Wrapping up the week in Indianapolis Sports…
Last week at funcityfinder.com we reported on Danica Patrick’s signing of a new deal with Andretti Autosports to remain in the IndyCar season for at least two more years, with an option for a third. As expected, this past week she announced a deal with JR Motorsports to begin her career in NASCAR. Her first experience in stocks cars will come next week as she tests at Daytona International Speedway with the ARCA/ReMax Series. It’s anticipated that here full schedule could include as many as 30 events, with 17 in the Izod IndyCar Series, as well as races in NASCAR feeding programs the Nationwide Series and the ARCA Series. Her debut race will come on February 6 at Daytona, but she won’t compete in a Sprint Cup car until next season.
Most of her stock car races will come either before mid-March, or after early October, the length of the IndyCar season. Michael Andretti, team owner of Andretti Autosports, said there would only be a few races during the season, and that Patrick will have no races in May to allow her to concentrate solely on the Indianapolis 500. She’ll be trying to find success in a series that hasn’t been very kind to former open-wheel racers. Aside from Tony Stewart, who won the IndyCar championships in 1997 and 1998, only 2000 Indy champ Juan Pablo Montoya has won a Sprint Cup race in the recent era. Said Andretti about her transition from the rear-engine open-wheel cars to the much heavier, front-engine stock cars: “It’s going to be tough, and she’s going to have to be patient, for sure.”
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
The Major League Baseball Winter Meetings were in Indianapolis over four days last week. The Indiana Convention Center was the primary site for the meetings, but Lucas Oil Stadium and several downtown Indianapolis hotels were prominent settings for the movers and shakers in baseball to conduct their business. Although the meetings were considered relatively uneventful, and the Indiana weather didn’t exactly cooperate (temperatures hovered in the low 20s and were accompanied by a driving wind and intermittent precipitation), but the event — brought to the Circle City by Indianapolis Indians president Max Schumacher — was a success nonetheless.
Some of the bigger moves to happen in downtown Indy this past week:
-The Cardinals signing Brad Penny for $7.5 million, the same figure the Rangers gave to former Cubs pitcher Rich Harden.
-Baltimore acquired veteran starting pitcher Kevin Millwood, who won 13 games with 3.67 ERA last season in Texas, to mentor their talented young staff.
-The Yankees struck it big by re-signing pitcher Andy Petite to a one-year deal worth $11.75 million, and by procuring center fielder Curtis Granderson from the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers received Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the deal, with the Diamondbacks getting back Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy.
INDIANA COLLEGES: BASKETBALL
Butler‘s week got off to a rough start when they fell to the 15th ranked Georgetown Hoyas 72-65 in the Jimmy V Classis at Madison Square Garden. Both Indianapolis media outlets and national ones were beginning to question the Bulldogs lofty preseason ranking, but a return to the friendly confines of Hinkle Fieldhouse quieted that talk. Brad Stevens‘ squad took on the #13 Ohio State Buckeyes in front of a capacity crowd on Saturday afternoon, and they didn’t disappoint, beating the Buckeyes 74-66. After scoring 24 points and hauling in 8 rebounds against the Hoyas, Brownsburg‘s Gordan Hayward duplicated that performance with 24 and 8 against Ohio State. He leads the Bulldogs, who are back in action next Saturday against Xavier, with 16.9 points and 8.2 rebounds on the season.
Indiana University got a very productive and encouraging week of play from its men’s basketball team. Participating in the Jimmy V Classic against Pittsburgh, IU notched their biggest victory of the Tom Crean era, holding off the Panthers for a 10 point win. The inexperienced Hoosiers hoped to carry that momentum into their rivalry game against the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday, and for the first half of basketball, they did just that. With a fanatical Assembly Hall crowd behind them, Indiana trailed by just one at halftime against the heavily favored Wildcats. When Jeremiah Rivers hit a driving layup with 17 minutes to play in the game, the Hoosiers actually held a 48-47 lead, but that was the high point of the game. Kentucky promptly used an 18-0 run to put the game out of reach for good. IU takes on North Carolina Central next Saturday in Bloomington.
Matt Painter‘s Purdue Boilermakers easily defeated Valparaiso University by 24 points Wednesday night in West Lafayette, and then traveled to Alabama for its first road game on an opponent’s home court. Whether it was because of a ramped up Alabama crowd — Bama running back Mark Ingram was announced as the Heisman Trophy winner moments before tip-off — or just a case of Purdue not being fully prepared for the Crimson Tide’s full-court press, the undefeated Boilers were completely outplayed through the first 30 minutes of the contest.
Trailing by 9 at the half, Purdue found itself down by as much as 16 early in the second period, but then its veteran players, spearheaded by Valparaiso‘s Robbie Hummel and Huntington native Chris Kramer, helped lead an impressive comeback. Alabama hit just three field goals over the final 14 minutes of the game, and the Boilers got enough offense to put the Tide away 73-68. Purdue hosts Ball State University on Saturday.
After a tough loss in South Bend to the Notre Dame Fightin Irish on Wednesday, IUPUI responded by crushing Indiana South Bend 92-56 at The Jungle over the weekend. The Jaguars continue to be led on the offensive end by stat stuffing forward Robert Glenn and Ben Davis grad Alex Young, with point guard John Ashworth dishing out 5.5 assists per game. IUPUI hosts Duquense at 7:00 next Saturday.
Perhaps responding to my recent Indiana Pacers recap (a guy can dream can’t he?) that called for the team to keep losing in order to better their draft status, the Pacers won back-to-back games over the weekend. Treating the Conseco Fieldhouse crowd to a 107-91 victory against the New Jersey Nets on Friday, Jim O’Brien took his team to Washington, where they pulled off a miraculous one-point win in the final seconds of the game. Trailing by a single point with five-tenths of a second left to play, the ball was lobbed in to Mike Dunleavy, who went up and was fouled in the process of shooting. He calmly sank both free throws with but one-tenth of a second remaining, handing the Pacers their first back-to-back wins in a month. They play four games this week, although only one, Wednesday at Charlotte, will be at home in front of the Indianapolis basketball fans.