Good, Bad and Ugly: Loyola (Md.)

  • 12/22/2009 10:33 pm in

THE GOOD: THE COMEBACK, TOM PRITCHARD.

I started this game a bit late, so I had to play catchup on DVR. Because I always need to have my laptop open — always, always — I caught one of Alex’s Twitter updates that said IU had cut the lead to 11 with just under 12 minutes to go. At the time, I had just started the second half, and as the half wore on I became increasingly shocked by this fact: after all, IU showed no signs of really putting a dent into Loyola’s lead. They still trailed by 20 with 14:10 to go, and though they were taking care of the ball better — there was only one turnover in the first seven minutes of the second half — Loyola was hitting their shots, and IU wasn’t able to inch any closer.

But then the barrage hit. Maurice Creek knocked down two threes, Verdell Jones hit another, Creek hit a layup, got fouled and hit the free throw, Jones hit two free throws off a Creek steal, and suddenly the Hoosiers were only down six with 10:18 to go.

Another big part of IU’s comeback? Tom Pritchard. In the second half, he really reminded me of the Pritch of old: he was gobbling up rebounds, had a real knack for the ball and was a productive scorer. He had six offensive boards and eight total, and chipped in seven points. It wasn’t an amazing effort by any stretch, but he kept a lot of plays alive during the Hoosiers’ comeback run, and it was an integral part of why they were able to make this a game.  IU, with their thin frontline, could use this kind of effort out of Pritch every night.

Yes, of course, there was plenty to gripe about in this game. (Just what until you get to The Bad.) But IU could have laid down and died in this one. Instead, they turned up the defensive pressure in both the full and half court, were aggressive and got to the line, and hit some big shots to bring them right back into this game.

This is what good teams do when they find themselves at a crossroads: They will themselves back into the game with good play on both sides of the ball. But good teams also find a way to win these games against an inferior opponent at home. And well, we all know that didn’t happen tonight.

THE BAD: OH, THERE WAS PLENTY.

I’ve seen some bad basketball in my day. I’ve played some bad basketball in my day. I know last year’s team turned the ball over at a freakishly high rate. But man, this has to rank up there as some of the most terrible basketball I’ve seen in recent history. It was a like a middle school game between two unskilled, uncoordinated teams. The game was basically a reversed course. Where Loyola feasted off IU’s turnovers for 20 points thanks to its full-court press in the first half,  IU got back into this game on the strength of its three-quarters court trap in the second half. Both teams finished the night with 23 turnovers. Early in the first half, when IU actually was able to break the press (which was rare), every possession just seemed to be guys trying to drive — be it Maurice Creek, Christian Watford, Devan Dumes — and falling over themselves.

There was also a ridiculous 58 free throws shot in this game — 32 for IU; 26 for Loyola — which seemed to be to IU’s advantage. They hit a nice 10-of-12 in the first half, and were hitting early in the second.

But it killed them down the stretch:  Jones missed two with 8:21 to go, Jeremiah Rivers missed four straight in the last 2:03, none more important than the two he missed with IU down 69-67 with 37 seconds to play, which essentially sealed the game for Loyola. In the second half, IU only shot 12-of-20 from the line, good for 60 percent. In a game that’s so close, one that you were once down 24 in, you have to do better than that.

And if you’re wondering why, when the shot clock and game clock were nearly identical after those last two missed free throws, the Hoosiers waited 20 seconds to foul, it’s because Brett Harvey happens to be the best returning free-throw shooter in the country from last season. When he didn’t give up the ball, IU had to eventually foul. And all it did was give them less time to mount a comeback. Down four with 17 seconds to go is a lot harder than down four with 35-36 seconds to go.

And ugh, the four-point play with just under two minutes to go in which Rivers fouled Harvey on a 3-point attempt that he made? A four-point lead with just under two minutes to go quickly became a two-point deficit. In a game like this, you can’t let that happen. You just can’t. And it was the second time it happened; the first play of the second half was a four-point play from Harvey, in which Rivers fouled him on a 3-pointer.

The worst play of the night? With 11 minutes to go in the first half, Watford looked to inbound the ball under Loyola’s basket. Hulls and Rivers were covered in the backcourt very near to him on the baseline. Dumes, the next closest Hoosier, was near the 3-point line down on IU’s side of the court. So what does Watford do? He throws it right to — literally it hit him chest high — Robert Olsen of Loyola, a guy that was standing pretty much at center court.

That play pretty much epitomizes how this game went.

THE UGLY: WHEN THE TIE COMES OFF, YOU KNOW TOM CREAN IS ANGRY.

