The Morning After: Staying positive

  • 01/14/2009 9:24 am in

There are only so many things to say from game to game about the way IU is playing. For example, what was there to say after Illinois? The Hoosiers were destroyed by a far superior (and still underrated) team. Michigan was the real disappointment — a game the Hoosiers should have had, even if most of us suspected a second-half letdown — but one that was ultimately caused by the same systemic flaws that caused IU to lose to Illinois. Youth. Inexperience. Lack of depth. Lack of athleticism. Poor defense. And so on. It gets repetitive listing out these things every third day of the week; what’s worse, it gets depressing.

In the interest of staving off those existential demons, let’s get positive for a few paragraphs here, shall we? Cool. As there is no Shon Morris to take any rage out on this week, it’ll hopefully be a little easier.

(First, let’s do a musical interlude, something to help the mood:

WHOA OH OH. WHOA OH OH. Man, I’m ready now. Let’s do this.)

Ryan touched on much of “The Good” last night, but at least one of his points deserves to be hammered home: Verdell Jones is an improving basketball player. The freshman was set behind by an early season injury, but he seems fully recovered. What’s more, he seems to be learning. His direction of the offense (which at times against Ohio State’s matchup zone stretched the good-faith use of the term “offense”; standing overloading one side of the court doesn’t work if the overloading duo are standing right next to each other) was, as Ryan wrote, competent. His ability to get to the rim is a welcome sight. Jones isn’t a conventionally quick player. He glides, swoops to the lane, takes long jump stops before settling in to his mid-range jumper. He’s far from a perfect player — his defense is a long way away, among other things — but having someone who can both distribute the ball and command the team and also, you know, shoot the ball from time to time (cough Daniel Moore cough) is big.

What else? Well, fortunately for IU, last night’s loss could have been a lot narrower. I suppose that isn’t fortunate, since IU ended up losing anyway, but it should be noted that Ohio State shot the ball exceptionally well. Like, almost-off-the-charts well. Their effective field goal percentage (which accords an extra half percentage point for three point shots made) was 65.1 percent. Their season average is 51.1. And, though IU has had its woes in guarding the perimeter this season, they’re holding opponents to 52.7 percent eFG% on the season. What does all this mean? It means that while IU was probably worse than usual in defending the three, they played a team that was also very hot from the field, especially in that first half.

Anyway, for a little more statnerdness, below is a chart with Dean Oliver’s Four Factors; you’ll notice the eFG discrepancy immediately.

Stats by StatSheet.com

Ohio State misses a few of the shots and well, who knows? Actually, I know: IU still would have lost. But the loss wouldn’t have seemed so bad, and we would be talking about how the Hoosiers bounced back well from the Illinois loss, etc. See what I mean?

Let’s see, what else was good last night? Oh, yeah: Steve Lavin and Brent Musberger.

Because IU isn’t very good this year, it will likely be the rare Tuesday that I get to watch the Hoosiers play while the dulcet sounds of Brent Musberger ring in my head, but Brent, if you’re out there, just know that I love you. Your verbal flubs and occasional senior moments are totally fine with me. For whatever reason, your gravitas is like Tom Brokaw’s — you could fail miserably at your job and I’d still think you were awesome, just because your voice is so great. You and Brokaw were the televised soundtrack to my childhood. Keep trucking, Brenty.

And as for Steve …

Some people may get tired of Lavin’s schtick. Some people might get irritated when he says “pepper-pot,” or get confused at any of his one-off coined phrases that he invents and then discards like so much detritus. They’d have a perfectly reasonable preference. I could understand such a belief. But I do not share it. Rather, Lavin was the highlight of my night last night, the only guy that makes things interesting. And it’s not just the schtick, either — he’s a genuinely reasoned, well-thought-out dude, and he makes smart points both about the nuts and bolts of the game and about the larger situation, in this case, the ongoing rebuilding saga surrounding Our Indiana. I thought he and Brent killed it, and that was, as I’ve noted, a very good thing.

Lastly: We have to invent some sort of weekly award for Tom Crean. Maybe we can put it in the end of TMA, maybe not. But for a guy coaching dudes who are not only outmatched physically but who are routinely outsmarted and outplayed, he never — ever! I’ve been trying to catch him! — shows overt frustration. He only goes so far as the same level of frustration other coaches have with their players regardless of talent. He could be coaching the Harlem Globetrotters; his face gives nothing away. I can’t maintain the same, and I’m sitting at home on the couch with my laptop out. This man deserves the Nobel Prize. Or at least something we can cook up.

