Five Banners.

Five Banners is a blog dedicated to the dedicated. Indiana University has a faithful, loyal, & basketball-crazy fan base. The Epicenter is Bloomington yet our impact on college basketball is felt worldwide. Our purpose here is simple... to keep you informed, spark debate, & allow our fans their ability to showcase how & why we are the #1 basketball school in the nation. This blog will continue until I am able to add one more banner to the title. Come along all those dedicated to the Cream & Crimson!

Five Banners

Five Banners

About Me

Indiana. Oh Indiana. I grew up here – playing, studying, & watching basketball since I was first able to dribble a ball. Whether it was at a gym, on a playground, at a park, or on my neighbor’s gorilla goal I had time for this game. However, it was 1999 as a freshman in Bloomington, when I got to first experience basketball fever. The deafening roar of the crowd with every long 3-pointer made, the heart pounding adrenaline with every thunderous dunk, the ultimate euphoria with every victory, and the utter hopelessness with every defeat. These emotions had me addicted instantly. And because of it I will always respect everything that was & is IU Basketball. Tradition is not a word here it is a way. And it’s a long way up those stairs to the balcony of Assembly Hall. And it’s worth every step to come experience the glory of Indiana basketball. Oh Indiana. I’m all for you.

Friday, December 7, 2012

8 and OH!

What a start to the season - let's do a quick recap of the last 4 games.

Georgetown: This is a game that IU needed.  Against a (now ranked) team on a neutral court in a 'championship-like' game provided a good early-season test.  The game should have never gone into OT but the Hoosiers put their foot down in extra time and pulled away for a comfortable win.

Ball State: Trap Game?  Um, NO.  The Cardinals never had a chance in a game the Hoosier took control early, put their foot on the accelerator and didn't let up until the buzzer sounded.

North Carolina:  The signature game on the 1st night of the B10/ACC challenge against the 14th ranked Tar-Heels.  And after a back & forth 1st 15 minutes of the game - The Hoosiers took CONTROL.  The 2nd half?  Probably the best half of college basketball I have seen the Hoosier play in a long time.  It was dominant.  The way they played, so unselfishly, so smart, so crips & clean, there wasn't ANY team in the nation that could've matched up with IU that night - hopefully a good omen to come.

Coppin State: This game can be described best by my friend (a non IU fan) who I was playing with golf the next morning. HIM: "The Hoosiers won again last night."  ME: "I know - they played like crap."  HIM: "They won by 35!" ME: "I know, but they didn't play well.  HIM: "Dude, they WON by 35."  I guess my expecations have rose.  Regardless, it's still nice to see them beat a team by 35 when they play 'crappy.'

Next big test:  Butler.  I think that will be more of like a pop quiz then a big test.  But we'll see.

Until then Hoosier Fans - ENJOY the #1 ranked play of this year's squad.  Too early to call them special but some of their play (especially against NC) was very special.  I'm pumped.  LET'S GO!

Friday, November 9, 2012

GAME ON (Bryant)

OK, Hoosier Fans… were your expectations met for the 1st game as the #1 team in the nation?  Let’s start by taking a look at the starting lineup.

PG: Yogi Ferrell – WOW.  His court vision, ball handling, and drive creativity is behind his years.  Doesn’t he look like the #11 he wears on the back of his jersey?  Literally.  They look and play alike.

G: Jordan Hulls – I love this kid.  Local.  IU.  IU.  IU.  He demonstrates everything that a Hoosier kid is illustrated to be.  He is going to make a ton of 3’s this year and will be fun to watch.

G: Victor Oladipo – I love him too – tenacity, aggressive, difference maker.  He will obviously be the floor leader next year as a Senior.  But until then – I will call him Mr. Intagible.

F: Christian Watford – I really hope the calling of the NBA doesn’t make him force his game too much – but it’s obvious his rebounding has improved.  He is very much needed for a title run.

C:  Cody Zeller – nothing much to say about the pre-season player of the year except we need to run the offense thru him on every possession – that’s the path to the sixth banner.

For the kids off the bench.  DEEP.  We have one very ‘large’ bench and it will make IU so much better because of all the energy we can bring to every team at ALL times.  Will Sh. would start on every other B10 team so you have to love his selflessness.  Remy Abell looks to be a big part of the rotation, he looks like he spent a lot of time in the weight room this off-season.  It was go to see Mo Creek get a couple triples knocked down tonight – don’t think he won’t play a big part on this squad as I think his stroke will be the difference in a few games this year.  The other Freshman playing big minutes was Jeremy Hollowell and he looked to get more comfortable in the 2nd half and I think the more minutes he logs the more his talent will show.

