Confidence keys production for Elston, Pritchard

  • 02/01/2012 11:20 am in

Derek Elston’s impact was felt almost immediately.

He entered the game Sunday night against Iowa and promptly knocked down a 3-pointer from the right corner. The next time down the floor, he hit another jumper from the right side. Then after blocking a shot, Elston raced down the court and nailed a transition 3 from the left wing.

Eight points and a block in 68 seconds, and the Hoosiers were well on their way to a 103-89 win.

“Once I saw that first one kind of go down, that’s how it kind of goes for me shooting-wise,” Elston said. “If I make my first couple ones, I have the potential to have a good game.”

Elston, like Tom Pritchard, had a big game off the bench for Indiana. But Elston and Pritchard aren’t always such key contributors. Their success is usually determined by their confidence on a given day, and they seem to play with more confidence in the comforts of Assembly Hall.

In the No. 20 Hoosiers’ five Big Ten road games, Elston and Pritchard have combined for only 16 points and 16 rebounds. That’s an average of less than two points and two rebounds per contest for each player.

In Indiana’s five conference home games, however, the bench duo has combined for 34 points and 24 rebounds.

The difference? It seems simple enough.

“We want Derek to play with confidence,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said after the win against Iowa. “We want him to shoot the ball. He’s one of our absolute best shooters.  Sometimes he gets away from that and needs a reminder that he’s that good. The last thing we want Derek to do is to play where’s he got to be thinking too much. … He just needs to play.”

On Sunday, Elston and Pritchard provided the spark necessary to help the Hoosiers put Iowa away. Elston knocked down big shots, Pritchard took charges and got rebounds.

When the Hoosiers (17-5, 5-5) travel to Ann Arbor to play Michigan at 6:30 p.m. tonight, they’ll need that spark that has been missing in some road games this season. Indiana didn’t have enough of a push to put either Michigan State or Nebraska away when it go them down late.

Crean and the Hoosiers simply have to look at the tape from Sunday to see the impact a guy like Pritchard is capable of having.

“Very active, a lot of energy,” Crean said of Pritchard. “When he’s confident going up and making baskets, boy that energizes our entire team. That’s like a Matt Roth 3 or a Victor (Oladipo) or Will (Sheehey) dunk for us because our players love him. … When he’s aggressive like that, it makes a huge difference in our team.”

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  • Kokomo_Joe

    I would be interested to see what their minutes played have been on the road and what the minutes played at home.

    If their minutes are down on the road that explains the difeerence in their numbers and the lack of confidence CTC has in them on the road.

    If their minutes are the same, then  TP and DE need to play with confidence as the article suggests.

  • IUHoosiers23

    It’s time for a marquee road win! LET’S GO BOYS!!!

  • HoosierExile

    Elston played really well against Wisconsin though, so I think that he’s starting to feel it.  When he has time to set up, rather than rush it, he can hit a long-range jumper.  If the Pritch can provide a spark off the bench, it’ll really be a huge boost.  If we could get 10-15 pts a game and solid defense from Elston and Pritch, we’ll be in great shape.

  • tenaciousIUFan

    I really like Elston but his inability to guard the pick and roll hurts us more than his offense helps. I’m not sure why he can’t figure it out but we need it come tourney time.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    If IU steals this win tonight then I think they win at PUke too!  If they do then the Hoosiers could run the slate or finish the B1G season with only 6 losses, 7 at worst.  If they do that then I think we’re looking at a great seed and any see is better than most of us expected before the year began!

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    If IU steals this win tonight then I think they win at PUke too!  If they do then the Hoosiers could run the slate or finish the B1G season with only 6 losses, 7 at worst.  If they do that then I think we’re looking at a great seed and any see is better than most of us expected before the year began!

  • Laueb

    I don’t think Elston knows he should be a ‘banging monster’ on the inside, look at the size of his arms (guns man!!) in the shot above. He is just another guard want-ta-be trapped in a 6’9″, 245lb body. DE you can break out if you really try and be a great asset to this teams drive to the finish!!.

  • Laueb

    I don’t think Elston knows he should be a ‘banging monster’ on the inside, look at the size of his arms (guns man!!) in the shot above. He is just another guard want-ta-be trapped in a 6’9″, 245lb body. DE you can break out if you really try and be a great asset to this teams drive to the finish!!.

  • Kokomo_Joe

    TP plays 12 min/game on the road; DE only gets 9 min/game.

    At home TP only gets 9 Min/game and DE get close to 13 min/game.

