Much has been made of the potential impact of Thomas Bryant to the 2015-2016 Hoosiers basketball team, and a real inside presence, something we’ve been missing since Noah Vonleh left, coupled with stretch-the-floor outside shooting, something we haven’t had since 2013, could very well be transformational. But the additions of three freshman and a senior transfer are not the key to this season. And neither are the departures of players who had gotten into more trouble than any of us is happy with.
No. The key to the season is the improvement of our returning players.
Can anyone learn to guard anyone?
Can Troy continue to grow in his decision-making, jump shooting, and all around calming the hell down?
Can Yogi become the leader on and off the court this team needs him to be?
Are we about six games from going, “Holy Hell! Colin Hartman is AWESOME! Did we know he was awesome? How did we not know he was AWESOME?!?!”
It’s always about the growth and improvement of the returning players. And this year is no different.
Before we get into the specific improvement and changes I saw in the game against Ottawa, I want to take just a minute to talk about John Cena.
John Cena is the face of WWE, and the 15 Time WWE World Champion. He’s been the consistent biggest draw in the business for almost 14 years. He’s gone from wildly popular, to wildly hated, and now he exists somewhere in the middle. Extremely respected, loved by many, hated by just as many.
The standard cheer in WWE arenas for Cena is one half of the crowd chanting, “LET’S GO CENA!” to which the other half responds, “CENA SUCKS!”
Cena has been on top for so long, has been the biggest face in the company for so long, that it could be very easy to get bored with him. But he doesn’t let that happen.
While he’s never done the heel turn that so many fans would love to see, a la Hulk Hogan going Hollywood and joining the New World Order, Brother, he’s still altered his persona and move set enough to stay interesting, entertaining, and on top.
Cena has long had a stable of moves he goes to throughout a match.
He’ll employ a running bulldog.
He’ll hit his opponents with a flying shoulder block.
And he’ll go to his set of finishing moves, the Attitude Adjuster, the STFU, and the Five Knuckle Shuffle.
But he’s not been content to just use those moves. He’s added things over time.
For example, last year, he seemed determined to pick up the metal stairs and throw them at everyone he ever faced.
Contrast that with Hogan, who basically had the body slam, suplex, Hullk Up Finger point and punches, the big boot and the leg drop. That’s pretty much it. He never changed it. Even as Hollywood, he did the same moves.
Back to Cena. This year he added the Springboard Stunner to his repertoire. It looks like this.
It’s not my favorite thing, but it certainly shows off a level of athleticism and bounce that isn’t really his corner.
When he first pulled his off, I actually said out loud to no one at all, “Well, that’s something new.”
And that’s what I was looking for out of the Ottawa game. A few moments from James, Troy, Rob, Colin, and Yogi where I said, “Well, that’s something new.”
And while our defense we a marked improvement over what we saw most of last year, I didn’t really see anything that stood out to me, until this happened.
Yogi added the SPRINGBOARD STUNNER to his game!
Now, it was botched, no doubt about that. He was either trying to get James or Max and missed them both, but his approach was fantastic, that jump looked amazing. He just failed to stick the landing. But I LOVE the creativity. And you can’t fault the kid for recognizing that he needed to up his game if he wants to make it to the next level and taking his shot.
So, while Yogi might have been trying to give us his best, YOU CAN’T SEE ME! I saw him.
Yogi, I saw you very well.