Jan. 17, 2014
by Courtney Waldon - @WheresWALDOn12
After a nice, and should I say well deserved, holiday break for us students, we are back in full force invading this side of the Wabash River. I believe I speak for everyone when I say I never want to experience another hellacious snowstorm like the one that swept through what seemed like the entire United States. I could list hundreds of things I'd rather do than step outside in 10 inches of snow and -45 degree weather. I've lived a good life; I shouldn't have to be subjected to those kinds of abysmal conditions.
The B1G season started for the team while the RIP Squad was away for the holidays. I was able to come to the majority of practices over the break because I'm what people around campus call a "townie" (I don't think it's a derogatory term). While it has been a rough start to conference play with losses to Ohio State, Northwestern and Michigan, the ladies have shown some promise with a much needed and impressive win over the Penn State Lady Lions (If anyone can tell me why they're not the Lionesses is that'd be great).
I've been around basketball a long time and I usually have a pretty good idea of how practices are going to be after a loss, not to mention back-to-back losses. I'm not saying I was fearful of what lay ahead after the Northwestern loss, but I was fearful of what was on the horizon at our next practice. I was proven wrong by the coaching staff when practice turned out to be incredibly upbeat, which was understandable considering the next day's game against Penn State would be nationally televised on ESPN.
It is common knowledge that when you play on national television, "look good, play good" matters more than ever. With that said, I'm pretty sure a few of the ladies got their hair done (I notice those type of things, future wife) and had themselves looking proper for the national spotlight against Maggie Lucas and the Lady Lions (I still don't get this).
Whatever they did to prepare for the game worked because they had Penn State's number for most of the game. The game plan that involved keeping Lucas (21 PPG) at bay was as effective as the coaching staff had hoped. Similar to Aaron Craft of Ohio State on the men's side, it seems like Lucas has been at Penn State forever, but this was the last time we'll ever play her on her home floor. Courtney Moses hit nearly everything she threw at the rim, just like she does against the RIP Squad in practice, so it's nice to see someone else get a taste of the medicine we receive every day. Believe me when I say we receive a steady dose of that medicine on a daily basis, we basically have it forced down our throats.
To shift the spotlight a bit, one of the things missing from Sunday's box score is how hard Whitney Bays played. "Whit" seemed to get her hands on every loose ball and rebound, leading to a wealth of second chances and scoring opportunities. She even led the fast break a couple times and threw a 50-foot bounce pass that "Pistol" Pete Maravich, himself would be proud of. Whenever Penn State made a run and had us on the ropes, Bays was there with an answer. It was a monumental win in the Bryce Jordan Center, where no Big Ten opponent had won since 2012. We stumbled on Wednesday against Michigan, but nothing like a matchup against that other school down south to get the momentum back on our side.
The Hoosiers come in with a 14-2 record (1-2 in B1G), riding one of the best seasons in the program's history. Consecutive losses to Ohio State and Wisconsin will have IU looking for a win. Last year's matchup in February ended with a prayer thrown up by IU that was, for some reason, answered. The 62-61 loss in Bloomington didn't sit well with the coaches and players. But we won the B1G tournament less than a month later so the right team won the war.
The team had only a day to prepare due to the rescheduling of the game (initially scheduled for January 6th). It was spent doing the usual pregame routine; running through IU's offensive plays and using the RIP Squad to impersonate their players and how they play. The Hoosier squad is led by Larryn Brooks at 18 PPG. They move the ball well as a team to get open looks from outside and open up the driving lanes for their wing players. As usual, rebounding and making shots will be key for a Boiler win. Good things come when they shoot well and limit offensive rebounds by the opposition.
It's time to make a run in conference play and it begins tonight against our rivals. As Ron Burgundy would say, "Boilermaker fans, ASSEMBLE!" But really, come support the ladies and Boiler Up!