Live Chat Transcript

Been lazy on this, but here’s today’s.

QUESTION: MODERATOR: Good morning, and welcome to today’s IU sports chat. Hope everyone is doing well and trying to stay warm (HTO forecast shows it’s 0 degree out there!). For Hoosier Hoop fans, be sure to check out Jordan Hulls blog post today on the Hoosier Scoop blog and app.

Gentlemen: How are you today? Ready to get started?

JEREMY: Just huddling around my laptop for warmth. I am ready. Let’s get started.

DUSTIN: Doing well because I’m very much indoors, Moddy. And yes do check out the latest Jordan Hulls blog folks. Let’s get to it.

ANDY: Got a very welcome cup of hot tea at the ready. Ever since I went to the UK, I take milk with it. The only question for some of my English friends is whether their tea is “Miffed” (Milk In First) or “Tiffed” (Tea in First.) But I digress. Ready to chat, and here’s hoping all Hoosier fans are staying warm someplace today.

QUESTION: I see IU released baseball ticket info and it appears they are using the same procedure as for the NCAA tournament all year where chairback seats are more money and only for season ticket holders and bleachers cheaper and for single game. Can you verify this and if so What happens if bleachers fill up? Are we going to see a lot of games where the place is at or over capacity like the NCAA’s?

Also can the team possibly live up to all these expectations?

Mike , Seymour

JEREMY: Mike,

No, you’re not going to see many games at or over capacity. As for expectations, it’s possible, but not easy. I’ll leave the rest to Dustin, the resident IU baseball expert.

DUSTIN: I can verify that. It’s here.

http://www.iuhoosiers.com/sports/m-basebl/spec-rel/012214aaf.html

What happens if the bleachers fill up? Yeah, I’d say same thing as happened in the NCAA’s. Standing room only. And there’s a lot of standing room, so I don’t see that being that much of a problem. For that matter, I don’t think you’ll see a lot of open seats in the chairbacks. If you get season tickets — 22 games for $110 — that’s $5 per seat per game. That’s not exactly pricing out the working man. I suppose you could have an issue of people buying up season tickets and only using like half of them, but even if that’s the case, I think those will also be the games where there’s space in the bleachers. (Great of a team as it is, do I see Indiana filling up BKF at 4 p.m. on a Wednesday to play Xavier? Not so much.) I do think you’ll see an uptick in attendance this year because unlike last season when fans knew they were watching but didn’t know it would be this good, they now know they’re watching a College World Series team with at least one first round pick on it in Kyle Schwarber and a near-certain top-five round pick in Sam Travis. Do I see every game being just like the NCAA regionals? Not so much. That was the first time that ever happened in this town and it was the NCAA’s. I don’t think they’ll have much of a downturn from that if they host another regional, but I don’t think every single weekend Big Ten series will be like that either. I think they’ll get a healthy draw for those games and you’ll see some sellouts, but I don’t know that they fill the whole hillside every game.

Can it possibly live up to all the expectations? Yes, it can. Should it be considered a failure if it doesn’t? No. It’s baseball, and it’s the major sport most subject to chance. It’s not even a game of inches. It’s a game of measurements so much smaller than that. The difference between the bat path of a swing that produces a fly out to left and one that produces a home run is barely measurable. So any number of hundreds of breaks can go against the Hoosiers and they can fail to reach Omaha again. Indiana has had good teams before that haven’t come close and they were the first Big Ten team to do it in 29 years. There are reasons for that. There are a number of disadvantages that come from being a cold-weather team, and the only way the Hoosiers repeat is if they have success early on southern and western road trips.

But Indiana still has most or all of the ingredients to make another run. Schwarber and Travis are two of the best power hitters in all of college baseball. They have a bunch of other gap-to-gap hitters still there to protect them in Scott Donley, Dustin DeMuth, Casey Smith and others. Aaron Slegers is a big loss in the rotation, but they still have three battle-tested lefties in Joey DeNato, Kyle Hart and Will Coursen-Carr. The bullpen returns almost entirely in tact with closer Ryan Halstead and set-up man Scott Effross back, plus lefty specialist Brian Korte and others. Indiana isn’t missing much. Now, I thought the 2011 team had a Big Ten title shot and it didn’t even make the Big Ten Tournament, so it’s possible they totally miss the mark. But I doubt it. I don’t know if they get to Omaha again because thats tough to repeat, but there’s no identifiable reason why this team can’t at least win the Big Ten title and host another NCAA regional. From there anything can happen.

