Live Chat Transcript

From today. Getting this up early because, well, I have nothing else to do and am stranded waiting for our flight because apparently it’s kinda rough in Chicago. Good chance we’re not going to make it out there.

QUESTION: MODERATOR: Good morning and welcome to today’s IU sports. Thanks for being here. Dustin will join in a little later today with his responses; he’s en route to Lincoln, Nebraska.

 

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

JEREMY: Another good Thursday morning to everyone. Let’s get right to it.

DUSTIN: Hey everybody. I currently wish I was en route to Lincoln, Nebraska. Chris Howell and I have been at the Indianapolis airport since about 8 a.m. We were just on a plane that was supposed to go to Chicago, but it was delayed, we de-planed, and we’re trying to figure out if there’s a connection we can make. So while I’m sitting here and Howell is standing in line (he always gets the fun jobs) I’ll answer some questions.

ANDY: Greetings. In an otherwise lousy winter, in terms of weather, what a season so far for B1G men’s basketball! Not sure how many teams are truly elite (Michigan State is when healthy, probably, and maybe Michigan), but there are zero bad teams. The depth is unreal. Anybody can beat anybody else, any time, anywhere. So any opinions about what is upcoming in the following chat should automatically come with that caveat. But chat we will.

QUESTION: Good morning gentlemen, I hope all is well. Thanks for this chat and for the rest of your great coverage. It is much appreciated!

 

1. Thanks for the in-depth outlook on next year’s WR corps you guys gave in last week’s chat. I expect a bit of a drop off at that spot but I think it will still end up being a strength for the Hoosiers. There’s a lot of talent there. They lack experience but the talent is definitely there. I forgot to add this part into my question but I think it is important…how does the TE spot look next season? Bolser was a really good player, he improved his blocking over time and he was always a great red zone target. Which guys step into his spot?

 

2. I was somewhat encouraged by the victory over Illinois. The Hoosiers appear to finally be embracing what they are (and what they aren’t). They appear to have slowed the tempo a bit and not be hell-bent on running at every chance (a very needed change in my opinion). The identity should be defense, rebounding and getting to the line at all costs. It’s not pretty and they can still run selectively but I think being a grind-it-out team is their best chance to make the tourney. Anyway, do you sense that Tom Crean is pleased with how this group of guys is working and improving? Do you think he feels they are “getting” the culture he demands to have in this program?

 

3. Penn State wins in Columbus, Northwestern wins in Madison…whoa. This is a crazy conference and projecting things out past a game or two is pure folly. That being said, how do you think the Hoosiers perform in Lincoln tonight? Nebraska has been tough at home but I think IU should be able to get to the rim on the foul-prone Huskers and Noah Vonleh could have his way down low (if he gets the ball).

 

As always, thanks for your great work. Have a great rest of the week, God bless and go Hoosiers.

 

TJ, Noblesville

JEREMY: TJ,

1. Football dudes …

 

2. I would agree that Indiana is showing signs of developing an identity at both ends of the floor, even though there continues to be a struggle to find consistency. I’m not sure Indiana has necessarily slowed the tempo so much as there seems to be a concentration on not turning the ball over and getting it into a guard’s hands before running, hence eliminating some turnovers from the wrong people trying to dribble upcourt with a rebound or making bad outlet passes. As a matter of fact, at a recent press conference — can’t remember if it was after Illinois or pre-Nebraska, Yogi Ferrell mentioned that IU still wants to run, because the easiest way for them to get baskets is to do so before the opposing defenses can get set. The difference this year is that involves finding open driving lanes to the basket, because there really isn’t anybody who should be firing up an early 3 too often. I lean towards maintaining the up-tempo style, because this team, one, isn’t built for halfcourt basketball and, two, their halfcourt strength is getting Vonleh the ball in the post, and IU hasn’t been real good at that.

