Saturday, February 25, 2006

Closing?

I'll bet the kids missed Terry like crazy last week. When is your closing on the flipping condo? Let me know how it goes. Are you going to re-invest? It would be too nerve wracking for me. Watch that bubble! Is your Disney trip in March? I can't remember what Terry said. My trip to the Caribbean last year was so warm and blue and wonderful, I wish I could do it every winter. It's such a great break from the winter blahs which I have in abundance at the moment. Love, Carol

Friday, February 24, 2006

What team is a bigger disappointment?

So Indiana is in freefall mode and I think it's safe to say that Indiana fans can scarcely believe that we're sitting at 6-7 in conference play and in serious danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the third straight season. Getting to .500 with a home win over MSU would be a big deal (especially on senior night). Obviously, this team's chances of winning on the road at Purdue or Michigan in the final two games are probably pretty small, but if we don't beat MSU those games don't matter anyway.

But I can't help but ask -- we're only a game behind MSU in the standings. They're 7-6. They've lost 3 of 4. They were consistently picked by most preseason prognosticators as a Top 10 team and potential Final Four candidate. Indiana was usually picked between 3rd and 6th in the B10. Nearly everyone picked MSU to win the B10. And here we are... 7-6 vs 6-7.

And, obviously, Indiana has been without the services of DJ White for all but 5 games this season. MSU has lost Matt Trannon for a couple games. I've heard folks talk about how that's such a big loss for them because he brings so much toughness to their team. Uh huh. C'mon over here and let's talk about significant injuries.

I think Izzo is a wonderful coach and a classy guy, but I think Michigan State is an even bigger disappointment this season than Indiana.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

3:30 Press Conference today

To announce Mike Davis's resignation. Surprisingly, it sounds like he'll still coach out the rest of the season. I would have expected it to be effective immediately.

A couple more hours and we can officially start talking about our next coach.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Davis quotes from weekly B10 coaches telecon

This is the weekly telecon with B10 coaches and media.

These are real quotes - I did not make these up. These were said out loud to the media.

"I just think Indiana needs to have one of their own. They need to have someone who has played here, so they can embrace him. And they need that. I'm not upset about it. I'm not disappointed about it. I think they need that, I really do."

"These players deserve better. It's like I said before, it's going to affect…the people involved. They want our guys to play through it, but how can they?"

"If someone walked into your job tomorrow and they said they were downsizing the company and you go home and tell your families there would be some families that would really be affected by that because now, they wouldn't know if their father would have a job. So our players have definitely been affected by it, and I've read a lot of things said about other coaches, but I've never walked into another arena and feel what our guys have to go through."

"It's getting to the point to where the players…when it affects Marco Killingsworth, when it affects Robert Vaden, when it starts to affect your better players – and that's what it's done – it doesn't make sense. If we're in last place, have a complaint, but we've been one game out of this thing for the last couple of weeks and had a home streak going and you can just see it on their faces. It's not the same team. Because we lost one game or two games on the road, it was like it was the end of the year, and if you think about that, it doesn't make sense at all."

"It's hard – I can't explain how hard it is to get these guys going," said Davis. "They want to go, they want to play so bad. But does it make sense to anybody? That's the question. Does it make sense? We have six games left, and it's my job to try to keep them focused and match the right buttons. But I think we may be getting out of buttons. But we're still right there. We're 5-5, and we have six left. I think we're still there, but the players have to start believing that."


Greenspan needs to fire Davis right now.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Rumors

There's a bunch of rumors out there about Davis resigning and such. I suspect it's a bunch of hooey.

The best-sourced rumor suggests that Davis told the team that he doesn't expect to be back next season, because of what he and his family are going through right now. In other words, that he'll finish the season, but even if he isn't fired, he'll resign.

Of course, telling the team that isn't exactly binding.

It'll be really interesting to see how the team responds against Iowa. Will they go nuts and play their best game of the season? Or will it be too much and they'll miss every shot?

Friday, February 10, 2006

I give and I give

I give and I give, and all my family does is beat me down...*sob*...

Davis Protest

Apparently students are planning a protest against Mike Davis for the Iowa game. Uncharacteristically, the students have come up with a clever idea. They are encouraging people to wear black shirts to signal their dissatisfaction with Davis. The ushers obviously can't kick people out for wearing black (especially since Iowa is coming to town), and wearing black is a lot less tacky than trying to bring in "Fire Mike Davis" posters or shirts.

As you know, it makes me really, really angry to hear fans boo their own team (or coach). Heck, I don't like it when we boo the opposing team - I like polite clapping better. And I think "Fire Mike Davis" signs are tacky and embarrassing.

