PENN STATE 31, INDIANA 30 (HALF)
Should be an interesting half-time speech.
PENN STATE 31, INDIANA 30 (:20)
Gordon’s dunk put back of a Bassett miss is destined for the highlight reel of this season. But what about the rest of this game?
Penn State’s able to find a decent shot almost every time down the court. Here, D.J. Jackson gets free under the net and draws a foul while hitting the bucket.
Now White is able to draw a foul at the other end and get to the line.
Final possession, and Penn State’s going to take some time to discuss it.
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Indiana junior guard Jamarcus Ellis did not accompany the team to State College. He has been suspended for disciplinary reasons.
Penn State will be without its best two players today. Geary Claxton, of course, has been out for most of the year with an ACL injury. Penn State announced that junior forward Jamelle Cornley will not play today. He’s finished for the year and will have surgery Monday to try to correct a knee problem that has plagued him most of his college career.
As we approach the end of the Big Ten slate, I thought I’d step back and throw out a few thoughts before Indiana faces Penn State this weekend then heads off to Indy for the Big Ten Tourney.
- To say the least, it’s been a whirlwind of a season. When you step back and think about it, through all of this, this team is 25-5 and 14-3 in the Big Ten. 25-5? The best record an Indiana team has compiled since the loaded 1992-93 squad with Hoosier legends Damon Bailey, Calbert Cheaney and Alan Henderson? That says a lot about the group of guys Kelvin Sampson compiled and the system he put into place. When you look at last year’s squad, a team that at times I was convinced would beat this year’s, the 2007 Hoosiers lost every conference road game except for Northwestern and Penn State. The team we’re watching now lost two road games in the Big Ten- at Michigan State and Wisconsin- and is literally a Brian Butch-once-in-a-season banked 3-pointer away from being neck and neck with the Badgers for the conference title. What if that doesn’t drop? What if Indiana is on the cusp of winning a Big Ten title after a season like this? What is different, in my opinion, is that this team finds a way to win games when they don’t play their best. Examples: at Minnesota (where Indiana turned it over about a hundred times), at Illinois (in one of the harshest environments in all of college basketball this season) and lastly, at Northwestern (considering the firestorm surrounding the team at that point). Great teams find ways to win games like that. Is this team great? No. But you can’t argue with the toughness they’ve shown signs at different stages this year.
- Has anyone else been impressed by the play of Armon Bassett over the last stretch? Maybe it’s just every time Jordan Crawford shoots a ridiculous shot five seconds into the shot clock Bassett just looks that much better, but I really think the Hoosiers’ floor general has blossomed into an All-Big Ten selection of late. Consider this: in the past three games, he’s totaled 47 points and had only 7 turnovers. That’s the kind of play the Hoosiers will need in the coming weeks from the point guard spot.
- I’m curious to see what everyone’s thoughts are on what our old friend Kelvin Sampson has been up to lately. He was spotted at a San Antonio Spurs practice yesterday and spoke briefly with IndyStar reporter Mike Wells. He didn’t say much, and refused to comment on his abrupt departure at Indiana. Apparently, he was invited by Spurs coach Greg Poppovich to spend some time with the team. “That’s it,” Sampson said. “I really don’t want to do an interview. You take that and do what you want with it.” Good ole Sampson, so friendly with the media.
- Lastly, how will the Hoosiers fare in the Big Ten tourney? In year’s past, they’ve lost heartbreaking games to Ohio State and Illinois in games that could’ve really gone either way. This year in all likelihood, they’ll enter as the No. 2 seed and play the winner of the Minnesota-Iowa game. Barring a miracle, I don’t see the Hoosiers falling to either of those squads. They beat both, home and away, and on a neutral court with mostly IU fans in attendance, it’d be a long shot to bet against Indiana. That leaves them playing on Saturday most likely against the Purdue Boilermakers who, make no mistake about it, would love to face the Hoosiers again. They didn’t get to host Indiana during the Big Ten schedule and they’ll be hungry to avenge their loss in Bloomington on Feb. 19. And to boot, they’ll have just as many fans at Conseco Fieldhouse as the Hoosiers.
Either way, I think Indiana has a very legitimate chance to win the conference tournament and make noise in the Big Dance. They’ll need the role players to step up, guys like Bassett and Jamarcus Ellis and maybe even Lance Stemler. You know what to expect every night from a player like D.J. White. And even Eric Gordon, on off shooting nights, still is able to get to the free throw line and get his 20.
We’re inching towards March Madness and there’s a lot of basketball left to be played. If anything, it should be an interesting next few weeks. But at this point, after this season, should we expect anything less from this team?
It’s really a bummer that Indiana couldn’t hold on to snag a Big Ten quarterfinal win against bitter rival Purdue on Friday. The loss adds to the lately dismal performance in the all-time series with the Boilermakers, who have won 20 of the last 23 meetings.
FahKara Malone crippled the Hoosiers with a Purdue tournament record eight steals and a HUGE 3-pointer that put the Boiler up five with 3:23 to play. Coupled with Purdue’s 13-10 steals advantage against the best thieving team in the conference (though coach Sharon Versyp was quick to point out the teams tied in the category in league play), was a 14-4 advantage on fastbreak points. Malone jetted down for a layup after two of her thefts and fed Kalika France for an easy score on another.
