The Minute After: Northwestern

  • 03/06/2010 3:24 pm in

FINAL SCORE: Indiana 88, Northwestern 80, OT | Box Score

This win did not come easy. When it seemed like the Hoosiers had it locked up in regulation, when if felt like this 11-game losing streak was finally — finally! — going to be over, a couple costly turnovers by Verdell Jones let Northwestern stick around in regulation.

And in OT, there was still that “IU-has-the-lead-but-is-it-enough” feeling up until Tjian and Fink came in to close it out.

But yes: it was a win. An impressive win. A sign that the future — for as bleak as it’s looked the last several weeks — is bright.

Let us count the ways:

1) Great call by coach Tom Crean to start Derek Elston and insert Verdell Jones at the point to start this game. Time and time again Elston proved his worth. He had a terrific dunk to ignite the crowd and nice tip-in for two early, and finished the game with 17 points — a career-high — and eight boards. He just brings an element to the court IU hasn’t had all season; Elston is a high-energy player with a big body that can score in a variety of ways and finish around the hole.

This kid can be a double-double machine for years to come.

And without Jeremiah Rivers at the point to start this game, IU didn’t turn the ball over until the 10:25 mark of the first half. That turnover was committed by, of course, Rivers.

But because the Hoosiers started out so well this afternoon, it gave them the confidence to realize they were not only in the game, but that they could win it. The first ten minutes of bullet-proof play were of the utmost importance.

Now, when the Wildcats went into that half-court trap in the second half, IU did have some turnover problems — espeically down the stretch — which let the Wildcats hang around. But including the OT period, the Hoosiers had 17 turnovers. Clearly, that’s still not too good. But they’ve had more in only 40 minutes of play this season, not 45.

2) Defense leads to offense.

Not only did IU get more opportunities to score at the start of the game because of the lower amount of turnovers, but they were great in their 2-3 zone this afternoon in Assembly Hall. Bobby Capobianco stands out as a guy that was denying entry passes and getting his hands in passing lanes. (He also sacrificed his body and got a timeout as he fought for a loose ball on his back at the end of regulation, which was big.) For the game, IU racked up 10 steals. And they were scoring in transition off the steals — 23 of their points this afternoon came off turnovers.

And yes, again, NW also capitalized off IU’s miscues, as the Wildcats had 21 points off turnovers.

But this is not how it’s gone the last 11 games. IU is the team losing the turnover battle, getting killed in transition. It might have only been two points, but for once, IU flipped the script and became the aggressor. For once, it was the Hoosiers using turnovers to their advantage, not the other way around.

3) Jordan Hulls.

Three after three after three. Eight of them. And they came at the most important times. A career-high 24 points. Putting his body on the court and keeping the ball with IU on a couple occasions. Four assists to three turnovers. Forty-four minutes of play.

When people talk about Jordan Hulls, when they talk about his will to win, his drive, his determination, this is what they’re talking about.

4) The offense as a whole.

So many of the ITH faithful have complained about the woeful assist-to-turnover ratio of late. But IU had 15 assists this afternoon to their 17 turnovers. Sure, it could be better. But 15 assists? This team hasn’t sniffed that in recent games.

IU was able to capitalize on NW’s 1-3-1 zone and lack of athleticism and a dominating big man. It was about getting the ball to the free-throw line and looking for slashers to the rim from the baseline, or drawing a defender to that middle of the zone and kicking out to someone for an open look on the perimeter. And as I’ve previously noted, it was also about getting out on the break and scoring in transition.

IU broke 60 for the first time in a month, and they didn’t need OT to do it. They hit 43.3 percent of their shots from the field, not terrific, but better than they’ve done in most of the past 11 losses. Hulls’ terrific 3-point performance led them to shooting a blistering 43.5 percent from beyond the arc. Their free-throw shooting was also on point, as they hit 26-of-32 for 81.3 percent.

I actually found myself impressed with some crisp passing today. Again, a rarity the last several games.

For one afternoon, on the backs of their freshman, the Hoosiers gutted out their 10th win of the season. The heart, hustle and desire was there. This, my friends, was long overdue.

And a sign of the promise to come.

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  • HoosierSmitty

    I'm just glad we ended the regular season on a positive note. This is something that will stay with these kids through the off season, no matter what happens in the Big Ten Tournament.

    The fans, coaches, and especially the players really needed this win. A rematch against Northwestern in the Big Tourney would be nice, and we should have plenty of confidence going in to that game.

