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.”

  • Kreigh_Smiths_Short_Shorts

    This is going to be a battle!  I can’t wait to watch this game.

    Go Hoosiers!

  • Kreigh_Smiths_Short_Shorts

    This is going to be a battle!  I can’t wait to watch this game.

    Go Hoosiers!

  • Geoff_85

    Here’s a rambling mess of points I’d like to make:

    – A foot injury is tough to recover from, even if it is minor, especially for a big man. Don’t be surprised if you don’t see Nix on the floor tonight.- Cody needs to be big in this game! As with any game IU plays, I think the Hoosiers have a good shot if he plays well.
    – In the final 10 minutes or so in the first meeting, Michigan State showed how talented they were. Indiana will have to play some good D to mitigate that and hopefully that will cause some TO’s.
    – REBOUND, REBOUND, REBOUND. When you get tired of rebounding, rebound some more and repeat the process.
    – Coach Crean has a great point when he talks about how Zeller regrouped after that loss to MSU. Let’s hope he’s ready to redeem that performance again against the opponent who caused it.
    – This game is huge for the team’s psyche going into the final game of the regular season.
    – Revenge baby.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KCZUX4SBFXXM2GEHVKTVKOIYTY Aaron

    Time to find out what we are made of.

    Monster game.  Go Hoosiers!

  • HOOSIER KEN

    It seems that this team steps up when playing ranked teams at home, they really need to climb the ladder for this one, it may come down on how good the crowd is tonight, if the crowd comes in like they did with UK rack up a win! So get loud! GO HOOSIERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Chatogonzalez4

    Lets go HOOSIERS……………

  • cpmichae

    nix being out or ineffective would be huge. not that I wish ill on the guy, you know, he should just rest up tonight

  • cpmichae

    nix being out or ineffective would be huge. not that I wish ill on the guy, you know, he should just rest up tonight

  • Jethro Troll

     I think IU gets this one at home tonight.  I see 3 big keys to IU’s success tonight against Sparty.

    First, IU has to keep MSU off the offensive glass.  This is a typical Izzo team, an elite rebounding machine.  A large part of Izzo’s success has been his ability to get his teams crash the offensive glass, creating second and third chance opportunities.  Unfortunately, this is a weakness for IU.  I expect IU to get outrebounded, but they have to be competitive in this area, or this can become a very difficult game.

    Secondly, IU has to be able to create open looks against a very physical and well grounded defense.  In their first meeting, IU shot just 42% from the field, including 35% from beyond the arc.  MSU has the ability to guard IU’s perimeter shooters, challenging every shot.  IU needs to move the ball, create space, find open looks and not continually settle for challenged shots. 

    And lastly, IU needs to keep playing thru Zeller.  This is a key evey game.  One way to create open outside looks is by passig the ball down low, then kicking the ball back out when the help comes.  Zeller is a very good passer, and has a high bball IQ.  Good things happen when he touches the ball.  And if the help doesnt come, then Zeller needs to take it to the rim, hard.  MSU may be thin down low tonight with Nix iffy for the game.  IU can get MSU’s front court in serious foul trouble.  And I think Zeller rebounds from the last meeting, and Sunday’s game.

    There was a 15 minute period in the first matchup, last 5 of the first half and first 10 of the second, where I thought IU played as well as they played all year.  It was incredible to watch.  So, I have no doubt that IU can play with Sparty.  But the effort has to be sustained.  Im looking foward to it.

  • bbars88

    MSU guy here

    I absolutely love my team this year and really do think they will get to the Final Four.

    But there are certain games along the way that you just get a bad feeling about. The Hall will be absolutely nuts tonight and unless IU goes ice cold from behind the arc, I don’t see MSU winning. Too much energy from the home crowd and with Nix and Trice ailing, I feel even less confident.

    The key for MSU to win will be to keep Hulls or Roth from hitting early 3’s (which I assume will be Appling’s job). Should either get hot, it will be a long night for us.

