That’s A Wrap: Team Defense

  • 03/31/2011 11:20 am in

Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our attempt to make some sense of the 2010-11 season. Sit back. Relax. Grab some popcorn. Get your read on. Today: Indiana’s Team Defense.

Final Stats: 68.2 ppg, 43.3 FG %, 36.4 3PT %, 49.6 eFG %, 19.9% turnover percentage

Two bigs problems for Indiana’s defense this season.

You may know them already.

Its opponents’ free-throw rate of 50.2 percent ranked 333rd in the nation. Not one major conference program fared worse. This team fouled and fouled and fouled, and then fouled some more. Tom Pritchard (6.5 fouls per 40 minutes) Derek Elston (5.7) and Bobby Capobianco (10.7) were Indiana’s biggest culprits. But freshmen Will Sheehey (5.5)  and Victor Oladipo (4.8) contributed to the problem, as did Daniel Moore (5.0) in a limited role.

Most games the opponent held the advantage at the line. Twenty-plus attempts from the opposition was common. When your margin for error against quality Big Ten opponents is already small, giving away so many freebies can sink your ship fast. To put this in perspective, Indiana finished dead last during the conference season by allowing 473 free-throw attempts. Northwestern, which finished a spot ahead in 10th, allowed over 100 less at 358.

Indiana’s other defensive issue — one not in the box score or measured by advanced statistics — was a communication and assignment breakdown. Often, Indiana failed to execute in its half-court defense, leaving opposing players wide open for 3-pointers, something Film Session covered early and late. And a lack of strong communication between the five players on the court sometimes left Indiana scrambling to pick up the pieces as the opponent got a clean look at the basket.

Between the open looks and free throws, Indiana finished the season allowing 1.14 points per possession, which tied them for last in the Big Ten with Northwestern. And their adjusted defensive efficiency in-conference regressed year-over-year, too (111.8 in 2009-10 to 113.7 in 2010-11).

Now, if we step back and look at the season as a whole, Indiana’s adjusted defensive efficiency actually did improve (101.0 in 2009-10, 99.0 in 2010-11). Though, the Hoosiers’ cupcake non-conference schedule helped in this regard.

Shining moment: A 52-49 win over the Illinois on Jan. 27. The Hoosiers held the Illini to just 32.2 percent shooting from the field; Illinois shot just eight free throws in the contest; Jeremiah Rivers held Demetri McCamey to only six points on 2-of-11 shooting.

Bottom line: Indiana’s team defense and foul problems held them back from a couple more wins this season. But the addition of Cody Zeller’s fundamental game on the frontline next season coupled with another year of maturity and experience should have the Hoosiers’ defense on the uptick next season.

It can’t get much worse, right?

Filed to:

  • marcusgresham

    I can’t believe opponents only shot 36.4% on threes. It felt like a much higher number.
    I foresee improvement in team defense next season with the addition of Zeller on the back line and the extra year of maturity of the two best returning perimeter defenders, Oladipo and Sheehey. Better rebounding will also help the defense, as it will limit extra opportunities for the opposition.

  • Diesel

    Look, this was not a good defensive team, but statistics don’t always tell the whole story.

    We were in so many more games this season than last season, and we still didn’t come out on the winning side, which means we were fouling at the end of the game. Case in point, I was at the home Wisconsin game and I think we were up, yes up about 10 foul shots compared to Wisconsin until the last 5 minutes. Wisconsin ended up shooting about 10 more than we did, a 20 shot difference. Times that by say 15 close games, throw in a few outliers like Elston and Capo, you have an equation that sparks more country corner conversation than the weather forecast and the price of gas.

    The other big factor in our defensive follies was our lack of athleticism and size. Take a team like OSU and there is not one position on the floor where we have an athletic advantage.

  • This is another reason i will argue that we need another frontcourt player in addition to Zeller for next year rather then bringing in another guard or no player at all. Our frontcourt defense is just dreadful, and the addition of Zeller will definitely help, adding another player like Traylor would be fantastic.