ANDY: Mike:

You are correct regarding the baseball tix. Here is the breakdown, from the IU athletics site:

  •  IU students admitted free with a valid IU Student ID.
  •  IU Faculty/Staff and one guest are admitted free with a valid IU Faculty/Staff ID.
  • Youth tickets for ages 3-18. Ages 2 and under are free.

SEASON TICKETS

Enjoy all 22 home games at a discounted price!

Adult Reserved (Seatbacks) – $110

Youth Reserved (Seatbacks) – $66

Adult General Admission (Bleachers) – $66

Youth General Admission (Bleachers) – $22

SINGLE GAME TICKETS

Adult General Admission (Bleachers) – $5

Youth General Admission (Bleachers) – $3

As to whether or not the team can live up to sky-high expectations, I’d say it’ll naturally be difficult and there are no guarantees, but that this team certainly can. Not many college clubs can boast a pair of hitters like Schwarber and Travis and augment them with that many other good bats. And if the arms stay healthy on the pitching staff, that should also prove a potent aspect of IU’s play. The Hoosiers will miss Basil at shortstop. Defense may be an issue. But IU has a lot of guys who gleaned valuable experience last season, especially during that tournament run. No reason to think they won’t make another one, or aren’t capable of making one.

GROUP TICKETS

$2 Each for Groups of 25 or more (General Admission seating only)

QUESTION: 1. Do you feel Crean has an issue developing wings and big men? In my opinion he is fantastic with guards and maximizes their potential (Hulls, Oladipo, Robinson, Ferrell, Wade ETC). However by the same token big man and wings seem to be a huge problem for Crean to develop and get the most out of (Zeller [yes I dont think he got the most out of Zeller], Hollowell, Williams, Watford, Pritchard, Perea, ETC). Do you see this as an issue moving forward and how might it affect IU?

2. Next 2 games decide the season in my opinion. These games are very winnable and if we get to 4-4 I feel we will stay in the tourney/NIT postseason discussion. If we lose both and go to 2-6 I think our season is over. Agreed?

3. IF Vonleh goes pro what does IU do about playing big next year. It appears they will be loaded at guard (Robinson, Ferrell, BLackmon, Johnson) and be a great perimeter team but lack big man. Based on what I saw from the women’s game this weekend (yes I attended for the 1st time and it was a great game) it appears men are headed towards being a carbon copy of women where you live and die by 3’s and jumpers but get eaten alive in post which only works so much (and probably less so in the men’s game than the womens game were size is even more important). How does Crean address this moving forward?

4. Good D coordinator hire. Even if he can bump Iu’s defense up to 70th and not the 30th he had at Wake Forest thats still a 7 win team. Also while I dont think Litrell is a huge loss I do think it looks awful to lose a coach to the same position at UNC which isnt that much better at Football. Do you agree?

Darren, Martinsville

JEREMY: Darren,

1. I suppose if you want to say big men, you could make a case. I would say there’s not much of a sample size though. Crean rarely had true big men at Marquette, mostly undersized or underskilled guys. Fair enough Zeller may not have developed the way you thought he would, but he was only at IU two years and isn’t exactly tearing it up as a pro just yet either.

I do think Watford made some significant strides as a post player as a senior last year, all things considered, but he was always more comfortable outside than inside.

And Perea has made some really nice improvement from last year to this, and again, he’s only a sophomore.

You know, sometimes schools like a Georgetown or North Carolina get a reputation for turning out big men. There’s some truth to that, but it also helps if you keep recruiting a number of big men so that at least one out of three pans out. For Indiana, there has yet to be a lot of frontline depth that way, and that’s not going to change any time soon with Luke Fischer gone.

As for wings, I guess you might argue that guys like Jerel McNeal and Wes Matthews at Marquette were more guards than wings, but they were pretty good. So was Steve Novak, a 6-9 3-point specialist. You might have even called Oladipo a wing when he got to IU and became a guard. And I think that’s exactly how Crean and staff view these guys, if you can play on the perimeter, you are a guard. You’re going to handle the ball, make decisions and play defense like a guard.