    Indiana 71 MSU 68 — State will make it close at the end with a small rally but it won’t be enough

  • HoosierDadE

    Nix not playing could be huge because they can just throw Payne then Nix at Cody the entire game.  Just having Payne would (Mr. Obvious Alert) help a ton…

    Even though Dr. Green (yes, just like Babyface Shurna from NW…I feel like I was watching Draymond when I was a student so he must also have his PhD) is Big10 POY, they key is Appling.  Another obvious point, fast PG have hurt Jordy.  Keep Appling outta the lane and I can see a win.

    Plus, I’m going to the game so that is worth at least 10 points?

  • IUfanToby

    I’d like to see Roth get 20 minutes tonight and stretch the defense….hopefully get VO going to the rim and CZ, CW crashing the boards.

  • Ben Ancelet

    I can’t wait for this game. It should be a real test for both teams. Win this one and I think PUke is an easy victory coming off the MSU high. Lose and that game gets more interesting with our confidence shaken a bit.

    We need this win tonight to lock up at worst a 5, likely a 4, and possibly a 3 seed depending on how we fair in the B1G tourney.

    Elston needs to continue his solid play. In the L at MSU he went into the game late and committed back-to-back turnovers when we were only down 3. The turnovers directly led to easy transition points for MSU. The lead ballooned from one possession back to 7 and we never recovered.

    I think this will be a hard fought game, but we get the W. Go Hoosiers!

  • eph521

    So much on the line in this game for both teams, what a contest it will be and what an atmosphere at Assembly Hall.

    I thoroughly enjoy IU vs MSU games, as they’re my two favorite teams to watch in college basketball. I love Izzo and the type of team he develops each year.

    And I truly believe that Crean is building something special in Bloomington that in many ways mirrors what Izzo has built at MSU, perhaps due to his time on Izzo’s staff…

    On more than one occasion this year when watching our IU boys play a game, you could see the marks of an MSU team. For instance, you see IU becoming a team that gets the ball down the court – FAST – after an opponent’s missed or made shot… classic Izzo/MSU basketball and quickly becoming a characteristic of Crean-coached IU teams.

  • InTheMtns

    Hey, guy, we’re going to hold you to those 10 points!

    Nix will play. Maybe his foot will bother him and it won’t work out, but I think the talk of him not playing is hype. If he can’t play, though, and if Trice isn’t well enough to give Appling a break, MSU’s depth could become a factor.

    Agree with you about Appling being a key to the game. I think we’ll do a better job on him than we did the last game. MSU’s such a well-rounded team, though, so we have to do a good job on everyone. For 40 minutes. I think we can do it.

    We had a short turn around but MSU had three tough games in a short period so our short turn around probably won’t hurt us. Izzo is trying to fire his team up with the importance of being the sole winner of the B1G championship. I’m in hopes that in the back of their minds they know they’ve already assured themselves of at least co-champs and have lost some of their edge.

    They are one of the hottest teams in the country right now, but we play really well at AH and I think we win. Especially with your 10 points.

  • MillaRed

    Appling had the best game of the season against IU. Season high points, nearly rebounds and 2 off in assists. This will not happen in Bloomington. I expect IU to throw everything we have at him. Green will get his. Nix and Trice will be missed. We pull this out by 5.

    IU seemed to have a deer in the headlights mentality at MSU. Our fans will make the difference. Now let’s go get it done. And please, do not let these officials decide this game. 

  • plane1972

    I was thinking the same thing, Toby. In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing how Roth would handle a start in this game. He and Jordy on the court early could be an interesting look to throw at them. Bring Sheehey off the bench if it doesn’t pan out.

  • plane1972

    I was thinking the same thing, Toby. In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing how Roth would handle a start in this game. He and Jordy on the court early could be an interesting look to throw at them. Bring Sheehey off the bench if it doesn’t pan out.

  • plane1972

    We appreciate level-headed opposing fans on this site. Welcome!

    We also hope your prediction is correct. Good luck tonight, but not too much.

  • stroot

    If you’re worth 10+ points, you should probably go to more games.

    Please don’t tell me you were sick for the Minnesota game back in mid-January.

