Indiana: Where normal matters so much

BLOOMINGTON — I’m sitting here in front of my computer, and trying to figure out what to write, and it is next to impossible.

We could touch on Tom Pritchard’s impressive day (Five blocks? Dang.), or Maurice Creek’s return to the top of the scoring charts (19), or the improved turnover numbers (just three in the second half). All would be acceptable, and easy to write, but we’re looking for more penetrating insight here.

So this will probably disappoint: Indiana is just a normal team, with some handy strengths.

The Hoosiers are now 4-0, with four wins that, overall, felt rather comfortable. Evansville took Indiana out of its offense Sunday afternoon, and the Hoosiers battled first-half foul trouble. But as it has thus far, the defense showed up, sparking a 22-0 run in the second half that kept the Aces at arms length the rest of the day.

Creek’s day was important, both in the moment (a run of 3-pointers early in the second half was the catalyst for Indiana’s run) and obviously, in the larger conversation about this season. It’s one half in eight, but glimpses of the old Creek will make for a happy Hoosier Thanksgiving.

Tom Pritchard’s haters aside, the big man had hands-down his best game Sunday, scoring eight with eight rebounds and five blocks. More than that, he played the entire second half with three fouls already on his line, and never committed another.

Verdell Jones rallied from a five-point, seven-turnover outing last Tuesday to score 18. He turned the ball over a team high-but-much-more-palatable four times.

If these storylines seem unexciting to you, it’s only because they are. And that’s sort of the point.

Indiana is a normal team now. Just a normal team. No absurdly large freshman contingent, far fewer eye-rolling, head-scratching plays, a much more defined sense of how a Big Ten team should behave in games like this one.

This team isn’t great by any stretch. There are still obvious flaws, the propensity for turnovers chiefly among them. The 15 put up Sunday were the fewest of the season thus far, and that’s still a number that’s too high (although it ought be noted that the progression, through four games, of overall giveaways has been 24-21-17-15).

The defense continued to carry Indiana, as the Hoosiers constructed a 22-0 run and a 27-2 overall stretch primarily out of strong defense. Colt Ryan, Evansville’s dangerous guard, only really got hot in the game’s last five minutes. It wasn’t exciting, but it was important, and it was a winning effort.

Tom Crean spent two years trying to engender normalcy and consistency from a well of chaos. He’s finally done that. Assembly Hall was dripping with big-name recruits, suddenly a staple of weekend events at the iconic arena. There is an obvious identity about the squad that already plays there. And his team is winning games.

This team isn’t great. It isn’t terrible. It isn’t terribly exciting. It’s just … normal. And after 2 1/2 years of unimaginable turmoil, that’s an important milestone to reach.

The next one takes place in March.

  • 13th&Woodlawn

    Well done Zach.

  • HoosierDavey

    I agree, Zach. I look forward to the day when we are 6-0 after winning the loaded Maui Invitational or something, but I’ll take 6-0 period after the past 2 years. You gotta go through normal to get from awful to great, so it’s not a bad place to be at the moment.

    BTW, I Iove that the TOs are declining each game…it’s an improvement!

  • Anonymous

    This is how I actually explain this team to a lot of people now. We’re getting better but for the first time in a long time its exciting to be average. Linear progress means sustained progress.

  • Ben Davis

    What was the score?

  • Anonymous

    Well said Zach – agree completely. Maybe I missed it, but any update on Elston’s status?

    I was really worried we would need him . . . nice to see Howard give some quality minutes in there – I think he’ll help us down the road . . .

  • Anonymous

    Just saw that Kyle Neddenriep (sp?) tweeted that Devin Davis has commited to IU? Any one else hearing this?

  • Clinton Mills

    I have also heard this as well. Good pickup for the Hoosiers! Congrats Coach Crean!

  • Clinton Mills

    I have also heard this as well. Good pickup for the Hoosiers! Congrats Coach Crean!

  • http://www.facebook.com/srhise Sean Hise

    clean up indiana – historic day for recruiting we have come so far.

  • Anonymous

    Wow. Just amazing what a few months can do… I don’t think anyone can honestly say they saw all this coming… this momentum is off the charts. Tom Crean must be living right.

  • Anonymous

    You know what? I don’t even care that the Colts are losing right now and I have a paper to write. I can’t stop smiling!

