Good, Bad and Ugly: Northwestern

FINAL SCORE: Northwestern 75, Indiana 53

THE GOOD:

A hot start. IU rushed out to a 15-7 lead in the first five minutes, but once Northwestern switched to a 1-3-1 zone, they only mustered 38 points the last 35 minutes of the game.

Stopping Kevin Coble … for a half. I’m not sure if it had more to do with IU really D’ing up on Coble or the Wildcats just not finding him on the offensive end, but holding a guy averaging 15.5 points a game to only two points in the first half ain’t too shabby. Coble showed more signs of life in the second half, as he had some easy scores on Northwestern’s patented back-door cuts. He finished with 10 for the game. But where Coble faltered, Craig Moore and Michael Thompson shined.

IU outrebounded Northwestern 31-25 for the game and on the offensive end, buried them 15-5. (Though, we know why that is.)

The Hoosiers also tallied 16 assists on the night, which was their most since Jan. 31 against Ohio State.

THE BAD:

Turnovers. 17 of them. Long scoreless stretches. Holes in the defense. You know, same as it ever was this season.

THE UGLY:

From left to right: Tijan Jobe, Steven Gambles, Michael Santa. (Kory Barnett and Broderick Lewis were also on the floor at the end of the game.)

Who is Michael Santa, you ask? Well, he’s a manager Tom Crean thought deserved a jersey. And, he’s wearing Armon Bassett’s number! Apparently, Crean isn’t stopping there. He wants to suit up another manager, Brandon Profitt. But Proffitt is injured at the moment. Perhaps he pulled a finger reaching into a vending machine to grab a Diet Coke for Crean. (I kid; I’m sure these are both nice, hard-working guys that are giving their all in practice just like the rest of the team.)

But yeah, I’m not sure if it gets any lower than this: IU losing to Northwestern for the first time in 41 years at home and the first time ever in Assembly Hall, as a tiny crowd watches Santa and company in the final minute. Yeesh.

  • Kelin Blab

    As I was watching this game end a few thoughts came to mind….

    1. I have NO excitement about the tourney this year, even though it could be a good one

    2. I am 90% done and checked out of this season. The Big Ten tourney may be unwatchable…

    3. In one night I saw D.Moore make a shot and Tijan take a shot

    4. I saw Creans energy level sink during the game. The guy can't keep it up like this I know it is tough….

    5. Next year will be better, but we will still be young.

    6. We need not one, but two go to guys.

    7. IU needs to only recruit post players for the next 5 years! I love Big Tom but we need a post player to compliment and help him…or visa versa.

  • CutterInChicago

    Kelin, you are a wise man.
    I had the “good fortune” to be in Btown for tonght's game and listening to Tom Crean on the post-game show really brought home then “energy” point you reference, I'd call it “battle fatigue.” He was still positive and complimentary of the fans but man, the guy is clearly running on fumes.
    I think we had all better gird ourselves for the reality that next year will be better but even if we double the number of wins from this year, that would be a huge improvement. an NIT berth, well, that would exceed my expectations. We will still be young and its asking a lot from our freshmen to come in and light it up.
    Tonight was simply a sad state of affairs… time to thank the Trustees and Adam Herbert for the disaster that was Kelvin Sampson.

  • silkyslim

    Knew Coble & Moore were good, didn't expect Thompson to hit too. NW is not the cupcake of old. They knocked off Mich St. away, so don't be too hard on our Hoosiers.

    Our young guys did the best they could. I was just hoping we could hit a few more open shots. Dumas looks completely out-of-sync. I hope he can get back on track soon.

    One unexpected surprise is Taber being a vital factor in our “O” running decent. Never would have thought that, I was just hoping for some D & rebounding from him. Well done, Taber.

  • WestCoast Hoosier

    Anyone notice that we tail off in the second half of most games and think it could just be that we're lacking bodies and wearing out?

    If you look at the chart on ESPN where they draw in the points by each team, our first half is almost always steeper than our second half.

  • MillaRed

    The team has hit the wall mentally. They have checked out. It was only a matter of time.

