Hoosier Scoop Sage Take of the Day, Oct. 29, 2012

A wizard was in the house where, let’s face it, a pretty magical season unfolded a year ago.

And one of the many thoughts that came to mind while enjoying Sunday’s Haunted Hall of Hoops event, sitting across the way from some dude dressed as Gandalf the Gray, was this:

Whether or not a regular starting lineup emerges, or whatever primary player rotation develops, Indiana junior swingman Will Sheehey and Victor Oladipo need to spend a lot of time on the court. Like, say, 25 or 30 minutes a game each. Even, yes, for a team as deep and talented as this Hoosier squad.

In terms of overall game on both ends, versatility, competitiveness, energy and motor, it’s hard to perceive a better pair of juniors in a loaded Big Ten Conference than “Sheeladipo.”

And there are a lot of good junior tandems in the league, mostly frontcourt-backcourt combos, such as: DeShaun Thomas and Aaron Craft (Ohio State); Keith Appling and Adreian Payne (Michigan State); Melsahn Basabe and Roy Devyn Marble (Iowa); Tim Hardaway, Jr., and Jordan Morgan (Michigan). Most observers would probably rate OSU’s Thomas and Craft the best twosome, and they are indeed formidable.

But, when it comes right down to it, I wouldn’t trade Sheehey and Oladipo for any of them.

I’m hard pressed to remember any two players who matriculated in Bloomington as relatively unheralded prospects (outside the national top 100 rankings of most recruiting services) who have progressed so far and so fast, and have brought so much to the table.

And there is, among a great many other things the sheer entertainment value they provide. Oladipo and Sheehey comprise two big reasons why, as esteemed IU staffer Jeremy Gray noted in a tweet Sunday, that this IU team figures to lead the Big Ten in dunks. By a lot.

Hoosier fans got some very welcome news Sunday with the verbal commitment of consensus Top 40 prospect Troy Williams. And he is an exciting talent, no doubt about it, who should fit into IU’s program very well. But Oladipo and Sheehey serve as terrific reminders that recruiting ratings don’t always tell the entire tale.

And now a couple of thoughts on “The Haunted Hall of Hoops” event itself:

Why do so many more people prefer to camp out or stand in line for hours to attend the “midnight madness” of Hoosier Hysteria when, on a subsequent Sunday afternoon, they can cruise right into good seats at the Hall and take in pretty much a full scrimmage game featurng the nation’s No. 1 ranked team?

Sure, “Hoosier Hysteria” encapsulates the excitement of the season’s formal kickoff event. But it does tend to drag on, with the dunk and 3-point contests too lengthy in structure among other things, and the atmosphere tends to dissipate well before the much-delayed scrimmage (even though the scrimmage is perhaps the element serious fans most want to see.)

“The Haunted Hall of Hoops,” on the other hand, offers its scrimmage right away. And one would have to be a real sourpuss not to derive at least some enjoyment from the subsequent parade of cute kids bedecked in some bedazzling costumes. Yet, that event drew only maybe 3,000 or so (with everybody getting a great seat) Sunday while people had to be turned away at Hoosier Hysteria.

So some friendly future advice for Hoosier fans who can’t (or choose not to) get into Hoosier Hysteria: The Haunted Hall of Hoops serves as a very nice, and in some ways better, alternative.

And you’ll still get to see Oladipo and Sheehey dunk.

5 comments

  1. Good recap Andy. I agree with you about Vic and Will. In addition to being under the radar from a recruiting standpoint- I think that those two especially show the player development that is possible under Coach Tom Crean and with the availability of Cook Hall. BTW- I like this feature alot.

  2. I’ve watched the scrimmages repeatedly and two things are certain. 1) IU can score from anywhere, in a hurry, and often. 2) They have a long way to go defensively to be the championship team they want to be.

    Offense: Gone are the days of having one or two guys who can get their own shot, usually VJ3 going one-on-five with the shot clock running out. They have a lot of options and there is no defense that can completely stop IU. They will score points.

    Defense: At some point they have to be able to prevent penetration and learn how to close out on the shooter. They could not do it last year and I have seen nothing to indicate they can do it much better today. The good news is they have time to get there.

    All they have to do it watch their last UK game. They outshot UK and made just as many 3’s. But you cannot beat 35-37 from the free throw line. UK got the ball and ran into the first IU player they could see on their way to the rim. Foul IU. That’s how you get 37 free throw attempts to 17 for IU.

    IU wants to win the title. They better figure out how to move their feet on defense.

  3. Great point, Andy. I, for one, hope that the Hoosiers always have the Wills and Vics of the world on our team. I really don’t want to becomes Duke with the 12th man on the bench being some prima donna from Alaska. Give me a Will Sheehy with a motor that won’t stop and a chip on his shoulder. Who would you want next to you in a fight, Will Sheehy of some Dukie frat boy?

  4. Good “take” Andy on all points.

    For all of you Hoosier BB fans, if you like pomp and circumstance, go see Hoosier Hysteria. It is a fun event.

    If you like to see what the Hoosiers are made of, go see the Haunted Hall of Hoops. Yes, each team knows each very well. They know exactly what the other team is trying to do both on offense and defense. It’s like playing against your brother day in and day out. It’s very intense. Just ask Will Sheehey, he had to leave the Hall after a hard collsion.

    Everyone had a good seat at the HH-of-H. And the young Halloweeners were pretty cool too

  5. Totally agree about “Sheeadipo”. Chaos &U disruption, that is what they bring to the opposition in a way that no other Hoosiers do. In fact, when we 1st started to show improvement 2 seasons ago, I felt that sheeadipo was teh manin reason for that. I’m thrilled that CTC is preaching defense this seaon, cuz’ that’s exactly what we need in order to fulfill these lofty goals. We need to improve significantly in that area, & it’s a tall order, but hopefully we can pull it off. Most of all, I just want a fun year, 1 in which we are a dominant team throughout & I want to be able to wallow in our successs & at times sit back & enjoy the ride. It’s been 20 freaking years since we’ve had a season like that. The 1992-’93 team was the last 1,(I’m still salty about losing to Kansas in the elite 8. Adonis Jordan & Rex Walter(s?) couldn’t miss from 3, Greg Oostertag lumbered & stumbled his way to playing his best game of the year probably, I hated that game, & Alan Henderson was clearly nowhere near 100% recovered from a torn knee ligament, & we needed him to be at full song to have a chance to win another banner, but I never thought we’d go so long before getting another shot) the ’94 team made it to the sweet 16, but was not a dominant team. In ’02 we had a great year-mid January on, but not so much before that point, I wouldn’t call that it a dominant team. Who would have ever guessed, after the ’93 season, that it would be 2 decades ’till we again would be a #1 ranked team? Ouch, it’s been painfull, & hopefully it’s over for at least as long as it lasted.

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