Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vegas Blues -- IU Shows It’s Not Big Ten Ready

So what do we make of Indiana’s 0-2 Las Vegas trip?

First, the Hoosiers are not Big Ten ready. They can’t win away from Assembly Hall, they don’t play good enough defense and they lack the toughness necessary against good teams.

Northern Iowa and Colorado are decent teams, but they aren’t the caliber of what IU will face in the Big Ten. These were winnable games, so win them.

This was the worst possible result. The Hoosiers are 9-4 and need to go 7-11 in the Big Ten for a shot at the NIT.

How likely is that? We’ll explore that in a future blog.

Based on the Las Vegas results, it might seem obvious IU’s non-conference schedule didn’t prepare it for quality opponents. In fact, that’s true, but it was still the kind of schedule necessary for this program for this year.

Not in future years.

As coach Tom Crean has said, the Hoosiers needed early success to build confidence. The hope was the necessary toughness and execution would follow. It didn’t. At least, it hasn’t yet.

Future non-conference schedules absolutely have to have better opponents. Not in the excessive manner of Michigan State, but better than the likes of Savannah State, SIU-Edwardsville and South Carolina State.

Kentucky and Boston College were not enough.

IU has still not recovered from the mess of the Kelvin Sampson era. It is getting closer, but it’s still not there.

As usual, the Hoosiers played well enough to have a chance at the end against Colorado, but couldn’t finish. They rallied from a massive deficit to pull within three, but couldn’t make the crunch-time plays to win.

You’d like to think that this is just part of the growing process, that there will come a time they’ll learn from these losses and start winning close games. It’s the old cliché that if you keep knocking on the door long enough, you’ll knock it down.

There’s no guarantee that will happen.

In the meantime, IU has to find more consistency. Against Colorado, Victor Oladipo and Jordan Hulls were the offensive stars. Christian Watford scored, but struggled with his shooting. Verdell Jones lost his shooting stroke the moment he left Assembly Hall. Perhaps that reflects the ankle injuries he’s suffered. Whatever the reason, he needs to put extra time in the gym to regain his shooting stroke. The same is true for Maurice Creek, who has yet to return to last year’s form, which is what you’d expect from someone who suffered the knee injury he did. He might not regain his stroke until next season.

Still, if the Hoosiers can play strong enough defense, which means intensity, communication and all-out effort, they’ll have a chance, especially at Assembly Hall.

Their first two Big Ten games are at home. That’s the good news. Their first game is Monday against Penn State, which might be the league’s weakest team. That’s even better news. Their next game is New Year’s Eve against second-ranked Ohio State, the conference’s best team, with a veteran lineup and a superstar freshman center.

That’s bad news.

So where does this leave the Hoosiers?

With a ton of work to do.


  1. I think verdell jones and christian watford tries to much one one one, they both need to let the game come to them, they sometimes just try to do to much therefore they lose control of the ball and produce costly turnovers....the guard play sucks at times, they dont have the constant threat of good guard play, they don't have anyone who can bring it on every game...which I don't understand, no they don't have 5 star players, but some of the teams they have played lately don't have any either...I think the Hossier really need to step up there game if they are going to beat some of the weaker teams in the league...I Know they can do this....Good Luck Indiana...GO BEAT PENN STATE.....

  2. The game yesterday was really frustrating. Watching them in warmups, they lacked the intensity one would expect before any game. It showed on the defensive end for sure - very little communication and help, and why Colorado dominated the inside. Our guys are not talented enough to beat guys off of the dribble, yet they tried it the entire game. I really felt like I was watching a scrimmage, with no team leadership. Not sure what's going to drive this team to be less nice to opponents on the floor...they'll need that to survive the next few months.

  3. You must make free throws, you must stay between your man and the basket, you must help your team mate when he doesn't stay between his man and the basket, team wins are more important than getting your points, you must be able to play under pressure at this level - WE ARE NOT DOING ANY OF THESE AGAINST A DECENT D-1 TEAM!

  4. Watford and Elston must stop loving the 3 pointer and do what this team needs - be an inside THREAT! If you have the inside you will get the outside, the reverse is NOT true!