Good, Bad and Ugly: Minnesota

THE GOOD: IT’S A WIN.

There are plenty of things this young Hoosiers team has yet to master, yet to grasp, yet to learn. And so far this season — and especially as of late in losses to Illinois and Michigan — one of their Achilles Heels has been finishing out the close game and winning. But If IU can replicate the effort and performance we’ve now seen in three Big Ten home games the rest of the way, and take the next step as they did today by rallying back in the OT frame, maybe this afternoon’s game is one we can point to say this is where they figured it out.

I know there will be harder challenges at home for the Hoosier up ahead, as Wisconsin, Michigan State and Purdue loom in the coming weeks. But given the way IU has competed in their first three home conference games, IU fans should feel confident that the Hoosiers have a shot to win, that they’ll be in every single home game. This isn’t to say they’re going to run the table at Assembly Hall. Far from it. And it’s not to say they’re suddenly going to take what they’re doing on their home court and suddenly replicate it on the road. That would be foolish.  But it is to say that this group of players has discovered that aggressive play on both ends of the floor — a floor they now know well — with a raucous crowd behind them is a recipe for good things.

Let it be known, Big Ten: When you come into Assembly Hall this season, there are no free passes, no easy wins.

On to some particulars:

1) Rebounding, especially on the offensive end, was key for Indiana tonight. IU simply out-worked and out-hustled Minnesota in that department. In the first half, IU grabbed 21 boards (nine offensive) to the Golden Gophers’ nine, and it allowed the Hoosiers several second-chance opportunities. Couple that with the hot hand of Devan Dumes from downtown and IU shooting 70 percent from the charity stripe (14-of-20), and it’s a large reason the Hoosiers went into the the locker room with a lead at halftime. For the game, IU finished with 43 boards (a whooping 20 on the offensive end) to Minnesota’s 31. Big ups to Bobby Capobianco and Tom Pritchard for snagging a combined ten boards before they both fouled out — and to Bobby C. for nailing that three, as well as that jumper as time was expiring on the shot clock in the second half — and to Christian Watford who had 10 boards, none more important than the one he grabbed on Devoe Joseph’s miss with four seconds left in OT.

2) Without Maurice Creek the rest of the season, some have worried about IU finding a go-to scorer in crunch time the rest of the way. But that man may have emerged this afternoon in the form of Verdell Jones III. He’s been important this season at the right times before, but this was on another level. Simply put: The Hoosier do not win this game without VJ3. In the overtime frame, when Joseph was raining threes and IU was lacking assertion or a plan, Jones put the team on his shoulders and willed them to victory. Outside of Watford’s important two made free throws after he snagged that aforementioned board and a layup by Jeremiah Rivers, Jones had the remaining six points in OT and he hit the biggest shots at the biggest times.

With IU trailing by five with just over two minutes left in OT, Jones grabbed an offensive board on a Derek Elston miss, got fouled, and sank both free throws. On IU’s next possession, Jones hit a jumper in the lane to bring IU within a point. And with IU trailing by one and not much going on, Jones took it upon himself to step up, make a move and take that fall-away jumper and hit it. Huge game for him — 24-points, seven boards, 13-19 FTs) — and his ability to step up and execute in overtime was the reason IU won this game.

THE BAD: SCORING DROUGHTS.

Minnesota is a very good defensive team, and the Hoosiers deserve credit for doing a good job with the press. They also only had 14 turnovers, which is under their season average. And for a team that is scoring the second-lowest points per possession in the Big Ten, throwing up 70 in regulation on the Golden Gophers is commendable. But IU also was stuck on 59 points for almost five minutes in the second half, and it allowed Minnesota to crawl back from a 15-point deficit and cut it to seven. IU also had close to a six-minute scoring drought from the 6:38 mark to the :46 mark at the end of the second half, and with Joseph and Paul Carter hitting, the game become a nail-bitter with under a minute to go.

IU was able to respond in the middle of those two scoring droughts to pad their lead a bit again. But around 11 minutes of scoreless action — something we’ve seen from the Hoosiers before this season — usually isn’t going to cut it. This afternoon, though, the Hoosiers were able to escape with a victory.

THE UGLY: STORMING THE FLOOR.

I know this tradition jumped the shark a few years back, but come on: IU beat an unranked Minnesota at home. Did the IU students really have to do this?

  • valpohistory

    DO IT! I hate Purdue.

  • valpohistory

    I'm with you. That played right in front of me when I was at the game. It really was a break-down from VJ3 but we really should just sweep it under the rug. He was yelling at him for not gathering the rebound but it was probably his fault for not sealing the back-side of the rebounder. VJ3 seems like a really nice kid, so it seemed a bit out of character but it was in the heat of the game and he probably just lost his cool. We'll just pretend it didn't happen

  • peaychris

    it was a mistake.. there was 9 team fouls then the double tech was called which made it 10.. it was the right call..

  • Taskmaster75

    I totally agree with the Cal sentiment. That guy is the quintessence of slimy and corrupt. The only guy I would have wanted over Crean would have been Pearl. That guy is a hell of a coach, and can recruit to a place where football is supreme.