  • Anonymous

    It’s been said that good defense is a result of good effort. I think there were more than a few kids on the team who didn’t give good effort on the defensive end. Granted, some of the kids are not going to be lock down defenders. But you look at The Pritch…..I think he showed game in and game out that he was giving good effort on the defensive end, same with Rivers. I think today’s game, along with effort, you must include some athleticism. The 2 most athletic kids on the team were able to do pretty well at both ends of the floor on just pure athletic ability and a little effort (VO and WS).
    I also think that the defense got better from last year just because a few of the kids added some strength….and a few need to keep adding some strength. Bottom line, I think our defense will be much better next year because I think the effort will pay off a little more for them next year (in more wins that is). Their frustration level had to be off the charts (as was ours).

  • Only thing I would say to that is look at how many opponent free throws were taken in a couple of the blowout wins early in the non-conference:

    Florida Gulf Coast: 34
    Northwestern State: 31

  • Diesel

    Both blowout wins with lots of scrub time. In those two games IU shot 20 and 28 free throws.

    Again, I’m not fully disagreeing, I’m just trying to present another side. You also have these blowout wins:

    NC Central: 14 (IU shot 25)
    SC State: 13 (IU shot 30)

    You can also look at a blowout loss – at Illinois: both teams fouled 13 times, they shot 13 FTs and we shot 11. No need to foul in that one, but also doesn’t mean we played better defense, to the contrary perhaps our worst of the season.

  • millzy32

    To be honest I wasn’t really aware that our beloved Hoosiers played any Defense this past year so I am surprised to actually see a story on it at all.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think this team had the maturity, pride or the physicality to be a shut down defense. I’m not sure they’ll have it next year either. They’ll get better, yes, but only because it can’t get much worse.

    I think Crean summed it up best during the year when someone was going off on them and the only guy that stood up and wanted to guard that player was Sheehey.

  • Anonymous

    IU defense..oh Dear. What to say given that I really do bleed C&C. Well..for starts the players have not bought into a defensive mentality..u can bring that EVERY night. Secondly..we are not athletic enuff to play great D..Hulls works at it..but. Jones and Wat don’t get it done. Elston and Bobby C can’t guard a chair without fouling. TP tries hard but is vertically challenged against quick good big men. Wil and VO have potential..but have a lot to learn. Who IS going to guard the opponets best back court scorer next year? Lot of work in this area also.

  • IUJeff

    For all the hill climbing we saw in preseason, IU players for the most part looked like they had concrete blocks on their feet.

    Looked to me like conditioning was an issue for some. Perhaps just slow players though.

    You can’t win if you can’t stop anybody so we’d better improve drastically here. We can score but who wants to lock up on D? Time will tell and PT better be earned on the defensive end starting in November.

  • MillaRed

    First of all, these statistics are downright embarrassing. Seriously.

    Secondly, when this early/mid-season deal came out regarding a lack of communication on the floor, I was really surprised. That situation is 100% on the coach. Your team may be good, average, or stink, but still you communicate out there. This is one of the things I saw out of CTC this season that had me starting to wonder.

    Lastly, I have played enough basketball to know if you are facing a superior opponent, you foul. This fact probably is responsible for the majority of our problems. Still yet, with TP and a few others, really need to work on challenging the best they can without fouling. There is a difference between this and just plain hacking someone. The opponent is going to score. This isn’t hockey! TPs presence on the floor is more valuable then hedging 25 feet from the basket and picking up a cheapy. Learn from our mistakes!

  • MillaRed

    I agree

  • eph521

    You make an excellent point about the fouls going up sometimes when you play a superior opponent. I’m optimistic this stat gets better as we keep improving the talent level on the team.

    I think many of us share the same concerns not only about the team defense but some other areas of the team. In time we’ll find out if it’s the coaching, the players and/or both. There’s room for improvement all the way around… but great players always make the coach look better. Hopefully that’s the case here.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    Defense sucked and it has to get better or we’ll be watching a repeat of the last two years!

