Hoosiers looking to stop skid against efficient Badgers

  • 01/14/2014 9:14 am in

Forget the history that can be made tonight. Actually, both teams are. Indiana’s battle in Assembly Hall tonight with No. 3 Wisconsin simply won’t be an easy one.

Wisconsin is seeking its 13th straight win against the Hoosiers. No other team has done that in the 113-year history of Indiana basketball. The Hoosiers, coming off their first Big Ten win of the season, are seeking their third straight season beating a top five opponent, something that hasn’t been done since 2001-2002.

All history aside, the Hoosiers know they are in for a major test against one of only four remaining undefeated teams in the nation. And like in years past against the Badgers, IU knows nothing will come easy tonight.

“An outstanding team with Wisconsin obviously, an outstanding program,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said Monday on the weekly Big Ten conference call. “One that’s just a very, very tough preparation. They’re a very, very efficient and smart team.”

The Badgers are especially tough to prepare for this season. For the first time ever in Wisconsin basketball, the Badgers are 16-0. They rank No. 4 in the country in offensive efficiency, No. 15 in effective field goal percentage (55.0) and No. 2 in turnover percentage (12.7). The defense? No. 12 in defensive efficiency, No. 2 in opponent’s FTA/FGA ratio (24.3) and No. 29 in opponent’s eFG% (44.3).

In short, nobody has figured out how to handle them for an entire 40 minutes. Their average margin of victory this season has been by 14.1 points.

“They’re a real good team,” freshman Noah Vonleh said. “They’re real mature. They have a lot of older guys on the team. (Junior Frank) Kaminsky, (sophomore Sam) Dekker, they can step out and shoot. So we’ve got to communicate well on defense and stay on those guys.”

Again, that won’t be easy. As Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan starts five players with prior Big Ten experience — Kaminsky, Dekker, senior Ben Brust, junior Traevon Jackson and junior Josh Gasser, a lineup he has on the floor almost 30 percent of the time over the past five games — the Badgers know what’s coming at them. They filtered noise into their practices to simulate playing at Assembly Hall, a building they have not lost in since 2007. Crean noted how they make the next pass, and if that doesn’t create a scoring opportunity they pass again and again.

And though the Badgers are scoring 10.8 points per game more than last season, the Badgers haven’t changed their type of offense. They still rank No. 303 in the nation in adjusted tempo and and average the 11th-longest time for each possession (20.3 seconds).

Perhaps the only difference? The Badgers are more efficient than ever. And that has Crean’s full attention, especially knowing that the Badgers likely won’t be intimidated come tonight.

“They’ve always had the experienced players that they can put other people around those guys because they totally understand how they win and how they want to play,” he said. “They’ve always put excellent shooters on the court. I think what you have right now that’s maybe a little bit different to me is they’re not an above average passing team, they’re a great passing team.”

Sheehey injured last Thursday

During a practice last Thursday, senior Will Sheehey was injured after taking a hard fall and was actually a game-time decision for Saturday’s game at Penn State.

Of course, Sheehey went on to play against the Nittany Lions and had a nine-point second half, igniting the Hoosiers to their first Big Ten win of the season.

“Will’s just got an inner spirit that’s really hard to characterize,” Crean said. “It’s hard to quantify it because it’s so unique. He’s got a great fire about him and I thought he brought it. I thought he was very, very passionate with his teammates and I thought it carried over.”

Crean: Lineup ‘could change tomorrow night’

On his weekly radio show on Monday night, Crean said tonight’s starting lineup against Wisconsin is not set in stone.

Despite going with the same starting lineup for 14 of Indiana’s first 16 games — one of sophomore Yogi Ferrell, Sheehey, Vonleh, sophomore Jeremy Hollowell and freshman Troy Williams — Crean recently benched Hollowell due to a lack of “focus” and started senior Evan Gordon in his place. When asked when Hollowell would return on Monday, associate head coach Steve McClain replied, “He’ll play when he plays.”

