Jones silences critics with second half play

  • 02/15/2012 10:52 pm in

The question heading into Wednesday night’s game with Northwestern was how Indiana, fresh off a pair of convincing wins, would reintroduce senior Verdell Jones into the rotation.

Jones, who left a loss at Michigan back on Feb. 1 with a shoulder injury, had started the season’s first 23 games, but the Hoosiers didn’t seem to miss him in a 17-point win at Purdue or a 13-point win against Illinois.

An increased ball-handling presence from Victor Oladipo was something Tom Crean said he didn’t see a reason to change in his pregame meeting with the media.

So where exactly would Jones, who has spent the majority of his IU career with the ball in his hands, fit?

The senior from Champaign, Ill. entered the game at the 14:23 mark, but his first half was forgettable. Eight minutes. Two assists. Zero points. Indiana hit the locker room with a six-point lead.

But as Northwestern mounted a 54-51 lead halfway through the second half, Crean looked down the bench for a veteran presence to help negate the effectiveness of the Wildcats’ swarming 1-3-1 zone.

And Jones delivered with three key baskets down the stretch, including a 19-footer with 31 seconds remaining, to lift Indiana to its 20th win.

He finished with six points, four assists, three rebounds, two steals, a blocked shot and no turnovers in 18 minutes.

“I thought he responded in a really good way especially in the second half,” Crean said of his senior guard. “As impressive as his scoring was, the eight deflections for us were even more impressive. He did really good things defensively in a really tightly-contested game.”

Jones, who admitted he was fatigued in the first half, showed no hesitation over the game’s final 4:04.

His first bucket from the left wing was reminiscent of the game-winner he hit against Michigan on Jan. 5. He followed that with a sweeping layup to push IU’s lead to four with 2:53 remaining.

And as Northwestern played for a stop in the game’s final minute, Jones buried a deep two to put Indiana up six.

“I thought the first half I was just too passive. I think I was a little nervous,” Jones said. “The second half I definitely wanted to be more assertive because I felt like the first half I was just a guy out there not giving the team enough.”

Jones’ performance late showed that he’s still a valuable piece for a program headed for its first NCAA Tournament berth since the 2007-08 season. His experience over the past three and a half seasons can’t be discounted.

“He’s a veteran that knows he can play,” Crean said. “He’s been through the battles. There should be no reason to be tentative.”

Still, questions will continue to be asked about his role moving forward. Jones has been perhaps the most discussed and debated player among fans in recent memory. He even heard a smattering of boos in a game earlier this season that he says served as motivation.

“I’ve been doubted and hated on ever since I was a little kid,” he said. “Things like that have motivated me to go beyond what people expect.

“People said I was too skinny to play big Division I basketball. Proved them wrong. People said I couldn’t go a game without a turnover. That’s two games I’ve proved them wrong. Everything that I hear, the boos, all that, it motivates me to levels that you don’t even understand.”

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  • SCHoosier

    I love Verdell’s quote in the last paragraph. Represents the kind of motivation and attiude a person needs in competition and life. Jones has matured this year….like anybody..will have some bad moments..but has really tried to “fit in” with this more talented group. After seeing Elston and Zeller trying to chase smaller players around the floor..there was no doubt Mr. Jones was gonna get some time last night…and he performed on both ends of the floor by being patient and not trying to do too much. With Hulls vanishing act..IU needed that stability last night.

  • Plane1972

    Hulls WAS the walking dead last night. Love the guy, but one of his worst games I can remember. I’m sure he is putting up some shots today and he has a great bounce-back factor. Always seems to play much better after a bad game. We’ll need it at Iowa.

  • MillaRed

     It was very clear to me that Jordy does not have the size to deliver a solid pass over the #1 defender up top. Without a crisp pass to the other wing, that player cannot gain an advantage. Furthermore, he cannot see over the top of the defense and deliver a cross court pass.

    Jordy’s size absolutely killed us when facing the 1-3-1. And his inability to penetrate through it when they collapsed.

  • Daburns0

    I am a tweener on Verdell.  I don’t mind when he plays.  He can really make things happen out there, but has his ugh! moments.  He has handled the ball more due to a lack of ball handlers on this team.  Hopefully Oladipo picking up some handles will help the flow for this team. 
    I can’t believe that people boo him, and I have never heard it myself (I have only been to 4 games this year, though).  Would we love better guard play at times, yes.  But we have what we have, and he is an experienced senior.  That will get him a long way during conference games like this one.

    btw:  NW was a very hungry team last night.  They would have beaten a lot of teams yesterday.

  • Drarmstrong88

    What game is Senior night?

  • B-Town88

    When is the “Senior” night game?

