Live chat transcript

MODERATOR: Good morning, and welcome to today’s IU sports chat with Andy, Mike and Jeremy. Thanks for being here, and Happy Halloween.

How is everyone today? Ready to get started?

JEREMY: Thinking this is a going to be a good night to dress up as an Eskimo, but in the meantime, I’m ready to chat from my igloo.

MIKE: Good morning, everybody, and happy Halloween. Sadly, no trick-or-treating for Andy and I this year. An early-morning wakeup call for Michigan awaits. Fun weekend on tap, nonetheless, with IU football looking for a big win at the Big House and IU basketball hosting its annual Haunted Hall of Hoops at noon Saturday. With that, let’s chat.

ANDY: Snow? Did somebody say snow?

Time to chat. And will do my best to avoid any sort of snow-job in my responses.

QUESTION: 1. I dont like it that no matter who we play Todd Yeagley will say in postgame video on iuhoosiers.com that ‘(Insert Name) is a really good team’ no matter how good the team really is. It’s not that I think he shouldn’t compliment every team in some way but to use the same “Notre Dame is a really good team” in the exact same way he says “Evansville is a really good team” with the exact same quote except with a different team is disengenuous too both opponents who are not on the same level and he does it for every team regardless of who we play or how good they really are. It just makes the quote seem very hollow and not believable when he does it every time

2. In terms of teams play obviously still no complaints. Obviously went to Evansville last night (i-69 cut my drive down from 2 hrs 15 to 1.5 hrs to evansville on all interstate) and have to say they are the worse team ive seen IU play this year but we took care of business as we needed to. How come you didnt go ANdy or Jeremy? I hope to see you guys covering tourney games either at home or regionally.

Iu Soccer Fan, Bloomfield

JEREMY: IU soccer fan,

First of all, I would say that Todd Yeagley could pretty much say that every team on the IU schedule is a good team. It just turns out that Evansville and Saturday night’s opponent Wisconsin, at No. 150 and No. 127 in the RPI ratings, are two of the three weakest teams on the Indiana schedule, both better only than UCF at No. 187.

Anyway, I thought Yeagley had a funny quote in my Evansville preview story: (Evansville) is better than their record. That’s not just to color it up for the heck of doing it I would, maybe but they really are.

Regardless, if the postgame video quotes are the biggest complaint this season, the Hoosiers are doing just fine.

If the Evansville game had been a tournament contest, we definitely would have been there. But honestly, being a mid-week 8 o’clock game, I could turn out a story faster on deadline using the IU release and having listened to the game on the Evansville student radio station.

By this chat time next week, we’ll know the shape of the Big Ten Tournament, which if IU gets at least a win and tie against Wisconsin and Michigan State, means a quarterfinal game at Armstrong. But if Penn State holds on to win the conference, the semis and finals will be in Happy Valley, so no road trip for us there. We’ll see what happens in this final week.

MIKE: I’m not sure I’ve ever talked with Todd Yeagley, so I can’t speak to this. Jeremy, Andy: have at it.

ANDY: IUSFB:

1. True enough, but it’s really just a manner of formally respecting the opponent. And it’s entirely possible he thinks Evansville is better than its record, which would lend itself to that sort of comment. I actually had a similar sort of reaction to yours when I heard him say that on the post-Evansville video, except it didn’t really bother me, because either he really thinks the Aces are better than they’ve shown or he’s just being polite. Coaches this day and age are especially careful about what they say in front of cameras (or really anytime, because cellphones are always lurking) because they don’t want to provide any fuel toward future fires. They tend to be diplomatic, sometimes overly so.

2. Agree about I-69 cutting down the travel time to Evansville considerably. Safer, too. And I nearly went this time. Jeremy and I discussed it, and I had tentatively planned to go, but suffice to say circumstances intervened. IU is having a great season, obviously, and we’ll get to as many games as we can.

QUESTION: 1. Can IU turn another program around with a win Saturday? I don’t mean IU’s own program. I mean Michigan’s program. We turned Michigan St’s program around in 06 by putting the nail in John L Smith’s coffin (he was fired that week) by blowing them out which led to mark d’antonio the last 7 years who has been golden. We beat Michigan and we’ll probably put the nail in Brady Hoke’s coffin in the same way (I could even see him fired next week also in same way if IU wins). The only question will be does Michigan bring in the next great coach like d’antonio or another mediocre coach?

2. Obviously Hoosier Hysteria taught us little but I thought team looked pretty good. I worry about though if we have a great year (by great I mean 20 wins and ncaa tourney) Yogi and Blackmon go pro and than we are starting over with a couple more bad seasons. Can you quench my fears?

