Tom Crean, Indiana Hoosier men's basketball head coach

Image Courtesy ESPN.com

The Indiana Hoosier men’s basketball team opened the 2012 regular season at home tonight against Bryant University. Some notable first half headlines include Indiana Athletic Director Fred Glass announcing a 2-year contract extension for head coach Tom Crean, which means the coach will be under contract through 2020.

Freshman point guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, a Park Tudor grad, has displayed some heady passing, good man-to-man defense, and has rarely played like a freshman.

Another interesting point, senior forward Christian Watford is wearing number ’32’ as a gesture towards fellow senior Derek Elston, who is out with a meniscus tear and not expected to return until the Big Ten portion of the schedule begins. Watford, who normally wears number ‘2’, decided to wear his fellow senior’s jersey because Elston will miss his final season opener.

Peter Jurkin

Image Courtesy Inside the Hall

Just when the Hoosier faithful thought Tom Crean and his staff would clean up the program and return Indiana University to its glory days, the NCAA ruled today that freshmen Peter Jurkin and Hanner Mosquera-Perea must sit out nine games for receiving improper benefits.

Hanner Mosquera-Perea

Image Courtesy Inside the Hall

 

 

 

 

 

It appears Jurkin received $6,000 and Mosquera-Perea $8,000 while in high school from an Indiana University booster in the form of plane tickets, meals, housing, a laptop, cell phone and clothing, per this article from Inside the Hall.

Jurkin has been ordered to pay back $250 to the charity of his choice while Mosquera-Berea must do the same in the amount of $1,590. The improper benefits came from the boys’ non-scholastic basketball coach who is also an Indiana University booster.

While it is uncertain how these suspensions will affect the apparent Indiana University title run, it is worth pointing out that neither player registered significant minutes during the preseason. Peter Jurkin hails from South Sudan by way of the United Faith Christian Academy in North Carolina (coached by Muggsy Bogues) and is a 7’0″ center, presumably adding depth to the Hoosier frontcourt. Hanner Mosquera-Perea is an athletic 6’8″ forward hailing from Columbia by way of La Lumiere School in LaPorte, Indiana.

With the start of the Hoosier basketball season just 3 days away, it’s interesting the NCAA would wait until now to file the suspensions. Look for these two freshman to see the floor on December 19th against Mount St. Mary’s, well before the Big Ten schedule begins.

Looking at Indiana’s early season schedule, this may affect both the North Carolina game and who knows, maybe even the tilt at Assembly Hall against Butler.

Stay calm, Hoosier fans. Hopefully this slight inconvenience to the depth of this year’s Hoosier squad won’t affect the long-term capabilities of the team.
Cheers!

 

Former Indiana Hoosier basketball coach Bob Knight

Image Courtesy of IndyStar.com

Bring out that cream and crimson you’ve been hiding since the days of Bobby Knight, Hoosier fans.

According to both the Associated Press and the USA Today Coach’s Poll, the Indiana Hoosiers sit atop the preseason rankings. It may be a little early to say so, but given the strength of the returning roster and the addition of a strong recruiting class, Tom Crean’s squad appears set to win both a Big Ten Championship and make a serious run at a National Championship.¬†Congratulations (along with great expectations) are in order for Indiana center Cody Zeller, who nearly unanimously took Preseason All-American honors.

Indiana Hoosier Coach Tom Crean and All-American center Cody Zeller

Image courtesy sportsillustrated.cnn.com

 

 

It needs to be pointed out how intensely midwest the preseason rankings are. Take the top five, for example. Behind Indiana is Louisville, Kentucky, Ohio State and Michigan; all are no more than about six hours from each other. Also in the top 25 are Michigan State, Missouri, Memphis, Notre Dame and Cincinnati.

The Big Ten Conference appears like it is going to be hotly contested. Five teams are ranked in the Top 25 and well-coached clubs like Purdue and Minnesota ensure that once the Big Ten schedule begins, every game has the potential for an upset.

I plan to cover Indiana-based teams this year including your Butler Bulldogs, Indiana Hoosiers, Notre Dame Irish,¬† and Purdue Boilermakers. Obviously, as the season progresses and the NCAA Tournament nears, we’ll talk about teams like IUPUI and Valparaiso should they get called on Selection Sunday.

