Evansville Notebook: Road woes in the past, Watford heats up, more

  • 11/17/2011 10:38 am in

Notes, quotes and observations from Wednesday night’s 94-73 win over Evansville:

Verdell Jones has lived through the past three seasons of Indiana’s struggles to win away from Assembly Hall.

So perhaps it was no surprise when the senior guard, who scored 17 points and handed out seven assists, had already put those memories to bed after Indiana’s dominant performance in the Ford Center.

“We’re 1-0 this year on the road,” Jones said. “That’s in the past. We’re going from here on out in the future.”

SETTING THE TONE 

Unlike the Stony Brook and Chattanooga contests that were close for portions of the first half, the Hoosiers left no doubt on the outcome from the tip off on Wednesday.

Cody Zeller credited the quick start, which included an 11-2 run to begin the game, to a solid week of practice and preparation.

“We had a good week of practice,” he said. “I think the preparation we had was a big key. We came out ready to play and that was what got us off to a good start.”

WATFORD GETS HIS GROOVE BACK

Maybe it was a dip in conditioning from the foot injury he sustained. Or the missed practice time. But the slow start to Christian Watford’s junior season was already a memory by the final buzzer in Evansville.

Watford delivered an efficient offensive performance (15 points on 5-of-7 shooting) and stayed patient despite starting the season 3-of-14 from the field over Indiana’s first two games.

“My teammates have been helping me do a great job keeping my head up,” Watford said. “Even when times have been tough. I’ve been struggling but it’s all about the team.”

HELP ON COLT

One of the keys to controlling Evansville was the team defense the Hoosiers deployed on the Purple Aces’ leading scorer Colt Ryan.

Ryan knocked down four of his ten shot attempts and hit six free throws, but Indiana never let the Batesville native find a rhythm.

“I think the biggest thing was help defense,” Jones said of the effort on Ryan. “There are great players we’re going to guard and we’ve gotta give our players help. When (Colt) Ryan would drive, we had one or two guys there and helping on him. We were rotating real well and that’s how things were clicking.”

BALANCED ATTACK

Five players scored in double figures for the Hoosiers and IU had 24 assists on 33 made field goals. It was a continuation of the ball movement this group has displayed over the season’s first two games.

Jones said establishing Zeller, who finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, was key to getting off to a quick start offensively.

“It was great. You couldn’t key on one guy,” the IU senior said. “I think it all started with getting the ball to the big fella right here, Cody (Zeller). He was making plays. They were double teaming and he was kicking it (out). We were driving and kicking it. It was a good thing to have Cody command the double team like that.”

FOUR FACTORS

For the third straight game, the Hoosiers dominated the four factors to winning (outlined here) that we’ll discuss more frequently as the season rolls along.

The Hoosiers have an effective field goal percentage of 64.9 through three games (this obviously won’t continue) which is second best in the country. And although Evansville got to the line at a fairly sizable clip (48.2 percent free throw rate), Indiana’s opponents are getting the line at a rate of just 32 percent through three games. This is a number to monitor as the season rolls along as sending opponents to the line was an Achilles’ heel last season.

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  • Anonymous

    Shouldn’t the “Aces” behind them be purple?  Or are they no longer purple?  I always thought that was a cool nickname.

  • Anonymous

    Side note: we play UK after they play #1 North Carolina. For the first time in my life, I will actually be rooting for UK in this game. If they win, we have the opportunity to take down the #1 team in the nation. AND they’d be coming off of an emotional high (AKA let down game). They have the talent but after the Evansville game I’m convinced that we have the maturity and ability to play as a team.

  • Anonymous

    we will also be UK’s first road game of the year, how might that effect their freshman?   IMO they are more talented this year than the Wall and Cousins year, but we are WAY more talented than we were then too, so here’s hoping to an upset that puts us back in the national conciousness a year early

  • RKJackson23

    If I remember correctly, we were in the game last year with UK for 3/4s of the game and then we just ran out of gas. We had the lead about half way thru the second half and they went on a run and put us away. I think we have much more talent this year to go with experience and this game will be a dog fight.

  • Anonymous

    Important to UK will be to somewhat neutralize Jones and Davis, which I think we can somewhat do with a combo of team defense with Zeller / Watford / Sheehey / Elston.

    The key though, after watching the UK vs. Kansas game will be to get up into Teague’s mix and into his head.  He was flustured big time early in that game.  And when he gets flustered he was visibly complaining, hanging his head and making foolish plays.  If Vic,Danny and Hulls can make life difficult on him and gain a physcological edge, plus get the crowd into it, I can see him really struggling and IU controlling the game. – which neutralizes a lot of thing. And with our ability to score and hit the three gives us a good shot.  

