Five takeaways from Indiana’s win at Penn State

  • 01/08/2013 11:18 am in

IUBryantITH0028

Indiana started off 2013 with an impressive performance as the Hoosiers crushed Penn State 74-51 on Monday night at the Bryce Jordan Center. Here’s a look at five takeaways from IU’s fifth straight win:

· What road problems? Yes, Indiana finished 3-6 last year on the road in the Big Ten. But dating back to last season, the Hoosiers are now 4-1 over their last five true road games and comfortably dispatched of Penn State on Monday. The Nittany Lions might finish in the Big Ten’s cellar, but the win moved IU to 2-0 in the league and most impressive of all, the start to this game left little doubt on the eventual outcome. After trailing 3-2 following a 3-pointer from Brandon Taylor, IU reeled off a 13-0 run and maintained a comfortable margin the rest of the way. Two straight road wins to open the conference season will certainly build confidence from within that this group can continue to win away from Assembly Hall.

· An assertive Watford is a major plus: After IU’s win at Iowa, I wrote that Christian Watford wasn’t the difference in the win, but he was a critical factor. In State College, Watford was even more assertive offensively early than he was in Iowa City. In the game’s opening four minutes, Watford finished two plays at the rim (one of which resulted in a 3-point play) and also buried a 3-pointer. Watford has been criticized frequently for failing to finish plays around the basket, but his field goal percentage at the rim has increased from 54 percent last season to 58 percent so far this year. After failing to record a rebound in IU’s win over Florida Atlantic on Dec. 22, Watford now has 22 rebounds over his last three games.

· Indiana fills it up from the perimeter: It wasn’t nearly the performance put forth last January at Penn State, but IU used the 3-point line efficiently on Monday and it was a collective effort. In total, five different players connected from distance, including Jordan Hulls, who bounced back from an 0-for-10 performance from the field at Iowa. Victor Oladipo connected on his only 3-point attempt and is now at 47.8 percent on the season. Remy Abell continues to take the perimeter shot when it’s available and is now 12-of-20 from outside after shooting just 6-of-15 last season. In total, Indiana now has five players with eleven or more 3-pointers made and Will Sheehey owns the lowest percentage at 39.4.

· Who will emerge from the bench? It’s still a fair question to ask after IU didn’t really get much from the bench beyond the play of Sheehey (eight points, four rebounds) and Abell (seven points, two assists). Right now, Jeremy Hollowell looks the most comfortable of the group and the freshman from Indianapolis scored three points (all on free throws) and grabbed four rebounds in 10 minutes. He looks like a viable candidate to play some minutes at the four when the opposition goes small. Hanner Mosquera-Perea struggled to find any rhythm on Monday as the freshman from Colombia picked up three fouls in four first half minutes and finished with one rebound in eight minutes.

· Things to work on: It’s tough to find many faults in a 23-point win on the road in conference play, but there are a couple of things that could be of concern, particularly heading into Saturday’s game with Minnesota. Indiana allowed Penn State to grab 17 offensive rebounds for a OR% of 39.5, their second-worst mark of the season behind the loss at Butler. The Nittany Lions couldn’t convert the second chance opportunities they received, but that won’t be the story with the Golden Gophers, the country’s best offensive rebounding team. Also of note: IU had 17 turnovers, many of the unforced variety, and shot just 22-of-34 from the foul line for 64.7 percent.

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  • DeeLyle

    Rebounding should definitely be a key stat in the Minnesota game. Hoping Watford plays strong inside.

  • IUCommish

    We’re going to need to clean up that free throw mess we’ve been making. There will be a lot more games of the 4-5 point variety than the 20+ now that the conference season has started. Those missed free throws could be the difference in a couple of different games, and the difference between a 1 seed and a 2 or possibly 3. That said, I love where we are as opposed to 18 months ago, and this team is fun to watch!

  • I think it is important to continue to stress patience with our Freshmen. I understand we’re now 2 games into the BIG season, but Perea and Jurkin missing 9 games was critical to their in game experience and growth. Hollowell has been forced to play out of position pretty much all season, and then missing the final 3 games before the Iowa game did not help. We’ll be alright though. It will all take some time. After that, I like the way we’re positioned heading into the next stretch of Big 10 games. Can’t wait for Minnesota!

