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COLUMN: IU basketball shows lack of effort again in first half against Saint Francis



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Senior forward Juwan Morgan scores against Saint Francis University on March 19 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Saint Francis led at halftime 40-34. Anna Tiplick Buy Photos

With 17:45 to play in the second half of the IU basketball team’s first round NIT matchup with Saint Francis University on Tuesday night, a fantasy baseball team named Grand Theft Votto selected Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman in the second round of its 2019 draft.

With 8:00 left to play, it selected Felipe Vasquez, a relief pitcher from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Meanwhile, on the court, senior guard Zach McRoberts fouled or something as the Hoosiers were attempting to stretch their lead into double-digits.

OK, let’s slow down and get something straight real quick. Grand Theft Votto is in fact my own fantasy baseball team. For weeks, the draft had been set for 8 p.m. Tuesday night and not even the announcement that IU would be playing Saint Francis in the NIT was going to keep me from pulling it up on my laptop during the game. 

In hindsight, I’m glad the game and my draft fell on the same night. It gave me a slight diversion from having to pay much attention to the Hoosiers’ eventual 89-72 victory to move on to the second round. 

You know why I needed a diversion? 

Because who cares, that’s why?

Who cares about this game or this tournament for that matter? IU certainly didn’t seem like it did in the first half when it went into the locker rooms down 40-34 at halftime, so why should we? 

I half-wished the Hoosiers wouldn’t have even came out on the court after halftime. If they didn’t want to be there, why subject the paying fans to such poor basketball?

General admission tickets to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall were $20 Tuesday night for nonstudents. IU should’ve charged half that if they knew the Hoosiers were going to show up for only half of the game. 

Sure, IU finally showed up in the second half, outscoring Saint Francis 55-32, manhandling Saint Francis in every aspect of the game. 

Good for the Hoosiers, and I say all of this with the most sarcasm as I possibly can. Good for them for finally waking up and playing the way they should have the entire game. 

I don’t care. None of what happened in the second half matters because IU was still down by six to Saint Francis at halftime.

Let me repeat that. The Indiana Hoosiers were down by six points to the Saint Francis Red Flash at halftime of a basketball game.

Good grief, what a perfect way to encapsulate this collapse of a season. 

That’s why this season, like so many others in recent memory, is going to end of being just another irrelevant one in the history of this program. 

This team shouldn’t even be in this game in the first place and I’m not saying that because I think it should have heard its name called on Selection Sunday. They didn’t deserve that in the least. If I have to hear about Quadrant 1 wins one more time, I think my brain is going to malfunction.

This season has been heading toward that all along because this team is better than this. They’re better than the team that showed up on Tuesday, wallowing in the first round of the NIT.

This team has senior forward Juwan Morgan. This team had, emphasis on the “had,” freshman guard Romeo Langford. 

Yet here we are, talking about the Hoosiers’ having to put together a nice performance in the second half to beat Saint Francis. Here we are talking about how they just keep failing to live up to expectations because of a lack of energy and effort.

After the game, Saint Francis Coach Rob Krimmel talked about how honored his team was to play in a place like Assembly Hall and how they were just happy to be playing this late into the year when there wasn’t snow on the ground back home in Pennsylvania. 

Meanwhile IU Coach Archie Miller had to once again address his team’s lackadaisical first-half effort. 

Nothing has changed. Nothing, not even a postseason tournament, even if it is the NIT, will help it change.

As the game ended, I was still drafting and took San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey in the 15th round. What a steal.

As Miller’s press conference began, my Wi-Fi glitched up and forced me to autoselect Oakland A’s outfielder Stephen Piscotty in the 16th round. I guess it could’ve been worse.

I hope all my picks were pretty good. I need to prove myself as the new guy in this league.

Either way, what a great night for a fantasy baseball draft.

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