Hoosiers look for improvement, first Big Ten win at Penn State

  • 01/10/2014 6:51 pm in

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — After an 0-2 start to the Big Ten season, Indiana will attempt to avoid disaster on Saturday.

The Hoosiers (10-5, 0-2) traveled to Penn State on Friday and will face the Nittany Lions (9-7, 0-3) at 12 p.m. on Saturday, where they will attempt to avoid their first 0-3 start in Big Ten play since the 2010-2011 season.

It will also be Indiana’s first game since last Saturday, a 17-point home loss to Michigan State.

“We are coming off a very good week of practice and preparation,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “With the bye coming during the break, it has allowed us to work smart and spend more time on getting better both individually and as a team.”

Perhaps the bye week came at a perfect time for the Hoosiers, too. After an overtime loss at Illinois that included 23 turnovers and the blowout loss at home to the Spartans, Crean had time to push the reset button this week. The Hoosiers have six games in the next 20 days, after all.

Crean said the team has worked on everything from building the identity of running and finishing better on offense to getting back on defense and challenging shots better. At the moment, Indiana ranks No. 327 in the nation in turnover percentage (22.2 percent), No. 292 in having its shot blocked (12.1 percent) and has allowed a 49.3 effective field goal percentage against major-conference opponents.

The numbers aren’t pretty by any means, but with the second-least experienced team in the Big Ten, Crean is hoping they will improve starting with Saturday’s game.

“We have to really stay in the moment as much as possible for our team to gain confidence,” he said, “and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The Hoosiers will have a great opportunity to regain that confidence against the Nittany Lions. Crean won his first Big Ten road game as Indiana’s coach at the Bryce Jordan Center in 2010, and the Hoosiers have won their past three games in the building. Penn State also doesn’t force many turnovers and doesn’t earn many offensive rebounds, which are two categories the Hoosiers hope to capitalize on.

But in Big Ten season, all bets are off. Especially with how up and down Indiana’s start has already been, nothing will be guaranteed for the Hoosiers come Saturday afternoon. And that, Crean says, is worrisome.

“What you learn very quickly about the Big Ten is that every possession matters regardless of the time and score,” he said. “Games can go in a different direction either way quickly.

“I expect we will see a physical, tough and demanding team, and we are going to have our work cut out for us.”

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  • InTheMtns

    Go Hoosiers!!!

  • PDXHoosier

    Lots of Stan. Keep Frazier off the foul line. Let’s get this one!

  • Alford Bailey

    8 hour drive to State College in the middle of winter. I admire your dedication, Jordan.

  • coloradohoosier

    Tonight, I am feeling positive about the rest of the season….if Coach Crean mixes it up a bit tomorrow. Let Stan have a start…or at least many minutes. Heck, maybe even move NV around a bit and let Jurkin bang in the post. SOMETHING DIFFERENT! If Stan does well tomorrow, and the team responds, I believe 8 B1G wins are likely. If not, and more of the same…then we might get 5 B1G wins…only an opinion, of course. Go IU…and here’s a shout out for JH and TW to play well as we go forward.

  • HumbleHoosier

    “Let Jurkin bang in the post”

    That made me laugh. Thanks for that.

  • Ben12180

    Starting JH seems to be fruitless in my opinion, so I hope Stan gets the start over JH. Not that I gave up on JH, but too inconsistent, and needs to find his rhythm. Stan plays with high octane, and plays with a lot of heart. I like that.

  • mlcfood

    JH is this years Verdell Jones

  • Iucharlie

    JH has been put in a bad situation by Crean. JH is not a guard, and trying to make him play guard isn’t fair to him! Everyone says Crean is a great recruiter, but we have 13 players and no shooters or ball handlers other than Yogi. Hard win games if you can’t shoot or take care of the ball! Next year we will have Blackmon and Johnson who can shoot and no bigs. With Fischer leaving and Vonleh going pro. It’s going to be tough road for IU.

  • G-Rob

    Oh no! Did I miss something? Vonleh is going pro? Ha Ha couldn’t help it. Did not mean to be a smart a$$. I think Vonleh will be back due to his younger than usually age for a freshman. I really hope CTC has a big in his mind to add to next years team. Even if Vonleh comes back we need some more inside players. Go IU !

