Hoosiers miss opportunities in 83-80 overtime loss

  • 01/01/2014 8:57 am in

Time and time again on Tuesday afternoon, Indiana had chances to pull off a win at Illinois, despite how ugly the game had truly been.

The Hoosiers turned the ball over a season-high 23 times against the Illini and shot a mere 38.2 percent on 2-point attempts, but when it came down to the pivotal moments of an eventual overtime Big Ten opener in Champaign, the Hoosiers had chances to get the win in both regulation and the extra period. It didn’t happen.

As has been the theme in big moments for Indiana this season — such as in the final seconds against Connecticut and Notre Dame — the Hoosiers were unable to capitalize on the opportunity. The end result: an 83-80 loss that dropped the Hoosiers to a 10-4 record heading into Saturday’s matchup at Assembly Hall with No. 5 Michigan State.

“It’s just going to take time for us to understand everything matters, every part of it matters,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said following the game. “We did do some things, obviously, that we’d like to have back.”

Much of the Hoosiers’ misfortunes at the end of the game were epitomized in their final possession of regulation after freshman Noah Vonleh blocked a Rayvonte Rice shot with 26 seconds left and the game tied at 71. The Hoosiers had not made a field goal since the 6:44 mark, and when sophomore Yogi Ferrell brought the ball up-court, senior Evan Gordon called a play of his own.

Gordon received the ball at the top of the key with about 16 seconds remaining and held it to the final shot, as he drove to the right baseline, shot-faked and then put up the shot just before the final buzzer. The shot was short. Indiana had missed its first opportunity.

“Evan made a call and we were all fine with it, so he got it,” Ferrell said. “And you know, we thought the shot looked good, it was just a little short.”

As the overtime period ensued, Indiana’s struggles continued, as the team shot 0-for-7 from the field before making its first shot with only four seconds left. But the Hoosiers got to the line and the Illini (12-2) missed shots. Indiana, somehow, was still in the game.

And when Joseph Bertrand missed a free throw with 30 seconds left and the score 78-75 Illinois, Vonleh got a rebound that could put the Hoosiers back in the game. Except Illinois’ Jon Ekey stole the ball from behind Vonleh. Again, a missed opportunity for the Hoosiers.

“When I caught it, I looked quick, I saw Will (Sheehey) and I didn’t see the guy coming,” Vonleh said. “He came in there and just took the pass away. I’ve just got to be more aware next time.”

The final blow came with 12 seconds left in the overtime period, when Ferrell drove to the basket and was unable to convert at the rim. Illinois rebounded the miss and Indiana fouled, as Tracy Abrams made one free throw to put the Illini up four with eight seconds left. By then, the game was out of reach.

Yes, Ferrell would go on to make a 3-pointer that would draw Indiana to within one point with 3.1 seconds left (Indiana’s first basket in 11:41 of game time), but it was too late for the Hoosiers to win at that point. Despite the amount of opportunities they had, they simply couldn’t capitalize on Tuesday.

“We fought really hard,” Ferrell said. “We’ve just got to play a lot smarter.”

Turnovers remain a major issue

After the game, Crean didn’t avoid the fact that his team has a turnover issue at the moment. Especially now that the Hoosiers have 63 in their past three games, including a season-high 23 in Tuesday’s loss in Champaign.

On Tuesday, they came in bunches. From errant passes to offensive fouls to traveling violations to shot-clock violations to five-second violations, Indiana once again struggled in the turnover battle. In contrast, Illinois only had 10 turnovers.

“I think we all know that we have some turnover issues,” Crean said. “I think we’re trying to correct those. I think we just lost that game by three points. And I thought that we had some costly turnovers in the game.

“We’ve got to slow down a little bit. We’ve got to play fast, but we’ve got to play with a better pace because the games are really intense. There’s no question that the turnover difference was a huge difference in the game.”

As the season goes on, the Hoosiers know the problem will have to be fixed. They no longer can afford to play sloppy and expect to win in the Big Ten.

“It’s just (making) smart plays,” Ferrell said. “I feel like a lot of us, even myself, we think plays are there but they’re not really there. So it just goes back to watching our turnovers on film..”

Ferrell has career-best performance in Champaign

One of the bright spots that came out of the Hoosiers’ performance came from Ferrell, as the sophomore point guard once again showed the value he has to the team.

For the fifth time in the past six games, the Indianapolis native shot an effective field goal percentage of over 50 percent. Ferrell poured in a career-high 30 point performance off five 3-pointers, four 2-pointers and seven free throws in 43 minutes of action. He was the first Hoosier to score 30 since Christian Watford did it against Iowa in 2011.

“I thought he played excellent,” Crean said. “I think he’s one of the best guards in the country. I have for a long time, and I think he’s got a lot of growth. I think he’ll continue to get that growth. And I thought he went against some of the better guards in the country tonight.”

