Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss to Syracuse

  • 03/29/2013 12:53 pm in

IUSyrITH0015WASHINGTON — Indiana’s NCAA Tournament run came to a screeching halt on Thursday night in the Verizon Center as the top-seeded Hoosiers were dominated by fourth-seeded Syracuse, 61-50. After winning the Big Ten regular season championship and spending ten weeks atop the Associated Press top 25 poll, IU failed to advance any further than it did a season ago.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the season-ending loss:

· Indiana was overmatched from the opening tip: This wasn’t a game where Syracuse pulled away late or deviated from its game plan with some sort of trickery to foil the Hoosiers. Indiana failed to attack the Syracuse zone early and the game quickly snowballed in the wrong direction from there. The IU players and Tom Crean both talked on Wednesday about the team’s lack of experience in facing a zone with the length and athleticism of Syracuse and it showed for nearly 40 minutes as IU committed turnovers on 27.7 percent of its possessions, a season-high. When the Hoosiers were able to get the ball inside, the Orange were erasing shots. In total, Syracuse finished with 10 blocks. “They come from a lot of different angles,” Cody Zeller said afterwards in the IU locker room. “They’re the best at it. We haven’t seen it much throughout the year so it’s kind of tough knowing what’s going to be open and what’s not. I don’t know how you prepare any better for that. It’s tough.”

· Indiana’s guard play fell way short of where it needed to be: A quick glance at the final stat lines for both starting backcourts paints an extremely one-sided story. For the Orange, Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche combined for 38 points, nine rebounds, four steals, three assists and seven turnovers. For the Hoosiers, Jordan Hulls and Yogi Ferrell went scoreless and turned the ball over six times. In a tournament where guard play is a major factor for survival, Indiana’s backcourt picked the wrong time to come up empty. Ferrell said afterward that Crean stressed developing more toughness to his players moving forward, an assessment the IU freshman couldn’t disagree with. “I feel like that [we weren’t tough enough],” Ferrell said. “Especially down low. I feel like we definitely could have finished better. It’s not like we weren’t tough enough on defense. We just weren’t really as smart guarding the ball on defense. I feel like we could have been a lot smarter and that’s on my part and the other guards, really.”

· Indiana missed threes because it failed to get open looks: The Hoosiers have been in the top five nationally all season from behind the 3-point line in large part because of ball movement and finding open looks. Against a zone like that of Syracuse, simply swinging the ball around the perimeter from side to side didn’t bear the openings that IU is accustomed to seeing. With IU’s inability to establish a post game, Syracuse pretty much stood pat in the zone and challenged shots with length the Hoosiers hadn’t seen all season.  In fact, they had a couple of three-point attempts blocked. As a result, IU finished just 3-of-15 from behind the arc and Jordan Hulls missed six of those attempts, a performance he later said would likely haunt him for years. It was their second-worst three-point shooting performance this season.

· Cody Zeller finished with a double-double, but didn’t play well: The final box score will tell you that IU’s star sophomore finished what could be his final collegiate game with 10 points and 10 rebounds. A deeper dive into the numbers reveals that it wasn’t a strong night for Zeller, who shot just 3-of-11 from the field and was unable to get to the foul line with any regularity. Time and time again, Zeller was blocked by C.J. Fair, James Southerland and Baye Keita and almost seemed surprised that whistles weren’t coming.  Zeller finished with three field goals, but five of his shots were blocked. But as we’ve seen at times this season, Zeller was dropping down on his way to the basket instead of finishing strong, which puts him at a natural disadvantage against long, athletic bigs who can just play him straight up. “We were just hoping the calls would come eventually,” Zeller said. “But that’s how it goes sometimes.”

· Indiana failed to accomplish its goal: Late in the season, Tom Crean said in a press conference at Assembly Hall that this team “was trying to win a national championship.” And with a trip to the Sweet 16 last March, a preseason No. 1 ranking and a Big Ten championship, expectations were, at a minimum, to advance further than last season. Given that that context, it’s fair to say Indiana came up well short of where it was expected to be at the end of the season. The Big Ten championship, the program’s first outright title in 20 years, isn’t any less impressive now than it was before the loss to Syracuse, but ultimately teams are remembered for how they finish the NCAA Tournament. This team didn’t take the next step that it talked about taking all season long and left plenty of unfinished business.

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  • IUMIKE1

    No he wouldn’t have cause he probably would never have gotten far enough to play in that round. Just for the record I’m not a Knight hater and appreciate all the good things he done for IU of which were many but thinking that he would have beaten Syracuse with both teams having the same players they had is not realistic IMHO.