Darren, Martinsville

JEREMY: Darren,

1. The good news is that the nail is pretty much already in Brady Hoke’s coffin, so an Indiana win would just be kicking dirt on said coffin. Hard to say where Michigan goes next, but I’ve got to think they try really hard to get somebody named Harbaugh.

2. I suppose there could be worse things to worry about, and, of course, with Indiana already oversigned by two, somebody’s got to go by this time next year. I could see Yogi testing the waters after a big year, but as good as Blackmon is, I’m not sure he’s one and done material. I see a kid that could use another year of strength and conditioning, as well as defensive improvement maybe more like a Gary Harris two-and-done. I also think that 20-plus wins will require someone else, like Troy Williams or Hanner Mosquera-Perea, to have a pretty big year.

MIKE: Hey Darren,

Who knows — especially with the news coming out of Ann Arbor this morning. ESPN is reporting AD Dave Brandon is set to resign. We’ll see. I do feel bad, in a sense, for Brady Hoke. It’s clearly not working out at Michigan, but I’ve always admired him as a man. There are plenty of problems to address up there, but I believe Andy and I are both in agreement that the failures of Hoke’s tenure stem from his inability to recruit a quarterback suited for what he wants to do. Though I’m sure it’s more nuanced than that.

I understand your fears, but it’s just way too early to project that. I’m very, very optimistic about this team, but even I realize this season could go a number of different ways. To speak more to your question, I love James Blackmon’s game, but I’m not sure he’s a one-and-done type. We’ll see. I wouldn’t worry about it right now, either way. I think, at the very least, this season should be a lot of fun — maddening at times, but mostly fun. Enjoy it.

ANDY: Darren:

1. I don’t think Saturday’s outcome is determinative of Brad Hoke’s fate at Michigan since I think that writing is already on the wall, which I regret, because I like the guy. Presuming he does exit, there is no reason Michigan can’t and won’t attract a really good coach. It might not be a huge national name out of a nationally prominent program — Les Miles opted to stay at LSU during Michigan’s last hiring cycle — but Dantonio turned out to be a great coach who came to MSU from Cincinnati. The key is hiring the right guy, and Michigan will have plenty of really good prospects from which to choose. There is no guarantee, however, it will make the right choice. And sometimes there is a pretty fine line between what works out and what doesn’t. I think Brady Hoke is a good coach. Maybe he wasn’t the right coach.

2. Don’t see Blackmon going pro after this season, regardless of how many wins IU ends up with. I think he knows as well as anybody that, as good as he already is, there are elements of his game that he wants to work on before he heads to the next level. Plus he needs to get stronger, physically. I could see Yogi going, I guess, but bear in mind that the NBA isn’t as anxious to bring in 6-foot guards early as it is 6-11 dudes.

QUESTION: IU Basketball has been “young” for several years. I don’t see how they get out of this excuse if every year they oversign by 2-3 players…Almost every year Crean, we have the fewest seniors in the Big 10. This year, everybody but IU (0), Pur (1) and Mich (0) have at least 2 seniors and Mich State is the only one with 2 with the rest having 3 or more.

charles, indianapolis

JEREMY: charles,

I know what you mean, but I think a Will Sheehey is the exception rather than the rule these days. Indiana is sort of creating an interesting culture within its program, not necessarily promoting the one and done, but more the three and done with the ability for players to graduate in three years.

Not sure having seniors is the end all, be all, especially when you consider that many teams have at least one or two seniors that are fifth-year transfers. So while that’s a certain measure of experience, it’s not experience within that program.

That said, Indiana is going to reap the benefits of that scenario with Illinois State transfer Nick Zeisloft, who while only classified as a junior, is the oldest player on the team and already showing a great deal of leadership. The bonus is that he will be around next year to provide some continuity, however the team may look.

I do think Indiana has some players that can form a backbone going forward with guys like Zeisloft, Robert Johnson, Devin Davis, even Jeremiah April. Those aren’t guys you much expect to jump for the NBA early and can help shape a consistency in culture over the next couple of years.

MIKE: Hey Charles,

I’m not sure it’s really an indictment of anyone, especially in today’s college basketball landscape. Regardless of youth, the team still has a core player in Ferrell and having a guy like Nick Zeisloft transfer in — with two years of eligibility remaining — provides a steady stream of senior leadership. As long as you have a semblance of that kind of leadership, which Zeisloft and Ferrell should bring to this season — I don’t think class matters.

