College Hoops – Stacked Big Ten Goes to Illinois, According to Gottlieb by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

It’s odd that 72 hours prior to the college football opener in Bloomington, basketball occupies my mind, but old habits die  hard in Indiana.

ESPN’s Doug Gottlieb decided to publish a Big Ten preview today, so that is what we are talking about too.  He likes Illinois to win the Big Ten, and I don’t blame him.  Dmitri McCamey is a beast.  He was a beast in high school, and nothing has changed.  He’s strong as an ox and just beneath the level of an NBA ready point guard.  Senior guards win in college basketball.

E’Twaun Moore is a senior too, but he’s a quieter presence on the floor than McCamey. Moore’s game is exceptional, and while he rethought his early entry into the NBA Draft, I think he could be a very good guard at the next level.  Unfortunately for E’Twaun, nobody in the NBA has any opinion at all about my league-ready insight.

If Robbie Hummel can come back at close to 100% for the entire season, the race is going to be close, and the Boilers, while missing the leadership and defense of Chris Kramer, should be stacked at all five spots.  Hopefully, JaJuan Johnson can add another 5-10 Lbs. for the season, and he’ll be the best big in the conference.

Indiana is picked eighth – a nice jump in the right direction.  I think the Hoosiers might be a bit better than that, but who are they realistically going to leap over.  Everyone is back, and they are a tighter group than last year.  Each kid has added another 15 pounds or so of muscle, and they hopefully will see the return of Maurice Creek, who was smooth and productive enough to be a legit freshman of the year candidate in the Big Ten.

In a league where Minnesota rates fifth in Gottlieb’s eyes, the Big Ten is stacked as hell, and IU will likely have to wait another year to move back into the upper echelon of the conference.  Gottlieb has Northwestern seventh, and that is a doable plateau for IU.

With Purdue ready to enjoy the fruits of their outstanding 2007 recruiting class, and IU in the midst of their rebuild, college hoops should be much more exciting in Indiana this season.  It never as much fun when either or both programs are down.  IU is still a year or two from competing neck-and-neck with the Boilers, but there is a feeling that both Matt Painter and Tom Crean’s crews will be battling like it’s 1994 again within the next couple of years.

Now let’s turn our full attention to the IU vs. Towson and Notre Dame vs. Purdue game, and stop squabbling about hoops for a few weeks – at least until the IU vs. Ohio State tilt.


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.

JaJuan Johnson Coming Back for Senior Year at Purdue by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

JaJuan Johnson has made the decision to stay in school and play through the end of his eligibility at Purdue.  This undoubtedly thrills Matt Painter and Purdue fans.  Whether or not JaJuan decided to play for cash next year, JaJuan would have been fine because he’s a great kid who makes good decisions.

There were 80 underclassmen who declared for the NBA Draft, and many have decided to withdraw in favor of playing another year in college.  No doubt the potential labor strife on tap for the 2011-2012 season was a motivator for many to test the waters.  That means there will be less competition next year, and if JaJuan can add 10 pounds, he goes from being a middle of the second round to a mid-to-late first round guy.

E’Twaun Moore made the easier decision to return today.  He was unlikely to be drafted at all, and a senior season isn’t going to hurt his stock.  There are people who look at Moore and question his ability to play at the next level.  I think he can be a very good NBA player.  E’Twaun has quietly won at every level.  He’s a smart kid who works hard at the game.  Is he quick enough to recover defensively and strong enough to discourage penetration?  That’s a question best answered at the NBA Combine, which unfortunately isn’t possible this year because of the narrow-minded and unfair rule requiring kids to decide their eligibility to return to school by today at 5p.

This is a wildly one-sided and onerous piece of legislation that should be changed so these adolescents can gather enough information to make the best decision possible.  To limit workouts with NBA teams to the period from the student-athlete’s last final exam to May 8th is ludicrous, and forcing the kids to pay for the expenses associated with the workout if they choose to return to school is patently absurd.

Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson – What Will He Do? by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

Everyone has an opinion on whether early-entry college players should stay in the NBA Draft, but so few have to do with what is good for the kid.  Most Purdue fans want JaJuan to stay, and most will say it’s because his isn’t ready for the NBA.  Some say they want JaJuan to finish up his degree, which is patently silly.  The reality is that they want JaJuan to stay because they want Purdue to have a shot at a run to the Final Four next year.

Anyone who doesn’t make their living evaluating basketball players has no idea whether JaJuan is ready for the NBA, and even those guys have varied opinions.  Any dumbass with a computer can start a website and post a mock draft.  Some know a little.  Some know nothing.  Most just ripoff the more reputable sites, because no one knows anything about a seven-footer from Lithuania or Hassan Whiteside from Marshall.  How many of us watched Marshall at all this season?  Anyone?  Most sports fans who love college basketball got a chance to see Ekpe Udoh, the power forward from Baylor, during the NCAA tourney, and the rest of the lottery projections are reasonably well-known.

Sports From the Couch-Views From the Couch by jshowal2

By Jeff Showalter

It’s Tuesday, that means it is time for Views From the Couch. Today, we have numerous quick hitters to cover from the world of sports and other big stories. But first, I watched “Couples Retreat” last weekend. It’s not Oscar worthy by any means but it was pretty funny. Vince Vaughn comedies are usually solid and this movie brought us this weeks “babe from the couch”. Malin Akerman. Smoking! Malin Akerman is Couch Material

So the Roy Hall era is over in Indianapolis. He’s going to miss those paychecks from Columbus and Indianapolis but nobody here is going to miss him. I’d give you some highlights of the Hall era but I don’t know of any.

If LeBron’s elbow causes him to play as poorly as he did Monday night, the Cavs are toast. The Boston Geriatrics will win in six games.

Good job Larry! Rajon Rondo went 21st to Phoenix, who traded Rondo to Boston.

With the 31st pick in the NBA draft, the Portland Trail Blazers select James White, Cincinnati. The Blazers trade the pick to the Pacers. Bird gives White a guaranteed contract and then cuts him. Utah took Paul Milsap 47th. The 2006 draft will not go down as the best draft in NBA history and Bird’s ability to pick talent is just as bad.

Odds of Indiana Basketball Players (Gordon Hayward, JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore – Opting Out of NBA Draft by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

The 80 college players who declared their eligibility for the NBA Draft are still gathering information from evaluators.  They have until Saturday to swerve back to college in an unnecessary and ridiculous game of chicken mandated by a silly set of NCAA/NBA rules.  Imposing a deadline far more convenient for the programs than for the student-athletes makes this a typically convenient NCAA rule.  The NBA Draft Combine will be held May 19-23, so the May 8 deadline is ludicrous for kids trying to figure out whether they have the game to land a spot in the draft, and where.

There are three local players who announced their eligibility for the NBA Draft – E’Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson (both from Purdue), and Gordon Hayward (Butler), and they all have very different appraisals right now.

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Jim Johnson with Clark Kellogg on Basketball by jimjohnsonpbm

Clark Kellogg from CBS and FSN Indiana is one of the best in the business. He had a front row seat to the NCAA Final Four in Indianapolis has he provided color for the NCAA Tournament coverage on CBS. He say down with to talk a little basketball, recap the NCAA Final Four and touch on the Indiana Pacers.