Overall, I feel good, not great, about the 1st game of the season.  A special season.  Being thin on the front court will hurt but not as bad as it would be if we were deep in conference play.  I look forward to the improved chemistry and thus improved play as we move forward.  #1??  Yeah, I think so!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

1385 Days

Seems like a very long time.  It was.  This is the # of days that the Hoosier Faithful were put to the test.  How strong was your faith?  Was your spirit knocked down?  Did your hope ever waver?

February 22, 2008 – Kelvin Sampson accepted a buyout of his contract effectively removing him as IU basketball coach.

 December 10, 2011 – Christian Watford earned his way into IU lore by swishing a buzzer beater knocking off #1 UK and putting IU back in the Top 25 where they belong – Always

1385 days.  WOW.

If you haven’t blocked it out of your memory let me provide a quick refresher.  First – the positive.  Tom Crean.  I was real excited about the hire.  I was excited how he embraced Indiana. And I was extremely afraid we weren’t going to get a proven coach with the upcoming… SANCTIONS.  And then to quote the late Chris Farley “House Cleaning!”  Not only did we lose our 2 best players to the NBA in DJ White & Eric Gordon, but also players like Jordan Crawford (now an NBA player) and Armon Bassett (who later led Ohio to a promising run in the Dance).  Our two returning players?  Kyle Taber & Brett Finkelmeir.  WOW.

But for the true, the dedicated, and the faithful it was worth the wait. 

1385 days.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Back for a Banner!

It’s been over 6 months since any material of any kind has been posted.  I have been pouting over the UK loss – damn I hate those Kats.  But it’s time.  We are less than 2 weeks away from Hoosier Hysteria.  We could be the preseason #1 team.  And expectations from the Hoosier Nation probably haven’t been this high since 92.  I’m excited.  I’m pumped.  I’m ready to go.  And I’m back.

Over the next couple weeks we will cover topics ranging from starting lineups, rotations, impact of the incoming class, and key take-aways from last season’s resurgence.  Also, to complement the blog this year, I will leverage some today’s social media such as YouTube & Facebook.  Once the pages & channels have been created (hopefully in the next couple days) I will post those as well.

Let me know if there is any specific topic you want me to cover prior to November.  Open Forum.  This is the year.  Our year.  And we want another banner!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Border War (Part II)

OK, Hoosier Nation… a call to arms!  Once again we come across our bitter basketball rival on this upcoming Friday night.  Our neighbor to the south, who is in rich in basketball tradition as we are here in Indiana, comes boasting more national titles and a decade plus of basketball superiority over us.  At least we are more educated and have better looking women.

OK, OK… I won’t make this personal.  That’s the last of the hillbilly insults in today’s blog.  Any collegiate basketball fan has to respect the power that is UK basketball.  Contrary to how IU builds its’ respective program… Kentucky prowls for the nation’s elite, the one and dones if you will (where would their program be if the NBA did not instill the current draft eligibility rule that prevents High School players from going straight to the NBA?) that allows them to compete for a national title almost every year.  How many upper-classmen are on their squad?  I’m sure there are a few but how many actually play meaningful minutes?  Compare this to the way the Hoosiers build their respective program.  They find talented, blue-collar, highly intellectual players and build upon their experience and leadership.  In the last decade we have had two players leave IU early for the NBA (Jared Jeffries & Eric Gordon).  I don’t know the exact # from Kentucky but we can all guestimate that it probably well over quadruples that # of IU.  Does that make UK a bad or unethical program?  Absolutely not.  But experience counts in postseason play.  Didn’t even Calipari and other analysts contribute the loss earlier in the season to Indiana to the fact that the UK squad, and their primary play-makers, had never played in an atmosphere like Assembly Hall?  Absolutely.

Two similar elite programs.  Two completely different administrative philosophies.

This brings us to the border battle on Friday night.  The victor earns a spot in the Elite 8 and a very legitimate shot at the Final Four.  Both teams have drastically improved from their initial matchup in early December.  Both have gotten significant experience, locked-up their primary rotations, learned of their go-to players in the clutch, and have determined how to win (and lose) basketball games.  The two top freshman in all of college basketball will go head to head, neither will be intimidated, and both eager to win their respective match-ups (recent NBA mock drafts have Davis going #1 and Zeller #9.  Thankfully, for the Hoosiers, Zeller is not expected to declare while Davis is).  The MAJOR differentiating factor in the rematch is that the game will be played in Atlanta and not the friendly confines of Assembly Hall.

I expect a split crowd of blue/white & cream/crimson.  I expect nerves to be tested early.  I expect a game of runs.  I expect a great matchup.  Obviously Kentucky will be heavily favored as most ‘experts’ will expect UK to be extra motivated to beat Indiana because it’s the only team that beat them in the regular season.  And all of us frequent ESPN watchers have seen the commercial highlights of Watford’s game winning buzzer beater being played over and over (much to my enjoyment – much to the dismay of the Kats’ faithful).  Calipari calls it motivation.  I call it a crybaby for showing his true colors.  There’s no doubt that UK is a great team and the fact that they deserved the #1 overall seed in this year’s madness.  But that loss was not a fluke.  And it proves that they can be beaten.  And they were beaten by a team they face next… the Indiana Hoosiers.

