Good news: Statistically, Indiana only sort of bad

  • 02/09/2009 5:20 pm in

So it’s been a pretty horrendous season. We can all agree on that, right? The Devan Dumes suspension is only the most recent metaphorical nut-punch this season has delivered upon fans of Indiana basketball. It’s also been, at times, very difficult to watch this team play basketball. They’re not difficult to root for — they’re very clearly playing hard and doing things the right way — but they are hard to watch. It’s just not particularly good basketball.

That said, there has been some noticeable improvement lately. Everything just looks more … solid. Fewer turnovers, fewer horrible defensive possessions, all of that. The crazy, they-can’t-be-this-bad stuff the Hoosiers were doing in the beginning of the season is slowly but surely whittling away.

That improvement is showing up in the tempo-free numbers, too. B-Pro’s Jon Gasaway did his weekly number crunch Friday and found that Indiana’s efficiency margin is only barely worse than Iowa’s. In other words, the Hoosiers are bad, but they’re historically, mind-bendingly so. His words:

I understand if you haven’t been paying attention, but Indiana is suddenly within honest-to-goodness striking distance of not being the worst team in the Big Ten. Remember this: Tom Crean can coach. This season has been like some brutal twisted just-for-coaches version of Cast Away, where Crean had to paint a face on a volleyball in his own blood just to get a team on the floor. He could have just “coached” in pantomime this year, focused his energies on recruiting and, really, who would have been able to tell the difference? Instead Crean has channeled his inner Norman Dale and worked a mini-wonder. Over their past three games these allegedly scrappy and overmatched Hoosiers have actually morphed into a pretty reasonable facsimile of Michigan State, scoring 1.13 points per trip. (Yes, the defense is still woeful. Work with me.) Just think what Crean might do when he adds some fresh talent. You’ve been warned, Big Ten.

In other words, yes, bad season, bad team, blah blah, but this is a squad that fights and learns and has been getting better in pretty much every facet of the game. That’s encouraging. Now, if we can just keep Devan Dumes’ elbows down, we’ll really be talking.

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  • GFDave

    The reason Crean is coaching so hard, besides the fact that that's who he is, is that he wants to establish a baseline of play for the future. He isn't going to phone it in. The kids need to learn what he wants in practice so they can show next year's frosh the way. Its all part of building a program for the long term.

  • peaychris

    well i know its early, but with the optisim of this article what are everyones early expectations for next year?? ( i know its REALLY REALLY early, but hey i am already looking forward!) .500 overall?? i would say 15 wins may be right because this team will still be young..

  • I have noticed the change in the last games for the good. Before it was like I knew they were going to be beat and it was just a matter of by how much. Now it feels like they really can come out and win. and btw, they are only one game down from Iowa in the BT.(:

    When is the next game?

  • Taskmaster75

    We play Minnesota tomorrow

  • JerryCT

    I have also noticed that certain players seem more physically developed like Roth, Williams, Jones, and even Taber , who seems alot more agile and mobile than ever before.

    I think that every B10 team will be even better next year as well so I project that .500 season will be a reasonable goal and a job well done. WIth Rivers on the floor this year we maybe get 3 more wins in close games.

    Most all freshmen have major problems adjusting to the college game and the new lifestyle. I look to Watford , Capobianco , Rivers as the most impactful new players next year. I am looking to Williams and Jones as the most improved for next year.

  • smokey in Florida

    I am a Florida Hoosier, and I have read this blog on a regular basis. I've seen this young
    team blasted over and over again to the point that I hate to read it anymore. I've played Basketball and coached basketball, and can tell you that arm chair coaching and playing has went on for years and changed nothing. Encourage these kids, praise these kids, and pray for these kids instead of criticizing them. For me, it has been a joy to watch them grow and put their heart into the effort. Win or loose, these kids have blessed me many times over. For the first time in many years, I am excited when I watch an IU game! Thank God for
    NEW IU!!

