Notebook: Zeller shines on NCAA Tournament stage

  • 03/16/2012 12:24 pm in

PORTLAND, Ore. — Cody Zeller was asked on Wednesday if he was nervous to play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time.

His reply? Excited to be here, but not nervous at all.

Maybe it’s having two older brothers who have been here before or just the remarkable poise he possesses for a 19-year old, but IU’s star freshman showed no nerves.

He delivered his most well-rounded game statistically of the season with 14 points, six rebounds, six steals and four assists in the Hoosiers’ 79-66 second round win over New Mexico State.

The six steals by Zeller tied an IU NCAA Tournament record set by Quinn Buckner in the 1976 national championship game.

“I felt like I was quicker than their big guys,” Zeller said. “They were probably a little bit stronger, but I was trying to use my quickness when they were passing inside and tried to get some deflections.”

Deflections have been talked about frequently this season by Tom Crean as a measuring stick for how active the Hoosiers are defensively and Crean was more impressed by Zeller’s 14 deflections than the six steals.

“We’re always looking for those double-double, triple-double numbers with the deflections, because it’s just such a key to your defensive transition,” Crean said.

Hoosiers neutralize Aggies on the glass and at the foul line

Two major statistical storylines entering Thursday’s game were New Mexico State’s ability to pound the offensive glass and get to the foul line.

The Aggies came in leading the country in free throw rate (52.8 percent) and were fourth in offensive rebounding percentage (40.8). They failed to approach either mark with a free throw rate of 20.8 percent and an offensive rebounding percentage of just 33.3.

Crean credited Indiana’s awareness, positioning and technique as the primary reasons the Hoosiers were able to keep New Mexico State off the offensive boards and the foul line.

“Our whole thing was attack on offense, have verticality on defense and block out like crazy,” he said. “And we did that. To cut them in half on the offensive boards, they shot a very good percentage and they got too many layups, but to keep them off the foul line and to keep them off the second-chance board the way that they had been, those were the keys to the game.”

Hulls’ shooting display in practice carries over to game

Perhaps the shooting barrage Jordan Hulls went on earlier this week was foreshadowing for Thursday night.

The junior from Bloomington hit 85 3-pointers in a five-minute span in a drill with one ball and one rebounder. Crean said Hulls typically averages 74 makes.

“I’ll give you an example of how hard this is, Steve Novak I coached in Marquette, he’s the best in the NBA and the most he ever made in this drill was 72.”

Hulls finished with a game-high 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting. In a 1:30 stretch near the midway point of the second half, Hulls connected on three straight from beyond the arc to stretch Indiana’s lead to 62-41.

“It’s obviously a pretty good feeling when you hit a couple of shots and you think the next one is going in,” Hulls said. “If you’re a shooter, you always think the next one’s going to go in.”

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  • Kokomo_Joe

    Keep it up fellas, one more win to Sweet 16.

    Thanks Seth Davis, Vitale and Gotleib’s for being d’ bags and picking the Hoosiers to lose.

  • jermhoosierfan

    Of course Zeller isn’t nervous in his first NCAA tournament. He won 3 state championships 15 minutes from me in Washington. I think he is used to the big stage. I really think next though willH be his big coming out party though. He is just reaching the tip of the iceberg of his talent.

  • Walt

    Charles Barkley had zero respect for IU last nite. But I believe he picked Wichita St. too. He probably needs to stick to golf.

  • Benhyoung14

    I think IU could do a better job setting some screens for VO.   If we can get him screens, and Jordy stays hot then IU can bat anybody.

  • HoosierDawg

    I like Sir Charles (despite his sickeningly bad golf swing) but it is patently obvious that he knows NOTHING about college basketball.

  • Hoosiers11c

    85 threes in 5 minutes? 17 a minute WOW what a Monster. . So Proud of these boys. What a Fun Fun game last night was to  watch

  • HoosierDawg

    Really. Does anyone think that playing for an Indiana state basketball championship isn’t great preparation for college? Maybe we’re the only ones who know…

  • HoosierDawg

    Really. Does anyone think that playing for an Indiana state basketball championship isn’t great preparation for college? Maybe we’re the only ones who know…

  • catronhoosier

    I agree, but Vic does need to get under control, he gets under the basket after driving and he throws up a wild shot or turns it over.  He has done that too much last couple games but I believe he will bounce back

  • SCHoosier

    Monster? Only if he shoots and hits in the game. Glad he was aggressive in the second half….IU needs Hulls to do that.

  • SCHoosier

    I think Creans like starting the IU offense with the outside dribble..then have VO look for a drive..last 3 of four games I beleive he has turned it over first play of the game for IU on offense…needs to take half an Ambien before each game.

  • tetkalee

    Davis picked Indiana…

  • N71

    Today I couldn’t help but think what’s in store for next year.  From last night’s game we lose Tom P and Roth, that’s it.  Hanner takes Tom’s spot and Jeremy Hollowell shoots well, probably not as good as Roth but he’s 6′ 8″ so that’s worth something.  Then we add Yogi as an X factor.  Ron to assist where needed, and Peter if Cody get’s in foul trouble.  Jordy and Watford will be beasts and Cody thicker.  Add in Elston, Victor and Will…Remy and Austin.  Man, its just not going to be fair.   

  • Benhyoung14

     IU has lost only 1 game when VO scores over 12pts.  IU goes with VO(and his turnovers).

  • Benhyoung14

     IU has lost only 1 game when VO scores over 12pts.  IU goes with VO(and his turnovers).