  • IUMIKE1

    No he wouldn’t have cause he probably would never have gotten far enough to play in that round. Just for the record I’m not a Knight hater and appreciate all the good things he done for IU of which were many but thinking that he would have beaten Syracuse with both teams having the same players they had is not realistic IMHO.

  • IUMIKE1

    Crean would never come out and say it but he understands that having his 2 top choices to play at guard both be under 6 ft is a problem the fact that we see the type of player he has been recruiting for the 1 and 2 spot only further proves this.

  • IUMIKE1

    I have to agree with you on Sandra turning off the caps lock button, but strongly disagree with you on that CZ used the shot fake a lot this year. I have commented at length on here about him, and others not using a shot fake more often, and he did not use it with any kind of regularity this year or last. I would even go so far as to say that he didn’t even average using it once a game. At one point this season he had used a shot fake 4 times over a span of 7 games and 3 of those came in a single game. The times that he did use it it served him well and he almost always had something positive come from using it.

  • IUMIKE1

    Pretty much disagree with most of what the other two replies to your comment said. I think your comment is spot on. At the first of the year we mostly played teams that weren’t able to expose our weaknesses at the guard spots and future opponents had not taken the, “start playing physical and increase it until they were stopped by the refs or they were dominating us”, approach.

  • Ole Man

    His Power Forward part.
    He probably won’t be used at center in the NBA.
    And if he is, they have asst coaches on most teams dedicated to each position. They will also clean up his footwork.
    He average 17 points and 8 rebounds against the best in college ball for the year.
    He will outrun most big men.
    He does have the “outside” shot and they will work with him until the has the confidence to use it.
    He won’t be mugged every game once he gets through his rookie season.
    Sorry, you can’t see this and more.
    Maybe you’re “crazy critical-ness” is blinding you.

  • Ole Man

    Marquette, who is not nearly the team the Hoosiers were, will tear that zone apart.

  • Ole Man

    I’m sorry,,,,Knight disciples Coach K and Tom Izzo would certainly disprove your rant. Stop hating on everyone else.
    Yes, Knight had his faults, but his ability to coach and reach young men and prepare them for excellent lives is unquestionable.
    Alford is being successful.
    Tom Crews just worked miracles with St. Louis this past season.
    SO, you are not only wrong, you are dead wrong about Coach Knight, and his “system”.

  • Ole Man

    You sound like a Knight hater and show a disrespect not only for him but those who still like him with your post above.
    And no, you are wrong. Knight would have had his team playing his system so thoroughly that Syc would have been worried to death about how were they going to play the Hoosiers and not the other way around.
    Pay attention here:
    The “media” talked about nothing but how Indiana was in trouble because we had to face that zone. Crean talked about all the trouble the zone presented.
    I’ll guarantee the practices were all on how to beat that zone.
    The team walked onto that court for the opening tip scared and almost beaten.
    When the first few shots didn’t fall, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
    Crean’s just not the best at in-game adjustments (he does other things great), so the Hoosiers were doomed from that point on.
    Even the rally to within six (with the lineup of Watford, Zeller, Oladipo, Sheehey, and Hulls) was interrupted when Coach subbed Yogi back into the game.

  • Ole Man

    Fischer will be a poor man’s Cody Zeller.
    No way he’s better.

  • Ole Man

    Fischer will be a poor man’s Cody Zeller.
    No way he’s better.

  • Ole Man

    Zeller is the most athletic seven footer we will see in a while.
    So, I don’t know how you can leave him off your “athletic” list.
    Sorry, IUMike, we have to disagree on this one 🙂

