Local Sports News: December 15, 2023

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Former Indiana University Men’s Basketball player and Hall of Famer George McGinnis passes away at age 73
The Indiana University Men’s Basketball program is saddened by the loss of Indiana University Athletics Hall of Famer George McGinnis (1950-2023). He was 73 years old. “I loved George McGinnis,” Indiana men’s basketball head coach Mike Woodson said. “He meant so much not only to IU and the state of Indiana, but to the entire basketball world. “I looked up to George growing up in Indianapolis. He meant so much to me as a player and more importantly as a man. George was a Hall of Famer on and off the court, and I am going to miss him so much. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the McGinnis family, his friends, and his teammates. Rest easy Big Mac.”

“This is a very sad day for Indiana Basketball,” said IU Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Scott Dolson. “Those who had an opportunity to witness George play basketball know what a special talent he was, someone with a blend of power and skill that was well before his time. Those who knew him on a personal level, meanwhile, know what a kind and caring soul he was. He will be deeply missed by many, me included.”

In his one year of varsity basketball at Indiana, McGinnis led the Big Ten in both scoring (29.9 points per game) and rebounds (14.7) to become the first sophomore in league history to lead the Big Ten in both categories. He was named to the Associated Press All-America Third Team and added to the All-Big Ten First Team before bypassing his final two seasons of eligibility as a hardship case. He was inducted to the IU Athletics Hall of Fame on Sept. 22, 2023. He joined the American Basketball Association (ABA) and played for his hometown Indiana Pacers for the first four seasons of his professional career.

McGinnis led the ABA in scoring in the 1974-75 season averaging a career-best 29.8 points per game to go along with 14.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 2.6 steals. He and Julius Erving were named ABA co-MVPs that season. During his four-year ABA stint, he earned two titles with the Pacers, was named the 1973 ABA Playoffs MVP, collected three All-Star selections, garnered three All-ABA selections, and was selected to the ABA All-Rookie First Team. In 1997, McGinnis was selected to the ABA All-Time Team.

“Big Mac” spent the next seven years of his professional career in the NBA with the Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets, and Indiana Pacers. He earned three All-Star nods, was named to the All-NBA First Team in 1976, and was voted to the All-NBA Second Team in 1977. He compiled 17,009 points (20.2 per game) and 9,233 rebounds (11.0 per game) in 11 years of pro basketball. McGinnis was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017, becoming the seventh person with IU Basketball ties to be inducted (Bobby Leonard, Isiah Thomas, Everett Dean, Bob Knight, Branch McCracken, Walt Bellamy).

Indiana Men’s Basketball hosts #2 Kansas Saturday afternoon
The Indiana Hoosiers will get back to work on the basketball court Saturday afternoon at 12:30pm when the #2 ranked Kansas Jayhawks come to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall with the game nationally televised on CBS. The Hoosiers are coming off a 104-76 loss to the Auburn Tigers last Saturday in State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia as part of the Holiday Hoops Giving Event. The Hoosiers hit their first four three pointers of the game and then started to fall apart once the game was tied at 26-26 8:13 to go the Tigers took control to lead 52-34 at halftime and outscored the Hoosiers 52-42 in the second half. Both of Indiana’s losses this season have been by 20 or more points. The Hoosiers lost to UConn 76-56 on November 19, in Madison Square Garden in New York City and come into this game with a 7-2 overall record.

Kel’el Ware leads the team with 16.7 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. The Seven-Foot Sophomore has shown that he can do things on both ends of the floor that effect the game but he still needs to be more physical as faces more players his size as the season goes on. Malik Reneau averages 14.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Xavier Johnson is averaging 10.5 points but he has missed the last three games with a foot injury and there has been no update from head coach Mike Woodson on when he will return. Trey Galloway averages 8.6 points and leads the team in assists with 3.1 per game. Freshman Mackenize Mgbako averages 8.6 points and he will face the team that he chose the Hoosiers over after he de-committed from Duke last spring. CJ Gunn leads the team in steals at 1.4 per game and the Hoosiers average 74.3 points on offense.

