Monday, April 30, 2007

Carson's elongated birthday celebration

Someone we've managed to extend Carson's birthday into a series of events spanning about 3 weeks. First, she gets to open presents as they arrive in the mail (which I think is crime).

Then she goes to see the "High School Musical" musical with her friends and then have cupcakes afterwards.

Tyler was there for cupcakes (we stayed home and played "Scooby Doo - Mystery Mayhem" instead of going to the musical).

And then her actual birthday is next Tuesday and then I'm taking her to Chicago the following Friday.

That girl is totally lucking out this year.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Some pictures from Montpellier

As always, click on the picture to see the full-size image.

This is a picture of my hotel (to prevent anyone from getting overly jealous).

Who says Europe is different than the U.S.? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and hamburgers!

Here's a statue and water fountain combo - and some kids in the background who had just gotten drenched playing in the fountain (sound familar?).

On the other side of the fountain above, there's a loooooong avenue to walk down. Pretty.

Here's a big square full of restaurants. This is where the TMNT picture above was taken.

This is the building where the conference is happening. It looks substantially nicer than the hotel.

Another long esplanade... this time with flowers.

Big arches never go out of style.

A statute with a big monument in the background. Speaking of big monuments... it is close-up. Not sure the photo does it justice. It's big. Really big.

Here's a couple pictures of an ancient roman aquaduct. I need to explain to Tyler how impressive it is that the Romans could build multi-level structures using arches to move water around and have them still standing more than two thousand years later.

And for Carson, here's a picture of some crazy pigeons who were noisily taking a bath in some water near the aquaduct. They were having a ball.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I'm taking Carson to American Girl in Chicago

For her 7th birthday.

We're going to have lunch at the AG Cafe and see the American Girl Revue show.

We'll also check out a couple Chicago area museums while we're there.

I'm also learning how to braid her hair.

It's a good thing that I'm comfortable with my masculinity!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

18 year old recruits and national titles

Most recruits enter college when they are 18 years old. So, in their lifetime, what teams (and conferences) have won national titles? Here you go:

2007 - Florida
2006 - Florida
2005 - UNC
2004 - UConn
2003 - Syracuse
2002 - Maryland
2001 - Duke
2000 - MSU
1999 - UConn
1998 - Kentucky
1997 - Arizona
1996 - Kentucky
1995 - UCLA
1994 - Arkansas
1993 - UNC
1992 - Duke
1991 - Duke
1990 - UNLV

ACC - 6
SEC - 5
Big East - 3
Pac 10 - 2
B10 - 1
Other - 1

So the B10 has ONE national title in the last 18 years. The ACC and SEC account for 11 of the 18 titles. What about the 18 years prior to that?

1989 - Michigan
1988 - Kansas
1987 - Indiana
1986 - Louisville
1985 - Villanova
1984 - Georgetown
1983 - NC State
1982 - UNC
1981 - Indiana
1980 - Louisville
1979 - MSU
1978 - Kentucky
1977 - Marquette
1976 - Indiana
1975 - UCLA
1974 - NC State
1973 - UCLA
1972 - UCLA

B10 - 5
Big East - 5
Pac 10 - 3
ACC - 3
Big 12 - 1
SEC - 1

(I'm using current conference affiliation above for Marquette and Louisville)


The B10 needs to get better. Now.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Therapy with Dr. Bob (Trout-style)

Dr. Bob: Ah, welcome back, Terry. Has it been a year already? Time flies, eh?

Me: Hmmpf.

Dr. Bob: Yes, well, court ordered therapy is no treat for anyone. Have a seat. How is your wife?

Me: Fine.

Dr. Bob: And how are your kids?

Me: Fine.

Dr. Bob: And how is your job going?

Me: Fine.

Dr. Bob: I see. And what about your obsession with Indiana basketba...

Me: This is actually a really interesting part of the year because the season just ended so we're all talking about next season and the new recruits and other recruits we might get and how much the other players will improve and who might transfer and...

Dr. Bob: Remember our breathing rule? Actually, I'm a bit relieved that you seem so upbeat. I watched the first half of the UCLA game and...

Me: (covering ears) Verboten!!

Dr. Bob: I beg your pardon?

Me: We've all decided to block that game from our memories. You know, like childhood trauma.

Dr. Bob: You're comparing a basketball game to childhood trauma? I'm not sure that's healthy.

Me: Yes, yes. Healthy. Very important. Anyway, the point is that we don't talk about such things.

Dr. Bob: And by "we" you mean the internet forum thingies that you read with your, um, "friends"?

Me: They're less my friends and more like my family. My brothers and sisters. Aunts and uncles. Cousins twice removed.

Dr. Bob: I get the idea. So, in spite of the UCLA... er, the end of the season, it sounds like you and your friends enjoyed the season?

Me: Enjoyed?

Dr. Bob: Yes. Enjoyed. You're a fan, right? You follow Indiana basketball because you enjoy it, I assume?

Me: Hmmmm... yes, maybe there's something to what you say. Enjoyment. I remember enjoying Indiana basketball... long ago... in the days of my youth... Calbert .......

