Hoosiers will learn from Saturday’s loss

  • 12/17/2012 9:00 am in

There are many ways to try and explain No. 1 Indiana’s upset loss to Butler on Saturday. There are many ways to try and justify it.

But maybe, just maybe, the right answer you’re so desperately looking for doesn’t have all that much to do with Indiana. Perhaps it has more to do with Butler.

There’s no question the Hoosiers didn’t play like the nation’s best team in Saturday’s 88-86 overtime loss. No question at all, they have to play better going forward.

At the end of the day, though, no matter how good and how talented the Hoosiers are, they continue to run into situations they haven’t experienced before. On Saturday, it was an overtime game against a smaller but more physical team. They had to adjust inside of the game and, for the most part, they failed to that.

It doesn’t happen often, but Tom Crean and Indiana were outcoached on Saturday. And that’s no insult to Crean. It’s more a compliment to Butler coach Brad Stevens, who continues to prove his value as one of the best in-game coaches in college basketball.

Stevens and Butler have been there before. They’ve been to two national championship games. They’ve played against and beaten bigger teams. They’ve taken on the so-called “best” of college basketball and won.

Saturday’s game was nothing new for the Bulldogs. Even as their best players began fouling out — first Roosevelt Jones, then Andrew Smith and Erik Fromm — Butler remained calm.

“It’s no surprise to us,” Smith said afterward. “People are going to be surprised when an unranked team beats a team like IU, but we have a great team.”

And that’s just it. These are the kinds of games Indiana needs to learn how to win. The Hoosiers won’t always be able to win in run-away fashion. Sometimes, they’ll have to grind them out.

But when they were forced to on Saturday, it wasn’t always pretty. Unlike the Bulldogs, Indiana sometimes lacked the confidence that it could get it done.

“Our spirit wavered a little bit based on the score,” Crean admitted. “We’ve got to play the game with the same spirit that we made the comeback with in the full-court pressure. We’ll learn more about that and learn from it.”

The players should learn from this loss what it takes to beat an elite opponent. And despite its two losses and absence from the national rankings, Butler has proven that it’s exactly that.

But Crean can also stand to learn a great deal from this defeat, and from Stevens. Crean is tireless in his approach and he always has his guys prepared to play. There’s no denying that. But the in-game adjustments were sometimes lacking on Saturday.

For instance, it was clear from the beginning that the Hoosiers’ game plan was to take away Butler’s outside shooters, Rotnei Clarke and Kellen Dunham, and force other players to beat them. That’s great and all, but it was evident throughout the game that Indiana was focusing too much on the perimeter and letting guys drive right to the basket.

“Everybody gets focused on the 3-point shooting that they have now, but it’s the layups that get you,” Crean said. “Those things hurt us.”

He says that, but if he made changes to the original game plan, they weren’t noticeable. Because in the end, even though two dagger 3-pointers killed the Hoosiers in OT, it was the uncontested layups that kept Butler in the game all afternoon.

“They got more layups than we did,” Crean lamented. “We didn’t play well enough to win. We just didn’t. There are things that we have to get better at. It’s the communication and it’s the rebounding. Those are correctable things.”

Crean will get them corrected. This is not the end of the world for the Hoosiers, it’s simply a blip on the radar, and one they probably needed. This team has some growing up to do, and I’m sure a lot of that growing will come in practice over the next few days.

“Don’t use this as an excuse to get down on Indiana,” Stevens said. “I still think they’re a team to beat through April.”

Soon, the Hoosiers won’t celebrate hitting a shot to get a game to overtime against an inferior team. Soon, they’ll act as if signature wins are business as usual, The Butler Way. Soon, they’ll win games like this.

They’re close, but they aren’t quite there.

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  • Twin_Hoosier1

    Amen!!

  • As for Hulls playing shoddy D, I don’t see it. He’s all over the court, slapping steals away, diving for loose balls, playing smart, and also being a point guard AND a shooting guard. Yogi is amazing but JH should be shooting the ball 12 times a game. As for his one on one abilities, hey, he’s only human. For guarding a 6’8″ dude he did pretty damn well. Defensive criticisms aside, and yes, they are somewhat justified, Jordy Hulls is the epitome of Indiana basketball and the heart of this destined-to-win-it-all-team. You don’t get shooter like that on your side without giving a bit up on the opposite. Let’s remember that. And turn him loose on the 3’s man!

  • cbags05

    I’m glad to hear that the team is using this as motivation. Hopefully they grow up a bit, as stated in the article. I’m not a fan at all of the little hand signals by vic and will when they hit a shot or dunk the ball. I know they are amp’d, but come on guys. Looks dumb after you lose.

  • HoosierPat

    I disagree. Jordy is your prototypical Indiana basketball player, and I am a fan of his, but when it comes down to it Victor Oladipo is the heart of this team. Hulls is not a good defender. He has his moments but he was exposed multiple times against Butler. And yes, Jordy should shoot the ball more.

  • hoos13rs

    Where is the Cody Zeller that made Meyers Leonard cry last year?

  • CreamandCrimson

    So….who has played the best in practice? Have you seen Hanner outplay people in practice?

  • IUMIKE1

    Agree, the opponents thus far, UNC included, had not exposed some of our weaknesses the way that a team like Butler did. This team, and coaches, have to realize, that just because we got away with some of the things that we did against much lesser teams, doesn’t mean that those things aren’t an actual problem, we just didn’t get burnt by them the way we did against Butler.

  • IUMIKE1

    Agree completely. Just about everyone agrees that Stephens is a really good coach. Well, what was one of the main things he did on offense throughout the game ? He attacked JH over and over, regardless of who he was guarding. Jones was one good pass and a couple of wide open misses by his teammates away from having a triple double for heavens sake. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that on the most important possession Butler had they done just that, with a former walk on. I love that JH is a Hoosier, he is an incredible shooter when open, and there probably isn’t a player for IU that works harder, but in certain situations he has to subbed for a better defensive player and Butler’s last possession was one of those times.

