Numbers make the sports world go round. See if these add up.
Sure, the Pacers’ 8-0 start going into tonight’s game against visiting Milwaukee is impressive, but the especially eye-popping number is their defensive efficiency. Indiana allows just 88.9 points per 100 possessions, by far the best number in the league. (Chicago is second at 94.2.)
Over time, that is the number that may prove most important. No one expects an 82-0 season, and offensive woes are sure to appear at times, but defensive consistency will carry this team.
The number of losses by Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference teams to other schools in the Class 6A state tournament. As perhaps best evidenced by Center Grove’s systematic dismantling of undefeated Southport and Carmel’s triumph against Carroll at last Friday’s regionals, the MIC simply is in a different class.
It is not a matter of size and talent as much as it is tradition and coaching. There is a de facto Class 7A in high school football.
Looks can be deceiving for a high-scoring IU football team, averaging more than 43 points a game. Putting the ball in the end zone is not a problem, and the Hoosiers get better as the game goes on, scoring seven more times in the fourth quarter than opponents.
Defense has been another story, though. Unless 4-5 IU upsets Wisconsin or Ohio State on the road and holds serve against Purdue, one of college football’s more entertaining teams will miss a bowl for the sixth consecutive season.
$5,000 — That is the beer tab that University of Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz was expected to rack up last night as the No. 5 Cardinals hosted No. 14 LSU. Walz offered to buy the first 2,500 beers for fans of legal drinking age who showed up for the game at the off-campus KFC Yum! Center.
I am calling for an NCAA investigation. No, I don’t care about legal drinking at a college event. The real issue is how did the coach ever get a $2 beer at a major sporting event?
2.8 — Trent Richardson has officially progressed from question mark to disappointment to bust. The Colts’ running back acquisition from Cleveland has been miserable in filling the feature back role vacated by the injured Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw.
The 2.8 yards-per-carry average is bad enough, but a measly 27 rushing yards a game is a sign that Indy’s offense is woefully grounded.
14.6 — That is the gram total of suspected marijuana found inside the car of Chiefs wideout Dwayne Bowe after he was stopped for speeding last weekend. Despite the resulting charges, Bowe will play Sunday as undefeated Kansas City takes on Denver. Any NFL punishment will be handed down after the criminal process runs its course (e.g., in the offseason) under the league’s collective-bargaining agreement.
The case shines a light on the inadequacy of the NFL’s drug-testing policies. Despite a “strong odor of marijuana,” according to the police report, Bowe was not subsequently tested by the NFL under its “random” policy.
23 — IU basketball’s consecutive game winning streak in November is second in the nation (Syracuse is at 33), but that last one was a struggle. The Hoosiers looked lost and disorganized against LIU-Brooklyn before eking out a 1-point win. IU won because it had better individuals on the floor but was far from being the better team. Chemistry, rhythm, mojo, call it what you want, it all was missing.
Freshman Noah Vonleh (17 points, 11 rebounds) was a bright spot. Samford visits Assembly Hall today (7 p.m.).
40-0 — Some enterprising Kentucky basketball fan made a quick buck selling fans on the idea that the Wildcats will run the table, including the SEC and NCAA tourneys, to finish at 40-0. A load of big blue T-shirts went out the door declaring the same.
After a loss to Michigan State in the third game of the season, there is a chance IU fans may be able to pick one up at the local thrift store in time for the holidays.
Bob Johnson is a correspondent for the Daily Journal. His columns appear Tuesdays and Fridays. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.