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COLUMN

IU's Glass on football schedule, basketball titles, more

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For more on college sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio

Hoosiers moving forward on Assembly Hall renovation

Monday, August 25, 2014 - 8:23 am

Go ahead and blame Fred Glass. He is the guy, after all, who made an Indiana football schedule rated among the nation's 30 toughest.

Thanks to Glass, in his sixth year as athletic director, the Hoosiers play at Bowling Green and at Missouri, a pair of bowl teams from last season. They also host North Texas, another bowl team from a year ago.

They do start soft with Saturday's home opener against Indiana State (1-11 last season), but that's the only breather in the Cream 'n Crimson quest to return to bowl relevance.

“You look at how tough our football schedule is and wonder who the hell is our athletic director to schedule that,” Glass says. “In my defense, some teams get set (on the schedule) before they became who they are now.”

Indiana State, a FCS team, will disappear from future non-conference schedules per a Big Ten push to schedule only mid-major or better programs to boost national playoff prospects.

“The Big Ten says no FCS games, so right now we're swearing off FCS games,” Glass says. “We'll try to have some MAC and mid-major schools. We want to have one home and away BCS opponent with a like university -- the Virginias and Wake Forests.

“It's dependent on what the Big Ten decides to do. I expect to have seven home games and schedule appropriately for a team that's on the rise.”

IU's football rise means making a bowl game. Coach Kevin Wilson's first three IU teams went 1-11, 4-8 and 5-7. Everything seems in place to win now.

“I think we're going in a great direction,” Glass says. “There's a good feel around the program. Guys feel bigger, stronger, faster. They're more engaged.

“Kevin has had multiple years to grow into the role as a head coach. He's getting more of his own guys. He's very comfortable with the team.

“We've won more games each year. We've won more conference games each year. We've sent more guys to the NFL each year. We've increased our ranking in recruiting every year. By almost every measure, we're going in the right direction, so I'm looking forward to a great year if that schedule I put together doesn't get in the way.”

Even amidst football optimism, Hoosier basketball remains a hot topic. The Hoosiers are coming off a 4-1 Canada trip. Their heralded six-player freshman class (former Bishop Luers standout James Blackmon tops the list) is strong on shooting and potential, and is set to fuel a rebound from last year's 17-15 major disappointment.

While Glass didn't add to coach Tom Crean's pressure burden, he did mention “championship” to reflect the urgency to return the program to its consistent title winning ways.

“I'm optimistic about basketball. The Canada trip was a great experience for the guys. They did a lot of growing as a unit. They spent a lot of time with each other. They like each other. That's a big deal.

“It's exciting to have all these shooters around. I know there was some frustration that our shooting was limited last year and, how can that be at Indiana?

“This shooting class is one of the best around. James ranked as the sharpshooter, the No. 1 guy nationally. Max (Hoetzel) and Robert (Johnson) can fill it up. It's great for (junior point guard Yogi Ferrell) because he'll have guys who can knock it down.

“Center is a question mark. Hopefully, (junior) Hanner (Perea) will rise to the challenge. Other programs have shown you can have a strong, competitive, national championship level team even without a traditional 5 (center).

“I enjoy listening to Tom break it down and all the things he thinks he can do now that we were a little hampered with last year.

“That was the long answer. The short answer is, I'm very excited about the team, thinking about our backcourt, what we can do on the wings, our spacing and good shooters. I think it will be an exciting year and will be a team fans will want to watch.”

That's the same hope regarding women's basketball, although when it comes to the lack of transparency surrounding coach Curt Miller's surprising July resignation (IU went 21-13 last year and landed a strong freshman class), Glass offers nothing but no comment.

Miller, in a university release, said he left for personal and family health reasons.

A cynic would say, that's not the whole story.

Anyway, new coach Teri Moren has retained associate head coach Curtis Loyd, but not assistants Kevin Eckert and Brandi Poole, hired her former Indiana State assistant Rhet Wierzba and embarked on installing a more defensive-minded system. Players were initially troubled by the system change (as well as the unexpected coaching change), which typically happens during a transition. No player is leaving -- for now. Everybody will likely see how the season goes before deciding to stay or move on.

Finally, the $40 million Assembly Hall renovation plans are full go, with construction set to start next March and wrap up in the fall of 2016.

“We're excited about the way that will look,” Glass says. “(Construction) will go through the (2015-16) season. That will be a little hairy as we continue to play games in a building we're renovating, but in the fall of 2016 we'll be open for business. Kids who were freshmen when we announced the initiative will be seniors playing in the new Simon-Skjodt Assembly Hall.”

There's no blame about that.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Pete DiPrimio at pdiprimio@news-sentinel.com.