“For FahKara to get eight, it’s kind of like that vision when you’re pitching, you know, you just get in a zone, and she was in a zone tonight,” said Versyp.
Another factor was Purdue freshman Keshia Mosley, who scored 12 points in 16 minutes off the bench. At one point in the second half, she scored seven straight points in the game, taking the Boilermakers from down two to leading by five. This might not be as noteworthy if she hadn’t done something similar against the Hoosiers this season. In PU’s win at Assembly Hall on Jan. 3, she scored 10 points, blocked two shots, got a steal and a rebound in just 11 first-half minutes. Mosley is 6-1 but has a ton of size to maneuver with.
“She’s amazing. I wish everyone else would realize what we realize,” Malone said. “She’s just a big body in there. Every time she comes in she produces, every single time, and we expect nothing less from her than to knock someone over and get a basket.”
Hoosier freshman Jori Davis on experiencing the Big Ten Tourney for the first time, and the hunger she’s got now to bring with her on her next visit to Conseco Fieldhouse: “I’m very upset about the game, but as far as it being my first Big Ten, I never look at it as, ‘Ooh, the Big Ten.’ I always look at it as another chance to win a game and get (IU) to the NCAA again. And we wanna come back strong.”
NOTES:The Hoosiers entered Friday shooting 33.0% from behind the 3-point line. Their game total of 3-for-18 was 16.7%…Malone wasn’t the only one who got highlight reel steals, as fellow Big Ten All-Defensive team member Kim Roberson ripped the ball out of Lakisha Freeman’s hands at midcourt and got an And-1 layup to drop. She hit her free throw for the final three points of the half, when Indiana led 27-26…Selection day for the WNIT is Monday, March 17, and the Hoosiers have an argument for a bid. Last season, they were a half-game better with an overall record of 18-13 and got in, but this season they beat two Top 25 opponents and Purdue on the road.
Game 6 Final (UPSET ALERT):
(9) Illinois 64, (1) #22 Ohio State 58
(9) Illinois vs. (4) Minnesota/(5) Michigan State, Saturday, Approx. 8:30 p.m.
Interim Indiana basketball coach Dan Dakich met with reporters today and discussed his team’s upcoming game at Penn State on Sunday.
The only surprise from Dakich was when he off-handedly said of Eric Gordon: “He’s playing with a broken wrist . . .”
Which he isn’t. It’s just that Dakich refers to any injury in the easiest term. Thus, he just says to Eric, “How’s your broken wrist?”
But Gordon said the wrist, which was not in a wrap when he spoke to us and looked to be a normal, healthy wrist, is not broken.
“I wouldn’t be playing with a broken wrist,” he said.
- Dakich said it was the fans who carried the program during Kelvin Sampson’s departure. “They did an unbelievable job of picking up an entire program.”
- He also thought that the two practices leading into the Minnesota game were the only effective practices he’s been able to have with this team. Prior to that he was dealing with injuries and was working with a short-handed team.
- In retrospect, he believes that the Hoosiers took Michigan State for granted after beating the Spartans soundly at home without D.J. White for half the games. “Human nature takes over a little bit,” he said. “We fought it, but obviously didn’t get it right.”
- Dakich had the Hoosiers play man-to-man defense against the Gophers for two reasons. First, Minnesota is a really good 3-point shooting team. Second, he thought his guys were playing well in man-to-man during practice.
- He feels as though his players are starting to absorb scouting reports better than they did earlier in the season. “When you have a younger team, they maybe don’t understand the value of it. I think they’ve been OK, but it’s been a fight.”
Former IU athletic director Michael McNeely, who lasted just 16 months in Bloomington, is a candidate to become athletic director at LSU, according to the student newspaper there.
McNeely was praised for his ideas at IU, but didn’t get along with others in the university’s administration. This would be quite a job to land after being pushed out at IU.
Craig Angelos, who was one of McNeely’s assistant athletic directors at IU, is another of the candidates at LSU.
For the complete story, click here.
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Game 4 Final:
(2) Iowa 58, (7) Michigan 37
(2) Iowa vs. (3) Purdue, Saturday, 6 p.m.
INDIANA (18-14) succumbs to PURDUE (16-14), 64-54
FahKara Malone, 26 points, 8 steals, 4 assists
Lakisha Freeman, 12 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals
Keshia Mosley, 12 points
Amber Jackson, 20 points, 10 rebounds
Whitney Thomas, 8 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 blocks
PU: F Lakisha Freeman, 6-1, Jr., 12.5 ppg
IU: G Jamie Braun, 5-8, So., 14.8 ppg
It’s a season-series rubber match for the Hoosiers and Boilermakers, both of whom won on the road in the year’s previous two meetings. Lakisha “KiKi” Freeman scored 15 points and center Danielle Campbell had a double-double (13 pts, 10 rbds) as well as 3 blocks in Purdue’s Jan. 3 win at Assembly Hall. In West Lafayette on Jan. 14, Campbell had another double-double (15 pts, 11 rbds) but so did Hoosier forward Whitney Thomas with a monstrous 17 points and 18 boards, and Jamie Braun chipped in 14 as Indiana won for just the third time in the last 22 meetings between the schools. In that second game, Amber Jackson had a brief shoving altercation with Campbell and both players were assessed a technical foul.
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