  • Taskmaster75

    Hindsight is 20/20. Should IU have won that game comfortable, people would have praised it as a good strategy and/or completely ignored what happened. However, give Minnesota credit for having the heart to come back, they deserve much more praise than IU deserves fault.

  • hansschnier

    These are excellent points. But why limit your condemnation to storming the court?

    Personally, I don't even clap after a made basket unless IU is beating UCLA or Kentucky (only teams with more banners than us) by at least 20.

    Even though I was only 4 at the time, I have vague recollections of being disgusted at the ostentatious celebrations when IU won the title in '87. They only won by a single point, and if memory serves, they even lost some games that year. Not much to celebrate about if you ask me!

  • http://www.prinsportsblog.com BGleas

    I understand your point, but at the same time this team is desperate for a leader, and he seems to be stepping up. I agree there's better ways to go about it, but let's also remember that he's learning too. VJIII is a sophomore trying to step up and be a leader in what is still a very difficult situation.

    He'll get better at it. I'd worry a bit if these guys didn't seem to like each other so much.

  • cooper

    I never said he wouldn't be. All I've said is he has some shortcomings that over time he will need to improve. I've never said he won't be a good player, I think he will improve and by his junior year will be the starting PG. Right now I think Rivers is the best PG when it comes to getting the ball up the court. I'm fine with Hulls starting at the 2 guard if he is hitting his shots and backing up at PG when Rivers needs a rest. If Hulls isn't hitting shots Dumes should take minutes because he is a better defender. Hulls is a good set shooter and his shooting is improving. His D has gotten better too. I think anyone could agree he shouldn't have been guarding Novak who is Mich best 3pt shooter and 6inches taller than Hulls. Thats not a knock on Hulls its just a fact he isn't tall enough to bother a 6'7 shooter.

  • JerryCT

    To BGleas, BrianEvans, Milared, Cooper ………et al that have basketball knowledge and post on this site. I am wondering…………………………………….what is the purpose of the zone when:

    a) we put Pritchard or Watford up top say w Jones…………and then

    b) we put Hulls, Moore, w Rivers or Dumes down low defending the basket. ???????????

    Several times in the game Hulls ended up defending Sampson or Iverson down low and we saw how much trouble he had w Zach Novack in 2 games.

    SInce this alignment was by design , ie on purpose, I am wondering what the thinking is. It scared the crap out of me during the game…..anybody know the answer ?

  • http://www.prinsportsblog.com BGleas

    Hey Jerry,

    I've noticed this too with Hulls getting caught defending big men. It seems to me it's coming more in the man defense. For whatever reason he seems to be getting caught in a lot of switches that leave him on a post player and Elston or Watford guarding his man. On thing I've noticed from Hulls is that he's very good at recognizing this, communicating with his teammates and finding the right time to switch back.

    As far as the zone, there was stretch (I believe in the first half) where we were in what looked like a 1-3-1 zone. Elston was in the middle at the high post and I believe VJIII was the runner on the baseline. Sometimes you'll put a big up top to disrupt entry passes against the zone, but I'm not a big fan of pulling one of your bigs that far from the defensive boards.

    Not sure if there was a specific reason to play a 1-3-1 against Minny, or if CTC was trying to give a different look.

  • http://matthewjenks.blogspot.com/ Matt_J

    You know what, if you want to look like a pathetic MAC team, I'm sure that they'll be more than willing to accept Indiana's membership application. Why stop there. I'm the OVC wouldn't turn Indiana away, either.

    Then you can all storm the court after beating Ball State or Eastern Michigan.

  • GFDave

    I told everybody that it was satire upfront. I told everybody I didn't consider myself a Guardian. My whole point is that it isn't about all these things. You missed all of that. I won't ask you the question that is dangling there begging to be asked.

  • GFDave

    It is a product of the 1-3-1 which almost always has a smaller, quicker player running the baseline. I agree that Pritch would seem more naturally suited to play the middle of the “3” with maybe Rivers at the top.

  • MillaRed

    Looky here Jerry and Brian Evans, the likes of us that are minimum wage earning carny's have no bizness whatsoever questioning anything Coach Crean does in his entire career at Indiana. Now scuse me while I go tend to my chickens!

    This storming the court thing got outta control on this blog. I pointed it out and really didn't like it when it went down. But I get it no biggie. Michigan did the same thing against UCONN.

    It is undeniable the folks on here criticizing Crean are fans of his and diehard IU followers. I am VERY glad he's here. Last year it didn't seem to matter what he did. We were so bad it was hard to judge him. Now we are much better and are learning about him on the fly. We beat Michigan, Pitt and Minnesota. There is no denying things are better. Sometimes I just don't understand and share it on here.

  • Pablito

    You don't storm the court after beating an unranked 12-5 team on your home court. You just don't. No matter how bad the last few years have been; no matter WHAT. You just don't do it. It's tacky, it says 'we've never been here before and might not be again' and the world is still laughing about it. Not the kind of respect IU is trying to regain.

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