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  • Brian Evans

    oh, do you mean that final four that they went to but NEVER WENT TO. i.e. it was vacated because of cheating. when your offense is absolutely dependent on dwane wade's to work, maybe we should cheat again as well to get to the championship game.

    and maybe check out the 8 years at memphis prior to that run and you will see a lot of 1,2, and 3 seeds choking in the tourney.

  • Brian Evans

    i am not sure. i still like a lot of what crean does. he is charismatic, he recruits, he excites the fans etc, but im not convinced he's a wiz with x's and o's or teaching fundamental basketball. As long as we have a few assistants who know the game well, that could help. and the fact still remains that Sampson left this program in shambles. crean was still a good pickup. but i have serious doubts if he is the one to bring iu basketball back to its old form.

  • Walton

    IU will be back. One more recruiting class like the one we got this year and we will not be discussing a loss to Loyola Maryland.

  • IU DOCTORAL

    I agree. I'm an IU student from Milwaukee. I followed Crean at Marquette. He's NOT a good X's and O's coach. Just watch an IU game. The offense is horrible. Its sloppy and very inconsistent. At this point its not about being young. IU has good DIV I athletes and yet, we look like Bloomington South on the offensive end. Crean's coaching didn't take Marquette anywhere. Dwayne Wade took Marquette somewhere. Crean does motivate and talk well. And he can recruit—although a positional recruiter. He recruits and recruits PG and SG. IU won't win a sixth unless we get a 'Dwayne Wade' or Crean starts recruiting all positions. We won't hang a sixth banner because of Creans coaching ability. Just like at Marquette, he recruits big men “projects” like Jobe and Maniru. Waste of scholarship.

  • That's silly. Just because the NCAA vacated that game does not mean a basketball team did not play that day. And the above argument was with regard to the team that played, not any allegations of impropriety.

    Folks that are criticizing Crean's offense maybe should give him the time he's said he needs all along to build a quality team running his system. He's consistently said this would not be the year. Stop acting as if it is. What you are watching is a work in progress.

  • UNC is a more freeform team than pretty much any. They don't run sets unless they have to. They've been as successful as anyone. I just don't think this is a very accurate point.

  • gnrnabk1

    Totally disagree with your excuse that its Christamas break. These kids were brought to IU to play basketball getting a FREE valuable education. They should at least give a damn about IU pride let alone their own. There is no excuse for lack of hustle!!!! Tom Crean needs to worry more about getting his team ready to play rather than worring about what the fans are chanting.

  • cooper

    the fact is those things are one and the same. Players look for teams who run a pro style offense. To get the best players you have to play the style they want to play. IU could play the Princeton system all they want, but that isn't going to matter. Do we really aspire to be Wisconsin or Purdue? Right now we'd all take that, but in the long run its not what I want. Purdue has been irrelevant for years, and Wisconsin has been consistent but not championship quality.

    With that said, Crean was out coached, has no rhyme or reason to his substituting, and shouldn't have stopped pressing when it was effective.

  • Taskmaster75

    I agree with this assessment completely. As much as we all wish we could be Kentucky and go 13-0 with a roster blazing with talent, it doesn't happen all the time. Gotta give it some time.

  • Taskmaster75

    So wait a minute. Do you think these freshman are used to missing holidays? This is most likely the first time in their entire LIVES that they have missed Christmas or so. You think that doesn't have some effect? Is it a coincidence that 3 of our four leading scorers were sophomores or above? Ofcourse they give a damn about Indiana. Saying they should forget about what they are used to is completely wishful thinking.

  • IUGRAD

    Work in progress? We played Loyola (MD). At home.

  • IU DOCTORAL

    I agree. I'm an IU student from Milwaukee. I followed Crean at Marquette. He's NOT a good X's and O's coach. Just watch an IU game. The offense is horrible. Its sloppy and very inconsistent. At this point its not about being young. IU has good DIV I athletes and yet, we look like Bloomington South on the offensive end. Crean's coaching didn't take Marquette anywhere. Dwayne Wade took Marquette somewhere. Crean does motivate and talk well. And he can recruit—although a positional recruiter. He recruits and recruits PG and SG. IU won't win a sixth unless we get a 'Dwayne Wade' or Crean starts recruiting all positions. We won't hang a sixth banner because of Creans coaching ability. Just like at Marquette, he recruits big men “projects” like Jobe and Maniru. Waste of scholarship.

  • Taskmaster75

    Work in progress insinuates imperfection. What do you expect? I saw imperfection. I also saw a team come back from the depths.