Dr. Bob: (snapping) Terry! Stay with me here. I admit I'm a little surprised. After all our conversations about Mike Davis... long, painful conversations... I thought that now that Kelvin Sampson was the coach things would be back to, um, normal.

Me: I thought so too. And I tried to get back. I watched all the games I could for the first time in years. And I liked the team. But whenever they'd start to struggle, started missing shots... losing rebounds... stuff that every team does... I'd start having flashbacks to the Davis era. My brain knew that it was different, by my heart would hold me back.

Dr. Bob: Ah, yes, battered fan syndrome. Very common. Did you continue to have obsessive thoughts about the team?

Me: Well, doc, obsession is really in the eye of the beholder, isn't it? I mean what might seem obsessive to one person might be perfectly normal for someone else.

Dr. Bob: I mean classic obsessive fan behavior. Staying awake till 3 in the morning because you're so excited after a win. Daydreaming about the team winning a national title. Paying any attention to recruiting. Blogging about basketball during the off-season...

Me: Oh, no... I'm fine. Really.

Dr. Bob: Uh huh. So how do you follow the team nowadays? Any changes?

Me: No, pretty much the same. I go to Peegs for new, the forums for discussion, I visit Big Ten Wonk.... Omigosh!!

Dr. Bob: What? What is it?

Me: (curling into fetal position) Beeeetraaaaaayed.... beeeetraaaaayed...

Dr. Bob: I can't understand you with your thumb in your mouth.

Me: Oh, sorry. It's just that Big Ten Wonk has decided to stop blogging exclusively about Big Ten basketball and is branching out to all of college basketball.

Dr. Bob: So? What's the big deal?

Me: (eyes glazing over) What's the big deal? Egads! This conversation is becoming Edvard Munch-level horrific. Ye Gods, will this session never end? If we don't stop this soon, I'm going to need to George Bailey myself into a frozen river.

Dr. Bob: Terry? Is that you?

Me: (shaking head) Hmmm... what? Sorry, what were you saying?

Dr. Bob: Uh, let's change topics. Having you been taking your medication? Is it helping with your manic-depressive episodes?

Me: Not really. Everytime we lose I am convinced that every player on the bench is the second coming of Michael Jordan and every player on the floor is the second coming of Pat Knight. And everytime we win I am convinced that Sampson is a coaching genius who could lead a team full of Pat Knights to a title. There's a voice in my head who tries to tell me that the truth is always somewhere in between, but it's hard to listen. Carl.

Dr. Bob: Carl? Who?

Me: The voice in my head. His name is Carl.

Dr. Bob: I see. Um... still, based on our conversations last year, surely the absence of Marco Killingsworth has made you enjoy the season more.

Me: Who?

Dr. Bob: Marco Killingsworth. Played for Indiana last season? We had several discussions about his defense?

Me: Not ringing a bell, doc.

Dr. Bob: Is this one of those "verboten" things?

Me: ...

Dr. Bob: Uh huh. Fair enough. Anyway, I'm guessing that next season should be pretty enjoyable. I hear Indiana is bringing in a pretty good player next season. What's his name... EJ something? Eli Jordan?

Me: Do you mean Eric Gordon? Or Eli Holman? Or Jordan Crawford?

Dr. Bob: Whomever.

Me: Whomever? Whomever?! Aren't you from Bloomington? How can you not know who Eric Gordon is?!

Dr. Bob: I am from Bloomington. Bloomington, Illinois.

Me: (long pause) Illinois.

Dr. Bob: Yes. Um, Illinois. Why are you looking at me like that? Perhaps we should end things a little early today, okay? Nurse! NURSE!!

(Background: Trout is the handle for a longtime poster on Peegs' Forums who resurfaces every year or two to make a post about his fictional conversations about IU basketball with his therapist. I blatantly stole his idea for this post... I mean, this is an homage to Trout. Trout, wherever you are, get back in the game!)

Gleefully overrating our recruits!! (next season - part 3 of many)

Here's a good summary article about IU's recruits from the Indianapolis Star -> Recruits make IU a Big Ten contender

We all know about all-everything Eric Gordon, so I'm going to ignore him (for perhaps the first and last time). As I mentioned in a previous post, our returning players + Gordon look like quite a good starting lineup. But we've got some compelling recruits on the way that aren't named "Eric."

9. Jamarcus Ellis - Ellis is an intriguing prospect. He's a JUCO player who has put some really amazing numbers against good competition - 15.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game. One question is, can he play point guard? In the end, I think the answer will be that no one will play point guard next season, but we'll have 3 "combo" guards on the court at the same time quite a lot (Ellis, Gordon, and Bassett). There's a lot to be said for having 3 guys on the court who can all pass, shoot, drive, and finish. Ask Illinois 2005 about that. (This is not to say that Ratliff won't see gobs of minutes... I'm sure he will... he just doesn't fit my "combo guard" theme here). Ellis will play a lot.

10. Eli Holman - I've already discussed Eli in a previous post. Suffice to say, he has all the earmarks of a sleeper recruit.

