The Minute After: Northwestern

  • 01/09/2011 10:17 pm in

Thoughts on a 93-81 loss at Welsh-Ryan Arena:

Don’t be fooled by the final score, ladies and gents: This game was not that close. And in many ways, it may have been the worst effort the Hoosiers have given all season, which is not particularly encouraging given the fact it was game No. 17 on the schedule.

Instead of boring you with statistics and over-analyzing tonight’s contest, I’m just going to hit you with the facts: This team is in a major, major funk.

Major deficiencies, like poor communication on defense and lack of a post presence, that Indiana was able to mask against a weak non-conference schedule, are coming to the forefront in a big way.

But perhaps more concerning is that Indiana’s effort and execution is far too inconsistent to compete at the highest level of college basketball.

Defensively, the Hoosiers are still consistently getting beat off the dribble for easy buckets. And they’re continuing to allow excellent 3-pointer shooters (tonight it was Jon Shurna who hit 4-of-5 from behind the arc) to have wide open looks at the basket. The communication and aggressiveness are still not there, either.

Offensively, the lack of ball movement and ill-advised shots have become frustrating to watch. This group of Hoosiers might not have the personnel to execute the dribble-drive offense to perfection, but they do have the personnel to produce crisp ball movement and set some screens. Neither of those things are happening on a consistent basis.

And so here we are, seventeen games into Tom Crean’s third season at Indiana and there are more questions than answers right now on the direction of this team. Will the ship reverse course and begin to head in the right direction? Or will the losses continue to pile up? We’ll find out in five days when IU returns home for a Saturday night meeting with Michigan.

A few game-specific notes:

+ Crean summed it up pretty clearly in his postgame comments: “We did not play disciplined at all on the weak side.” He also added this: “We played extremely immature in the first half. Extremely immature.”

+ Will Sheehey turned in a solid offensive effort with nine points (4-of-5 shooting), but fouled out in just twelve minutes. A couple of the fouls on Sheehey were cheap, but he was a tad aggressive in the use of his hands. Nonetheless, his energy and effort continues to be a bright spot.

+ Derek Elston was whistled for an intentional foul for attempting a trip of Alex Marcotullio. Replays showed that Elston clearly stuck his foot out on purpose. Frustrated or not, that was definitely a cheap move by Elston.

+ Christian Watford was benched to start the second half (0-for-6 in the first half) and responded well in the final twenty minutes. Watford’s effort on defense and on the glass were clearly not there early, but he did hit 6-of-7 shots in the second half and finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. Most of those points, however, came with the game already seemingly out of reach.

+ Jeremiah Rivers got out of the gate nicely by scoring IU’s first five points. The senior guard finished with seven points, five rebounds, three assists and just one turnover. His return to the starting lineup has been much deserved.

+ Nine assists and just two turnovers for Verdell Jones, but he struggled mightily from the field (3-of-13) and finished with 10 points.

+ Jordan Hulls, who was featured in “The Journey” on the Big Ten Network after the game, still didn’t attempt enough shots, but did manage to get to the line eight times, where he knocked down all of his attempts.

That’s all from here, folks. See you Monday. Enjoy the last few hours of your weekend.

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  • Anonymous

    Of all the comments I read, yours was the only one that made me laugh and that’s what I needed right now. Our new mantra has got to be “Screw the NCAA, play Guy!” When you think about it, we aren’t going to their tournament either way and it would be a lot more interesting to watch.

    One other comment/observation: that was BY FAR the best that Capobianco has EVER looked in an actual game. I was actually disappointed when Crean pulled him during that final run, and I’m no Capobianco fan. I thought Crean should have left everybody out there till the end the way that group was playing.

  • Anonymous

    Cwat should be pulled out of the starting lineup, but not benched for the entire game. He’s our best player. But he can’t be out there sleepwalking anymore. Benching him to start the second got him to play with a little more fire, maybe he needs to come off the bench and earn his way back to a starting role. Hopefully Sunday night helped his confidence some.

    VJIII actually had a pretty decent game with only 2 turnovers. He needs to get to the line more often and hit his FTs. He would also benefit from coming off the bench, but he should play. He played really hard last night. When he got mugged late in the game on a terrible no-call he got up off the floor and got a held ball on a guy going up for what I’m sure he thought would be an easy layup. VJIII has struggled this year, but you don’t bench a kid for the game that he had Sunday night.

