In case you haven’t noticed, Tom Crean is REALLY into defense. It is the cornerstone of his program, not only because it stops opponents, but if done well enough it generates offense.
And almost all players love to score.
Crean charts defense with something called deflections. He said the Hoosiers had 74 against Butler, which are the most of any team he’s ever been a part of as a coach.
That’s a big reason why the Hoosiers forced 21 turnovers and held the Bulldogs to 38.2 percent shooting.
The stat is not official and is not mentioned in box scores. So what is a deflection in Crean’s view?
First, it’s any ball that a Hoosier gets even a fingertip on, regardless of whether or not it leads to a turnover. That’s true even if the ball goes out of bounds without a change in possession.
“It’s not a rebound,” Crean said. “For us, it’s a charge. A shot-clock violation. It’s a tip. I tip it, you grab it, deflection for me, deflection for you. If it’s a blocked shot, if it’s a steal, if it’s a loose ball, but if it’s just not a rebound. If the ball’s loose off the board — now if it bounces off to midcourt, that’s another story — but if it’s loose off the board, that’s just a loose ball rebound, that’s a 50-50 ball.”
The bottom line is that deflections reflect how active the Hoosiers are on defense. In theory the more active they are, the better the defense, the fewer points opponents score, the more points the Hoosiers score, the more victories they get and the happier everybody in the Hoosier Nation becomes.
And after the past three years of basketball misery, happiness is a wonderful thing.
IU might have gotten shut out in terms of Big Ten victories, but it did get enough solid performance to earn some all-conference recognition.
Senior linebacker Jeff Thomas and sophomore kicker Mitch Ewald got honorable mention honors, while junior defensive tackle Adam Replogle was IU Big Ten sportsmanship honoree.
Conference coaches and media recognized Ewald while just the coaches honored Thomas.
Despite playing with banged up shoulders, Thomas led the Hoosiers with 80 tackles and 10 tackles for loss. He also had one sack, one fumble recovery and three pass breakups despite missing one game because of injury. He ranked 12th in the Big Ten in tackles (7.3 a game) and 13th in tackles for loss.
Ewald has evolved into one of the Big Ten’s best kickers. He was 13-for-16 in field goals (9-for-10 in conference play) and made all 30 of his extra points. He is 63-for-63 in extra points for his college career. The 13 field goals ranked eighth in school history for a season.
For his career Ewald is 29-for-35 in field goals, which is 82.9 percent. He’s even better in big Ten action at 20-for-23 (86.9 percent).
Replogle is one of 10 finalists for the ARA Sportsmanship Award and is also a Capital One Academic All-District V selection. He led IU with four sacks. He finished with 49 tackles, seven tackles for loss, forced a fumble and broke up two passes.
IU had its football team banquet where awards are given out. Interestingly enough, there were no MVP honors. Of course, you could argue, when your team goes 1-11, nobody earned it. You could also argue that record or not, some guys busted their behinds and did deserve the recognition, but that’s a debate for another day.
Anyway, here are the awards that were given:
Specials Ops Player of the Year: Greg Heban
Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year: Isaiah Roundtree
Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year: John Laihinen
Outstanding Walk-On Player of the Year: Collin Rahrig
Academic Excellence: Adam Replogle, Greg Heban & Teddy Schell
Teammate of the Year: Leon Beckum
Team Captains: Max Dedmond & Adam Replogle