Kansas is coming off a 73-64 win over Missouri last Saturday at Phog Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence. K.J. Adams Jr. and Kevin McCullar Jr led the way with 17 points each. Hunter Dickinson had a double-double of 13 points and 16 rebounds and Elmarko Jackson averaged 11 points. Former Hoosier Tamar Bates transferred to Missouri to be closer to his family in Kansas City scored 4 points, pulled down 4 rebounds, 1 assist and committed one turnover in 25 minutes for the Tigers as a starter. The Jayhawks are 9-1 and are on a five-game winning streak with their only loss coming to Marquette 73-59 on November 21, in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational. Kansas has beaten top 25 teams in Kentucky 89-84, Tennessee 69-60 and UConn 69-65.  Former Michigan star Hunter Dickinson leads the Jayhawks with 19.4 points, 12.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. At 7-2 260 pounds he will be a big issue in the middle for Kel’el Ware and the Hoosiers. Dickinson will not be phased by the atmosphere Saturday afternoon he faced the Hoosiers for three seasons as a Michigan Wolverine going 2-1 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall beating the Hoosiers in 2021 and 2022 before falling in overtime 75-73 last season.

Kevin McCullar Jr averages 19.4 points and leads the team with 1.4 steals per game. K.J. Adams Jr. averages 12.9 points and Dajuan Harris Jr. leads the team with 7 assists per game. The Jayhawks have a 17-player roster that represents eight states and Australia.  Head Coach Bill Self is in his 21st year at Kansas with 568-133 record. Self coached the Jayhawks to the 2008 and 2022 National Championships. He has never missed the NCAA Tournament or had a losing record while at Kansas. The 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic but the Jayhawks would have been in the field with a 28-3 record that year. Self has an overall record of 793-238 in 31 years with stops at Oral Roberts, Tulsa and Illinois. Self coached the Fighting Illini from 2000-03 and was 78-24 in three seasons with three NCAA Tournament Appearances taking Illinois to the Elite 8 in 2001 after he led the University of Tulsa to the Elite 8 in 2000. Self won the 2001 and 2002 Big Ten Regular Season titles along with the 2003 Big Ten Tournament Title. He has only had two losing seasons ever and that came his first two years at Oral Roberts from 1993-1995 and has only missed the postseason four times not counting the 2020 NCAA Tournament. Self will be 61 on December 27, and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.

This will be the 16th all time meeting between these two teams with Indiana leading 8-7. Indiana beat Kansas for the 1940 and 1953 National Championships in Kansas City. The Hoosiers won the next four meetings from 1971-74 as they played twice in Bloomington and in Lawrence. Kansas won the next five meetings that were all played at Neutral Sites.  Kansas won in New York City in 1981, Charlotte in the NCAA Tournament in 1991, Indianapolis in 1992, St Louis in the NCAA Tournament in 1993 and overtime win in Lawrence in December of 1993. Indiana won 80-61 on December 17, 1994, which was the last time the Jayhawks came to Bloomington.  Kansas won 91-83 on December 16, 1995 in Kansas City. The Hoosiers beat the Jayhawks 103-99 in overtime in the Armed Forces Classic in Honolulu Hawaii on November 11, 2016 and Kansas won 82-64 on December 17, 2022 in Lawrence in the first part of this home and home series.

This will be a packed house Saturday afternoon in what is being called a stripe out. The stripe out means that certain sections wear Red and others wear White and it alternates throughout the building. The Hoosiers were finishing up the semester with Finals this week and most of the students will be gone for the holiday break but with the number 2 team in the nation coming in the Hoosier crowd knows what is at stake and no question Hoosier Nation will be loud and proud Saturday afternoon.