  • IUCommish

    As great as he played, I think his role was perfect.  18 minutes, didn’t have to do to much, he let the game come to him.  He showed great leadership and poise down the stretch.  He hit big shots, which you want your senior to do.  I hope this is his role from here on out, because he handled it great.  Without VJIII, we don’t win that game last night.

  • Jlamarmorris

    Agree on all counts.  I thought Jones’s role was perfect for him – limited minutes, off the ball, with chances to dribble a shoot the mid-range jump shot.  In that role, he did a really good job, especially without being in 100% game shape.

    I also agree it’d be nice to carve out some time for Remy.  He’s a nice alternative to Hulls when he’s not playing well.

    While watching the game, I thought Hulls had 4 or 5 turnovers; I was shocked to see him credited with only 2.

  • catronhoosier

    True but Purdue has to look for their 3 point shot.  They have aboslutely no presence down low.  We have watford and Zeller who are both capable of pounding it down low against NW.  And as you indicated even when we did look for a 3 point shot which wasn’t often, we didn’t hit.  I think we only hit 1 the whole game, maybe 2

  • CreamandCrimson

    Sunday, March 4th against Purdue.

  • catronhoosier

    Ya they were beyond awful.  They made a below average Purdue team look like world beaters. Did you notice how many points in the paint ILLinois gave up to purdue.  How can you have a guy like leonard downlow and still be that poor of a defensive post team

  • catronhoosier

    I have to admit that I am a VJII supporter.  I disagree that he is only a role player.  If you mean he shouldn’t be playing 30-35minutes a game, then I completely agree.  I believe he should be more around 20 minutes.  The consensus is that Oladipo should handle the ball more, or Remy, both of those guys have had mistakes and stupid plays when handling the ball.  The problem is that the Jones haters, some of them don’t take into account that verdell was the primary ball handler for 20+ games to start this season and oladipo and remy have only done it for 2 games, of course jones will have more errors. but yes he has made some extremely stupid plays and decisions, no denying that but as peoplle point out, other guys on the team have to

  • catronhoosier

    I have to admit that I am a VJII supporter.  I disagree that he is only a role player.  If you mean he shouldn’t be playing 30-35minutes a game, then I completely agree.  I believe he should be more around 20 minutes.  The consensus is that Oladipo should handle the ball more, or Remy, both of those guys have had mistakes and stupid plays when handling the ball.  The problem is that the Jones haters, some of them don’t take into account that verdell was the primary ball handler for 20+ games to start this season and oladipo and remy have only done it for 2 games, of course jones will have more errors. but yes he has made some extremely stupid plays and decisions, no denying that but as peoplle point out, other guys on the team have to

  • dtfreed

    I am happy CTC played VJIII in spots. How many times have hoosiers fans patted him on the back like its a break through game and then… Perhaps his true roll should be like Pritch, spot playing within himself. Did anyone notice the lack of offensive movement against their  zone. It was almost like we were playing a zone offensively, creating way to many long passes by not moving.

  • dtfreed

    I am happy CTC played VJIII in spots. How many times have hoosiers fans patted him on the back like its a break through game and then… Perhaps his true roll should be like Pritch, spot playing within himself. Did anyone notice the lack of offensive movement against their  zone. It was almost like we were playing a zone offensively, creating way to many long passes by not moving.

  • Kokomo_Joe

    I can be hard on VJ, but I thought he played well.  I think his role last night was very fitting.  I could make a case for him to get more time because Hulls was so brutal on both ends of the floor, but having been hurt, I thought he stepped back in nicely.

    My question to CTC is this.  How in the hell do you leave a 5’11” PG out at the top of a 1-3-1 zone to pass around 6’4″ and taller players?

    Coach did you forget about Remy?  He is the 6’3″ JYD on the bench who could not only see better than Hulls but could penetrate that zone a little.  How does Remy not fit into the plans?  I am curious?  You gave a goofy answer about VO the other day about defense, intensity, rebounding, etc.  I have no doubts that Remy would have outplayed Hulls last night and it would have done Hulls some good to get benched for a while.

    Why is it OK to use one set of rule for VJ and another for VO?  Why is this the same for Hulls and Remy?  Be consistent would you please?

    I get some loyalty to some proven players, but without us out executing NW on just 3 possessions down the stretch, we could have been in deep trouble.

    I will take the W, but I am still left scratching my head at the way we attacked the zone and who was playing it.

  • A_Schick

    VJ3 has also seen NW’s defense and offense for three years, while Abel saw it in practice last week. I’d want the senior over throwing a kid into the frying pan in that situation. 

  • Kokomo_Joe

    I went on about this a second ago in a post so i didn’t mean to steal your thunder.

    What is weird is that I saw the same thing.  So did you and probably a majority of hoosier fans that know a little about zone execution.

