Hoosier Scoop Sage Take of the Day, Nov. 14, 2012

I perceived something steely in the persona of an Indiana men’s basketball player this week.
And, no, I’m not talking about Will Sheehey’s demeanor during Wednesday afternoon’s press conference, though that would also qualify.
This goes back to a brief little set-to during Monday’s win over North Dakota State.
IU’s Cody Zeller and NDSU’s TrayVonn Wright both latched onto a rebound of a missed 3-point attempt by Jordy Hulls and neither would let go. Zeller and Wright ended up careening toward the sideline until whistles blew and Zeller went sprawling as Wright finally released his hold on the ball with a bit of a flourish.
This sort of thing happens all the time, and it was definitely no big deal. Just two competitors having at it. Wright almost immediately came back over to Zeller, offered a hand, and made it clear that nothing unsportsmanlike had been intended. Jump ball. Possession arrow. Time to move on.
Zeller’s face barely changed expression, which is par for his on-court course.
But he had taken note.
My brother, sitting alongside me in the Assembly Hall stands, saw it, too. We agreed that before too much time elapsed, Zeller would find a way to make the Bison pay. Fully within the rules, of course.
The jump ball with Wright came with 17:44 left to play, and IU up, 44-37.
Zeller subsequently made a couple of relatively conventional buckets by his standards, a two-handed dunk and a nice up-and-under from a baseline move, but seemed almost biding his time until the proper moment arose to truly strike back with sufficient magnitude. Playing despite feeling ill Monday, he sat down for a brief rest, then re-entered at the 12:04 mark.
Here it comes, we sensed.
And we were right.
Zeller missed a tough shot inside, then tried for a steal while chasing the fast-breaking Bison up-court. He didn’t get the steal, but Victor Oladipo did, pilfering the ball in the defensive lane and out-letting to Zeller at around midcourt.
Sheehey was actually a bit ahead of Zeller on the ensuing break, with no defenders between them and the bucket. Almost any other time the team-oriented Zeller, who always seems to have his head up and is a tremendous ball-handler for a big man, would have sent the ball ahead to Sheehey, one of the team’s best dunkers.
Not this time.
Zeller wanted this particular dunk.
And with two huge strides on the dribble before liftoff, Zeller soared for a one-handed tomahawk jam.
Boom-shacka-lacka! With authority. With conviction. Take that, TrayVonn.
North Dakota State then tentatively came back upcourt, with the Assembly Hall crowd still buzzing, only to see Zeller block a shot that created another Hoosier break, this one culminating on a pull-up 3-pointer from Sheehey on the left wing that gave IU its first 20-point lead of the night, 63-43, with 10:49 left.
Take that. And that.
Game, set, match. Ohhh-va.
Zeller, on a night he probably should have been home in bed, finished with a game-high 22 points and nine boards.
There are so many things Indiana fans can and do love about Zeller and his game. To them, he will always be the player who symbolizes and epitomizes the resurrection of IU’s storied program. Off the court, they know him as a really good, really nice, really smart, fun-loving , often mischievous kid. On the court, they marvel at the splendid skill set contained within his 7-foot frame.
But there is a hard core inside him that all great competitors have, too.
Just ask Meyers Leonard, the Illinois center who found out about that in no uncertain terms last season. On his chin. Just ask any number of guys who have gone up against Zeller at various stages of his career.
Wednesday night, I watched the DVR of Monday’s game. Color commentator Darrin Horn, the former South Carolina and Western Kentucky head coach who was a Tom Crean assistant at Marquette, put it this way to the Big Ten Network audience in the immediate wake of Zeller’s tie-up with Wright:
“Cody Zeller is often talked about as being, personality-wise, very quiet and laid back. But make no mistake about it, there is a fire that burns in that young man. He’s as competitive as anybody in college basketball.
“The Bison might have just riled him up a bit.”
And the Bison paid.
They aren’t likely to be the last IU opponent to do so.