  • Marsh21

    this is crazy!!!!1 i’m drinking an extra glass of wine tonight for both recruits!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YIKRELENCTUH2BHUZTMUGVGSS4 Steve

    Devin Davis??? Devin Davis is a Chicago based American indie musician. Growing up in Clinton, Iowa, he started playing music when he was five years old; from the piano … LOL that’s what my google came up with.

    I’m looking forward to IU vs New Mexico. NM was #31 in Sagarin before Cal- Berkeley with an even younger team than IU trashed them.

  • ArtistFormerlyKnownAs_Aceman07

    Did I just get good information that Devin Davis and Colin Hartman both committed to IU??? I just heard it from a buddy who’s in Chicago who heard the news!

  • ArtistFormerlyKnownAs_Aceman07

    Okay, I have figured out what’s worse than not having Guy . . . not having Guy and Derek Elston!!!!

    IU CAN NOT AFFORD to be without two of their more talented big men. We saw in the first half all of their weaknesses (turnovers, fouls, lack of offense down low, lack of defense down low, and lack of depth in the frontcourt) but in the second half we saw a lot of their strengths (defensive pressure, shooting, having depth and multiple guys who can step up) and I still say they will win 18-20 games!

    I say this because we saw adversity that would have almost definitely led to losses the past two seasons. This year the team had more than one go to guy and they pulled out the game with relative ease.

    It’s so obvious that IU needs not only Guy back sooner rather than later but they also need an injury free season from their other big men. The depth doesn’t get here for another year and IU can’t afford to play with only Capobianco and Pritchard as their bigs.

    Good to see Mo Creek shoot the ball well and move better but he’s still limping a lot. Only time will tell what kind of player he’ll be once the B10 season arrives.

    I thought Jordan Hulls looked pretty good again today, although not as good as he did Tuesday.

    Rivers is starting to play like the player we thought we were getting last year!!!

    Pritchard looked great in the second half!!!

    Vic and Will looked pretty good in my opinion again. I wonder why Will didn’t get the PT this game I thought he deserved after last game? Maybe that “enthusiasm” the announcers keep talking about gets him in trouble in practice? He does seem to have a certain attitude about him?

    Watford was okay. Jones was okay. But it’s sure nice to see that these two guys don’t have to dominate the game completely for IU to be okay.

    GO CTC!!! KEEP RECRUITING THESE INDIANA PLAYERS!!! WE’LL WIN AGAIN VERY SOON WITH ALL THE TALENT IN INDIANA!!! Coach Creen now has the following from Indiana:

    Best Indiana player in 2011 in CZ (and one of the other best in AE)
    Two of the best Indiana players in 2012 in HP & Buss (with possible 2-3 which would mean all of them)
    Two of the best Indiana players in 2013 in DD & CH
    And THE TWO BEST INDIANA PLAYERS in 2014 in JB Jr. & TL

    Wow, what a recruiter!!!

  • Marsh21

    ALL THESE KIDS GOING FOR IU IS SENDING ME INTO A FIT. I CAN’T BELIEVE WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON FOLKS. THIS IS INSANE KIDS!!!!!!!!!!

    CREAN IS GETTING EVERYONE IS THIS FREAKIN STATE!!!!!

    THE BANNERS ARE COMING……………AND PURDUE IS SCREWED!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • ArtistFormerlyKnownAs_Aceman07

    Are you freaking kidding me??? Now it looks like Yogi’s announcing IU on Wednesday!

    CTC must crap golden bricks!!! He definitely has the midas touch right now!!!

    I almost have this “looking out for the brick to fall” kind of feeling right now after all this good. It’s the rubber band theory. Every time something good happens the band is stretched back a little further until “whop” the bad news hits you like a brick in the head. Hopefully my theory is complete trash because the good news just keeps on rolling at IU!!!

  • Anonymous

    You’re theory is completely appropriate but in reverse for this situation. We’ve had so much bad over the past few years (decade?) that it’s finally snapping back towards good.

  • ArtistFormerlyKnownAs_Aceman07

    I like it!!!!

  • ArtistFormerlyKnownAs_Aceman07

    I like it!!!!

