Pete DiPrimio, sports columnist and college beat writer for The News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne, Ind., takes his best shots on the world of Hoosier basketball.

Saturday, December 8

Bassett Won't Play Vs. Kentucky

Yes, more bad news on the Indiana basketball front. Sophomore gurad Armon Bassett will not play against Kentucky today, and if you want to know why, you'll have to wait until coach Kelvin Sampson talks after the game.

IU officials scrambled for cover with latest glitch to hit the program in the wake of A.J. Ratliff's academic suspension and Jordan Crawford's undisclosed disciplinary suspension. Oh, yes, there's that annoying NCAA violation matter that has yet to be resolved.

Add Eric Gordon unlikely to play (he didn't participagte in warmups, although he did dress) and you have a lot of negative for Kentucky's return to Assembly Hall after a long absence.

Will all this affect IU's victory prospects?

We're about to find out.

Wednesday, November 14

Another Sign Gordon is One and Done

For those of you living in fantasy land and believing that IU freshman guard Eric Gordon will return next year, we offer this bit of enlightenment.

While announcing this year’s recruiting class, coach Kelvin Sampson mentioned how well the four new players would blend in with returning players. Here’s what he said:

“When you look at the kids we will have returning – DeAndre Thomas, Eli Holman, Brandon McGee, Jordan Crawford, Armon Bassett and Jamarcus Ellis – and when you add this class to them, we think we have a chance to remain a contender to play at the top of this league and play for a Big Ten championship. That is our goal.”

Yes, Sampson might have forgotten to mention Gordon. In truth, nobody forgets a guy who has a college debut of 33 points plus defensive dominance in an impressive display Monday night against Chattanooga.

Barring an injury or unexpected glitch, Gordon is one and done. He'll enter the NBA draft in the spring. But given the talent Sampson has on campus and the fact a top-15 class is coming, given the fact Gordon just might lead the Hoosiers to a spectacular March, well, that’s a trade-off a lot of people can live with.

So enjoy Gordon while he's here. It won't be for long.

Thursday, October 18

Case Against Indiana

I'm going to address this in an upcoming column, but in regard to what the NCAA will look at in deciding what to do with Indiana, here are the key elements:

First, pattern of behavior. Kelvin Sampson violated the phone call rule at Oklahoma. The same thing happened at Indiana. Granted, it was his assistants who made excessive calls, but he's responsible for them. Plus, he admittedly broke a condition of his Oklahoma-caused sanctions by participating in a three-way call.

Second, atmosphere of compliance. The absolute No. 1 priority had to be following all the rules and sanctions. No exceptions. The NCAA criticized Sampson for fostering an atmosphere of non-compliance at Oklahoma. I'm sure Sampson talked about following the rules. Obviously, he didn't stress it enough.

Third, the possibility of willfully breaking the rules. Coaches are required to log all their phone calls. They are required to sign those logs, thus taking responsibility if there’s a mistake. If you don’t record all the calls, if some go undocumented, that can be regarded as willful. At some schools, that’s reason for termination.

At least one assistant, Rob Senderoff, did that. But don’t blame this all on him. Maybe he was overzealous. Maybe he didn’t know the rules. Or maybe he was trying to please a demanding head coach who didn’t emphasize the rules enough. And certainly the university should have had a system in place to catch this sooner.

This is why IU imposed the sanctions it did. It’s trying to avoid a bigger crackdown by the NCAA. Will it succeed? You'd better believe Hoosier fans hope so.

Monday, October 1

Time To Let Mackey Go

Okay, there’s no way to sugarcoat this. Bud Mackey’s recent arrest in Kentucky on two felony drug charges for trafficking cocaine and for trafficking within 1,000 yards of a school is a big blow for Indiana recruiting.

Forget Mackey’s obvious skills as a player (he was the 2007 Kentucky state basketball tourney MVP after leading Scott County to the state title; he was expected to be a top contender for Mr. Basketball this season). This hurts the perception that the Hoosiers seek quality people as well as quality players.

And it will hurt their ability to land standout recruit Tyler Zeller.

That’s not fair, of course. Coach Kelvin Sampson is committed to having the nation’s top program in all areas -– basketball, academics, high-character people.

And by all accounts, this was a shock. Mackey, who verbally committed to IU a year ago, seemed personable and charming and mature as well as talented.

Maybe this was a good kid who made one bad mistake. Or maybe this is just the first time he got caught. Or, for those who believe in conspiracies, maybe this was a setup. That’s for the courts to decide.

But the Hoosiers can’t be involved with this. Yes, Sampson is big on helping kids who come from tough situations. In fact, that’s one of his strengths. It’s among the reasons why he’s such an outstanding recruiter and coach. His combination of discipline and compassion brings out the best in players.