2. Not sure I agree. That might be overstating it. I would agree that IU has to win one of these next two, but 0-2 could indeed be fatal. However, even then there’s time and opportunity to get things going. But truth is Indiana has to protect homecourt and steal a couple on the road to stay in the tourney discussion, and these next two would be quite helpful in both categories.

3. I don’t know is the simple answer. If Vonleh goes, and that seems rather likely, then you’re looking at a frontcout of Perea and Devin Davis as your best option. I’m sure IU will try to land some sort of big man, be it JUCO or fifth-year transfer or maybe just some high school diamond in the rough to help, but I’m not sure it’s possible to overstate how big the loss of Fischer looms for at least this season and next. There are some ways around that lack of size though, whether it be by pressing more, playing zone more and multiple zone looks or just creating mismatches offensively to offset mismatches defensively.

4. Glad you like the D coordinator hire. I’ll respectfully disagree that UNC isn’t much better at football, or at least aren’t a bit more high profile. The Tar Heels have been to seven bowl games just since 2001. Indiana has been to one. And just this past year, they were essentially two last-minute losses from playing in the ACC championship game against Florida State. Not sure there’s a scenario where IU gets that close to prominence in the Big Ten. And the offensive coordinator position was open because the previous one was hired as head coach at Arkansas State. So if Littrell wants to be a head coach, he might see that as a better meal ticket or line on the resume, and I don’t think it looks awful for Indiana, even if it’s not ideal.

DUSTIN: 1. The short answer is that I don’t, really. Was there more to be squeezed from Zeller at IU? Eh, maybe. But in two years he was Big Ten Freshman of the Year and an All-American and went No. 4 in the draft. Scored over 1,000 points and got a ton of rebounds. There were probably a few more games where he could have been better, but all in all he had two pretty good years and I thought he developed more than a lot of people realize when he was there. Noah Vonleh has made strides in his game already since he’s been around Crean and this staff. When they’ve had real talent on the low-block, it has developed. Has it maximized potential? Maybe, maybe not. But I also think when fans see a good big man they expect him to get Wilt Chamberlain numbers and that just doesn’t happen anymore. Perea is a bigger project than I think a lot of people realized (certainly than I realized) when he got to Indiana, and he is getting better. And if you’re talking about Pritchard as if there was a lot more juice to be squeezed from that particular orange, I don’t know what to tell you.

As for wings, well, I guess it sort of depends on where you draw the line between guards and wings, but you could easily put Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey on the wing side of the discussion and those guys have both come a long way at Indiana. Was there more to be had from Watford? Maybe, I’m not sure how much. He simply wasn’t all that athletic and there were parts of his game that got a lot better in his time at IU. His first season, he shot 32 percent from three. As a senior, he led the Big Ten at 48.4 percent. I get it. There were a lot of times he looked lost and disinterested (which, kind of like with Hollowell, was a mirage sometimes) but he’s Indiana’s ninth all-time leading scorer. That’s something.

Troy Williams and Jeremy Hollowell are still puppies. Remember Victor Oladipo as a freshman? There’s a lot of parallels between that and what Williams is now. I don’t know that Williams has Oladipo’s drive, but he’s got a lot of raw material to work with. And Hollowell has some Watford qualities on the good and bad side of the ledger. Will those guys have the same successes? Not sure. But they aren’t failed experiments yet and I don’t know that you can say that Crean can’t develop players at that position.

2. I don’t know about season over, but the NCAA Tournament is probably highly unlikely in that case. Losing to Nebraska and Northwestern in the same season wouldn’t look good. But as I see it, everyone other than Michigan State in this conference is vulnerable. If Indiana gets hot on the right night, it can still pull another pretty big upset.

3. Well, he has to get a big man now. Has to. It’s a tough spot to be in because the best ones are all taken. They put a lot of effort into Goodluck Okonoboh and that didn’t happen and the Luke Fischer transfer presents a major problem. But they need somebody. I don’t think it will be a player they can truly work to play through as they did (or at least attempted to do) with Zeller and Vonleh the last two years. They’ll probably end up with someone Pritchard-esque, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I can’t imagine they’ll find someone who can lead the team in scoring and draw double-teams. They just need someone who can defend in the post, rebound, pick and roll and finish at the basket. I’m not sure who that guy is and it might be a transfer from a junior college or a fifth year guy, but they’re going to need somebody. I have no idea who that somebody is right now, but I know they’re looking at one kid from Oak Hill.