  • IUMIKE1

    First off, with the exception of maybe Hulls, he would not have gotten most, if any, of the players we had this year that were major minute contributors. Second off, the last several years he was here his, ” system “, had proven that, not winning the B1G, outright or even sharing it, getting beat in the first game or winning only one game in the tournament, was pretty much going to be the norm for him. That’s not me disrespecting him or me being a Knight hater that is simply what the results / facts of the last several years that he was here bear out. I can understand him not wanting to have anything to do with IU for a good length of time after he was fired, I probably would have been the same way, but there is no reason for him to continue to act the way he has towards IU and it’s fans. Most, if not all that had anything to do with his firing are not even at IU anymore and haven’t been for some time now. Numerous people, that have been nothing but complimentary towards him and that had nothing to do with his firing, including several of his former players, have pleaded for him to do something, anything, to start mending the fences. I hope he does start mending the fences some day cause I think it would be a great thing to see him back in the Hall. I don’t agree with the way he has handled that part, but how he chooses to handle it is his choice and he has the right to handle it however he sees fit and even that does not make me ” hate ” him, I just simply disagree with how he handles that aspect. You saying that I, ” sound “, like a Knight hater and that even though I just, ” sound “, like a Knight hater that makes it alright for you to say I show disrespect to Knight and anyone that still likes him ? Even after I make a point to say that I’m not and acknowledge that he done many good things ? You snapping your fingers and doing the, ” pay attention here “, thing, like I am some kind of little kid or idiot that needs you to lead me by the hand cause you are the only one that has the amount of bball brilliance capable of getting me to be able to see the light, only shows that you are the one that is disrespecting people. You, sir, are the one that said I was this or that and that I did this or that and my original comment did not say one thing towards you in that manner.

  • karen

    And Crean substituted the group that got the lead down.

  • hoosier1158

    RMK wouldn’t have played to small point guards at the same time. IU lost the game in the 1st 12 mins when they fell behind. I’m not a basketball genius, but during the season, i would have played Vic and Jeremy more at the 2. Elston would have been a good backup inside player, in the Syracuse game he saw 30 secs.

  • hoosier1158

    You’re right, everyone knew IU was in trouble except the coach. : )

  • hoosier1158

    Right, coach should have gotten a few tech fouls when Cody was hammered knocked to the ground and no call. Then announcers like Clark says incidental contact. Incidental contact my behind, it was a foul.

  • IUMIKE1

    Don’t know it for a fact but I would guess that with him seeing only the amount of time that he did that his knee is still not even close to where it needs to be. I know he said it was good to go but I’m sure he felt like he had to say something along those lines.

  • IUMIKE1

    Don’t know it for a fact but I would guess that with him seeing only the amount of time that he did that his knee is still not even close to where it needs to be. I know he said it was good to go but I’m sure he felt like he had to say something along those lines.

  • Kenneth234

    Neither run a motion offense, really the only thing they have in common with Bob Knight is they were bench coaches for him before moving on. Tom Crews had a great season this season, that I will not argue. However, he did so as an interim coach…hell Steve Fischer won a National Title as a interim coach, but just because he can take Rick Majerus’s players and win the Atlantic 10 doesn’t mean that he is a better coach than Tom Crean, or that he would be a better fit for this program.

  • Kenneth234

    As I am reading your message, Marquette has not broke 40 points with a little over 4 minutes left in the game! Is that tearing the Syracuse zone apart? But nice try, Marquette has plenty of experience with the Syracuse zone, which is one of the things that I mentioned makes this zone much more difficult to deal with; the unfamiliarity of it.

  • Kenneth234

    Sorry, this Indiana had a lot of talent, but they were certainly not the most talented team. They were a team with certain skills, and achieved a lot, but certainly had a lot of weaknesses.

  • jcopey

    Ummm – Marquette scored 39 tonight. Syracuse is legit. A team like that is tournament kryptonite.

  • Ka

    I completely agree. Did any player, with the exception of Oladipo get better this year. In my opinion none of them did. Ferrell continued to make bad/unforced passes and decisions : especially the last few games of the year; and it was not due to great defense;team chemistry seemed to drift apart; there was no true go to team leader to emerge; In my opinion next season will not be better/ guards to young/inexperienced; might have been good timing to have looked at quality Jr. College recruit or two to fill need for larger/athletic guard play; would not hurt also,to recruit a Bad Ass Big man that lives and breathes to rebound and play good D; when was the last time IU had a player like that?

  • dwdkc

    Nice prediction–Marquette, a team nobody thinks is soft, and is familiar with Syracuse, scores 39 and isn’t even close. So much of the criticism is so unrealistic here. Yes IU could have played better. We saw how good they could be; they missed free throws; they missed too many midrange and 3 point shots. But ‘Cuse at their best is a top 5 NCAA team, outstanding talent and very difficult to play. The only reason they were a #4 seed is that they are a very inconsistent team that had some serious mental issues that they seem to have figured out just in time. Like a lot of other talented inconsistent teams, only to extremes. We were unlucky. Also got hammered repeatedly when we were trying to come back and didn’t get the calls. Very frustrating.

  • Ole Man

    Politely disagree. Bigger, yes. Faster, probably equal. Out executed us, yes. Funny comment about the wings.