Anyway, that’s The Day In Indiana Positivity. Fun, right? Let’s see how long this one lasts.

Filed to:

  • cooper

    VJ is coming along nicely, has the same slow drive to the basket as Paul Pierce, though he obviously isn't close to that. I think he can actually become a valuable player if he practices his dribble and gains about 30 lbs. He can be a hybrid 1-2 because I don't think he is really either. I think we can put to rest the Daniel Moore experiment. If VJ, Williams, Pritchard (who really needs to work on his agility this summer), and Dumes keep progressing I think they can play valuable minutes next year

  • I, for one, like the Lavin.

    Musberger, on the other hand…

  • CutterInChicago

    Musberger is awful but no one is worse than Jimmy Dykes. That guy is terrible and an idiot who offers nothing.
    Lavin is fine. Erin Andrews is a delight.

    VJ3 had some silly turnovers but he is getting better. I think Pritchard is going to be a solid role player for us. He's the Cleveland Plain Dealer Ohio Player of the Year! (just had to write that)

    Crean stays inordinately positive, I saw a cut away of the IU huddle as they cut away for commercial and he was banging his legs and shook his head. I don't know why, but I liked that. Maybe he was getting his game face adjusted…

  • Ricky

    I think Nick Williams has had a couple of nice games in a row too, he is showing the capability to be a pretty good scorer. I wish he would take some of the shots that Dumes takes

  • steve

    moore is over. let the guys play who may play next year.

  • steve

    agree the daniel moore deal sould be done. he wont play next year. A few of these guys can play next year so lets play them.

  • southsidehitmen

    I think a big thing killing this team is lack of experience…but in practices.

    These freshman probably are working harder than ever before in practice, but not likely hard enough. They don't have a commanding senior to harass them and FORCE them to work even harder.

    Basset had Calloway and Wilmont. Crawford had Basset/Ellis to bust him.

    These young guys have no-one. I'm not saying they're NOT working hard in practice, but they probably aren't working hard enough for reasons out of their control.

  • J-LA

    In the sake of positivity and all things wrapped in sunshine and smiles, I would like to mention how happy/relieved/astonished I was that Malik Story was able to finish his break-away layup against Ohio State. To see him rumble down the court with the grace of a rhino on broken rollerskates and make (!!!) an uncontested first grade layup without dribbling the ball of his foot was a very welcome sight. Keep up the highlight reel!

  • BFowler

    I liked the old St. John's arena much better than the new Ohio State arena. I liked that big state of Ohio in the middle of the floor. I caught the IU/OSU game from 1998 on ESPN Classic last night and those of you touting AJ Guyton as one of the greatest IU players are right on. That guy was amazing.

    VJIII is getting better, the team looks much better with him on the floor. I don't think they are getting the offensive concept down real well right now, or TC is not giving them a lot to work with. OSU was en fuego and they hit about everything they put up, so what are you gonna do?

  • Another positive thing from last night was Roth's rejection of the break away bucket. It was quite a nice treat for the loyal IU fans who were still watching late in the second half. Even the buckeye fans thought it was nasty.

  • Unknown

    are you serious “lack of experience” everyone in whole damn world knows that IU has no experience

  • Unknown

    Yea i saw that, that was pretty tight, specially for a white boy who just shoot threes….he got some long arms on him

  • Atwater

    That was crazy. I don't think we will ever see that again from Mr. Roth.

  • Sallad

    They're selling tickets for Saturday's game for $5 now. Apparently you need a student ID to buy them, but not to get in? The email was worded in a confusing way. Really, though–$5 just sounds desperate. Anyone want a cheap ticket?

    In other news, the women's team is really having a great year–probably the perfect time for them to do it: Get more attention, get attendance up, hope that those fans hold over once Coach Crean gets IU back on the winning side and fills AH up again.

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  • Sallad

    They're selling tickets for Saturday's game for $5 now. Apparently you need a student ID to buy them, but not to get in? The email was worded in a confusing way. Really, though–$5 just sounds desperate. Anyone want a cheap ticket?

    In other news, the women's team is really having a great year–probably the perfect time for them to do it: Get more attention, get attendance up, hope that those fans hold over once Coach Crean gets IU back on the winning side and fills AH up again.