I’m back, and now I really do have heart

When I was playing soccer (humor me) at the University of South Carolina in the 1970s, my redeeming quality was an overabundance of perseverance. I managed to score an occasional goal and make a nuisance of myself, mostly to opponents.
At least that’s the way I remember it.

Flash forward to last October when I discovered just how amazing my college soccer career had been. I started having episodes of angina in the summer, which became progressively worse. The one that got my attention, and told me I was more than just a little out of shape, came on Sept. 27 while I was walking from the back of the parking lot at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington for the Maryland-Indiana football game. Married to a nurse, that proved to be the last warning shot.

I mentioned it during my physical a week later and a murmur was detected by nurse practitioner Kelly Traylor. That set off the chain reaction of an echocardiogram, a heart catheterization and then open-heart surgery.

Not only did I need two bypasses, but I learned at the age of 60 that I had a bicuspid aortic valve. In other words, my valve only had two flaps to manage the blood flow instead of the normal three.

Before having to be replaced by pig tissue, those two overworked valve flaps had done quite well in allowing me to play and coach soccer for more than half my life. And I know I wasn’t exactly easy on them, either.

I was given a choice of booking surgery within days of my cath or putting it off for a couple of weeks. Because I had planned to attend a reunion of my teammates that weekend, I was tempted to put it off.

But Dr. Lee Wagmeister has a way of bringing his patients back to reality. He said it was my choice, but “you could have a heart attack and end up getting surgery in South Carolina.”

I skipped the reunion and had my chest split open on Oct. 27 – exactly a month after I finally suspected something wasn’t right.

I’m forever indebted to Dr. Wagmeister, Dr. Scott Starrett and the nursing and rehab staffs of The Heart Hospital at Deaconess Gateway. And yes, I had the loving support of family, friends and former teammates.

I received encouragement from about a dozen former teammates, but there was one in particular that took me back in time and had me slipping on a Carolina soccer T-shirt the morning of my surgery.

It came a few weeks before my surgery from another “doctor.” Bob “Dr. Dirt” Heath was the no-nonsense captain my first two years with the Gamecocks.

“You know the thing that ALWAYS impressed me about you was that you NEVER gave up.”

Anyone who saw me play might question that characterization, but it was nice of Bob to say it. It motivated me going into surgery and again entering cardiac rehab, and now I’m within 15 to 20 pounds of reaching my college playing weight again.

I’m going to get there. I’m not giving up now.

They said it: IU’s Wilson, players after 31-27 upset of No. 18 Missouri

Opening Statement:

“Guys played hard. We made good plays at the end. Good win, Good team. Our team’s got a lot to grow and gain on it. It’s nice to finally play hard and get on the right side.”

On if he changed the game plan with Markus Golden out…
“No, I mean it made it easier, he’s a great player. We didn’t really change because they have more good linemen than him. The second team guys always come in (and play hard) so we just tried to be aggressive and attack.”

Can you talk about Tevin Coleman and what happened after you got him back to the locker room…
“He cramped up. We got a couple IV’s in him. This game was probably the most humid we’ve had for the year. Our guys have to eat right because those things build up, but our trainers did a great job. They IV-ed him up. Great job by our trainers. A lot of our guys were going down. Those weren’t faking deals. I mean at the end, I got a little ancy and we needed to go fast. We have to do a better job with our nutrition.”

Final drive and your timeout…
“It was huge as a matter of fact. I did not like the look and called a timeout. I didn’t like the look on the bench from our guys not playing. You could tell who had been sitting around waiting and watching. We told them at halftime, we couldn’t win and we couldn’t lose. All we could do was play and that’s all we wanted to do. Dig deep and play as hard as you can. We kept fighting at the end. We played hard enough to be on the right side by one play.”

Put into perspective of how this win feels…
“It was an awesome feeling , we were working hard for so long, all fall camp we were working hard, it was just like `Wow this is an amazing feeling.’ Of course I can’t take the credit because it takes 10 other guys , I can’t throw the ball to myself. I like to come in an tone everything down. I don’t like to get to hyped, honestly. It’s a result of hard work. We have been busting our butts during the summer. It’s a great stepping stone, but of course we have a lot more games to go.”

On what happened in that last play…
“My coaches told me to roll with velocity and get in the end zone, so that’s what I did. We are all running backs, we all practice the same, we all have hard practice habits, so when Tevin caught cramps, and I had to come in for a little while, I had to step up.”

On what it means for Indiana to beat a Top 20 team…
“To us, we just came out to play hard and make up for the errors we made last week. Right now, we have another opponent and that’s what we are worried about.”