4. Also think the defensive coordinator hire was a good one. Mixes up the approach for one thing, and if he does go 3-4, that makes Indiana at least a problem to scout. Sometimes if you don’t have more talent than the other guy, the best way to go is be tricky and show him something he doesn’t ordinarily see and hope that your uniqueness carries you to some wins. And like you said, if the offense keeps it up (although I expect a drop-off there with Latimer gone) they don’t have to be a lock-down defensive team to win. Just a serviceable one. I don’t think the Seth Littrell loss is as “awful” as you’re making it sound. And yes, North Carolina is significantly better at Indiana historically in football. They haven’t been in a BCS game in a while, but they’ve been to several bowl games since 2007 and several more since 1993. Indiana can’t so much say that. But more so, Littrell was a more tolerable loss because Indiana had Kevin Johns. He’s done wonders with the quarterbacks and receivers and he’s ready to be an offensive coordinator. In my mind, he’s the most indispensable assistant on the staff and he’s ready to be an offensive coordinator. I don’t think it costs them that much.

ANDY: Darren:

1. I don’t know, man. Not saying you can’t make a case for your point of view, but it’s pretty easy to make a counter-case, too. How many times has Vonleh been Big Ten Freshman of the Week? And I like how his face-up game is developing under Crean’s auspices. And Zeller was so under-developed he was the No. 4 pick in the draft. And I’d also say that Oladipo and Sheehey technically came in as wings and seemed to develop just fine. Watford pretty clearly got a lot better in the final two years of his career. Jury is still out on Williams and others. Some guys are really raw and need a lot of remedial work, fundamentally. That takes a little time.

2. Still a lot of season left. This is a young team. It will continue to win the occasional game people don’t expect it to, and lose the occasional game people don’t expect it to. A couple of weeks ago, people would have thought Wisconsin and Ohio State were the league’s best teams … and maybe they will still turn out to be. It’s a long season. Not saying the next couple of games aren’t important for IU. They are. They all are. But, yes, I’d say it’s fairly imperative the Hoosiers beat Illinois at home since they laid such an egg against Northwestern in their last home game.

3. They’ll try to address it by recruiting another big man or two. That effort is on-going. Fischer’s departure obviously upset plans a bit.

4. Agree on Knorr at first glance. I like what I’m seeing and hearing there. Agree on Littrell, too, other than to say I don’t know how “awful” it looks. Seth wants to be a head coach and part of resume-building is success at different places with different head-coaching mentors. I would agree it’s a bit of a lateral move, and I was somewhat surprised by it, but UNC has good potential offensively and my guess is this is all about resume-building.

QUESTION: after talking with the new DC, how would you judge his personality? it is hard to tell just reading your story. Interested in any comparison to recent staff members

Did I miss if you had reached out to Larry McDaniel as well?

charles, indianapolis

DUSTIN: Hey Charles,

Don’t have a great read on his personality yet. He seems like a nice enough guy and he returned my phone call, so that was good enough for me considering. There have been coaches on this staff that I was able to get a read on quickly. Ekeler sounded like he just had three Red Bulls, which was probably accurate. Inge was very practiced, as if he’d been waiting for years for someone to ask for his football philosophies and he’d spent years honing exactly how he wanted to articulate that answer. Johns sounds like he could just as easily be your high school physics teacher, the guy who quietly but unabashedly embraces his inescapable geekdom. (And make no mistake, Johns’ status as total football nerd is why he’s Indiana’s most indispensable assistant.) You talk to Shelby for 90 seconds and know he was a cornerback. And Littrell, well, you can hear the chew tobacco in his lip just talking to him. Knorr I don’t have that kind of read on yet. He sounds like a football coach, but haven’t heard anything that distinguishes him from any others I’ve met. Did talk to McDaniel and that’s in today’s paper. Both of them definitely sound like smart guys, and McDaniel is thrilled to death to be coming back. I’ll try to get a better read on them when they get to spring ball.

ANDY: Charles:

I’ll let Dustin address this, since as the beat guy this is in his baliwick and he’s the guy who actually spoke to Knorr. I might add that I certainly enjoyed watching Larry McDaniel play for good Bill Mallory teams in the early 1990s.