Probably, the biggest factor in IU’s favor, believe it or not, was the game that IU just won.  VCU’s pressuring defense will make UK’s defense almost seem lackadaisical (it’s not but comparatively it will be a lot easier on the backcourt of the Hoosiers).  Although VCU didn’t have the nation’s best shot blocker they’ll see in Davis.  But besides the early game jitters caused by the huge bump in adrenaline, I expect IU to play a very ‘clean’ game limiting their turnovers.  I expect Jordan Hulls to have a huge rebound of a game and Matt Roth to have 3-4 three pointers in relief.  Will Sh and Oladipo, who earned huge confidence-building experience with their clutch play in the round of 32 will only be more eager to prove their worth & talent.  Watford will also make it a point to prove that his game-winning 3 from earlier in the season is actually part of his normal game routine.  We already talked about Zeller but it is important that the extra two days rest will prove very beneficial to him and the rest of the team.  Pritchard will be at his most aggressive self and Remy Abel (now playing meaningful minutes every game) will want to shut down UK’s guards from his home state.

Make no mistake… I am not predicting a win.  That would be foolish against a squad as talented as Kentucky.  But I do predict a close battle that will come down to which squad wants it more and shows it by getting to the line, forcing turnovers, and putting their respective teammates over individual egos.

A border-war for a spot in the Elite 8… it will be nerve-racking, it will be stressful, and it will be utterly entertaining.  Stay tuned Hoosier Nation and more now than ever before… stay faithful.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

VCU (IU wins 63 - 61)

All heart.  All heart.  All heart.

I am not going to even look at the box score or look at the highlights or even go off the several text messages I got with some “analysis’ from close IU friends.  Nope, I am going to write this straight from my heart.  I am so deeply in love with this squad, not only for their resurgence back into the national scene, but for their fight, never-quit attitude they display on every game-night.  I’ll be the first admit, the pressure & stress of this game got to me.  I mean, we haven’t been to the Sweet 16 in 10 years – not since that magical run to the title game as a 5-seed when Mike Davis at the helm.  In fact, before tonight, the only time we had been to the Sweet 16 since 1995 was in 2002.  We are talking about 17 years, of a collegiate team still considered the elite of the elite only going to the 2nd weekend of March Madness ONCE since 95.  With a victory tonight we had a chance to match our win total from the previous 3 years COMBINED.  I dislike the cliché ‘We’re Back’ shirts that marketing America is trying to leverage on the Hoosiers behalf.  But, with a victory tonight, that cheesy cliché/phrase becomes very true.  Because in terms on program status – there is no better judge that the performance & outcomes during the 4 week madness of March college basketball.

Virginia Commonwealth University.  The VCU rams.  The ‘darlings’ of mid-majors.  A tournament team that many have fallen in love with since their improbable run to the Final Four last year.  Their coach, Shaka Smart, is perhaps the most sought after coach in all of collegiate basketball (taking the place of Butler’s Brad Stevens – which is debatable).  What does he do best?  His players completely buy in to whatever he says.  A true definition of a leader.  And the biggest surprise is that they only returned 1 starter from last year’s miracle run.  But they play tough with what they call their ‘havoc’ defense.  They upset (if you can really call that) Wichita State, a team that represented the mid-majors best chance for a deep run when the brackets were announced.  And they faced the Indiana Hoosiers, an elite program with the tradition of Christmas and green beer on St Patrick’s Day.  And they rose to the challenge.

How in the hell did we pull off that victory tonight?  Well it goes to show not only the young talent that IU possesses, but also a leader in Tom Crean that has the players’ attention every time he speaks.  Basically trailing the entire second half – the will of the Cream & Crimson refused to break.  Our star freshman, who can easily take his talents to the NBA next year, used his quick feet, high basketball IQ, and his to the buzzer sounds type play and led the Hoosiers.  But not with the help of his teammates.  Christian Watford, now arguably our upper-classmen leader played solid.  Oladipo, besides some crazy, out-of-control, force the basketball at all costs played well.  Not only with his highlight dunks, but also with the play that pretty much saved the season, which pretty much led IU to the Sweet 16, when he took it to the left and drove the ball to the hoop drawing a foul and converting the lay-up.  More importantly, he made the free throw that tied the game.  Then game back the VCU rams who had, for the most part, outplayed the Hoosiers by forcing more turnovers than IU had all season (and Jordan Hulls… what happened to you tonight??? After a brilliant game in the 1st round… you looked nothing like the floor general we need you to be… to the point that Crean ripped you on a time out in the 1st half and even more telling on the bench during the final seconds of the win.  I’m giving you a break for all the good/great things you have done for IU this season – but we need you to play a lot SMARTER for us to have a chance to advance past the next game).  Anyway, we forced VCU forced a 3 pointer and Oladipo got the board and much to my dismay, instead of holding for the last shot, drove straight for the basket.  It resulted in a blocked lay-up attempt that landed in the hand of a wide open Will Sheehy (basketball Gods… THANK YOU) where he converted a wide open 10 foot baseline jumper to give the Hoosiers their 1st lead since very early in the 2nd half.