    Where was Remy?  Or, if you don’t use him, bury Hulls in the corner and let VO or even CW run the top.

    CZ was open on the back side all night.  A taller player feeds the Z and thus, the NW zone turns into man to man.

    Sometimes I am confused by CTC.  And let’s just say he is so focused on certain aspects of the game, where are his assistants.  You know behind an excellent head coach is excellent assitant coaches.

  • A_Schick

    2-13 on the night I think. Brutal by any standards, let alone ours. 

  • A_Schick

    2-13 on the night I think. Brutal by any standards, let alone ours. 

  • Kokomo_Joe

    Instead of making excuses for IU and CTC, why not look at it at CTC not making appropriate adjustments?

    I read before where you said you have coached.  If your team struggles with the PG in against a zone, do you not change the PG?  or slide that player to the wing or corner?

    The best way to defeat a zone is ball movement and penetration from the wings.  I am sure CTC knows this too, but this can’t happen with Hulls at the PG.

  • Kokomo_Joe

    I second your Remy proposal.

  • A_Schick

    I thought Jordy had chances to penetrate on the drive last night; we also forget that he’s proven he can cross up his defender for a quick pull up jumper too. Jordy’s biggest problem IMO is he gets gun-shy or discouraged easily. Just me though. 

  • stroot

    Is it traditionally the last home game of the season? For some reason, I don’t remember it always being that way when I was a student.

  • stroot

    Is it traditionally the last home game of the season? For some reason, I don’t remember it always being that way when I was a student.

  • Kokomo_Joe

    Leaving Hulls at the point for 20+ minutes against the 1-3-1 zone wasn’t a good move.

    VJ’s role last night worked, VO was soild again, but CTC must have been ignoring the fact that Hulls cannot see around a defender.

    Scouts talk about wingspan, I guessing that Hulls has a below avg wingspan with the number of weak passes and deflections by his defenders last night.

  • Kokomo_Joe

    Remy should have played over Hulls, not VJIII.

  • A_Schick

    Got to go to the game with my dad last night (always one of the great joys in my life) and he made a good point: it’s unfortunate that Northwestern hasn’t made the tournament because their 1-3-1 and Princeton offense could cause a lot of nightmares for teams who don’t normally see it like we do in the B1G. I know I wouldn’t want to face them on a neutral court in a one-game do-or-die scenario. 

  • MillaRed

    I did see a discouraged Jordy last night but that’s rare isn’t it? I mean, this kid will cross you over and nail a 3 in your face.

    They are all still kids. It was Verdell’s night. Hopefully he shakes it off and does his thing at Iowa. And I think he will do just that.

  • MillaRed

     I know this sounds terrible, but should we injure his shoulder every 3 games? He really seemed under control. Am I going to jail?

  • mrjonessodaandme

    Always the last home game. And this year is just happens to be Purdue. I don’t care how much they need the win to get into the tourney….not a chance we are letting that game not be a big ole W.

  • mrjonessodaandme

    As far as I know in almost every sport, at both the high school and college level, seniors are celebrated at their final home game. Always been that way for teams I’ve followed.

  • mrjonessodaandme

    As far as I know in almost every sport, at both the high school and college level, seniors are celebrated at their final home game. Always been that way for teams I’ve followed.

  • Jmfriedman

    “I can tell you one thing…….ILL is going to stink.”

    Back at you Brucy boy….what comes around goes around. 

    I was really pulling for ILL to beat PU.  Would love for PU to miss the dance so I don’t have to listen to their fans as much, although, I will say they have been awful quiet this year. Just how I like it.

    Keep it up Hoosiers!

  • mrjonessodaandme

    The whole Remy saga all year has been absolutely mind-boggling.
    The kid has obvious talent, balls hard when he gets the playing time, and has come up big in some spots already.

  • SCHoosier

    well we had JR’s and SR’s who hadn’t proven they could defend the NW junk offense…so I think TC lacked a little confidence in the Freshmen getting a hold of it.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I don’t know if you are responding to my comment or you meant to respond to millzy.  Where exactly did I make an excuse for CTC?  All I said was that I didn’t think anyone else would primarily play a 1-3-1 zone because it’s too difficult to add an effective defense that you haven’t practiced all season. 

    Again, if you were referring to millzy’s post, my apologies but you replied to my post and I am confused at the twisting of words.  I didn’t say IU was effective against the zone and I didn’t make any excuses for our lack of production against it. 

  • SCHoosier

    Good..Hoosiers will need the crowd love..anybody who thinks the Boilers are going quietly after shooting 29% in the last game are probably in for a rude awakening.

