Good, Bad and Ugly: USC Upstate

  • 11/16/2009 11:12 pm in

THE GOOD: CHRISTIAN WATFORD AND DEREK ELSTON.

Watford continues to impress. He’s been billed as a guy that can do it all, and this game really highlighted that: he got boards, hit shots, created in the lane, got some steals, a block, and he even brought the ball up the court on one occasion. For the night he had 17 points, 10 boards, two steals and one block. He’s not a dominant player yet, but he has the tools to develop into one.

Elston was a lot of fun to watch tonight. He showed off his range with a 3-ball, and on another one that he missed in the second half, he did a good job of following his shot, which led to a board and a bucket for him. (This is something I don’t remember Matt Roth doing once last season.) Elston also had a nice tip-in follow on a miss from Verdell Jones. He’s got a nice nose for the ball, works hard and is a polished player for a freshman. I’m really liking his game thus far.

THE BAD: THE FIRST HALF, TURNOVERS AND FREE THROWS.

This game had shades of last season, as the Hoosiers racked up 18 turnovers, and only went 16-of-30 from the line. The beginning of the game was particularly rough; the Hoosiers never built any momentum or rhythm and let the Spartans hang around. It was a very sloppy affair. It’s clear Jeremiah Rivers is a terrific passer, but he was a little off this evening as he had four turnovers. It was almost as if he was trying to do too much. IU isn’t going to turn the ball over like this all season, but heading into their first real test of the year against Mississippi on Thursday, it’s a little worrisome.

THE UGLY: DEVAN DUMES.

I feel bad for Dumes. Last year, outside of Tom Pritchard, he was expected to be the man on offense. But this year, with an influx of talent around him, Dumes has to swallow his pride and assume a new role, and it’s not something I’m sure he’s going to handle particularly well, at least to start. With more size on this team, he looks smaller out on the court now, too. He’s still going to pop when he has the chance, but tonight was a particularly rough one for him: in 20 minutes, he had four turnovers — a few that were real ugly — and shot 1-of-6 from the field, 0-of-3 for behind the arc and 0-of-1 from the line. He did have five boards, however.

This is but one game, so it’s a small sample size. Dumes has plenty of time to find his mark.

BONUS: GUS JOHNSON’S SPECS.

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  • iudrew22

    I was encouraged by VJ3's play and wondered where he went after that great stretch that he had.

    Dumes is playing way too fast…Hulls seems to be going a little quick as well.

    I am a little surprised by all the reaching done by the IU guards…

    Watford can be a double double machine because he goes after rebounds rather than just getting the balls that come to him…Elston is so active as well…

    Hey, after 6 wins last year, I am cherishing each one we get this year…two in four days…

  • Hoosier_Hound

    Watford, Elston, and Creek are ahead of the curve, but you might expect that since they were four-star recruits.

    Rivers has shown that he can get into the lane easily, but he needs to improve at reading the defenses reaction so he can make the right play. I wish he would just pull up from 8 feet and shoot more often, like VJ3 has shown.

    Dumes was terrible, he is just way too out of control out there. I don't believe he ever thinks about what he's doing, he just runs around or dribbles around and shoots or passes and hopes it works out. I would be pleased if he just stopped doing so much harm even if he doesn't contribute anything.

  • Hoosier_Hound

    Lastly, I just loved the play at the end of the first half by Watford. Throw it down low to him and he just puts it in the basket like he was out there alone. Reminded me of D.J.

  • I would be pleased if Dumes would just stay on the bench.

  • hoosierodi

    I got pretty frustrated watching this game. Very sloppy and everyone looked lost. We really do need someone to step up and be the leader because when everyone is running around going crazy you need someone to settle em down. Elston Watford and Creek did look great and VJ III gets better and better every time i watch him.

    I wanna see Bawa get in there more often because all he does is contribute good minutes. In 3 minutes he had 3 offensive rebounds and no mistakes. Dumes looked very sloppy and i wondered sometimes what he was doing. Jeremiah i think was trying to do too much since his dad was there watching so hopefully he will settle down. Just forced it too much and didnt make his shots. Also i noticed he got beat quite a bit on back door cuts and off the dribble. Hopefully that doesnt happen against Lucas when we get to MSU.

