Oct 25, 2012 by

The climb back to prominence was a long time coming.  It is now official the 2012-13 Indiana University men’s basketball team is the preseason number one ranked team in the country.  Diehard IU fans have a host of reasons to be giddy about this team and their chances to cut down the nets in Atlanta.  1987 seems like a lifetime ago; can this be the year?  Time will tell those of Hoosier Nation…time will tell….

What better way to ring in the new NCAA hoops season than to ask two highly knowledgeable fans of IU basketball a series of questions about their beloved team.  I deem them the experts, I know of none else who put as much time and effort following IU year in and year out.  Meet Stu and Nate, two of my closest friends since grade school.  To say they are excited about this season might be the understatement of the year.

Here are their answers to my random IU related questions.  Enjoy!


1.       What would you deem as a disappointment for your Indiana Hoosiers this year?
A.     Not winning a regular season Big Ten title
B.     Year end ranking outside the top ten
C.     Not reaching the Final Four
D.     All the above

Nate:   All the Above!

Stu: D of course, also let me add that we should be a #1 seed.

2.       How confident are you regarding IU’s guard play?

Nate:  IU’s guard play is going to be one of its major strengths this year.  They have excellent balance with shooters, slashers, speed, quickness and ball handling.  Between the PG and SG spots, they realistically could go five deep.  

Stu:  Very confident because of the depth,  also factor in that Oladipo and Sheehey play both the 2 and 3 positions which increases depth even more, but our point guards Hulls and Yogi are both under 6′ so that causes match up problems on the defensive end.

3.       Will Cody Zeller forgo his Junior and Senior years to enter the NBA draft? 
Nate:   One thing that keeps IU fans hopeful Cody would stay longer is his brother Tyler did so at UNC.  Although most thought he could have been drafted high after his Jr year.  Most “insiders” suggest that if Cody knows he is going to be drafted in the top 5, he will go after this year but again, it’s pure speculation. 

Stu:  NO, unless they win National Championship otherwise it would be hard to justify staying, but his brothers both stayed all 4 years

4.       What is the most ridiculous thing (or craziest rumor) you have read about this year’s IU team on Peegs.com?

Nate:  Just in the last couple days a poster said they heard Cody broke his thumb.  My guess is that some Purdue nut job made that up.  Purdue fans are having a really hard time with IU’s recent success and the fact that our programs are going in opposite directions.

Stu:  I don’t read Peegs but read some posts from other sites from dumbass fans who think we can go undefeated.

5.       IU opens their season against Bryant University on November 9th  – Have you ever heard of this school?

Nate:  Yes.

Stu:  Nope, until I looked them up. They went 2-28 last year, we may win by 50

6.       What team would you want to avoid playing in the NCAA tournament, especially in the later rounds?

Nate:  I think NC State is going to very tough this year.   I also think Michigan is going to be very tough.  Of course Kentucky reloads again so they will have the talent again and could be right there as long as they make it to the end of the season before the inevitable violations that will plague them at some point in the future.  (see Memphis and UMASS for reference).

Stu:  Kansas or Kentucky

7.       What Big Ten team(s) will provide a formidable challenge to IU and why?
Nate:  Michigan.  They  return an extremely talented and strong core of players that challenged IU last year.  I really think they will be the second best team in the big 10. 

Stu:  Michigan. (Matt, I know you love that) Trey Burke is outstanding, Ohio St has some experience, and Michigan State is always tough.

8.       The 2011/12 IU team ranked 145th amongst DI teams in rebounding – is this a cause for concern regarding this year?

Nate:  Not really.  As most Basketball minds know, rebounding is extremely important but the number of rebounds doesn’t always necessarily tell the story.  Two reasons for this: 
1.)     Being that IU shot an EXCELLENT percentage last year.  This produces few chances for offensive rebounds. 
2.)    They were really bad in most games defensively, which allowed the other team to shoot a higher percentage, which again, produces few rebounds.  With Cody Zeller, Christian Watford, Will Sheehy, Derrick Elston and the addition of Hanner Perea and Peter Jurkin, they will have the personnel to be an extremely tough rebounding team.

Stu:  Yes, but last year Zeller knew he had to always be on the court because of no other inside presence. The addition of Perea, Jurkin, and the return of Derek Elston will all help in the rebounding department.