    Next season will be so much better. NIT? Of course if not the dance. Mark my words people, Rivers is the key. His experience is huge and his defense will make everyone better on that end.

  • JerryCT

    All teams are tired this time of year….I think our guys are especially worn out from the losing.

    Personally I was not originally wanting Crean as coach preferring Dixon, Bennett or Wright and my reason was I thought his sideline antics were distracting to the team.So here is my question. In the 2nd half our offense is in front of our bench. DOes Crean distract our fragile PG play, movement and passing with his sideline chatter ? Does it help ?

    I loved the rugby scrum last night with Taber as usual in the middle of it

  • SB_Hoosier

    I agree with Jerry in the fact that these kids can only play this hard for so long without a reward here and there (i.e. a win). College kids come from winning high school programs, typically, and are accustomed to winning more than losing. Losing this much has to wear on them.

    I'm not sure I agree with Crean being a distraction though. I think these kids have bought into the system. There were a couple instances last night where Jones would run over to the bench with a question and listen intently, so I don't know that they're distracted by him from the sidelines. I think they're just tired, physically and mentally, and when a team gets 2, 3, or 4 baskets in a row you can see their body language change negatively as they realize what's happening and it affects both ends of the floor.

  • Kelin Blab

    I don't think Crean's sideline actions distract but actually have helped. These kids listen and I often see crean turning to his bench keeping them into the game. Most importantly I have seen crean over and over with his arm around a player talking to them before they go in and after……

    I do agree these kids are mentally tired…practicing 4 days week only to get no reward with a victory…

  • witt0713

    Hi all,

    I have been watching from Boston all season (the only game I missed was the win). There seem to be repeated themes from commentators, journalists, bloggers, coaches, players, and fans. The ITH guys have been spot on with these comments as well – great hustle, young team, great recruit class, Crean has energy, etc.

    However, to me, it seems if we were a better shooting team, and I'm not talking just free throws, we would have had a less frustrating season. I'm curious how this is going to change much next year?

    I've been impressed with Verdell's driving pull-up the past few games, but there really isn't a go to guy when you just need a shot to drop. Roth was spectacular one night, but since then he's been much better guarded and therefore less effective. Will the new guys next year open up some looks for him? How many pure(ish) shooters are in that class?

    Thanks,
    Witt

  • BFowler

    The Good:
    The play of the team until about the first TV timeout. There were many lay-ups off penetration and VJ III was distributing as well as I've seen him. That pass to Pritchard off transition was as good as I've seen. The rebounding was excellent especially off the offensive glass.

    The Bad:
    1st: The rest of the game including the entire 2nd half. The lack of intensity was noticible. I understand the kids are getting worn out, but it is not like Crean is only playng 5. There are at least 8 or 9 in the normal rotation:
    VJ III, Moore, Dumes, Roth, Williams, Story, Taber, Pritchard, and Lewis and I even saw ol' Finks out there during key points in the game.

    2nd: VJ III did not score like we need him to, Dumes was a non-factor (unlike the game at NW, where he carried the team), and Pritchard needs to be a force on the baseline.

    The Ugly:
    The defense, or, lack thereof. 45 points to NW in the 2nd half is bad. How in the world do you go zone against the Wildcats? I admit I am not a coach of Coach Crean's league, but with Craig Moore, Michael Thompson, and Kevin Coble, how do you zone that team? Also, I am an Indiana Jones/VJ III fan, but he can not keep quick point guards in front of him (see: Lewis Jackson, PU; Kalin Lucas, MSU; and Thompson, NW), why would you not put Dumes on Thompson and put VJ's length on Moore? Again, I don't want to pretend I could coach with Coach Crean, but I wonder about strategy just watching from home….

  • BFowler

    Witt, If the only game you missed was the win, please stop watching….just kidding….

  • MillaRed

    Rivers – I'm not saying the guy is the 2nd coming. What I'm saying is he will be a 4th year junior with a Final Four on his resume'. He is stronger mentally and physically, has a year in our system, and will cut the tunrnovers down 5 a game. How many times do these kids pull a 7th grade turnover? How many points (uncontested layups) do we give up on those TO's and then lose by 5 or 10 points? That in itself is a game changer.

