Sunday may very well be the most important game of Indiana’s season. A win, and Indiana has a great chance to at least tie for the Big Ten Championship. They host Minnesota on Wednesday for Senior Night, and visit Penn State that weekend to close out the regular season. It’s not likely that Wisconsin or Purdue will lose one of their remaining games.
A win against the Spartans in the Breslin Center won’t be easy though. The Hoosiers blasted Michigan State, 80-61, two weeks ago at Assembly Hall but haven’t won there since 1991. That’s 11 straight losses. A huge credit to the program Tom Izzo has built and how difficult it is to win there.
So what happens Sunday afternoon? With so much on the line, how will the Hoosiers respond? It seems that, after a whirlwind of a week, things have settled down and the players have accepted the fact that Dan Dakich is the head coach. This is, without question, the toughest test of his brief tenure as interim head coach.
The Indiana women’s team plays a HUGE game tonight at Williams Arena.
The two teams are deadlocked at 9-7 in the Big Ten Standings, tied with Michigan for fourth place, and a win tonight could mean a potential at-large berth for the Hoosiers in the NCAA Tournament. But, the Hoosiers haven’t won in Minneapolis since Jan. 4, 2001.
The Gophers have the Big Ten’s fourth-leading scorer in junior guard Emily Fox (17.2 ppg), who is 28 points away from 1,000 in her career, while IU sophomore Jamie Braun is fifth (15.3 ppg) in the league. Minnesota’s Pam Borton tries for her 200th career victory after two straight losses in her 10th season as a head coach (She was at Vermont from 1993-97).
Also, sophomore Katie Ohm has started the last nine games for the Gophers, averaging 9.8 ppg in that span, and her 55 made 3-pointers on the year are a big reason why Minnesota leads the conference in 3-point percentage.
You can listen to the game for free here beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET if you register at Gophersports.com.
Dan Dakich will appear on the ESPN show Pardon the Interruption â€” usually hosted by Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon of the Washingotn Post â€” this afternoon. Show starts at 5:30.
Dakich isn’t concerned with Sampson texting the players.
“Coach Sampson’s a pro,” Dakich says. “And the players have acted the same way.”
Dakich says that D.J. White has taken this a little bit harder than the rest of the players. Because he knows what the families are going through.
Also, Dakich thought any criticism of the players who didn’t go to practice was unfair.
Coach Bill Lynch emailed Dakich yesterday. They’re going to talk about recruiting some day soon, and about this process as a whole.
Dakich has been speaking to the signed players.
Yesterday, while he and Ray McCallum were on the road, Dakich says they called the compliance office 16 times to make sure they were doing everything by the book.
Dakich left on a recruiting trip yesterday.
He asked White to come in to chat today. Why?
“He’s really fun to talk to,” he said.
Interesting note: you can hear the construction going on above the media room. Progress on the new basketball practice facility.
As for Mike White, Dakich hopes to get him more playing time.
“He’s been valuable all year,” he says.
But there’s suddenly a jam at that position. Indiana’s got a lot of guys who can fill a role there.
On Gordon: Dakich doesn’t think he has hit a freshman wall.
“I don’t worry about Eric,” he says. “He competes.”
Dakich also doesn’t think that Gordon is bothered by the wrap on his wrist.
Dakich was so sure that Kyle Taber would eventually get a chance to play for this team that he made him a promise.
If Taber didn’t play, Dakich would have kissed his backside while standing on Kirkwood.
Luckily for both of them, Taber has played.
What makes Michigan State so tough to beat in East Lansing?
“They have great players and they have a great coach,” Dakich says.
Dakich is concerned about the psychological effect of Indiana’s prior win against Michigan State.
“Does it mean they play harder and we think, hey we beat these guys already,” Dakich says. “We can’t let that enter into it.”
Dakich says the Hoosiers’ focus is to win out. They aren’t thinking about the rest of the Big Ten race.
“We focus on what we can control,” he says.
Dakich had a long talk with D.J. White today. White says that his weight is up from where it was. Still, the Hoosiers will have a light practice today and White might not even take part.
Now Dakich is reflecting on just how difficult the last two games were.
Dan Dakich has joined us here.
Thoughts on Michigan State.
“We have to play well,” he says about the MSU game. “We have to continue to get better as we go through this. That has been the recurring theme throughout the season.”
We’ll be in our usual cyber spot, which you can find right here. You can ask questions now or drop by during the alloted hour and follow along.
Shouldn’t be a lack of things to discuss.
During the Big Ten season, I’ve heard from quite a few IU fans about their growing disappointment with not being able to watch a number of IU’s games on cable. But this is the first time I’ve heard of anyone involved with the Big Ten acknowledging candidly that the current situation is a major problem.
One of the things I hear other reporters say they like about Izzo is that he’ll tell you what he really thinks. That seems to be the case here. The Associated Press reported Tuesday night that Izzo has tried to spout the company line about the BTN, but a flood of letters and calls from frustrated fans has been too much.
“I think it has been a PR nightmare,” Izzo said. “And I think it has hurt all of us.”
Izzo, according to the story, said he has empathy for the fans who are fed up.
“We have so many things right now that we’re trying to fight — the price of tickets, the economy of our state — and then we throw this at them,” Izzo said. “I make more calls than I ever have this year to people that write to me, really upset about it. I have an older woman coming to practice (Tuesday) that I invited just because of that. It bothers me.
“Five years from now, if cable companies pick it up, does it end up better than it was and we’re just going through a bad time?” he asked. “I just don’t like the bad time being on my dime.”
To read the entire story, click here.
Mason Plumlee, the 25th-ranked power forward in the class of 2009, has decided to play basketball at Duke instead of a host of other schools, including Indiana. Plumlee is originally from Warsaw.
According to Rivals.com, Plumlee said he felt at ease with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and loved the school.
His high school coach at Arden Christ (NC) prep, David Gaines, spoke with Rivals’ national recruiting writer Justin Young.
“He felt very comfortable with what they had to say about how he would fit into their system and the national reputation that Duke has, all of the Final Fours and National Championships,” Gaines said. “Mason wants to be a part of that.”
Hoosier fans may have to get used to this sort of thing, as several of the program’s top 2009 targets were considering coming to Indiana to play for Kelvin Sampson. With Sampson gone, it appears unlikely they’ll continue looking heavily at Indiana.