9.       What freshman will play a large role this year and why?

Nate:  I think the most likely will be Yogi Ferrell.  He is a 5 star lightning quick PG that will add tools offensively that IU needs and is an excellent on the ball defender. 

Stu:  Yogi of course, tremendous speed and vision, plus all incoming freshman played AAU ball together and with Zeller.
10.   If IU wins the national championship this year how do you intend to celebrate?
Nate:  I will likely get completely shit-faced somewhere and possibly wake up the next day with an IU neck tat.

Stu:  Tears of Joy, phone calls to my friends, and plenty of whiskey.

11.   Who becomes IU’s second go to option now that Christian Watford has graduated?

Nate:  Christian Watford hasn’t graduated moron.  He will be a senior.  Do your research dumbass.[i]

Stu:  Watford is a senior this year…

12.   What aspects of Zeller’s game did he need vast improvements on from his freshman year to this year?
Nate:  I think he needed to become a better position rebounder and work on filling out his body.  Offensively he is very skilled with his back to the basket and facing up inside 12 feet.  He needed to expand his range and get more comfortable with his jump shot.

Stu:  Strength and rebounding.

13.   How many national championships would Crean have to win at IU for fans to unseat Knight as the programs best coach?  Do you think this question is borderline ignorant and no one will ever think otherwise that Knight is the best?
Nate:  Knight is one of the best couple of coaches in the history of the game of basketball.  I will never say never but Crean would have to have one of the best careers of all time to unseat knight.  Do I think this question is borderline ignorant?  No.  I think it is 100% ignorant.

Stu:  This year will make him a legend, resurrecting the program from shambles in less than five years would be impressive, for me Bobby is the measuring stick if Crean gets three all bets are off, plus the kids now know Bobby as an analyst not a coach they don’t realize how great a coach he was, don’t forget 1976 last undefeated National Champion, that may never happen again. It is ignorant to the older fans for sure, but not for me.

14.   Predict the outcome and score of the Carolina game.
Nate:  My prediction for the UNC game is that IU wins by15 or more. 

Stu:  IU 87 UNC 71
15.   Thoughts you would like to share regarding Kentucky absence on the schedule?

Nate:  Even though all of the wins and the National Championship will likely be vacated based on Coach Cal’s history, one thing he really wants to do is go undefeated like IU did last in 1976.  Removing IU from his schedule starting this year and the years following will help him increase his chances.  IU wanted to play at Rupp so we could beat their ass there this year and he wouldn’t do it.  Anyone can make crap up about a playing neutral games etc…but ultimately if he wanted to play IU, we would be playing.  It was easy for him to see the writing on the wall with the direction IU’s team is heading and he is not a fan of looking second fiddle, which he would because we would likely beat that ass for the next several years.

Stu:  I don’t care where they play I just want them to play they could play in my fucking driveway it doesn’t matter but pretty sure UK didn’t want us coming to Rupp and wrecking that long home court winning streak!

16.   Coach Crean is best at….. (Choose one and why you think so)
Making critical key adjustments within the game
Likeability within fan base, booster, and alums
Devising a defensive game plan
Coaching the offense
Respect and buy in of program with his players?

Nate:  Very hard to pick just one but I think he is an excellent recruiter and has done an awesome job producing a highly effective offense.  He is extremely likeable too and fits in extremely well with a pretty crazy, high expectation fan base.

Stu:  he has brought back the fan base young and old with his passion for the game and the history of IU basketball, he made great improvements on our home court advantage by having the kids sit behind the baskets close to the floor.  Vitale said it was the loudest venue he was at all year.

17.   IU will win the National Championship in 2013 because……..

Nate:  Ultimately I think they have the most balanced and deepest team in the country.  They have depth at every position and have star power.  They really don’t have exploitable weaknesses.  IU this year will have a team that will have to beat itself in order to lose.

Stu:  experience, depth, hunger

18.   IU will not win the National Championship in 2013 because……
Nate:  They come out and don’t play up to their abilities.  Crean is going to really have to do an excellent job this year keeping so many good players happy with a fixed amount of minutes available.

Stu: cold shooting, injuries… I’m knocking on wood right now.

19.   If Bobby Knight coached this current team – would you be as more or less confident of a national championship? 
Nate:  This is a dumbass question and I’m not answering it. 

Stu:  Less because he never coached kids this athletic.