  • IUMIKE1

    Agree completely. Just about everyone agrees that Stephens is a really good coach. Well, what was one of the main things he did on offense throughout the game ? He attacked JH over and over, regardless of who he was guarding. Jones was one good pass and a couple of wide open misses by his teammates away from having a triple double for heavens sake. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that on the most important possession Butler had they done just that, with a former walk on. I love that JH is a Hoosier, he is an incredible shooter when open, and there probably isn’t a player for IU that works harder, but in certain situations he has to subbed for a better defensive player and Butler’s last possession was one of those times.

  • IUMIKE1

    That’s EXACTLY what I was thinking while watching the game, dammit play like you’re 7′ and 240, pretend that it’s Myles Leonard or whatever the hell it takes, just do it. If his coach isn’t going to demand his teammates get him the ball then HE needs to get in the faces of his teammates and demand the ball ! Also thought his lack of this just inspired Smith to play him that much more physically. One would think that the lack of his team getting him the ball would be enough to make him act that way when he did finally get it.

    OK rant over.

  • Crean absolutely was out coached. That’s my only knock against him since the took the job. He’s not very good at making in-game adjustments.

  • ronb

    Mike, I have always valued your opinions but if you are saying this team can win a national Championship without Jordan Hulls in the line up you are wrong. This team has to have his shooting( over 50%) assists & ball handling( 41 assists to just 9 t/o’s) and scoring average(11.5). Plus his senior leadership to guide and help Yogi become a great point guard.. By comparison Yogi is 47 assist to 21 turnovers and shooting just 21% from 3 or Vic 22 assists and 22 turnovers and shooting just 31%. Without poor shooting as a team and 12 turnovers by these 2 IU wins this game. Now what I hope you are saying is that we need smart coaching down the road for the rest of the year. Coach needs to sub for Hulls when teams try and take advantage of his God given lack of athleticism and he needs to use Hulls shooting as more of a weapon. Not one play except maybe the last second heave where drawn up for one of College basketballs best shooters. That is a terrible waste of your resources. Seeing Vic,Yogi,Watford and others throw up 3’s and Hulls not shooting them is crazy IMHO if you want the other team to pay for Jordy being in the game he has to shoot 3’s. I hope Coach gets it right because we won’t win a championship with a game plan like the one against Butler. Everyone on this team needs to find their sweet part of helping the team. Right now we have 9 guys playing like it’s for them and not for the team. Yogi was having great games with assists in this game he has just 3. Hulls had 5 and he was not the point guard most of the time. Why Coach had him running the base line and not onn top or on the side so he could get an open 3 I have no idea but lets hope this was a humbling experience for all and the future looks bright for banner #6.

  • HoosierPat you are right. I am letting sentiment get the better of me. I just love the hometown product angle. It’s good copy, as the USA Today piece demonstrated. Oladipo is the sparkplug on this engine. With all due respect to you, Jordy.

  • HoosierPat you are right. I am letting sentiment get the better of me. I just love the hometown product angle. It’s good copy, as the USA Today piece demonstrated. Oladipo is the sparkplug on this engine. With all due respect to you, Jordy.

  • IUMIKE1

    In answer to your first sentence, no I think he has to play lots of minutes and on “some” nights more than most, if not all. He MUST play AND contribute if we are to win a NC. Coach is only killing his own team when he plays Jordy and doesn’t create a situation where JH hurts them with the offensive capabilities he has. As you correctly point out with Yogi and Vic shooting the % that they are it becomes even more important that JH be used and in the right ways, not only shooting acceptable 3’s, but also running pick and roll w/ the right teammates and making the right pass at the right time. Fortunately for us he is doing the last one ay a very high rate and it doesn’t depend nearly as much on the game plan or adjustments during the game. Feel like his lack of natural athleticism was taken advantage of to the extent it was due in large part to our game plan and no adjustments or ones that did not work.

    IMHO if Coach can not figure out how to get CW out of this funk he is in it becomes even more important that JH be used in the right way cause HP will have to play more of CW’s minutes and that takes, what in the past, has been our second best 3 pt shot option.

  • I would add 6) Develop a half court offense. CTC has not had one since he’s been at IU. IU as coached by Crean has beat Iowa only once and Wisconsin, NEVER. Why? Because they force you to play a half court offensive game & IU doesn’t have one. That is on CTC, not the players!

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    No, butit was NOT some of IU’s players who played in this game!

  • Kenneth234

    In perspective we also have to consider that the stretch of one FG in 10 minutes, was also partly attributed to Butler fouling…we didn’t exactly go scoreless over the stretch, but if we would have been getting the ball moving towards the rim more maybe we could have gotten a couple of and 1’s instead of just free throws.

  • IUMIKE1

    Don’t know that Iowa necessarily forces us to play any more half court than most other teams but I get what you’re saying and Bo for sure forces you to do that. In all fairness a whole lot of teams have a problem with Bo’s style of play, especially at their place. Last year was the first year that we had a reasonable chance to beat them since Crean got here. The number one thing you have to make sure you pack and bring with you when playing Wisky on the road is your defense and it better be the patient version too. Last year ours was nothing to brag about even if we did remember to pack it. There has been much better teams than what we were at that time last year that have came into the Kohl Center and fallen on their swords. This year and next year’s game (at their place) will give us a much better picture of what you are saying IMHO.

    After the Butler game coming out the way it did and then playing cupcakes until we start B1G play, I like the idea that our first B1G game is on the road and against Iowa. That game should be a pretty good indicator of whether or not we have gotten certain things fixed.