  • SUNY_RIT_IU_Grad

    We also need to remember that H. Perea missed a lot of practice sessions with a foot injury. At least that is my understanding.

  • SUNY_RIT_IU_Grad

    We also need to remember that H. Perea missed a lot of practice sessions with a foot injury. At least that is my understanding.

  • iuoiu

    Funny that Will has the lowest 3pt % of the guys mentioned. If you watch his jumpers, he has damn near perfect form – so good I have my kid watch him to correct his hunched jumpers 😉 Honestly I think Will gets a little too excited both when trying to get a teammate to pass to him and when he gets the ball – nobody flashes the “Im open dude!” sign like Will. Maybe being a bit more relaxed in those regards would help him.

  • iuoiu

    Is it my eyes or does Zeller have too much of a flat trajectory on his FTs? Seems like this should be an easy fix.

  • Arch_Puddington

    Alex, you say it’s hard to find faults, but look at the list:

    — Poor free throw shooting
    — Poor defensive rebounding
    — Excessive turnovers
    — Continued struggles for all our back court reserves

    It’s actually kind of a long list. Add to it Yogi’s 0-5 performance, and suddenly the Minnesota game looks a lot scarier.

  • msquaredb

    I saw him walking with a boot on campus today.

  • msquaredb

    I saw him walking with a boot on campus today.

  • IUfanToby

    I would agree. I actually don’t expect to get much from JH or HMP this year in the B1G. I hope they take the “sophomore leap” that VO, WS and others took.

  • gerald

    I love Will, but think we can all agree he has never seen a shot he doesnt like….such a crucial part of this team though

  • b_side

    But poor free throw shooting hasn’t been a problem all season. We shoot 73% on the year, driven lower by Cody’s horrific start to the season as he got used to added weight. Although he was just 5-9 yesterday, over the last 5-6 games, he’s been knocking them down.

    Defensive rebounding was a result of a failed coaching strategy by Chambers. It didn’t correlate to anything positive for PSU.

    Excessive turnovers – well, yeah, I’d agree that’s a concern.

    Who’s struggling in the back court on our bench? Remy and Will are killing it. Perhaps you meant front court?

  • b_side

    But poor free throw shooting hasn’t been a problem all season. We shoot 73% on the year, driven lower by Cody’s horrific start to the season as he got used to added weight. Although he was just 5-9 yesterday, over the last 5-6 games, he’s been knocking them down.

    Defensive rebounding was a result of a failed coaching strategy by Chambers. It didn’t correlate to anything positive for PSU.

    Excessive turnovers – well, yeah, I’d agree that’s a concern.

    Who’s struggling in the back court on our bench? Remy and Will are killing it. Perhaps you meant front court?

  • InTheMtns

    It is flat sometimes. He had improved his FTs over a couple games and said the misses had been because of his shot was too flat and that he’d improved it by putting some arch on it. Guess the flatness crept back in last night.

  • marcusgresham

    One key to Penn State’s offensive rebounding was the fact that they shot so horribly that balls were careening off the rim in angles not usually seen by typical misses. I saw a few times IU had what looked like decent position to rebound and the ball was shot so poorly it worked in PSU’s favor.

  • marcusgresham

    One key to Penn State’s offensive rebounding was the fact that they shot so horribly that balls were careening off the rim in angles not usually seen by typical misses. I saw a few times IU had what looked like decent position to rebound and the ball was shot so poorly it worked in PSU’s favor.

  • marcusgresham

    Lowest percentage, but it’s damn-near 40%. Not much to complain about there.

  • marcusgresham

    Am I the only one who screamed like a proud father when Watford used a pump-fake?

  • azhoosier

    PSU….2 points the last 5:11….very good defense or very bad shooting!!

  • b_side

    Spot on, Marcus.

