Live chat: Football recruiting, IU basketball

QUESTION: MODERATOR: Good morning, and welcome to today’s IU sports chat. Thanks for joining us.
Andy, Mike, Jeremy: How are you doing today? Ready to get started?

JEREMY: I’m trying to psych myself up for the predicted blast of winter this weekend, but I’m always psyched for the chat. Let’s get to it.

MIKE: Good morning, everybody. Let’s chat.

ANDY: Time for chatology class. Always instructive.

QUESTION: 1. Some tweets this week from Curt Miller suggest that he is more actively seeking a coaching post at a mid-major school. What’s your take?
2. Any movement on efforts by H-T and other news media to find out why Miller left?
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Randall Bychkov, B-town

JEREMY: Randall,
1. I don’t really think there’s any doubt Curt Miller is seeking a coaching job for next year. Not sure I’d at all limit it to mid-major, though that might be more likely.

2. Movement is relative, I guess. Obviously nothing to report yet, but maybe someday.

MIKE: Hi Randall,
I’ve been following Miller’s tweets and it seems like he’s served as an offensive consultant for interested women’s basketball programs since the start of the fall. I’m also pretty sure he’s looking to get back into a head coaching job next season.
We’re still pursuing the story, yes. We’ve encountered some road blocks, but still pursuing.

ANDY: Randall:
Am intrigued to see how Curt Miller’s career continues. The seemingly abrupt and essentially opaque manner of his IU exit, whatever the actual details may be, might give some pause to some prospective employers, but I would also think somebody with his track record as a coach will seem deserving of a chance someplace. Our Mike Miller and Jeremy Price have ridden herd on that whole situation better than anybody else I know, so I’ll let them outline on where things stand if they wish, but there are sometimes (especially with personnel issues, even at a public institution) limits or delays to even persistent journalistic inquiry.

QUESTION: 1. I saw a question about playing IUPUI in Indy last week. I think it’s a great idea and I think IU should expend to also play either Ball St, Evansville, IPFW and Indiana St each year on road. However, if I’m IU you HAVE to make sure (and put this in contract) that none of the schools can get cute when selling the tickets. By that I mean they can’t include the game as part of a 2 game pack or open them only to certain fans etc. They must be distributed in same manner as all other games. If one of these schools won’t agree to that than i’m not playing them at their place. To me this is an opportunity for IU fans throughout the state in that city to see their team close to home and also for other team to fill normally half full arena. I remember back in Mike Davis era IU went to Ball St and Indiana St and even recently Tom Crean to Evansville. Each time I know friends in that city who were incredibly frustrated by the fact that games were part of a 2 game pack. Northwestern has done this before also and even on the other end the Colts have for big games. I think this is very tacky and teams should be required to sell the tics as they do every game regardless of who you are playing. As I said I would like to see IU do a 5 year rotation between the 5 schools I mentioned on road but only if team will agree to normal distribution of tickets and if they won’t I’m not going there.
2. As disheartened as I was by the loss I was very pleased Yogi stepped up and took some leadership with the comments about team being soft. It is the 1st time I can recall a player taking a role as a leader in a couple years and this is key moving forward to have some player driven leadership. Overall those last 2 games were gravy and just don’t still your mash potatoes in games you should win moving forward. Overall, I didn’t like how IU played at all but as long as you win the games you are supposed to, you will still be 11-7 or 12-6 in conference and comfortably in tourney. Just don’t lose to Rutgers Saturday period.
Darren, Martinsville

JEREMY: Darren,
1. I’m a fan of IU playing in-state schools, particularly over the Mississippi Valley States and Grand Canyons of the world. Most of the time, playing an in-state school would likely be a 2-for-1 situation, and I can’t blame that school for making the most of its one home game in that scenario, unattractive as it may be to a fan like yourself.
2. I agree that Yogi’s comments indicated some potential leadership, which he now has to translate the public statement to a statement inside that locker room that inspires results. This IU team is not ever going to be great defensively, but they do need to toughen up and at least make other teams work harder at that end of the floor.
You’re right about the last two games being gravy, as I was not surprised they lost. But they way they lost those games with a lack of focus, a seeming failure to follow the gameplan or at least communicate it and the lousy defense is the troubling part. Still, as you say, if IU mashes its potatoes, all will be well. Actually, if IU merely wins its six remaining home games starting against Rutgers, it will be 11-7 in the Big Ten. You’d like to think at worst the Hoosiers win one more on the road, either at Rutgers or Northwestern, so that would leave some room for gravy, too.

