Texas 78, Stanford 65.
- Kansas-Villanova. As good as a job Jay Wright has done with his Wildcat squad in the post-season, they just won’t have the depth to keep up with a Kansas team deeper and more talented than any team in the nation not residing in Chapel Hill, NC. Kansas 85, Villanova 62.
- I’m not picking Michigan State over Memphis just because Dick Vitale did on SportsCenter this morning. I’m picking them because Tom Izzo has a great ability to get his teams to peak at the right time of the year. Remember, this MSU squad came into Bloomington in mid-February (amidst the Kelvin Sampson investigation debacle) and were blown out by a D.J. White-less Hoosiers. Then a few weeks later, blew Indiana out in East Lansing. Izzo’s team is improving. And I’ve never been sold on John Callipari’s squad. It’ll come down to free throws, and as we all know, that doesn’t bode well for the Tigers. Michigan State 76, Memphis 75.
Actually, it’s not. But I was an English major, and unless I throw out a literary allusion in the titles of my blog posts I feel as though those years were wasted on less noble pursuits, such as obtaining the best seat on the patio at the corner bar. Which they might have been, but I digress.
There’s been plenty of talk. Everybody is hearing the name Rick Pitino and trying to figure out if it make sense for him to bolt Louisville. Tony Bennett, freshly freed from having to coach in that pesky tournament, is another name seemingly floating on the wind. A good source has told me that Thad Matta is a possibility and that Mike Montgomery is indeed being considered. At the very least, there seems to be more “reaching out” this time around; that is, the larger search committee has allowed for more contacts with potential candidates to be made. Whether those contacts are anything more than symbolic — or, for that matter, whether the Miller High Life Panel itself (or was that the Pabst Blue Ribbon Committee?) is merely symbolic — remains to be seen and, if athletic director Rick Greenspan has his way, never will be.
Silence is the emphasis of the athletic department during this search. After a few early leaks, there was a meeting held for the reason of informing people not to leak info … or else.
A few days later, word of that meeting leaked. From multiple places.
I’ve been trying all week to figure out what is really happening with this hire (which is why you haven’t seen me ’round these parts as much) and though people are giving me plenty of tips — like this one: “There was indeed an athletic department official on the plane that went to South Bend Thursday” — I haven’t been able to put them together into anything that really makes sense.
We’re trying. And we’ll let you know as soon as things start to come together and make some sense.
UPDATE: The aforementioned and possibly interesting news has been postponed. But soon. We think (or hope).
Here’s an uplifting read on what’s happening at Davidson right now, where a trip to the Sweet 16 game is on the house for the students.
UPDATES AFTER PRACTICE: The only new information we learned about the status of Kellen Lewis is that Lewis will miss the entire spring. Coach Bill Lynch said he’s hopeful that Lewis will be back with IU’s team for voluntary workouts this summer.
The big news today is that IU is going to a no-huddle offense. The Hoosiers will still use the same plays, but plan to play at a faster pace, such as we’ve often seen the Colts employ. The coaching staff studied the no-huddle by talking with coaches at Oregon and with the Colts, and they say the use of that offense went better than expected in today’s first practice.
Offensive coordinator Matt Canada said it was the best first day of spring practice for the offense that he’s experienced at IU.
In other personnel news, Lynch said that James Bailey will be occupied for a couple of days to attend to a personal matter so he’s being excused from practice.
With Indiana’s first spring practice underway in Mellencamp Pavilion, the Hoosiers have more injuries and players not practicing than I remember in the previous six years I’ve covered spring practice.
Besides Kellen Lewis not being here because of disciplinary reason, receiver James Bailey is also not here. We’re supposed to hear more about Lewis and Bailey after practice from coach Bill Lynch. We’ll be back with a further report right after practice, by 7 p.m. or so.
The position hardest hit by injuries is the offensive line, which is bad news given that IU has to replace last year’s senior starters at center, right tackle and right guard with younger players.
Here’s the list of players unable to play in today’s practice: OL Pete Saxon (shoulder, out for the whole spring), OL Mike Stark (back, out for the spring), OL James Brewer (foot, out for the spring), OL Josh Hager (ankle, out for the spring), OL Rodger Saffold (leg, availibility is day to day), OL Dan Rutigliano (knee, out for the spring), DL Greg Brown (shoulder, out for the spring), QB Teddy Schell (elbow, out for the spring), RB Demetrius McCray (foot, questionable), DL Deonte Mack (shoulder, out for the spring), DB Rayshun Calhoun (out for the spring).
There are enough offensive linemen out that it will surely impact the extent to which the Hoosiers can hold a true scrimmage this spring.
As we previously mentioned, WR Andrew Means is out for the spring to concentrate on baseball.
We’ll be talking with coaches and players after practice and will provide updates as soon as we can.
As I’m sure many of you know, there’s a ton of rumors floating around out there about who is going to be Indiana’s next basketball coach.
Please, do me a favor.
Take them with a grain of salt.
It’s just impossible in this day and age- one dominated by message board posts and the growing blogosphere- to separate real news from speculation. Essentially, that’s our job as journalists: reporting the facts. But with a coaching search like this, one where those in charge are very tight-lipped, it becomes as hard as say, shutting down Sonny Weems in the NCAA Tournament. Well, OK, maybe not that hard.
Essentially, we won’t know officially who the next head coach is until IU Media Relations decides to draft and send out a press release announcing they’ve got their man.
What I don’t understand is how all these message board posters are just so sure about who it’s going to be. They’ll write that they saw an IU airplane stop in such and such city, or somehow they know an IU trustee who told them it’s a done deal and it’s just a matter of contract negotiations now, or that their friend’s dad is a former player’s dentist and he told her that he knows for sure who it is.
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It may still look and feel like winter, but Indiana’s spring football will begin tomorrow with an afternoon practice.
Players will be in shorts for that practice and for the second spring practice Thursday. The first practice in pads will be Friday.
Other notes for the start of spring practice:
IU will open with sophomores Ben Chappell and Mitchell Evans 1-2 at quarterback. We have no update on the status of Kellen Lewis, but will try to get one tomorrow.
WR Andrew Means will not participate in spring practice because he’s playing on IU’s baseball team (hitting .390 and leading the Hoosiers in stolen bases). WR Terrence Turner will see limited spring play because of knee surgery last fall.
RB Marcus Thigpen is expected to participate in spring practice one day per week. He is a sprinter on the IU track team and will focus more on that sport this spring.
IU will hold scrimmages that are open to the public on April 5 and 11. The spring game will be on April 19 at 2 p.m.
Offensive lineman A.J. Thompson and defensive lineman Kyle Kozak are the only new scholarship players this spring. Both are early enrollees from IU’s 2008 recruiting class.
Here’s a note that ran in Sunday’s NY Daily News:HOOSIER DADDY? With Indiana eliminated from the NCAA Tournament, the school is expected to being a search for a new head coach. Former Hoosier player Dan Dakich is serving as the interim coach.Scott Skiles is scheduled to be interviewed for the job, but when one of Indiana’s most famous alums was asked if he has any interest, Thomas passed. “I would hope that they would keep Dan Dakich there,” Thomas said. “Dan has done a good job under some tough circumstances. “I’ll do everything I can to help and support the program in terms of financial resources and also helping them recruit players. I definitely would like to see Dakich keep the job.”