Sports From the Couch-Views From the Couch by jshowal2

By Jeff Showalter

It’s time to take a look back and then look ahead at what’s going on in this crazy little world of sports.

Bad news for Colts fans as Melvin Bullitt is gone for the year with a broken bone in the shoulder. I’m amazed Bullitt has lasted as long as he has considering the dude ways a buck ninety at most. I don’t care what the Colts say he ways. The Couch has stood beside Bullitt and there is no way he is over 2 bills. With Silva out, Bullitt out and Sanders out (like that was a shock), it looks like the Colts are going to be looking for a safety. You can only take “next man up” so far and Safety is too big a deal in the cover 2 defense. Tampa Bay is also looking so I would guess the Bucs list would be similar to the Colts since they play the same D.

Look Hoosier football fans, I wanted my alma mater to win as much as the rest of you but let us be honest for a minute. Bill Lynch isn’t going to win you a lot of football games with his coaching expertise. If the dude could coach, he wouldn’t be at Indiana. You can not have “co-defensive coordinators”. All that means is both guys suck and what you get is a defense that is SLOW, unprepared and incapable. Chappell threw for 480, but when you know your defense is jello, you have to have a QB that is perfect. Not many QB’s are perfect. IU does need to throw downfield more because good defensive teams are going to keep 8 back and bust the wide receivers up on these short routes.  IU has to stretch the defense. Of course after OSU hangs forty on the Cream and Crimson Saturday, it will begin to look more and more like another 4-8 season in B’Town.

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Butler’s Zach Hahn Recalls Final Four Experience by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

Butler guard Zach Hahn knows how to win, so it was no surprise that he has an excellent perspective on the Final Four experience his Bulldogs enjoyed last April.  He put his New Castle High School team on his back in the second half of the 2006 3A Indiana State Championship game and led the Trojans to victory.  Zach’s role with Butler wasn’t quite that dramatic, but his memory of it is thoughtful, complete, and appreciative.

Zach is one of my favorite kids, and one of the reasons that Butler is the special program that it has become.  He was recruited by Brad Stevens beginning when he was a junior-to-be by then assistant coach Brad Stevens.  Zach’s will to compete, regardless of the situation – practice, workouts, meaningless games, championship games, or games with teammates in the hotel between games in summer tournaments was always exceptional.

The summer team for which Zach played for three years was filled with like-minded kids, but Zach was the constant reminder through his behavior that time on the court was serious and that basketball is a game meant to be played a certain way.

Zach has a high-revving engine that never slows, and what he may lack in size and quick twitch movement, he makes up for in fury and drive.  Stevens is a really smart guy who understands who to brew up the ingredients that can coalesce into a team.  He recruits kids, not physical attributes, and was easily the nicest and least creepy coach who recruited kids on our summer team.  That’s how he winds up with the kids he does, and that’s called building a culture.

Stevens has done it better than any other mid-major coach in the last generation, and kids like Zach have made it possible.  Watch the video and tell me that Zach isn’t going to be one hell of a coach someday.

In the video, Zach talks about his memories for the magical run to Lucas Oil Stadium that culminated in a do or die half court heave by Gordon Hayward that was an inch from earning the Bulldogs one of the biggest upsets in the history of the NCAA Tourney.  He talks about the shot, the pick Matt Howard laid on Duke’s Kyle Singler, and the immediate reaction by the team following their runner-up finish in one of the great championship games of all time.

By the way, I know it’s early to start banging on college basketball season – three weeks from the first day of practice – and I wanted to hold this back until then, but Zach is such a good kid, and Butler a special team, so the hell with it.  Just because the first meaningful games are a little less than two months off doesn’t mean we can’t start caring.



Cody Zeller Faces a Tough Decision – IU, UNC, or BU by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

The month of October will be a full one for young Cody Zeller, the highest touted power forward from Washington, Indiana.  Cody will visit the three schools listed as the finalists in the battle to win his services.

Then, the hard part.  During the visits, Cody will spend a weekend “liked” by everyone involved in the programs.  The coaches will treat him as a son, the players will make him feel like a teammate, and the students and fans will see him as a savior.  After the visits, it will be time to make a decision, and that means disappointing two groups of people with whom Cody will become fond.

The joy of telling the winning program will be outweighed by the pain of telling the other two coaches that he has decided to pass on their offer.  Recruiting looks like fun from the outside.  On the inside, it’s misery.  Endless phone calls from coaches, scouts, street agents, and media fill the days of the athletes who are recruited to play Division One basketball.

At first, it can be fun.  Then it morphs into a chore.  Finally, it is a torturous routine that kids just want to turn off.  The NCAA is recommending that kids not be allowed to commit early to a school.  The reason they commit is to stop the endless noise that becomes – with apologies to Mr. Holland and his opus – the soundtrack of their lives.