    1) CWat needs to realize that he’s not above playing defense! I will not relent on this until I see him give something more than he did against Illinois when he played “Olay” defense instead of helping.
    2) Hulls needs to work on his lateral movement so he can stay in front of other guards. I don’t care if somebody scores over him! That’s just nature and the fact that he’s short and doesn’t jump well, but he needs to be quicker to cut guys off and not be beaten off the dribble so much!
    3) VJ3 is another player who needs to decide that defense is an important part of the game and CHOOSE to play defense as hard as he plays on the other end!
    4) TP just needs to continue working on his interior D and avoid those ticky-tack fouls because he did a great job on guys like JJ against PUke 1-on-1 late in the season without fouling. He’s capable of being a great defensive player, especially with the addition of CZ and with some improvement out of guards.
    5) COULD WE PLEASE HAVE A SEASON WHERE DANNY MOORE ONLY PLAYS MOP UP DUTY??? I like the kid’s story as much as the next guy, but I watched two games in a row where teams went on 10 point runs against us as soon as DM entered the game because he just doesn’t have the size, athletic ability, or BB IQ to guard D1 players.
    6) I just heard a whistle . . . was it DE or BC who fouled the lady at the grocery store? Seriously though, are these guys transferring because they couldn’t guard me this season without fouling. I’m 5’9″ and I’m pretty sure I could get them both off the ground with 1 pump fake!
    7) Mo has to be healthy enough to play D or he should redshirt!
    8) Will and VO need to work on defensive positioning and we all need to hope they mature and make that freshman-to-sophomore jump in BB IQ because they both could really, really help the team D.
    9) CZ will help but he’ll still be a freshman and I watched him get out of position several times at the state finals and I’m sure the coaching staff will work on that.
    10) AE plays dirty but I haven’t seen enough of him against good competition to know if he’ll be a solid college defender.

  • eph521

    You hit the nail on the head. Great post.

    I think Crean will pull players quicker as he begins to have more talented options to put on the court. He simply has to do that moving forward or else he’s rewarding poor play. Sure seemed like this team got better when he benched Watford in the NW game. It’s not rocket science, but in fairness to Crean and all coaches, sometimes your options are limited.

  • eph521

    Exactly… and therein is one of the main reasons we all love Sheehey.

  • eph521

    You’re right. It’s easy to focus on how bad the defense seemed at times and blame our W/L record on just that. There were games our defense was solid, but our offense would have an 8 minute drought.

    Did you notice there were also several games where we would have a near season low in turnovers, yet still lose the game? And then we may win a game with a a near season high for turnovers. All sports are fickle and the sometimes stats lie.

  • eph521

    Maybe I’ve been watching too much politics on TV, but it would seem the theme for this year’s team defense could have been FOUL BABY FOUL!

  • Anonymous

    You have to be impressed with whatT yler Zeller did for NC thhis year..gained weight and strength but kept his speed (often first down the floor). If Cody his first two years..can physically improved.I think all other aspects of his game will eclipse Tyler…but as Cody himself admitted after the All-Star game “It’s all gonna be about strength.” Weight room..get ready for him.

  • CreamandCrimson

    A book plug on ITH. Congrats Alex, you have hit the big-time!

  • CreamandCrimson

    Good post Ace. I am with you on Watford. The roster is getting to the point where CTC has some other options at Watford’s spot. He shouldn’t see the floor until he is more committed to a defensive effort.
    I firmly believe the perimeter players need to take the biggest steps on defense before next season. Guards consistently torched us by getting to the basket. In my opinion, the guards are at fault for a sizable chunk of the frontcourt players fouls.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    Agreed! If the guards we have aren’t going to have the athletic ability to stay in front of quicker guards then we have to consider playing a different defense that suits our current talent level. I still believe this problem goes away in 2012. I watched Yogi play solid man-2-man defense in the title game more than once and he’s lightning quick! Buss is a defensive guy by his own admission and I’ve seen him lock down tough players. PJ is a shot blocker and the last line of defense. Hanner is a freakish athlete who should be able to guard multiple positions and block shots on the weak side. Hollowell is long like CWat but more athletic by a long shot and will be able to guard at least a couple positions. He reminds me of a bigger, stronger, Jalen Rose as far as his athletic ability goes, or maybe a Manu Ginobili plus another inch or two. Cody will be a sophomore and that much better on the defensive end and AE plays dirty defense.

