The Minute After: Illinois

  • 02/09/2012 11:09 pm in

Thoughts on a 84-71 win against the Illini:

Back and forth, back and forth she went.

Indiana surged. D.J. Richardson responded and drained threes. Meyers Leonard shouldered Cody Zeller to the ground in the first half;  Zeller countered with an elbow to Leonard’s mouth en route to a bucket in the second half. Matt Roth and Myke Henry mixed it up. If Saturday’s tilt with Purdue was rivalry, this was more like a heavily-officiated fight.

But after the under-8:00 media timeout in the second half, it was pretty much all Hoosiers.  Leonard — who certainly didn’t win over any Indiana fans with his immaturity this evening — came back into the game with four fouls, and thus didn’t defend quite as intimidating as he had in the game’s first 30 minutes. And the Illini, who had been shooting rather well, went cold. So Indiana capitalized. After a Christian Watford 3-pointer with 5:49 to go extended Indiana’s lead to 12, the Hoosiers kept a double-digit lead all the way to the final horn.

Besides the final stretch, Indiana’s big advantage in this one came at the line. The Hoosiers were a perfect 16-of-16 at half; the Illini only shot 12-of-15 all game. Indiana went on to finish the night an impressive 35-0f-42 (83.3 percent) from the charity stripe. And get this: The Hoosiers’ free throw rate (FTA/FGA) was a ridiculous 100.0 — 42 trips to the line, 42 field goals attempts. Victor Oladipo went 10-of-12 on free throws and scored 18 points. In his second straight game with more ballhandling duties due to Verdell Jones’ shoulder injury, he continued to impress. The flow of Indiana’s offense with him slashing to the hoop and making decisions has been strong in their last two wins, and you wonder where it fits in when Jones is healthy enough to play again.

And then there was The Big Handsome. Leonard outplayed him in the first half. He was the agressor. He wanted the ball in the post, got it and scored at will. Fifteen points at the break. But Zeller is not one to get excited, to try desperately to counter at expense of the team game, at expense of his maturity and air-tight demeanor. So it was in the second half where the more polished big man would make his mark. Leonard struggled with fouls; he picked up his fourth on pure emotion, trying to mix it up when he re-entered the game fresh off his third foul, a play featuring the aforementioned Zeller elbow. And so Indiana’s freshman just kept grinding and scoring and doing as he always does, as he always will — eventually winning this bout which was a joy to watch unfold. He finished the night with a game-high 22 points (5-of-8 from the field, 12-of-14 from the line). Leonard ended it sulking on the bench and fouled out, just like teammates Brandon Paul and Nnanna Egwu.

Another impressive W for Indiana. Their three-game rough patch now but a distant memory. The schedule continues to be favorable. The Hoosiers are one win away from a 20-win season.

And yes, it’s reality: March beckons.

SOME NUMBERS

+ Christian Watford (18 points on 6-of-11 shooting, 2-0f-4 from three, 4-of-4 from the line) had a nice effort after a rough shooting night at Mackey Arena on Saturday night. Jordan Hulls also had a strong offensive showing this evening and scored 15 points. (4-of-8 from the field, 3-of-4 from three, 4-of-6 from the line).

+ Indiana scored 1.34 points per possession in this one; the Illini scored 1.08.

Filed to:

  • HoosierFromCt

    I thought all you had to say was,” Yeah Boy!”

  • dtfreed

    some players talk sh-t and Zeller is the sh-t!

  • Tom S

    So your analysis is Crean has been “giving” Verdell Jones playing time?

    Ridiculous.

  • dtfreed

    Most of the team has been sat down for less than stellar play and VJIII seemingly doesn’t Sent from my Kyocera Echo on the Now Network from Sprint

  • dtfreed

    Steve Alford

  • Plane1972

    Would be great to get another crack at the Badgers in the B1G Tournament. Like many have said, I like our chances on a neutral court. Would like to see Cody get some payback on Bruesewitz in the form of a W.

  • Plane1972

    Perhaps the coaches don’t think his play has been “less than stellar”. I don’t see any of the players or coaches who share your sentiments for VJ and his playing time. I like how others have stepped up in his absence, but Verdell has been solid this season.