MIKE: Hey Darren,
I don’t have much experience with ticket sales, but I do agree that it’d be cool to see IU at some of those in-state venues, especially the Fairgrounds Coliseum. I’d like to see more in-state matchups in any fashion, even at Assembly Hall. But yeah, it’d be cool to have the Hoosiers on the road at some of these places you’ve named.
Agree about Ferrell. I think in many respects he’s taken to heart the need for leadership within that locker room. I also think — to borrow a phrase from Crean — it’s an ongoing process and not always perfect. But it must be encouraging to see him step forward and ask his teammates “Where’s the pride?” We knew the last two games were going to be tough, and even by going 0-2 Indiana’s big picture status doesn’t change a whole lot. Saw yesterday that Indiana is one of only three Big Ten teams to have played five road games at this point. Another important stretch is on the horizon before the scheduling gods ease up and give Indiana four of its final six games at home. It would seem IU would need to go 2-2 and no worse, with home games against Rutgers and Michigan and road trips to Wisconsin and Maryland coming up. You’re right, win the games you’re supposed to and things are fine. They’ll have an opportunity to do that tomorrow afternoon because, man, if Indiana can’t beat Rutgers at Assembly Hall, then we can sound the alarm. But I don’t think that will be an issue, especially considering Rutgers is flying to Bloomington today after taking a beating against Michigan State last night. If Indiana can win its six remaining home games, that puts the team at 11 wins in the league. I also think they get at least one at Rutgers/Northwestern. So there’s still some wiggle room moving forward.

ANDY: Darren:
1. I can see merit in your suggestion, as a traditionalist who would like to see more in-state matchups in the non-conference slate, but IU also has to take care not to set itself up for too many potentially damaging non-B1G road tests where knocking off the Hoosiers would seem like winning the Super Bowl to the other school and home crowds involved. I’m less concerned about the ticket-selling arrangement. Schools do what schools gotta do. And Indiana also has fiscal considerations. I would think that any such arrangement with any school you suggest would involve two games in Bloomington for one in any of the other locales. I would add that during years where the Big Ten schedule matches IU and Purdue up just once (and I think next season is one of those times), I wouldn’t mind seeing IU and Purdue try to work out another game between themselves in Indy (as a tweak to the Crossroads Classic format, or through an independent game). Obviously, it’s always possible IU and Purdue can meet any given year in the Big Ten tournament, or even the NCAA tournament, but I like the notion of that particular hoops rivalry always featuring two regular-season meetings if at all possible.
2. Agree with your assessment here. IU already has two conference road wins. I think three or four is the magic number, and it wasn’t absolutely essential to win either of the last two (both of which figured to be, and proved to be, tough assignments — and that was reinforced by watching Ohio State dismantle Maryland last night.) And the Hoosiers do need to hold serve at home.

QUESTION: I was thinking in my head IU’s 24 sports (its actually 22 sports as swimming & diving counted as seperate sports but are really one) in order of popularity and came up with this list and wanted to see if you agree. After 10 it got tricky for me but fairly confident on 1st 10.
High Importance
1. Basketball
2. Football
Medium Importance
3. Soccer
4. Baseball
5. Women’s Basketball
6. Women’s Volleyball
7. Women’s Soccer
8. Softball
Low Importance
9. Wrestling
10. Field Hockey
11. Men’s Track
12. Women’s Track
13. Men’s Cross Country
14. Women’s Cross Country
15. Water Polo
16. Men’s Swimming
17. Women’s Swimming
18. Women’s Tennis
19. Men’s Tennis
20. Men’s Golf
21. Women’s Golf
22. Rowing
Mike, Seymour

JEREMY: Mike,
I’m impressed you took the time to make the list. I’m not going to even attempt a full list of my own. I’ll just say that I agree with the first five, and I would put swimming (and diving) a lot higher considering its success and attractiveness among IU athletic programs. For the rest of it, I think a lot of these programs would fluctuate up and down your list depending on their level of achievement in any given time period.