But I gotta admit, I kinda like the black t-shirt idea. It's understated, clever, non-disruptive, and I have no problem with fans expressing their displeasure with Davis - as long as its done in a way that doesn't reflect poorly on the university.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Indiana - the cure for what ails ya!

You're Michigan State. You've started the B10 0-2 with a couple tough road losses. You need to get back on track. No problem! Indiana's coming to town.

Michigan State by 14.

You're Iowa. You're struggling. You barely beat Penn State on the road. It took you two overtimes to beat Minnesota at home. And you just got SPANKED at Michigan State by THIRTY. Fans are panicking. No problem! Indiana's coming to town.

Iowa by 13.

You're Minnesota. The bottom has dropped out. You're 0-6 in B10 play. You lost AT HOME to Northwestern. You lost by 16 to Michigan in your last home game. You just got blown out at Illinois by 24 points. No problem! Indiana's coming to town.

Minnesota by 19.

You're Wisconsin. You're in a tailspin. You've gone from being ranked to losing 3 straight and 5 of 6 games, including a home loss to North Dakota State and another home loss to Illinois by 15. You've lost 2 players and your bench is painfully thin. Your NCAA hopes appear to be withering on the vine. No problem! Indiana's coming to town.

Wisconsin by 18.

Penn State can't wait for February 15th.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Karen's in the newspaper

From the Herald-Sun - http://www.heraldsun.com/durham/4-698580.html

Easley PTA auction nets $19K

Members of the Easley Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association raised $19,000 at their second annual silent auction fundraiser on Saturday evening.

Karen Bleizeffer, PTA vice president, said parents "wanted a fundraiser that didn't involve sending kids door-to-door selling wrapping paper." The three-hour event, held at Willowhaven Country Club, auctioned sports collectibles and gift certificates donated by merchants.

Last year's auction raised $12,000 and this year's goal was set at $15,000, a figure Bleizeffer said she was "proud to see exceeded." The auction is one of two major fundraisers organized by the PTA during the school year, following a school carnival in the fall.

Monday, February 06, 2006

I did it! I better get off before scheduled maintenance. I don't have to sign this

Thanks

Your cake picture is beautiful, but it's not chocolate. I followed your instructions to have my own blog name or whatever, but I don't seem to be connected to the bleizeffer blog when I use it. I am just hanging out there. Is there something in the profile that I didn't fill in? I did change my password. Mom

February 6th, 1944

Happy Birthday!

#62.

Dang. That's even older than Karen.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

IU vs U Conn

Sorry, you had to miss the televised game. First, I was able to watch the Minnesota debacle but missed the Northwestern game (I was at Mandys...again). I taped the Iowa game, but didn't watch the tape after learning of their loss. It is difficult to comment on a team when you are only watching 50% of the contests, but here goes.
On Mike Davis - It is obvious that Davis would have been gone if the team followed up their loss at Minnesota with a home loss to Northwestern. That didn't happen so we have to wait and see. It is just stupid, however, to fire or retain a coach based upon the outcome of one or two games. As I have stated in the past, my complaint is that we aren't recruiting the best of the Indiana high school graduates...Dominic James to Marquette, McRoberts to Duke, Oden and Conley to Ohio State, Gordon to Illinois. These players are the best Indiana has to offer. We have to get them excited about playing for IU...so let's get someone in there who can recruit these kids.
On the Team - This is a very perplexing unit! They looked great the first 14 minutes of the first half...then allowed U Conn to outscore them 19-5 before halftime. I use the word allow because it is appropriate. The team just began standing around as if they were spectators there to watch the #1 team. They did not compete at all. I hate to think that a well conditioned college kid would tire so easily, but that is what it looked like. I dread to think that Killingsworth's second foul and a seat on the bench was the reason. If so, IU has no hope down the road.
They continued this downward spiral to start the second half and were down 20 points six minutes into the half. At this point I thought they would lose by 30 since they didn't seem to be exerting any effort on defense or going after rebounds or loose balls. Calloway enters the game and plays like he did against Duke (maybe he performs only against #1 teams). To be honest, he was his usual "slightly out of control" self, but it worked. It appeared to me that the rest of the players were well on their way to accepting a 30 point blowout until Calloway made some plays and we sank a few 3 pointers. The mind set changed to "hey! We're within 12 now and maybe we should play harder and see what happens" To their credit, they did compete much better the rest of the way.
IU vs Wisconsin - I would not doubt that we will see a repeat of the Minnesota game, but I am hoping for a fight to the end. I wouldn't mind a loss if only they would play a 40 minute game.
Interior defense - Our greatest deficiency. It would have been great if DJ White had played this season...not that he is a great rebounder..but his shot blocking skills alongside Marco would make IU much tougher inside. Ben Allen is not an inside guy and Kline only fouls when defending a bigger man. One almost wishes we still had Ewing.
Role Players - Lets see...Ratliff, Wilmont, Strickland, Vaden...these are the four players we depend on the most but they are clones of each other. Without a respected second banger on the inside, they have to do too much for IU to secure a victory.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

I wasn't able to watch yet another game

Thanks CBS.

