IBJOpinion

LOPRESTI: More hand-wringing than hoops for three teams that fell fast

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

mike lopresti sportsHere we are at the exit door for college basketball players in the state of Indiana, trying to get an idea if anyone might be leaving after this difficult season, and ...

Swooosh.

Who was that? Oh, Noah Vonleh of Indiana, headed for NBA draft day. Can’t really blame him, but that’s not going to help the cause of getting rid of the bad taste of the past year. As of March 30, do you know it was only 391 days ago that the Hoosiers were ranked No. 1 in the country?

Swooosh.

Gee, that looked like Ronnie Johnson of Purdue, with transfer papers in his hand. It wasn’t always smooth sailing at guard for Johnson, but he is a veteran, and the Boilermakers could use the experience as they try to find the door out of the Big Ten basement. In West Lafayette, the basketball season felt too much like the football season, only without the tailgate parties. Do you know it was just 741 days ago that Purdue was taking eventual national runner-up Kansas to the wire in the NCAA Tournament third round?

Swooosh.

Wasn’t that Devontae Morgan of Butler? The Bulldogs’ dive into the Big East went like skinny dipping in the Arctic Ocean. Do you know it was only 371 days ago that Butler was barely missing the Sweet 16, losing by two points to Marquette?

Swooosh, swooosh.

There went Jeremy Hollowell and Austin Etherington. This exit has certainly been busy with hurrying Hoosiers. Did someone in Bloomington pull the fire alarm?

Swooosh.

Another Bulldog, Nolan Berry. Who’s next to trot out this door, Blue? When it comes to old movie titles, this state’s basketball at the moment reminds you less of “Hoosiers” and more of “Exodus.”

Two messages can be taken from all this.

No. 1, three glittering programs in Indiana are all facing moments of truth next season.

And No. 2, it certainly didn’t take long for No. 1 to happen.

Their frustrating seasons ended within 22 hours of one another in March, all losing their first conference tournament games. Their combined record against league opponents was 16-41. Not that long ago, you could have reversed those numbers.

But then, disappointment was all the rage this year in many of college basketball’s traditional epicenters. No Indiana team in the NCAA tournament. No Illinois team. The regionals went on over the weekend with no team from the state of North Carolina for the first time in 35 years.

The most visible Hoosier participant in the Sweet 16 was Lucas Oil Stadium, as Midwest Regional host. And as if to twist the knife about how this season had gone, whom did fate and the NCAA send to Indianapolis to play? Kentucky vs. Louisville.

So are the current ill tidings a freak of nature, or symptoms of something more serious? From Bloomington to West Lafayette to West 49th Street, the faithful wonder. Wonder about the future and—this is the way these things work— wonder about the coach, no matter the circumstances.

Tom Crean is still the man who revived the Indiana program. But ...

Matt Painter is a Purdue guy who has produced a lot of good Boilermaker seasons. But ...

Brandon Miller faced a perfect storm—incoming coach, heavy graduation losses, best player injured, the Big East a new and merciless reality. But ...

“I like the improvement,” Miller said of his team the day it was knocked out of the Big East tournament. “But I understand that we’re not where we need to be.”

That fits all three for 2014. All suffering from a bad case of the not-where-they-need-to-bes.

The question is, how long will it take? Often, good times can replace bad times as quickly as the other way around. But it can feel longer. None of these three programs—or three coaches—would care for a rerun next season. Now is not the time to lose perspective on any of the three, but that’ll be harder to do with a bad 2014-2015.

The Sweet 16 included Hamilton Southeastern’s own Gary Harris and Zak Irvin. Purdue’s Cuonzo Martin, now coaching Tennessee. Two sons of Indiana coaches who now lead their own teams—Steve Alford and Scott Drew. That was as close as the state of Indiana came to active participation.

Meanwhile, we man the exit door, waiting to see if anyone else opens it. But that’s no longer the important thing. Can someone go around to the other side and see if many newcomers are swoooshing in the entrance door? They’d better be.•

__________

Lopresti is a lifelong resident of Richmond and a graduate of Ball State University. He was a columnist for USA Today and Gannett newspapers for 31 years; he covered 34 Final Fours, 30 Super Bowls, 32 World Series and 16 Olympics. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at mlopresti@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • The Middle
    Like just about everything else in Indiana, these programs are not all that special, except to us. Butler had a moment in the sun for two years but that's all it was. That moment is past. Purdue and Indiana haven't done anything special in forever. On the national stage, there are a handful of teams that are special. They do it year in and year out. Kansas is one. Duke another. The Kentucky schools. Michigan State. Our programs are not there. Neither is Notre Dame, Lee. Doesn't matter how much we want to pretend. Once again, we're middle of the pack surrounded by mediocrity. That's Ok. We're Indiana. That's where we're comfortable.
  • And what about Jim Crews?
    Steve Alford was in the Sweet Sixteen, Jim Crews got St. Louis to the round of 32, and IU couldn't get into the NIT. Something's happening here; what it is isn't exactly clear.
  • These things happen
    Indiana has a good coach but not a great one. IU is an academic school-it can't be a Kentucky or Cincy. Hollowell was lazy and played unmotivated his is a gain by subtraction and Etherington never really blossomed either. IU Lost 4 starteres fromlast year . Can Crean still recruit ? we will see. Notre Dame was left out of your srticle-they were bad this year too.
  • Why no commentary on ND?
    Notre Dame is also an Indiana team but you have nothing you to say?

