Local Sports News: December 1, 2023

Indiana University hires new Football Head Coach The following letter was released on Thursday afternoon by Director of Athletics at Indiana university, Scott Dolson:

Dear Friend of IU Athletics,
I am excited to let Hoosier Nation know about our new head football coach – Curt Cignetti!
Curt comes to Bloomington with a highly-impressive list of credentials amassed over 41 seasons in college football. That includes the last 13 seasons as a head coach, where he’s compiled a 119-35 record and never had a losing season. Most recently, he’s spent the last five seasons at James Madison University, where he’s gone 52-9. During his time at JMU he oversaw the program’s transition from the FCS level to the FBS level in 2022. Since that move the Dukes have gone 19-4, including 11-1 this season and they are currently ranked in the nation’s Top 25. 
In addition to his experience as a head coach, Curt has enjoyed success as an assistant coach at some of the nation’s premier programs at the P5 level. He was the quarterbacks coach at N.C. State from 2000-06, where he mentored future NFL star quarterback Philip Rivers. From there he went to Alabama in 2007 as a member of Nick Saban’s original staff. He served as Saban’s recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach from 2007-10, helping the Tide bring in top-five recruiting classes and win the national title in 2009.
Since becoming a head coach, Cignetti’s teams have been explosive offensively and stout defensively. On offense, James Madison has averaged at least 33 points/game in each of his five seasons and have led the conference in scoring four times. He’s had different starting quarterbacks in each of the last three seasons, and that trio has combined to throw for 10,816 yards, 119 touchdowns, and only 18 interceptions. Defensively, this year’s team leads the nation in rush defense and ranks second in sacks.
We had a very talented pool of candidates for the job, and we are extremely excited about the selection of Curt to be the next leader of our program. He is extremely excited to get to work and build Indiana Football into a consistent winner. He’s an energetic and charismatic individual who players will love to play for and passionate fans like yourself will enjoy cheering for beginning next fall!
I appreciate the efforts and support of President Pam Whitten, the IU Board of Trustees led by Chair Quinn Buckner, and Deputy Directors of Athletics Mattie White and Stephen Harper during the search and throughout the process. They all share my belief and commitment to building a successful football program that competes at the highest levels.  
Welcome Curt Cignetti!
It’s a great day for Indiana Football! Go IU!!
Scott Dolson, Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics

#17 Indiana escapes Maine with an eight-point win over the Black Bears
The 17th Ranked Indiana Hoosiers came from behind to beat the Maine Black Bears 67-59 at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland Maine in front of a sold-out crowd of 5,983 Thursday Night. Mackenzie Holmes made a return to her home state playing just 11 miles from her hometown of Gorham in a building that she knows all too well winning Two State titles and State Runner Up along with playing all her HS State Tournament games in that very arena. There was a lot of red and white in the stands and she got a standing ovation from the crowd when she was introduced as the starting lineups were announced.

Holmes scored 22 points on 9-11 shooting and 4-4 from the free throw line along with 7 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal. Holmes has scored 2,026 career points and needs 339 points to pass Tyra Buss for the school’s all-time scoring leader. Sydney Parrish scored 17 points and pulled down 10 rebounds and Sara Scalia added 10 points and 5 rebounds. Indiana finished 25-58 from the field for 43%, 6-19 from three-point range for 36% and 11-15 from the free throw line for 73%. The Hoosiers pulled down 30 rebounds, dished out 21 assists, 5 steals, 4 blocks and committed 10 turnovers.

Maine was led by Anne Simon who scored 34 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Simon scored 25 in the first half and was scoring from all over the floor. The Hoosiers switched who was guarding her in the second half and held her to 9 points. Adrianna Smith who is a double-double machine scored 14 points and added 13 rebounds. Combined the pair scored 48 of the 59 points with the remaining 11 points coming from the other three starters. Maine used 7 players and Indiana used 9 players and the IU Bench only had 4 points with a bucket each from Lexus Bargesser and Lenee Beaumont as Maine did not score a single bench point.