My impression from watching the play-by-play on the CBS ticker is that UConn was playing a different game than we were. Yeah, we managed to get the score competitive at the end, but I think UConn had another gear they could have kicked into had we really threatened them.

Strange feeling thinking that Indiana can play really hard and still not be a threat to win in a home game.

Says as much about UConn as Indiana.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Pre-UConn season review

As part of my continuing effort to avoid doing real work, I've been thinking about how the team has gotten to where it is. So I decided write up some thoughts - in essence a season review... or mid-season review. Or mid-to-late season review. This is really for my benefit, because writing helps me organize my thoughts. Not sure it'll be interesting for anyone else.

Heading into the season, we didn't really know what to expect. It appeared that the team would be talented, but there were so many new pieces that it was hard to know how things would go. How good was Killingsworth? Would Monroe or Calloway be good enough to man the point guard position? Would moving a historically poor shooter like Strickland to SG really work out? Would Killingsworth and White be able to coexist happily on the court? Would Vaden flourish after finally moving to the 3? Would Dinc lead the team in scoring?

Unfortunately, we lost White and Ratliff to start the season, which made us even harder to predict, since those were two of our known qualities. Of course, this also helped Indiana, because our opponents had no idea what to expect either. About the only thing opponents could count on, given the last five seasons, is that Indiana would play slow and not shoot a high percentage. =)

Given the uncertainty and new parts, it's probably a good thing that we started the season with 3 major cupcake games. Nicholls State (292), Florida A&M (251), and Western Illinois (301) are all among the bottom teams in division I, according to Sagarin (and everyone else, for that matter). To their credit, Indiana pounded all 3. Not only pounded, but scored in bunches (99, 100, and 102 points), shot an incredible percentage, increased our # of possessions dramatically, and we appeared to have both a capable inside threat and a bevy of 3 point shooters -- which is precisely what this offense requires.

Then Duke came to town. Mike Krzyzewski looked at our first three games and decided that our 3 point shooting was scarier than Marco Killingsworth. He knew that our offense is predicated on getting the ball inside, drawing help, then getting open 3 point shots... or not drawing help and having Marco make a move. So he decided to put a ton of perimeter pressure on our guards and let Sheldon Williams guard Marco straight-up. It worked and Duke won. It also established Marco as one of the best players in the country for manhandling defensive whiz Williams. The established wisdom was that Duke made a decision to force Marco to beat them single-handedly - and he almost did it!

I think this was a very pivotal moment in the season, and for odd reasons. First, I'd bet my bottom dollar that if we played Duke now they'd do things completely differently - they'd realize that they could double on Marco AND prevent Indiana from getting open three pointers. Plus, opposing coaches didn't watch the game and think, "Hmm, Duke single-teams Marco and won - I'm gonna do the same thing." They thought, "Damn, no way am I playing Marco straight up." So Duke won the game while showing the nation how NOT to play Indiana.

After a lackluster blowout of Eastern Michigan (#282), another one of the worst teams in the country, Indiana went on the road and were shocked by Indiana State -- a game I wasn't able to watch. What did this game tell us in restrospect? First, that ISU (with Moss) is a lot better than people thought -- and they continued to prove that before Moss's injury. Second, if you put a bunch of pressure on Marco, good things happen (10 pts and 7 turnovers), and Indiana won't necessarily hit all those 3 pointers (8-24). It also suggested that IU's road woes might continue.

Fortunately for the Hoosiers, redemption was only days away, when we blew Kentucky off the floor. Although once again our 3 pointers weren't falling (5-16), Marco looked unstoppable again, we took care of the ball (12 TOs), played good defense, and Kentucky couldn't hit a 3 pointer to save their lives (2-27). And AJ Ratliff came out of his shell and scored 21 points in the second half. AJ's back!

Er, not really. AJ went back to struggling after the game and still isn't back to last season's form.

The other good news is that DJ White was returning from injury for the next game against Charlotte.

Which is a good place to pause.