MIKE: Hey Mike,
Yeah, this is pretty close, though I think some would argue — if only for the tradition of it — that swimming should be much higher. I’d bump field hockey much further down, and maybe wrestling, too. But as far as your “high importance” to “medium importance” sports, I would agree with your order.

ANDY: Mike:
Interesting list. I guess it kind of depends upon how one is defining “popularity” but I’d place both swimming and track higher. IU has fine traditions there and I think there is at least some ancillary interest as a result. They’d be in the middle grouping for me. I’d probably put cross country in there, too. It’s intriguing to contemplate how far baseball has climbed recently, but there is no doubt it has.

QUESTION: As the College Football Recruiting Geek…I’m ready for Wednesday…Do you see the potential to be one of IU’s all-time best classes…I’m encouraged there were no Coaching Changes for the first time under Wilson to finish this class.
Is it fair to say Fred Glass is about to hit the crossroads with Wilson…Year six of a seven year deal…He made the choice to let Bill Lynch go instead of him hanging on his last year of his deal…
Steve, Indianapolis

JEREMY: Steve,
I’ll most leave this to the football dudes, although worth noting Wilson will be entering his fifth season, so another year before having to deal with potential lame duck status.

MIKE: Hey Steve,
I don’t like to give into recruiting hyperbole, so I’m not going to say it could be one of the all-time best classes at IU. That said, it’s a really solid class. Like, really, really good for IU. I know Kevin Wilson is satisfied with it — and satisfied might not even be a strong enough word. This class does a nice job of following the previous two and filling some needs. I really like what they’ve done with the secondary and I think there is the potential over the next couple years for IU to have one of its most athletic defensive backfields. I’m especially intrigued with the possibility that former Ohio State commit Tyler Green — who’s listed as a safety — could play corner. Having his length and size on the outside would be huge for IU, so long as he lives up to his billing. The receivers that IU is bringing in are also eye-catching. Just looking at them on paper, I was about to say Nick Westbrook could be the stud of the bunch, but I know they’re really high on Leon Thornton, too, as well as Isaac James. That’s a good group, not to mention UAB transfer Marqui Hawkins and the possibility of bringing in a late addition like three-star prospect Dahu Green, who visited last weekend. So yeah, this is a solid group, top to bottom. Also curious to see if Donavan Hale, the 6-foot-4 athlete from Florida, takes up Tom Crean’s offer to walk-on to the basketball team. ESPN has him as a three-star guard and he certainly has the pedigree. His father, Ron, played at Florida State, which also offered Hale in basketball. Obviously — and I’m rambling at this point — juggling two sports, especially with the physical load of Big Ten football, is a tough ask. But I know Crean has at least reached out to him and likes the kid.
Per your other point, this will be Year 5 for Wilson, so he’s not a lame duck quite yet. I do, however, believe this is a make or break year for Wilson. He’s got his team, he’s got his quarterback, he’s got his defense and just about everything else.

