Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Panic time. Or not.

The sky is falling down there in Bloomington, coming down in shiny little candy-striped pieces, dusting the hair of the faithful as they wring their hands and wail "Freefall!" because Tom Crean Can't Coach and The Hoosiers Can't Guard A Locked Door and Why Wasn't (Fill In The Blank) On The Floor When It Counted, Anyway?

Or, you know, something like that.

To be sure, no one thinks these are the sun-kissed days in B-Town, not with the Hoosiers having lost three straight -- including two in Assembly Hall, their previously unassailable fortress. Good lord, a football school beat them in the Hall (Nebraska). Then Louisville beat them by 13 in a game that looked as if the Cardinals won by 25. Then came Wisconsin last night, a 75-68 loss in which the Hoosiers had no ball movement, no perimeter defense -- Wisky dropped 10 3s on them -- and a bunch of the wrong people on the floor at far too many crucial times.

So, they're now 0-2 in the Big Ten and 10-5 overall, having lost four of their last six. The sky is in shards. Air-raid sirens are going off. The end times have come.

To which the Blob offers a public service announcement: March Madness is still 69 days away.

In other words, it's an eternity until March, and so, pump the brakes, people. Indiana may look like a hopeless muddle now, but history offers numerous examples of teams that looked like hopeless muddles 69 days out from the Madness. And some of those teams wound up cutting down the nets at the end of it.

No one suggests Indiana will do that; the Hoosiers don't have enough inside presence nor play enough defense for that to be a likely outcome. But they are not as bad as they're playing right now. If they're the team that lost to IPFW and Nebraska, they're also the team that beat Kansas and North Carolina.

They've got skills. They've got players. What they don't have right now is an identity
that doesn't involve negatives -- too much dribbling, too many turnovers, not enough urgency when urgency would seem to be required.

The good news is, all of that is correctible. And there is an eternity left in which to correct it.

That's happened to teams before, as the Blob noted. A number of years back, for instance, there was a basketball team that, on just about this date, looked hopelessly at sea, too. It had lost three of its last five games -- including one to Texas-Rio Grande Valley, an IPFW-esque defeat. Going into  conference play, it was 7-5 and seemed destined for oblivion.

Instead, the 1980-81 Indiana Hoosiers wound up, yes, cutting down the nets at the end of the Madness.

Again, no one suggests this Indiana team is that one. But ... perspective, people. A little perspective, please. 

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