    Now, DE, I agree with you on. I don’t think he should even dress against Michigan.

  • HoosierFromCT

    I wasn’t here for the Live Game thread but did anyone listen to the color commentator say “IU had more chances than Lindsey Lohan”. He was referring to our 4 straight misses under the rim.

    no comment.

  • defendtherock

    Ok, I have just been slapped in the face with our reality here:
    + Q: What are the most important positions on the basketball court? A: Point guard and Center
    + Q: What are our weakest positions right now? A: Center and Point guard.
    + We dont have anybody that can take over a game right now.
    + Pro-style offense with no center or point guard looks like what we have seen the previous 5 years with the pacers, and now with our hoosiers.
    + We need to junk it…all of it. We need to be a ‘crazy’ team that presses all 40 minutes this year. We just cant play offense or defense with teams ‘straight up’.
    + I have no expectations for this team anymore this year, and its sad.
    + We cant score easy buckets without pressing. It was great to see Jordy pushing the ball up the court, however HE is the one who we should be passing it to on fast breaks. VJ3 cant pass well or run fast, let alone dribble fast enough to start a break.
    + Without somebody to count on at point or at center is KILLING this team. Crunch time is when the ball is in the point guards hands and he either makes a play or throws it in to the post for a bucket or a foul. We can only pass it around the perimeter and hope somebody makes a shot. When we try to drive it in with players who arent good at it, they get it stolen every single time. Its the definition of insanity.
    + Lets beat Michigan, I just dont expect it to happen unless we play completely unconventional.

  • basmith092000

    I’m sorry, but that is ridiculous. Crean won at Marquette with teams that were far less talented than what we expect at Indiana. I highly doubt that he has forgotten how to coach. I think that NONE of us, including CTC, realized how decimated this program was after what happened a couple years ago. Maybe it would serve some of us well to look back about 3 years and remember that we had 2 returning players, and neither of them were the type of players you want to build a program around. The fact that he has been able to get any recruits at all is amazing in its own right. If CTC is fired, this program will be in the bottom 1/3 of the Big Ten for the next 5-10 years guaranteed. We will lose most of our blue chip recruits for the next two years, and be stuck getting a lesser known coach without the ability to recruit. I think it is time for some of us to take a step back and realize that this season sucks, but getting rid of CTC will make things worse.

  • basmith092000

    I don’t blame CTC for responding in that manner, because it is a stupid question. They scored over 80 points!! A better question would be if he has considered changing the defensive structure that has gotten LIT UP the last few games. Even so, asking any coach if they have thought about changing their offense is going to illicit that type of response.

    Can you imagine what would have happened if a reporter asked Knight if he had thought about running more structured sets instead of motion after a game in which they scored 80+ points?

  • Casey B.

    I know — that wasn’t my point. My point is that I like the way he plays and would love to see him play as much as possible moving forward. Wasn’t complaining about anything there. Just saying I like his game.

  • RobD

    Let’s have a little perspective. IU has one senior, and no interior play to speak of. If Guy Marc Michel hadn’t been ruled ineligible, things wouldn’t be nearly this bad. What is so striking to me is the wild inconsistency game to game. Against Minnesota, they were in it to the end. Then they go to Northwestern and get their butts kicked. Creek is a non-factor, Verdell looks like he thinks he’s too cool for school, and Pritchard–seriously–looks like his girlfriend just dumped him or something. Absolutely terrible body language from just about everybody on the team most nights. Hulls is the only exception in this regard, he always looks like he wants to be out there. They lack toughness, both mentally and physically.

    What is Elston doing tripping a guy? For those of us who wonder why he doesn’t see the court as much, that should give us a pretty good clue.

  • RobD

    we have to be careful not to turn into Michigan football fans running rich rodriguez out of town. so many parallels. there’s a reason Crean has a 10 year contract.

  • You mean this year? Because he was looking pretty good at the end of last season, last offseason many were advocating for him to start at the beginning of this season.

  • If CTC had lost this teams respect then we would have lost by 30-40 points last night once the lead got to over 20. Listen, I’m as sick of the morale victories as everyone, it’s getting really tiresome, but IU would not have sliced that lead late in the game to under 10 if they had lost respect for CTC or weren’t willing to play for him.

