NASCAR is finished for the season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a fast lap around the sports world.
Before the season, I wrote that the Indianapolis Colts would be hard-pressed to improve much more than a couple of games or so from last season. So far, it looks like I was dead wrong. As the NFL season heads into the homestretch, the Colts are playoff contenders even if they do still have to play Houston twice.
The thing that has taken me by surprise is the development of Colts wide receivers Donnie Avery (44 catches, 584 yards) and T.Y. Hilton (33, 488). I really thought teams would be able to double-team Reggie Wayne as the only legitimate threat. All Wayne has done is catch 84 passes for 1,105 yards. I didn’t see that one coming.
Avery was coming off a knee injury when he caught just three balls for Tennessee. However, he had 100 catches for the Rams the previous two seasons in 2008 and 2009, so the Colts’ gamble on him paid off. He definitely looks like the Comeback Player of the Year.
Hilton is a rookie whose speed has stretched the field and caught the attention of the defense. Throw in the work of tight ends Dwayne Allen (34, 385) and Coby Fleener (21, 222), and the balance of the Colts’ passing game has been impressive.
I still think the Colts will have a tough time making the playoffs, but they seem to be headed in a great direction.
When you try to analyze things, you win some and lose some. I missed on the Colts, but I had the Indiana football team dead on. I had written before the season that the team needed to win all of its nonconference games to take a forward step, and the Hoosiers (4-8) went 2-2 in those games. Losses to Navy (31-30) and Ball State (41-39) kept the Hoosiers out of a bowl game and a much-needed extra month of practice.
It appears that Indiana will continue to stick with head coach Kevin Wilson, whose 2012 season was a flop. Certainly, if you believe in giving a head coach adequate time to build a program, then keeping Wilson is the right choice.
But nobody should be talking about progress. Indiana had zero quality wins. Zippity-do-dah.
Throw out the win against Indiana State, which is a lower division team, and Indiana’s three victories were against teams that were a combined 7-29. Please don’t talk to me about progress.
I know some fans would argue that Indiana was competitive against some pretty good teams. But they have a word to describe teams that come close but lose all the time.
I understand patience, but there should be some pressure applied to the coaching staff for the 2013 season. Have a shot at a bowl game going into the final game of the year ... or else. This means that when the administration sets you up to win your nonconference games, don’t whiff.
While the football team continues to struggle, they know their basketball in Bloomington. Tonight, all the eyes of the college basketball world will be upon the North Carolina at Indiana game.
I am sure that some fans are skeptical that Indiana is, indeed, for real. An overtime win against unranked Georgetown in New York was impressive, but not the kind of signature victory that would stamp the Hoosiers as the true No. 1 team in the land.
A victory tonight against the Tar Heels, or even a terrific game, would prove that the Hoosiers deserve such a lofty ranking.
It should be a complete joy to watch.
If you enjoy quality basketball of the high school variety, then the Columbus North boys team should be a can’t-miss opportunity this season. With the smallest starter on the floor being 6-2, I thought the Bull Dogs would play a half-court game when they opened the season Saturday at Hauser. Instead, North pushed the pace whenever possible and showed it could get up and down the floor with ease.
I don’t know if Bull Dogs’ 6-7 sophomore Josh Speidel is a big fan of the Clippers’ Blake Griffin, but he does seem to have that intense style as he attacks the basket and tries to dunk on his opponent’s head.
It should be interesting to watch coach Jason Speer blend his talented roster, which has nine players 6-4 or taller, into a team that could make a deep run in the tournament.
Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 379-5632.