Sunday, November 21, 2010

Basketball Hoosiers Aren’t Perfect – Then Again, They Are

Indiana is two games away from a perfect basketball November, which is as it should be. The non-conference schedule was designed for a fast start and build confidence.

Mission accomplished.

The Hoosiers are 4-0 and looking like a team that will finish with a winning record. They have held all four opponents to under 40 percent shooting and have won the rebounding battle in every game. This is good.

Not so good is the assist-to-turnover ratio, which remains in the negative. In the 67-54 win over Evansville IU had 10 assists against 15 turnovers. The good news is that’s the fewest turnovers in a game this season. The bad news is it’s also the fewest assists.

The Hoosiers have had more turnovers than assists in every game. This can’t continue.

Yes, they’re working on it.

Point guard Jordan Hulls had three assists and zero turnovers against Evansville. That gives him 13 assists against five turnovers for the season, which is nearly a 3-to-1 ratio. That is very good.

Jeremiah Rivers has six assists and five turnovers on the season. Daniel Moore has seven assists and five turnovers.

Everybody else needs to work on ball security.

It would be better if 7-foot center Guy-Marc Michel gains his eligibility. Still no word on that. It could be hours, days, weeks or never depending on exactly what happened when he played with pro players while on a club team in France. Michel would provide a true inside presence, especially on defense, that would really make things click.

In the mean time forward Tom Pritchard, even with a messed up left hand that remains heavily wrapped up, is showing signs of finding an offense. During the 67-54 victory over Evansville he went 4-for-5 from the field and scored eight points. This is major stuff from a guy who has never been considered an outstanding shooter or scorer.

However, keep in mind that Pritchard is a career 51.2 percent shooter. Granted, most of these shots are from two feet, but let’s not quibble over small details.

Free throw shooting, however, remains a challenge. He was 0-for-3 against Evansville, which makes him 0-for-3 for the season. He shoots just over 50 percent from the line.

But we just nit-picking here. Indiana is looking more and more like the team coach Tom Crean wants it to become. When the Hoosiers had to dominate with defense and rebounding against Evansville, they did. Their 22-0 run in the second half showed the kind of killer instinct they’ll need against better opponents.

“It was very important for us to keep establishing that we can play excellent defense and we can rebound and take care of the ball even when things aren’t going great for us,” Crean said. “In the second half we made it easier on for ourselves with the next pass.

“We had to make many adjustments, but fortunately this team is maturing. They did it and they never got their heads down when it wasn’t easy. What they’re learning is that to win at this level against anybody is very hard to do.

“When you earn it like our guys did, it’s a great feeling. Now we’ll get to turn right back around and do it again.”

They’ll do it Tuesday night against North Carolina Central.

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