On whether or not he was thinking he would need to go up in the air to score the winning touchdown…
“To be honest, I was prepared to run somebody over, because I noticed a lot of people were on the ground, so that point in time I figured I might as well jump, because I have a forty inch vertical, why not use it.”

On why he prefers to run down the middle opposed to the outside…
“I consider myself more of a downhill runner , so I really don’t prefer to run outside, but as far as running downhill, I can see holes that I know I can make tackles out of.”

On the feelings that come with beating Mizzou…
“From our standpoint, it’s not a surprise that we won, but it was a big upset in reality. I think we’re very excited to know we could do that.”

This week in Big Ten football

Clearing my mind and notebook heading into another weekend of college football in the Big Ten:

Indiana coach Kevin Wilson was disappointed in the body language he saw on the sidelines of last Saturday’s back-and-forth game with Bowling Green that the Falcons won 45-42 with a touchdown in the final seconds.

He recalled that back in his college days at N.C. State when he was a walk-on lineman, and despite filling in admirably when the starting center was hurt in a game against Wake Forest, it wasn’t good enough to win him the job. The coaching staff moved a defensive tackle to center the next day because they didn’t think Wilson could do the job in a few weeks when the Wolfpack played Clemson and William Perry.

“I loved my role. That was my role. I would take my role today,” said Wilson. “That’s what we’re talking to our guys about. Embrace your role, understand your role, because what we need for this thing to really take off …”

One reason it apparently hasn’t taken off in his mind is some players being too focused on how many snaps they are or are not getting compared to teammates.

“I thought we were just a little sulky. We didn’t need that right right,” said Wilson. “We need our mind on our job, what we could control.”

— Indiana running back Tevin Coleman enters Saturday’s game at No. 18 Missouri leading the nation in all-purpose yards (237.5) and rushing yards per game (218.5). The Hoosiers have the nation’s third-best rushing attack with an average of 345.0 yards per contest.

— Coleman has set an IU record over a three-game span with 652 yards. He has scored a rushing touchdown for the Hoosiers in 11 straight games. If he does it again Saturday, he will tie Anthony Thompson for the school record of 12.

— Ohio State freshman quarterback J.T. Barre became the 13th QB in Big Ten history to pass for six touchdowns in a game in last week’s 66-0 blowout of Kent State.

— Encouraging sign? Indiana is 6-3-2 all-time against Missouri, including a 2-1-2 record in Columbia.

— Another encouraging sign? Since 1997, Purdue is 5-0 in games when facing a non-conference opponent after playing Notre Dame.

Next challenge for Boilermakers is unbeaten SIU

Purdue coach Darrell Hazell believes his Boilermakers finally showed some competitive desire in last Saturday’s 30-14 loss to rival Notre Dame – a contest that will be the last against the Irish until 2020.
Never mind it was only for a half. Purdue led 14-10 until Everett Golson broke loose for a go-ahead touchdown run in the final seconds of the second quarter. Still, the Irish had trouble putting the Boilers away. It was a 24-14 difference heading into the fourth quarter.
“That’s one of the things I mentioned to them right after the game. The energy, effort, the intensity, the volume you played with,” Hazell said of what he told his players. “All those things, you got to play that way each and every week. Doesn’t matter who you’re playing.
“That’s showing respect for the game. Whether you’re playing Notre Dame or Southern Illinois, doesn’t matter, you have to play with a high intensity level.”
Purdue is back home to face unbeaten SIU (3-0) on Saturday and needs to even its record to 2-2
SIU quarterback Mark Iannotti was named the College Football Performance Awards’ FCS National Quarterback of the week after he threw a school-record six touchdown passes in a 50-23 win over Southeast Missouri. He completed 15 of 21 passes for 225 yards.
“They definitely try to get it out of their hands quickly, throw the bubble, throw the quick hitches to the outside. They throw a lot of screens,” said Hazell. “I think their game plan is probably going to not have him drop back too much, probably roll out on the edge and try to put pressure on us that way.”