    NC State on the road is the first test though.  We win that, and I will be really excited for UK.  

  • HoosierDadE

    I think the BEST statement in this piece was “Setting the Tone”

    This is one of the biggest differences I see this year.  IU setting the pace/tone/etc and their oppenents have to adapt or get beat by 20+ points.  So far this year the opponents have taken the second option.

    I don’t know if its just a change in mentality or Cody but me likey! 

  • HoosierDadE

    I liked when they had the T-Shirt jersey…those were amazing

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s pretty hard to get males to wear those.  Altough I guess girls don’t even wear tem anymore, so maybe time for a comeback?  Not at IU, though.

  • Mikemiller88

    If I’m coach I mix in a zone against UK.  I see shooting as there weakness again this year. Just get out on Lamb and Miller.  If you can get Lamb and Miller in the game at the same time you probably won’t see Davis and Jones on the floor together.  Good hard nosed team defense can beat UK.  I actually think we match up well with UK man to man except w Teague but I prefer the zone because I think that takes the 2 bigs out of the game. 

    We might see a lineup of VO, Will, Wat, CZ, and Elston.  Put CZ on Davis, Wat on Jones, VO on Teague, Will on Lamb, and Elston on Gilchrist.

    Jordy and VJIII can, IMO, only stay w Lamb and Miller.  The other thing is that UK sucks at free throws and only went 8 deep against Kansas.  Wiltger and Vargas only played about 3 min a piece.  With TC playing so many guys this early that could help us.  On another note Remy did a decent job in the All Star game last year against Teague. 

    Lastly, we have a week to prepare.  I know how great Coach Knight was with a week to prepare.  So lets see what TC can do!  Hopefully we are undefeated going into it. 

  • Pb1230

    Yes, we were up 57-56 with 9 min to go and then we were outscored 25-5 the rest of the game.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    Should I ask how Watford got his groove back?  I hope it didn’t involve a trip to a Caribbean island…

  • 11th and Done (Dunn)

    There is a good Iona Gaels game on right now.

  • Anonymous

    anyone think they (i can’t stand to type their name) will be looking past IU after playing UNC? I’m hoping they don’t take us seriously — it’ll make it that much sweeter to watch the hilights on Sportscenter.

  • Anonymous

    All the guards were missing CZ on the pick and roll including VJIII. Most of CZ feeds last night came from CZ out running the other big back down the court and getting set. There’s still alot more for the guards to see as far as getting the ball to CZ.

  • Anonymous

    Also explains VJ3s higher assist numbers. Jones ain’t stupid. If the shot is missed, then it’s just a pass..if the shot goes in, it’s an assist.

  • Anonymous

    Count me as one of them that will NEVER pull for pUKe to ever win any game.

    Wait a minute does the Taliban have a bball team ? I’ll have to check on that on and if they do I’ll have to get back to you after thinking it over. lol

  • Anonymous

    The key to beating KY is pretty obvious in my opinion. In a close game they only run 6 people consistently. And there strength is there length and athleticism. If you watched the ku game then you see the bigs are constantly leaving there feet going for blocks. SHOT FAKE and get there bigs in foul trouble. Make them use there bench. Anyhoosier IU looks great, its been fun to watch.

  • Anonymous

    Let’s not think of UK yet..that will be a nighmare match-up for IU..with nobody ready to take on Jones..a certain lottery choice. IU can make it a great game cause UK is young at at times reckless..but man the talent oozes out of that squad and they can blow you away with a ten minute spurt.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    I am glad we handled Evansville handily and professionally. We have to concern ourselves with beating NC State on the road before thinking about Kentucky. The NC State game is a huge benchmark test. Everybody associated with IU is riding high with recent wins and recruiting triumphs. Lets take it one game at a time and handle business with our opponents ahead and give Kentucky something to really worry about. An undefeated IU team at Assembly Hall is a lot more intimidating to Kentucky than a two loss IU team. The only way to accomplish that is to not overlook anyone and take it one game at a time. When we do face an athletically gifted team like Kentucky we need every advantage we can get, mental ones included. Sorry for using the word Kentucky so freely instead of pUke but I am taking them serious. A win against them could be the deciding factor later for tournament selection, possibly even seeding (instead of bubble position). A 5 or 6 seed would be much better than 12 or 13.

  • stonaroni

    Lamb is streaky.  To me Miller is the wild card guy.

    VO can guard Teague and he will be in his head.

    CZ will be on Davis.

    WS will have to take Jones

    Hulls will have to take Lamb

    and CW will have to take Gilchrist.

