The Morning After: TCU

  • 12/11/2008 8:23 am in

Whoa, right? After a couple of bad losses to teams we didn’t even look competitive against, IU was given a coming-home gift Wednesday night. That gift, the TCU Horned Frogs, was about as inept a basketball team you’ll see all year, including the kids in cream and crimson. They were awful. So was IU. At least for one half.

The second half? As ugly as it was, and as much as I winced, and as openly as the ESPN studio clown mocked it — after the game, he said something like “They won’t be submitting that footage to the NCAA!” — IU undeniably played better than at any time this year. It was still ugly, sure. But there were signs of something underneath, too, a baseline level of competence, athleticism, and defensive ability that the Hoosiers had yet to showcase in their young, fitful season. It was nice to watch.

The point is that no matter how bad TCU is, or was supposed to be, IU has played its fair share of bad teams this year already (Chaminade, for one) and barely come out with a victory. Next to Cornell, and the first 20 minutes of Wake Forest, this was still IU’s most impressive performance to date.

I’m typing this from my apartment this morning as I rush out the door to an end-of-year corporate meeting that I didn’t know I had, so I won’t go too long with it, but a couple of things I noticed:

TP, OG: Tom Pritchard is a skilled big man. It took me a while to realize this — at first, I basically just wrote him off as a slightly-better version of Kyle Taber. He didn’t impress me. But he did last night. In a game against a team with no post presence whatsoever, Pritchard did what he was supposed to do: he had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and he controlled the interior for large stretches. Many of his buckets were the result of a) good positioning on the offensive glass or b) catching the ball in good spots and finishing easy baskets.

Pritchard may never be a star, and he might get eaten up by bigger, more athletic Big Ten forwards, but for now I’ll take him. He is a smart big man. He gets things done. That’s really all we can ask.

Verdell Jones, please come back: As much as I like Little Daniel Moore — “Little Daniel Moore” sounds like the protagonist in an Irish folk song — he has some key flaws. For one, his size; no amount of skill can overcome being smaller, and also less athletic, than D-1 college players. So Moore forces his dribble into places it shouldn’t go, and then loses it. He did this a couple different times last night. He is also a huge liability defensively, and he almost refuses to shoot, which reduces IU’s options on the offensive end. He’s a nice player, sure. But he’s not what he could be.

Which is why we need to get Verdell Jones back in the lineup ASAP. The two will complement each other nicely, I think, but asking Moore to carry the point guard load on his own is way too much to ask.

Finally, turnovers. Turnovers. Sigh. Turnovers. Even in the best IU games, turnovers are still an issue. IU had 19 turnovers last night. TCU, for what it’s worth, had 21. IU turned the ball over on 29.5 percent of its possessions. TCU turned it over on 32.8 percent. IU had, by all accounts, an incredibly sloppy night. To be honest, a better team — or maybe even a less turnover-prone TCU one — might have beaten IU. Maybe not. But with this game comfortably in our rearview, let’s take the one abiding lesson we know from our first foray in Indiana basketball:

If these turnovers continue, this season will not improve.

It’s just true. A team like IU gives up so much already — size, experience, speed, wile, athleticism, skill. All of the things that make up raw basketball talent, IU doesn’t have. So no one is expecting IU to win much in the Big Ten, and that’s fair. But to compete in the Big Ten, to compete on Saturday, IU has to stop turning the ball over. Has to. At the very least, that TO rate has to come down out of the stratosphere. The Hoosiers are too far behind in too many categories to just give the ball up to superior teams. We’re already playing with the short deck; we don’t need to forfeit any more cards.

Fortunately, Big Blue Nation likes to cough it up, too. So we’ll see how it goes.

Filed to:

  • JerryCT

    With no stabilizing player on the floor , our style of offense and every single player transitioning to Div 1 basketball our TOs will continue in my opinion. I would target 15 as a really good game for us.

    I think you still underestimate Pritchard. He scores,passes,rebounds, blocks, defends, does not foul out and last night even his help defense away from the basket was good. Nobody has moved him around down low all year including Harangody or the big kid from Wake. OK , he needs a right hand. Also surprisingly I think he keeps winning the opening tip or am I seeing things ?

    Jones development is essential. Does anybody know exactly what his injuries are and what is at risk by playing him ?

  • FightingHoosiers

    Not to take away from a staggering (but somehow expected) number, but it's fair to note that 5-6 of those 19 turnovers took place in the last two minutes when the game was out of reach. If you add that with the 4-5 committed in the first four minutes, it doesn't seem thaaaat bad…

  • FightingHoosiers

    or maybe i'm searching for hope…glass half full right?

  • NC Fat Boy

    I agree, the turnovers will continue and the 19 last night I see as an improvement. Anything less that 20 at this point is a victory in the TO column. A number of those 19 occurred in the melee of the last couple of minutes.

    Pritchard would be a good 4 with support from a center.

    Once again, I think there were improvements. There are still many things to work on, but they are improving. That's all good.

  • I don't think you are grasping for straws at all. With two minutes left, IU was up by 20 and had turned the ball over only 13 times. We then turned the ball over six times in the last 2:01, including on our last five possessions. That's a problem, and it will be a lesson learned in a win, for once. If we just could have run the clock out, the TO number would have been fine, but hopefully we will be in a better position to do so the next time we have a big lead, if that time comes.

  • NC Fat Boy

    No, you're not searching. It's easy to point out what's wrong. It's more difficult to identify the improvement.

