Mid-season awards: my picks

It was good to see the debates that ensued over the mid-season awards. For the most part, everyone’s answers were pretty much aligned. Of all your picks, D.J. White garnered the most MVP votes at 15. Eric Gordon had 7 and 3 people were bold enough to go with Jamarcus Ellis.

Here’s my list:

1. MVP: Eric Gordon has been all IU fans could have asked for. I believe he’s one of the best guards in the country, if not the best. That said, the Hoosiers’ Most Valuable Player this season is D.J. White. It’s been a delight to watch D.J. make the progress he’s had in the rebounding category– an area he must now be considered one of the best in the nation. It’s definitely a tough choice between these two, but here’s how I decided: if the Hoosiers had to lose one player to injury, which one would you keep? IU would most certainly hurt with Gordon out, but with White out, it’s a completely different team. There’s no inside presence whatsoever and opponents would just dominate the paint against Indiana. It’s close, but in the end I have to go with D.J.

2. Biggest Surprise: The athleticism and knack for scoring Jordan Crawford brings to the table has been something to marvel at thus far. He’s got a long way to go, but I never foresaw this kind of impact so soon from the freshman.

3. Biggest Disappointment: This one’s tough. You could always go with the Phonegate mess in mid-October. I know a lot of IU fans who were disgusted with that situation. But I’m sticking with the basketball court, and if so, it has to be either Brandon McGee or Eli Holman. So much talent, so little productivity. I expect both to grow from this season, though, and become factors down the line for Indiana.

4. Best coaching move by Kelvin Sampson: Like most of you said, un-redshirting Mike White. Sampson said himself it was the best move he’s made for his team and I completely agree.

5. Worst coaching move by Sampson: Too many phone calls. That’s an easy one.

6. Best play: Maybe just because it’s fresh in my mind, but A.J. Ratliff’s tremendous block to save the Illinois win was phenomenal. That play shows how effective, when he puts his mind to it, Ratliff can be on the defensive side of the ball.

7. Best team performance: at Michigan, 2nd half. The Wolverines finished the 1st half with a solid run to cut the lead to six. IU fans everywhere had to be wondering if the road woes of the past would come haunting again. But over five minutes after intermission, D.J. White and company proved there would be none of that.

8. Best individual performance: Eric Gordon’s 33 points against Chattanooga early in the season was an amazing performance, but overall, D.J. White’s 22 rebounds and 21 points against Michigan was even better. After that one, White earned his third Big Ten Player of the Week honors. He’s become a beast down low and the Wolverines found out how hard it is to slow him.

9. Remaining game you’re most looking forward to: Indiana has several games coming up where they’ll really have a chance to prove their a ‘great’ team. I would say they’re most definitely a good team right now, but I think a few statement games are necessary. Specifically, I’ll be anxious to see how they perform on the road against Wisconsin (1/31), Illinois (2/7) and Ohio State (2/10). But, if I must choose one, the biggest game left is the match-ups with the Spartans of Michigan State. These two were picked pre-season to battle it out for the league title, and I still think despites State’s early flop at Iowa, they’ll finish 1-2 in the conference. The March 2 meeting in East Lansing will be IU’s toughest road test. A victory there, and you can’t call the Hoosiers anything short of a great team.

10. Team left on the schedule that scares you the most: Michigan State. Sure, Wisconsin’s good. The Buckeyes of Ohio State gave MSU a tough test the other night, and we don’t really know what kind of UConn team will show up in Assembly Hall on Jan. 26. They did take No. 7 Georgetown down to the wire last Saturday, and the Hoyas escaped after a Roy Hibbert three-pointer at the buzzer. But it’s the Spartans, with their experience, coaching and intangibles that should provide the stiffest test.

11. This season’s biggest annoyance (I suggest the Big Ten Network): To no surprise, I have to go with the Big Ten Network. If you don’t have it, it’s become the biggest obstacle between you and Hoosier sports.

12. Your post-season prediction: I’m saying Elite Eight. It’s hard to see one of the Big Three (North Carolina, Memphis and Kansas) going down anywhere until the Final Four. I’m going to throw UCLA in my Final Four as well because I think they have the depth and experience to play well in March. But Indiana’s right off the edge of that– and I think over the remainder of this season this team’s only going to improve. Kelvin Sampson is a great coach who’s led teams to the Final Four before, teams that were far less talented as this. It will be his job to mold that great individual talent into a great team, and I believe he’s fully capable of doing that. The Hoosiers should ride the broad shoulders of their two superstars- White and Gordon- on their way to a deep tournament run.


  1. Sorry to mess up your column Zak, but just got done reading the Wed chat. Would love to hear the latest on Uverse availability in that south and southeast neighborhood….from Mike P and Chris. Thanks.

    I like your picks except for scary teams. I am so scared about tonight at Minnie-soda that I can hardly pop that first beverage. I will be glued and tatooed to the boob tube at 9pm. Do us right Hoosiers. A road win in the barn will be sweet.

  2. and i’ll be glued at about 8:45 local time when the dvr starts up and i can skip all the commercials and halftime garbage

  3. Regarding 9. An interesting note about the March 2nd game in East Lansing is that game will take place on the weekend preceding MSU’s spring break. I can’t help but think that will factor into a little bit less hostile environment for the Hoosiers. With a good number of students packing up and heading to Cancun, Dayton Beach, Miami, and Panama City I can’t help but think/hope that the Breslin Center will be a little bit less packed and little bit less boisterous.

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