    Miller is their jack of all trades and facilitates that offense better than teague does when he is in the game.

    I do think we have to zone them up and make them shoot, but shooting was a strength of theirs last year, not a weakness.  They were 7th in 3 point FG % in the nation in 2010-11.

  • Anonymous

    I agree on the depth factor. I also think their biggest advantage playing KU was that they had a significant height advantage as Kansas didn’t have one player listed over 6’9”. I’m curious to see how they play against a team with similar height.

  • jaywiz

    I like your lineup, but watford will not be able to guard jones. It has to be VO on jones. Will on teague, watford on lamb. 

  • BEAT KENTUCKY

    YUP count  me out too….. NEVER

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    And this is a very different IU team . . . much deeper and much more talented. 

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    He got a couple hi-low feeds last night.  I also agree with Sgmarsha that VJ3 was ‘looking’ for CZ.  He didn’t hit him often enough but he was the guard making a conscious effort to look for him instead of just putting his head down after the pick and forcing it. 

    Last night was probably the first time in 2 years I was impressed with VJ!

  • unclekerfuffle

    This is sort of a sidebar comment but I read a lot into the picture–all three seem to be enjoying the moment.  I’m not sure I’ve seen CW or VJIII with those expressions on their faces over the last few years.  It’s obvious that this is a different mindset than what we have seen thus far in the CTC era–I love it.

  • Anonymous

    I said I wasn’t going to get all excited until we played meaningful competition but I screwed up again and now I’m excited again about this team.  Something’s different.  The inside out game with Cody changes everything and the Juniors are looking like they’ve matured immensely over the offseason. 

    I’m actually looking forward to the Kentucky game because I seriously think we have a good shot.  Like Jackson above said we hung with them for a long while last year and then collapsed but this team has much more depth and shouldn’t fizzle out this year.

    Beat UK and cause some Anarchy in the UK.

    I know I’m getting ahead of myself but this team looks like a contender.  Maybe Dakich was right after all.  Who knew?

  • Agree that this will be an important game.  I do think that the Butler and NC state game are critical as well.  Those games will determine how we fare against two decent teams that have been tested in the past.  If we loss two – ouch.  1 and 1 is good. If we win both then as long as we play pUKe close it would be a great leap fwd…..truly amazing to me how BIG CZ plays….smart smart player and he makes everyone around him better…he is also the key to opening up shots for the rest of the team…you need someone who gets double teamed; and with the dribble drive that person is usually the PG, but in this offense CZ functions as the distributor ….soon VO and CWat may command double teams as well and that simply opens up lanes and outside shots for others….looks so much different than our struggles last yr. …love the way they are playing D as well.

    Elston seems to be getting it and looked good in the previous game, Will is clearly stronger and better, and the shooters are spot on.  Like Hulls attitude and leadership skills…chemistry is starting to form, and if this continues then pUKe victory is a good possibility.

  • Anonymous

    I kind of agree with SC. I really don’t see us beating UK and I am really worried that it can get out of hand real easy. If it were only Jones and Davis, that would be one thing. But Lamb, Kidd-Gilchrist, Wiltjer, and Miller could all easily add 15 to 25 points in a game. They have soooooooo many weapons. Oh yeah… they can run. 

    With that being said, there would be nothing sweeter than to pull out a W. I will probably wet myself, and won’t really be embarrassed about it.

  • Anonymous

    This is also the most talented team that UK has ever put on the floor. Not counting IU out, but just trying to be realistic.

  • Andrew

    Let’s take it a step further…how is Butler, who has played in consecutive national finals, not the first test?  All this UK talk, a little NC State chatter, but nary a Butler mention.  Regardless of what they did down in Evansville versus what we did, they are better than us until we prove otherwise.  They can ugly up any game, and we will have to play very solid on both ends of the court to beat them a week from tomorrow.

  • Anonymous

    Good observatiion on all points. Like they say; a picture  is wrth a 1,000 words. Their faces exuberated a confidence that they are up to the task ahead of them this season. I haven’t seen that genuine confident look  before. Doesn’t mean that they are going to take the Big Ten by storm; but I believe they sure as heck are going to surprise a WHOLE LOT of people. Can’t wait t see some of the so called experts and Boiler fans eat crow.

  • Anonymous

    Every team has to prove they are better than the other team in all the games this early. Playing on the road in the N.C. State game will be a better test in my opinion because it’s against a power conference opponent. When we know basically nothing about the teams, I normally assume that the power school is a better team than most mid-majors. Butler does have some good players, but the atmosphere of playing a school from the ACC on the road should be a tougher game than playing a mid-major at home even though it is an in state and supposedly pretty good mid-major. Just my opinion though.