Yes, that byline is correct. Ryan’s got the night off, so I’m taking the reigns on tonight’s GBU. Now, onward …
THE GOOD: IU WAS IN THE GAME, FOR 35 MINUTES.
For as much as Indiana struggled, and boy did they ever, the Hoosiers were in a conference road game with under six minutes to play. This, if my memory serves me correctly, was not the case last week in Columbus against Ohio State. Had you not watched the game and only looked at the final score, you would be shocked to learn Indiana was down just 48-43 at the 5:54 mark.
In a season that’s clearly headed in the direction of more losses than wins, progress must be measured in baby steps. And tonight, if Tom Crean and company need something to hang their hat on, it’s that they competed on the road for 35 minutes, as ugly as it was.
Also deserving of a mention in this space: Christian Watford. The freshman forward came to play and led IU in scoring with 16 points and also pulled down eight rebounds. Watford has a long way to go, but he continues to show flashes of talent that could make him an all-conference type of player down the road.
THE BAD AND UGLY: COHESION ON OFFENSIVE/SCORELESS STRETCHES, 3-POINT SHOOTING, TURNOVERS.
For as awful as Michigan played in the opening 20 minutes, Indiana was equally dreadful. Consider these facts: The Hoosiers had a scoreless stretch of five minutes and 13 seconds. Their first free throw was not attempted until the 6:50 mark. And they missed eight of nine 3-point attempts. (This did not improve in the second half as the Hoosiers missed all six attempts from behind the arc.) But none of these numbers are going to win games in the Big Ten, especially on the road.
But beyond the poor output on offense, even more concerning was the difficultly in which IU struggled to find any cohesion in its half court offense. IU scored just two points — two! — in the final 6:32. A night like tonight magnified how much this team lacks a player that can create offense. Maurice Creek was developing into that guy, but with his injury, the Hoosiers are now struggling to find that go-to-guy.
Turnovers. 19 of them. Most of the unforced variety. It’s a little bit easier to understand turnovers from the guard position, but a combined nine turnovers from Watford, Tom Pritchard and Derek Elston is head scratching. Elston, the recent subject of a playing time debate amongst fans, had three turnovers in just 10 minutes. And Pritchard, who had a couple of nice moves in the post but committed three turnovers as well, only saw 21 minutes due to foul trouble (and failed to record a rebound).
Finally, free throws continue to be a problem. Although IU only got to the line 12 times, they missed half of their attempts. The bottom line is that with their small margin for error, this is an area in which the Hoosiers must improve if they hope to win more than two or three conference games.
Filed to: Michigan Wolverines