    Yes, the last game they combined for 18 pts and 6 reb which was a home game.

    Take that one game out of the mix and they are 16 points and 18 rebounds in 4 home games and 16 points and 16 rebounds on the road in 5 games.  In reality it is much of the same, limited points, limited rebounds, and limited playing time.  They combine for about 20 minutes on the road per game, but neither will play for a longer span than 3 minutes.  Hard to get anything of major impact done in that short time frame let alone get in the flow of the offense.

    At home IU avg’s 80 ppg in conference.  On the road they average 65 ppg, so I think road production has less to do with confidence and more to do with opponents defense and the offense run on the road.

    I like when DE is hitting shots because few guys his size can do that.

    Outside of the Iowa game against a team that gave up 103 points where no defense was played well on either end of the floor, the results are very similar for TP and DE and IMHO confidence has little to do with it.

  • Bucky

    Not directed at you, Aceman, because it’s a common phrase.  But I’ve never liked the “steal a win” concept as some people use it. 

    I remember Michael Jordan’s eyes flashing when a reporter suggested this to him.  “We’re not going to steal anything.” he said.  “We’re going to win because we’re better than them and we deserve it.”

    Whoa. 

    That’s a very different mindset than what some visiting teams have, when they hope they can get away with a fluke win only if the home team comes out flat.

    Again, I’m not saying this was your meaning, AM.  And I’ve heard dozens of coaches use the same words, especially in NBA playoffs.  But I like Jordan’s focus:  we’re going to take it from you, and your best game isn’t enough to stop us.

    I look forward to when IU has that attitude, and can back it up. 

  • Miamihoosier

    I don’t think this game will be close. I had a very similiar feeling before the MSU game. We beat OSU by 2 at home and got blasted at their place. We beat Michigan by 2 at home, I think we will probably lose by 10+……….. They were blowing us out most of the game last year in Ann Arbor, before the last 6 minutes.          I think people generally underestimate the power of home court in college basketball. Look how many top 10 teams have lost on the road this year to unranked teams……………. If we lose our next 2, it’s not devastating, we will win the rest of our home games, probably split the road games with Iowa and Minnesota, and finish  23-8.       The neutral court Big Ten Tournament games will be big. We have a bit of an advantage being that the games are in Indy…………..Uconn rode their tourney title to a national title last year, it will be interesting to see where we really stand, all things being equal in Indy

  • hoosier_kamp

    If Olidipo can neutralize Trey Burke and we can force Hardaway to take tough shots like he consistently does, we can win this game.

    The problem, this team is not the same team defensively. Teams go after Hulls and set screens on him all game. Verdel is not a great defender as well. If we can stop penetration, we are dead as they will drive and kick and slice us up.

  • marcusgresham

    I’d also bet there’s a massive disparity in Elston’s production with and without the mask, and he’s played quite a few more games with it at home because that was the non-conference portion of the schedule.  Since the mask has come off he’s been playing a lot more like he did before it.

  • Kokomo_Joe

    Good point.

  • I agree, if he can figure out the pick and roll, stay out of foul trouble, and continue to improve on the defensive side of the ball.. we will be scary in the tournament.

  • Hoosier Ken

    Ya I agree Miamihoosier, but the teams that figure out how to win road games make it into 2 and 3 round games in the tournament, those games are all road games, unless you are pUKe and play all tournament games in their back yard.

  • SCHoosier

    As long as both of these guys stay within their defined roles..they are assets. Elston can shoot and should put it up when possible. TP can’t and shouldn’t. Elston’s been good on t he D board..still has trouble with setting moving screens. TP can defend..both deserve some minutes..but when TP is on the floor..it gives the opoents defense one less guy to defend..cause other than the pick and roll he is no threat to score. Hope they continue to contribute.

  • Indiana NU

    Look at the point spread. They usually get it right. It will be a tight game either way.

  • RobertMontgomeryKnightHall

    We match up way better against Michigan than either of those teams.  I think if Zeller can step up and we hit 3’s like we know how to, we win this game.

  • RobertMontgomeryKnightHall

    We match up way better against Michigan than either of those teams.  I think if Zeller can step up and we hit 3’s like we know how to, we win this game.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    I think by this time next year we will be looking at every game as an expected win.  I honestly think IU can beat anyone anywhere this year, but I definitely think with their recent struggles closing teams out, especially on the road, that it would be a mild steal if they came away with a win. 

    If they beat UM in Ann Arbor, then they definitely are better than UM!