As much as he had a career-performance in shooting and scoring, though, Ferrell also provided the Hoosiers with five rebounds and four assists on the afternoon.

Ferrell is now shooting 44.4 percent from beyond the arc and averaging 17.7 points, 14 games into the new season. The last player to average that many for the Hoosiers? Eric Gordon in 2007-2008, when the freshman scored an average 20.9 points per game.

Hollowell and Howard not healthy, Crean says

After Tuesday’s game, Crean said 6-foot-8 players Jeremy Hollowell and Jeff Howard aren’t necessarily healthy at the moment.

Crean said he would have liked for Howard to start against Illinois but that he isn’t 100 percent healthy. He played a total of less than one minute against the Illini.

Hollowell, meanwhile, was injured in the second half, according to Crean, and did not play much of the rest of the game after going 0-for-6 from the field.

Indiana is already lacking front-court depth after the loss of freshman Luke Fischer, and the health of Hollowell and Howard will hold more importance than usual as the season goes on.

(Photo credit: Ben Woloszyn-USA TODAY Sports)

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  • I agree with you about liking Coach Knight.. and I was always a supporter of his. Even when people I knew raved about his behavior hurting the school’s reputation, etc. But toward the end, it really did become an ‘eye sore’ to the University. It would be hard for me to believe that Brand did not discuss anger management classes with Coach Knight. But you know, Knight was a very stubborn man.. a man that was unwilling to ever admit he may have been wrong. I’ve seen interviews with knight which talked around the topics of his choking players, etc., and he pretty much denied it all. He is a very fiery personality and probably that helped him become the great coach that he was. But in the end, it just went way too far, iMO.

  • Earl Scheib

    Dan, this is so obvious it hurts to hear it. Thanks for giving form to the void in my head that wanted to say that exact thing. I think, like you, I ‘m still feeling a phantom limb twitching from the previous Hoosier teams that I grew up watching. A new Hoosier brand is what is being established now. I’m willing to give it some more time to see if it works, but I’m beginning to have my doubts. Last year’s sputtering end made me see that Crean’s style is pretty one dimensional. Prove me wrong, Coach. Hang banner #6. Because like you said, “It’s Indiana.”

  • Jersey Hoosier

    How do you substantiate an opinion, Alex? Isn’t the purpose of this forum to allow Hoosier fans to exchange opinions? Are you receiving pressure from anyone in the IU athletic department to censor comments on this forum. Am I going to be denied access to the forum for asking these questions?

  • HoosierinAZ

    Let’s do the math on the IL game turnovers – 22+ turnovers – assume IU had the same amount as IL (10) and that means we gave the ball back 12 times to IL more than they gave us to work with – IL shot 45% FG and if that held true with TO’s given to them, there was a swing of potential of 10 points (5 baskets) lost. Add the 12 back to IU and with our shooting 40% means that we lost opportunity of 8 points (4 baskets) – a potential swing of 18 points lost on TO’s – easily enough to win going away – just get the TO’s down to reasonable # and we will win more than we’ll lose.

  • Judge Smails

    Are you saying in 3 years CTC will be out at IU, and Brad Stevens will be a candidate to replace him? Ridiculous!

  • Raynger

    I agree that Coach Knight created his own problems but a more skilled administrator could have solved this problem without simply firing him. I was on campus during the 90s and the word I heard from faculty and staff was that Miles Brand had a bigger ego than Knight. My understanding is all that was instituted was the zero tolerance policy which was a sham. Do you remember the incident that led to his dismissal? I also agree Coach Knight is stubborn and still is but he was a good coach.

  • RWN

    As the World Turns, Stevens and Bos is in a terrible rebuild now, and the Boston Nation will have little patience, this personally told to me from Doc’s own brother-in-law as why Rivers ran west, Stevens will want to do a Pitino and Calipari, IU will be disappointed with lack of NCAA success even with all the talent and other pastures will arise. It just is a critical assessment. I give Crean high marks for many things including taking the program from its depths to recovery and respect, but again with the talent they had last year I expected more than a Sweet 16 level accomplishment and with the talent they had this year, expect more than All Star game execution and delivery. Certainly there is responsibility on individual levels, and blips of personal disappointment have shown themselves with Crean saying alluding to players only putting in minimal effort. That is a culture, in part it goes to recruiting not only the physical nature but also the mental/character. Something tells me that we will learn things that will make some rabid believer’s ears hurt when Fischer’s actual underlying reason is revealed. I for one was holding onto to hope that Fischer was going to emerge in the starting lineup and lend stability to the front court with Vonleh and pushing either Williams or Hollowell to the bench. Now that Hollowell is hurt, that would have worked itself out.