The Minute After: Mississippi Valley State

Notes on a 71-54 win over Mississippi Valley State:

There was trepidation among the ITH faithful before this one.

We worried Sean Woods, a Rick Pitino disciple, would have his Delta Devils — about as fantastic a team nickname as they come, by the way — running up and down the court, taking it to the Hoosiers, a group playing its third game in five nights.

It wasn’t always a sure thing. IU, against a controlled full-court defense from Mississippi Valley State to start the game, were taking contested threes too early in the shot clock, and turnovers created some issues in the first half as well. But it’s beginning to become clearer and clearer that these Hoosiers are too experienced, too talented, give too much effort and have too much heart to let some team from the SWAC give them serious trouble inside Assembly Hall.

Tonight’s win was grabbed on the strength of a second half where IU clamped down hard on D and got out on the break. (Defense creating offensive!) The Hoosiers scored 32 points off turnovers tonight.

IU now stands at 3-0, the first time its found itself at such a mark in the Tom Crean era. And with another three games against more-than-beatable opponents looming, it would be a letdown if IU didn’t head into the ACC-Big Ten Challenge against Boston College at 6-0.

It’s not always perfect. It’s not always pretty. There will be tougher tests ahead, especially when Big Ten play rolls around.

But it’s taking care of business when business should be taken care of — something this team in Crean’s third year is proving we should come to expect, not see as a pleasant surprise.

Other thoughts:

+ Will Sheehey played the Victor Oladipo role tonight. (Though Vic was solid too, of course.) Sheehey was active, flashed some athleticism and just seemed to always be there. Highlights included his steal for a breakaway lay-up in the second half and his kinda-sorta alley-oop for IU’s last score of the evening.

He finished with nine points (4-of-7 shooting, 1-of-3 from the line) five boards and two steals in 11 minutes.

+ As mentioned above, the turnover bug infected the Hoosiers tonight. But there was progress. Only 17 overall, instead of the 20-plus we saw in the first two contests of the season. But Verdell Jones III continued to have issues with the ball in his hands. He finished the night with seven turnovers, matching the total he had in his debut Sunday night against Wright State.

In the second half, Crean favored Jordan Hulls with point-guard duties, and it was more poetic and less erratic — that behind-the-back dish from Hulls to Oladipo for an and-1 was pretty.

Hulls finished with only one turnover on the evening.

It’ll be worth monitoring ball-handling duties in IU’s next contest.

+ Tom Pritchard stayed out of foul trouble tonight, and against a team that didn’t overpower him with size, was active and effective for much of his run.

He may not have flashed much offense, but if he can continue to do the other things with vigor — setting screens, defending the paint, grabbing boards, altering shots — it’ll soften the blow with Guy Marc-Michel’s return still a mystery.

(Photo credit: James Brosher)

  • Anonymous

    The +/- stats don’t tell me much except that you got lucky and played with our best players against their worst players. If I go 5-5 on 3 pointers, make 3 steals and 1 block, have 2 A and 0 TO, but my team scores 20 and the opponent scores 21 (none by my man) then I lose the +/- comparison. That seems harsh to me-I just played my a__ off! Over time with lots of games and lots of minutes they may tell a lot. Maybe?

  • Anonymous

    Excellent work! On Will’s play the ball never entered the front court!

  • ArtistFormerlyKnownAs_Aceman07

    I think Elston looked much better before the injury last night. I have also been holding to the fact that DE and BC will move permanently to the 4 and TP will split time between the backup 5 and a 4. I think that frees them all up to be better contributors and helps with the whole “fouling out” issue they all seem to be prone to.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, but Jones carried us to victory in game # 2! Watford did the same in game #1. In game #3 it took a committee chaired by Watford. Keep Jones on the court!

  • Anonymous

    No. Pritch and Capo are even to fill in for Guy only. As for all of the other positions, the order is Vic, Will, Derek. Moore is the person to fill in for Hulls. JR gets his 15-20 minutes/game the old-fashioned way-he earns it with defense, rebounding, drives to the basket and playing under control. Matt destroys the zones. That is a deep 13.

  • Anonymous

    That would be the best case scenario for me too, a rotation something like this:
    3-Watford/Sheehy
    4-Elston/Capo
    5-GMM/Pritch

    No idea what the guards should look like, but some semblance of depth, how refreshing!

  • Anonymous

    Jordon just gets better in every game he plays.

  • Anonymous

    The winning combo is Watford, Creek, Jones and Hulls. But this year there are many combinations that will play together.

  • Anonymous

    Great news!

  • HoosierFromCT

    Christian Watford, Verdell Jones and Maurice Creek combined to shoot 9-of-31. No way do we win last year with that stat. So nice to have depth!!!!! Now we NEED Guy back!

  • MillaRed

    Of course we want VIII on the court. I was thinking we could minimize his PG
    duties.

  • Theproudesthoosier

    That’s is why VJ should be a 2. That is what the responsibility of 2 is on offense. Dribble off the pass and create drives and shots for himself through the offense. Fundamentally speaking, Hulls shows brilliance referring to a true PG role, and he has shown the ability to create for others at a higher clip than VJ. Whereas VJ creates for himself on a high level, yet that is not the role of the PG. VJ at the point does not involve the rest of the team enough to win on a national level. Yet with experience, Hulls can be that player. The Steve Nash comparison made during the game should be flattering and actually has some merit to it. Hulls can shoot, sure. He also shows massive ability to be able to make the tough pass, and thread the needle. What is intriguing is that also he can move the defense with his passing motion and then hit the open guy after drawing the defense. This is exactly what a high level quarterback does to a defensive when he fakes or uses his head and eyes to mislead the defense. The PG role in basketball is almost one and the same as a quarterback in football. Distribute, distribute, distribute, and handle the defensive attack by protecting the ball. Indiana has nothing but time at this point and nothing to lose. Let Hulls grow and mature into our PG, because he has the flair and intellect to do it. By the time he is a senior, he has the potential and has had the time to develop skills to be an All American. When that year comes Yogi could be in town, and Hulls could be the perfect mentor to him with a few years of being our PG under his belt. Once we realize that, then we actually see the program being built from class to class, and our continuation of being a nation powerhouse becomes tangible. This is still a long term project, but we have the tools. That is fact.

  • JerryCT

    TP can play the 4 if no points other than garbage is expected ………. because ……… he can pass …….and ………he can defend almost anybody on the floor as we saw last year …………… vs Hummel …. plus …. his “help” and “recover” out on the floor on the high ball screen.

    This makes him a candidate IMO to play alongside GMM when we face Wisky ( Leurs/Nakavil) , Minn (Iverson/Sampson), OSU ( Lauderdale/Sullinger) . I might even try him on Shurna just to rough him up a bit

  • JerryCT

    And so right you are. In fact it is magic.

    The +/- stat is only a guide as to what to look at in more depth as one measure of the player’s effectiveness as part of a team. We have 3 games so far and a pattern has begun for whatever reason.

    PU was a better team w Kramer on the floor ………. but where were his stats ?

    Iverson & Marbury can score but do their teams win ? These are the mysteries of the game people call “chemistry”.

  • Anonymous

    Great job ! Nothing gets past the ITH crew. Whoever is over the officiating may want to give our gang a call next time they need to consult on something of this nature and the NC2A can rest assured that the ITH gang will call them out when they get wrong.

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