Izzo: Hoosiers better because of Zeller, Oladipo

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo coached against Indiana in the first game of the Big Ten season on Dec. 28, an 80-65 home win for his Spartans. So there may be no better person to analyze the Hoosiers’ development over the course of the conference season than Izzo.

The way he sees it, Indiana has gotten better because of two players: Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo.

“Zeller has really improved his game,” Izzo said during his Big Ten teleconference Monday. “He’s so much better with the ball in the post, not only as a ball handler, but he’s become a much better passer.

“And Oladipo has stepped up his game enormously. He’s got the ball in his hands a little bit more and is really doing some good things with it.”

Both Zeller and Oladipo struggled in the first meeting with the Spartans. Zeller had only four points and three rebounds, and Oladipo scored 10 points on an inefficient 13 shots. If the No. 18 Hoosiers (22-7, 9-7) are going to upset No. 5 Michigan State (24-5, 13-3) tonight at Assembly Hall, they are going to need more production from both players.

For Zeller, the game is a chance at redemption. He got pushed around by Adrian Payne and Derrick Nix the first time around, and he looked like a freshman for one of the few times all season.

“I think he learned a lot, and I think he showed that in the next game against Ohio State,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said on the Big Ten teleconference. “I’ve never been around a freshman like him that is so good at impacting the game from so many different ways. … Cody affects the stat sheet, but he really affects the game in ways that don’t come through on the stat sheet.”

Zeller might get a break if Nix, a 270-pound forward, has to miss the game due to injury. Nix suffered a sprain to the arch of his right foot in Michigan State’s 62-34 win against Nebraska on Saturday. Izzo said he is “definitely concerned” about Nix’s availability tonight.

“It’s not the kind of body and kind of skill (type) that can (play on a bad foot),” Izzo said. “I mean he’s tough enough to play injured, but in that area (the foot) … so I’m concerned about it.”

While the Hoosiers need some offensive production from Oladipo, his effectiveness on the defensive end may be even more important. He’ll likely draw guard Keith Appling for stretches of the game, a guy who had 25 points, six rebounds and seven assists in the teams’ first meeting. Appling’s minutes have been up recently with backup point guard Travis Trice missing the last four games with a sprained right ankle. Since Trice’s injury, Appling has played an average of 34.5 minutes, up from 29.2 in the four previous games.

“He has got the speed and quickness, but also the ability to make the next play,” Crean said of Appling.

“They’re unique. They don’t take possessions off. In the eye of the storm, it doesn’t matter what the situation is, they always believe that they are going to win it.”

And they usually do. The Spartans, winners of seven straight games, are one of the nation’s hottest teams. During their current win streak, they’ve beaten Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan, and they’ve won all but one of the games by double figures.

They can clinch an outright regular season Big Ten championship with a win tonight.

“They really seem to be clicking on all cylinders,” Crean said. “It all comes down to the rebounding and the running and all the things they do very well. You have to match that.”

  • cdog

    Sparty is on a roll like always at this time of the year (last year being an exception).  IU will have to play their best game of the year just to stay in it.  It is hard to find a team playing better right now and they go deep in talent.  The fans will need to provide a KY type environment.  Go Zeller, Go Oladipo. Go Hoosiers!

  • SS8941

    Obviously Remy is a better defender than Roth but Roth is still pretty good. He is a very smart defender and can play with more athletic players because of this. 

  • SS8941

    Obviously Remy is a better defender than Roth but Roth is still pretty good. He is a very smart defender and can play with more athletic players because of this. 

  • CorMan

    We NEED Watford to be more aggressive not just on defense but REBOUND and get to the foul line!  Hulls to RUN the office and push into transition with Watford or Roth trailing for 3′s.  If we get to the foul line +10, we win the game.  Make it a physical game ~ at home we will get the calls and the crowd to dispel their runs.  IU by 8 – 70-78.

  • millzy32

    New Rule:  Guys can switch at half court with simply a hand slap.  Roth will tap Remy who will be eagerly awaiting a tap in for defensive purposes only. 

    Occasionally when we need a slasher he can be tapped in on the offensive end as well.

  • millzy32

    Agreed,  The incentive to win for MSU isn’t there either since they’ll want to handle OSU again to rightfully claim the Big Ten Regular Season Title.

  • millzy32

    I disagree, 

    You should love IU and then sheepishly root for Northwestern in all of their games.  What’s the harm they never win anything anyway?

  • millzy32

    CBus would be awesome.  2.5 hours from me and I could actually go to a game for a change.  I like the way you’re thinking.

  • millzy32

    CBus would be awesome.  2.5 hours from me and I could actually go to a game for a change.  I like the way you’re thinking.

  • millzy32

    If he plays well we will definitely win.  If he plays poorly we probably won’t win.  If he doesn’t play at all or plays sparingly I think we eak out a win.

    Now you can go make money on my bold predictions.

  • millzy32

    Screaming at the TV occurs every time Hulls passes on a wide open shot.  Not sure why he does it.  Is he being told to facilitate more or is he losing confidence in his shot or what?  Only one player I’d rather see shooting the ball and that’s obviously Roth.  Hulls needs to get his confidence back and just shoot the D ball.

  • SCHoosier

    Gotta deny Green the ball in the lower left block and not switch on his high screens..he loves that 3 pts from the top of the circle. Board Hoosiers board!

  • http://twitter.com/hoosiersmitty HoosierSmitty

    I love the confidence on the site, tonight. I see a lot of things in our favor, but yikes, MSU is playing well, so I’m a little guarded. I’ve already started drinking in anticipation of the stress level. 

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    tough one tonight, hope CW andJH show up. if they do we have a chance. GO HOOSIERS!!

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    tough one tonight, hope CW andJH show up. if they do we have a chance. GO HOOSIERS!!

  • HoosierPat

    I am pumped up for this one!  Let’s hope the team is to.  HOO HOO HOO HOOSIERS!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/hoosiersmitty HoosierSmitty

    7 needs to get here…I’m ready for this! Let’s go! 

  • HoosierPat

    Amen to that.  I’ve been watching the clock in anticipation all day long.

  • Remy Willing and Abell

    He could walk on like Kyle Couric at Louisville ….i doubt his pop is a brain surgeon like Kyle’s though

  • Remy Willing and Abell

    LET’S DO THIS !!!!!!!!!

  • harvo

    Peter i think you need to watch the game closer when Roth is in the game. There is nothing wrong with his defense.

  • harvo

    Peter i think you need to watch the game closer when Roth is in the game. There is nothing wrong with his defense.

  • MillaRed

    Funny. My little brother played with Kyle at Harrison. He was “not a cool dude.”

  • Buster Johnson

    IU came to play some tough defense all night,&Cody,Victor&Jordy show Izzo whos boss.Go Hoosiers Buster Johnson

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