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KB0

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  1. Managing the Big Ten

    Out-of-conference play has officially come to a close with two relatively easy victories over Nichols State and Kennesaw State. The Hoosiers will enter Big Ten play at a solid 10-3, which is slightly misleading because they lack a signature win. The pre-conference schedule featured some quality opponents in Syracuse, UConn, and Notre Dame, but ultimately Indiana fell to all three. Last year the Big Ten was widely regarded as the most dominant conference in nation and perhaps the last decade. It not only featured four powerhouse teams, but it was deeper than it had been in previous years. This year the Big Ten doesn’t appear to be quite as lethal, however it still packs a punch. Early in the season the teams have worked to divide the conference into three tiers. Tier one: Ohio State Wisconsin Michigan State Iowa Tier Two: Michigan Illinois Indiana Minnesota Purdue Tier Three: Northwestern Penn State Nebraska Indiana currently sits firmly in the middle of the second tier. The question is, how do they move up to the top of tier two and possibly tier one? To begin the Hoosiers need to improve their half-court offense. This team is best suited to play in transition, but that won’t always be an option (see Wisconsin) come Big Ten play. For this team to reach its potential it will need to be able to adapt to a slower paced, grind-it-out game. To address that problem they will have to find two more dependent scorers. Currently Kevin ‘Yogi’ Ferrell leads the team at 16 points per game. At times he appears to be the only offensive threat on the team. It will be important to involve Noah Vonleh early in the game and get him to the free throw line as often as possible. Establishing Noah as a post threat will open up the wings and driving lanes, which should create a more fluid offense. Secondly, there needs to be some stability in the line-ups played. Early in the season it is vital to spread the playing time around to allow players to develop, but at a certain point the goal is to win games. Fewer lineup changes allow for a better understanding between players and would hopefully reduce the amount of turnovers. Currently the Hoosiers rebound the ball better than nearly every team in the nation. At just under 46 rebounds per game this Indiana team stands at 4th in the country. In order for this team to find success they will need to continue to rebound the ball effectively creating second chance opportunities. Offensive rebounds will allow for high percentage put backs, where defensive rebounds will enable the transition offense they desire to play. With all of that being said, this Hoosier team will most likely finish around 6th in the Big Ten and be roughly a nine seed in the NCAA tournament. They have the potential to work their way to a higher seed. However at times they also look capable of missing the tournament completely. One thing is for sure; if they can continue to improve throughout the year, then we should be in for a fun ride.
  2. Year in and year out basketball analysts and sportswriters around the country create lists of college basketball’s toughest places to play or most historic venues. Each time these are published there are always some familiar faces near the top: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Phog Allen Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, The Palestra, and Indiana’s own Assembly Hall. Throughout the Big Ten, and the nation for that matter, Assembly Hall has established a reputation as deafening, intimidating, and downright crazy. Keith Appling, Michigan State Point Guard said, “Indiana is the toughest arena to play in. It’s so loud.” The Gazette, an Iowa newspaper, asked one player from each Big Ten team, “Where is the toughest place to play?” Not surprisingly, nine of the twelve players selected chose Indiana. It’s easy to see the reputation Assembly Hall has established, but unfortunately, the atmosphere can often be, well, underwhelming. Now allow me to explain my last sentence before I get completely blasted. I have been attending Indiana basketball games and IU sporting events in general since I was a small child. I knew all about the proud tradition surrounding the program from Martha the Mop Lady to the famous candy stripe pants. Growing up I idolized AJ Guyton and Tom Coverdale and the environment they played in. Naturally, the first thing I did when I enrolled for classes was purchase season basketball tickets. I was there when IU upset Kentucky and Assembly Hall on that day was, simply put, insane. There was an energy about the crowd that I had never felt before. It was back for the Michigan State game later that year and the Michigan game last season. On those days Assembly Hall is rightfully dubbed one of the best atmospheres in all of sports, but on the days when the opponent is not a powerhouse the environment leaves something to be desired. For example, last season security was forced to turn people away from Hoosier Hysteria because every single seat was full. This year the scene was disheartening. Not only was the balcony empty, but there was room left in the main section as well. At the time I remember thinking it was no big deal and the atmosphere would improve as the season went along. I was mistaken. There have been six home games (including the exhibition) so far this season and at each one the crowd has been underwhelming. The game against Stony Brook is excused due to severe weather, but for the other five games where has the crowd been? I realize the opponents to date have been largely lackluster, but that does not excuse the poor attendance and lack of energy. So this is my call to arms. I’m challenging IU students to bring all the energy they can to every game, not just the big ones. Put your phone away for two hours and enjoy the company you’re in. I promise you’ll still be able to tweet about or Instagram your view of the game after the final buzzer sounds. Be loud, be creative, but most importantly make people scared to play in Assembly Hall.
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