  • IUMIKE1

    Had to miss portions of the game. What was the ” Mo Creed story” ? Did he hit 31 threes in a row in practice or something ? If so this was before he was injured….right ?

  • MillaRed

    For me the best thing about the game was the fact the kids were finally having fun out there. They realized they were playing well, communicated often and actually cracked a smile here and there.

    I think I mentioned moving VIII to the point earlier in the week and I was very happy to see it happen. He is still turnover prone but it just seems to be our best offensive option. He is our best creator and can always get his shot off.

    It moves Jordy to the SG position and as long as he hits 40% of those threes it works.

    We finally put CW at the SF where he will usually outclass his defender, especially on the boards.

    Elston we all have been clamoring for and that game wasn't a fluke. He is coming into his own. Really excited about that kid.

    As I watched closely at the leadership and intangibles out there today, Bobby C. really gave me hope. His teammates respond to him well and he seems to understand the game. He was under control and caused problems out there. Imagine when he really hits those 3's with a little regularity. I got excited about Capo's future last night. He kept the team calm down the stretch.

    Dumes, TP and Rivers got what they deserved. Spot duty and its been a long time coming. It takes 9-10 players to win, I just hope they make the mental adjustment next year and make the team better. Cause Big Ten starters they ain't.

    It is so nice to see we will have enough depth next year to let the incoming freshmen grow during the course of the season instead of relying on them to carry the torch.

    Great win Hoosiers!

  • Bedo

    OMG, Crean finally adjusted his line-up for a WIN! Did you feel that, the orbit of the earth just stopped. We have all been thinking, blogging, complaining about this for months. Praise to be to the gods, tommy can actually get out of his linear-decision making.

    Bedo

  • Kelin Blab

    Well this may help…..just read Alex's tweet that there Teague rumor he cancelled his '2nd' trip to Ky this weekend…..not sure why given their next sectional game isn't til monday night….the plot thickens.

  • Kelin Blab

    That is shocking given it is the total opposite here in Indiana and the indy region. Well if he season ends tomorrow we will find out soon enough.

  • Kelin Blab

    Coach Benny beat him in a 3pt shooting contest according to Crean by hitting 13 in a row….Creek wanted a rematch and drained 31 straight….prior to last nights game…..The legend of Creek continues. This year Creek was worth at least 3-4 more wins I believe.

  • IUMIKE1

    First off WOW !!! 31 shots in a row from anywhere other than a layup or a dunk is pretty damn impressive let alone from behind the arc. I know it was just shooting around with no defense but the fact that he done it this soon after his surgery has to be a good sign, don't you think ? Did Crean say something about this in Don Fishcers pregame or was it put out there by someone else ?

    I think he was worth, at the vey least, 3- 4 more wins. I feel like he would have made others around him better by simply making it harder for the other team to be able to cheat on some things that they pretty much did all year and there is that 16 point average thing that would have made more than just a little bit of a difference this year (IMO).

  • IUMIKE1

    Good news. If he doesn't go with the Hoosiers hope he goes anywhere and I do mean anywhere other than down south in that blue cesspool run by Criminalapari.

    Every day that passes just makes it one day closer to Criminalapari getting caught and the denial game starting. I firmly believe that is something we will never have to worry about with Crean and once again points out one of the really big differences between “them” and IU. Still wonder to this day if Denim shirt was not a plot hatched and run by the blue cesspool.

  • IUDAD

    Anyone have film on this boy????

  • aceman07

    Any rumors as to what's going on with Moses?

  • aceman07

    I noticed CW gets up much higher when he's pulling down big boards than he does on any shot attempt? I wonder if the poor kid cannot do two things at once? Could it just be the old “can't walk and chew gum at the same time” thing because I can't figure out how he can look like he's a full arms length above the rim and snatch down a rebound but can barely lay the ball in on a dunk attempt? It's puzzling!

  • aceman07

    Oh well, I thought it was MICH too but since we beat NW we get them again. I'm fine with that. I think it's a real good matchup for us and NW is on a real downswing and pretty depressed that their tournament hopes have been dashed. I don't think they realistically are thinking about winning four games and the B10 tourney!

  • Kelin Blab

    IUMike this was straight from Crean during the pregame show….he said the kid is torn up that he cannot play but is working hard on his game already. The good that comes out of this season after Creek goes down. VJ continued to develop, Elston stepped up late, Hulls has become one of our top 3 guards. Not that this would not have happend with Mo out there but it would have cut into time, shots, and experience……

    Solid 2010-2011 nucleus of VJ, Creek, Hulls, Elston, Watford. I also think Bobby C was a pleasant surprise for me this year….as HE predicted he would be. Rivers becomes Dumes next year…spark off the bench, solid D…..

