News and notes from IndyBall

The entire crew — yes, those fellows you see pictured in the top right corner — has journeyed to North Central H.S., where the IndyBall AAU tournament will concluded today.

You should follow on Twitter if you want instant updates and reaction.

We’ll also corral our thoughts here.

[UPDATE, 11:14 a.m., from Dustin Dopirak]

Austin Etherington has heard the same rumors you have, but the Hamilton Heights junior says none of them are true. His verbal commitment to Indiana is still firm, he said, and there is nothing to the rumors that he was thinking about going to Butler.

“They’re just saying that because my dad went there,” Etherington said. “I hear that all the time at school, people will be like ‘Hey, I heard you’re decommitting.’ But no, it’s 100 percent.”

Etherington said he wasn’t at all discouraged by Indiana’s disappointing 10-21 season.

“Losing (Maurice Creek) hurt really bad,” Etherington said. “I think once he gets back, and everyone’s working hard to get better, I think they’ll be a lot better next year.”

Etherington said he was surprised at the decommitment of Indiana Elite teammate Matt Carlino.

“I didn’t see it coming,” Etherington said. “But I don’t dislike him because of that. It’s what he wants to do.”

Etherington said he’s trying to recruit the rest of his Indiana Elite teammates to IU, especially forward Cody Zeller and guard Jeremiah Davis.

“I talk to Jeremiah and Cody a lot to try to get them to come play with me,” he said. “I think we could do some damage if we were all together.”

[1 p.m. UPDATE, from Chris Korman]

Hugh and I ventured off to parts unknown — OK, the middle school — to see a couple of kids.

Quick breakdowns follow.

T.J. Bell, Meanstreets

The Bloomington South junior-to-be looks very comfortable and confident right now. You could tell last summer that he was getting accustomed to new surroundings and that off-the-court issues were distracting him from focusing on basketball. He just wasn’t very sharp. Today, playing against an Indiana Elite entry, he played well defensively in the paint. He’ll need work with positioning on offense, but when he gets the ball he’s a dangerous scorer.

J.T. Yoho, Meanstreets

Yoho, an Eastern Greene junior-to-be, has an impressive skill set. At 6-foot-5, he was able to work in the paint effectively. But he also had success on the wing and seems to have a good feel for the game. Already a third-team all area selection, he’ll continue to blossom into one of the top players in our area.

Michael Ramey, Meanstreets

Ramey stands in about the 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5 range and has a nice all-around game. Clearly views himself as shooter, and has the nice stroke to prove he’s put up plenty of practice shots. The Southport junior-to-be compares nicely with Etherington and will be a player more and more coaches want to get a look at.

Jeremy Hollowell, Eric Gordon All-Stars

The lanky wing, who will be a junior at Lawrence Central, has wildly above average athleticism and is beginning to learn to use it on a consistent basis. Can get lost int he flow of the game if his teammates don’t include him, but can also take over when needed. His most impressive play of the day came when he drove down the middle of the lane and stopped before slipping a pass to an open player under the basket. Also hit a 3 from the wing and showed more gusto going for rebounds than I saw in other games.

[1:31 p.m. update, from Hugh Kellenberger]

Here is what I just finished writing about Bell:

Ever since his arrival in Bloomington last summer, few have doubted T.J. Bell’s athleticism. It’s what carried him to six scholarship offers, including one from Indiana.

But during a year spent on South’s junior varsity (he was declared by the IHSAA to only have limited eligibility after transferring from Charleston, Ill.), he struggled with consistency and effort.

But he was impressive during an open gym session on Thursday after Butler-bound Erik Fromm, and he continued his strong play through the weekend.

At 6-foot-7, Bell has all the athleticism and skill to play the power forward position in an uptempo-offense. For now, though, he said he is not focused on recruiting and instead is focused on his 16u Meanstreets team.

“I think it’s really important to have a good spring and a good summer,” Bell said.

Bell said he will begin attending more open gym workouts at Indiana. He was a frequent guest of the program this past season, sitting behind the team’s bench.

“It was great,” Bell said. “I like coach Crean. He’s a good guy.”

[3:05 p.m. update, from Hugh Kellenberger]

Team Indiana just picked up a 73-72 win that way too much work.

Cody Zeller had 26 points, Austin Etherington and Matt Carlino each had 12 and Jeremiah Davis had 10.

Playing against a Spiece team, the group struggled with turning the ball over and valuing every possession.

Davis was also hit with a technical late in the game. He was fouled going up for a rebound and, after both players fell to the floor, Davis kicked him. He got the technical foul call almost immediately and continued to argue with the refs.