QUESTION: Are we witnessing a program on the brink? Not trying to be dramatic here but hard to see how this team will make post season and when looking into the future, hard to see how we are not in constant rebuilding. The evaluation of talent seems to be off for several classes. Luke leaving and Vonleh likely leaving means no proven bigs for next season. Watching games on TV you are constantly reminded about how bad the turnover and defensive lapses are from everyone from Dakich to Big 10 announcers. Fans are not really excited about the stand and dribble offensive scheme. I don’t see the University taking any action for several more years but I am wondering if we are looking at the beginning of the end of the Crean Era even if it trickles on for several more years. We may have just been really fortunate to have Cody mask these issues for a couple of seasons. Not sure supporters can accept rebuilding again this many years later.

Wine Country, Sonoma

JEREMY: Wine Country,

I think this is a question better asked and answered next year. That said, it does seem at the moment like IU has been unable to sync up the right strengths and weaknesses in its recruiting classes. Of course, if Vonleh stays, then it’s a little different story next year, because you’re adding some ball handling and shooting to what is practically the same team as this year.

The other part of it that the jury is still out on is the development of these last two classes. Could Hollowell get it together and become an impact player? Yes, although that is more up to him than anyone else. If Perea can make a similar level of progress from this year to next as he did this past offseason, you’ve got something.

And then the current freshmen. A lot of guys make the biggest leap from freshman to sophomore year, and I could definitely see that out of Troy Williams and Devin Davis, as well as Robinson.

So are there some red flags? Yeah. Could this just be a matter of growing pains? Yeah to that, too.

But no doubt people are not going to be real patient on rebuilding after the rebuild, so one rough year is probably about as much of a grace period as Crean will get from the fanbase.

DUSTIN: Let me see if I can’t split the difference between Pollyanna and Chicken Little here. (NOTE: Do not misread my first line to suggest that I’m referencing Jeremy and Andy. I’m not. I have no idea what their answers look like as I’m writing this. I’m just talking about schools of thought). I’ll agree with you only on this point. With Vonleh possibly leaving (I think he’s going because he’s a projected lottery pick, not because I have any direct insight into what he’s thinking.) and Fischer transferred, the Hoosiers have a really big hole to fill and that’s going to hurt the building of this team and possibly set it back a year. So if your hope was that Indiana would have one down year and then make another run at a national title, well, I’m not sure I see that happening. It could be a few more years before the Hoosiers are that kind of team again.

But two straight seasons without a title-quality team does not make for a program on the brink. And rebuilding is a fact of collegiate sports. You don’t get to keep guys after four years. Everyone has to rebuild all the time. That’s the way it goes. if you get a complete collection of talent and everything seems to come together for one season, you’re most likely going to lose most of those guys and the next year, you have to start over with a whole new team. Every program deals with this, and the year after The Year usually is a struggle on some level and you don’t necessarily get right back the year after that either.

The issue for Indiana fans, really, is that they expected more than a Sweet 16 out of The Year, and they had every right to. The Hoosiers were the No. 1 team in the country for much of the season, they had two All-Americans and top five draft picks on the same team at the same time along with some really really good corresponding parts and that collection of talent should be able to get you a banner. But the cruelty of the NCAA Tournament and single elimination is that you only need one bad night to wipe it all away, and that’s what happened. If Indiana doesn’t lose to Syracuse and it at least goes to the Final Four last season, the ill will wouldn’t be nearly as much because what this team is doing would be much more understandable and easier to take. The frustrations from the Syracuse game have just carried into the year and that’s why fans are having a harder time accepting what’s happening now. Again, not that it’s pretty basketball out there. It isn’t. But it’s colored by the fact that the fanbase feels unsatisfied with last season.

Not saying that Crean is going to earn eternal tenure at Indiana, but let’s put up a couple of hypotheticals here. 1) If you were told at the end of the 2010-11 season when the Hoosiers won 12 games that in the next two seasons, IU would reach the Sweet 16 the next two seasons and win a Big Ten title, how would you have felt about that. 2) Let’s say this team fails to make the NCAA Tournament but makes a respectable tournament run. Then next year’s team spends most of the season inside the Top 25, peaks somewhere around 12-15, gets in the tournament as a five or six seed, wins a tournament game and loses closely to a higher seed in the second round. Then they have most of that team coming back and Ferrell stays at Indiana for his senior season. How do you feel about the program’s direction at that point?

