With the college basketball season set to tip off this week, Daily Reporter sportswriter Grant Freking and columnist Ben Boldt partake in a pick-and-roll discussion centered on the prospects of Indiana, Purdue (and Big Ten basketball as a whole) plus Butler.
Grant: The arrival of college basketball brings forth a two-fold response for me. No. 1, before doing homework for this article, I hadn’t given much thought to the upcoming season. Hancock County teams have enjoyed widespread success across many fall sports —always a good thing — thus, the sports department’s focus has almost entirely been on the local scene for the last month. And No. 2, I’ve now realized the start of the hoops year can’t come soon enough. I’ve become more and more of an NBA observer with each passing year, yet my growing interest in the Association can’t replace Big Monday, Super Tuesday or spending Saturdays on the couch watching college basketball for hours on end. Don’t get it twisted, a few aspects of the college game boil my blood (Dick Vitale, the one-and-done rule, the possession arrow), but one of the main differences between the college and pro game is passion: the college kids (and their fans) bring it every night; the same can’t be said of their NBA counterparts. But, I’ll step down from my soapbox and let Ben explain why he picked Indiana to finish last in the Big Ten (wink, wink).
Ben: I’m an Illinois grad, so I can’t pick IU to win anything (it’s written in fine print at the bottom of my diploma). But I don’t know how anybody can pick against the Hoosiers. They have an All-American in the post (Cody Zeller), a versatile scorer who isn’t afraid to take big shots (Christian Watford), a guy who can get to the rim and is willing to accept any defensive assignment (Victor Oladipo) and a freshman class that arrived in Bloomington with 12 credit hours of swagger. Two questions: 1. Can a Jordan Hulls-Yogi Ferrell backcourt survive defensively? 2. Even after beating Kentucky, last year’s team was considered to be “a year away.” Now that “next year” is here, how will this group handle the sky-high expectations of its starving fan base?