20.   Can Coach Knight successfully coach at an elite college program today?  Explain either way.
Nate:  He absolutely could successfully coach at an elite program and would do well.  The issue is though that he doesn’t have the need or desire to do so.  So, the answer to your questions is yes and no but ultimately no because he doesn’t have the drive or desire to do what would be needed.

Stu:  No, because it’s a different game now and his discipline does not agree with kids these days, Jason Collier, Neil Reed to name a few.  RIP to both of those guys.  However, I hated how they left the program but I’m not a total asshole about it. Matt, do you remember when I called Collier a pussy in the mall in Atlanta[ii]…good times!

21.   Who is college hoops best player?

Nate:  I think preseason you have to go with Cody Zeller.
Stu:  loaded question but Zeller, Burke are at the top of my list.
22.    Who is the best team in the country and why?[iii]

Nate:  Indiana has been preseason #1 in most polls and the first official coaches poll came out yesterday and had IU #1.  I agree with them.
Stu:  IU as I have explained throughout the preceding questions

23.   Does all the press from the media regarding IU potential success this season make you nervous?  Why or why not?

Nate:  Not really.  A lot of people don’t realize that IU is returning several seniors that will have an impact on the team. 

Stu:  Absolutely. They haven’t been relevant for four years before last year so being preseason #1 puts huge pressure on those kids, but with the senior leadership and some outstanding young guys they will live up to all the hype

24.   What Big Ten team can’t you stand the most and why?

Nate:  Purdue because they such a little guy complex it’s just disgusting.  Purdue fans are the only people in the hoops world that think they are relevant and have any historic status.

Stu:  Purdue.  They are the one of two teams with a all time winning record against IU.  The other being UK… I hate both programs.

25.   At this moment if you could, would you place a $1,000 bet on IU cutting down the nets in Atlanta? 

Nate:  No. 

Stu:  Yes.

26.   Do you have any strange IU game rituals we should know about?

Nate:  I can’t stand commercials during an IU game.  I TiVo or record the game and will not start watching until about 45 minutes after tip off so I can watch uninterrupted.  I hate when people call me during the game.  I never answer it, but still …people should know.

Stu:  Not really, I just wear the same game shorts color that they are wearing.

27.   What one change would you make in college hoops if you were head of the NCAA?
Nate:  I would move Purdue to Division 2.

Stu:  I would like to see the play-in games removed and expand the tourney to 80 teams with the top four seeds in each region getting a bye in the first round, it’s the best 3 weeks of the year for me and there are 300+ college teams so include as many as possible.

28.   Who wins in a one game match up played at Evansville Memorial High’s gymnasium – the ‘12 IU team or the ’87 IU team?
Nate:  Given that it’s preseason I would have to go with the 87 national championship team.  If this team has a successful year and wins the title, I would have a harder time answering this question.

Stu:  Great match up but, Zeller dominates Dean Garrett, Daryl Thomas handles Elston, Watford and Ricky Calloway would be another great matchup, Oladipo guarding Keith Smart would be fun to watch, and Yogi or Hulls running after Steve Alford all game, in the end Sheehey, and the rest of our non-starters would wear down the ‘87 team so final score – 2012 IU 91 1987 IU 82.   I would be drunk4[iv] watching from the bleachers just like old times.

29.   Should Evansville Aces go back to wearing shirts as their uniforms – why or why not?
Nate:  Yes.  That made them unique.  When I first came to North Carolina, people didn’t really know where Evansville was but, they would say “wait a minute, is that the team that will wears short sleeve shirt uniforms?” 

Stu: Absolutely not, unless Jerry Sloan comes back to coach……

There you have it, spoken like true college hoop analysts!

[i] I refuse to conduct any research.  I am too lazy.  Especially regarding a team I couldn’t care less about.
[ii] Stu and I road tripped down to Atlanta to watch the opening rounds of the 1998 NCAA tournament.  We noticed Jason Collier in the lower-level concourse of the Georgia Dome.  I can attest that Stu absolutely made it well known to Collier what he thought of him.
[iii] In retrospect, I should have retracted this question.  Are we really surprised by the answers?  I am not.
[iv] Stu once drank a liter of vodka chasing it with Sunny Delight in the parking lot of Roberts Stadium before one of  Nate and I high school games against arch rival Harrison.  Miraculously, Stu made it to the stands before tipoff, but was kicked out of the stadium shortly thereafter.  This was followed up with a school suspension.  This is now the stuff of legend in and around parts of Southern Indiana.


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