ANDY: Wine County, Sonoma:

Holy mackerel, man. Not saying some of your concerns don’t have some potential validity, but it’s also pretty astonishing how quickly people lose perspective and any notion of a longer view in this instant-gratification society of ours. This program just won the Big Ten title outright in a year the league was clearly the nation’s best and then lost four 1,000-point career scorers and two of the top four picks in the NBA draft. It’s dependent upon freshman playing major roles. The season is unfolding just about how most reasonable folks projected, as it was to be expected by a team this precociously talented but young playing in the Big Ten: uneven play, steps forward and back, winning some people don’t expect and losing some people don’t expect. Progress this season was always going to be haphazard at best.

Fischer’s defection was a blow, no doubt, that could reverberate for a while. He looked like a good four-year big man building block. And, yes, I’d say it’s quite plausible Vonleh’s NBA draft rankings will prompt his departure this spring, though I hear conflicting reports on that and he could clearly benefit from another year in college. He’s a year young for his class, really, and it’s a particularly deep draft. So we’ll see.

But one of this current team’s primary shortcomings — shooting — has already been pretty clearly addressed by the 2014 recruiting class. And my guess would be that the Hoosiers find a somewhat serviceable big man for the spring signing period. And especially if Vonleh opts to stay another year, Indiana on-paper would be among the favorites to win the Big Ten title next season.

So I frankly don’t necessarily see a “constant rebuilding” scenario, at all. Crean recruits too well for that, among other things.

I acknowledge I’m not a fan of a “stand and dribble offensive scheme,” as you describe it, but that’s not exactly what Crean wants to see, either, and isn’t really what happens when Indiana has the horses who are doing what the coaches want done. It’s hard to argue with the offensive efficiency numbers of the past two seasons. All that driving creates a lot of trips to the foul line, which is the most efficient place to score from of all, statistically.

QUESTION: How is Kevin Wilson’s recruiting class going to shape up? I do not believe the general public has any idea what an incredible job he is doing, not only in recruiting but in leading the program as a whole. Do you agree?

Overton’s Limo Driver, Bloomington

DUSTIN: He’s done well. I don’t know that incredible is a word I would use, though. He still doesn’t have a winning season yet and he just had to fire his defensive coordinator because he had, by at least one statistical measure, the worst defense in the history of the Big Ten. But yes, generally he’s done very good work. The culture is different at Memorial Stadium now and the guys truly believe they’re going to get it turned in ways I didn’t really see when Bill Lynch was the coach. And he of course built an offense that was as difficult to stop as any in the Big Ten. He’s doing a very good job of selling his program to recruits, to the current players, to fans, etc. But let’s stop short of incredible until he at least reaches a bowl game.

The recruiting class is very good by Indiana standards. I’m not sure it’s as good as last year’s with Darius Latham, Antonio Allen and David Kenney, but Dominique Booth was a must-have recruit and that was a huge get. The recent defensive gets, especially Tony Fields and Tegray Scales, sound like guys who can make an impact quickly. So I wouldn’t call it a historic haul, but they got some players, and the general talent pool continues to increase.

ANDY: OLD:

As things currently shape up on the Rivals board, Indiana is ranked No. 39 nationally for this current recruiting class, which would mark the second straight year the Hoosiers were in the national top 40 and in the top half of the Big Ten.

IU is ranked No. 7 among its Big Ten brethren right now. The Rivals national rankings for the league are 2. Ohio State; 23. Penn State; 27. Michigan; 28. Michigan State; 29. Wisconsin; 37. Nebraska; 39. Indiana; 41. Rutgers; 50. Northwestern; 53. Iowa; 60. Purdue; 62. Maryland; 63. Illinois; 70. Minnesota.

The Hoosiers’ most recent recruit, Florida safety Tony Fields, was a top target for IU said he picked the Hoosiers over Missouri and Auburn (yes, the two teams that played for the SEC title last season) among other notable programs. (Not sure he even had a pending offer from Auburn, but he was still a highly-sought kid for a three-star.) He’s just one of several who have cast their lot with the Hoosiers recently,

At some juncture, the relative recruiting success of the past two years should make some sort of positive difference on the field, one would think. Not that it helps Doug Mallory much, now, but Brian Knorr should have a bigger group of promising young guys with whom to work on defense. It remains to be seen if Wilson’s choice of repair options proves successful for the defense, but he had to approach it in some sort of substantive way and clearly has. One can’t say he isn’t trying to address it.