Indiana coach Kevin Wilson tries to find positives in defense

Kevin Wilson said that he and his Indiana football coaching staff decided not to name anyone the defensive player of the game after last Saturday’s loss to Bowling Green.
Novel idea, right? Actually, I’m inclined to wonder how the IU coaching staff ever reaches a consensus on a top defensive player from any game.
That might be harsh, but seriously, the Hoosiers haven’t played solid defense this century. OK, decade and a half. At least not against a respectable opponent.
They were among the worst teams in the nation on defense a year ago, and this season isn’t off to a very promising start after last Saturday’s 45-42 loss to Bowling Green that featured a pair of pass interference penalties in the final minute.
And this, after Wilson for the second straight preseason, promised IU fans that the Hoosiers would be much improved on defense.
Wilson did finally toss some praise on Monday to Nick Mangieri, who at least had one takeaway with an interception.
“Offensively, we didn’t take advantage of that pick. Played well. Some good pressure. Relentless. Tegray Scales, young linebacker, we thought played very well as a young guy, and Mark Murphy in the backend. We thought we had three guys on defense play like we needed to and five on ‘O.’ ”
He at least admitted that Bowling Green took advantage of IU’s porous defense.
“We got worked. A little too passive. We need to be more aggressive as coaches and players. We said that before, during and after the game.
“We need to see it instead of talk about it. Like our guys, like the way we do some things, but we need to see it in games. No one cares if you practice well. I’ve seen it consistently, and our players will tell you consistently in practice against a pretty solid offense, they’ve done very well.”

Indiana’s Wilson likes where the Hoosiers are headed

Knowing his Indiana football team wouldn’t be playing the second Saturday of the season, Kevin Wilson all but treated last week’s game against Indiana State — a 28-10 wub — as an exhibition.
“We wanted to take last week’s game as part of building in a positive way, knowing we were going to get a good test from Indiana State,” said Wilson, whose team has a bye week before playing at Bowling Green on Sept. 13.
The IU coach said having an early bye week allowed his staff to conduct more physically demanding practices the week before the Hoosiers’ 28-10 win over the Sycamores.
The fact that Indiana piled up nearly 500 rushing yards while quarterback Nate Sudfeld only passed for 111 yards wasn’t by design, though. It was more a case of taking what the ISU defense was giving while dropping eight players back into pass coverage.
That played into what Wilson believes will be a strength of this year’s squad – the offensive line.
“Our entire line is back from last season, plus two guys who missed all of last season who were slated as starters, so we’ve got some depth there,” said Wilson.
Still, Sudfeld scrambled too often (10 TIMES FOR 32 YARDS) when a little more patience in the pocket might have led to bigger passing plays. Wilson said some of Sudfeld’s moments of happy feet were justified — the blocking wasn’t always on point.
But Wilson does expect this year’s crop of offensive linemen to be the best he’s had in Bloomington.
“Our entire line is back from last season, plus two guys who missed all of last season who were slated as starters, so we’ve got some depth at line. I believe we have some quality players and some depth there.
I just think with Nate, the coverage was a little softer. We were able to match up with their size and use it as an advantage.
“As the game went along, I really think Nate played reasonably solid. I don’t think we put him in some good situations with some of our concepts. There were a couple of young receivers … The way we game-planned, they took away (some things) … They played soft. We could have done a better job with the underneath passing and putting Nate in better situations.
The running game was OK, but we’ve got a lot of work to do …. We didn’t block as clean as we need to. A lot of growth there. But I believe we will get the passing game tuned up. We always do. It’s nice that we are playing what appears to be good solid D and its nice that it appears we are going to run it a little (better). That makes us a little bit more of a complete team.
“Instead of being a team that relies on just scoring and throwing the ball. We can be a little bit better more rounded football team and try to win games more as a team rather than one side trying to outdo the other by putting points up.”

He said it: Purdue coach Darrell Hazell

Coming off last week’s 43-34 win over Western Michigan and preparing for Saturday’s game against Central Michigan, Purdue football coach Darrell Hazell breaks down the Boilermakers:

Q. Is there any area that you feel comfortable with right now?
I think comfortable in — we’re comfortable in what we’re doing running game wise. We haven’t added a whole lot of things. We’re running the same plays with different formations, and I think our kids, because of that, feel very relaxed and understand when we make a call that they can block different looks because we’re not doing so many different things.

Q. If you could break down Central Michigan’s offense for us real quick. Seems like they’re a pretty power-running game oriented group, kind of a Michigan State mold with their associations back to that program. Is that sort of what you expect to see?
Very good assessment of their whole football team really. They try to pattern themselves after Michigan State, offensively, defensively and special teams. It’s almost — you know, you watch the film and you see the same structures.
But yeah, they are a power-running football team, and if you watch last week’s game film, they really relied heavily in the second half on that running back from Michigan. Really was running power after power and tossed to him, and he did a nice job, has good balance. He’s strong and plays with a lot of emotion.