  • George

    Dumes is still one of our best defenders and one of our best 3-point shooters. I thought in the first half, he was the one that sparked our team…even enough for Crean to start him in the second half. He is not a great ballhander and we should already know that. But, he does do some things well and can be great off the bench if he stays under control and within himself. He shouldn’t be running the break, and that is where most of those turnovers came from.

  • George

    Dumes is still one of our best defenders and one of our best 3-point shooters. I thought in the first half, he was the one that sparked our team…even enough for Crean to start him in the second half. He is not a great ballhander and we should already know that. But, he does do some things well and can be great off the bench if he stays under control and within himself. He shouldn’t be running the break, and that is where most of those turnovers came from.

  • Kind of proves that the stars actually do mean something, huh? I'm not a live by the stars die by the stars next to a recruits name kind of guy, but they do mean something. Elston, Watford and Creek look fantastic so far, while Hulls and Capo are struggling a bit and Bawa is does seem to be a project.

    And, for the most part, the difference in stars is mainly athleticism, which Elston, Watford and Creek definitely have.

  • Kelin Blab

    I can really see why Jeremiah Rivers transferred, the princeton offense definitely isn't his game. He did seem to have the “dad is watching me jitters” and I too want him to pull up like VJ and make the short jumpshot.

    Sorry Derek Elston, we ALL love you bro, but we still want you to come off the bench cause if you don't we ain't got much at that spot….I

    f you guys noticed the 2nd half we started Wateford, Creek, Rivers, Elston, and VJ…..

    Looking foward tot he tourney and tougher competition.

  • SteveEyl

    +1. I don't feel “sorry” for guys like Dumes or (eventually) Pritch. They will eventually prove not to be starters on this team. They just aren't good enogh. And that is a good thing,.

    I wonder how much longer Pritch will start. Elston sure seems like a more effective platyer at this point.

    Think about this front line in two seasons: Watford, Elston, Bawa. That excites me.

  • Brent

    Dumes seems to be overthinking his every move. A few times he was looking at shooting an open shot but hesitated and made a bad pass to turn it over. Also, the shots he did take mostly looked forced. I think he is still adjusting to the new plays, team mates, and roles. Perhaps when he gets more comfortable in the new situation he will trust his gut a little more, slow down a bit, and play a little more cool, collected, and under control. There is still a lot of potential with him.

  • BFowler

    A few thoughts:
    1) Plus and Minus – Elston had the biggest impact on the game. When he came out in the 2nd half, we had the 20 point lead. It went down from there. He has a ton of energy and enthusiasm, and I agree, he needs to come off the bench and give this team a spark.
    2) The Dagger! – Sorry Eamonn, not trying to steal your line, but when Watford hit that three (and got fouled by the way), I finally breathed a little easier. That seemed to be the “game winning” shot.
    3) Slow motion – it seemed like the first half and the last 10 minutes of the game were played without the energy we saw at the beginning of the 2nd half. When the B10 network actually got to the game (like I really wanted to watch Michigan Women's Basketball, who does?), we were treated to Mo Creek missing 2 free throws. It seemed contagious as 16 of 30 was the final toll.
    4) We're back! – and by that, I mean the turnovers. A lot of out-of-control plays, it seemed like the kids were getting frustrated that they were not dominating the competition at the beginning and forcing a lot of plays. That will not work against tougher competition.
    5) Versatility – Watford and Elston are clearly our most versatile players, those two guys will be very successful at Indiana. VJ III and Rivers are very good with the ball, but I see defenses backing off both of them and making them “chuck it from the cheap seats” – to steal a line from Hoosiers.
    6) Lack of 3-pt shooting – There have been no 9 for 25 3-pt performances so far this season. It seems like this team has made a huge emphasis on driving the ball and making easy buckets.
    7) 2-0 – That's all that matters. This team is 2-0, congrats, keep up the good work.

  • 47250HoosierFan

    Dumas just jacked up another ill advised 3…he's the one that cost us the 20 point lead last night…and i get the feeling he could blow up and get a tech anytime he's on the court!