Moving to the schedule.

Indiana opens play at home against Bryant University on Friday, November 9th at 8:00pm ET.

Purdue’s first game is at home against Bucknell on Friday, November 9th at 7:00pm ET.

Notre Dame begins its season at home against Evansville on Saturday, November 10th and a start time has yet to be announced.

Butler takes on Elon at home on Saturday, November 10th and starts at 2:00pm.

Are you ready for some hoops?

Cheers!

 

 

 

Image Courtesy www.nba.com/Pacers

With roughly two weeks until opening night, the Indiana Pacers trimmed their roster to 15 players today in addition to exercising an option on swing-man Paul George, keeping him around through the 2013-14 season.

Paul George

Image Courtesy www.pacers.com

In an off-season that featured some marquee transactions for a couple big-name franchises, notably the Los Angeles Lakers’ trades to acquire stars Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in addition to the Miami Heat signings of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, the Pacers stayed relatively quiet, essentially trading and signing depth with the addition of center Ian Mahinmi, guard Gerald Green and point guard D.J. Augustin.

 

Pacer fans need not worry, however. Miami may have signed some veteran shooters, but they still lack a true center; and with improved depth, the Pacers should be able to give Miami a little more trouble a second time around. Indiana signed center Roy Hibbert to a long-term deal and secured former Duke big-man Miles Plumlee in the draft.

Roy Hibbert

Image Courtesy www.pacers.com

Many figure the starting five will remain relatively unchanged, as the team figures to start either D.J. Augustin or George Hill at point guard, Paul George and Danny Granger on the wings, David West at power forward and Roy Hibbert at center.

Fans will note the loss of Darren Collison via trade to Dallas and Leandro Barbosa to the crowded backcourt in Boston. Both will certainly be missed as the spark off the bench, but rest assured this team is equipped for another postseason run.

The Pacers are absolutely playing for a top seed (likely the 2nd seed in the East) with another showdown against the Miami Heat in the Easter Conference Finals looming on the horizon. Assuming the team remains relatively healthy and plays to its strengths (David West and Roy Hibbert are amongst the more formidable frontcourt duos in the league) and considerable depth, look for the blue and gold to be even better this year than last.

Be aware the D.J. Augustin is a starting point guard in this league and certainly has the potential to contribute a great deal. The downside to Augustin is his size, coming in at around 6’0″ and just over 180 pounds, which means he’ll be giving up some size to most starting point guards in the league, presenting a potential defensive mismatch should D.J. not be up to the task.

Aside from the Heat, promising challenge in the East are the aging Celtics (sans Ray Allen), the Philadelphia 76ers, and once Derrick Rose comes back, certainly the Chicago Bulls. The West figures to pit the Oklahoma City Thunder against the new-look Los Angeles Lakers, who apparently are taking baseball’s Yankee approach to winning; buy the best players available.

The Pacers start the regular season away from home on Friday, November 2nd at Charlotte and the home schedule starts Saturday, November 3rd against the Sacramento Kings.

Your 2012 Indiana Pacers’ slogan is “Blue Collar – Gold Swagger”. The team is also featuring a second Hansbrough, as Tyler’s brother Ben is on the active roster. If the latter is anything like the former, the reserves certainly don’t lack the blue collar attribute. It’s up to the starters on this team to bring the swagger.

Cheers!

Congratulations are in order, friends. The Indiana Fever closed out the 2012 WNBA Championship, defeating the Minnesota Lynx 87-78 on Sunday night to win the 5-game series 3-1. Tamika Catchings adds WNBA Champion and Finals MVP to a laundry list of accomplishments, among those including 3-time Olympic gold medalist and NCAA Champion. The former Tennessee Volunteer has struggled through injuries, particularly during the postseason portions of her career, so it was especially sweet for the 33-year old to finally reach the pinnacle of professional sports and joins a short list of athletes to win championships as a collegiate, an Olympian, and a professional athlete. Little known fact, Tamika Catchings is the first basketball player to record a quintuple double. A celebration is planned for Tuesday, October 22nd, at noon downtown Indianapolis. Cheers, ladies!