  • Kelin Blab

    aceman…big difference in 'powering up' with two hands for a rebound than with a ball in your hand. I just think watford, as even Finklemeir said needs to hit the weights and get stronger. I think playing the 4 most of the year has pounded some energy out of him.

  • HoosierDavey

    I think you are right about the attitude…it just seems like he is easily frustrated, leading to a lack of energy. I expected Rivers, based on his experience and the leadership he seemed to show from the sidelines last year, to be the leader of the team this year. Plus, I would have thought that he would have been the most steady and smart with the basketball based on his experience. Instead, it feels like he is a true freshman at the college level. I still believe in the kid and think he could help us greatly, but it does appear that he is letting everything bring down his attitude. Really hoping he will come back next year ready to lead and be a positive force, even if his role is a 6th man.

  • Wish

    Hey, I'll rip a kid if I don't think he's doing his job but I'll also compliment him on when he does his job well. Hulls played his butt off against NW and I hope he can repeat his performance on Thursday. You are correct, I'll complain if IU whiffs in the B10 tourney and the backcourt combines for like 4 assists.

  • JerryCT

    Also he tends to go up with the ball behind his head.

    try your own experiment. Go up with the ball in front of you then try it with the ball behind your head

  • aceman07

    I totally agree Jerry. I think it's something to do with his placement of the ball. I was a guard at 5'9″ but I could get both hands on the rim rebounding and could dunk a softball and I'm pretty sure I had no trouble getting the ball up just as high I just couldn't palm the ball. I think by putting the ball behind his head he is making it impossible to get some lift on the shot/dunk attempt. Hopefully the next IU post player coach can correct something there. He also seems to get a ton of shots blocked from behind so hopefully someone can teach him to go up strong with the ball in front of him.

  • aceman07

    I may have to eat crow for this statement later, but I really have this feeling from reading some comments from Teague's dad, both here and elsewhere, that he may end up coming to IU. There's something about being that last kid in the bunch and wanting to please papa who is an IU fan! Let's all hope because I think he is going to be a great college basketball player and may be the signing IU needs to pull in a big class or two!

  • kentuckyhoosier

    God bless you mike . There really is nothing worse in the world than one of the many redneck uk fans . Im soooo excited to find out which team will end kenfucky's year !!!! and I really hope it's a team from the big ten ! kentucky bought Criminalpari and three of those thugs from Memphis to play there at corRUPPt arena .

  • aceman07

    I completely agree. I was praying and posting after the Purdue game that JR needed to sit on the pine the entire game and maybe the rest of the season because I don't think his attitude helps the team either after watching him at Purdue.

  • kentuckyhoosier

    I had a coversation about teague saturday with U of L die hards , as they have all been hoping for him to be a cardinal , But three of them thought he was backing away from Louisville , saying that they had heard that he did 'nt want to play for a “in your face coach” . They were also aware that his father was in attendence at IU games .

  • kentuckyhoosier

    God bless you mike . There really is nothing worse in the world than one of the many redneck uk fans . Im soooo excited to find out which team will end kenfucky's year !!!! and I really hope it's a team from the big ten ! kentucky bought Criminalpari and three of those thugs from Memphis to play there at corRUPPt arena .

  • SSTRAUB

    Not sure. Hes only a freshman who didnt even get to play this year due to injury. I did see him play aau ball last summer. Kid looked pretty solid for a 14 year old. QUICK!

  • SSTRAUB

    The worst UK fans are the ones who live here in the Hoosier state! Im 20 miles from Louisville and that alI see! Last year it was UofL, The year before it was IU…. And this year its UK!!!! Bandwagon? Id say so! I'm in a diverse area here! Go IU!

  • Kelin Blab

    kyhoosier….that statement may be good and bad. I know some of the issues his h.s. team had this year was the lack of discipline and reigning players when necessary. However maybe it is moreso the kid doesn't want to be embarrassed on the sidelines and coached more…as I see Crean does often. RMK would have literally bit J.Rivers for some of the stuff he did this year but crean seems to try and coach them through….well up until he benched him for Jordan Hulls 🙂

  • silkyslim

    The game, especially Indiana hoops, is always more fun when one plays hard, smart, & together. That is a very good point you bring up and glad to see our boys enjoy the game the way it is supposed to be. I think many overlooked that(fun in just playing) in the giddy feelings of the win. I believe we will see more of that spirit in the future.