IU will return to the comforts of Assembly Hall to host Ball State Sunday evening. The Hoosiers are 5-0 and coming off a big test in Brooklyn.
This game probably won't be up to the caliber of the Legends Classic but it is a trap game as IU could be looking ahead to match up against North Carolina on Tuesday.
The big news is the NCAA has upheld the suspensions of freshmen Peter Jurkin and Hanner Mosquera-Perea. Both will have to sit out their nine game suspensions and won't be back until IU faces Butler in Indianapolis.
With this ruling, the NCAA has proved just how pointless and clueless it is as an organization.
Here is a quick recap of the situation:
Perea and Jurkin were brought to the States via the A-HOPE foundation which helps give talented athletes in poorer countries a chance at a future. To date the foundation has put 22 athletes into the NCAA, only three have gone to IU.
The foundation is run by Mark Adams, who is also the coach of the two's former AAU team, Indy Elite. Adams' ex-wife gave $185 to IU from about 1987-92 for IU Alumni stickers. This technically made Adams a donor.
The A-HOPE foundation gave about $14,000 to the two athletes for clothing, food, school, and the like. That is technically an impermissible benefit due to Adams' donor status.
So both players have to pay back a portion of the money and site nine games.
Here is a portion of the statement from the NCAA after the appeal:
While a $185 donation … may have triggered the booster's status, recent interactions reinforce [Adams'] unique access and continuous involvement with the men's basketball program. Specifically, [Adams] signed financial aid documents required for two former Indiana University basketball student-athletes in 2008 and 2010. Further, Jurkin and Perea lived with the booster in Bloomington, Ind., during multiple summers. Indiana University also provided the booster, who is a nonscholastic coach, with permissible, complimentary men's basketball tickets.
If this seems it's confusing, that's because it is. It appears that the NCAA is more concerned about the relationship of Adams with IU than that of the two students. Since the NCAA cannot punish Adams, they are taking it out on IU and the freshmen.
The NCAA has a built a "case" based solely on assumption. They don't like that Adams has this perceived relationship and that would make sense, if Adams hadn't been completely tranparent with the NCAA about A-HOPE and even his personal finances. IU even self reported the violations, such as they are.
These are not actual "recruiting inducements" in this case, the NCAA is willing to admit to that. Yet they still levy a penalty against two players who did nothing wrong. It's a shame and it makes the NCAA look bad. Punishing the students accomplishes nothing in this case and it's counter productive for an organization that says it cares about student-athletes (hint: it doesn't).
OK, rant and report over. IU hosts Ball State (2-1) tomorrow, let's talk about that.
This game is almost like a mid-early season tune up before a big game. IU has a chance to get everyone back in the regular flow of things and should have a healthy Cody Zeller now that he has overcome his asthmatic bronchitis.
Ball State has never won in Bloomington, has lost 17 games in a row to ranked opponents, and was just badly beaten by Indiana State 68-48. Simply put, the Cardinals are not a good team and IU should cruise past them.
A few things to watch for as IU continues to work out the kinks.
- Zeller will get a lot more touches and will be more aggressive than he was in Brooklyn. Now that he's healthy, he said he wants to attack the basket more. Coach Tom Crean said that he is just scratching the surface of his potential and that he thinks we're about to see a huge leap from Zeller in the next couple weeks. If this starts against the Cardinals, it could be a special night for Zeller. Ball State's center, Zach Fields, is 6-foot-10 and had just two points and five rebounds against ISU.
- Improved ball movement. IU struggled to move the ball against Georgetown's length and zone defense. IU will be able to utilize its full offensive playbook against the Cardinals and not relegate themselves to the same five plays over and over.
- Freshmen improvement. Yogi Ferrell has been pretty good so far, but still has room for improvement. He's currently averaging seven points, 5.4 assists, and just under 2 turnovers per game. Expect his assists and points to go up, or just assists, and turnovers to stay about the same if not decline. Jeremy Hollowell struggled hard in Brooklyn. He is trying to do to many things that were easy against lesser opponents in high school and has to realize that this isn't the same game. It will come to him, but he needs to play more focused right now.
- Back to the blow outs. IU was averaging 95 points per game before the trip to New York. Now they are down to 86 per game. But compared to Ball State's 64 points per game and that IU holds its opponents to just 57 points per game, well IU will score a lot more than the Cardinals.
This will be the warm up game before IU faces No. 9 North Carolina (although with the loss to Butler, they will fall a bit in the rankings). Even if the Hoosiers over look this game, they should still have the talent to defeat Ball State. Crean does a good job of keeping his players focused and this shouldn't be an issue.
IU will win by at least 20 points.
We'll be live tweeting the game, so follow us on twitter @hoosiers101.
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