But the risk here is too great and, in truth, there are too many outstanding players who would come to Indiana and who don’t get in trouble with the law.

Freshman Eric Gordon is an obvious example.

If Mackey is lucky, he’ll avoid career-destroying consequences (the penalties if convicted are five to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000). He’ll get a chance at college opportunity.

But it shouldn’t be at Indiana.

Thursday, September 20

Zeller Set To Visit IU

Unless you’re too caught up in the latest O.J. Simpson soap opera to care, you know Tyler Zeller is coming to Indiana this weekend for an official basketball visit. That’s the same 6-11 Zeller who is considered a top-20 player and who would cap a second straight outstanding class for coach Kelvin Sampson.

Of course the competition is formidable. That’s the price you pay for going after outstanding players. Zeller’s other finalists are Purdue, North Carolina and Notre Dame.

Zeller visited North Carolina last weekend. He’ll visit Notre Dame for its Midnight Madness on Oct. 12, then head to Purdue on Oct. 19. He’s expected to make a final decision by the end of October.

You might think Notre Dame has the edge because older brother Luke goes there and because it has Tyler for its Midnight Madness. In fact, you would be wrong. The edge usually goes to the last school visited.

All indications are that Zeller will wind up a Boilermaker. Coach Matt Painter has recruited him longer and has shown he can land the state’s top talent. However, when it comes to recruiting, nothing is etched in stone. Sampson and his staff have an outstanding recruiting record in the short time they’ve been at IU. And Sampson’s national recruiting reputation has been solid for years.

No matter what happens, Sampson already has locked up a strong class with 6-8 forward Devin Ebanks, 6-4 guard Bud Mackey, 6-3 guard Matt Roth and 6-8 power forward Tom Pritchard. Pritchard committed earlier this week. He passes well and rebounds well and plays rugged inside defense.

Ebanks and Mackey are two of the top prep players in the country. Roth is a good shooter and a good friend of Zeller.

Yes, it’s possible Zeller could fall in love with the Hoosier program and commit this weekend. But don’t count on it.

Monday, September 10

IU Gets Oral Commitment

Indiana got a head start on its recruiting for the Class of 2009 with the oral commitment of 6-7 forward Derek Elston from Tipton High School in Indiana.

Elston is an aggressive rebounder and defender, which should make him a good fit for coach Kelvin Sampson, who emphasizes both aspects in his program.

Elston averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds last year for a 12-10 team. He can’t sign until November of 2008.

Speaking of 2008, Sampson and his staff are still making a big push for 6-11 forward Tyler Zeller of Washington, Ind. Also in the picture are Purdue, North Carolina and Notre Dame. Zeller is expected to make a decision by the November signing period.

Sunday, August 26

Allen To Visit St. Mary's

Contrary to what you might have read on another blog, Ben Allen’s interest in St. Mary’s of California is not a rumor. The former Indiana forward (IU announced he was transferring on Thursday) is set to visit St. Mary’s on Tuesday. If everything goes well, he will receive a scholarship and join Australian national team teammates Carlin Hughes and Lucas Walker, who already play for St. Mary’s. He will have to redshirt a season, but then, he was looking at having to redshirt at IU anyway.

Of course, the visit might not go well and Allen will have to go elsewhere, but at this stage, that doesn’t look likely. Figure he’s California bound.

Saturday, August 25

Academics Cost Ratliff First Semester

The rumors are true. Indiana senior guard A.J. Ratliff will miss the first semester –- nine games in all –- because of academic ineligibility.

Ratliff also had right wrist surgery over the summer (he broke it during a pickup game), but that has healed to the point where he participated in today’s first practice in preparation for next weekend’s trip to the Bahamas. He can work out with the team during this semester, but he can't play in any games.

Coach Kelvin Sampson said that he has stressed to Ratliff the importance of graduating.

"I told him if he graduates from IU, he has a chance to have a productive life," Sampson said. "That's our goal for him. That's his goal."

If Ratliff meets his academic requirements, he’ll be eligible to play starting with the Dec. 15 Western Carolina game. Games missed include Georgia Tech, Southern Illinois and Kentucky.

Ratliff's problems stemmed from the second semester. He passed a pair of summer classes.

Ratliff, a former Indiana Mr. Basketball, has averaged 6.3 points and 2.3 rebounds during his career.

Also, senior forward Lance Stemler is fully recovered from last spring’s ankle surgery. He and D.J. White are co-captains.

Finally, the Hoosiers have added a walk-on. He is sophomore guard Brett Finkelmeier from Carmel. He tried out as a wak-on last year. He didn't make it, but impressed the coaches enough to get an opportunity this season.

Thursday, August 23

It's Official -- Ben Allen Is Transferring

It’s now official. Ben Allen is transferring.

Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson made the announcement this afternoon in a brief university statement:

“We appreciate Ben’s efforts at Indiana and we wish him nothing but the best in the future,” Sampson said.

The 6-11 Allen played in 24 games last season. He averaged 0.8 points and 1.5 rebounds. As a freshman, he played in all 31 games and averaged 3.2 points and 1.7 rebounds.

Allen, a native of Australia, recently returned from playing for the Australian national team in the Universiade Games in Thailand. The Australian team finished 3-3.

Allen is likely to transfer to St. Mary’s in California. If so, he would join Australian teammates Carlin Hughes and Lucas Walker. Both play for St. Mary’s. Allen will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Allen To Transfer?, Part II

Well, it’s good to know that some people are reading my blog, even though I haven’t exactly been Mr. Regular in posting lately.

If you want more insight into the Ben Allen will-he-or-won’t-he-transfer saga, brace yourself because I’m about to reveal more, once I get over the shock -- because somebody left the TV on while I'm writing this -- of hearing Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas” song twisted into some sick, evil rendition to promote Viagra.

Sorry. Sometimes, I get distracted. Back to Ben Allen.

First, if you want etched-in-stone certainty, turn to Tom Brady’s fatherhood status (yes, he and his ex girlfriend, actress Bridget Moynahan, are the proud parents of a boy!). This is Indiana basketball, which means intrigue is everywhere and the only sure thing is that you want to know more.

Allen is set to arrive in Bloomington today (Thursday) where, in all likelihood, he’ll gather his belongings, say his goodbyes and leave by the end of the weekend for a California future that will include more three-pointers and less dunks.

Of course, along the way Allen will talk to his Indiana teammates and coaches, including coach Kelvin Sampson. And by the end of those discussions, it’s possible everybody will agree he will stay.

Just don’t bet the house on it. Sampson prefers his 6-11 guys to be inside factors. Allen's perimeter preference is not a good fit, although he's tried to change his game.

In the meantime, consider all the possibilities of a D.J. White-Eric Gordon inside-outside combination.

Wednesday, August 22

Allen To Transfer?

It looks like Ben Allen has played his last basketball game for Indiana.

All signs point that Allen, a native of Australia, will not return and join the Hoosiers. Instead, he's expected to transfer, perhaps to St. Mary's in California.

Allen, who had spent part of the summer playing for the Australian national team, was set to return to Bloomington later this week. Classes will begin on Monday.

Allen, who has two years of eligibility remaining, seemed headed for a redshirt season considering the depth IU has inside, including seniors D.J. White, Mike White and Lance Stemler, plus newcomers DeAndre Thomas, Brandon McGee and Eli Holman.

Allen averaged less than one point and two rebounds a game last season while adapting to coach Kelvin Sampson's system. The 6-11 Allen was more of a perimeter player. Sampson wanted him to be more of a strong inside presence.

There has been no official IU announcement.

Thursday, June 14

Ratliff In Sling; Gordon-Led All-Stars Win

Don’t look now, but the injury jinx has hit Indiana guard A.J. Ratliff again.

The senior showed up at Edgewood High School Wednesday night with a sling and a cast on his right arm to watch future teammate Eric Gordon in action with the Indiana All-Stars against the state’s junior all-stars.

Gordon later said that Ratliff had surgery for a broken right wrist and is expected to be out eight to nine weeks. There has been no official word from IU officials.

Ratliff, as you might recall, hurt his left wrist last season. He didn’t have surgery on that as team doctors elected for rehabilitation.

Ratliff also battled a broken thumb as a sophomore.

What will his latest injury mean? He should be back by the time the Hoosiers take their exhibition trip to the Bahamas in August, and certainly will be ready for the season. Still, it hinders him from developing his game and strength in the off-season.

Also watching Gordon was incoming freshman center Eli Holman from California. Holman was in Bloomington just visiting because he has yet to qualify academically. He’s hoping to do that by the fall.

Gordon has already enrolled in summer school and will start classes on Friday. He will juggle school work with his basketball obligations as Mr. Basketball for the Indiana All-Stars. They play their Kentucky counterparts on Saturday in Bowling Green, Ky., and on June 23 at Conseco Fieldhouse. They also have a pair of games with the junior all-stars next week –- Tuesday at Purdue and Thursday at New Castle. Gordon scored 23 points Wednesday night, most on free throws, as the senior all-stars won 114-99.

Finally, former North Side standout Eshaunte Jones had four points. He plans to go to Indiana in 2008 after spending next season at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia.

OK, one more finally. Former South Side standout plays on the girls’ Indiana All-Stars. She had for points Wednesday night as the senior all-stars beat the junior all-stars 83-75 at Edgewood.