  • SCHoosier

    “Hard to find faults”..geez..I mean I’m drinking Creans lemonade too..but there was enuff bad stuff in the second half to write a book on. Yea we won..and the win shows you can beat an inept team with one great half and one poor half.. 2-0 in the conference..great…let’s move on and hope for consistency against MN.

  • InTheMtns

    I’m not too worried about these except the struggles of the front court reserves. I agree with b_side that the defensive rebounding was a result of a gamble by Chambers and in the end, it didn’t help Penn State at all. The poor free throw shooting and the turnovers in the second half I think had a lot to do with the whole atmosphere of the game. After being off for a week, IU came out and played an excellent first half on the road in a half empty and very quiet arena against a team that was sort of desperate with their pushing and hacking. This shouldn’t happen I know, but I think IU just lost interest and focus and sort of did their own thing for the first half of the second half. They did continue to focus on defense though, and eventually pulled the offensive game back together and increased their lead. I think the first 6 minutes won’t be repeated again.

    The deepness of our bench has suffered a setback, that’s for sure. We couldn’t really have planned for the injuries and suspensions, so we’re just going to have to ride it out. Jeremy still lacks confidence and needs to settle down a little but I think he is getting really close to being ready. Derek tweaked his knee again, probably because he’s trying to come back too quickly. Hopefully if was really minor and the extra rest will have him fit soon. Hanner needs more practice and in-game experience. His injury and 9-game suspension clearly set back his developmental schedule but you can at least see the potential. I hope he might be a contributor yet this year, but it’s possible we’ll have to wait until next year. Peter’s story is much the same only he’s even further behind.

    We’re still a work in progress. Minnesota will bring a big challenge on Saturday, but I think the Hoosiers will be ready for them and I’m feeling certain that we’ll win the game.

  • irun4iu

    Is jurkin not that good? Why no pt?

  • InTheMtns

    No, I did too! I even did it again when they showed it on the replay.

  • InTheMtns

    No, I did too! I even did it again when they showed it on the replay.

  • Arch_Puddington

    Yes, I meant front court. Between injuries, suspensions, and freshmen issues, at this point we have no front court depth at all. It’s Cody or nothing. Watford, Oladipo, and Sheehey are all versatile enough to fill in some of the gaps, but none of them are true low-post players.

    As for the rest, obviously a win is always a good thing, but it is inarguable that we did a number of important things poorly last night. We can get away with poor free throw shooting, poor rebounding, and poor ball handling against an undermanned team like Penn St., but not against Minnesota, not even at home. We will play that way two times in a row? Probably not, but the second half last night was ugly enough to wonder.

  • inadvertentelbows_stillhurt

    When teams get physical with the Hoosiers they win on the offensive glass and take IU out of rhythm offensively …average teams still can’t over come the Hoosiers talent… We need the bigs off the bench to bring in toughness during the B1G season.

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    For having 7 returning players logging the majority of minutes from a Sweet 16 team, I guess I am not near as positive as most. Too many mental mistakes and lapses over long stretches for my comfort. I think we need some energy/catalyst to spark progress on many levels … cuz for the talent on this team and experience we are firing on 4 out of 8 cylinders & far from our potential. Imho

  • b_side

    Totally with you re: lack of front court depth, but you can’t say that Alex needs to point that out in a Key Takeaway piece. We’ve known it from the get-go that it would be an ongoing problem once Elston went down and the suspensions were handed out.

    I would venture to say that the only time the entire fan base was united in victory was after destroying UNC. Though of course there were plenty of comments picking on Watford’s performance then.

    The bottom line is a roster full of 18-22 year olds who are new to being “the hunted” will be hard pressed all season to play perfect basketball for 40 minutes.

  • Jamaal will inherit

    The free throw hand-wringing needs to stop. Even after the poor game last night, IU still ranks 37th in the nation in free throw percentage at 74.7%. That also happens to be the best in the conference. (Michigan is 2nd in the conference, ranked 68th at 73 percent. In fact, of ranked teams, only Arizona (76.6%), Creighton (75.7%) and Kansas (74.8%) shoot better.