  • Petefaggen

    Milla! I agree with you. The loss of Nix would be huge for MSU. Opens up the lane and will even out the rebounding edge a bit. I think rebounding determines this game. Second-chance points. Minimizing turnovers also a key. Will Oladipo handle the ball more? And can Watford and Hulls hit shots through contact? Who’s the X-factor? I think it’s Zeller — how fast he moves. He did have that deer in the headlights mentality in December at Breslin. Our fans will make the difference and I can’t wait to be in the Hall in the balcony!!! I’ll support your IU by five!

  • Abpreston

    I think Hulls needs to shoot the ball a few more times like in the last game. He seems to sometimes be afraid to shoot. It really changes things when he drives for the short jumper or passes the ball out to the wing. But he needs to mix it up more.  Go Team! Go Hoosiers!

  • Hoosiers11c

    Wow big one tonight! (real brain buster on that comment)

    The difference in wins vs. OSU Michigan Illinois and Northwestern has been the ability to grit it out at the end of those games and make huge plays in crucial moments.

    This is the difference in losses at Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan

    Of course being in one of the greatest venues in sports doesn’t hurt

    -Hopefully we can play a great team game and have multiple performers. Elston, Pritch, Roth etc. Can’t wait for 7 pm

    GO HOOSIERS!

  • Hoosiers11c

    Wow big one tonight! (real brain buster on that comment)

    The difference in wins vs. OSU Michigan Illinois and Northwestern has been the ability to grit it out at the end of those games and make huge plays in crucial moments.

    This is the difference in losses at Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan

    Of course being in one of the greatest venues in sports doesn’t hurt

    -Hopefully we can play a great team game and have multiple performers. Elston, Pritch, Roth etc. Can’t wait for 7 pm

    GO HOOSIERS!

  • NotTheRealSteveEyl

    The old reverse jinx, eh?  I’m onto you.  I have used that many times myself.  

    I welcome your input, but you understand I cannot wish Dray and the boys any good fortune.  

  • CreanFaithful

    I’d like to see Olidipo skying for boards like he did in the Minny game.  He was an absolute monster.

  • inadvertentelbows_stillhurt

    Izzo will have his team ready…Hulls was attacked by MSU guards the help D will be very important…VO vs Appling might come down to fouls…Draymont is a beast inside outside and floor leadership,but I would guess that CWat steps up with B1G POY in the hall.
    The Big Handsome will have a big game and we will not storm the floor because we expect success.

  • NotTheRealSteveEyl

    Makes me a little nervous how many of us are feeling the W.  But I am too.

    Keys are stopping Appling and keeping them off the offensive glass.  We can score on them in transition, and we can’t get into transition without defensive RBs.  

  • CreanFaithful

    Jordy and Roth together would hurt more than help. MSU would penetrate our defense at will.  I like Roth’s minutes coming with Jones on the floor.  VJ has the ability to penetrate and kick as well as find Roth in transition.

  • CreanFaithful

    Jordy and Roth together would hurt more than help. MSU would penetrate our defense at will.  I like Roth’s minutes coming with Jones on the floor.  VJ has the ability to penetrate and kick as well as find Roth in transition.

  • plane1972

    I think Vic takes this assignment head-on with something to prove.

  • CreanFaithful

    I’m always feeling a W…

  • Ryan Heeb

    A balanced scoring attack such as that which was displayed at Minn. in addition to great blockouts and defense will make this game easier for us. This game will show the Hoosiers where they are at heading into the postseason. Will be a great test and should be an electric atmosphere in the Hall today.

  • Evansville Hoosier

    I agree, that 15 minute stretch was absolutely insane, they were playing like the class of the league. If they can do that for maybe 30 minutes, and play fairly well in the other 10 this one is in the bag. That was a sight to see.

  • http://www.vccm.net/ iubase

    Great match up tonight.  Similar style of play.  It will simply come down to who wants it more.  I like Will Sheehey getting into rhythm, VO playing at a high level and CWat showing signs of life again as well as Hulls.  Green is a beast and the key for MSU.  We need to slow him down.  Tough match up.  The guy reminds me of young Barkely but more unselfish. 