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    So the team was now working smart or getting better individually oir as a team for the past 3 months???!!! Maybe CTC has been delving into both Coach KK’s in-game coaching and preparation?! We will C tomorrow. sigh . . .

  • Snookafly

    Yeah, JH is giving us nothing, but I have to think he hasn’t been put in the best position to succeed. He’s moved from the 4 to the 1 to the 3, etc. Seems like most of our team has had a tough enough time nailing down one position let alone three or four.

  • brooklynhoosier

    don’t expect stanford to be the saving grace. he’ll be good down the road but he’s not that polished of a player–poor ball handling, poor shot, etc. i’m all for putting him in the starting line-up, but don’t expect any revelations. we just need solid defense and fewer turnovers from him. it’s incumbent on yogi, will and noah to carry this team. the rest are supporting players until the future.

  • sometimes I comment

    Like the positivity. Sending good wishes and encouragement, way to go.

  • sometimes I comment

    so much for positivity

  • colinbb10

    “every possession matters”…..well then play a style of basketball that reflects that belief

  • JethroTroll

    I don’t care what the numbers are or what they tell us. This IU team hasn’t learned how to win close games yet. That’s what scares me about this game. It’s on the road, and Penn St needs this game as badly as IU.
    Minnesota was able to foul out both Battle and Newbill, PSU’s best players. That wont happen again. Most likely, this game will come down to the last few possessions. Who on this IU team is confident enough to handle the ball? Make the tough shot? That’s part of having an identity. IU doesn’t have on yet.
    Penn St isn’t perfect, obviously, but they know who’s handling the ball in crunch time. Either way, this will be a huge win for IU, or a huge loss.

  • BMusic

    VJIII was a solid, solid senior. It hurt not having him against UK in the sweet 16.

  • BMusic

    Please, let’s stop the talk about games being “must-win” or losses being “disasters.” This isn’t the NCAA tournament; I’m not even sure that should be a goal for this season. The program is still rebuilding, and really, we should box up those “WE’RE BACK” T-shirts and put them in storage for another 4 or 5 years, because a couple promising seasons with some special players does not a resurgence make, any more than a group of highly-touted highschoolers makes a “Movement.”

    The program has to fold over on its talent and success for a number of years, over a number of recruiting classes. The culture has to be rebuilt, and then sustained. Who did Cody play against in practice? Tom Pritchard and Hanner Mosquera Perea? Who pushed Victor to get better in scrimmages? Jeremy Hollowell? Even that group was limited in what it could do—not because of bad coaching, but because IU was, essentially, a brand new university. Still is.

    And by the way, the guys that get on here and say that Tom Crean is driving away recruits? Have you ever thought about what potential players must think when they come on here and see the school’s own (supposed) fans dissing the coach with such venom—such bile—as happens so often? This doesn’t look like the country’s most informed fan base. More like the country’s bitchiest. And who would want to play for that lot?

    Support the team. Support the coach. This isn’t the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s your alma mater.

    At least, it’s mine.

    GBR

  • Lobills

    Here are the areas I’m focusing on for IU to improve on vs. Penn St:

    1. IU’s eFG% to be greater than Penn St.’s avg. They yield 46.5% in this area vs. IU’s 47.5% for conference games. We can and should generate good looks against them. This leads to the next point.

    2. PPP… We currently are avg’g .95 pts per possession in conference games. Good enough for 9th in the B1G and 267th nationally…this needs to improve to say the least. PSU allows 1.07 PPP in B1G games so there is definitely an opportunity.

    3. Turnovers…yeah no chit right? With no midweek game this week I expect to see marked improvement here. Particularly in the unforced variety that we seem to cough up so often. This should and likely was an emphasis all week in practice. Let’s see if we’re able to value the ball. The players that don’t should sit for the players that do.

    4. Drastically improve our assist:TO….dead last in conference and 311th nationally isn’t going to cut it.

    Outside of the numbers I want to see a sustained commitments get Vonleh the ball. The offense needs to run through him. I don’t want to see a focus early on this only to see it wane as the game goes on (see 2nd half FGA for NV). I want to see off the ball movement and cutting. I’d like to see players rewarded for playing smart (see Stan Rob) and to start to see defined roles take shape

  • edh

    great post. time to be hoosier fans. great seasons an great successes don’t come every year – just look at the dates on the banners. we have a quality coach and a program with a tradition of real students who really attend class and graduate – so much to be proud of and to support!!