ANDY: Charles:

Well, it’s the sort of thing that can happen when guys such a Cody and Victor go pro and guys such as Hollowell leave. And all of those guys made the right decision. And IU has been in a cycle where CTC had to front-load a ton of scholarships into a couple of classes early because he virtually had no roster at all when he started, which has kept Indiana’s roster situation more unbalanced and volatile than most. We’ve seen six-man classes and two-man classes (Oladipo-Sheehey) and we’ve seen a lot of guys graduate or leave early and we’ve seen a lot of pre-emptive over-signing. But I don’t think IU has been, or has proclaimed itself to be, “young” every year. Just two years ago, there were four 1,000-point scorers on the same squad for the first time in program history. I don’t think you heard anything about IU being young then.

QUESTION: Good morning guys, I hope all is well. As always, thanks for your hard work and great coverage. It appears my Cubs have nearly completed a deal that would bring Joe Maddon in as the new manager. That’s exciting (of course, we were excited for Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella as well). Anyway, on to the questions….

1. I know it’s nearly impossible to gain any insight from a 20-minute scrimmage but I’ll ask anyway (they pay you guys enough to do the nearly impossible right?), did anyone or anything particularly stand out to you, positive or negative?

2. I don’t have any rational reason for believing this (or for continuing to hope for this season) but I think IU is going to play quite well at Michigan Stadium tomorrow. No one knows what to expect from Diamont and the offense so I’ll ask about the defense. Michigan’s offense has ranged from “very mediocre” to “putrid tire fire” but IU’s defense has been known to make opposing offenses look quite good in the past. Do you think the Hoosiers defense can do enough to give IU a chance in the Big House (and what do you think will be “enough”…holding them to 24? 31?)?

The basketball season is almost here and, just to further confirm this, the weather is turning nasty. I’m not sure if I’ll be braving the cold and potential rain to take my little dragon out for his first trick-or-treating but for those families that do, stay safe and have fun. Have a great week guys, God bless and go Hoosiers.

TJ, Noblesville

JEREMY: TJ,

One can only hope the Rays now hire Dusty Baker to replace Maddon. Marketing campaign: “Toothpick at Tropicana.”

1. Well, to be honest, if there was one thing that stood out, it was Troy Williams playing the point. By and large, I’d say that wasn’t a good thing. What I do like about it is forcing him to understand the game and nuances of his teammates off the ball. What I don’t like is him actually making decisions with the ball. However, I’m not sure this is something we see a lot of outside a scrimmage situation considering the multiple other ballhandlers Indiana has available and the fact that Williams may be playing the ‘4’ quite a bit. We’ll see.

2. My two cents � I’d say 31 is the absolute max IU can afford to allow Michigan.

For those ambitious enough, Haunted Hall of Hoops at noon Saturday in Assembly Hall should offer a warmer environment for those costumes.

MIKE: Hey TJ,

You’re right, I don’t want to put too much stock into the scrimmage. But my infatuation with James Blackmon’s game was only solidified with his big night. Wow, what a smooth player. I — and maybe we — use that word often when describing him, but it’s just so fitting. He did a lot of early damage against Nick Zeisloft who, for all that he brings to the offense and the locker room, lacks on the defensive end. That’s still my biggest concern with this team. They’re going to score, but can they get stops against good opponents? I’m not sure right now. That will be the developing story as the season unfolds.

IU football is basically starting a new season on Saturday. Throw out the Michigan State game. It didn’t mean a whole lot. Diamont has had two weeks to prepare for this game and Kevin Johns said earlier this week that IU has tailored its game plan to what makes Diamont comfortable. He has to be more accurate and he has to be better, period. I think he can be. Michigan’s rush defense is, statistically, among the best in the Big Ten and Kevin Wilson seems to believe that the film study backs those numbers. But the Wolverines also gave up a ton of yards to Jeremy Langford last week, consistently yielding big chunks. So maybe Coleman can sustain the IU offense and the pressure doesn’t fall squarely on Diamont. That’s huge, if it works that way. We’ll see. As for the IU defense, yes, I think it’s capable of a better performance up there. They just need some help from Diamont. Holding them to 24 sets up Indiana very well and 31 might keep them in it, too. I just don’t know that Indiana can afford to give up more than 30 points and expect to stay in it with so many unknowns on offense. Although I’m looking forward to it, I certainly feel bad for our photographer Rich Janzaruk, who gets to spend four hours or so in the freezing Ann Arbor weather. But I’m looking forward to the trip, regardless. (Sorry, Rich)

ANDY: TJ:

I think Maddon to the Cubs is a master-stroke. Perfect guy to shepherd a talented young club to successful fruition. Theo is in position to spend for some front-line pitching, too, or to trade for it with that deep reservoir of power bats the Cubs now possess. Going to be some exciting times with Wrigley (and, to be fair, Piniella and Baker had at least some limited success there.) But Maddon seems a perfect fit, at just the right time, presuming they complete the deal. The Cubs’ biggest issue from that point on will be that they play in a very tough division. They’ll have to climb over several quality clubs, because I don’t see the Cardinals (despite the recent, awful Taveras tragedy), Pirates, Reds or Brewers just simply stepping aside. But I think the Cubs are coming. Big-time.