 

As for your three keys of defense, rebounding and getting to the line, couldn’t agree more. I’m curious to see if IU throws a little more fullcourt pressure at opponents in the coming weeks. While I haven’t been impressed with the Hoosiers’ press as a whole, I think it could serve as a timely changeup. The zone has been working well, but not sure that’s going to be a good idea against a team like Michigan this Sunday. Anyway, to your final point, I do think Crean likes the way these guys are coming along, particularly the emergence of Etherington and Howard, and he has mentioned on more than one occasion the desire to see somebody else step up and give a little more. I’m guessing if anybody else does that, it would be Devin Davis, but minutes are hard for him to come by right now.

 

3. Yeah, I’m not even going to predict any more outcomes for Big Ten games this year, because I just don’t know what’s going on. Chris Collins is arguably the coach of the year at this point with Northwestern, and Ohio State/Wisconsin are co-enigmas of the year. All that to say, I’ve always felt like this was a game more likely to go Nebraska’s way. But it’s also one of those swing games on Indiana’s schedule that could be the difference when Selection Sunday rolls around — good road win or bad loss. I imagine it’s going to be close, probably a possession or two inside the final two or three minutes that swings it one way or the other.

DUSTIN: Hey TJ,

1. There are a few useful players coming back at tight end in former walk-on Anthony Corsaro and freshman Danny Friend, but Friend is really more of a blocking tight end albeit a very good one. Considering that, I actually wouldn’t be surprised to see incoming freshman Jordan Fuchs from Milford Academy in New York play right away. He’s a very athletic kid and if he can put on weight quickly, he might be ready for the Big Ten. Definitely the sort of guy who could be an asset in the passing game at some point. We might see if he can do it as a freshman.

2. Generally, yes. He still gets that they’re young and I think there are some guys who are coming along slower than he would hope. But in terms of beyond practice dedication, he puts Noah Vonleh and Stanford Robinson at or pretty close to the Victor Oladipo, Will Sheehey, Jordan Hulls level of being in the gym every day. Sheehey was of course already there as was Yogi Ferrell. he’s happy with Austin Etherington’s progress and with Troy Williams and even mostly with Jeremy Hollowell and Hanner Perea. At least so far as I can tell or as so far as he says publicly. But I think he got from the beginning that this team had a really, really long way to go and he’s been trying to tramp down expectations on these guys for a long time.

3. Yeah, I don’t know that Nebraska has an answer for Ferrell or Vonleh but I also don’t think Indiana has a really good answer for Petteway and Shields. Indiana has to realize they’re in for it, and Nebraska’s actually done IU a favor by winning a couple of big games so there’s no illusions that this team isn’t good. Nebraska won’t be able to sneak up on them, but they might not have to. Petteway is that good and nothing he’s done has been a fluke or an accident. Indiana has to have a really good performance to get it done.

Thanks again, TJ.

ANDY: TJ, tell my Shamrocks to get it together up there in boys’ basketball, for heaven’s sake. I know football season kinda spoiled us, but sheesh.

 

1. Bolser obviously developed into a fine player, but I’m actually pretty sanguine about this spot. I like Danny Friend. Corsaro came as a walk-on but has developed well. And watch for Jordan Fuchs, the kid who enrolled in January, to play a major role. Fuchs is, from what I gather, a tremendous athlete.

2. It was a good workman-like win, as you suggest, and the Hoosiers seem to be improving defensively these last couple of games. I thought they defended pretty well up at Michigan State (with turnovers being the main issue there) and then again against Illinois. The 2-3 seems more sound than earlier this season, among other things. I still don’t know if this team is very good in terms of halfcourt offense, and should run when it gets the chance, but should remain mindful to value the ball even while running. I do think we’re seeing gradual overall improvement, which one would hope to see from a young team, but will continue to see the ups and downs characteristic of a young team. Not having Fischer still hurts. But I would gather Coach Crean feels a bit better now than a week or two ago.