    I think we, collectively, have unrealistic expectations on free throws. College players have shot about 69%, on average, for 50 years.(http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/04/sports/basketball/04freethrow.html) This year’s national average? 69%.

    This Hoosier team isn’t perfect, but they are actually very good from the line.

  • Jamaal will inherit

    The free throw hand-wringing needs to stop. Even after the poor game last night, IU still ranks 37th in the nation in free throw percentage at 74.7%. That also happens to be the best in the conference. (Michigan is 2nd in the conference, ranked 68th at 73 percent. In fact, of ranked teams, only Arizona (76.6%), Creighton (75.7%) and Kansas (74.8%) shoot better.

    I think we, collectively, have unrealistic expectations on free throws. College players have shot about 69%, on average, for 50 years.(http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/04/sports/basketball/04freethrow.html) This year’s national average? 69%.

    This Hoosier team isn’t perfect, but they are actually very good from the line.

  • Arch_Puddington

    But the fact is that Alex DID reference the depth issue in his post, so I’m not sure what you are taking exception to.(“Who will emerge from the bench? It’s still a fair question to ask after IU didn’t really get much from the bench beyond the play of Sheehey (eight points, four rebounds) and Abell (seven points, two assists)”. The only thing I added to Alex’s list was the observation about Yogi’s shooting, which was a problem last night and has been for most of the year.

    Beyond that, my comment was not a nitpick that they didn’t play “perfect” basketball. They played horribly in the second half, arguably our worst half of basketball of the season. And not just because we shot poorly or had “one of those nights”. We failed at some of the very fundamentals of basketball and let a long stretch of game get away from us. Great teams rarely do that, and we fancy ourselves a great team. It is unlikely to repeat right away,especially at home, but it is hardly unreasonable to pause when considering who we play next. Again, Alex’s original post said as much: “but there are a couple of things that could be of concern, particularly heading into Saturday’s game with Minnesota.”

  • I read a lot of worry in these posts about the upcoming game against Minnesota. Couple things to remind everyone – WE OWE MINNY ONE for the only home loss last year in the B10. Secondly, its a HOME GAME with all the students back !!!
    We all want perfection each time out. So does CTC. But that’s not possible. If the kids keep playing as hard as they can, they will do just fine. Also, I do predict some kind of drop off in early February for a week. They then come storming back to win the first B10 tournament in IU history !!!!

  • Kenneth234

    Exactly, similarly to the way Butler found away to out rebound us. It is hard to game plan for people shooting so poorly that a normal rebounding positioning is tossed out the window and every ball is a loose ball situation.

  • b_side

    Of course there are things we can work on, no blinders on here. Just think we’re splitting hairs.

    I feel like we’re going in circles, so I’ll finish with this. When exactly did the game get away from us? We led by 17 at half. They cut the lead to 14 once around the 15 minute mark. Throughout the half it was basically a 15-20 point lead, culminating in a 23-point victory. Chambers tried his hardest to ugly up the game and it worked, but resulted in no second half run whatsoever by PSU.

  • Jake

    Is there a shot that you see him take though where he shouldn’t make it? He can make it from anywhere on the court if he’s open, and if he’s open, I encourage him to shoot it.

  • Arch_Puddington

    Are you saying you are satisfied with our play because of the score? If so, we understand basketball differently. For one thing, I am not as sanguine as you seem to be about our lead. With four minutes to go our lead was 16, which means we had been out-scored by arguably the worst team in the B1G over a 16 minute stretch of play. I’d call that letting a long stretch of a game get away from us.

    More to the point, our lead is not my only barometer of how well we play. As I recall, we had 1 point in our first 7 possessions, thanks in large part to (I believe) 6 turnovers. That, along with a bunch of silly fouls and generally sloppy play throughout the second half (not to mention the free throw shooting problems, rebounding problems, and sometimes poor bench play), add up to what I would describe as bad basketball regardless of our lead.

  • marcusgresham

    You can take several of the previous games and find stretches where the opponent outscored Indiana. Not an issue exclusive to IU either, as I saw Santa Clara make a massive run on Duke in Cameron. There was even a stretch I saw Florida Gulf Coast giving Duke fits. No team is going to dominate every stretch of every game.