  • SCHoosier

    The P and R has improved..but I’m tellin ya..TP and Will are SOOOOO close to being called for a moving screeen every time they set one. In fact..if IU does get into the toruanment with non-league officials calling the games..u are going to see some moving screen calls on IU’s part. Just how darn wide is the screener allowed to set his legs anyway?

  • dtfreed

    And you would be VJII? : )
    Sent from my Kyocera Echo on the Now Network from Sprint

  • HoosierTrav

    NBA developmental league at best. Love me some jordy but I don’t see him translating well to the NBA game. If he had Steve Nash or jj berea’s speed and quickness, then I would reconsider.

  • Walt

    Had the same feeling watching the game; it was close, but I never felt like we would lose the game.  Think the world of VJ111, but for now, he should play the role Elston and Pritch played earlier in year. There will be some great minutes for VJ later in the tournaments, he may win a game for us.

    Cannot believe how good it feels to watch this team, win or lose they are my heros!

  • HoosierTrav

    Agreed but it still doesn’t warrant him getting big minutes. Vic’s penetration paired with hulls ability to shoot from range at a very high clip is our best chance at guard right now. I would even go as far as saying I think Remy’s mins should increase, which would really leave little mins for verdell. You read the press bits.. We are a better team now than when we were when we started 12-0. It’s no coincidence that we are playing our best, most cohesive game right now when verdell is missing. I don’t see us winning at purdue with verdell getting vic or Remy’s minutes. Imagine one of verdells run killing turnovers/turnovers when we need to counter immediately happening at an environment like purdue. I like verdell but I think at this point in the season we shouldn’t tamper with our rotation. We look fantastic right now. We are best suited with him getting limited mins. He can still be a very big part of something special in the march to come. I hope to see more of the iu of the past two games is what I see most of for the rest of the season.

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    Oh crud. I didn’t realize IU only played Wisconsin once this season.

    But yet, there’s a non-conference game in there. Unfair. I want another crack at ’em too. I fully believe IU can take them. The players just have to clean their mistakes up, and lately, they haven’t been committing as many. Really, I think IU can take them.

  •  Thats funny because my dad and I were talking about Roth going pro during the game and comparing him to Reddick and Morrison, although Morrison could make his own shots. I think Roth could at least make a D league team if tried since once he passes the half court line I am comfortable with him shooting the ball and believe he would make 50% from half court or close to it. Not many players ever have the pure shooting ability that Roth has and maybe only Alford from IU.

  • defendtherock

    Leonard is a punk.  The crazy thing is that his coaches know it, but they can’t do anything about it because Weber is trying to save his job.  Last year, they didn’t have to put up with his BS because they had other options.  During the ILL vs. PU game earlier this year, he was walking off of the court and mouthed off at one of the coaches(just like he did to weber this game), the coach got so mad and yelled, “F… YOU! F… YOU!” right at Leonard. That was all I need to see to judge that kids character. 

  • SCHoosier

    Gee that’s a little harsh..I view him as immature and certainly not the sharpest knife in the drawer:) Wouldn’t mind being his agent come NBA draft time in a couple of years. Not sure he’s with the right program or coach to fully develop his 7-1 potential.

  • SCHoosier

    The free throw accuracy was a thing of beauty. I remember a year ago when Will/VO and Jones went to the line..u just had to hold your breath on a one & one cause it was likely the ball was gonna clang off the back rim. Great emphasis by the players and staff to work on that issue. Now if we can just get VO to hit a jumper in the off season and Wat learns to pump fake and finish in close..we’re all set.:)

  • SCHoosier

    You get the prose of the day award for “bandwagon of crying wussies”..I’m gonna be chucklin’ all day. Just great (and true)

  • catronhoosier

    You can set your feet as wide as you want, but you have to give the guy a chance to move before he makes contact with you and you can’t lean or move once you stop to set the pick.  I do agree with you, I have said on here before that bigten teams often struggle in the tourney with non-league official with the exception of MSU.  And I had never really thought about it until watching last nights game but you are absolutely right, TP and WIll in particular but also our team in general struggle with setting solid nonmoving screens, some blame also falls on the ball handlers becasue many times they don’t run their man close enough to the screen so our guys are forced to move 

  • Outoftheloop

     But I like you as “Ace”.

  • Silkyslim

    Running the screens right to left usually requires a good “lefty” ball handler or someone who can pass strong with the off hand.  Hopefully our guards will improve enough to execute it.