Indiana University Football Lands Ohio University Quarterback Kurtis Rourke out of the transfer portal
New Indiana Football Head Coach Curt Cignetti has secured his quarterback for the 2024 season. Former Ohio Bobcats quarterback Kurtis Rourke announced his decision to transfer to Indiana on Thursday. 247 Sports ranks Rourke No. 17 among quarterback transfers this offseason. As a fifth-year senior in 2023, Rourke earned second-team All-Mid-American Conference (MAC) honors. He completed 195-of-307 passes (63.5%) for 2,207 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. Standing at 6-foot-5 and 216 pounds, Rourke has one year of remaining eligibility.

Rourke joins the Hoosiers with significant collegiate experience. After committing to Ohio in the class of 2019 out of Holy Trinity High School in Canada, he started 35 games for the Bobcats.  He redshirted the 2019 season, then won the starting job in 2020. Ohio played just three games that year due to COVID-19, but Rourke completed 30-of-44 (68.2%) passes for 386 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions.  Heading into the 2021 season, Rourke was named team captain. Across 10 games, he completed 169-of-259 (65.3%) passes for 1,801 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also displayed some rushing ability, gaining 327 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, good for 4.4 yards per carry. Rourke was named MAC student-athlete of the week after passing for a season-high 308 against Kent State.

Rourke continued to improve as a junior in 2022, winning MAC Offensive Player of the Year. In 11 games, he completed 244-of-353 passes (69.1%) for 3,257 yards and 25 touchdowns, all career-high numbers. His four interceptions also represented a career-low figure.  Rourke first played for Ohio coach Frank Solich, then spent his final three years under coach Tim Albin. During those five seasons, Ohio went 31-23 overall but 19-7 in the last two years. The Bobcats are 2-0 in bowl games since 2019 and qualified for the Myrtle Beach Bowl in 2023. It’s unclear if he’ll play in Ohio’s bowl game.

Rourke joins the Hoosiers with one year of remaining eligibility, so he likely has a strong chance of earning the starting job in 2024. The Hoosiers lost quarterbacks Brendan Sorsby (Cincinnati) and Dexter Williams II (undecided) to the transfer portal, so the quarterback room currently consists of scholarship quarterbacks Rourke, redshirt sophomore Tayven Jackson, redshirt freshman Broc Lowry and true freshman Alberto Mendoza.

Indiana University Football’s Carter Smith withdrawing his name from the transfer portal and will return to the Hoosiers
Indiana landed a huge re-commitment Wednesday from Carter Smith, who had entered the transfer portal after Indiana’s season ended. Smith was a redshirt freshman last season after appearing in two games in 2022. Originally recruited by Darren Hiller, he ended up being the highest graded starting offensive linemen on Bob Bostad’s revamped offensive line last season. Both Khalil Benson and Matthew Bedford transferred to Colorado while Mike Katic announced his departure for the NFL. Zach Carpenter, the only other starter from last season, remains in the portal.

Curt Cignetti has some work ahead of him to fully rebuild a Big Ten offensive line, but retaining the best starter from last year is a step in the right direction. Experience would have been nice, but some players from last season regressed as the year went on, so there was likely to be a lot of turnover either way. Besides being Indiana’s highest graded starter, Smith has three years of eligibility remaining. Alongside Bob Bostad and his track record for improving line play, Cignetti could have the start of some long term stability on the offensive line.

East Central HS Running Back Josh Ringer named 2023 Indiana Mr. Football
Samuel Ringer knew there was something special about his younger brother’s football talent at an early age. “When we played football in the front yard, he always kept up with me pretty well,” Ringer said. “I think that kind of gave him a more competitive edge.” But Samuel was skeptical when younger brother Josh proclaimed prior to his freshman season at East Central High School that he would crack the starting lineup. The Ringer brothers had been working out in the basement at their home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Samuel, at first, chalked it up to younger brother bravado. “I was like, ‘Josh, it doesn’t work like that. By the third game, he was starting.”