Maine controlled the game for the start as the rims were very tight and both teams struggled to hit their shots. Mackenize Holmes scored the first bucket of the game as it was fitting being in her home state but the Black Bears patient on offense as Simon went to work despite Indiana’s size advantage Maine out rebounded the Hoosiers 32-30. Maine led 16-14 at the end of the first quarter. Maine went zone and collapsed on Holmes every time she touched the ball, and every shot was contested. Holmes was able to score inside and convert at the free throw line and had 15 points at the break as Maine outscored the Hoosiers 21-15 in the second quarter and led 37-29 at the break.

In the second half Sydney Parrish went to work scoring 10 of the Hoosiers 16 points in the third quarter. Indiana was down three 48-45 at the end of the third quarter and outscored the Black Bears 16-11. In the Fourth quarter Indiana came alive outscoring Maine 22-11 in the fourth quarter and 38-22 in the second half. The Hoosiers took the lead with 4:39 left on a Sydney Parrish jumper to go up 56-54. Indiana outscored the Black Bears 11-5 the rest of the way.

Indiana is 6-1 on the season and returns home Sunday afternoon at 2pm to face the Stetson Hatters in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Maine falls to 4-3 on the season but they put everybody on notice in the America East Conference that they hung with a top 25 team for 36 minutes and have a great 1-2 punch in Anne Simon and Adrianna Smith. Indiana leads the all-time series 3-0 with Maine and the Black Bears are scheduled to make a return trip to Bloomington next season.

Portland Sea Dogs Minor League Baseball Team to Honor IUWBB’s Mackenize Holmes with Bobblehead
The Portland Sea Dogs will continue with their series of bobbleheads featuring notable Mainers in 2024 with a bobblehead giveaway of basketball star Mackenzie Holmes on Thursday, August 22nd as part of the Sea Dogs’ Women in Sports Night. The Sea Dogs host the Somerset Patriots (Yankees affiliate) at 6:00 PM at Hadlock Field. The first 1,000 fans to enter the ballpark on August 22nd will receive the Mackenzie Holmes bobblehead. Gates open at 4:30 PM.

The Sea Dogs have hosted Women in Sports Night since 2018, where the team honors women involved in the sports industry. The night will consist of a panel discussion and welcoming local women’s sports teams and personalities to the game. More details on the 2024 Women in Sports Night will be announced later. Tickets for this game and all Portland Sea Dogs home games are available online at seadogs.com or by calling the Sea Dogs ticket office at 207-879-9500. Advance ticket prices range between $11 and $13 for adults and $8 to $12 for kids (16 and under) and seniors (62 and over).

Holmes, a native of Gorham, is a standout basketball star at Indiana University. On November 25th, she recorded her 2,000th point in a win over Princeton becoming just the second player to accomplish the feat in Indiana Women’s Basketball history. The 6’3” forward ranks second all-time in scoring (2,004), second in blocked shots (216), and seventh in rebounds (815). In 121 career games for the Hoosiers, she is averaging 27.0 points per game. Among her numerous accolades she has earned include Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year (2022-2023), Big Ten Distinguished Scholar (2020-2021 &2022-2023), Associated Press All-America First Team (2022-2023), USWBA All-America First Team (2022-2023), and WBCA All-America First Team (2022-2023). Prior to her career at Indiana University, she was a student-athlete at Gorham High School, where she led the Rams to two state championships and was named 2019 Maine Gatorade Player of the Year. Holmes and the Indiana Women’s Basketball team traveled to Portland to face the University of Maine Women’s Basketball team Thursday Night at the Cross Insurance Arena.

Previous bobbleheads in the Sea Dogs Notable Mainers Series have included Senator Margaret Chase Smith in 2017, NESN personality Tom Caron in 2018, Olympian Joan Benoit Samuelson in 2019, actor Patrick Dempsey in 2022, and Astronaut Chris Cassidy in 2023. The Sea Dogs open their 31st season on Friday, April 5th at 6:00 PM against the Hartford Yard Goats (Rockies). Tickets are now on sale for all 2024 home games and can be purchased online at seadogs.com or by calling the Sea Dogs ticket office at 207-879-9500.