  • HEY WHATS THE STATUS ON MATT ROTH… he need to erase DUMAS minutes fast

  • Luke72

    Coach Crean is a great guy! Think that we will be commenting next year at this time—Wait till next year. No Bigs, no Big Ten Championships! Crean's style won't work in the Big Ten!!

  • IUonetwo

    From what I've heard Roth will be redshirting this season.

  • HoosierSmitty

    How does Maurice Creek only take 6 shots after scoring 31 and 29 the last two games?

    Don't tell me Coach Patsos of “double teaming Curry at the half court while the rest of the team plays 4 on 3” fame masterminded some shut down of Creek. If you want to tell me that Loyola (MD) can “shut down” Maurice Creek, then what are Big Ten teams going to be able to do against us? We're flat out screwed if this is the case.

    That's just ridiculous. You gotta make sure Creek is getting some looks. He had to force a shot early in the game because nothing was being done to get him open. He's the one guy on our team with a knack for making shots and making GOOD things happen on a regular basis.

    6 shots and 1 free throw? Give me a break. Some things are not that complicated.

  • HoosierSmitty

    Can anyone in the press tell me if Crean is getting asked questions such as …

    1. How does a guy who scored 31 and 29 in the last two games only take 6 shots?
    2. To what degree has Jeremiah Rivers worked on how to shoot free throws?
    3. How prepared were you to break the press?
    4. What alternative plans did you come up with when your game plan obviously wasn't working?
    5. How well do you think the current team fits your offensive style?
    6. Have you talked to Christian Watford about how pathetic it is that he gets blocked 3-4 times a game when he's 6'7 and an athlete? Do you work on anything related to this, because he just does the same thing again and again and again? 29 turnovers and he's not even a ballhandler!

    I'm not in the press room…but it seems like from what I hear, there aren't a lot of tough questions being asked. Does the media just give Crean a free pass again this year?

    I support him and this team…I just want to know some of these answers.

    Ugh…I hope Bryant stinks as bad as we think they do. The Hoosiers need to embarass someone out of the gym to make us feel better.

  • Brian Evans

    This is the conversation I want to have.

    I don't want to be wisconsin or purdue, i want to be INDIANA!! We were the program that wisconsin and purdue are trying to imitate. A team that kept players 4 years and brought them into a program or system of basketball that really taught them the game and vied for championships. We won championships because we played better basketball, though we did have good players (but oftentimes we were outmatched as far as talent and still won). I don't want to play a poor game of basketball, and yes i think pro style offenses are poor form, just to try and get the good players. I don't want to look like memphis, kentucky, or even NC, though NC would be much preferred. I want to play good Indiana basketball and attract the players who want to learn how to play the game well. Andrae Patterson's, Isaiah Thomas', Alan Henderson's, Steve Alford's, AJ Guyton's, we got good talent before by playing a smart, fundamentally sound game, why can't we now? Why do we have to race to the bottom to cross our fingers that the next john wall comes here?. He probably won't. The wondeful thing about Knights teams was that we never had to cross our fingers for john walls or dewyane wade type talent, because even with less talented teams we could keep up with anyone, though Isaiah Thomas didn't hurt, haha. Crean's whole mantra coming in was, “this is Indiana,” well hopefully sometime soon he will start watching tape to see how Indiana used to play. Because it was a beautiful thing. And a pro-style offense, whether it's Mike Davis', Kelvin Sampson's, or Crean's isn't considered indiana basketball in my book and it is an affront to probably the most knowledgable fan base, in terms of bball IQ, in the country (even when taskmaster75 is included.). And it kills me to say this but Purdue, or even butler's, team this year is the closest thing to Indiana Basketball I've seen in this state since '01. They have local players, playing good defense, and running efficient, smart offensive sets.

  • DCdave

    Brian Evans……..
    How many times did the motion offense choke in the tourney????????
    Do the Richmond, Colorado, Pepperdine, Cleveland State, etc losses ring a bell?

  • Brian Evans

    i never said knight was a perfect coach, i said i liked his offense.
    and i never blamed those early exits on the offense which still provided good shots, i blamed that on knights psychology games backfiring and having the whole team afraid to shoot upon entering the tourney. remember how each of those years we would usually win a preseason tourney, climb the rankings to top 10-15 and then get progressively worse throughout the season. i had always blamed the descent of knights final hoosier teams on his psychological scare tactics that didnt work anymore. and if you would watch the games IU was playing timid and often our star players were gunshy in the tourney. thats why when you had mike davis, a positive guy and a descent motivator, coaching knights players, who had been taught the game well, they went to the ship.

  • OldIUGymnast

    I watched that “foul” from 5 angles… that was a weak anticipation call. Rivers did NOT touch him