OK, it’s not quite that level yet. It could feel like it by the time the conference schedule rolls around.
Barely squeaking by against Indiana State, who is predicted to be in the bottom of the Missouri Valley Conference, is nothing to be happy about. Not with the rest of the non-conference schedule looming like a huge shadow over the entire Hoosier state.
Connecticut, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Kentucky, NC Charlotte, even Oral Roberts (predicted to win the Mid-Con) and Missouri are all huge obstacles to overcome this year before the Big Ten even begins. Ten years ago, I would have said, “Bring ’em on!” After watching IU fall apart against one of the toughest non-conference schedules in Division I, it pains me to look at the upcoming schedule.
It pains me to hope for a winning record before the Big Ten season.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not on the “Fire Mike Davis” bandwagon. He inherited most of this mess. IU has been pretty much impotent since the days of Damon Bailey – which was mid-90s! Even with some very good talent – Luke Recker, Jason Collier, Neil Reed (I wince to even mention any of those three) – they would fold under the pressure against the likes of a Kentucky. You could see the defeat in their eyes, and could tell they didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to pull it off. Of course, I know I wouldn’t have done any better. Any of those guys would wipe the floor with me. My skill level, however, is not the issue here.
This year, there’s another highly touted recruiting class, similar to the hype of the Cheaney/Graham/Graham, etc. class. Here’s where my concern about Davis’ coaching comes into play. All last season, he kept saying, “We’re young. It’s taking them a while to get what I’m saying.” You know, by mid-season, I don’t think you can use the “We’re young” excuse anymore – especially when you have two seniors who were pivotal in getting you to the Championship Game in ’02. Those excuses, coupled with Davis’ explanation of his coaching style during the press conferences at that same Final Four (essentially, “I coach like the NBA…I have a direction they need to go, and I just let them play”) doesn’t really add to a good showing from this incoming class. They’re young. They’ll need guidance on the floor. Rather than using that as an excuse, they need to be coached, they need to be led! You can’t just let them go out and play. Somewhere, fundamentals need to be re-introduced.
I didn’t get to watch the game tonight. Local broadcasts from Indiana are kinda hard to get in Northeastern Tennessee. I did, however, manage to pick up the Ft. Wayne radio station (go figure?) for the last 2 minutes of the game. I can’t say what the team looked like, but I do know they were sweating it out till that last set of free throws.
That was against the Sycamores…
not exactly a national powerhouse.
Hopefully that was the only wake-up call the Hoosiers needed for the season. If not, it’s going to be another long 12 months until the beginning of next season. A win is still a win, though. No matter how disappointing it may be.
I’m not ready to start the countdown to football season yet. That’s another area that supports the mid-major idea. IU, like most mid-majors, is essentially a non-football school. Someday soon, I hope they surprise everyone like Northwestern did a few years ago. It would be nice to see them become bowl eligible sometime this decade. I’ll still keep cheering for them, though.
“Never daunted, we cannot falter. In the battle, we’re tried and true. Oh Indiana, Our Indiana! Indiana, we’re all for you!”
At least UE is starting strong. Go Aces!! “Evansville, we hail to thee…”