It was the just the start of a remarkable high school career that culminated Thursday with Josh Ringer named the 2023 IndyStar Mr. Football, presented by the Indianapolis Colts. Ringer led East Central to back-to-back Class 4A state championships and finished his high school career with school records of 6,640 rushing yards and 118 total touchdowns. Ringer is the second Mr. Football from East Central, joining running back Josh Martini, who was named the award’s third winner in 1994. Ringer was named on 66% of the ballots from Indiana Football Coaches Association voters, who chose between the 10 Mr. Football position award winners for the annual award to the top senior football player. Center Grove quarterback Tyler Cherry was runner-up with 10% of the vote and Crown Point linebacker Will Clark third with 6.2% from the 1,850 eligible voters.

Ringer was stunned Thursday morning when coach Jake Meiners pulled him out of English class to discuss plans for next week’s signing with Miami (Ohio). Waiting for him in a hallway holding the No. 1 Mr. Football jersey were his parents, Brad and Jennifer Ringer, with brother Samuel and East Central administrators, including athletic director Kevin Moore, standing nearby. “He said something about signing day,” Ringer said with a laugh. “I said I’ll go check it out. It’s a great surprise.”

A well-deserved surprise for Ringer, who emerged as a frontrunner for Mr. Football after rushing for 2,368 yards and 39 touchdowns as a junior and leading East Central to its third state championship in program history. Ringer ran for 164 yards and a touchdown on 36 carries in an epic 24-21 overtime semi state win over second-ranked Roncalli, then ran circles around New Prairie in the state championship at Lucas Oil Stadium, going for 171 yards and four TDs. His performance on that stage, capped with a state title, put Ringer on a short list of potential candidates going into his senior season. Though Ringer was at the top of every opponent’s scouting report as a senior, no one could slow him down. Maybe most impressive in the regular season was a 246-yard, three-touchdown rushing performance in a 38-28 win over Cincinnati Moeller, when he also caught a touchdown pass. In the second round of the sectional, in a 56-20 win over Martinsville, Ringer ran for 325 yards and seven TDs on 24 carries.

It continued that way through the 4A state championship against NorthWood on Thanksgiving weekend, when he ran for 251 yards and three TDs on 34 carries in a 42-14 win to cap a perfect 15-0 season. In all, Ringer ran for 2,880 yards and 55 TDs as a senior and caught 13 passes for 278 yards and five TDs. The statistics are staggering. Ringer’s career rushing total ranks 14th in state history and likely would have been higher if not for a high ankle sprain that limited him to five-plus games as a sophomore. His teammates, including senior quarterback Cole Burton and senior running back Ryan Brotherton, both lobbied for him to win Mr. Football after the 4A state final, speaking to his likeability and respect from within the program. Neither do defenses. Ringer will sign next week with Miami (Ohio), which is 11-2 going into Saturday’s Cure Bowl against Appalachian State in Orlando.

Southern Indiana Bobcats hosting a call out meeting for the 2024 Season Saturday Morning
The Southern Indiana Bobcats Semi Pro Football team is hosting their Annual Call Out Meeting for the 2024 Season Saturday Morning at 10:30 AM on the Ivy Tech Campus on the Westside of Bloomington located at 200 Daniels Way. The Bobcats are in their second year as organization and are Monroe County’s Semi Pro Football Team. The Bobcats will play all their home games at Edgewood HS for the second straight season. 

The meeting will be a chance for new and returning players to see the vision, mindset and plans for the 2024 season. The Bobcats are owned by former Edgewood Football Player Chris Brummett who returns after he and 10 other Bobcats were named to the Blue-Collar League All Star teams a season ago.  Head Coach Daniel Ponce returns for his second season as the Bobcats went to work right after the 2023 season ended getting ready for the upcoming season. Players will get a chance to meet and talk with the Coaching Staff and get to know their teammates and sign their league contracts in preparation for the 2024 season. The Bobcats will be in the Blue-Collar Football League for the second year in a row and will face teams from Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.

Season Tickets for the Southern Indiana Bobcats are on sale now for $35 dollars and included is a $25 gift card from Chicago’s Pizza in Ellettsville which is a proud sponsor of the Bobcats. Every season ticket purchased includes the gift card and it’s a value of $75.  You can follow the Southern Indiana Bobcats on their Facebook page for all the latest information with the organization.

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