What had happened in the first 7 pre-DJ games? 4 of the games were against awful teams, and we clobbered them, basically. In the 3 games against not-awful teams, Indiana was 1-2. One was a home loss against #1 Duke and their never-see-it-again junk defense. One was a road loss against a good mid-major team when they were able to stifle Marco. And one was a neutral court blowout against a mediocre Kentucky team - on a night when they shot even worse than usual.

Clearly, IU's offense had improved a great deal from the previous season(s), and our defense wasn't awful either. But if you look only at the three games that you'd expect to be competitive, I can't help but conclude that if Indiana had played a tougher schedule over this stretch, things would have gone differently. Our ranking was basically due to the cupcake games, and the understandable goodwill generated from playing Duke tough and blowing out Kentucky (which is nice, no matter how good they are). But if you compare how we're playing right now to the Duke, ISU, and Kentucky games, is there a big difference? I think we were playing better then than now, but honestly I think the difference might be almost completely attributable to our opponent's ever-increasing ability to prepare for Killingsworth. If Duke, ISU, and Kentucky had as many game tapes to review as Minnesota and NW had, I bet those games would have been played very differently.

But hey, all you can do is play the games that are scheduled, right? So with DJ back, Indiana played, IMO, easily their best stretch of basketball of the season. We beat Charlotte (#105) easily on the road. We beat a good Butler team (#79) in Indy by a comfortable margin. We destroyed an average Ball State team (#165) on the road. We beat a very good Michigan team (#16) at home with balanced scoring (Strick, Vaden, Marco, DJ, and Wilmont all in double figures), in spite of major concerns with defensive rebounding. Then we beat an excellent Ohio State team (#10) at home in a hard-fought game behind 26 points on 9-14 shooting from Marco, great outside shooting (10-21 3 pters) and clutch plays at the end from Strickland - and once again we had 5 guys in double figures, and one of them wasn't DJ White, who only played 17 minutes, scored 6 points, and was limping noticeably after the game.

*sigh*

At the time, I was a little bit disappointed that those games were so close, but in retrospect OSU and Michigan appear to be the real deal, and beating them in any form is a nice accomplishment.

And, obviously, it's time for the next pause.

With DJ in the lineup Indiana was 5-0, including 3-0 away from Assembly Hall, all five of those games were against non-cupcakes, and two of them were against top 16 teams in the country. IMO, Indiana was playing very well during this stretch, and DJ was clearly not at top strength yet.

Where would Indiana be right now with DJ White? Well, winning at MSU is unlikely for anyone. Our other losses were at Iowa (where no one has won this season) and at Minnesota (a game I'm trying to block from memory). Would our record be different? I think it would be, because we wouldn't have lost to Minnesota - because the team wouldn't be in the process of imploding right now, IMO. We probably would have lost to MSU and Iowa anyway, but we wouldn't have played as poorly doing it (and I'm not sure about the Iowa loss, frankly). I think things would be very, very different right now.

Standard caveat: Noting that things would be different with DJ is not an excuse for Mike Davis. There's no reason that that the level of play for a still-talented Indiana team should decline to dramatically without DJ.

So, DJ is out again, and Indiana goes on the road against Michigan State, and then we find out that Lewis Monroe is out as well. Michigan State scores on every possession and Indiana stays in the game until about mid-way through the second half before being put away. IMO, there is nothing to be learned from this game. We lost two starters right before the game, MSU is very good and they were pumped, we still managed to keep with them for most of the game... but in the end we weren't in a position to win in the final minutes.

Then came Illinois (#6). A game in which Indiana played really, really bad... then really, really good... then really, really bad... and came out with a quality win. Some were wondering whether Illinois was overranked at the time -- again, this appears to not be the case. That Indiana sans DJ could beat such a good team while playing so poorly for long stretches is arguably a good sign... except that the long stretches of bad play were a concern. Wilmont also had a really good game against Illinois... which turned out to be a sign of things to come. However, Wilmont and Marco were the only double-figure scorers this time, and Vaden went 0-5 from 3 point range, part of a mini-slump. Shawn Pruitt scored a career high as well - which to me was really the start of some visible issues between Marco and the coaches regarding his defense.

The Purdue game was ugly. Another career night for an opposing interior player. Indiana only shot 39.1% (a season low at the time). Vaden continued to struggle with his shot. Allen started but his defense put him right back on the bench. It might've just been a standard letdown in between two huge games, but unfortunately the chinks in the armor against Illinois seemed to continue. After beating Illinois, it seemed almost strange that the team didn't seem to be playing with confidence.

