At the start of the week, I asked for your preseason questions that you’d like answered during the Big Ten Media Days in Chicago. Here are answers from IU’s attendees – Bill Lynch, Greg Brown, Marcus Thigpen and Starr – to most of those questions:
1. How many freshmen will play this season?
Lynch said he doesn’t know the answer to that question because it depends on how well the freshman adapt to the rigors of fall camp and are able to keep their concentration and focus while playing at a higher level of competition and intensity than high school. He said that running back and wide receiver are the two positions where he expects freshmen to have a chance to play this season, but there could be others if particular players really stand out or if a particular position has a string of injuries. He said that last year the coaches could tell from the first day or two of practice that linebacker Tyler Replogle was going to get a chance to play, but that couldn’t have been predicted going into camp.
2. What is being done to stop the run better this season?
The team has worked very hard on running the ball better on offense and stopping the run better on defense, Lynch said. Every day in practice the IU offense is using some power schemes like the Hoosiers will see against a Michigan State or a Wisconsin, Lynch said, so the team will be prepared for those teams. Last year, the defense didn’t see those formations until the week of those games because they aren’t ones that IU’s offense typically runs.
Don’t you wish Doug was wearing the same suit?
Marcus Thigpen said Friday that he expects to be one of the better running backs in the Big Ten this season.
He’s already the most outlandishly dressed. He described this particular suit â€” which includes an elongated jacket and matching pants â€” as “peachy.” Yesterday, he had a black and white combo working.
Thigpen follows in the tradition established by Rod Wilmont, who wore a garish suit to his basketball media day appearance two years ago.
Indiana head coach Bill Lynch said that you wouldn’t expect Thigpen to dress that way.
“You spend time with him from day-to-day and he’s the most respectful, reserved guy,” Lynch said. “Almost shy.”
Lynch said he expected kicker Austin Starr to be the most wildly dressed. But Starr, who took the entry test for dental school this summer, opted for a smart business ensemble.
Defensive tackle Greg Brown wore a conservative, dark suit, too.
“I have better suits,” he said, motioning toward Thigpen. “I just didn’t know whether I could break it out. This is his second year here so he knows. Good for him, though.”
Really, these conference media days that you’re seeing coverage of now are a relic with little real usefulness. Maybe 20 years ago it was important to gather reporters from around the country, and for those reporters to learn tidbits about other teams to bring back to their readers/listeners/viewers, who had limited choices of where to get such information.
But now the world turns to blogs for up-to-the second updates on everything — both Joe Tiller and Joe Paterno mentioned this fact today — meaning you’ve had at your fingertips all the info you could ever need about Northwestern’s third-string right tackle all along. Which is why I didn’t ask Pat Fitzgerald about it today.
What we did gather, today, though, is this little bit of Indiana news: according to head coach Bill Lynch, recently reinstated quarterback Kellen Lewis will have to compete with Ben Chappell, the Bloomington South grad who ran the offense this spring, for the starting spot.
I am here in Bloomington. Doug and Chris are in Chicago, but Chris has asked me to let you guys know that they cannot connect to the Internet from the Big Ten press conference.
That, sadly, means no live updates. They will be posting later on, whether its wireless, DSL or AOL. In the meantime, feel free to watch the proceedings on Big Ten Network and ESPNEWS.
Surely you’ve seen Indiana assistant Bennie Seltzer stylin’ the candy-striped pants while recruiting in Las Vegas. I heard today he may wear the stilts while playing the fight song on a tuba and hoisting a cheerleader with a free hand.
Anyway, if you want coverage of the largest recruiting event of the year â€” it’s actually two major events and a minor one concurrently running at gyms throughout the desert — I’d recommend the usual spots Peegs.com and HoosierNation.com â€” if you’ve got subscriptions. Also head over to Jody Demling’s blog with the Louisville Courier-Journal. Always good stuff there. In fact, that’s where I stole the Seltzer pic from. (Thanks, Jody!)
So Sports Illustrated releases their Olympic Preview this week. Michael Phelps is on the cover, which should be of no great surprise. And, while I’ve yet to dive into all the stories, SI usually does a fantastic job with their Olympic coverage (the blessing of having four years to plan, I suppose).
One element, though, is medal predictions in every event. So I am scanning through the list, until I find women’s diving. Christina Loukas was not given the nod as the gold, silver or bronze medal winner (two Chinese and an Aussie, respectively), but she was given some love, in the form of the one-sentence comment on each event.
Indiana University’s Christina Loukas is a medal threat.
Not bad at all, especially since she is the only IU athlete mentioned and also extremely young. For her, Beijing could be about learning and getting better for London and 2012 – where she should be a favorite.