11. Brandon McGee - I think one of the reasons Allen struggled last season is that when he and White were on the floor, neither could guard the PF position. For some reason, we still think of "PFs" at the college level as big bruising types, but for more often they are lithe 6-7 to 6-9 guys who aren't post-up players, and this is what I like about McGee. He sounds like a great fit, especially long-term when partnering with guys like Holman in the post.

12. Jordan Crawford - Spent the last season trying to transition to point guard at prep school, and his assist numbers (8.5 assists per game) suggest that this was time well spent. Given the current talent in the backcourt at Indiana, I suspect that unless Crawford is a huge surprise he'll just get spot minutes as a freshman. But Ratliff will be gone after this season, Gordon might be gone, and both Gordon and Ellis will certainly be gone after two seasons, so the playing time is there to be had for Crawford as his career continues.

And it looks like these won't be our only recruits, but I'll wait until all that falls into place before commenting.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

More one-sided optimism (next season - part 2 of many)

5. Eli Holman is the quintessential "surprise impact" player. Although he isn't incredibly highly-ranked (he's ranked #79 by Rivals), his ranking is clearly hurt because of his suspension, plus he's arguably the perfect fit for Indiana next season - a long, athletic shotblocker to partner with DJ White inside on a team that doesn't need him to be a great scorer, so he'll have the luxury of developing his offensive game on a team with plenty of other offensive options. In other words, the things he does well are just what the team needs, and the things he doesn't do well are things the team doesn't really needs. Perfect fit.

6. Kelvin Sampson has had these guys for a full season and now he gets them for a full off-season. After the Mike Davis era, it's easy to forget that basketball players tend to improve from year to year, and that at Oklahoma this was considered a strength of Sampson's -- player development. Now that the players understand what Sampson wants and Sampson understands what the players' strengths and weaknesses are, I'm really looking forward to seeing the improvement from guys like AJ Ratliff, Armon Bassett, and Lance Stemler. IMO it's clear that those 3 guys are capable at playing at a different level than they played at last season. Having a real coach should pay dividends -- here's one area where I expect it.

7. Gordon is as close to a sure thing as we see in college basketball, so I'm going to include him as a "known quantity". Thinking ONLY about returning players + Gordon, our starting lineup looks like this: Armon Bassett, Eric Gordon, AJ Ratliff, Lance Stemler, DJ White. Based on how all those guys were playing at the end of last season and assuming even MILD improvement, that looks like a very good team... without even factoring in the new guys. By "very good team" I mean "no brainer NCAA tournament team" and "threat to make the Sweet Sixteen". It's a nice feeling to head into a season knowing that Indiana is playing for NCAA seeding, not for an NCAA invite.

8. The B10 looks as strong next season as it has in a long time, due in no small part to coaching changes. Michigan State and Ohio State both look like Top 10 teams, and the bottom of the B10 looks less bad with everyone returning at Minnesota and Northwestern (plus Tubby), so it looks like a strong conference from top to bottom. On the other hand, assuming Oden goes pro, there are no "scary good" teams in the B10. Last season was obviously OSU and Wisconsin then everyone else. I think next season OSU and MSU will not head into games against Indiana (home or away) assuming a win. Or, to make a long story short, Indiana does not need to improve by leaps and bounds to win the B10.

The glass is half-full! (next season - part 1 of many)

First I'm going to avoid listening to my annoying, internal "voice of reason" (SHUT UP!), and look at next season with cream and crimson-tinted glasses.

1. Eric Gordon is a consensus Top 5 recruit (actually he's a consensus Top 3 recruit). Last season, the consensus Top 5 recruits were Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, Brandon Wright, Tywon Lawson, and Chase Budinger. There's no reason to think that Gordon won't have a similar impact as those guys. He's a pure scorer, and unselfish player, and IMO his game translates really well to the college level (in other words he doesn't look like a guy who was great in HS but can't get his shot off in college).

2. Indiana's offense was effective last season because we had multiple guys who could hit 3 point shots (especially Wilmont, Ratliff, and Bassett). However, we didn't have many guys who could really create off the dribble due to ballhandling issues (especially with Wilmont, Ratliff, and Bassett). As far as we know, the addition of Gordon and Ellis completely changes that dynamic. These guys attack the basket, can finish, and can get to the foul line. This should not only make our offense more consistent (harder to shut down completely, but should also open things up inside for DJ, who will be able to score in more ways than just posting up.

3. It's incomprehensible that Stemler's shooting slump could be as bad as it was last season - he's proven over multiple seasons at the college level that he can shoot at a high percentage.

4. DJ White was a lot better at the end of last season than at the beginning. If he starts next season where he left off and continues to improve, he's going to be a force to be reckoned with by the end of the season (if he isn't already).

More later....

Xavier Keeling is transferring

It's official - Xavier is leaving the team.

Good luck to Xavier - I enjoyed his effort on the floor and I hope he does well wherever he ends up.

Scuttlebutt is that Joey Shaw is also likely to transfer to get closer to home in Arizona. I like Joey as well, so I hope he sticks it out, but it doesn't look good.