ANDY: Steve:
It is always a fun and intriguing time of year for college football fans. Sometimes there are late surprises in store, though to the best of my knowledge all 21 verbals seem solid and I don’t, off-hand, know of any “mystery signings” in the offing for the Hoosiers at this time. I don’t know that “all-time best” is the operative phrase for this class, except to say that, yes, it seems like another very good class by IU standards since internet services began rating recruits in earnest over the past couple of decades or so.
IU has finished in the Rivals.com Top 40 nationally the past two years, its best showing since the ratings system started. Right now, Rivals has Indiana’s class at No. 48 nationally (8th among the 14 Big Ten schools), but that could change with late verbals. Northwestern has already finished its class, from what I hear, and is at No. 43. Minnesota is at No. 42 (but has a lower average star rating, at 2.74, than IU’s 2.84). I could see the Hoosiers leap-frogging both with a couple more three-star commitments. The Hoosiers have four visitors listed this weekend on the recruiting services: RB Davonte Williams out of Maryland (currently a Marshall verbal and, at 5-9, perhaps more of a scat-back type than current Hoosier runners), WR Camion Patrick from East Mississippi CC (a very highly-touted prospect from the JUCO national championship team) and DBs Jameel Cook out of the Houston area and Thadd Daniels, out of the fertile California JUCO scene, both of whom are over 6-foot and would add some additional length in the IU secondary corps. I believe both Patrick and Daniels have three years to play three seasons, in terms of eligibility coming out of JUCO. All this weekend’s visitors but Cook are three-star prospects according to Rivals, but Cook had an excellent senior season and has some big-time offers (B1G, SEC, Pac 12, Big 12, etc.)
I agree that next season is obviously important for Coach Wilson and the program, but I would add that I believe Fred Glass remains a big believer in Coach Wilson, and that Coach Wilson believes he can win at Indiana — and I think that both feel this past fall was a potential breakthrough season before the devastating quarterback injuries at Iowa. Barring a debacle next fall, I don’t see anything other than Coach Wilson continuing at Indiana. And I agree that staff stability of the sort you’ve seen this off-season is always desirable, though Coach Wilson has always encouraged career advancement among his assistants.

QUESTION: I am a Tom Crean supporter and appreciate what he has done here as head coach. I write that so as to put my question in the non-bitching category of those who want to get rid of the coach. My question is this: It appears that Coach Crean has determined that our tallest players–specifically Priller and April–are incapable of providing any quality minutes whatsoever. I would have thought short stints, like 3-5 minutes, against a team like Purdue who have tall, but not very mobile big men could have been beneficial. Your thoughts?
Weigarp, Matthews, NC

JEREMY: Weigarp,
I know what you mean, and I thought there was an outside chance we might see April at least for a short stint against Purdue. But I think that Crean simply does not believe either April or Priller bring enough to the table to be worth the risk, nor does he trust them enough to put them in a game with that hostile environment. It might be interesting to see if it’s a different story at home in a few weeks.
To be honest, we’ve seen very little of April to make any kind of informed decision as to what help he might actually be. What I see in warmups, etc., he probably needs to play bigger offensively, like most big men, and has the potential to be impactful in another year or two. Not sure he’s ready for the physicality of defense or rebounding yet either.

MIKE: Hey Weigarp,
Count me as one of the apparent few who believes April should at least get a couple minutes per game. Obviously we haven’t seen much of him this year — and I don’t think he’s played since Louisville — but he didn’t look like a disaster in the short stints in which he saw the court. I realize he’s very much a project as a late spring signee and that we haven’t seen enough to really know if he can play, but at 6-foot-11, he might be able to give you some sort of presence at the rim, at the very least. On the other side, I really don’t think Crean believes April is ready or able to do what Indiana wants to do. Otherwise, yeah, he probably would have seen a couple minutes against Penn State, at least.
As for Priller, he doesn’t move well enough to play inside, nor does he move well enough to do a lot of things. That was apparent in Montreal. He fills a very specific niche — a trailer who can hit the open 3. I don’t know that he really gives Indiana a whole lot of options and flexibility beyond that.

ANDY: Weigarp:
I confess the same thought crossed my mind last night when re-watching the game at Purdue. April, especially, would seem a guy who could eventually figure in that sort of situation but, as you suggest, perhaps the staff just feels that he isn’t ready. I also think that part of what drives the personnel choices in a game like that, with such a dichotomy in size between the teams, is the notion of making Purdue guard quicker guys at the IU’s offensive end. Wednesday night, as things panned out, the equation added up in Purdue’s favor, but I don’t necessarily think that would be true in every game played between those two teams.

