The Minute After: Penn State

  • 12/27/2010 10:07 pm in

Thoughts on a 69-60 loss to Penn State:

Things have gone from bad to worse, my friends.

Another game Indiana was favored to win, another loss.

In the Big Ten, you need defense, and you need someone to step up and hit shots when it matters.

Indiana had neither tonight inside Assembly Hall.

In the first half, Indiana allowed Penn State too many wide-open looks from beyond the arc. Despite entering Big Ten play as the worst shooting team in the league, the Nittany Lions converted on those opportunities, knocking down 50 percent (5-of-10) of their threes in the first half.

The Hoosiers did a better job of defending the three in the second half, but Talor Battle (19 points, six boards) hit three difficult ones, anyway. For the night, the Nittany Lions knocked down 8-of-17 for 47 percent.

And on the strength of guys like David Jackson (15 points, eight boards) and Jeff Brooks (23 points, eight boards) Battle didn’t have to shoulder all the load for Penn State tonight — even with a shortened seven-man rotation with the absence of Taran Buie. Jackson and Brooks helped the Nittany Lions to 53.8 percent shooting from the floor (21-of-39). Add in a solid night at the line (19-of-26, 73.1 percent) and Penn State was a very efficient offensive unit this evening.

After a sluggish first half, Indiana, on the backs of the Assembly Hall faithful and a pumped-up Tom Crean, played with more energy and worked to get more looks in and around the basket area. After only six points in the paint in the first half, Indiana got 14 in the second half. There seemed to be a momentum shift — with the Hoosiers even taking a 48-47 lead on a Maurice Creek layup with 8:45 to go. It was as close as 56-54 with 2:28 remaining, but Indiana failed to finish.

Again.

At 58-54 with 2:12 to go, Victor Oladipo — who had an otherwise solid game (5-of-9 from the field, 2-of-3 from three, 2-of-3 from the line for 14 points to go along with four boards and three steals) — missed a layup. Indiana managed to get the rebound, but Jordan Hulls threw it away on a pass to Verdell Jones, which Penn State converted into a bucket at the other end. On Indiana’s ensuing possession, Jones got swatted by Brooks and Battle got the rebound. Penn State then missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but were able to corral the offensive rebound, and Indiana was forced to foul Tim Frazier. He hit both free throws at the 1:16 mark.

In one minute and 12 seconds, Indiana’s deficit had gone from two points to eight points. That was about all she wrote.

The Hoosiers had another sluggish night from the field (23-of-54 for 42.6 percent) and only managed to get to the line eight times, converting on five of those attempts for 62.5 percent.

As alluded to above, this team is really lacking that go-to guy, or at least some steady leadership in the waning minutes of these ballgames where victory is within reach.

That duty should fall to Christian Watford. But he was an absolute ghost this evening, as he scored only three points (1-of-5 from the field, 0-of-2 from three, 1-of-2 from the line). Not sure if he picked up Derek Elston’s illness or not (UPDATE: looks like he had back spasms all night), but this is back-to-back substandard performances for Indiana’s leading scorer. There appeared to be more of a concerted effort to get him the ball down low in the second half, but he had trouble establishing much.

This was one the Hoosiers absolutely had to win. And they didn’t. Now the prospects of an 0-4 start to Big Ten play and a six-game losing streak loom large.

South Carolina State, Florida Gulf Coast, Wright State — care to come back to Assembly Hall again this season?

Filed to:

  • Anonymous

    At this point in time we are not better than last year. I believe the squad could soon lose all their confidence. There is no QB on the floor and they look like they are playing scared. Rivers needs to be the QB for better or worse. VJ off the bench.

  • Anonymous

    Because it would be a blow to Crean’s ego to admit his current offense is inappropriate for these boys.

  • Anonymous

    I’m hard on VJ3 because I know talented and important he is to the success of this team. And I do agree that he did play his best game of the season.

    That being said, the 2 poor shots you speak of were detrimental to our team’s loss last night. Verdell, as a 3-year starter on this team, knows better than that. And yet Crean continues to give him the most slack when he needs to be held to the highest standard. I mentioned this on another post, but that drive to the bucket where he got blocked point-blank was miserable. I thought to myself, “now that was the same Verdell from his Freshman year.”