    I just don’t see IU having these same struggles in a couple years. That being said, I hope they figure something out next year because I don’t think my very nice TV will survive another season like that without getting hit by the remote!

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    Okay, first let me apologize, because I don’t want to put unrealistic expectations on JH. Manu Ginobili is a freak of an athlete and is a scoring machine so I didn’t mean that he’s like Manu now. I meant that he has that type of build and size and I can imagine in my head that Manu had about the same level of athleticism at 17 as Jeremy so I could see Jeremy being that type of player at the college level. I didn’t mean he’s going to average 18-20 points in the NBA and win multiple NBA championships so nobody call me out on that!

  • JerryCT

    TP never worries me on defense . The games when we played well or won he played more than 24 minutes . This is the most consistent theme I could find in analyzing all games.

    So how do we keep him on the floor ?

    + JH, MC, VJ, CW need to finally learn how to handle screens w/o wimping out by switching. This will reduce the hedge fouls. WS is pretty good.

    + JH, VJ, MC, VO need to prevent the drive blow by, reducing the help fouls

    + JH, VJ, MC, VO, WS need to pressure the wing to prevent the wing pass to the low block , this will reduce those fouls

    + We need to change the offense so that we are not having guys with limited quickness trying to finish in the lane, this will reduce the screen fouls . Good dirbble drive teams do not require the ball screen much

    Unless the perimeter D gets solved I doubt that CZ will have much impact. He will suffer the same precarious position and fate as TP.

    Offensive droughts can be solved by defensive stops which often set up superior offensive opportunities.

    Defense is our clearly our #1 issue to work on. It is the first and best thing watch for next year as a predictor of our season

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    For fun I’m going to do some lofty comparisons (sparked by my JH to Manu comparison) as possible (not probable) ceilings for the players we have coming in 2012. Again, these are the “sky’s the limit” comparisons and you guys feel free to offer up any counters or better comparisons:

    Yogi: Iverson or Tim Hardaway
    Buss: Eric Gordon (he just reminds me of him!)
    Jeremy: Manu Ginobili
    Hanner: Trevor Ariza (could be higher if he learns to shoot)
    PJ: Dikembe Mutumbo or Samuel Dalambert

    Alright, what do you guys think?

  • CreamandCrimson

    You compared a black player to a white player, wow! Revolutionary! I’ll give it a shot.
    Yogi- Tim Hardaway
    Buss- Ron Artest (defense plus tough around the basket, minus the craziness)
    Jeremy- Manu Ginobili
    Hanner- Amar’e Stoudamire (that’s max ceiling, Hakim Warrick is more realistic)
    PJ- Samuel Dalembert or Marcin Gortat with added weight.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    I like the Warrick comparison. Just think if each of those guys reaches their max potential during their time at IU? WOW!

  • JerryCT

    You guys are losing me. What about :

    Yogi => Slater Martin
    Buss => Sam Jones
    JH => World B Free
    Hanner => Marvin ( tire iron ) Barnes
    PJ => Artis Gilmore

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    I love pointless but entertaining topics! Artis Gilmore! Man, I hope PJ lives up to that expectation! LOL.

  • jerry – nice, I hope and think JH is more like Mark Price than WBFree – there wasn’t a shot he wouldn’t put up….and how about Yogi ~ Isiah…

    Buss and HP have the defensive mindset and will be exactly what this team needs..I share others concerns that the coaching staff hasn’t gotten the team to understand defensive fundamentals – a key to butlers and dare I say it PUkes success. Hopefully Sheehey will dvlp into a stopper but this team needs a Kevin Garnett type personality (I’m thinking Buss down the road) to develop this culture at IU again. D was an IU trademark with RMK and is a glaring weakness.