QUESTION: Good morning guys, I hope all is well! As always, thanks for your terrific coverage and hard work. Mike, happy birthday! You are doing a tremendous job and your work is appreciated.
1. The performance (and result) at Purdue was disappointing, to say the least. The ball movement wasn’t good enough, the perimeter defense was atrocious, the decision making on some of those drives was mind-boggling (they know Hammons is 7-feet and really good shot blocker, why go sideways and try scoop shots???), it was almost all bad. That being said, I still like the position this team is in (relative to my preseason expectations) approaching the halfway point of the B1G season. They must beat Rutgers to get to 6-3, then there’s a tough stretch of three games that needs to be at least 1-2 (probably winning against Michigan) and then the schedule at the end gives them the chance to finish strong and go at least 11-7. That’s all hypothetical but it’s not all bad. On to my question, I’m fairly plugged in to what is going on (I constantly follow Inside the Hall and the Scoop, etc.) and I wonder…do you think it is realistically possible for this fan base to move past every g!
ame turning into a referendum on the state of the program and its Head Coach? Can Tom Crean realistically do anything that will stop every loss from turning into “he can’t coach”, “Crean must go!” rants from half the fan base? I’m not endorsing or trashing Crean’s ability as coach but I do recognize that he is currently the coach, he’s not likely to go anywhere after this season and I would love to have a united fan base…something my 27-year old self hasn’t experienced in a long, long time. Sorry for a bit of rambling there!
2. National Signing Day will be here before we “chat” again so, are you hearing any talk of IU commits that have a wandering eye and might end up signing at another school? I know the Hoosiers are still pursuing some guys that are committed elsewhere (hosting a few of them this weekend), do you think they nab another 3 or 4 commits to fill out the class?
Again, thanks for this chat and for you hard work…I really appreciate it. Mike, happy birthday, I hope it’s a good one! Have a great week, God bless and go Hoosiers.
TJ, Noblesville

JEREMY: TJ,
1. As Matt Painter himself said, if you’re going to challenge A.J. Hammons, you better try to dunk on him. And yes, the big picture is still in IU’s favor.
I think you could make an argument that very few fanbases are united in support of a coach these days, however, I know what you mean. About the only thing that’s going to change the Pro-Crean vs. Anti-Crean factions is if he takes IU to a Final Four or better yet a national championship. And honestly, that doesn’t appear to be in the cards anytime soon. Now, granted recruiting is apparently not done for next year, but unless IU gets a late game-changer, even an improved team seems unlikely to make a Final Four-type run, and there are going to be some exits from this team — there has to be with oversigning — so what the ingredients are for next year’s team remain a bit of a mystery.
2. I’ll defer to the football dudes here.
And Mike actually spent his birthday in West Lafayette Wednesday night at the IU-Purdue game, so it doesn’t get much better than that.

MIKE: Hey TJ,
Thanks for the birthday wishes. Very kind of you. Got to spend it in West Lafayette with Jeremy and photojournalist extraordinaire Chris Howell. Really, everyone should do a birthday in West Lafayette. Or not.
Anyway, I’m not even sure a Final Four run would dissolve the anti-Crean fans from calling for his ouster. I’m also not sure a national championship appearance or victory would quiet those folks, either. Of course, I think Indiana is probably a couple players short from making one of those runs, so it’s probably moot. Then again, these days I imagine it’s tough to find many fan bases that are united in their feelings of a coach who has been at a program long enough to have the honeymoon period wash off. It’s the times that we live in, more than anything.
Andy might have something for you as far as IU guys that are still hearing from other programs. He’s been pretty plugged in to the recruiting happenings, as usual. They have room for four more guys, so I’ve already kind of prepared myself to be doing a recruiting story at some point on Super Bowl Sunday. Whether they get a full class, as Wilson has targetted, I’m not sure. But I am pretty confident to say that, looking at the guys they do have, Wilson would probably be fine with closing up the recruiting period with the current 21-man class — which includes the two UAB guys. They have a few guys on campus this weekend, so I do anticipate they’ll add at least one more.
Thanks, TJ.