3. Even before last night, I was saying it seemed entirely plausible, if not necessarily probable, that Indiana could lose in Lincoln and then come back home and beat Michigan. It’s just that kind of league this season. The Hoosiers could play well and lose twice. The Hoosiers could grind it out and win twice. Just try to enjoy the ride, regardless.

Thanks, as always, TJ.

QUESTION: 1. I have a bad feeling IU is going to waltz into Nebraska thinking its an easy game and end up losing tonight. While Nebraska has been horrible on the road they have actually been really good at home. If IU can get this game that will be a huge sign of growth. What is your gut reaction to what happens?

2. Will Haner Perea be the starting center next year in your guys opinion?

3. Depending on who departs next year, the Big Ten could either be really good again or the worst it has been in a while. IF Stauskas, Robinson and MCGary depart Michigan for Pro’s, Decker (NBA) and Brust (graduate) leave wisconsin and Gary Harris and Brendan Dawson leave MSU for pro’s while Payne and Appling graduate none of those teams look fantastic next year. Additionally OSU and Iowa are sure to take a step back with the graduation of Craft and Smith for OSU and Marble, McCabe and Bashabe for Iowa. In this scenario who is the favorite in the conference and does the Big Ten even have a top 20 team or National Championship contender next year? I know its early to think next year but thinking about this yesterday I realized it could be a weak wide open Big Ten if the above occurs.

4. More Likely to hang a national championship banner: IU Baseball this year or IU basketball in next 5 years?

 

Darren, Martinsville

JEREMY: Darren,

1. I do not blame you for having a bad feeling about going to Nebraska, but I don’t think Indiana is thinking this is an easy game. The Hoosiers haven’t playing that well to be over-confident, and the Cornhuskers have wins over Ohio State and Minnesota in their last two home games to further grab IU’s attention. If the Hoosiers lose, I don’t think it will be for not being mentally prepared, but I won’t be surprised if they lose nonetheless, because Nebraska is pretty good at home. I actually think the Hoosiers might play better than many expect, whether that’s enough to win or not, your guess is as good as mine.

 

2. Right now, yes, Hanner Mosquera-Perea will likely be the starting center. That said, I could also see IU grabbing a fifth-year senior transfer to fill that spot as well. Sounds like the Hoosiers are perusing a number of high school recruit options as well from Matt Cimino to Ruben Guerrero to Rokas Gustys as centers to a small/power forward in Josh Cunningham. And my guess is there may be a few others as well, but I’m sure help will be coming on the front line.

 

3. I would agree that the Big Ten is likely to be wide open next year, although I rather doubt that all the guys you mentioned will leave early. Don’t think Dawson has done nearly enough to warrant that thought process at Michigan State, and McGary coming off back surgery is probably not coming out. Dekker would be a surprise, too, at Wisconsin. Michigan would certainly be top 20, and I think Iowa, too, which has built some nice depth with a mixture of veterans and newcomers. I know Ohio State has a nice recruiting class coming in and will still be pretty good, maybe better offensively at least. Richard Pitino is already doing good things at Minnesota, and I imagine they’ll keep trending up. Purdue’s got a lot of good young players, and Indiana should be even better, potentially top 10 if Vonleh stays.

 

4. If you’re giving me five years to win one, I’ll take IU basketball. Really like IU baseball, but just returning to the CWS would be something, let alone winning it. That’s just not easy to do.

DUSTIN: Darren,

1. It’s going to be tight. Really, really tight. And if they lose, don’t presume Indiana overlooked them. Nebraska is actually pretty good and might be able to beat Indiana on their own merits. I think the Hoosiers know going in that it won’t be easy so that helps the cause a significant amount, but again, I think there’s a chance Petteway just goes off.

2. Eh… no. My guess is they get a fifth-year senior that reminds you of Tom Pritchard. If I’m just going to straight guess here, that’s what I think happens and kind of what should. Go get a 6-foot-9, 240-pound bruiser just so you’ve got someone who can defend in the post. He doesn’t have to be the greatest rebounder in the world, he doesn’t have to score 10 points a game. Get someone who can defend and screen and roll and that might be what you have to go with in there. It’s not a good situation, but it’s the one they’re in. Better to get a guy who can do that for a year rather than get a guy who can do that as a freshman and have to give him a scholarship for four years.