    Rebounding and transition baskets with Will and VO leading the charge, and of course our key – CZ will be the centerpiece of this game.  If we don’t rebound it could be a long night….we need to hit the threes when they open up and that will open the floor for CZ to show what he can do…game will be decided in the last minute….IU by 3….

  • Evansville Hoosier

    If I had to choose a B1G team other than the Hoosiers as most amicable, I’d have to go with the Spartans. Rarely do they have players that I just plain genuinely dislike. I’ll be rooting for our conference to do well in the tourney, and I’ll have MSU (and IU, unless we’re in the south, or maybe not if we’re in the east) in my final four.

  • Evansville Hoosier

    If I had to choose a B1G team other than the Hoosiers as most amicable, I’d have to go with the Spartans. Rarely do they have players that I just plain genuinely dislike. I’ll be rooting for our conference to do well in the tourney, and I’ll have MSU (and IU, unless we’re in the south, or maybe not if we’re in the east) in my final four.

  • Evansville Hoosier

    Hoping for that 3 in Columbus in the Midwest regional, that’s my ideal situation…. I think they can pull it off. I did the math, there’s about a 42% chance that IU will play a game in the tourney within about 8 hours of Bloomington. That would be good for their chances.

  • MillaRed

    On a side note, I know the numbers probably will not work, but I really hope Roth is on the squad next season. With the talent around him, he could have a John Diebler type presence on the court.

  • MillaRed

    I predict the difference maker Pete.

    Verdell Jones. What difference he makes determines the outcome of the game.

  • Petefaggen

    Great point!! And I think you have said this before — Jones is a weapon off the bench for about 18-20 minutes per game, as a ball handler and scorer. Can’t wait for this game!

  • Petefaggen

    Great point!! And I think you have said this before — Jones is a weapon off the bench for about 18-20 minutes per game, as a ball handler and scorer. Can’t wait for this game!

  • HoosierDadE

    Sorry stroot…was not at the Minny game and I take full responsibility.

    I try to snag up tickets when the students are gone (i.e. tO$U and Michigan this year, which I did attend).  These MSU tickets just fell into my lap.

  • cooper

    No doubt this would be a huge win. This is the type of game MSU seems to always win so if IU can pull it off it will be a great achievement.

    Interesting to see the starting lineup tonight. I think you go with Elston over Sheehey so he can guard Green. Zeller can’t get in foul trouble and Watford needs to score.

    On a side note, calling Jay Bilas a special guest is like saying  Taco Bell is a special meal

  • Peter

    OH. MY. GOD.

    Roth coming back next year? Roth getting 20 minutes? Give me a freaking break. MSU is one of the most athletic teams in the country. He cannot defend anyone on their team.

    Here’s to Remy taking all his minutes tonight. Roth should only be on the floor if we need his 3s to get back in it.

  • Peter

    OH. MY. GOD.

    Roth coming back next year? Roth getting 20 minutes? Give me a freaking break. MSU is one of the most athletic teams in the country. He cannot defend anyone on their team.

    Here’s to Remy taking all his minutes tonight. Roth should only be on the floor if we need his 3s to get back in it.

  • Geoff_85

    We need it more than you anyway lol. You guys will lock up conference against O$U on Sunday and that will be much more fun on your home floor.

  • Daburns0

    These are two very different teams from the last time they played. Should be a good game. I have the Hoosiers exacting revenge.

  • plane1972

    Here’s a monumental idea, Pete: how about having Roth on the floor to hit 3s BEFORE we need to get back in a game. His defense is underrated. He’s worked hard at it and is respectable.

  • MillaRed

    Sorry man but if you can’t see a shooter like Roth with the right people around him isn’t a serious weapon I don’t know what to tell you. He has greatly improved on defense. When have you seen him get burned regularly? I’m not seeing it. Never, I mean never turns the ball over and is a great teammate. Sure, I would take him back any day.

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