Sunday, January 9, 2011

Oh No! IU’s Season Starting To Look A Lot Like the Last Two

It has to end, doesn’t it? Surely, Indiana won’t go winless for the Big Ten basketball season.

The Hoosiers, and we don’t know how to say this diplomatically, are basketball IQ challenged. They don’t play smart defense. Check that. They do in spurts, but can’t sustain it. Maybe it’s fatigue or mental softness or immaturity or coaching or misaligned planets. It doesn’t matter.

It just would be nice if for one game -- one game! -- IU could play a complete 40 minutes against a quality opponent.

Whatever happened to progress, when a six-win Indiana team became last year’s 10-win squad and suddenly a NIT bid for this season seemed probable.

It disappeared faster than you can say, “Oh, no, not again!”

Suddenly the Hoosiers are 0-4 in the Big Ten with no good feeling that a victory is coming any time soon.

Take the Northwestern loss. The Hoosiers got burned repeatedly by back-door cuts when they weren’t getting burned from beyond the arc. Yes, this is to be expected given the Wildcats are very good at the whole Princeton offense thing. But this is not a one-time deal. IU has spent the last two-plus weeks displaying the kind of defensive vulnerability that lends itself to long losing streaks.

At six straight losses and counting, the Hoosiers (9-8) are building to a very long one. They spent the first 30 minutes against Northwestern (10-4) in a brain fog, and the fact they cut a 24-point deficit to eight had as much to do with Northwestern losing its edge as it did IU fighting to the end.

That’s a shame because, at least offensively, the Hoosiers are making progress. Against Northwestern they shot 46.6 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from three-point range and 84.0 percent from the line. On the road they had 13 assists against seven turnovers. They even won the rebound battle, 36-33. That’s good. That should be good enough to win, and it would have been if they could ever learn to play defense.

Northwestern shot 49.1 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point range. You can’t win on the road, or in grandma’s backyard, allowing those kind of numbers.

Coach Tom Crean talked about a lack of defensive discipline and immature play, especially in the first half when the Wildcats built a double-digit lead. He wants the Hoosiers to play with a sense of desperation, which they did in the second half while trying to mount a furious comeback.

Forward Christian Watford was a first-half no-show (zero points), a second-half contributor (17 points). That can’t continue. He has to be consistent for 40 minutes and he has to rebound better, although he did get seven rebounds against Northwestern, most of them long after the game was decided. Maybe that means spending more time in the paint or more effort or just maturing. He is still just a sophomore and far from a finished product, but that’s no reason for not playing with passion and energy.

The Hoosiers did get offensive balance with freshman Victor Oladipo scoring 13 points, sophomore Jordan Hulls getting 12 and junior Verdell Jones adding 10.

It wasn’t nearly enough.

Indiana has basically a week to get it right. It doesn’t play again until Saturday night when it hosts Michigan, which just missed upsetting No. 3 Kansas on Sunday.

Is that enough time to grow up and play winning basketball?

It has to be.


  1. You nailed it. They shot the ball well, out rebounded their opponent and had more assists then TO - all on the road!! Usually this formula equals a victory, but not for IU, because their defense was absolutely putrid. I'm holding out hope they'll "flip the switch on" soon (because it's inevitable, right?!), but it's not easy to watch right now.

  2. They will not win a conference game if
    Crean continues to switch to a zone de-fense - which is one of the worst I have ever seen. They have hardly mastered a man-to-man.

  3. Indiana Basketball is done. Coach Crean has this team going backwards. Zero improvement in 3 years. He has one more year and if we do not show improvement he should be gone.

  4. Indiana NEEDS TO PLAY LIKE THERE 20 POINTS BEHIND FROM THE TIPOFF....MAYBE JUST MAYBE THEY WOULD BE ABLE TO PLAY DEFENSE.....They only seem to play defense when there almost completely out of the game....If they would play DEFENSE like they did in the last 4 or5 minutes of the northwestern game they just might have won this one....It would be really nice to see them play 40 minutes as a team and a little less one on one like Jones likes to play...