3. The league could definitely shake up a good bit, but there’s still a lot of talent left. Indiana would certainly be in good shape in such a scenario. I think Vonleh leaves, but I’d be a little surprised if Ferrell did. A lineup of him, Blackmon or Johnson, Troy Williams , somebody like Jeremy Hollowell or Devin Davis and a new center wouldn’t be a bad situation. Wouldn’t call them the favorites, but they’d be competitive in such a league. I think Michigan would still be OK with Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin, who I think is very, very good even if he done all that much yet. Michigan State will definitely be in rebuilding mode. I don’t know if Dawson goes, but Harris is probably gone.I like Kaminski and Lourawls Nairn, but that’s probably not enough. Ohio State will be interesting if LaQuinton Ross stays. They’ll probably still have Shannon Scott and Sam Thompson and Amir Williams and right now they have the best recruiting class with D’Angelo Russell and Keita Bates Diop. Iowa will still be OK but not as good. I think Wisconsin will still be decent because it’s Wisconsin and Bo Ryan. I like Bronson Koenig a lot, I think they’ll still have Traevon Jackson and Frank Kaminsky and Josh Gasser too. Right now I say Ohio State is the favorite followed by Wisconsin and Michigan and then Indiana. That’s my guess.

4. I say IU baseball this year. Hunch.

ANDY: Darren:

1. I think last night’s results in Columbus and Madison are likely to reinforce, even in young and impressionable Hoosier minds, the notion that there are no “easy games” in the B1G this season. I expect the Hoosiers will battle tonight but it’ll still be a tough place to win. My gut, which is both large and not particularly wise (especially regarding B1G basketball this season) surmises IU might just find a way to eke it out.

2. Well, not at this current rate, unless it is by default. I thought he showed clear signs of real development earlier this seaosn but obviously hasn’t seen much of the court lately (and has seemingly regressed when he has.) However, he still has true upside and is maybe the sort of kid for whom continued work will make things click at some point. And if things click, he could still be a terrific player. Not that it’s an exact analogy, but I remember with Landon Turner, whose struggles never seemed to end until he suddenly turned into probably the nation’s top big man.

3. MSU, Michigan, Bucky and OSU are still going to be good. That isn’t going to change all that much, year to year. Did you think Michigan would be doing what it is doing right now without McGary? There is good coaching in this league. Iowa plays 11 guys, the majority of whom return. The Hawkeyes are likely to be better. Indiana will be better (and if Vonleh stays, which I don’t really expect, the Hoosiers could be among the national elite all season). I think Purdue will be better. And, as is the case this year, I don’t really see any bad teams. The league might not be quite as strong, overall, but will still be very formidable. The coaching, if nothing else, insures that.

4. Well, apples to oranges there, and the odds are obviously against both. I guess I’d go with baseball. I do think IU baseball is obviously a clear contender to win it all this year, but we all know winning the CWS is exceptionally difficult, and one would hardly bet the Hoosiers against the field. With basketball, it just isn’t easy to project out as far as five years, with recruiting fluctuations and guys leaving for the pros, etc. As I said earlier, if Vonleh opts to stay, the Hoosiers might make a run as early as next season.

QUESTION: Below the top 2 in BT standings, who do u see as ascending and descending?

 

John Bender, Avilla, IN

JEREMY: John,

My inclination is to say everybody. And frankly, whatever I say today is likely to be completely different tomorrow. That said, behind Michigan and Michigan State, I still put Iowa, although it seems like the Hawkeyes just can’t break through the glass ceiling. After those three, yeesh! Clearly Ohio State and Illinois are on the most dramatic descent, followed closely by Wisconsin. Difference is, I can see the Badgers pulling out of it and returning to dangerous form. Not sure the other two aren’t just fatally flawed. Northwestern is certainly on the ascent, and to a lesser degree Nebraskas and Penn State. Feels like Indiana, Purdue and Minnesota are just in a holding pattern, Gophers hoping to get Dre Hollins healthy soon, while the other two are just maddeningly inconsistent.

