That is right. I, Travis Grant Gilbert, originally of Aurora, IN and lately of Greencastle, IN, am finding it difficult to root for this edition of my beloved Hoosiers.
Am I a bad-wagon fan? No! I am a fan who wants players to play for the name on the players’ jersey; not the name, in this team’s case, penciled on to the players’ sneakers. Once in every ten columns I will agree with Indianapolis Star sports write Bob Kravitz. His column in today’s Star – “Time for Hoosiers to Start Playing for IU” – is case in point.
I sympathize with the team to a certain extent. They liked Sampson, and do not want to appear disloyal. I appreciate and approve of loyalty, but the object of that loyalty should be deserving of it. Kelvin Sampson lied and cheated, He deserved his punishment, and did not deserve his fat severance. He disciplined students for breaking his rules, but did not feel the need to follow IU’s or the NCAA’s rules. For whatever reason, AD Greenspan chose Dakich over McCallum to be the interim coach, even though the players wanted McCallum. I understand that they are upset with the current circumstances. Still, as a whole, this team is acting like cry-babies.
They need to learn that life does not always play along with our script. They have not risen above their circumstances. They have been swallowed by them instead. DJ White continues to play the man and demonstrate that he is an amateur who handles himself like a professional. He had 23 points and 13 rebounds in 40 minutes on Friday. He was atrocious from the charity stripe (11-17 or 65%), and that cost the team. He was still the best player on the floor, and one of the few Hoosiers who played with integrity.
JaMarcus Ellis has left the building. As a JUCO I am sure that he came to IU strictly to play for Sampson, but Sampson isn’t paying for his education. Ellis has quit on his teammates and his school. He was suspended for the regular season finale at Penn State for undisclosed reasons. He played in the Minnesota game, but he was still nonexistent. Here is his stat line: 16 minutes played, 0 points, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 4 rebounds, 4 fouls. Thanks for your contributions, JaMarcus!
The phenom who created an “intense” Illinois v. Indiana rivalry (I am a life long Indiana native and Hoosiers fan and I don’t consider the Illini as anything but another conference opponent. I circle two teams on my IU schedule – Purdue and UK.) was also present in body but otherwise absent. Gordon scored 16 points, well below his average, and it took him 13 shots from the field and 12 attempts from the foul line to amass 16 points. He did lead the team in turnovers with five, and he was 0-6 from behind the arc. If NBA teams are still salivating over Gordon, it’s only because they think his value has fallen off the table and they may be able to pick him up late in the first round or early in the second.
My worst fears about this season are coming true (click here or here). No, the NCAA hasn’t banned the team from post-season play. That wasn’t necessary. The team has just decided not to play.