    You missed out on Creek in the GOOD section…this kid's going to be a superstar along with CWat and Elston, they all just seem to have a nose for the ball and are always in the right position!

    And it's GREAT to have Gus calling the IU games, dude is one of the best around!!

  • iloveiu

    Title: The big Freeze
    After reviewing the game again, I KNOW WHAT THE PROBLEM IS, Verdell and Jeremiah won't pass Mo Creek the ball. THEY KEEP LOOKING HIM OFF! He's wide open waving his hands to get the ball but no matter what Verdell passes to Rivers and in turn Rivers passes to Verdell; while Creek waves his hands “I’M OPEN” to the crowd. They’re looking him off on fast brakes too. You can see frustration all over Creeks face. Why take Mo Creek out of the game? Why have a player of Creek's caliber if he is not going to get the ball.
    If we want to win this year then this must change or were are screwed. Creek scores when one of them is off the floor. When Mo Creek come off the floor then Verdell and Rivers pass to everyone. What's going on here? It looks like they would rather turn the ball over than to give Creek an open shot. Let’s see what happens against Ole Miss Thursday. It won't be an easy drive to the basket this time so we better find our scores quick to open it up for Watford and Elston to do work down low.

  • HoosierSmitty

    Some of these comments are pretty frustrating….

    I think you're enthusiasm for our freshmen is causing you to be extra harsh on our returning guys, especially Pritchard and Dumes. These guys are Hoosiers for crying out loud. Let's not split the team in half. I have the feeling that some of you are out to get these guys with a mob mentality.

    Granted they didn't have stellar games last night, but Pritchard made some nice moves…hit a few FTs, scored a nice inside bucket. He just continues to kill himself with foul trouble.

    Dumes came into the game and immediately had a nice bucket in the lane. He's quick, got his hands on some balls and TRIED to make things happen. Is he forcing the issue…yes. I just find it funny that he's gone from a “good kid” (see our initial reactions to him joining the team) to the scapegoat for everything that's wrong with this team. He's shown a soft touch on runners and he still brings a lot of enthusiasm to the team. Yes he made a ton of mistakes, but if I'm not mistaken, Watford had about 6 turnovers last night. Yes, he played great in other areas, but everyone's making mistakes.

    Let's not divide this team.

    Dumes and Pritchard will prove to be vital to this team throughout the season.

  • nathanzimmerman

    Completely agree. Way too harsh on Dumes. He's coming off an injury so hasn't been able to participate in practice with all of these new guys around him so we're seeing some of the growing pains that should have happened in practice out on the game floor. Give it a couple of weeks and he'll be up (or down) to speed with the rest of the guys. Let's not forget that he was our biggest scoring threat last season and will be one of the top few again this season. He does need to slow down a bit and get under control, but i'm sure he has been incredibly anxious to get back on the floor which has accounted for some of the mistakes. RELAX, everything's going to be OK.

    As far as Pritch, i don't see any progression mentally on the defensive side of the ball. I don't know if it's just that he is that slow, or just that confused. He is a major liability on the defensive end of the floor right now and if he doesn't begin to adjust to the speed of the game and improve his defensive positioning and spacing his minutes are going to dry up in a hurry. If you pay attention to him on defense without watching the ball you'll realize how out of position he is most of the time at the defensive end. I think we may have overlooked that part of his game last year because he was one of the few people who could score the rock so we excused it. Not the case this year.

    UGLY UGLY game…but that is the reason we schedule USC Upstate and Howard to begin the year. It's not to score 100 points and inflate expectations. It's an opportunity to evaluate your depth and do some actual coaching within a live-ball setting. Time to work out the kinks.

  • TWiz

    It's been a long while since we have had a biggie with the skill set of Watford. He has already establihed himself as the “go to” guy for this young team of exiciting players. I'm really turning into a BIG Elston fan. Man he plays hard and has a great knack of getting what needs to be done to win. I know it is early in this campaign, but all of you “haters” need to get with the program. TC has got this train certaintly rolling in the right direction! WooWoo!!

  • iudrew22

    does anyone think that the sloppy play might have been a young team overlooking or more appropriately…looking forward to going to PR this week?