The Morning After: IUPUI

  • 11/19/2008 8:25 am in

It’s going to be hard to write these little features of ours for a while. Why? Because we literally don’t know anything about this batch of Hoosiers. We know a few things, sure — that Daniel Moore handles the ball well, that Devan Dumes is lightning-quick — but we don’t really know the sum of their parts yet. Are they destined to be this bad all season? Are they going to start playing screens better? For the love of your diety of choice, will somebody please grab a rebound? I don’t know what to believe, and I’m afraid to blindly guess.

Compounding the problem are the teams IU is playing. Things will become much clearer next Monday in Maui against Notre Dame — I am not looking forward to seeing who is going to guard Luke Harangody — but for now, what are we to make of IUPUI? Are they occasionally tourney-bound IUPUI? Or are they just bad? Should we be even more worried than we already are? I have no answers. Merely questions.

This was the case after the first game, too. Instead let’s just recap what we saw.

DEFENSE. REBOUNDING. OY VEY.

Again, I can’t emphasize this enough, especially to myself, because sometimes I get a little shortsighted: It’s early. Very much so. I remember last year when the team we all thought was going to the Final Four looked like they couldn’t play a lick of defense, and I was sort of freaked out. Then they got it together, and they were fine. (And then, well, you know what happened next.)

But if there are two things that have been utterly consistent — and utterly frightening — from tonight’s game and Saturday’s, it’s that this time does not rebound, and does not really defend. At all.

Part of it they can’t help. Tom Pritchard does his share, and Kyle Taber is never really out of position, but there’s just no size there. Even at the guard position, IU is incredibly small, and so there aren’t really any athletic guards that can crash the boards and help compensate for the overwhelmed front court. IU is going to be overmatched all over the place this year, and those mismatches will likely manifest themselves most blatantly when the ball clangs high off the rim.

That said, there is still room for improvement here. Box-outs can get better. Guards can use long rebounds to get out on the break. With a little tweak here and a little tweak there, things won’t be so cringe-inducing, especially on the defensive end.

Defensively, it’s much the same story. There are times when IU flashes some defensive chops, but most of the time I feel hostage to the other team’s whims. For example: In the first half, IUPUI seemed content to settle on outside shots, and they made almost none of them, including a stretch toward the end of the half when they missed something like 11 straight jumpers. They shot 25.8 percent in the first half, and IU took a lead into the break.

Then, in the second, half, IUPUI realized they could get layups at will, and so they took them. And took them. And took them. And they shot 60 percent in the second half, and they rushed back into the game, and IU had to fight them off at the last second. All because of the Hoosiers’ limitations — their defensive porousness on the perimeter, their inability to challenge shots at the rim. I don’t know whether these things are systemic, or whether they’re correctable. I just know that Luke Harangody and Kyle McAlarney might combine for 80 points on Monday. I fear for this outcome.

THE “CHIN-UP, SPORT!” PORTION OF THE PROCEEDINGS

I don’t want to be too negative, though. So let’s talk about things that weren’t actually all that bad:

Matt Roth can shoot. It’s nice to have a really, really good shooter on your team. No matter what else happens, at least there’s always the faint glimmer of hope that he could get hot and keep you in a game from time to time.

Daniel Moore is like Errek Suhr, but way better. Daniel Moore, what with being diminutive and white and scrappy and so on, is already drawing comparisons to everyone’s favorite scrappy, diminutive white guy of recent vintage, Errek Suhr. Problem is, those comparisons don’t do Moore justice. Suhr was essentially a short guy with a good long range shot and a tough nose on defense. Moore is a legitimate ball handler. He sees the entire court well, can make needle-point passes from the key or on the break, and just generally has more confidence on the ball than Suhr ever did. Suhr was always jittery. He reminded me of a Chihuaha. He would take three high dribbles and then get rid of the ball, quickly, before anyone could get to him. Moore actually seems interested in handling it, and doing some semi-stylish things in the process. I like Daniel Moore. He’s not exactly going to carry IU to a Big Ten title, but for a walk-on, IU could do a whole lot worse.

Plus, his face gear is pretty awesome.

Tijan Jobe. You think I’m being sarcastic, but stay with me for a — haha. Just kidding again. There’s nothing optimistic about Tijan Jobe, except that for three minutes a game, he looks more baffled on a basketball court than anyone I’ve ever seen, and this entertains me.