IU Volleyball player Camryn Haworth named to the All-Big Ten First Team
Following an outstanding 2023 campaign, which saw the Indiana volleyball team match a program record with 21 regular season wins, four Hoosiers were awarded Big Ten postseason honors, as announced by the conference office on Thursday. Junior setter Camryn Haworth, freshman libero Ramsey Gary, graduate student middle blocker Kaley Rammelsberg and sophomore outside hitter Candela Alonso-Corcelles helped total five Big Ten honors in 2023. Three of the four players are set to return in 2024. IU’s three All-Big Ten honorees are the most since 1995. IU was one of three programs (Nebraska and Purdue) with a unanimous selection to both the First Team All-Big Ten (Haworth) and All-Freshman Team (Gary).

Perhaps the best all-around player in the conference, Haworth capped off an incredible junior season by being named one of seven unanimous First Team All-Big Ten selections. One of three setters to earn First Team All-Big Ten honors, and the only unanimous selection, Haworth led the conference with 1,247 assists and 73 aces while finishing third with 10.22 assists per set. The Fishers, Ind. native also led the NCAA in aces (73) and moved into eighth in program history with 2,862 career assists. Her 1,247 assists in 2023 were the most a player at IU since 2007. She finished fifth, following the regular season, in the NCAA in assists. One of three Big Ten setters to average over 10 assists per set, Haworth also finished over 30 aces better than the next best conference setter and tied Northwestern’s Alexa Rousseau for the most kills among Big Ten setters (110). She was the only power five player with multiple triple-doubles in 2023 and helped run an offense that hit a collective .237 on the year (No. 4 in program history). Haworth is the first IU player to be named First Team All-Big Ten in back-to-back years since Ashley Benson in 2009 and 2010. She’s just the third player in program history (Benson, Anne Eastman) with multiple First Team All-Big Ten accolades.

Gary, fresh off perhaps the best freshman season in program history, earned a pair of Big Ten honors on Thursday. She was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team and the All-Freshman team after a campaign that saw her break the freshman single-season digs record and IU’s all-time single season digs record (530). The Pendleton, Ind. native is the first player since 2009 (Jordan Haverly) and just the sixth Hoosier in program history to be named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team. She is the first libero in IU history to be named to an All-Big Ten team. Gary led the Big Ten in digs (530) and finished the season with 4.34 digs per set, 109 assists and 22 service aces. She broke program records for most 10+ dig matches (31) and most 20+ dig matches (10) in a single season and matched IU’s single-game freshman digs record (26) in a win over Ohio State.

Rammelsberg, using her COVID-19 waiver to play her fifth and final year of college, was named Second Team All-Big Ten following an outstanding offensive year for the Hoosiers. She finished fifth in the Big Ten, hitting .365 with 281 kills on 608 attempts. Her .365 offensive clip is second in a single season in program history and her .329 hitting percentage in three seasons with the Hoosiers is No. 2 all-time in program history. Among conference players hitting .350 or better, Rammelsberg had the most kills and attempts (281-59-608). Alonso-Corcelles was named as IU’s Sportsmanship Honoree. The sophomore played in 32 matches and tallied 344 kills as a six-rotation hitter. She finished the season on a streak of 16-straight matches with 10+ kills.

Indiana University Women’s Soccer promotes Tim Verschuren to Associate Head Coach
Indiana Women’s Soccer Head Coach Erwin van Bennekom announced the promotion of Tim Verschuren to Associate Head Coach on Thursday morning, effective immediately.  “Tim Verschuren’s elevation from Assistant to Associate Head Coach is a testament to his commitment, exceptional ability to teach, and the part he has played in the growth of our program off and on the field,” van Bennekom said. 