Still, we were 4-1 in the conference with two big road games coming up.

Iowa is a good team (#19) and undefeated at home, and to make matters worse Strickland was unable to play (which in restrospect was an even worse situation because Davis could not move Strick to point when Iowa switched Brunner onto Monroe. With Ratliff struggling, Indiana was force to play long stretches with two of Monroe, Calloway, ad Suhr at the same time. Marco had possibly his worst game (to that point) with 5-14 shooting, 4 turnovers, and 2 defensive rebounds. Indiana stayed in the game for most of it thanks to the heroics of Robert Vaden (26 points on 8-12 shooting from the 3 point line), but overall Indiana seemed to be fighting just to keep things competitive. Marco's attitude seemed to get worse with every B10 game, and Ratliff fouled out in 9 minutes. Ugh.

Ratliff said after the game that some of his teammates weren't giving it their all.

I think this was the turning point of the season. After beating Illinois a week earlier, the team seemed to have completely lost it's swagger, Marco was being taken mentally out of the games, players were questioning their teammates, etc. As fans, we overreact to losses on principle, and certainly the last few seasons have taken this to a new level -- for example we had fans writing the season off because we lost at Michigan State... immediately after losing two starters. Because, you know, MSU was 0-2 and not that good.

But if we ignore our own strangeness for a second, it seems like the mental collapse of the team was bizarre and unfounded. We just beat Illinois. We just beat Purdue. And we lost to a good Iowa team without Strickland. Yet the team seemed to be in crisis mode. Why? Sure, they weren't playing as well as they were capable of playing, but the mood of the team seemed out of whack with how bad the situation really was. The more I think about it, the more I think that the mental impact of losing DJ again was more devastating than we realized -- and larger than it should have been. The loss at Iowa seemed to severely shake the team up, resulting directly in the disaster at Minnesota. Suddenly the team was not executing, not playing with passion, not shooting well... the shift was fast and unwarranted, IMO.

Northwestern is not a game to get one's mojo back. Their offensive and defensive schemes are so irregular that Indiana had to just kinda plow through the game, which they did. Marco showed no signs of recovering his earlier season form, but I thought the rest of the team made a little progress - or at least stopped the bleeding. UConn is arguably not a great chance to get back on track either - it's an opportunity to get back emotionally with a win, but trying to beat the #1 team in the country in order to get your team's head back in the game is a tough situation (particularly because I think we match up horribly with UConn).

In the end, I'm not sure what to make of things. On the one hand, I think there's no reason to believe that the team can't play MUCH better than they're playing right now, based on the evidence at hand, but at the same time the fact that they've fallen apart so dramatically makes me worry about their ability to pull back together. On the one hand the team has played well in some games without DJ against some good teams, on the other hand our road record without DJ is astonishly bad (Western Illinois, Indiana State, Michigan State, Iowa, Minnesota -- 4 losses and 1 win against a team that is significantly worse than the worst B10 team). There's clearly a ton of variability still left in how this season might play out. But I think if you look at the season without the DJ games and without the 4 mega-cupcake games, the clear implication is that the best this team can hope to accomplish is significantly less than winning the B10 and making a long run in the NCAA tournament.

Duke 75, Indiana 67
Indiana State 72, Indiana 67
Indiana 79, Kentucky 53
Michigan St. 87, Indiana 73
Indiana 62, Illinois 60
Indiana 62, Purdue 49
Iowa 73, Indiana 60
Minnesota 61, Indiana 42
Indiana 72, Northwestern 63

I give up

Okay, how do I create a new name for specifically me. Mom

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Strange experience watching the Northwestern game

It was a close game throughout, and of course I was cheering Wilmont's 3s and Suhr's passing and the clutch FTs. We're halfway through the B10 season. We're 5-3. We're one loss behind the leaders. There's still alot of basketball to be played, and I really want to see the team turn things around and start to "click".

On the other hand, I would not have been completely upset had Indiana lost. How is that possible? No part of me wanted Indiana to lose, of course, but if we had lost it would have gone a long way towards ensuring that Indiana would have a new coach next season, which I desparately want to see happen.

In a way, I want one of two things to happen - 1) go on a run, or 2) crash and burn. With the talent on this team, we could make a run - tie for a B10 title, make it to the Elite Eight, etc. But if that is not going to happen, then I want there to be no question about the need for a new coach.

What I expect and fear is that neither happens. We play up-and-down the rest of the way, finish a couple ames out of first, win a couple B10 & NCAA tournament games... and do just enough to make it impossible to fire Davis, but no more than that.

*sigh*