  • Anonymous

    This Indiana team has had some really impressive stretches of 10-15 minutes, but, so far, no 30 minute blockbuster performance. Our post presence is sitting out an NCAA investigation that everyone believes will not be harmful to his career at IU. Our best player, Mo Creek is still gaining strength and is one or two months from “Back”. Our other best player, Christian Watford is still adjusting to his combo 3-4 position and has trouble not fouling the smaller guys. However, he is still a near double-double performer. Our third best player, Verdell Jones is having a hard time adjusting to the PG position with ball security and turn-overs. He is also still weak on defense and rebound blocking-out. But he scores and leads. We have a great talent in Derek Elston who is rushing his game and can”t stay healthy enough to play. But for the few minutes he does play he produces points and rebounds like no one else. Our “glue guy” Jordy Hulls needs to take 10 shots minimum each game and believe in his shot. Jeremiah has to develop some offense from 10′. But his effort and team play are outstanding. Big Pritch needs to put some arch in his horrible Free Throws. But he is playing with grit and energy. Capo needs to stop fouling and stop on his screens. But he never complains and is always ready. Victor and Will just need more floor time. They are inexperienced but very talented. We have Walk-On’s in Howard and Moore who can Play! At some point a guy named Roth is going to show the world that he can SHOOT. Right now nothing is smooth, nothing is easy, every game has a portion when it is a struggle and a loss is possible, against average opposition. But Indiana plays tough defense, is scrappy on rebounds, takes pretty good shots, shares the ball, and hustles like the devil! We are now 14 deep with Guy, Roth, Moore and Howard! When this team starts to click, they are going to be GOOD! And each year, the new guys are going to raise the bar higher. This is FUN!

  • ArtistFormerlyKnownAs_Aceman07

    I absolutely agree with everything you said! This is FUN!!! Been a while since we could say that!

  • Anonymous

    I’ll see your raise and double you!

  • Anonymous

    I could not DISAGREE more! Indiana’s depth is it’s greatest strength! IU had both Moore and Howard on the floor and the game was not yet won. But the level of play did not diminish. We will go 14 deep, with only 4 players lacking Big 10 experience: Guy, Vic, Will and Howard. We already know what Vic and Will can do. I think that we will be amazed with Guy’s level of play. Howard was on the floor in the first half when things were bleak, and he played fine. IU’s depth is below only MSU and OSU, and, possibly IL in the Big 10.

  • MillaRed

    I was in a college fantasy football league with my buddies for a few years. It was pretty lame but one thing I took from it was a method of using stats to evaluate a game. Once in a while I apply it to see how the IU kids did or in the case of TP last season, did not!

    Anyway, you give 1 point for every point scored, 2 points for every rebound, assist, steal and block. You subtract 1 point for every turnover.

    In the 2009 season, TP never hit 30 fantasy points. In fact, he was under 15 points 21 times last year. This is not good for a starting center folks. Maybe for a backup. But not for someone getting his minutes. Fortunately for Tom, fouls were not factored into the equation.

    Today TP had 35 fantasy points by my calculation. This is by far the best game I remember seeing from him in 2 seasons. We really needed him today. The 20 pounds he lost has given him shot blocking capabilites he just didn’t have last year.

    I’m happy for you TP. Glad to see you play up to your abilities!

  • JerryCT

    You under estimate Pritchard again ……….

    Next time when he puts his hands up, bodies the man and the guy misses the shot you count it as a block. TP does this 9 times out of 10 and his man misses the shot.
    Not sure why he actually jumped last night. I thought it was a mistake given his fouls.

    If a screen enables a player to score why is it not assist ?

    If Jones moves his man into the screen before it is set whose TO is it on the foul ? This you need slo-mo for.

    Come on ………… give him more points

  • MillaRed

    Honestly Jerry, every player on the floor does positive something that is
    not a recordable statistic. They also can do something negative. Like losing
    defensive position etc.

    When TP plays smart and patiently, he can fill up a stat sheet. He did so
    many times as a FR.

  • Zach Osterman

    A horrid omission on my part, Ben. 67-54.

  • Zach Osterman

    A horrid omission on my part, Ben. 67-54.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Ace!

  • http://weeklycritiquely.blogspot.com/ IUfanPurduePhD

    Obligatory “There ain’t no brakeman on this train” reference…

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