Hoosier Morning

Verdell Jones goes to Will Sheehey as the latter reacts to his fourth foul call against Northwestern. Chris Howell | Herald-Times

STARTING FIVE

1. INDIANA BASKETBALL

Its unknown whether or not Verdell Jones will play today against Illinois, but Sunday proved that Indiana needs Jones, Dustin wrote.

Jones or no Jones, Indiana needs to find a way to bounce back, the Indy Star’s Terry Hutchens wrote. Its a difficult time for Indiana to try to rebuild, given how deep the Big Ten is, the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel’s Pete DiPrimio wrote.

Illinois’ forwards will challenge Indiana’s struggling group, the Indiana Daily Student’s Greg Rosenstein wrote.

Illinois’ D.J. Richardson is making the extra effort to insure his defense does not slide when his offensive game is struggling, the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Hine wrote. The intensity Jereme Richmond brings can alter Illinois’ season, the Champaign News-Gazette’s Paul Klee wrote.

2. BIG TEN BASKETBALL

Minnesota’s big front line hammered away at Northwestern’s perimeter-oriented group, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Myron P. Medcalf wrote.

Penn State found a way to get ahead and get an important win against Iowa, the Daily Collegian’s Alex Angert wrote. Jeff Brooks’ impact on the game was too much for Iowa to handle, the Iowa City Press-Citizen’s Pat Harty wrote.

As the season goes on, Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft is earning more and more praise, the Columbus Dispatch’s Bob Baptist wrote. Purdue’s Robbie Hummel said he is ahead of schedule, the Lafayette Journal & Courier’s Jeff Washburn wrote.

Michigan State’s season continued to go downhill with the dismissal of Korie Lucious, the Lansing State Journal’s Joe Rexrode wrote. Michigan is trying to figure out what wrong with its defense, AnnArbor.com’s Michael Rothstein wrote.

Here are the Big Ten standings.

3. BIG TEN FOOTBALL

There are very few answers coming from Iowa, where 13 players were hospitalized after a workout, the Des Moines Register’s Mark Emmert wrote.

Northwestern’s recruiting class is typical: 17 players, almost all 3-stars and almost all good fits for the Wildcats, the Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein wrote. Ohio State is trying to finish up its class with a few blue-chippers, the Columbus Dispatch’s Tim May wrote.

4. SOMETHING TO READ

S.L. Price, one of the better wordsmiths working at any outlet, tells the story about western Pennsylvania football, in the form of the town of Aliquippa, so well. He captures, I think, what makes the town what it is (its produced Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett and Darrelle Revis, among others) for Sports Illustrated.

His coaches and most teammates didn’t know what he was doing. His sister, Kerrie, didn’t know. Walker kept playing, going to practice when he could, consuming the free food laid out afterward: green tea, hoagies, kielbasa, barbecue. Since he had begun playing his freshman year, football had provided an identity, given his chaotic life its only frame. The field was the one place in Aliquippa where the spiderweb’s strands couldn’t get much purchase.

The season ended, spring came, Walker’s mother was released. Nobody in the business hassled him when he decided to stop dealing; his cousins were notorious.

The next fall, the 2004 season, Walker studied, cut grass for coaches and teachers, prepped for the SATs. In the fall he had 82 tackles and four sacks at defensive tackle, blocked three kicks. He was just a player and student again, tooling around in a 1985 Dodge Diplomat he’d bought for $750. He had scraped the rust off, repainted the car blood red and dubbed it the Red Baron. People still grin recalling Willie and that car, seemingly made for each other—both headed for the junkyard once, both proud and shining now. But Walker wasn’t driving it that night in November, heading home from the game, when his heart started pounding as if to break through his chest.

For weeks he’d kept the thought at bay, but now it wouldn’t be denied:My last game. Football saved me, but now it’s over.The fear rushed through him, worse than on the worst days with his mom, worse than when a passing cop car slowed, worse than when he felt the weight of the Taurus .45 jammed in his pants. He had never been so scared. No practice, no workouts, nothing. College? He still had no offers. The van he was riding in took a left on Superior Avenue, engine gunning as the street rose under the wheels. He could see the lights of Valley Terrace looming when, without warning, he began to cry. Tears, silent sobs: He couldn’t stop.

“Because going up that hill?” Walker says. “It was like driving into the mouth of a monster.”

5. ONE FOR THE ROAD

Mumford & Sons’ “White Blank Page.”

3 comments

  1. Lots a bad news, but followed up with some Mumford so I’m glad I read it. White Blank Page is very good, but how about Dust Bowl Dance next time…

  2. Just got through reading the article about Aliquippa, thanks for the link. Excellent read and I highly recommend it to all, especially IU bball & footbball fans. I’m not saying that after reading this I no longer am bothered by our bball & football teams’ woes but it does kind of put IU’s problems in these two sports into perspective.

  3. This fine piece of writing by S.L. price reminds me why I hardly ever read novels and fiction. True life stories have an endless number of interconnecting twists and turns brimming with details to offer the reader and none of the man made boundaries of fiction. A very good read.

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