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    I thinking you are reaching…

  • John Temple

    If IU can’t get a win at Penn State with a week off to prepare, then you can kiss the B1G season good-bye. If that happens, then there needs to be an honest discussion of whether Crean continues as the head coach.

  • Billydee

    even after 6 years the only way to go is up…good luck Hoosiers

  • Billydee

    you should be careful what you say some aren’t aloud to say anything negative of CTC regardless if your right or not.

  • Sarasota Hoosier

    Agree with most of what you say, except that Frazier is PSU best player certainly one of top 2.

  • SCHoosier

    Defend..defend and defend some more. Hit the boards and be careful with the ball. If so..victory is ours!!

  • You’re absolutely right BMusic. I have a feeling that some of those on here are not actually graduates of IU. Think there’s a lot of trolling on here. Sometimes I just leave it alone for a week or so.. Really upsetting at times how uninformed, cry baby, sky is falling, bitchiness runs rampant, I do not envy the ITH teams job of trying to maintain some good direction on all of this. Go Hoosiers!!!

  • Ole Man

    Agree with your first sentence. Don’t think there will be any discussion on Crean’s future for at least another two years.

  • Ole Man

    You find “bitching” fans on every school’s website. IU is not special in that regard.

  • Ole Man

    ” but with the second-least experienced team in the Big Ten”
    I swear if I hear that reference one more time, I will scream!
    Time to man up or shut up.

    I’ll save the long “lecture” for another time.

  • The_Bob_Michaels

    I’m not sure I understand the “kiss the big10 season good-bye” line. No one outside of overly optimistic IU fans saw us contending for the league title – most had us in that 4-7 range. The current team has potential and athleticism, but is unbalanced in some ways (no consistent shooters).

    Always makes me scratch my head when I see fans that are way more emotional about losses than the players or staff. Things need to be improved upon by both, but they know far more about things than any of us do.

  • Jordan

    Victor Oladipo wasn’t a star his freshman year, neither was Jordan Hulls, or Christian Watford… so what’s your point? Not every top recruit is going to be Cody/Yogi type of player where they come in and can impact the game so much as a freshman. Everyone talks about how crean is good at player devolopement, but it seems no one is wanting to give him the time he needs to develope them. Just give it some time, that’s all I’m asking.

  • hoosier1158

    So since when do you have to be an IU graduate to love IU sports? I thought interlopers were allowed on this website?

  • Lobills

    Kansas, UK, Michigan and Colorado to name a few have similar experience levels as IU and are fairing much better so far within their conferences and overall.

    Experience or lack thereof in regards to IU is a partial EXPLANATION, but I wish we as a fan base writ large would stop using it as often as we do as an EXCUSE.

  • Lobills

    I agree there is a considerable amount of all the things you list concerning IU fans. There’s also some of us that like to take a critical look at what IU is/isn’t doing and voicing our concerns when we think it’s warranted.

    This in no way makes us bad fans…I’d argue it’s what separates IU from virtually every other fan base out there…specifically we’re one of the most if not THE most knowledgeable fan bases around.

    Critical thinking can and should be a welcome thing so long as things don’t devolve into petty arguments and other nonsense.

  • JethroTroll

    My bad. I typed the wrong name. I’ll correct it.

  • Ben12180

    I don’t think Vonleh goes pro. The tools are there, but not quite polished enough yet in my opinion. Big Ten play has really exposed some of those weaknesses. Not to say he couldn’t “catch fire”, but I expect to see him next season.

    I don’t think the road will be tough. With offseason maturity, awesome class coming in, this team has no where to go but up. However, I would make finding a true center an urgent priority.

  • Mk

    Couldn’t agree more, infuriating at times early in his career but we were a much better team before his unfortunate injury that year

  • JethroTroll

    Really? So, we should look at year 6 under Crean at IU, a blueblood mind you, as still in rebuilding mode?!? LOL That’s reasonable to you?
    No, thanx. I prefer to live in reality.

  • BMusic

    Haha, that’s awesome!

    Wait. You’re being ironic on purpose, right?

  • JethroTroll

    Unfortunately, we have a few posters on this board that label “bitchers” simply as those they disagree with.

  • ForeverIU

    Phew! Great win!