It’s the final big game of the year at Assembly Hall tomorrow (Minnesota and Penn State…uggh) and it’s really about as big as it gets. At least that’s how it seems.
The Indiana Daily Student said it today: the Illini are now Indiana’s biggest rival.
This hatred stems from the Eric Gordon saga and aftermath. But the Gordon stuff wasn’t the extent of the drama…it was simply the fertile ground in which it was planted.
There’s also this:
– Indiana is unbeaten at home this year.
– Illinois has won three straight games and is finally getting healthy.
– The Hoosiers have lost four of the last five meetings between the two teams.
– The Illini need a big win to show off to the NCAA Tournament selection committee.
So, call it as you see it. What willÂ happen?
By the way, our coverage will begin early tomorrow, so check the Hoosier Scoop throughout the day.
Coach Terry Hoeppner’s signing day get-together with the media lasted about an hour yesterday. Then we were told it would be an NCAA violation for us to stick around and watch the videotape of the new recruits as it was being shown to members of the Varsity Club and season ticket holders.
Hoeppner jokingly said that IU acting media relations director Jeff Keag would toss us out if we tried to linger because the IU compliance office had determined members of the media couldn’t be there.
I certainly didn’t mind leaving, although I would have liked to have seen the videotape of the recruits. But what I think is outrageous is the NCAA having so many rules that seemingly nobody fully understands them.
Click here for a link to listen to yesterday’s entire press conference.
Besides Hoeppner telling us we all have to leave at the end, you can also hear the Hoosier coach in another light moment ask me about why we haven’t reported that he has renewed his subscription to the H-T after cancelling it last season.
There has been a lot of build-up for Saturday’s showdown at Assembly Hall. And for good reason:
1) There has been a week in between games for the Hoosiers.
2) IU is seeking to revenge its 51-43 loss in Champaign on Jan. 23.
3) That guy, Eric Gordon.
4) Everyone can’t wait to dress up and show their support for the Hoosiers… Or their dislike for Bruce Weber.
The fourth reason is the one that has interested me the most over the last few days. I’ve seen three different campaigns students have been organizing to show their support when IU takes on Illinois. Here comes another list…
1) Red-out. Or, as I prefer, a Crimson-out.
2) Sampson-out. Dress like Coach, blue shirt & red tie.
3) Baby rattles and pacifiers. This one won me over immediately. Finally, I can bring my “pookie” in public without everyone judging me. But seriously, the baby rattles are in reference to Weber’s “whining” antics on the court.
All three ideas are creative — let’s give the students that — but I’m not sure if they will be effective if all three try and co-exist.
So which theme do you think Assembly Hall should take Saturday afternoon? Should everyone wear crimson? Should everyone dress up as Coach? Or should everyone pull a NASA and bring their diapers and pacifiers?
Let’s hear ‘em. I’m eager to hear your responses.
Indiana’s football players jumped back and forth over benches, raced each other while pushing heavy metal sleds and ran repeated 40-yard sprints.
Ah, there’s nothing quite like a 6 a.m. workout on a frigid winter day when the start of the season is months away.
The hour-long off-season workout this morning at Mellencamp Pavilion was the second of what coach Terry Hoeppner has dubbed “The Winning Edge.” After loosening up with some brief stretching, players rotated from one station to another to perform fast-paced running and jumping drills that were supervised by IU’s coaches.
Despite the early hour, players appeared to be in good spirits, yelling and urging each other on.
In the series of 40-yard sprints that ended the workout, the two players who stood out for repeatedly finishing first in their groups were Josiah Sears and James Hardy. The one player who repeatedly lagged behind his group, perhaps as he gets used to a different level of conditioning at IU, was new JUCO transfer Kevin Burrus.
The Hoosiers started this week on an offseason conditioning schedule that has players participating in the “Winning Edge” on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 a.m. and lifting weights on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6 a.m.
Several reporters attended the Thursday morning workout after Hoeppner made an invitation to all those present at his Wednesday press conference to announce his 2007 recruiting class.
Indiana basketball coach Kelvin Sampson met with the media today. He was his usual self, bristling at some questions and joking about others.
A quick-hit list of topics discussed:
– After seeing his team come up with a -17 rebounding margin at Iowa, Sampson decided that rebounding hasn’t yet become a habit for his team. So they’ve worked on that in practice.
–Â Sampson said Tuesday’s practice went very well. He liked the energy from the team and felt they kept getting better. That’s the key now, he says: keep improving, even though it’s so hard to do at this point in the year.
– For the “first time all year,” Indiana’s players and coaches got to sit down together and watch a lot of film on Monday. Sampson wanted to take it slowly and point things out. He emphasized how imortant each possession is, especially on the road.
– Sampson said he believes every team must learn to deal with losing on the road. When he returned home from Iowa City on Saturday, he learned that No. 3 North Carolina had lost at North Carolina State. “Misery loves company,” he said. “I was glad to see it.”
– About Lance Stemler, who has been inconsistent at times and missed two early, wide-open 3-pointers against Iowa: “No one works any harder than Lance.” He believes Stemler’s whole Â game is suffering because of his poor shooting. “Ultimately, it doesÂ affect otherÂ areas,”Â Sampson said.
– The team had off on Wednesday, but was required to get into the gym and lift weights, Sampson said.
– And, finally, Sampson’s deep thought of the day: “Age has nothing to do with maturity. It has a lot to do with who you are inside.” Think it over, then discuss.
And a few tidbits from Errek Suhr:
– Suhr learned how to take a charge early in his career. “It’s always something I’ve had to do, so I’m used to it,” he said.
– He said it’s not tough mentally to jump into a game late, as he did against Iowa, but that it can be hard physically because he becomes stiff from sitting.
– As the team flew home from Iowa Saturday following the loss,Â Suhr warned the younger players to be ready for anything during the next practice. “This being my fourth year, I knew what to expect,” he said.
And here’s a small sample of what D.J. White had to say:
– White said he’s aware of several plans currently being hatched by students for the upcoming game. Illinois fans had a coordinated game plan to taunt Sampson at their Assembly Hall, and it looks like Indiana fans will return the favor this weekend. There’s already a push being made for students to dress as babies to taunt Illini coach Bruce Weber over what they perceive as whining over the Eric Gordon situation. White’s ready for the wild atmosphere: “I’m looking forward to what they have in store.”
Indiana held a basketball press conference today.
After his game last night, you have to wonder if Eli Holman would be a Hoosier if he hadn’t been suspended.
Holman did a little bit of everything last night, finishing with 24 points, 12 rebounds, 10 blocks and 10 assists — a quadruple-double. In addition, Holman’s performance helped Richmond win, which is its third straight since his return, and fifth win in a row.