Verschuren has spent the last three seasons with the Hoosiers as Assistant Coach and has played an integral part in the development of the student-athletes. “I am thankful and humbled to continue coaching and leading Indiana University Women’s Soccer alongside Erwin,” Verschuren said. “Erwin’s unwavering support and mentorship throughout my time at IU has been incredible. His leadership and dedication to excellence have been instrumental in my growth as a person and a coach, and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue working alongside him. 

In his third year with the program, IU achieved a 12-4-4 overall record surpassing the 2021 record and the most since 2013. The Hoosiers finished Big Ten play with a 6-2-2 record. This set a program record of 20 points resulting in the best finish in conference play. In 2022, Indiana shutout nine opponents to set a new program record of 788 minutes for the longest streak without conceding a goal. Verschuren began his first season with the Hoosiers in the Fall of 2021. He helped lead the Hoosiers to a 9-5-4 record. This was the best overall record with the most wins and highest RPI since 2013. 

“I would like to thank our administration, support staff, and, of course, our incredible student-athletes for their dedication to our program,” Verschuren said. “Their passion and commitment to success are the driving forces behind everything we do. I am excited to continue working with this exceptional group of people as we strive for continued improvement and success on and off the field. Go Hoosiers!”

#1 Purdue hits road for Big Ten opener
#1 Purdue (7-0) vs. Northwestern (5-1) for a 9pm tip-off at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Illinois, televised on BTN. The No. 1-ranked Boilermakers will open Big Ten play Friday night at the place that handed Purdue its last loss as the top-ranked team when the Boilermakers held to Evanston, Illinois, to face Northwestern. This marks the first of two meetings in the 2023-24 season as the Wildcats will visit Mackey Arena on Jan. 31, 2024.

Purdue was voted No. 1 in the AP Top 25 poll on Monday, the third straight year that the Boilermakers have been ranked No. 1. Prior to the 2021-22 season, Purdue had never been ranked No. 1. Purdue is the first Big Ten program to be ranked No. 1 in three straight seasons.

Purdue owns an 11-4 overall record as the No. 1 team in the country after defeating Texas Southern 99-67 on Tuesday night. One of the losses came a year ago on Super Bowl Sunday when the Wildcats rallied for a physical, 64-58 victory over Purdue. The Boilermakers are looking to avenge that loss and start 1-0 in Big Ten play, while winning their sixth game in their last seven trips to Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Zach Edey was named the Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday for the seventh time in his career. It ties a school record set by Glenn Robinson and now trails just Ohio State’s Evan Turner (10) and Michigan State’s Cassius Winston (8) on the career list.

Indianapolis Colts’ game with the Pittsburgh Steelers slated for Saturday December 16, at 4:30pm at Lucas Oil Stadium
The NFL on Thursday announced the Colts’ Week 15 home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers will kick off at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 16. The game date and time had previously been listed as TBD, with the option for it to be played in a standalone TV window on Saturday based on the importance of the game. And the Colts’ date with the Steelers likely will carry plenty of implications on the AFC playoff picture.

At 6-5, the Colts enter Week 13 holding the AFC’s No. 7 seed, while the 7-4 Steelers currently hold the No. 5 playoff seed in the conference. Without taking any other results into account, a win over the Steelers would increase the Colts’ playoff odds to 58 percent, according to the New York Times. The game will be televised on NFL Network and locally on CBS 4.

The Colts will face the Steelers after back-to-back road games against the Tennessee Titans (Week 13) and Cincinnati Bengals (Week 14), while Pittsburgh will hit the road following consecutive home games against the Arizona Cardinals (Week 13) and New England Patriots (Week 14). For the Colts, Week 15 will be their second game in a standalone TV window this season and first in a p.m. time slot. The Colts in Week 10 topped the Patriots in Frankfurt, Germany, in a game that kicked off at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Follow us on Facebook

Image result for Facebook button

For more local news . . . Check out our archived episodes of What’s Happenin’ and Talkin’ Sports with Nick Jenkinson