IU football adds fourth recruit for 2011

Lawrence Central quarterback Tre Roberson has committed to Indiana for the class of 2011, a source confirmed Saturday.

Roberson is a 6-foot, 170-pound dual threat quarterback. More on this later.


Lawrence Central coach Jason West confirms that Roberson has committed to Indiana. Tried to talk to him while watching the dunk contest at the Derby Classic. I heard him say that Roberson is dynamic, fast and agile and that he doesn’t have much of an ego, but that was about all I could hear. Will add more later.

Live From the Derby Classic

UPDATE, 5:30 left in the third quarter

Victor Oladipo and Moses Abraham ore in the same shift this half, and they’re out for the moment. As has been previously explained, they’ve had their ups and downs. Abraham’s had some nice moments, but he’s clearly been outplayed by Gorgui Sy Dieng, a Louisville recruit who had three blocks in the first half and has to be up to five or six by now. Oladipo had a few highlight reel dunks early, but he missed his last attempt, a windmill on the fast break.

UPDATE, Dunk Contest

Oladipo had an impressive first dunk in the finals. He had Ray McCallum lob the ball off the back of the backboard. Oladipo grabbed it and jumped out from underneath the backboard, grabbed it and slammed. That earned him a perfect score of 30. His second dunk didn’t go quite as well. he had two players bounce the ball off the backboard in front of him then turned and slam, but really sort of threw the ball in the bucket.

Justin Coleman had dunk of the night. He got Gorgui Sy Dieng to rainbow kick the ball into an alley oop and Coleman did a 180 spin to grab it and dunk it. Needless to say, that got a perfect score. (more…)

Observations from Shootout

INDIANAPOLIS — Pool play for the Shootout at North Central is winding down, and it’s been an interesting (but long) day so far.

  • Marshall Plumlee, Yogi Ferrell and Spencer Turner are all not with Indiana Elite Team Indiana (the first two because of adidas Nations; the latter because of an injury). That opened up some more playing time for the rest of the loaded 17u team. The group responded with two laugher wins. Cody Zeller looked really good — 32 points in both games. Austin Etherington showed off a nice jump shot and some defensive skills beyond going for steals. And Jeremiah Davis ran the point the majority of the time (when he didn’t, Matt Carlino did).
  • Zeller continues to play his recruitment close to the vest, though he did say he could see himself playing for Butler. Not sure how much to read into that, but given how tight he usually is with information, it was interesting. Said Tom Crean continues to pitch the same thing.
    “He says I could be an Indiana kid — like the old days,” Zeller said. “He’s trying to get things changed around there. He told me I could be one of those building blocks.”
  • Davis said he will make a decision when the time is right. He’s also getting an earful, he said, from Etherington, who has been his AAU teammate for years (Zeller said Etherington had not done the same for him yet; sure it is coming).
  • Carlino confirmed that Florida and UCLA are both interested in him coming to college a year early.
    “It is what it is,” Carlino said. “It’s an option.”
  • 2012 forward T.J. Bell is really improving his game rapidly. He has always had great athleticism  and is smooth, but consistency and effort had been problems. He seems to be rapidly developing that — scoring 22 points in the first game. He does have a scholarship offer from Indiana and said he is planning on going to more open gyms on campus.
  • Southport sophomore Michael Ramey is a kid to keep an eye on. Apparently Tim Buckley was in to watch him a couple of weeks ago. He’s a dead-eye shooter — 5 3-pointers in the first game — and is now probably 6-foot-5 with the vertical to go with it. He had 31 points, including three dunks, in that first game. Both Bell and Ramey are on the 16u Meanstreets.
  • Darryl Baker is back and healthy. He missed all of his freshman season for Jeffersonville after breaking his tibia. He’s playing a year up, for Team Southern Indiana 2012 Red, and had 27 points in a 91-81 win earlier today. Sherron Wilkerson is his mentor and said Wilkerson has been in continual contact with Buckley. Baker hopes to start building a relationship with Crean this summer during the elite camps.

Banks, Zachery, Kiel impress at scrimmage

Indiana’s starting skill position players have been a bit knicked up in the spring, but that allowed a few lesser names some time in the spotlight at Saturday’s controlled scrimmage.

Starting tailback Darius Willis has been out of action since injuring his ribs in last week’s scrimmage. Backup tailback Shane Covington was also out with an ankle injury. Senior Trea Burgess and redshirt freshman Nick Turner got most of the reps with the first team, but the injuries allowed true freshman Antonio Banks to get significant work with the second team. Banks, who graduated from Ohio’s Middletown High School early so he could participate in spring drills, showed speed and toughness rushing for 41 yards on nine carries in the main part of the scrimmage. On a 12-yard carry, he took several hits, then dragged the pile for about three yards before anyone could bring him down. In red zone scrimmages at the end, he also rushed for a touchdown.