  • marcusgresham

    Especially when using the fact that Watford and Hulls missed FTs to make the point. Both are 90% shooters. Both missed a free throw–that means, on average, they’ll hit the next nine. I’ll take that.

  • marcusgresham

    At this point no. He has a lot of room to go. He’s also a freshman who hasn’t been playing basketball his entire life. What he does have is a 7′ body, dexterity, the ability to run, a talented coaching staff to instruct him, one of the best players his size in the country against whom to practice, and a couple of years to get a lot better.

  • marcusgresham

    At this point no. He has a lot of room to go. He’s also a freshman who hasn’t been playing basketball his entire life. What he does have is a 7′ body, dexterity, the ability to run, a talented coaching staff to instruct him, one of the best players his size in the country against whom to practice, and a couple of years to get a lot better.

  • Swishmac IU

    I am struggling to find why CTC keeps employing this zone defense –

  • Remy Willing and Abell

    Yeah Arch I think you kept the list short . I don’t think any of us are ” freaking out ” or ” being negative ” when we post are displeasure with the 2nd half . We all know it’s a great thing to win on the road and all of that . But let’s face it we are Hoosier fans … often quoted as the most bball intelligent fan base in the country . With that said we no good play and we know bad play . The 2nd half was bad play . We also know that 30 min of good play won’t hang #6 . I wouldn’t trade teams with anyone , we will get there , but the point is if we play like that it will get us bounced in the tourney . But it’s January … It will be ok .

  • Arch_Puddington

    Sure, but what you and b_side both seem to be saying is that since no team is perfect, no criticism or concern is ever justified. Think about your pet peeve with Watford not using the pump fake. I could just as easily say to you, “Yeah, but no one’s perfect, so don’t bother pointing out his flaws”. But you are a knowledgable fan, and you are right. The fact that imperfections are part of the game doesn’t change the validity or the merits of your observations.

    We see what we see, and in this case I saw IU play a miserable half of basketball, one that we cannot afford against a team like Minnesota. That is all I have said, and no thoughtful observer, including Tom Crean or the players themselves, would say otherwise.

  • mike

    Everyone seems to be forgetting that PSU was without their best player, a 1st-team All-Big 10 player, a 20 ppg pllayer. You cannot tell me that wouldn’t have made this game close. It would have.
    IU doesn’t have any road problems? Just wait. They’re coming. Tell me how Jordy Hulls will guard the long, athletic “2s” like Hardaway Jr, Gary Harris, or Lorenzo Smith. I strongly believe playing the two small guards together is Crean’s fatal misjudgment, and it will cost IU Big 10 and national championships. We just cannot guard the backcourt against elite teams that way, and this has already been proven against Butler and Gtown.

  • mike

    Yogi has been very erratic indeed. This will all come to a fore after IU loses a few Big 10 games, and after some of the bigger guards have career games against us.

  • marcusgresham

    Maybe it sounded too much like I was going at you, which I didn’t really mean to do; I was probably aiming more in general that a lot of guys sound like they’re afraid the sky is falling.
    The thing I would say about referencing Watford’s pump-fake is that his reluctance to use it has been an ongoing issue (his entire 3+ years at Indiana.)

  • IUMIKE1

    Marked the date, time, opponent, place, score & time left in the game down !

    Hope Crean leads and ends their first film session after this game with that little nugget. Hell, maybe even have him go in and view it again at the end of the first post Penn St. practice. lol

  • IUMIKE1

    Agree, the damage done to HMP’s development by the 9 games he unjustly had to sit can not be underestimated. I’ve said it before numerous times and I’ll say it again, there is NO substitute for actual game time minutes. Throw in the foot injury at the very first and he has had to overcome things that would have been hard for even someone that had played upper level AAU from a very early age to overcome let alone someone with a considerably less amount of time doing that. With the vast amount of the unteachable things, (ie, natural athleticism, uncommon hops, etc ) that he is blessed with, it will only be a matter of time & game minutes before the teachable things turn him into a player to reckoned with.