Tom Pritchard deserves more time. I was a little too harsh on Tom Pritchard in the first TMA. I guess I was just disappointed — I was hoping for some more athleticism, some more strength, that sort of thing. But those aren’t the only qualities that make a good big man, and a guy like Pritchard can get by on being in good position under the block, finishing consistently around the hoop, and being crafty in mismatches. Again, like Moore, he’s a limited sort of guy … but he’s all we’ve got, and it could be a lot worse, I think.

In fact, that’s the motto for the first two games: I have no idea what’s going on, but it could be a lot worse. Don’t believe me? Wait until Monday.

Filed to:

  • Nick Williams is really raw. he looks like he's athletic and has some talent (unlike Jobe) but he is a horrible decision-maker.

  • Kelin Blab

    What I liked last night:
    * Devan Dumes confidence. Early he missed some shots, so he started going to the basket and making some shots…..then….he started making the 3's he missed earlier in the game.

    * Daniel Moore settles this team down very well

    * Nick Williams is going to get better and better because he plays hard and you cannot teach that. He rebounds well for his size, he plays tough d, and he does make freshmen mistakes but on a team of freshmen………

    * Tom Crean makes IU look better. Did anyone notice in the first two games the major differences from last year…..an actual offense, some full court pressing, zone defense, etc. Player development….a la Kyle Taber coming off a screen for a 3….

    * Pritchard is tough and a legit post presence and plays with some passion that I like.

    Now a few other things…….

    * Tijan Tijan Tijan is so raw,

    * VJ didn't have a great game, but as he matures he will be solid. More of a combo guard than true point

    * Ron Hunter is more emotional than ANY coach I have ever seen. I like the guy, but wow he looks as if he will explode at any point

    * Late in the game I saw Finky and Moore on the court at the same time…….wow never thought I would be typing that sentence.

  • SteveEyl

    Can someone please tell Laz and the other guy that is pronounced “Jag- Waars”, not “Jag-wires”

    Wasn't there anyone involved in the broadcast that spoke English?

  • ChicagoHoosier

    A few thoughts to mirror your commentary:
    Tijan Jobe – 'Project' doesn’t even begin to describe this situation.
    Daniel Moore – I, like most people on this blog, like how this kid plays. He facilitates well and has a good handle. However, when he is in the game, it’s like having 4 players on the offensive side of the ball. That becomes a problem when you have no big guns to turn to when you need some points.
    Kyle Taber – I was a little surprised to see how fluid his shot looked from the arc and that is def something that I would hope we see more of. Having to defend him on the perimeter increases our chances of scoring inside or grabbing a rebound… Speaking of the 800 lb gorilla, it could get real ugly against teams with legit big men when it comes to grabbing boards. I would really like to see our guards crash the boards a lot more. That, in my mind, is the one chance we stand of getting the ball out of there against those aforementioned teams.
    Other wise, despite the fact we barely beat a mediocre team, a win is a win, and this one was nice because it came under some duress. It was a priceless learning situation and one that will hopefully be beneficial down the road.

  • i agree. Coach Crean would've been better off putting a seven-foot ladder in the center of the paint instead of Jobe. the ladder would be just as useful, and probably wouldn't have committed as many fouls.

  • JerryCT

    ND will be a good but brutal game to find out where exactly we stand. I like Roth and Dumas continuing to take their shots even when they donot fall. I like the Crean offensive spacing and schemes.

    I agree with everyone else about JObe, defense, rebounding, and even Kelin_Blab re: Moore.

    The blog did not work out too well for me. The delay had me distracted and too much chit chat with each other and not enough about what was seen on the floor.

  • Hoosier_Hound

    E, you sould like Towelie talking about this team, though I can't really blame you.

    Oh my God, I have no idea what's going on.
    You wanna get high?
    Don't forget to bring a towel!

  • flahoosier

    I have no clue about this team, how much better can they really play. Roth definitely shot well, but against athletic teams will he be able to get the shot off. I think Moore should start over Jones, Jones cannot dribble at all. I still believe Williams will be the best player out of this group. I stand by my comment on him being the future Ron Artest, hopefully, to include jumping in the stands and punching an Illni fan. I worry about Pritchard against anyone remotely athletic. I honestly would play Jobe/Story over Taber once we start losing games. First of all its hilarious and two we may as well see if he can get any better. Finklemeir should never play…ever

  • southsidehitmen

    Dumes is a very streaky shooter. He could go for 28 some nights, and some nights he might not hit 10. I love his confidence and, (like everyone on this team) his attitude though.