Wilson, rightly or wrongly, got off on the wrong foot with some folks in terms of perception in the immediate wake of his arrival in Bloomington. He still has some ground to make up in that regard, probably, but he’s working at it. I can report his working relationship with the media has generally improved. So, yes, I’d say his efforts are perhaps under-valued or not necessarily acknowledged by segments of the public at large, but I think everything obviously changes pretty quickly if more wins materialize.

Given the recent recruiting, one wonders what Wilson and his staff could start accomplishing in that regard if they start earning bowl bids.

QUESTION: Good morning gentlemen, I hope all is well. Thanks for all of your continued hard work, I appreciate it. The roller coaster season continues for the Hoosiers and at this point, anyone that thinks they know what this team is going to do from one game to the next is either lying or forced to make a prediction because it’s their job. The Northwestern game was an abomination to the game but the Michigan State game was one of their better performances of the season. At least it’s interesting!

1. What a whirlwind January week for IU football. After the recent recruiting additions (Tommy Mister, Scales, Smith, Fields) how does this class stack up in comparison to other Big Ten programs? Are there any other guys/positions the staff is pursuing to round out the class? Do you think Brian Knorr (and at least some of his 3-4 defense) is a good move for the program?

2. Every 3-pointer Noah Vonleh hits makes me cheer because this team desperately needs his scoring. However, every 3 he hits inches him up the draft boards. Sigh. Let’s assume he leaves (not that I think it’s a foregone conclusion, particularly if the team fails to make the NCAA Tournament), I think the best option for the staff is to pursue a graduate transfer player that will be available immediately. Do you know of any players (2014 HS seniors, JUCOs or other) the staff is interested in to fill the void (small one with Vonleh, massive one without him) for a year?

3. Sunday’s game against Illinois is essentially a must-win for this team because the margin for error is pretty much gone. Are there any changes in rotation/minutes distribution that you think we will see and do you think Will Sheehey will be able to play?

Thanks for everything, have a great week, God bless and go Hoosiers!

TJ, Noblesville

JEREMY: TJ,

Interesting is probably not what Tom Crean had in mind when the season started, but that about covers it at this point.

1. Football dudes …

2. Well, making 3s certainly does nothing but help his draft stock, but regardless, he looks like a lottery pick with the way he rebounds, runs the floor and simply has the body to carve out space. Frankly, he has a lot more work to do in terms of developing a dominant personality and basketball maturity than anything physical. And just the fact he’s so young is about the only reason he stays, but I rather doubt it. As for frontline help, there are a couple of high school guys Indiana is reportedly interested in, although I don’t think there are any offers yet. Like you, I think a graduate student transfer, such as Evan Gordon, would be the best fit, but nobody really knows who those options are until the season ends.

3. There generally aren’t must-win games in January, but I agree Illinois is pretty close. IU can’t afford to lose many, if any home games, and certainly not a very winnable win such as Illinois. My guess is Will Sheehey will do everything in his power to play, but IU needs the effective Will Sheehey, not one just limping around at 60 percent. Other than that, I wouldn’t be surprised to continue to see a little more of Devin Davis — thought he did some nice things in East Lansing.

DUSTIN: Hey TJ,

1. Yeah, no kidding on the whirlwind thing. Rivals.com has Indiana’s class ranked seventh in the Big Ten just by using stars and size of class. Or something like that. One way or the other, that sounds about right to me. The programs ranked ahead are Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Nebraska. And frankly, with the resources those schools have — and the fact that Michigan State just won the Rose Bowl —  those programs should always recruit better than Indiana. If the Hoosiers are in front of Northwestern, Iowa, Purdue, Illinois and Minnesota, that’s a pretty good place for them to be. Not sure what they’re looking for to round out the class.

I do think Brian Knorr is a good fit for the program. It gives IU a chance to shake-up the approach and become a difficult scout, and it gets them a guy with proven success as a DC. He’s been steady and reliable. I think that’s what they needed more than anything.

2. I’d agree with you that if they can get a fifth-year graduate transfer guy, that’s Indiana’s best option. Perea can still play backup but they need someone solid. Doesn’t need to be a Vonleh or a Zeller that you play through. If they can just get a Tom Pritchard type that would help a lot. So to me, the kid from Oak Hill they’re apparently jumping on — Rokas Guystys — is perfect. He’s 6-9, 240. Defense, rebounding, pick and roll guy. Strong. Maybe not the most athletic, might not score a ton of points, but I think they can live with that. They just need somebody they can stick in there and rely on him to guard bigs. They should be able to get their scoring some place else.