Q. They’re obviously going to be pretty physical in the run game. Where is your team right now in terms of being able to stack up to that sort of attack?
I think we did a good job of holding the point last week. I think we gotta do a better job of filling those gaps with the backers and being able to make that one-on-one tackle in the hole. That’s where we got hurt a little bit. But obviously we’re going to put our corners a little bit out there on an island and see how many guys we can get in the box and be able to stop the run.

Q. Basic question, just where does Danny Etling need to take the next step from week one to week two?
I thought he did a good job. If you ask any coach in the country if your quarterback throws for two, rushes for one, doesn’t turn it over and doesn’t take any sacks, how would you feel about the guy? I’d say we’d feel pretty good if he could do that for 12-plus games a year.
Obviously there was some passes I thought he left some yardage on the table. We missed probably five passes that probably should have been more accurate. But he understands that. He understands that, and he knows he needs to get better at that. But those other stats, not throwing any receptions, not taking sacks, that’s pretty good. That’ll win football games.

They said it: Indiana player Will Sheehey, Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams after 70-60 loss to Nebraska

Q: I think you tied the game with 10:08 left and the shots went kind of cold. What wasn’t working offensively there the last ten minutes of the second half?
Yeah, we just couldn’t get our mojo. We just got quiet and shots weren’t falling. That’s just a part of the game. That’s all I’m going to say.
Williams: The most we can do now is look on it tomorrow. It’s a new day tomorrow. Get right back at it.

Q. Offensively, what were you guys trying to do against the zone?
What we wanted to do is get into the middle. That’s my guy over here, Will. That’s basically what we wanted to do. And drive as well. We just didn’t finish a couple of layups here and there. That’s pretty much what we were trying to do.

Q. Will, going into the Michigan game and then the Big Ten Tournament, what are you going to tell the team?
We got to make sure we just go down swinging. This might have been my last home game, but it’s not my last game. We have numerous practices, numerous games left. Just because we lost one game doesn’t mean we’re not going to play the next game as hard as we possibly can. We’ve got to come out and play like we know we can, defensively and offensively. We still have a shot at this thing.

Q. Will, what happened against the last two nationally ranked teams you guys played that didn’t happen tonight?
I think it was just both offensively and defensively, we just didn’t play with the same swagger and edge that we usually do. I think defensively, we made some mistakes, including myself, and offensively the ball just didn’t move. We didn’t get too many transition points because getting stops on the defensive end became tough.

He said it: Tom Crean after 70-60 home loss to Nebraska

Indiana coachTom Crean’s opening comments:
Bottom line is we did not shoot well enough tonight. When we moved the ball well and kept it moving from side to side, we were really hard to guard. We just didn’t do it enough.
They made some big, tough shots, and we made a couple of mistakes late of leaving (Walter) Pitchford baffles my mind, to be honest with you. (Pitchford made 3 of 4 3-pointers) How we can make a mistake like that in a switch game. Late in the game, once we made the run, we all felt like we were going to be able to get over the hump.
Again, you just can’t have you can’t have defensive mistakes. You can’t have a mistake where you haven’t made them all game and then all of a sudden make one late. It never comes down to one or two things, but they do get magnified.
And this team has got to continue to grow up in the sense of doing what it takes each and every possession. It never means that each and every possession is going to go great, by any stretch, but you can’t make defensive mistakes.
Again, bottom line is we did not shoot the ball well enough, and we never got exactly where we needed to be with getting the ball through the paint. And, again, the shooting numbers speak for themselves (36.7 percent, 23.8 percent from 3). We just didn’t make enough to put us over the hump at any point in time, even though we had a couple of good comebacks.

Q. Has this team left you scratching your head more than any other team you’ve had?
That’s a hypothetical. I don’t look at it that way. So can’t help you with that one. I come in here, and I’m telling you what I see from the game. I haven’t watched the film yet, but I’m not in the reflective mood of the season.
What it is is we’ve got to get past the self inflicted mistakes. They are always going to bother you, and so that’s the kind of stuff that we’ve got to overcome.

Q. With Noah Vonleh out, how important have these last two games been for guys off the bench to step up?
I think really important. I thought Stan Robinson did a good job tonight. We’re asking a lot of young guys. You don’t coach with perspective, but every once in a while, you’ve got to sit back and look at it. I thought Troy did some really good things. He’s gaining confidence all the time.
Stan was on top of it. Devin (Davis) was really good. Bottom line is will it be better for them down the road? Absolutely. We’re not thinking about down the road. We’re thinking about how to win this one, and now we’re thinking about how to get ready for Michigan.

