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Inspirational Reads

Maybe It's Not So Bad After All...

December 6, 2006

So, I'm sitting here constantly clicking refresh on my webbrowser of choice whilst dialed into ESPN.com's Indiana University page. It's the best I can do. They're playing Western Illinois tonight in Bloomington. As you can guess, this isn't exactly a game with national ramifications. Further, much to my dismay, I can't find any streaming or internet radio broadcasts of the game. I found one for the Notre Dame/USC game, which helped soften the blow of THAT debacle, but apparently you can't get free Indiana games off the internet. Never mind that I already pay $30 a month (or so, I think) for this fine, high-speed connection, I have to pay more on top of that to listen to my favorite team. I don't know the price, and I didn't much care to look into it. I know I could order it on my television, but again, I would have to pay more on top of what I already pay to get these fine digital images displayed upon the nearest photo tube. That's $15 a game. Highway robbery, says I. A good porn movie only costs something like $9.99 (as I'm led to believe...I've never looked into ordering one because, again, you have to pay, and the whole point of this opening paragraph is let you know what a cheap bastard I am), but IU basketball is $5 more. Now I need to figure out, after watching, which one makes me feel more cheap and dirty.

I shouldn't say that. Life under Kelvin Sampson has been good, for the most part. From what I have seen, at least (which isn't much, in case the first paragraph hasn't yet sunk in). Right now, Indiana stands at 5-2 (they just drubbed Western Illinois 92-40, holding the Leathernecks to just 19 points in the second half). While none of those wins has been over an impressive opponent, both of those losses have been at the hands of impressive competition. Sure, they shit the bed and surrendered a 12-point lead to Butler, but Butler is undefeated and went on AFTER beating IU to beat two more ranked opponents (though Tennessee has dropped out of the top-25 and Gonzaga is dangerously close to dropping out). The other loss was by three to Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Yes, they got down early, but Duke really had to scratch and claw their way past Indiana in the second half. Okay, so Duke never trailed in the game, but Indiana did tie it late. After that, Duke cruised, thanks in large part to Xavier Keeling having kicked Lance Stemler in the head on Sunday during practice and because most of the starters were dogs instead of stars.

By the way, Kansas, which is 7-2, is ranked number 13 in the nation. Their two losses: Oral Roberts and Depaul. Indiana's two losses? To No. 14 Butler and No. 7 Duke. Indiana's ranking? Not even receiving votes. Bunch of savages out there.

Anyway, a perusal of the box score shows that fouls and turnovers continue to be a problem. Shooting was good (32-64, 50%) and defense was good (13-46, 28.1% for WIU), but then again, this was against subpar competition. No offense, Western, but you're just a tune-up for Kentucky. One big, glaring problem: free throws. They got to the line 25 times (that's good) and hit only 15 of them (that's bad). Unfortunately, they also cranked more three-pointers (31) than they attempted free-throws. I was hoping that Kelvin Sampson's fundamentals would have made the guards not so trigger-happy beyond the arc (notice that 31-64 is just under 50%).

What does this mean for the upcoming Kentucky game? I don't know. Kentucky is down, again. I couldn't bring myself to watching them play against UNC last weekend, but I know they lost and never threatened the Tarheels. Could this be the year Indiana puts together a WINNING streak against the Wildcats? Doubtful. From what I've seen, IU is still searching for some sort of identity. Apparently that identity is throwing the ball at the basket from anywhere on the floor. If the shots are falling, alright. If not, it's going to be a long, long day against Kentucky. I can assure you, Tubby's gonna have the Wildcats keyed up and ready to play better defense (I'm sure Coach Smith would LOVE to see Indiana be forced to shoot 31 3s, as that means either his defense has pushed IU out beyond the arc or they're jacking up 3s in order to catch up after trailing badly). We'll see, but I'm not too hopeful. Kentucky may be down, but this game is south of the Ohio river which, though it's a "neutral court", means it's an away game. If they can manage to beat Kentucky in Kentucky, then perhaps they'll garner some national respect.

Incidentally, Notre Dame has 11 points in the AP poll. Somewhere, a sports talk show host is already bitching about how they're overrated.

The best thing about the impending Kentucky game, of course, is that Ashley Judd will be there (I hope). Nothing softens the blows of an all-out ass-whooping like seeing Ms. Judd bouncing her perky little self up and down whilst rooting on Big Blue.

If only Kelvin Sampson could have brought Carrie Underwood along with him from Oklahoma...

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