  • CreamandCrimson

    You have the right to express your opinions and you offer a lot of insightful questions to this site.  Just a question…is there going to be a game where you don’t question CTC’s decision making ability?  It doesn’t seem to matter whether IU wins or loses, it’s questions about CTC after every game.  I’m not coming after you or ripping you or calling you a bad fan or anything.  I enjoy reading your posts.  I am just wondering if there will be a time where you will give credit for a win without questioning each decision he makes.

  • CreamandCrimson

    You have the right to express your opinions and you offer a lot of insightful questions to this site.  Just a question…is there going to be a game where you don’t question CTC’s decision making ability?  It doesn’t seem to matter whether IU wins or loses, it’s questions about CTC after every game.  I’m not coming after you or ripping you or calling you a bad fan or anything.  I enjoy reading your posts.  I am just wondering if there will be a time where you will give credit for a win without questioning each decision he makes.

  • walton

    keep that “motivation” going.  There is still plenty of season to play out!  I’m starting to get excited about tourney(s) time.  This team can play when they are prepared and ready.

  • Tom S

    I’m with Millzy – let’s go find some turnovers to give to Verdell.

  • dssnyder1

    i hear you cream. alot of griping from numerous fans after a win. at least it’s a W.

  • 11th and Done (Dunn)

    that is a sweet name. 

  • 11th and Done (Dunn)

    Best post on ITH ever. I’ve been on here since the denim shirt debacle too.  

  • Kokomo_Joe

    There have been several games this year where I have been pleased with CTC’s decisions.  There have been other where I have been dumbfounded by some of his decisions.

    I have said it many times before, I have my doubts about his in game adjustments.  His game plans seem to be solid, but I fail to see somethimes even the simplest of adjustments.  Like last night with Hulls.  I felt like I was watching a jr high kid try to pass the ball around a bunch of high schoolers.  Hulls looked out of place and was struggling to make a pass to the wing.  at the same time he had taken at most 1 shot in the game.  I can logically sit there aftre 2 or 3 possessions and think to myself, rotate someone else to point and send Hulls to the corner.  Or, bring in Remy to attack the zone.

    CTC does some good things during a game, don’t get me wrong, we are 20-6.  but sometimes the obvious moves to me are the last to be done or even attempted.  There is absolutely no reason remy didn’t play last night to spell Hulls at the least for a few min while the asst coaches showed him how to attack the zone.  A few better moves by CTC this year might have us at 22-4.  Nebraska was a joke and CTC could have made a difference down the stretch and Minn at home proved he was outcoached by Tubby.  We are going to lose some games, but we need to beat the peopl ewe are supposed to beat.

    CTC was solid against Purdue and OSU at home.  I felt he let the troops play at home against Iowa and was solid against Ill.  There are other games too, but those come to mind recently.

    At the same time, there are several games that we have W that I question things.  Particularly playing time.  Remy, AE, DE and TP saw a lot of limited minutes in pre-conference games where we won by 25.  I feel they should have played more in certain games.  That only helps build depth.  We have seen injuries for VJ and WS this year where AE and Remy haven’t been used at all.  Maybe had they gotten a better chance to play early they could have made a bigger impact.

    I do not like the way DM was used when a kid like AE or Remy could have developed.

    I feel there are a different set of rules for everyone on the team.  That doesn’t make sense to me.  That is what we see in America today and it doesn’t seem to be working real well.  you cannot lay the foundation of a program and leave a jr or sr in the game playing matador defense when you clamor as a coach that playing time is earned with defense.

    Just my opinions.

    I am glad to see the 20-6 record.  I predicted 22-9 this season so it appears that CTC will exceed that number and this has been a great season thus far.

    There are a couple other factors that make me question CTC, but I feel I have my reasons for that and do not wish to discuss at this time.

  • Kokomo_Joe

    If you do not practice against it (1-3-1), you are not going to be effective.

    That makes sense, it really does.  But this is one of those in game adjustments that took too long to make.

    this is college basketball.  A zone shouldn’t throw a team or coach off for 20 + min.  Use timeouts; coach up the players and execute.

  • Plane1972

    Nuns are forgiving souls, Sister Milla. If you can forgive Bruce Weber, surely you can forgive your opinionated, literal ITH Brother Plane.  :>)

  • CreamandCrimson

    Again…I wasn’t talking about this game.  I was saying I didn’t think teams would be playing a 1-3-1 zone against us in the future because they don’t practice it enough to be effective with us.  I’m sorry if it wasn’t clear but I was responding to the original post that teams would use it against us in the future.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Fair enough.  Again, I like your posts and I think you make valid points.  I just tend to see a lot of criticism win or lose and you have every right to question in game decisions or “other factors” and you are certainly entitled to your reasons and opinions.