    Go Hoosiers!

  • RW1976

    I agree turnovers are a huge problem but missed free throws are a thorn in our side as well. I would like to see Jones back on the floor but he may need a couple of games to get back into the flow of things. Pritchard is looking real good. Dumes seems to up and down in fact thought he might be more consistent but then who has been. I would like to see some picks to get Roth a few more shots. But more than anything I am thankful of how hard they play and I am indeed excited for the future. Bring on the UK, GO HOOSIERS!

  • HoosierSmitty

    Thankfully the free throws have been much improved the bast few games. I think we can knock off Kentucky. It's at Kentucky, so that's tough, but hopefully we catch the Wildcats sleeping a little bit.

  • NC Fat Boy

    I either read or heard on the broadcast last night that residual effects of the concussion Jones suffered in the Cornell game are still evident. Jones still has headaches associated with the concussion, but is planning to be back for the Kentucky game. That's good news, but likely of little help, he'll be rusty….

  • HoosierInTheVille

    All I want for Christmas is to beat Kentucky! I hate them like I hate the Patriots. Had fun watching the Hoosiers play last night, hopefully the same thing Saturday. Go Hoosiers.

  • JerryCT

    Sorry to hear that about Jones. Rusty is ok with me but I really really worry about whether he is traumatized a bit and will play frightened.

    We ought to be able to improve FT's , zone D and 3pt shooting, especially at home. But the TO's , weak man to man D and rebounding are almost built in to this team this year.

    TO's: Except for Moore and Jones nobody ran the point in HS and the other guys were scorers not handlers.

    Man D: we are not big enough on the wings or quick enough in the backcourt to shut down scorers

    Rebounding: also not big enough. Williams is doing as much as he can along w Pritchard and Taber

    I love this team and the coach ( not my first choice ) and feel we are getting the max from them. I cannot ask for more than that after last year

  • ichaser

    Assembly Hall has such a presence. I am not sure if it matters who IU suits up in that place. Advantage definitely goes to IU. Once a couple shots are made or a couple steals are forced that plays blows up. It creates such a motivation for the players to keep the crowd alive and more importantly creates tons of pressure on the opponent. I could see IU winning a couple Big Ten games in Assembly.

  • Sallad

    A lot of that had to do with watching Tom Crean go absolutely ballistic on the sidelines, hopping up and down, waving for people to get up, and banging on the scorer's table. It's certainly a change from last year's coach-watching, when the only fun bit was playing the “When does he take his coat off?” game.

  • MikeinNC

    I'll take an ugly win over a moral victory any day….

  • generalfan89

    Daniel Moore is smaller and less athletic than other d-1 players, And yes there are a few times when dribbles into places he shouldnt, but i have also seen dumes and jones do the exact same thing more often and lose the ball. Moore has more knowledge on how to distribute the ball around and possibly getting a better shot for one of his teammates on the floor. Yes he is not a scorer but when he handles the ball and gets fouled, from what I have seen, hits most of his free throws. Which is a change of pace from most of the team. With the exception of last nights game, which was AWESOME. I think he is doing a great job considering he is a walk-on freshman. GO HOOSIERS!!!!

  • BeerTruck

    Having freshman play soooo many minutes….having a sub-6 ft'er freshman walk-on as our starting (and now 'only') point guard…playing very undermanned in the post (against good and deep teams)…'
    man, we're doing damn well out there.
    They freaking competed yesterday.
    I have been watching IU hoops for 30 years. This is the best group of thieves I've ever seen. We steal the ball a lot.
    We're going to get better.
    We'll compete in Lexington, and Billy Clyde's squad could fold.
    GO IU! FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!

  • ichaser

    Assembly Hall has such a presence. I am not sure if it matters who IU suits up in that place. Advantage definitely goes to IU. Once a couple shots are made or a couple steals are forced that plays blows up. It creates such a motivation for the players to keep the crowd alive and more importantly creates tons of pressure on the opponent. I could see IU winning a couple Big Ten games in Assembly.

  • Sallad

    A lot of that had to do with watching Tom Crean go absolutely ballistic on the sidelines, hopping up and down, waving for people to get up, and banging on the scorer's table. It's certainly a change from last year's coach-watching, when the only fun bit was playing the “When does he take his coat off?” game.

  • MikeinNC

    I'll take an ugly win over a moral victory any day….

  • generalfan89

    Daniel Moore is smaller and less athletic than other d-1 players, And yes there are a few times when dribbles into places he shouldnt, but i have also seen dumes and jones do the exact same thing more often and lose the ball. Moore has more knowledge on how to distribute the ball around and possibly getting a better shot for one of his teammates on the floor. Yes he is not a scorer but when he handles the ball and gets fouled, from what I have seen, hits most of his free throws. Which is a change of pace from most of the team. With the exception of last nights game, which was AWESOME. I think he is doing a great job considering he is a walk-on freshman. GO HOOSIERS!!!!

  • BeerTruck

    Having freshman play soooo many minutes….having a sub-6 ft'er freshman walk-on as our starting (and now 'only') point guard…playing very undermanned in the post (against good and deep teams)…'
    man, we're doing damn well out there.
    They freaking competed yesterday.
    I have been watching IU hoops for 30 years. This is the best group of thieves I've ever seen. We steal the ball a lot.
    We're going to get better.
    We'll compete in Lexington, and Billy Clyde's squad could fold.
    GO IU! FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!