  • Kenneth234

    I am the exact same way.  However, I am not so concerned with guys filling in the efforts that we will be losing with VJlll, Roth and the Pritch.  I do believe that what we gain from the incoming freshmen will far exceed what we will lose.  We will be able to do so many more things on both ends of the court and matchup even better with any opponent we face. 

    With further development of our returning players like Zeller adding weight (and probably stepping away from the basket to the high post to shoot and find cutters on occasion), Watford getting some serious confidence in his reboundig (and hopefully his shot is more consistent in each game), Sheehey continuing to play a well rounded game (and getting better in all areas), Olidipo getting more comfortable on his dribble drive (hopefully outside shooting and becoming even more of a defensive stopper), Elston getting a little stronger on defense (and settling into a role of being screen and pop guy), Abel continuing his ball handling and overall game, Etherington getting used to getting his shot going so he can find a role on the floor (hopefully working on his foot speed too), and Hulls bringing the same game that he has this year (while having a play maker like Yogi for him to get more off the ball); we will be a juggernaut on offense. 

    I actually expect to get good minutes out of all 5 freshmen.  I think Jurkin will eat a good 10 minutes for Zeller, get his on the glass, run the floor well, and change some shots inside.  Perea, will do a lot of the same as Jurkin but be able to gaurd more positions on defense, Hallowell should be able to get his looks, and do a lot of the same things that Watford brings on the offensive end, Patterson being a very good option on defense and adding a similiar game as Oladipo, and Yogi being someone who will excell in the pick and roll game, as well as in transition, and going one on one late in the shot clock.

    The X factor in my eyes for next year is how much will Creek be able to contribute.  I would think that three years of knee injuries would give him the a lot of practice working on his shooting, have him well studied in the film room (understanding what CTC’s offense is all about) and possibly get stronger in the upper body.  If he is knee’s are reabilitated enough to get into good shape coming into the season and running fluidly like he did as a freshman; I think he could be incredibly valuable.  He would certainly be as mentally tough coming off what he has been through than any other player in the country.  Perhaps adding a post game and take advantage of smaller players in the paint for easy buckets in the half court.

    I certainly think national championship would not be too lofty of an expectation for the team and fans coming into the season.  I do believe that if we play our best basketball, that the team we have now is capable of winning it all this year, but I hesitate to expect such accomplishments.  We are a solid team, with great character, strong desire, and a team with a chip on its shoulders, I think that less talented teams have won the NCAA title before, so why not this team.  A little luck and magic, and we could be fulfilling VJlll’s dream for him.

  • Desertratwannabe

     And don’t forget Maurice Creek!!!

  • Derbus

    Cody made his first jump shot of the night outside!   He needs to do more of this and play outside for IU’s success.  I will have to say, since I Tivoed the game, that the officiating was questionable and to an extent – ridiculous.  He was thrown out of bounds at one point.  The short, bald-headed ref sux, and he will be there to make more bad calls tomorrow.  All in all, great energy and tenacity for the entire Hoosier squad!!!

    Many so called ‘experts’ are calling for VCU to win the next one.  GO HOOSIERS!!!

  • Derbus

    Will needs to really work on his dribbling, as his ball handling last night showed an area he should focus on in the off-season.

  • Derbus

    Will needs to really work on his dribbling, as his ball handling last night showed an area he should focus on in the off-season.

  • MikeinNC

     I think Big Chuckles is just reading the notes somebody prepared for him before the game…..he doesn’t strike me as a guy who does much research.

  • MikeinNC

     I think Big Chuckles is just reading the notes somebody prepared for him before the game…..he doesn’t strike me as a guy who does much research.

  • MikeinNC

     I loved the way Cody came out and nailed that 17 footer at the start of the game.  I wish they would run that for him on a regular basis.

  • HoosierPat

    I’m not surprised Cody wasn’t nervous. He’s played in three Indiana state championship games. That will get you prepared for playing tourney games.

  • IUJack

    I actually had Zeller with 6 assist and one block.  Hope he gets rest for Saturdays game.  He needs it after those big guys leaning on him so much during the game on Thursday.

  • CH

    I agree. I watched Yogi last week win connersville regional and WOW. Best high school point guard I have ever seen play. I think he starts right away at point guard. I think he is better than Burke at Mich. and Teague at pUKe.

  • CH

    I agree. I watched Yogi last week win connersville regional and WOW. Best high school point guard I have ever seen play. I think he starts right away at point guard. I think he is better than Burke at Mich. and Teague at pUKe.

  • Dpwest81

    I am not surprised either I mean they do play for IU. Go Hoosiers!

  • Kenneth234

    Honestly, I am not sure if he is going to be starting right away next year.  Not taking anything away from him, but I just cannot see starting him over Hulls or with Hulls unless their opponent starts two 6′ tall gaurds or close to it.  There is nothing wrong with coming off the bench and playing a lot of minutes for a team that is so loaded with talented players at each position and all the way through the bench.

  • Kenneth234

    Honestly, I am not sure if he is going to be starting right away next year.  Not taking anything away from him, but I just cannot see starting him over Hulls or with Hulls unless their opponent starts two 6′ tall gaurds or close to it.  There is nothing wrong with coming off the bench and playing a lot of minutes for a team that is so loaded with talented players at each position and all the way through the bench.

  • MisterSlippery

    It’s a good problem to have.

  • MisterSlippery

    Jurkin with significant minutes – I like it.

  • MisterSlippery

    If Hulls hits 85 in the first 5 minutes tonight, we’ll be in good shape.

  • MillaRed

    I too thought the officials were hot garbage.