    Crean – I have done quite a bit of coaching myself and when I am fired up the kids are fired up. They want to please him there's no denying that. When he is over there doing his thing there is an energy transfer. Ask Dwayne Wade about his sideline behavior. They talk once a month.

    Shooting – It all comes with experience and strength. Have you ever played basketball when you're in shape? Out of shape? I don't think a lot of people realize how leg strength plays into a jump shot. These guys are wirey (Nick and Malik are strong and just need more mechanical work). Crean is looking forward to the spring workouts trust me. All of our guys can use it. If Pritchard lets a 150 pounder block his shot at the rim next year I will be shocked. He needs to ATTACK!!!!!

    For instance, the Craig Moore kid that hit all those three's last night? He's a senior, leads the league in minutes per game, and although he looks like a grocery store clerk I guarantee he is strong as hell. The ball flys off his hands. I'm looking forward to VIII, Roth and the incoming class getting in this kind of shape. Have you seen the shoulders on Elston and Capobianco? Injuries forced them off the court and into the gym and it really shows.

    Can we go to sleep tonight and wake up in Sept 2009 and watch the new Hoosiers please?!?

  • TerryIU

    Northwestern winning in Bloomington? HELL WILL SURELY FREEZE OVER TODAY!!!

  • TerryIU

    Northwestern winning in Bloomington? HELL WILL SURELY FREEZE OVER TODAY!!!

  • plane1972

    Rivers is going to help, but he’s not the second coming. If he was that great, he would still be in Georgetown – and I mean no disrespect to him. All I’ve heard about him is good stuff and I look forward to him lacing them up next season. I just think we are putting huge expectations on this kid.

  • hoostheman

    From what I've read Maurice Creek is a knockdown jump shooter with excellent range. This is what he was known for before the rest of his game developed and he became a well-rounded high major prospect. All indications are Hulls can shoot as well even if his form is a bit unorthodox (which is fine by me).

  • ichaser

    Our PG position is the weakest on the team. We're is way too small, not fast enough or physical enough to guard any big ten pg, can't block out/rebound, can't score outside a layup, seems way too slow, doesn't seem to handle the ball very well, and really can't remember a lot of assists coming from them. Getting a couple players to run this position will do wonders for the team next year.

    I know a lot of positions can be compared to this, but to me the PG position is the one that really stands out

  • kgork

    I think that's just the nature of the position though. Flaws in the PG are going to stand out more so than any other position because he's constantly handling the ball and guarding the guy with the ball the majority of the time.

    Personally, I think VJ3 is our best player, but you just can't expect a freshman to come in and play well on a consistent basis.

  • MPmike

    It cannot get any worse than this! How painful to watch. I am just so disgusted in how bad our players are and how IU's program had reached the lowest of lows. I don't even think Purdue and UK fans are so happy. It comes to a point when you want your rivals to be a least a basketball team.

    I hope all the players and Tom Crean will never forget how embarassing and painful this season was. I wouldn't wish this upon anyone.

  • MPmike

    Jones is probably the worse point guard that has put on an IU uniform. He has no basketball instints, turnover prone and he is a terrible shooter, and top of that he doesn't use his 6'4 height to his advantage.

  • masternate11

    A little off topic, but I didn’t know where to put the comment. I think that the poll that asks who will run the point next year for the Hoosiers should be tweaked a bit. I think that Rivers will run the point at the beginning of the year, but I would not be at all surprised if Jordan Hulls earned the starting nod before the end of the year.

  • CutterInChicago

    I like VJ3 but I am not sure he's the best player and he certainly can be stymied by a 1-3-1 zone. His turnovers, especially the unforced TOs, are maddening. I realize he is a freshman but against Northwestern and the 1-3-1, he looked awful. Maybe next year he will shine a little more

  • Jeremy Johnson

    They didn't seem to distract Travis Diener or Dwayne Wade.

  • Jeremy Johnson

    They didn't seem to distract Travis Diener or Dwayne Wade.

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