  • Ole Man

    Great forevision, ya got there. At least I posted what I thought ahead of time.

  • Ole Man

    Did you come on here and make any predictions? Other that report what you heard on ESPN, you’ve posted no thoughts. At least I took a shot.

  • Ole Man

    Is that what I argued? No.

  • Ole Man

    Cody’s team won back-to-back championships, in Indiana, which is a much stronger mecca of HS basketball.
    Also, success in HS does not always translate to college.

  • Kenneth234

    But I did tell everyone on Selection Sunday that I think our bracket was lined with potential problems for us. I particularly remember saying that NC State was dangerous for us (luckily we didn’t play them, but instead got a Temple team that was a little less dangerous, but had a juggernaut on the offensive end), Syracuse is not easy for anyone to beat, and I was more worried about Butler and Marquette then Miami in the bottom half. But I wouldn’t expect you to know anything about that. Because you seem to just be waiting back for any opportunity to project your bitterness towards Tom Crean’s coaching style and ability for whatever reason you have, like you have shown throughout numerous threads now!

  • Kenneth234

    But I did tell everyone on Selection Sunday that I think our bracket was lined with potential problems for us. I particularly remember saying that NC State was dangerous for us (luckily we didn’t play them, but instead got a Temple team that was a little less dangerous, but had a juggernaut on the offensive end), Syracuse is not easy for anyone to beat, and I was more worried about Butler and Marquette then Miami in the bottom half. But I wouldn’t expect you to know anything about that. Because you seem to just be waiting back for any opportunity to project your bitterness towards Tom Crean’s coaching style and ability for whatever reason you have, like you have shown throughout numerous threads now!

  • Kenneth234

    When did Bob Knight retire? And how many years was that after 1987? The system that Bob Knight implored is and has been dead for a long time now! Bob Knight was more of an embarrassment to Indiana University the last 5 years than anything else.

  • Kenneth234

    Do you believe that Knight and his system beat the vaunted Syracuse zone in 1987?

  • AtariHero

    “We were just hoping the calls would come eventually,” Zeller said. “But that’s how it goes sometimes.”

    This is where it’s on Crean. Don’t expect that the refs are going to change their calls and give you the game. Find a way to score the basketball.

  • AtariHero

    It’s not like we didn’t have another option. He could have started Sheehey. He DID start Sheehey in the 2nd half. Yogi didn’t need to start this season. He’s a freshman. Freshmen point guards don’t tend to do well in the tournament. Everyone knows that…
    I understand why Sheehey came off the bench and Yogi started. It made our offense more balanced throughout the game. But it didn’t have to be this way, and you could easily argue that last years’ Hoosiers team – with Hulls running to point – ended up being just as good of a team.

    Hulls was the leading +/- player in the country this year. Yogi shot 35% from the field. We all saw the disaster Yogi was against Syracuse (and Temple too). Sure, for player development it was good to get Yogi PT in important games… but I would have been comfortable having him play backup for a year before giving him the reins to the team. He was good, in flashes, but he was simply too inconsistent this year.

  • AtariHero

    3 minutes into the game, I would have sat Yogi, and I would have played Hulls at the point and Oladipo, Sheehey, and Remi at the 2. Yogi didn’t give us anything against that zone. We needed more outside shooting ability, as well as the experience of older players. I also didn’t get why Elston didn’t play. a 6-8 guy who can shoot the 3? Why is he on the bench?

  • IUMIKE1

    Agree with you that it might have been better for Yogi to have come off the bench at the very least in particular games so that, he could see, and certain things could be, pointed out to him before he got in the game. Last year’s team was good and fun to watch but I have to respectfully disagree that they were just as good as this year’s team. Last year’s team did not and could not have beat MSU & UM twice, including beating both on the road, and this year’s team won on the road at O$U, which was no small feat. This year’s team also never lost two games in a row, another accomplishment that last year’s team wasn’t able to pull off.

  • Should go pro is not at issue. What CZ will decide is at issue. He WILL go pro if the dream to play in the NBA as a lottery pick and get a multi-million signing bonus is a greater desire than another season as a college player. I think Ware’s injury pushes the decision over to taking the money. He’ll develop on the NBA bench like so many athletes do now. See: G. Hayward. Two years in college, two years out, and now he’s an NBA starter.

  • 39 points?

  • Last week on the Dan Dakich show, Cody said he had classes through December and could do online classes after that to graduate. So, he may be able to “walk” in December with some online classes remaining as many others have done.