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.

Wednesday, January 10

Look For A.J., Defense

Expect to see A.J. Ratliff tonight when Indiana rumbles with Purdue at Assembly Hall. Yes, the Hoosiers junior guard will have his wrist wrapped to protect it. He has torn ligaments that might require off-season surgery. For now, though, he expects to play the rest of the season.

Ratliff, who missed Sunday's Michigan State game, has been practicing this week. His injury didn't prevent coach Kelvin Sampson from getting on him about his defense and effort.

Sampson, you see, isn't the coddling kind of coach.

"I haven't done anything to pep up his spirits," Sampson said. "It pepped up my spirits when he played harder, though."

It would pep up his spirits more if IU won tonight in what looms as a defensive slugfest. Both teams play aggressive defense, especially on the perimeter. Figure the team that handles that best will win.

Also figure to see the kind of intensity that makes rivalry games so compelling. And now that both programs are good again, it should be just the beginning.


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