Cody is fortunate that he has two brothers and a set of parents who’ve been down this road at the same level.  Their guidance is likely making the task of eliminating schools until one is left standing a little less daunting.  Still, weighing the pros and cons of each school knowing that the outcome will virtually end two sets of burgeoning friendships is tough work for a 17 or 18-year-old.

The noise never stops.  Whether the kid is in a McDonald’s, Best Buy, or in school, the questions and comments come from every direction.  “Where you going?”  “Go IU!”  “They’ll love you in Chapel Hill!”  “Go Bulldogs!”  “If you played in Bloomington, we’ll come see all your games.”  “When you deciding?”

Some members of each of the two fan bases of the non-winners in the Cody Sweepstakes will view the kid forever as a traitor, as though he owes them anything.  When Luke Recker came back to Bloomington, the roof damn near came off Assembly Hall as the fans booed and shamefully demeaned Recker in classless ways.

Fans are passionate, and they let that passion push their behaviors into a realm that is offensive and absurd.  Recker was a 22-year-old kid just trying to play ball and live his life.  That he didn’t see how special it was to be a Hoosier and play for the General made him guilty of Hoosier sedition in the eyes of the rabid fans.  Sonny – the Cuckoo the Cocoa Puffs Bird – was less nuts.

These are kids making a decision the best way they know how, and deserve a little space in their efforts to make the decision.  Fans of all three schools should understand when Cody – or any other recruit – makes a decision, it’s not a personal attack on their favorite team and university.

Kids and their families do their best to make an informed choice, and that’s all that any coach or booster can ask.

Good luck to Cody in finding a way to enjoy what should be an exceptionally fun year for him.  It won’t be easy, but given the level of experience the Zellers have in navigating these red, blue, and navy waters, Cody has a better chance than most.

His choice won’t be clear and easy.  It might come down to a 34%/33%/33% split, and he’ll agonize over it because there isn’t a loser in the bunch.  Being a part of the renaissance of IU hoops, continuing the Carolina tradition with so many great names in the rafters, or helping Butler continue to do it right while winning at a clip unheard of in Horizon League basketball are all valid ways to spend four years hooping.  The educations are all top notch.  Cody will know that regardless of his decision, he’ll be successful.  That makes it tough to choose.

This isn’t like picking between Taylor Swift, Joy Behar, and Rebecca Lobo.  This is Swift, Mandy Moore, and Anna Faris.  Of course, you win by choosing one, but you also lose knowing what might have been twice.  That’s a tough road for a teen to travel.  Fifty-year-olds have trouble doing that.

Whatever Cody chooses, some slack would prove some civility exists in the world of sports.



Cody Zeller Sets Up His Official Visits by jwmindysports

By John Miller

Today, Cody Zeller stated his schedule on making official visits.  A high-school student athlete is allowed to make up to five official visits, but he had already trimmed his list to Indiana, Butler, and North Carolina earlier in the recruiting process, and these are the schools that will get to host him.  Hoosier fans are keeping close eye on Cody and are hoping that he will eventually choose Indiana.  IU will have a lot of work to do, however, if they hope to lure him away from both North Carolina and Butler.

Zeller’s first visit will be to Butler.  He will visit the local campus in Indiana the weekend of October 9-11.  Butler has been dominant the past few years and are growing into the new Gonzaga.  The Bulldogs are a mid-major program with the ability to compete and recruit with the high-major programs.  Brad Stevens is the best young coach in the country and with a contract that goes through the 2022 season, Zeller knows he will be there with him for his entire college career. The past season was the top in Butler basketball history, and they will look to continue their recent success by replenishing their roster with top local talent.  Indiana is a hotbed for high school hoops, and if Butler can keep some of these kids in Indianapolis, they will continue to have success year after year.

Cody will then make his second visit to North Carolina on the weekend of October 15-17.  This is the weekend of the Tar

Brother, Tyler Zeller

Heel’s Midnight Madness.  Cody has an older brother at North Carolina, Tyler Zeller, and he will get to spend a large amount of time hearing the family pitch to join him for a year under Roy Williams.  Carolina has a solid foundation for recruiting, a program with tradition and one that is winning now (which is plus one on Indiana).  Carolina receives commitments from top talents every year and will always be in or around the top-25 with coach Williams.  It will be interesting to see his he wants to play with his brother, or form his own path and choose either Butler or Indiana.

Zeller’s last visit will be to Bloomington where Tom Crean and crew will do everything they can to get a commitment.  He will visit the weekend of October 29-31.  Indiana has a home football game against Northwestern on Saturday so he will get to enjoy tailgating with his potential teammates and hopefully (from an Indiana student’s perspective) experience Halloween parties later in the evening.  Choosing a school is mainly about the basketball program, but feeling comfortable and having fun on campus is a very important aspect of a student athlete’s decision.  Having the Hoosiers as his last visit is a good initial indicator that IU may be the slight leader at the moment.  If Indiana can wow him he has the potential to make a commitment the weekend of his visit as he will have already been to the other schools.  Crean needs to save his best work and leave a good final impression with Cody.  This will be his freshest memory and hopefully will be left thinking that Indiana is too strong a college option to choose elsewhere.

