A look ahead to Thursday’s meeting with Penn State

  • 03/08/2011 3:37 pm in

Ladies and gentlemen, this is it. The final chance for Indiana basketball to put together some positive momentum heading into next season. If the Hoosiers are unable to knock off Penn State, their record over the season’s final 21 games will be 3-18, including nine straight losses. I’m not sure there’s a way to spin that type of finish or winning less Big Ten games than last season in a positive manner.

The Nittany Lions are fighting to get back onto the NCAA Tournament bubble and need to beat Wisconsin in the quarterfinals to return to the discussion. Indiana is playing for pride at this point. That pride was essentially non-existent in Saturday’s loss at Illinois and the mental makeup of this group seems fragile at best as they limp to the finish line.

The long-time voice of the Hoosiers, Don Fischer, offered this assessment yesterday on The Dan Dakich Show: “I think that this is a basketball team that, at this point in the season Dak, is kinda battered. And I mean that in a sense that I think they are physically beaten up here. They’re also mentally beaten up. They went through that stretch of three weeks where they really played well after they had gone through a six-game losing streak and then they’ve gone back into that negative mode again. And that takes it out of you mentally. I think that’s the biggest issue with this team.”

That said, here are the Pomeroy numbers:

Penn State’s defensive effective field goal percentage: Not a strong suit for Ed DeChellis’ group. Open shots should be there for the taking. The question is, can Indiana knock down shots? Jordan Hulls (0-of-7) and Christian Watford (1-of-8) both struggled mightily in Champaign and a big effort from both guys will be needed for the Hoosiers to pull this one off.

Free throw discrepancy: In the first meeting back on Dec. 27, Penn State was 19-of-26 from the foul line and Indiana was just 5-of-8. The Nittany Lions won by nine. Going forward, this is an area Indiana must improve in. The Hoosiers are 335th nationally in opponent free throw rate, but Penn State is just 302nd nationally at getting to the line. Not only does Indiana have to stop sending opponents to the line with such frequency, the Hoosiers must do a better job getting there themselves.

Value each possession: Penn State’s turnover percentage is just 17.9 percent (49th nationally), so unnecessary reaching on defense will likely lead to fouls rather than turnovers. This is an experienced backcourt that’s not easily frazzled and led by the great Talor Battle. The key here for Indiana is to limit its own turnovers and the numbers say that is an attainable goal. Penn State isn’t forcing turnovers at a high clip — just 18.4 percent — so unnecessary mistakes in this facet could end up being a dagger.

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  • Anonymous

    The last line of the chart sums it all up. IU’s D vs. PSU’s O. Keep focusing on the D this week CTC.

  • MillaRed

    “I’m not sure there’s a way to spin that type of finish or winning less Big Ten games than last season in a positive manner.”

    We’ve seen this spun 100 different ways over the last month Alex. To the extent I am dizzy.

  • Casey B.

    If I’m Crean, this is the game I’ll look to for several things:

    1.) An indication of which players care, and who’s content to wrap up the season.

    2.) A measure of how tough (or not) this team is.

    3.) One last look at what holes most desperately must be plugged heading into the offseason.

    4.) The perfect game to rack up a couple technicals and make a statement heading into the offseason (that is, if we’re losing with not much time left).

  • Bborpb

    I love Fish and Coach Dak.

  • Anonymous

    Indiana must win this game against PSU! No bonus points for “good effort”. This is a must win game!

  • Anonymous

    I say Oladipo should be guarding Battle all the time. Rivers has proven that he is inconsistent with his defense. Oladipo should get the start, Rivers and Sheehey should cycle guarding Battle when Oladipo is out.
    If Crean really wants to win, Oladipo and Sheehey need to be in the game a lot more than they usually are. When those two, or one for that matter, are in the game, the energy is brought to a new level. These two freshman make plays and are going to be really exciting to see play for the next three years.

  • Kelin Blab

    vs Purdue, vs NW at Home, vs Iowa at home…three games that IU could have salvaged their season into something alot better…this is their last chance to show ‘something’

    + Battle would see a high does of Rivers and Oladipo…FULL COURT.
    + Battle would not come off a screen without getting hit
    + Call me crazy, I would get the ball inside to Pritch and Watford and look to get their semi bigs in foul trouble
    + This would be a kitchen sink game…every junk defense, full and half court press, and everything in my playbook PSU would see on Thursday
    + We win if, we make shots, Hulls looks to score, Jones and Watford play both ends, and if if if we play with more energy and “I care aboutness”…

    Kids for some of you, this is not a game but a 2011-12 tryout for either IU or a mid major team…you might want to bring it.

  • Theres still hope

    Penn state is the first victim. Then Wisconsin, Purdue is next ,and to finish it off some pay back to Ohio state. Hoosiers start dancing,

  • Jmfriedman

    Penn State is playing very well right now…… we are not. They are moving the ball on offense crisply and efficiently from side to side, and that is something we DO NOT defend well. It has created many good shots for them and they have shot well overall. I am expecting a difficult game for us….. I hope I am wrong, but I will be very surprised. I haven’t seen much desire to win lately out of us, so I hope Crean lights a fire in some guy’s shorts. We need to press and I hope we shoot well, or we will go out this year with a whimper…..

  • BinkClay

    I think next year there should be a rule that does allow the pre-game circle dance with Derek “I think I am Bad Dude” Elston in the center until this team proves its swagger. The ritual is a joke with this team!

  • WestCoast Hoosier

    ultimately, the name of the game is scoring points and stopping the other team from scoring.

    Our defense end has been consistently pretty bad all season long. I’m not optimistic that is going to change much.

    But at times, the offense has looked decent, particularly when Hulls and Watford and Jones have been hitting shots.

    If we return to shooting as we have at times, we could win. You just outscore the other side.