  • MillaRed

    I think going .500 is very reasonable if not an underestimate. The impact of Rivers is huge in terms of turnover ratio. He'a already one of the best defenders in the country. He was the “shut-down” guy on Georgetown's Final Four run. Furthermore, he won't toss it away like Jones and Moore. Crean was recently asked if there was any possibilty there could be 5 freshmen starters next year. The first guy he mentioned was Rivers making that a non-possibility.

    Dumes gets the talent around him to get more space. He's a great shooter as we speak.

    Watford is the real deal. He's ranked as 30 something nationally but is now a serious McDonald's All-American candidate and a match-up nightmare (still growing).

    How can Pritchard not get better with a guy like Capo knocking down 12 footers? Taber craps himself every time he has an open shot. You get Capo banging around in there and Pritchard is alone on the week side? Capo's way ahead on the body development scale and actually kind of a freak. He prefers people to bang on him in the lane.

    If 2 of the other 4 freshmen give a solid contribution (and I believe Creek and Elston will do exactly that) combined with Nick, Verdell, Matt & Malik getting stronger…..

    It's a solid team and a foundation that has unlimited potential. I think that's why IU is being so careful with the 2010 class. There's no hurry to “settle” for someone. If they can wiggle a couple of top 50 kids in that class, look out Big Ten. It's on like Donkey Kong.

  • peaychris,

    I predict they will be a .600 team next year, and at least 3 freshmen will start by year's end.

  • JerryCT

    I have also noticed that certain players seem more physically developed like Roth, Williams, Jones, and even Taber , who seems alot more agile and mobile than ever before.

    I think that every B10 team will be even better next year as well so I project that .500 season will be a reasonable goal and a job well done. WIth Rivers on the floor this year we maybe get 3 more wins in close games.

    Most all freshmen have major problems adjusting to the college game and the new lifestyle. I look to Watford , Capobianco , Rivers as the most impactful new players next year. I am looking to Williams and Jones as the most improved for next year.

  • smokey in Florida

    I am a Florida Hoosier, and I have read this blog on a regular basis. I've seen this young
    team blasted over and over again to the point that I hate to read it anymore. I've played Basketball and coached basketball, and can tell you that arm chair coaching and playing has went on for years and changed nothing. Encourage these kids, praise these kids, and pray for these kids instead of criticizing them. For me, it has been a joy to watch them grow and put their heart into the effort. Win or loose, these kids have blessed me many times over. For the first time in many years, I am excited when I watch an IU game! Thank God for
    NEW IU!!

  • MillaRed

    I think going .500 is very reasonable if not an underestimate. The impact of Rivers is huge in terms of turnover ratio. He'a already one of the best defenders in the country. He was the “shut-down” guy on Georgetown's Final Four run. Furthermore, he won't toss it away like Jones and Moore. Crean was recently asked if there was any possibilty there could be 5 freshmen starters next year. The first guy he mentioned was Rivers making that a non-possibility.

    Dumes gets the talent around him to get more space. He's a great shooter as we speak.

    Watford is the real deal. He's ranked as 30 something nationally but is now a serious McDonald's All-American candidate and a match-up nightmare (still growing).

    How can Pritchard not get better with a guy like Capo knocking down 12 footers? Taber craps himself every time he has an open shot. You get Capo banging around in there and Pritchard is alone on the week side? Capo's way ahead on the body development scale and actually kind of a freak. He prefers people to bang on him in the lane.

    If 2 of the other 4 freshmen give a solid contribution (and I believe Creek and Elston will do exactly that) combined with Nick, Verdell, Matt & Malik getting stronger…..

    It's a solid team and a foundation that has unlimited potential. I think that's why IU is being so careful with the 2010 class. There's no hurry to “settle” for someone. If they can wiggle a couple of top 50 kids in that class, look out Big Ten. It's on like Donkey Kong.

  • peaychris,

    I predict they will be a .600 team next year, and at least 3 freshmen will start by year's end.