DUSTIN: Mostly, I just see explosions. I see no ascension or descension.

Wisconsin and Ohio State certainly seem to be falling back. Nebraska, Penn State and Northwestern all seem to be ascending on some level, but that’s kind of coming up from the bottom. Illinois is falling. Indiana is middling. Purdue is about the same as is Minnesota. Obviously, Michigan and Michigan State are the two best teams, and I think the only other team that can really challenge them right now is Iowa, although I think the fact that the Spartans beat Iowa without either Dawson or Payne suggests there’s not much of a chance of the Hawkeyes catching either one of those teams.

ANDY: John:

 

After last night, really, your guess is as good as mine. IU has more road than home games remaining and tonight is a big one for the Hoosiers, whose remaining schedule is pretty daunting. I still really like Iowa. And I suspect Ohio State might get its act together in mid-February. And I think Wisconsin will close well, looking at the schedule.

QUESTION: Mornin Gents, Any word, speculation who the last assistant will be for Coach Wilson? Much obliged!

 

 

 

Hoosier Clarion, Sonshine

JEREMY: HC,

I got nothin’ … football dudes.

DUSTIN: Not yet, though there are more connected people than me. I don’t expect this to be a big splash hire, as I imagine it will be the lowest paid member of the IU defensive staff. They have a defensive line coach, a linebackers coach a cornerbacks coach and Brian Knorr, who I simply presume will take safeties. Would think this guy ends up as assistant defensive line, so that’s not going to come with a ton of pay or with a big-time title. I’m presuming it will be someone I don’t know and it wouldn’t blow my mind if a graduate assistant like David Shula is promoted. Wouldn’t expect to hear anything until after signing day.

ANDY: Hoosier Clarion:

 

No names, yet, that I’ve heard. But it’ll be a defensive coach and a guy, obviously, that Brian Knorr will help select.

QUESTION: All this parity cant be good for the Big Ten can it? If 1-12 ends up ranging from lets say 11-7 to 7-11 and everyone has at least 10 losses that cant be good for conference perception can it? I know in reality it shows how great the league is top to bottom but to have no truely great team cant be good.

 

Mike, Seymour

JEREMY: Mike,

Let me start at the end of your question. I think the Big Ten does have a great team in Michigan State, which just happens to not be very healthy right now. But the Spartans are winning in spite of that, plus Michigan is trying to make a case for itself to be in the upper echelon of the nation’s elite, although I’m frankly not sold the Wolverines belong in that category. With one and zero losses respectively, I don’t see them finishing 11-7. Probably 14-4 wins the league.

 

For the rest of the conference, parity is a double-edged sword. Anybody can beat anybody, but they just sort of wind up eating themselves, making it very hard for the NCAA committee to distinguish resumes when the time comes. That makes two things important, how you started and how you finished. For the former, that means non-conference schedule, and for Indiana, that’s no good. The latter means a strong end to the regular season and/or a good run in the conference tournament could be crucial. I have a feeling that’s where the Hoosiers will have to make some hay.

DUSTIN: Mike,

It’s not going to be that bad. Michigan and Michigan State are still a combined 15-1. If Michigan State can beat Iowa without Dawson and Payne, they’re not going to fall apart completely and I don’t see any reason why they won’t be a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. Michigan is on Lunardi’s No. 2 line right now and both Iowa and Wisconsin are still No. 4’s. That’s pretty good league recognition. I mean, there are going to be a couple more surprises and I don’t know if everyone’s going to look at the Big Ten as the best league in the country when this is over, but I also don’t think you’ll have everyone int he middle either.