1. That one if for Jeremy and Mike, who were there but perhaps weren’t actually Hysterical.

2. Indiana’s defense remains really susceptible to the forward pass, so I think it depends upon whether or not Devin Gardner can hurt the Hoosiers that way. He sure as heck did last season. And he’s completing a respectable 61 percent of his passes this season, despite all the real and perceived struggles Michigan has had. And I don’t think Michigan will have to score a ton of points to win Saturday. Maybe even only 20 will be enough, unless Zander Diamont has really come along the past two weeks. Michigan’s defense is actually a pretty good unit, especially against the run. IU might break a long TD run or two with the great Tevin Coleman, but I don’t see much more than that unless the quarterback shows a lot more than he did against MSU.

Have your little dragon breathe a bit of fire periodically, just to keep everybody warm tonight, if you go out. And stay safe and have fun, by all means. Thanks, TJ.

QUESTION: Since I’m nowhere near a pro on IUWBB, was the schedule mostly done ahead of Coach Moren’s hiring? Also, what kind of non-conference strength does the team have? Obviously, no Tennessee or Uconns on it….

Steve, Indy

JEREMY: Steve,

First off, no UConn or Tennessee is a good thing. IU women’s basketball isn’t there yet.

As for the current schedule, it is likely a combination of contracts put in place by Felisha Legette-Jack and Curt Miller. It usually takes a couple years to start to change the schedule, so Miller was likely just starting to shape the schedule to his liking. It will probably be another year or two before Moren can really put her imprint on what the schedule looks like.

However, with Maryland and Rutgers joining the Big Ten, the Hoosiers have a conference schedule that is plenty brutal. They need to find some confidence and success early. Keep in mind that despite last year’s success, this is a roster with 10 freshmen and sophomores.

MIKE: Yeah, I don’t think Moren had a whole lot of input on the schedule. Actually some of the games — I believe the in-state games against IUPUI, Indiana State and IPFW are leftovers from Jack. Milwaukee and Oakland are return games from last year under Miller. So, no, this isn’t her schedule and it usually takes a couple years for a coach to really have an imprint on scheduling with the way 2-year and 4-year contracts breakdown. This year’s schedule is quite similar to last year’s, meaning it’s not very strong. But the Big Ten, with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland, is arguably the top conference in the nation. So, much like last season, this kind of non-con approach allows IU to build toward conference play and get some confidence with a young roster. I’m not sure that they’ll be tested against good size until Big Ten play, but at least they can establish themselves and figure things out with the burden of getting beaten down.

ANDY: Steve:

I’m punting that one to Jeremy and Mike, since I am nowhere nearer a pro on IUWBB as you are, other than to say I would suspect almost all the scheduling was complete before Coach Moren’s arrival.

QUESTION: MODERATOR: That’s all the time we have for today’s chat. Thanks for being here. Be sure to follow IU sports on on the Hoosier Scoop blog and app.

What else should we know before we say goodbye?

JEREMY: I’ll be taking in IU basketball’s public scrimmage at the Haunted Hall of Hoops Saturday, while Mike and Andy make the trek to Ann Arbor. Indiana women’s soccer has its home finale tonight, while No. 2 IU men’s soccer is at Wisconsin Saturday night. We’ll keep an eye on all of it. Thanks for joining us.

MIKE: Stay tuned to the Scoop over the next couple days. Plenty to come from football and basketball, with a busy week on tap next week. Also, we’re getting to work on our IU basketball special section, so keep an eye out for that in a couple weeks. Andy and I are heading to Ann Arbor for football, and Jeremy will have things covered from the Haunted Hall event on Saturday. Thanks for checking in, everybody. See you next week.

ANDY: Today’s weather is obviously much more trick than treat. Stay safe tonight, everybody. Assuming Mike and I make it through Halloween free of goblins, ghouls or any such complications, we’ll be heading out very early Saturday morning for Ann Arbor. Once there, will we discover a Diamont in the rough?