IU up 63-61 with a little over 12 seconds left.  Two timeouts called by Shaka Smart and a hellacious wait with some of the worst commercials I have ever seen.  Pacing back and forth – pacing back and forth – pacing back and forth.  Would VCU go for the win or for the tie?  The Rams took their time and then made their move.  They went off an elbow pick, the ball-handler driving towards Cody and the basket which caused Oladipo to cheat over for some back-side help.  The ball was kicked out to a WIDE OPEN VCU 3-point shooter who with the world watching, the adrenaline pumping put up a 3 for the win.  It hit the front of the rim.  It bounded up and looked like it could have dropped into the hoop after it bounced above the shot clock with the wide arms of the net inviting you to drop…

And it fell harmlessly to the ground.  Game Over.  IU to the SWEET SIXTEEN!!!  More analysis to come in the next week as we prepare for the rematch of the year against UK.  But until then, take a deep breath and enjoy the glory of the continued resurgence of Indiana Basketball.  One of my most favorite parts of the game?  The post-game interview where Crean took a shot at Seth Davis, an “expert analyst” who didn’t think the Hoosiers had a shot to get to the sweet 16 since our games weren’t in Assembly Hall.  WRONG.  We conquered Portland.  Up next… Atlanta.  A place where we won the semi-final game against OK in 02.  Will the magic be recreated?  Time will tell.  But until then… HOOSIERS!!!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

New Mexico State (IU wins 79 - 66)

That is the way to start March Madness.  There is way too much insight & commentary I can bust out – so I’ll try to keep it short and concise and write more when time allows (props to the anonymous poster who called me out for not blogging as I should).  Overall, an impressive victory.  It give me great satisfaction to SHUT UP the likes of Seth Davis and the other SI & CBS writers who didn’t give us any chance to get to the Sweet 16 – and a lot of them had us getting unsettled here tonight by NM St.  Their thought process, I can only assume, was that IU didn’t perform well away from Assembly Hall this year.  That’s not true.  We didn’t play great from Assembly Hall but played well enough for the NCAA committee to give us a 4 seed.  They obviously know more than that of a Seth Davis, probably one of the most arrogant, know-it-all writers/commentators that I have seen in a long time.  He has taken place of Doug Gotlieb as a Hoosier-Hater that I dislike the most.

A victory that for the most part wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.  For the most part… IU controlled the game.  Offensively – it was one of the most impressive executed games I have seen.  Defensively, beside some late game breakdown where we seemed to get a little lazy confronting the ball, we played tenacious.  New Mexico State does not have a good outside game but they do have great size and physical play to go along with it.  They led the NCAA in free throws during the regular season, yet we kept that advantage of theirs to a minimum.  We hustled, we were the aggressors, and most importantly we made the play when it counted.

The start of the 2nd half – when we put on a run that ultimately put the opponent away - was some of the best offensive play I have seen all season as the Hoosiers got lay-up after lay-up.  And let’s give it up for our 2 Mr. Basketballs’.  Jordan Hulls and Cody Zeller led the team with absolute fantastic play.  Jordan made his outside shot but also drove the ball for some “easy” baskets close to the basket.  Cody, who seems to get fouled on every play, made some extremely tough shots down the stretch when NM St was making their final run.  Watford played strong.  Sheehy played well.  Oladipo played decent enough (although I expect a better game on Saturday out of him).  The bench provided the necessary depth.  It all resulted in a win worthy of our 4-seed.

Next up… a dangerous VCU team, who tonight, beat the 5th seed Wichita State who most “experts” picked to be the mid-major most likely to make a deep run.  Their coach, Shaka Smart, is one of the best.  They will play extremely tough and put pressure on our guards all night.  But, before we even start to analyze those match-ups, let’s enjoy this victory… the first in the NCAA tournament in several years for the Hoosiers.  I’m happy for Tom Crean.  I’m happy for VJ3 (who, an individual I gave a lot of shit this year, is a player/leader who the Hoosiers could have used in the tourney).  I’m happy for the team.  I’m happy for all the fans that had to suffer through the last few years of downtrodden play.  Who would have thought, at the start of the season, we would be here… one game away from the Sweet 16.

Cheers!  HOOSIERS!

Assembly Hall

Assembly Hall