ANDY: Mike:

 

I think that’s true, generally speaking, in terms of national perception. But the league’s best teams will still make the Dance and have a chance to make their case. Michigan State will presumably have Payne and Dawson both back by that time and, if so, is a Final Four contender writ large. The Spartans might not have the seed they deserve, but they’ll be dangerous. And I still think Iowa, Ohio State and Wisconsin will get their respective acts together pretty well and join the two Michigan clubs as formidable representatives at tournament time. The key will be if other teams can improve enough to make the tournament and then do some damage.

QUESTION: MODERATOR: That’s all the time we have for today. Thanks for joining us. We’ll leave the chat open so Dustin can join in once he lands in Nebraska. Speaking of Nebraska, be sure to follow the action tonight on The Hoosier Scoop blog and app.

 

Gentlemen: What else should we know before we say goodbye? Thanks for your time today.

JEREMY: Big road game in Lincoln tonight, even bigger home game vs. Michigan on Sunday at Assembly Hall. And don’t forget the cauliflower ears promotion for IU wrestling Friday night at U-Gym vs. Purdue! Thanks for stopping by.

DUSTIN: Well, you should know that our odds of actually covering this game are 50-50 at best. We’ve been in the Indianapolis airport since 8 a.m. We’re not leaving until 2, we’re on standby for two fights out of Chicago to Omaha and driving to Lincoln from there if seats do in fact open up and I have no clue what the odds of that happening are. So point being, if there’s Associated Press coverage of this in the paper tomorrow, you know why. Hopefully we do have stuff, but we can’t make any guarantees right now.

ANDY: Football recruiting is culminating, heading toward that Feb. 5 signing date, and Indiana’s primary focus down the stretch seems to be on defensive backs, though the Hoosiers technically only have a couple of spots open. If things continue as they have, IU could end up with its second straight national Top 40 class and again make the top half of the league in terms of Rivals’ ratings (including Rutgers and Maryland this year, as they’ll take the field in the B1G next fall.) So football recruiting should provide some grist for next week’s chat. Until then, everybody, stay safe, well and warm, and thanks for chatting and/or checking in.

QUESTION: Gentlemen,

 

I know it’s far too early to gauge whether Vonleh will stay or go, but I feel the “one and done” talk is premature. It’d be super hard to pass up the NBA millions, but Vonleh just doesn’t strike me as ready for the pros. He’s good, but he’s not an absolute beast out there, as I think a good pro prospect should be. Do the winds that swirl in your direction give you any indication which way he is leaning?

 

What do you suspect it will take for IU to make the NCAA tournament? Through my crimson glasses, I predict IU will go 8-3 over its last 11 Big10 games and be a lock for the tourney, given the parity that has developed in the Big10. Beyond UM and MSU, it’s a battle royal for 3-5 in the league. I see IU as coming in 4th…. as, Mr. Optimist.

 

PacNW Hoosier, Olympia, WA

DUSTIN: Hey Pac,

I’ve heard suggestions that he might be considering staying, but he’s also a lottery pick on every draft board I’ve seen. He’s 6-10, 240, totally sculpted, skilled with both hands, can shoot from outside, handle and rebound. I get that there are moments when he’s not demanding enough but he’s at least as NBA ready as Zeller was if not more so. I think it’s easy to forget that Vonleh doesn’t have to step in there and be an all-star the first year. NBA teams just have to think he has enough potential to bring him into camp for the purpose of molding him further and also making sure someone else ends up in his camp. And if he has a shaky or average rookie year, that doesn’t necessarily mean he would’ve been better off in college. I think he goes.

I think they’re a lock if they go 10-8 in the Big Ten and on shaky ground if they’re 9-9 and in that case it will depend on the wins and losses. Do I see 11-7 out of this group? Eh, man, I don’t know. Basically they have to win every single marginal game (Both Nebraska games, Penn State, Northwestern, Minnesota, Purdue) and they need to get two wins against Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Iowa. That’s a pretty tall order. I’m not sure I see it.