  1. Interesting thought. That play stood out to me too. I initially thought, “Why didn’t he pass it to Will?” Then I realized it was the smart play: Will had a step on him but Cody had a clear path and there was no need to risk an errant pass or catch. Sorta like keeping your free-throw motion as simple as possible.

  2. I also thought on that play that there was bad spacing. It looked like they were almost too close for a decent pass to be made in stride.

  3. I thought I read that Jeremy Price was replacing Ryan as the IU basketball columnist this season. Am I remembering wrong or has a change been made already? It seems as if Andy Graham is writing the basketball columns, which is cool, but not what I thought was going to happen.

  4. BobinBtown,
    I am still the basketball columnist, and those columns you can read in the paper or on Hoosiers HQ. I might occasionally post part of a column on here, but we try to hold some content for subscribers only. Andy’s sage takes are for this blog only and only occasionally basketball-related.

  5. Thanks, Jeremy! It sounds to me like as football winds down, we now have two H-T IU basketball columnists and why not? I can’t imagine that the Hoosier Scoop Sage Take of the Day will turn out to only occasionally be basketball-related during basketball season, especially with the Hoosiers ranked as high as they are. Don’t you think we’ll get an IU basketball-related Hoosier Scoop Take of the Day most of the time?

  6. We lost one game rather badly. CKW said this would be a good week to see who we are and what we have. Same could be said of the Hoosier’s following.

    With two weeks to go, do we still give the football Hoosiers some well earned attention or are we what most others said we were? This applies to some press coverage as well (not necessarily the Sage). There’s good reason to be excited about basketball with this year’s possibilities and recruiting. But, with Penn State and Purdue…focus should remain on a team that has worked hard to change the culture of ‘losing’.

  7. I can’t wait to see Zeller play Wisconsin. If what this article suggests about Zeller is true, and I think it is, Zeller should have a monster game against Wisconsin. The Badgers had some fun at CZ’s expense last year. I think pay-back is coming January 15th and it’s going to be a bitch!

  8. You never stop, TTG. Most people with a working brain can handle the emotionally taxing task of the “Hoosier Scoop Sage Take of the Day” being about the no. 1 ranked basketball team, while the perennially awful and embarrassing football team limps to another losing season. You obviously see a problem with the multi-tasking, so I suggest that you, for the greater good, pay no attention to anything other than football until after the Bucket Game. Let us know how it goes. Actually, on second thought, don’t.

  9. Dunbar, I can handle it just fine and , if you could read in English- I know, a very challenging issue for your intellect- you’d realize that I excluded the Sage from the criticism. I posted my thought under the Sage’s space exactly because I think Graham is the most balanced of the writers and best able to ‘multitask’. I invite you to re-read my post.

    I also have a great devotion to all IU sports. I truly believe the major reason football has not prospered is because there are some brains (yours is a good example) who have a hard enough time interpreting movement of 10 players in two different colors plus 3 officials in bi-colored shirts over a 94 X 50 ft space with only one ball between them. To ask them to expand that to 300 feet X 150 feet, with the players wearing bird cages would be cruel and abusive.

    Do yourself a favor. Don’t try to comment on my posts. You’re simply not smart enough. It is a sad, sad exercise to be forgiving about your pathetic attempts to be thoughtful. Which may explain why you can only think of one game every six months. It’s so hard to figure out the difference in the bounce of a football as opposed to a basketball. You try to dribble it and it bounces up and hits you in the face. Ohhhh my…! Baby got boo-boo?

  10. Time to go to bed, old man. You’re cranky. Better not watch the bball game tonite…they probably won’t mention the upcoming football game, and I don’t think your frail brain can handle that.

  11. I emailed Fred Glass earlier this evening asking him to postpone all of IU’s upcoming basketball games until after football season is over. I hadn’t heard back yet at tip time, so I left a couple voicemails on his office phone. Hopefully he contacts me by halftime, and we can get this pesky 2nd half cancelled. I’ll let everyone know how it goes. I’m sure he’ll do the right thing.

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