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. The Affordable Care Act is not the reason for the slow recovery and lack of high paying jobs for low skill workers. This is a trend that has been going since the early 80's. The recovery is real in the sense that GDP has been growing steadily at a rate of roughly 2.5% since the recession ended in late 2009 (newsflash, the stimulus worked) and the unemployment has been steadily dropping. The reason issue we are facing deals with a skills gap (not enough workers with the right credentials / experience) and wage stagnation due to corporate America being focused solely on maximizing profits for shareholders and not caring about the American middle class. Why should they? Multi-billion dollar mutlinational companies keep offshoring their profits in order to avoid paying taxes (which makes our deficit worse) they convince Americans to fight amongst themselves. If you want to create jobs and reduce the deficit, raise the minimum wage and change corporate tax laws. Of course, if you want to continue to belive that tax cuts for wealthy create jobs (which they don't) and allow corporations and the wealthy to continue to make you cover more and more of the costs of maintaining infrastructure, funding the military and other government services, then keep voting Republican. Hopefully someday you wake up and realize what's been going on since Reagan took office.

  2. Helloooooo, my name is Kate. I am so joyous to share this wonderful testimony about what Dr. Osoijiakhena, a great spell caster, did for me and my family. I wedded a year and 6 months ago, we were very happy during this whole period, i really love my husband so so much. I started noticing changes when he started coming home late at night, he stop paying attention to me, i later found out that he was having an affair with another lady, i dont know what she did to get to him but she really got a hold on him. He started spending weekends with her, and threaten for divorce. I was so heart broken and devastated, i spent many night thinking on how to get my husband back. A friend took it upon herself to to introduce me to one Dr. Osoijiakhena, a great spell caster, who once helped her with a spell that reunited her family and helped her husband secure a very prolific job. Though i had my doubts and never believed, but i decided to give it a try because i was helpless. I contacted Dr. Osoijiakhena, the Spell caster, to help me reunite my family by bringing back my husband from that other woman and break whatever hold she had on him. He only just told me that it's a minor issue, once i provide and do everything he will ask me to do, then i will have my family back again. I did everything he required. And he did it!!!!! My husband returned back to me and pleaded for forgiveness, and i also secured a well paid job in a big company, just as the great spell caster, Dr. Osoijiakhena said. I am so so happy to share my testimony on this wall. I am using this medium to tell every one that has same or similar problem to try the great Dr. Osoijiakhena through his mail: drosoijiakhenaspell@gmail.com......he is so real!!!!! He can also help you with: (1) IF YOU WANT YOUR EX GIRL/BOYFRIEND TO RETURN BACK TO YOU (2) IF YOU WANT YOUR HUSBAND/WIFE BACK (3) IF YOU WANT TO BE PROMOTED IN YOUR OFFICE (4) IF YOU WANT YOUR MAN OR WOMAN TO LOVE YOU (5) IF YOU WANT A CHILD (BARREN) (6) IF YOU WANT TO BE RICH/WEALTHY (7) IF YOU WANT YOUR HUSBAND/WIFE TO BE YOURS FOREVER (8) IF YOU'VE BEEN SCAMMED AND WANT YOUR MONEY BACK (9) IF YOU ARE HAVING DELAY IN GETTING MARRIED (10) IF YOU HAVE A COURT CASE AND WANT TO WIN (11) IF YOU'RE A DRUG ADDICT AND YOU WANT TO REALLY STOP (12) IF YOU CANNOT IMPREGNATE A WOMAN (STERILE) (13) ALL TYPES OF DISEASES I advise you to contact the great Dr. Osoijiakhena, the spiritualist for solutions via his email: drosoijiakhenaspell@gmail.com

  3. Sergeant McNally is buried in Cathcart Cemetery on a hill known as McNally%u2019 Hill. The Cemetery is in a natural bushland setting and is very well maintained.The emergency department at Ararat Hospital is known as the John McNally Emergency Department. Cathcart is approx. 4.6 km from Ararat and is approx. 345 m above sea level.

  4. My spring chicken of a Mom is turning 75 years young. She is a big fan of Frankie and I think she would get a big kick out of the film. I wanted to take her to the Broadway play but am priced out. Thanks for your time and consideration. Oh yea, Wildwood! Joie

  5. I thought this company would go bankrupt in 2013/2014. I predicted that four years ago. I was wrong. It will take another couple of years, but they will get there.

ADVERTISEMENT