  5. I disagree with the last comment. Zero improvement in 3 years? I see alot of improvement just not wins yet. When the Sampson debacle happened, almost every basketball analyst I saw or read said it would be a minimum of 5 or 6 years to come out of that hole. Now, after 2 and a half years, alot of people are calling for his head? He is just now getting to sign his own recruits. The first two years, he was so far behind recruiting the great players he didn't stand a chance. I will give him another 3 years to right the ship before I get nervous. I still believe the future looks good at IU.

  6. I agree 100% with the post above that says Crean should be gone! He has seven...that's right, 7...High School Top 150 players in the country! That does NOT include the two he ran out of town his first year (Story and Williams). And that's MORE THAN ANYONE IN THE B10 EXCEPT OSU (10), MSU (10), ILLINOIS (9), OR PURDUE (8)! So STOP THE "NO TALENT" MANTRA, IU FANS!
    Crean is awful at basketball X's and O's and Motivation. He won at Marquette due to Dwayne Wade.
    Wonder what Zeller, Ferrell, Patterson, and Perea must be thinking???

  7. Why Crean insists on giving Verdell big minutes is a mystery. Horrible defender, a turnover machine,and he forces a lot of shots after he puts his head down and bull rushes into the paint. Surely Sheehy, Oladipo, or even Roth can do as well. Put verdell on the bench and this team improves immediately!

  8. Watford was "open" in the first half of the NW game ........ but he was standing outside the 3-pt arc ????? Why is the tallest guy on the team standing out there?

  9. Lots of haters out there... I would LOVE to punch EVERYONE in the face who thinks Crean is the problem. What are the expectations?!?! We're half way through year 3 people... Have some freakin' patience (and that's coming from someone who doesn't have any)... Year 1 doesn't count - Crean was coaching a club team. Year 2 was his first true recruiting class, and these kids have been on campus for 18 months... They're playing without any post presence (Guy would have been nice to have...) and Creek isn't 100% - so two pieces of what would have likly been their starting 5 isn't what we thought it would be!!! Let's also consider the strength and depth of the Big Ten, and the fact that we have little-to-no upper classmen talent or experience (which the top 5 teams in the conference all have) and you've got a perfect storm. If we're still having this conversation in 2012, then we're in trouble - but that should be the year we turn the corner - senior talent (Watword, Creek, Elston, Halls) and a top 5 class. So, suck it up negative, disgruntled IU fans, and think of what could be in the not so distant future.

  10. i agree verdel jones is not the answer, they need to play roth and creek ,before that turn over machine.

  11. This is a team that needs to "overachieve" not "underachieve". That comes from the coaching. Some players have digressed over the last year or two rather than improve while the 2 best hustlers are freshmen- will they digress also?

    CTC has been trying to teach sophisticated methods to guys who either can't or won't master the fundamentals. This team needs discipline and 5 guys on the floor who play hard for 40 minutes even if its the walk-ons. The problem with certain players is that they have not earned anything instead playing time continues to be given to them.

  12. I really don't understand Coach Crean's offensive philosophy. There are no picks on or away from the ball help shooters get free, so the entire games is a weave, trying to set up one on one penetration. Ok with Dejuan Wade, but ... I also think his substitution patterns disrupt any flow that might have develop and contribute to a sometimes very aimless offense. Why not press the whole game if we must substitute so often.

  13. I agree 100% with the Verdell Jones comment. He gives the ball to the other team (most games) more than he gives the ball to his own teammates and yet Crean keeps playing him and has him running point. They play so much better when Hulls runs point, I just don't get Crean's love affair with Jones. He's awful! As far as Michel and Creek, it would have been a different story if Creek was 100% and Michel was playing (significantly different story), but it's not, so I think we need to factor that in too. I was calling for Crean's head if he didn't sign Zeller, so I think he bought himself another 2 years or so.