    That being said, Williams or Story need to emerge as a consistent scorer. That may be asking too much out of true freshmen playing out of position, but they are the two most talented players on the team. When Dumes is on a cold streak and Pritchard is in foul trouble, the scoring has to come from one of those two guys.

    I like Moore as much as everyone, but Jones needs to be the starter, and step up. Him and Dume have been inconsistent so far, but all of those easy layups Eamon has talked about, many came at the expense of Moore. Moore still should and needs to play, but Jones needs to be the point guard that gets the most minutes. I hope he stays consistent.

    I can't belive i'm saying this but this team's best player is Jeremiah Rivers. In the scrimmages he was the best perimiter defender, and he ran the offense as smooth as Moore. (Plus he had a three point shot.)

    That being said, Notre Dame is going to be an ugly game, i'm just hoping the effort stays the same even if they're getting blown out.

  • JerryCT

    Monday reality sets in out in Maui.

    I hope Crean and the team find a way to take away some positive things instead of gettng discouraged. We are going to need a sense of humor this season.

  • Taskmaster75

    Well, we have a few days that we can see we are undefeated :D.

    Btw, has anyone heard anything about Cousins and his situation at UAB? He was interested in IU before he committed, wonder what the story is now

  • theguda

    Cousins wants UAB to agree (in writing) to release him from the LOI if Mike Davis leaves the program. So far, UAB is saying no. So….if UAB doesn't budge they could lose him. And remember….Cousins and our own Nick Williams went to high school together. Williams was going to Marquette then was released (after a while) when Crean came to IU.

  • tallyhoosier

    I think folks' expectations are still a bit high. To paraphrase Dennis Green, this team is who we thought they were. And let's admit it, isn't it more fun to root for this team than any squad in the recent past. Outside of D.J. and Errek Suhr, who was an IU player last year that you personally invested your heart in, rather than your passion for an IU win. These guys may not win a lot, but they'll be more worthy of our interest than the dispassionate lugs we've seen in recent years.

    That said, Purdue and Michigan State are going to pound us this year. And so are quite a few others. And Tijan Jobe is a great diversion. He was 40 feet away from the basket by himself at one point last night while nine guys were under the net going for a rebound. He's going to be a hoot.

  • test

  • Gosh…you know…I wish I could remember who it was that told us that Daniel Moore would be the brightest glimmer on this team this year. I just can't remember who it was now. Help me out, someone.

  • I went to St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer for undergrad. One year, our football team traveled to Indiana St. for a game, and we road-tripped with them. All night, the PA announcer for ISU kept calling us the “Pyumas!” We were like, “No, moron, it's Poomas!”

    So, yeah, I picked up on that whole Jagwires thing, too.

  • widget

    Okay…the “Bad's”:

    We can't rebound 'cause we're really small on the interior, and the box-out thingy hasn't been applied, yet. And, we're really, REALLY small on the interior. That's gonna hurt bad as the season progresses.

    The “Good's”: Simple….Daniel Moore. In the two wins we have had, Moore has been the difference. His presence glues this team up. He plays with the confidence of a seasoned, scholarship starter. Fearless passer. That kid passes so well the (really small) dudes on the blocks don't quite know what to do when they get it between the letters. If I were Crean, I'd get Moore inked ASAP. Moore has that intangible that so many coaches want…he makes other players better.

    Other notables are Roth's fearless trigger, our strong team speed and conditioning and Pritchard's chippiness….he seems to be involved in just about everything.

    Two games in, this is a fun team to watch. Good character, good coach, good effort. Good luck when Izzo rolls into the Hall!!

  • widget

    Okay…the “Bad's”:

    We can't rebound 'cause we're really small on the interior, and the box-out thingy hasn't been applied, yet. And, we're really, REALLY small on the interior. That's gonna hurt bad as the season progresses.

    The “Good's”: Simple….Daniel Moore. In the two wins we have had, Moore has been the difference. His presence glues this team up. He plays with the confidence of a seasoned, scholarship starter. Fearless passer. That kid passes so well the (really small) dudes on the blocks don't quite know what to do when they get it between the letters. If I were Crean, I'd get Moore inked ASAP. Moore has that intangible that so many coaches want…he makes other players better.

    Other notables are Roth's fearless trigger, our strong team speed and conditioning and Pritchard's chippiness….he seems to be involved in just about everything.

    Two games in, this is a fun team to watch. Good character, good coach, good effort. Good luck when Izzo rolls into the Hall!!