  • You’re right, I do Jerry, but growing tired of the same exact discussions after every game.

  • Anonymous

    Is there any place to go to find the post game press conferences – audio or video?

  • Anonymous

    It’s a dumb question. Crean had every right to respond to it in that way. When the team scores 80 points, offense isn’t the problem. When a Princeton offense hangs up 90+ points on you, DEFENSE is the problem, and we don’t have any good defenders sans Rivers.

    The problem with this team is that they are only focusing on one thing at a time, and the things that they don’t focus on suffer, they do great on defense one week, focus on limiting turnovers, do well on turnovers and then suck on defense. It’s a crappy cycle, and experience is the main way to crack it. One they get used to doing things consistently, they will play a lot better.

  • MillaRed

    Who is running Crean out of town? I expected more at this point. It’s
    disappointing. I am joined by thousands in my disappointment. I don’t care
    if he has a 50 year contract. When the team is underachieving I will not be
    happy. But I’m not ready to replace anyone nor have I given that indication
    since he started.

  • cooper

    Crean has had three recruiting classes to pull it together or at least improve. I see very little player improvement. When does it stop being about what he had when he arrived and about right now? I think its fair to raise the question.

    Obviously there are some that could, some of those we wouldn’t want and some we would have. But at some point the excuses for what the team started with stops. I’ve never seen Zeller play but I have a hard time believing he turns this team around by himself and takes it from a team that can’t be a half way decent D1 team to the NIT.

    I still don’t understand why everyone is so sure all those players will come. Maybe the 12 guys do but who really wants to take the word of a 14 and 15 year old for 2013 and 2014?

    I hope they all come but I don’t put much stock in it.

  • Marsh21

    It was anything but a stupid question nor was a dumb as another poster suggested. The question wasn’t only directed at the NW game but an overall question/concern. I view this from a different perspective than some. This team has no offensive structure and attempts more of a one on one approach. They are very easy to prepare for because they don’t have talent which can create space on their own thus force plays which are consistantly blocked, shots altered or poor decisions which create turnovers.

    Crean is the highest paid state employee in a horrible economic climate. There are few stupid or dumb questions with the intent of improving this team.

    As far as the Knight comment, such a question would not be needed because his offensive did not stand around dribbling for 20 seconds then attempt on one plays.

  • kentuckyhoosier

    why do you want to hear it ? just pick one of the last 6 games , they all sound the same

  • kentuckyhoosier

    Ive thought that CW has looked a little disinterested latley . Im sure the whole team is down , but he dosentt look inspired at all. Just wondering if anyone else has thought that ?

  • IUJeff

    Go back to the PUke boards coop.

  • Diesel

    Even Rivers got burned several times, the Princeton offense is tough for a freshman to defend. I’d rather see VO struggling gaining experience than other players jogging back.

  • Anonymous

    I’d prefer Crean to get the bad habits in check early that way they don’t come back to bite the Program later on. Like CTC used to say, the easiest thing was to get on the court for Indiana. He really didn’t have a way to discipline these guys or make them walk the line because they HAD to be out there.

    VO is an exceptional athlete and it looks like he could have a bright career in Bloomington. Two years from now I hope he’s not making the same mistakes over and over like some of the current upperclassmen.

  • Diesel

    Jerry, I cracked up at the 4 minutes thing. Just seemed funny. How’d you come up with 4 minutes? Perhaps PhD could come up with an equation?

    It is amazing to think that what most of us consider basic principles of the game, most of these kids struggle to execute.

  • Diesel

    Funny, and true. If these guys can’t play defense, simple principles, what makes us think they can execute things like (brace self for big basketball terms) “plays” and “the press”?

  • Anonymous

    I was disappointed by last night’s game. I felt physically ill watching them play for the first 30 minutes of the game. That being said, Crean is just as disgusted (probably more so) as any of us. If anyone listened to his interview with Fish after the game, he clearly is struggling to figure out why the practices are not transferring to the games. We don’t need to stop criticizing him, all fans have a right to do that. Please understand that Crean cares as much as we do and his staff is searching as hard as they can for answers. I am confident they will find some. It won’t be enough to solve a lot of the problems this team has but they will improve.