3. I’d agree there. Sheehey sounds 50-50 at best. It’s an ankle sprain. You just never know with one of those. I think you’ll see Hollowell play a little more, but I think Indiana sticks with two guards in the lineup. Maybe Robinson’s arrived. We’ll see.

ANDY: TJ:

A roller-coaster season, indeed, and one which I think was entirely predictable given the circumstances — and especially including Fischer’s departure, which obviously tipped the scales a bit in a negative sense. Agree that the IU-Northwestern game set back basketball a couple of decades but also agree that the effort against Michigan State should have gratified Hoosier fans, even amid the 18 turnovers. I liked how hard Indiana played, and how it defended. But this remains one of the worst IU teams I’ve ever seen at finishing around the rim, either through contact or with no contact.

1. Rivals ranks IU seventh among the 14 league teams for 2014 recruiting right now (I posted the full list of B1G rankings on another response in the chat) and No. 39 nationallly, which would put the Hoosiers in the upper half of the conference and the nation’s top 40 for the second straight year. There are technically two more spots to fill and some of the guys the Hoosiers are in on include Florida linebacker Greg Gooch, Cincy safety Nilijah Ballew (a Louisville verbal), offensive tackle Lukayus McNeil (from Decatur Central and another Louisville verbal) and linebacker Demarquis Gates (Mississippi verbal.) There are others, too, and I still think the staff would like to also add another wideout. I like the Knorr hire, as well as the notion of mixing in some 3-4 looks to a multiple approach.

2. I think Noah is probably gone, though I also think he could benefit from another year. A couple of 2014 big-man names that have appeared on the IU radar lately are 6-9 Rokas Gustys (Oak Hill Academy) and 6-10 Matt Cimino (Worcester Academy). A recent 2015 addition to the radar is 7-footer Josh Sharma.

3. It would behoove the Hoosiers to beat Illinois, yes. Don’t know about Sheehey as yet. Maybe Dustin or Jeremy has heard something. Your guess is as good as mine regarding rotation/minutes, but I thought the Michigan State performance, overall, might prompt a similar approach.

Thanks, T.J.

QUESTION: Howdy, boys. Could you please tell me what the B1G penalty is for an athlete who fails a drug test? I’ve heard it’s a three-game suspension, is that true? Thanks, guys.

Eddie, Smithville

JEREMY: Eddie,

I’ve tried looking this up on several occasions, and while there is precedent for the three-game suspension being a penalty, I can’t tell as that’s necessarily the rule. There are also differences between the punishments and comprehensiveness between NCAA tests, Big Ten tests and individual school tests. Not sure that really helps, but nonetheless.

DUSTIN: I mean, I know why you’re asking. But I actually just googled it and the most recent story I could find on it came in 2010 and it actually said there isn’t overarching Big Ten rule on that and while there is a Big Ten drug testing policy, the rules as far as punishment are left up to the schools. Per the story I read, Indiana’s policy is no suspension for a first failed test, a one-game suspension for a second failed test and dismissal for the third. Now, that was a football story, so Indiana might also view a three-game suspension in basketball as equivalent to a one-game suspension in football. But I didn’t immediately find an official rule from the Big Ten there. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but that’s what I found so far.

ANDY: Eddie:

Don’t know if that’s a B1G policy, but I do believe that is a parameter of IU’s policy. I could be wrong, because I’m far from expert on this particular topic, but my understanding is there is some variation among B1G member schools regarding policies, procedures and penalties.

QUESTION: MODERATOR: That’s all the time we have for today’s chat. Thanks for joining us and be sure to follow the guys on Twitter and the Hoosier Scoop.

Gentlemen: What else is going on this week and weekend on the IU sports front?

JEREMY: IU basketball returns home Sunday for Illinois in an important game. Dustin and I will be there, join us for the live discussion if you’re not there yourself. Thanks for joining us and stay warm out there.

DUSTIN: Well, IU-Illinois on Sunday. That’s a really, really big one for Indiana, so stick with us.

ANDY: Football recruiting continues apace, with at least a couple more spots to fill, on paper. And, as several chatters pointed out, the men’s basketball game with Illinois looms a bit large, even with a lot of basketball still to play. Thanks to all who chatted and/or checked in.