Starting wide receiver Damarlo Belcher is still out with a hamstring injury, but that also opened some opportunities for others. Redshirt freshman Nick Zachery, who was recently moved from safety to wide receiver, also showed some playmaking ability. The Sheridan graduate caught four passes for 46 yards, turning one quick hitch pass from Ed Wright-Baker into a 19-yard gain.

Quarterback Ben Chappell wasn’t quite as sharp this week as he was last week, but he still completed five of his nine passes for 71 yards. Redshirt freshman Dusty Kiel showed significant improvement from the first scrimmage to a second. He struggled at first, completing just two of his first six passes for seven yards, but then he hooked up with junior receiver Dre Muhammad for a 35-yard completion, then hit Tandon Doss on a quick hitch that Doss turned into an 18-yard touchdown. It was the only touchdown of the scrimmage before red zone drills. Fellow backup Ed Wright-Baker also had a strong performance, completing six of 10 passes for 41 yards.

Along with Belcher, Willis and Covington, cornerback Matt Ernest was held out of practice with a minor elbow injury. The move was made in part to protect the two-sport athlete for baseball, though he didn’t make the trip to Ohio State this weekend. Backup center Jordan Marquette is also out with a lacerated finger. Defensive end Deonte Mack is still out with an elbow injury as well.

Yeagley: “We’re still experimenting …”

Game 2 of the Todd Yeagley era, albeit spring, resulted in a 1-1 tie with Cincinnati Friday night at Armstrong Stadium. Not unlike the first game, a 2-1 comeback win over Louisville, the Hoosiers played a less than stellar first half followed by a strong second half.

But as you might expect with spring games, the emphasis is as much on figuring out how the pieces fit as what those pieces build.

“We’re still experimenting with a few players, and we know there are going to be some mistakes made, whether it’s positional mistakes or technical errors or whatever it might be,” Yeagley said. “We’re trying to be patient, however, we do want thing to happen a little bit quicker, and the first half, just the effort and attention to detail was not even close to what those players perform at every day.”

Some of those experiments included Alec Purdie spending some time in midfield, Chris Haffner starting in the back and freshman Jacob Bushue, who enrolled in January, seeing significant minutes.

“Certainly, Chris Haffner, who’s not played many minutes, was a night and day performance first to second half. We gave himspecific things that he went out and did,” Yeagley said. “I thought Jacob Bushue in particular came in and did a real nice job. Here’s a kid that would still be in his last semester of high school, came in and was confident, has bite to his game. (He) came in and gave us a lift.
“I thought he and Tyler McCarroll in the second part of the first half changed our momentum a little bit to the positive.”

Yeagley also praised center back Tommy Meyer as the Hoosiers’ most consistent player from start to finish and credited Bruin with “some great moments as he’s capable of.”

Football uniforms to be unveiled at spring game

Just as he’d hoped to do, Indiana assistant athletic director for marketing Pat Kraft will unveil the IU football team’s new uniforms at the Cream and Crimson scrimmage on April 17.

“I do believe we’ll have both the home and away uniforms,” Kraft said. “We’re going to put them on mannequins throughout the stadium and just unveil them that way.”

Kraft also mentioned that they could be shown on the stadium scoreboard, which will be working for the game.

The process of choosing the new uniforms has been going on for most of the year. A model of one of the options presented by Adidas leaked around December. Kraft wouldn’t describe the model IU eventually chose, but said he was happy with the end result.

“I love them,” Kraft said. “I think they’re great, I think they’re unique to us. I really like them, I think they’re classy. I think it will separate us from Oklahoma and some of the other schools that have uniforms with a very similar look and feel to us. I think they will keep us and make us unique.”

The unveiling of the new uniforms will be just a part of the spring game experience. The marketing department has come up with a list of promotions, which are detailed here.

Kraft said his hope is to make the spring game a bigger event. At football-oriented schools like Alabama and Ohio State, teams come close to filling the stadium for the spring game and sometimes actually sell out. Indiana’s spring game has never drawn that sort of attention.

“We always talk about trying to change the culture and create a culture around football,” Kraft said. “Fred and Scott and myself want people to look at this game as Midnight Madness and Hoosier Hysteria for basketball. Everywhere else in the country, this is a big deal. … We gotta lay the foundation. We gotta start somewhere, and I think this is really important for us.”

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IU vs Ohio State football

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