    Look at what several of us have called for. We wanted more of Rivers, check. We wanted more of Sheehey, check. We wanted them to go with four guards, check. A lot still needs fixed but he is trying different combinations. I would love to see more pressure throughout the game. We don’t need trap full court but putting pressure on should increase the urgency before we get down by 24 points.

  • Anonymous

    Jordan Hulls is a better player than he was last year. He is a more complete player, turns it over less and has become somewhat competent on defense.

  • Anonymous

    Did I say that they would win a title? No. Read the post. I said that they ‘have a better chance’ simply because this basketball team has shown little to no sign of improvement and they have roughly the same win percentage in Big Ten play over the past 3 seasons. Stupid is as stupid does…

  • Anonymous

    They are bad at defense but the worst you have seen at the high D1 level? I have read your posts and I know you must watch a lot of basketball. Oregon State, Iowa, Auburn, Texas Tech, Wake Forest and UCLA are all statistically lower in nearly every category. IU is actually better than Butler in a few defensive statistics. Go to and look it up.

    IU is not a good, or even decent, defensive team. No need for hyperbole though.

  • Anonymous

    They are bad at defense but the worst you have seen at the high D1 level? I have read your posts and I know you must watch a lot of basketball. Oregon State, Iowa, Auburn, Texas Tech, Wake Forest and UCLA are all statistically lower in nearly every category. IU is actually better than Butler in a few defensive statistics. Go to and look it up.

    IU is not a good, or even decent, defensive team. No need for hyperbole though.

  • Guest

    Yeah that declaration of war two days after Pearl Harbor was a joke. Have anything to say about basketball?

  • Anonymous

    It was less a question than it was a smart A comment. That is why it got the response it did. If he wants to be a legitimate reporter, he should ask better questions.

    Just because you don’t like CTC’s offense doesn’t mean it is a bad system. They average approximately 75 ppg, and they are shooting 48.4 percent for the season. They are averaging about 68 in the Big Ten. The far bigger problem with this team is their defensive struggles.

    Crean’s paycheck has nothing to do with this. I think it is fine to ask him pointed questions about the team, but as I said, it wasn’t a question. It was a comment. This question did nothing to improve the team. That wasn’t even the intention. Do you think ANY coach in America listens to a reporter? And he didn’t even make any suggestions. He just asked if he thought he should change it.

    I don’t want to put words in someone’s mouth, but the Knight comment seemed to indicate that no one would have asked Knight if he should have run more set plays instead of a motion (cut style) offense after scoring over 80 points that night.

  • Deacmikem

    Somewhere in the movie, Cletus told Norman Dale, “I’m trying real hard to believe you know what you’re doing.” It’s gotten to that point here …………….

  • JerryCT


    I wanted 2 min but then I realized I was 200% angry

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    I wasn’t referring to statistically. It was more of a conjecture drawn on the number of terrible 1 on 1 defenders on this team. I have just never seen so many guys that can’t defend their men 1 on 1. Like Elston or Watford getting beat so easily on the block or guys just going around Hulls, Creek, or Jones like they are standing still. I know there are other teams who are worse because they just don’t care or can’t play as a team but this team is just BAD because they are collectively “bad”.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    Yeah, I haven’t went back to watch it. I figured I needed a break. Maybe I’ll go back and watch it after the season.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    You know, but the end of the season, IU might put enough 10 minutes stretches together to actually get a win in the BIg Ten.

  • Crean Faithful

    which players?

  • Crean Faithful

    Hulls, Rivers, Watford, Jones and Elston have all improved. Maybe modestly, but improved! Too high of expectations… improvement doesn’t necessarily = wins immediately.

  • richard mccammon

    I couldn’t agree more. I have been an IU fan for 40 plus years. This is the poorest coached team I have ever seen. They have the worst half court offense of any division one school ever. Crean shows no ability to 1) take his existing talent and modify how he coaches to give these kids a chance to win, or 2) prove that any of these kids have signifcantly improved during their time at IU. I am deeply depressed by our Big Ten performance.


    Are you watching IU on the offensive end? Is that how you define improvement? It doesn’t take talent to run a fluid offense with movement on and off the ball. Crean doesn’t know how to run an offense. Its that simple. All IU can hope for is to have top recruits come in, then, IU will win games based purely on talent, that’s the only way Crean won at Marquette.