Follow me on Twitter @JWM_IndySports or shoot me an email at jwmiller.fantasysports@yahoo.com



Crossroads Classic – Great Idea Long Overdue by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

All these Indiana basketball teams and fans, and so little inclination to play one another.  It never made any sense to me.  Good sense now seems to be a common denominator in the A.D. chairs of the top four programs in Indiana as they came together yesterday to announce the initial two-year deal to come together for a day of great college hoops at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Butler, Indiana, Notre Dame, and Purdue will play in a one-day two-game event to celebrate the rich history of college basketball in Indiana.

It didn’t hurt that Indiana AD Fred Glass and ND AD Jack Swarbrick are former longtime colleagues, and that Purdue AD Morgan Burke led the charge for the event from idea to signatures on the contract.  How could Butler not be on board?

Indiana has a great tradition of basketball, and this event will allow kids from Indiana to come together for an afternoon of competition among old friends.  Indiana All-Stars are being recruited well by the four Indiana teams, and bring them together extends those AAU and high school rivalries/friendships in a way should make for a fun afternoon of hoops action.

The former reluctance of in-state schools to play each other has always been baffling.  Why travel to UMKC or Providence when a bus trip to Terre Haute, Evansville, Fort Wayne, or Indianapolis is all that’s necessary to play a quality opponent and extend a brand into other communities.

This is the second piece of evidence in two weeks that Glass and IU coach Tom Crean understand that playing in-state teams is the way to go for a team representing the entire state.  Last week, they announce a three-year deal to play the University of Evansville (Bloomington/Evansville/Bloomington).

Purdue has understood this for years – and will play IPFW, Indiana State, Valpo, and the University of Indianapolis during their non-conference schedule this year.

With all this talent, and all these communities that love basketball it’s silly to travel all over to play teams from across the country.

A rising tide lifts all boats, and playing in-state teams regularly lifts the level of competition and brand awareness across Indiana.



kentsterling.com Video of the Day – Butler’s Zach Hahn on the Butler Culture by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

Butler point guard Zach Hahn is a wonderful example of a kid whose hard work and sheer determination overcame physical limits in taking him to a place where he could contribute in the building of a successful culture.  Zach possesses very few of the attributes that coaches crave in the recruiting process.  He’s not exceptionally tall, jumpy, or long.

But he has worked harder and longer than most in building himself into a basketball player who can be counted on to knock down a big shot, get the ball to a teammate accurately and on time, and lead his team in building a work ethic that helps a team succeed.

That Zach plays for the Bulldogs is entirely appropriate as he is himself a bulldog.  He has always been a tenacious competitor who demanded more from himself than anyone else did, and continually challenges himself to improve and succeed.

He seems to be the embodiment of the Butler culture, and a great example to any kid who wants to play college basketball.  In the video, Zach talks about the importance and meaning of the Butler culture established by Barry Collier in the 1990s and perpetuated and honed today by Brad Stevens:



Jordan Hulls, Zach Hahn, and Matt Roth Talk About Shooting a Basketball by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

Shooting a basketball doesn’t look like a terribly different skill to master.  The rim of a basket is just about big enough to allow two balls at once to enter, the ball isn’t too heavy, and the distance from which a person shoots is rarely more than 25-feet.  How hard could that be?

Judging by the frequency of makes from outside 20-feet, it’s damn hard.  Rarely does a shooter make more than four-of-ten from beyond that perimeter.  With a game on the line, thousands of people watching, and the ability to move the ball to another scoring option, the shooter chooses to put it on his own shoulders and win or lose the game based upon his ability to knock down a shot.

That takes a confidence that borders upon arrogance to even attempt the shot.  The ball goes in, they are heroes.  The ball clanks off the rim, they are booed.  Shooters have a demeanor that allows them to hoist it up with only the thought of the ball slicing through the net, and a work ethic that gives them the right among coaches and teammates to pop from anywhere at anytime again and again.

Shooters see nothing terribly special in what they do.  The almost complete belief they have in their ability to knock down shots makes it tough for them to see what they do as special.  When I sat down with IU’s Matt Roth, Butler’s Zach Hahn, and IU’s Jordan Hulls to talk about shooting, they seemed surprised that anyone would be interested enough to ask.

They have each made so many shots over their young lives that to see the act of shooting as something less than special, but as they talk about how to improve at shooting and the mechanics of a jumpshot, they say very similar things.

For those of you who want to be a shooter or teach shooting, what these kids say and how they say it is very instructive.  For those who are fans of basketball or Butler and IU specifically, you’ll enjoy an insight into the minds of these kids you enjoy watching make shots, and can’t understand why or how they ever miss.

For more information on teaching shooting or learning how to shoot, I highly recommend the information at http://www.swish22.com, Tom Nordland’s site.  Nordland teaches kids all over the country the proper mechanics of shooting.  He does it with better results than anyone else I know of, and I’ve looked.