Q. Do you think Yogi Ferrell was forcing shots?
I got to watch the film on that. The ball didn’t move the way that it needed to. He’s got to continue to use screens. He’s got to continue when he came off and was in movement and when we’re utilizing the corners the way that we have been, that’s the most important.
Where we struggle is when the ball sits inside of those slots, those elbows. That’s what he’s got to continue to grow out of, in all honesty.
Eventually, when we’re shooting it better, it will be a little bit easier, but today, again, use the movement, use the cutting, and continue to space them out, especially when they didn’t want to space out.
But a couple times, we came in zones, and we missed a couple shots, and we missed the next pass, those type of things. I’ll have to watch the film of that. He’s just got to be in constant movement, and that means, a lot of times, without the ball. So the ball can come back and get him. So he can come back and get the ball.

They said it: Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean and Hoosier players Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey after Wednesday’s 66-65 loss to Penn State

Indiana coach Tom Crean’s opening comments:
Penn State deserves credit. They persevered throughout the game. They never lost their belief in it, and we gave into the pressure of the game a bit. The two things that hurt us throughout the night were turnovers and the ridiculousness of those, but more importantly tonight is the scouting report defense.
It’s the greatest form of toughness. Everybody thinks they understand toughness. Toughness is consistency. It’s consistency of a purpose. The three words, “do your job,” when you can do that consistently, then you’ve got a form of toughness. When you break down and you give in and you make mistakes, this league is good enough to make you pay.
This team was first in attempts, in attempts and percentage, and we were going to try to take away the paint. We were going to try to take away the 3-point line. Same thing we did against Michigan who had much of the same ability. They could get to the basket. They could get to the 3-point line. They could score. We were the same team that did that a week ago and did it with a lot of success. The bottom line is when you don’t stay true to what your job is – if that means I don’t leave my man, I don’t leave my man. That means I force him left, I force him left. If it means I communicate a screen, I communicate a screen. If it means I switch, I switch.
When those break down enough, that’s where we never took their belief away from them in this game because we made too many mistakes along the way that allowed them to stay in it.
The turnovers, there is no excuse. I’d like to say, you know what, if we did this, if we did that. What if we just aired it out and slowed it down? I’m not sure that’s the answer. We need easy baskets, so you have to run some. We just we lost this game defensively by allowing them to stay in it with mistakes and then the pressure of the game got to us a little bit. Couple five second calls and a couple of, I keep going to the word awareness, and that is the nicest word I can use, and that’s what we’ve got to continue to coach, and we’ll get right back at it. As I said to these guys, any night, anybody can beat anybody in this league. We’ve done it, they’ve done it. Anybody can do it.
The only way we’ll be able to get better is to come back and get better. So that’s all we can do. So go ahead.

In terms of the last five minutes, the offense sort of came to a halt. You guys didn’t make a basket.
I haven’t looked at the offense yet. I’m sure you’re right. What is the question? What happened to us?
Yeah, you guys were scoring pretty effectively before then. Definitely high shooting early.
We had a few turnovers in there. I don’t have a great answer on that until I watch the film. But when you’re trying to you’ve got to have more than one or two guys that can get the ball where it needs to be. We missed some shots, a couple of quick ones, but I mean, I’m rambling now. I’ve got to go watch the film. So it obviously wasn’t good enough, but I’ve got to watch it.

Indiana Players Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey:
How devastating is it to lose a game like that?
It’s not very fun to lose a game like that. It all comes down to execution at the end of the game. It just has to get a lot better. We just can’t panic on the court. We’ve just got to stay true to ourselves and execute.

What do you feel happened on the inbounds situation there that led to the turnovers? What happened there?
We panicked. We didn’t stay true to our scouting report.
Was it something that you felt like at any point it snowballed and they gained so much momentum so fast there late?
We just didn’t execute. You have to play each possession like it’s the last possession.

Coach talked about a lack of leadership down at the end of the game. What do you guys feel you could have done better? What do you think that coach was looking for?
You know, I think Coach was looking for when a team goes on a run like Penn State did, guys like myself and Will to get our team riled back up. Because some guys may have down faces just a little bit just because they went on that run. So it’s just on our part to tell these guys we’re not going to lose this game, and I think that’s what he was looking for.

There were three turnovers at the end and 20 in the game. That’s been a problem for this team all season long. Is there an explanation for why it hasn’t been cured?
We’ve just got to get more intelligent on our team, I feel like. It starts, of course, with me and Will; always does. We’re the front-runners for that. We’ve just got to be more intelligent with the ball and how we play the game.