    He has to change. He has to learn to trust his teammates, especially in crunch time. He has to recognize that if he’s driving into the lane and said lane is not longer open to the defense collapsing, then somebody is open! He’s no longer passing to Malik Story, Nick Williams and Devin Dumes. He’s got dead-eye Hulls open in the corner, he’s got VO who can slash right back into the lane from a different angle, and our best scoring option in Watford (when healthy)…we have so many more consistent scorers on this team that it drives me nuts when shots are forced.

  • Anonymous

    In last night’s game Elston set a screen at the top of the key and rolled to the left. He was wide open without a defender within 10 feet for at least five seconds. But in this offense the guards do not reverse the ball. Elston was waving his hand but Hulls did not get him the ball. It happens quite often.

  • JerryCT

    Both are true Aceman ; 1) the non contact screen and 2) the successful hedge.

    After all, TP hedges with the best of them …………. until the switching started ……… and was very successful at it ……….. others can do the same.

    There is only a split second to hit the roller usually . As such when our high ball screen is so predictable it is easy to anticipate who, when and where to defend.

  • JerryCT

    I would even like to see a fake pass to the roller just so I knew somebody looked

  • Thanks walton.

  • Anonymous

    With the game on the line, Jordy passed up a wide open 3 to throw an ill-advised cross-court pass that was intercepted and returned for a layup.

  • Tberry

    Is it Football season yet???

  • stonaroni

    Then we better sign him ASAP because he is the guard we need to make this offense run. My bad, I hadn’t seen any decommit stuff.

  • Tberry

    BUT will the new guys get the coaching they need to make us better. I don’t see coaching this year.

  • Jhoke1025

    I agree with you on the Roy Williams comparison, however, I seem to remember another coach who was excellent at surrounding himself with talent but lacked the X’s and O’s…..Mike Davis.

    Hope Crean gets it turned around on his end and doesn’t just rely on his ability to appeal to 16 and 17 year old high schoolers.

  • Diesel

    Jerry – I agree, I think going small wouldn’t be a bad idea if we superstar guards and that was the only way to get them on the court. I’m thinking of some of the Jay Wright Villanova teams, perhaps. But we don’t, and I don’t think it’s going to work at all in the B10.

    | thought TP gave us good minutes last night, rebounded well. I definitely noticed that “roll” screens from Elston. I can totally appreciate what TP brings because those are the kind of things that win games. I agree that a mix of TP and DE would be best, but I also cannot fault CTC for trying something new, but be done with it now.

  • kentuckyhoosier

    ive been asked if crean is done alot by these obnoxious uk fans….and trhey follow it up by reminding me that it didnt take them three years

  • Silkyslim

    Two very good points that all IU fans need to seriously consider. I would like to also add, quoting a line from pro football, “A good coach needs three things; a patient wife, a loyal dog, and a good quarterback!”
    At this time, we, not only, do not have a big man, but also lack a true QB/point guard. (We may have to move Victor to the #1 spot as he seems to be the only one who can run this style offense.)
    The loss of Guy is tough to overcome & Creek has a long way to go to get back to normal. Hoping for someone on the bench to step up soon or it will be a long season.

  • Anonymous

    I think it is maybe a combination of both the screener not setting up correctly and the guards taking off at the wrong time/ not letting the screener get into position to correctly set it… I swear its like some players on this team have never set a screen or used one before. Have you noticed in some games opponents screeners will kind of linger off a screen and move slightly so to disrupt the incoming player while the oppnents guards just step to the left or right and get either a good step to drive or shoot a jump shot? You can tell when they do it because it looks like a moving screen, but the player is “just in the way” kind of thing…

  • Silkyslim

    I agree with you Jerry on the offense seems to over dribble and look anemic( loved the mugging for the camera remark). And I think we should press some more. As much as I like and enjoy the NW Princeton “O” it takes awhile to learn. Did you have another “O” that is simple and easy to run? Stonaroni mentions a flex, a possibility. I don’t care as long as I see MORE movement & screens. We can’t seem to run the pick and roll so that limits options or if we do Rivers or Victor will have to be the ball handler.

  • Anonymous

    You are comparing apples and oranges. There are very few similarities between where we were when Crean took over and any situation that pUKe has been in. Pitino even had more to start with when he first took over than Crean did when he got to IU. Plus, as always, there is certain things that are done in a way to where it just don’t pass the smell test and I don’t mean the normal everyday foul smell of them.

  • jordan

    Coach Crean said that he was suffering from back spasms all night and that is why he did not play to his potential.