ANDY: TJ:
1. I thought perhaps IU’s biggest issue at Purdue was just how well the Boilermakers played, on both ends. Purdue not only looked hungrier, it looked ravenous. I will go against the prevailing grain here a bit to say that I felt the Hoosiers actually played pretty hard, but just not nearly as hard as Purdue did. I saw effort from IU, but guys such as Hammons, Smotherman and Scott, Indiana-raised kids who seemed especially motivated beyond even their clearly extremely motivated teammates, performed at levels of unrelenting energy and unstinting focus that, frankly, they haven’t always attained during the entirety of their tenures in West Lafayette. They kicked Hoosier tail. They took zero Hoosier prisoners. They supplied answers, not questions. They did a heck of a job. Not many teams were going to beat Purdue playing the way it did Wednesday. (And not many teams were going to beat Ohio State, either, the way it played both against IU and, last night, against Maryland.) Not saying the Hoosiers couldn’t have or shouldn’t have played better in either game, but credit goes to the home team in both instances.
Your lament regarding the internet-fixated chunk of the IU fan base really resonates with me. As is the case with Letters to the Editor, I don’t think internet posts always accurately gauge the tenor of an entire fan base. It reflects only the tone of those especially zealous or motivated to write. My supposition, generally, is that there is a more patience and actual loyalty amongst a fan base than one might discern by reading internet boards. The instantaneous nature of the internet, of all current electronic media platforms, breeds knee-jerk sorts of responses. Then the 24/7 nature of our media pounds those responses home relentlessly and ad nauseum. Reckless and extreme points of view generate higher ratings and more page-hits. I sense a real lack of perspective, a growing incapacity to take the long view rather than always subscribing to the short view. Coaches and players have long known that things are never quite as good as they seem after a win or quite as bad as they seem after a loss. Seasons are long and it’s best to evaluate them as an entire body of work. But to directly answer your question, no, sadly, I don’t see anything likely to change in regard to the sort of shallow, extreme responses we see during and in the wake of each game, win or lose, on the internet. We live in an increasingly instant-gratification society and the overall bent of that characteristic is negative. It used to be that being a “fan” meant one supported a team. Nowadays, for many people, being a “fan” on a public platform seems to make them feel entitled, even spoiled, with no real patience or perspective required. We are fast becoming a nation of scolds. And it does not become us.
2. I don’t know of any IU football verbals that seem shaky. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a surprise or two. There usually is. But from what I gather, this group of pretty solid. I think the Hoosiers will try to add at least a couple more guys. The class currently sits at 21. The sense I get is that if the class stayed right where it is, the Hoosier staff is sanguine. I think they really like this class. But I also think they’d be pleased to add a couple of guys, if possible, to attain the maximum of 25.
Thanks, as always, TJ.

QUESTION: MODERATOR: That’s all the time we have for today’s chat. Thanks for being here. Remember to follow IU sports on the blog and app.
What’s on the weekend agenda? Thanks as always for the time, guys.

JEREMY: IU men host Rutgers Saturday, a bit of snow on Super Bowl Sunday, IU women host Purdue on Monday and we’re off to Wisconsin on Tuesday. That should keep us pretty busy. Everybody enjoy the weekend and thanks for chatting.

MIKE: Busy weekend on tap for the Scoop dudes. We’ll be heading over to Assembly Hall this afternoon to hear from Tom Crean ahead of Saturday’s game against Rutgers. On Sunday, I’ll be keeping an eye out for any last-minute football commitments and next week we’ll have you covered for all the signing day news and notes — not to mention our Tuesday road trip to Madison. Thanks for checking in, everybody. See you next week.

ANDY: The state university of New Jersey visits the Hall. And we’ll be keeping tabs on how the last visitation weekend for prospective Cllass of 2015 Indiana football recruits pans out.
Thanks to all who chatted and/or checked in.

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