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Recently in Basketball Category

Mar
28
2010

Balls

kramer.jpgThe Purdue Boilermakers were just dismissed from the NCAA basketball tournament.  This marks the end of the basketball career of Chris Kramer, an Indiana boy from Huntington that was widely regarded as the best perimeter defender in the country.  His heroics in the tournament were well documented, so I won't get into them.  I will say that I appreciate what Chris Kramer is.

Most people love Kramer until their team is playing him.  There isn't a coach in the country that wouldn't want a Chris Kramer on his squad.  Only fans that can't objectively evaluate their opponents fail to appreciate Kramer.  To them, he is a "dirty" player.  That is a weird term.  Often, a player is "dirty" when he does things for his team that nobody for your team is willing to do.  Those things would be play tough defense, dive for loose balls, work hard for steals and hustle into the passing lanes. 

Kramer was never a star, not in any conventional sense.  No, he was some sort of animalistic novelty.  He was something driven by urges, desperate, burning urges of the same kind that makes the nostrils of predators flare with rhythmic repetition.  He was All-State in three sports (basketball, football and baseball) and most observers believed that basketball was his worst sport and yet it is the one he chose to craft.  Whatever drives his play style must certainly be hidden in that decision.  There is some sensation on the court that he absolutely HAS to feel.

In the end, his efforts on the court could only take his team so far.  Not an offensive player by any means, Duke was able to take him out of the game on the defensive end by simply not involving his man in the offense regardless of the player he guarded.  Purdue, being a small tea without Robbie Hummel, was simply too small to deal with Coach K's well chosen pick and roll game in the second half.  He was having a hard time breaking though Purdue's team defense so he limted their ability to play it by compartmentalizing the game, playing something of a two man game.  It was a smart move and one that Purdue coach Matt Painter simply lacked the personnel to deal with. 

When things were going bad for IU basketball at the end of the Kelvin Sampson debacle Jack Cobra and I had several conversations.  During one I commented that the real shame for me had been ebing forced to watch a Player like D.J. White, who had worked and competed so hard for IU, being given a backseat to the Eric Gordon show.  I really liked White, and thought he was the kind of player who had struggled through injuries and still persevered.  He had played different roles and been everything we could ask for.  Many times during the Eric Gordon show, though, he was relegated to a spectator.  At the time, Purdue's young team was just starting to emerge and Jack commented that fans and coaches had choices to make, they could try to build teams from scratch and, at best, develop Elite 8 level programs.  Or they could play the games involving with seeking Gordon-level talent and run the risks involved with it.  If they wanted to with Final Fours, they would have to play that game on some level.  It was his argument, and much of it was in the guise of Devil's Advocate, that teams could not be built from scratch and role players like the '76 IU and still dominate.  They had to have this elite talent and they had to run the risks involved with getting it.  That said he asked me if I would rather support a team who put a program together the right way and only ever made Elite 8s or if I wanted a team that contended for a championship year after year.    

I have never been a good basketball player.  There was a time several years ago, before this blog, before I ever met Jack Cobra, when I spent ten to fourteen hours a week at the HPER on the campus of Indiana University playing basketball.  At this time I was a passable basketball player.  The part of the game I loved the best was playing on the ball D.  I love to play good defense, really pressure the ball and force bad passes and turnovers.  I would then break and make the race to the other end a game of "want to" with the other guy.  I loved playing that style.  I loved creating frustration and anger.  I have truly enjoyed watching Chris Kramer do that to people on such a high level.  It was fun the same way watching a little guy kick the crap out of great big guy in a back alley, broken bottle fight is fun.  No girls allowed.  That kind of game requries balls.      


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Dec
12
2009
Indiana v. Kentucky
Okay, that wasn't the world changing win IU fans were hoping for, but that wasn't the horrific loss it could have been.  IU was in it for 23 minutes, and that was about 22 minutes more than some folks thought...
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Dec
9
2009
Indiana gets big win, Kentucky on the way.
Pitt is not what they were last year, but they are a good program from the Big East who was, untril last night, 7-1 with their only loss to a talented Texas team.  It may be easy to say that...
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Nov
9
2009
Cobra Chronicles: Greatest Halftime Speech Ever
We had lost three in a row and now we were playing our rivals, who we were favored to beat. Our previous two games had been absolute heartbreaking losses.....one to a team we should have beaten where I took an...
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Oct
9
2009
Cobra Chronicles: Drug Testing for Breakfast?
I'm sitting in the cafeteria of some non-descript school in some non-descript state eating a bowl of Fruit Loops before our morning shoot-around when Coach walks in and yells: I WILL DRUG TEST EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU MOTHER...
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Jun
25
2009
Cobra Crackdown: Supermarket Sweep Edition
Remember back in the day when 'Supermarket Sweep' was on TV and people would run all over the grocery store trying to find the most expensive items to fill their carts with so that they would win? Well, the NBA...
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