But Crean noted it isn’t necessarily important who starts, pointing out he thinks it’s more important he has players who can play at the start, in the middle and at the ends of games, much like how freshman Stanford Robinson, redshirt sophomore Austin Etherington and senior Jeff Howard did against Penn State on Saturday.

“The starting lineup, to me, it’s fun because it gets you on that video board, it gets the fans to cheer for you, you hope it gets the game started right. But how we’re playing in the middle and certainly how we’re playing at the end has got a lot more value on a team than just the starting lineup.”

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  • kbb247

    I am stating the obvious, but this is a huge game for IU. I think most of us thought this team could get into the tourney. If that is going to happen, then we need to start winning a few of these games against ranked opponents. I could be wrong, but we have 1 game against Michigan St, Ohio St, and Iowa, and 2 games against Michigan. Counting tonight’s game that gives us 6 chances to grab “Marquee” wins. They have to win at least 3 of those games and no bad losses to have a fighting chance at the tourney. I am hesitant to say that this is a make or break game, but this is a game that I believe will go a long way in defining our season. With the benching of Hollowell, and the way Crean has been talking, I get the sense that he believes that it is time for these guys to start producing. Quit making the same mistakes over and over, and consistently have forward progress. GO HOOSIERS!!!!!!

  • callison32

    Tom Crean loses to Bo Ryan, Chapter 11? Man, I hope not…

  • Blair McKee

    If there was a must-win game in the regular season, this would be it. The Hoosiers must win at home to remain relevant in the B1G this year and elbow into the very crowded bubble for inclusion in the NCAA. Yes, it is time to think about being included in the at-large bid discussion. At this point, IU hasn’t beaten anybody whose gonna help them get in.
    And this is a home game. Gotta win at home.

  • A Train

    It is a huge opportunity for this team. They could leave the team 2 and 2 with a victory over a top 5 team with a good chance to win the next game against n-western.

    On paper it is clearly a mismatch as they excel where the Hoosiers struggle but the games are not played on paper. There is no clear physical advantage from an athletic standpoint but they have better basketball skill players. The Hoosiers will need to get the 50 50 balls and utilize the free throw line to make up for the deficiency in half court offense.

    How the game is called will be critical. If fouls are called in accordance with the new emphasis on hand checking it should be a close game with a chance for the Hoosiers to win. If the Badgers are allowed to turn the game into Greco Roman Wrestling instead of b-ball, we are in trouble. I’d love to see Crean take an early opportunity to chew on a refs ear, I’m very tired of watching Bo and Izzo set the tone for the game on our home floor. Crean needs to step up in that area as we need the home court advantage here.

    Also, shorten up the bench a little here and have Yogi, WIll and Noah play 30 minutes. Not expecting but would like to see it.

    No real reason for optimism here but I am a glass half full kinda guy….and expect a close game with a chance to win with five minutes left to play.

  • YogiBear

    We need the “perfect storm”. We need to get some key pieces of Wiscy in foul trouble right out of the gate. With the students back and the fan base all anxious to get are first marquee win I believe the weight of a win is more on IU rather then Wiscy to remain undefeated. Hopefully they don’t play that way! Call me crazy but I think IU can pull this one off!
    My keys to winning (long list):
    -Yogi looks to get players involved early, and takes over late in the game
    -Wiscy gets Dekkar and one additional starter in foul trouble
    -Vonleh needs to stay out of foul trouble, he needs to get near 30 minutes
    -Crean continues playing with a short bench like he did against PSU
    -We need a “surprise” guy to step up and have a big game, maybe AE?
    -a few prayers wouldn’t hurt either 🙂

  • kbb247

    I will add that we are going to have to make a few shots tonight, and can not go long stretches without a field goal, especially the ones with TO’s and poor shot selection.

  • A Train

    Agreed, but I’m not expecting a huge shooting turnaround here given the body of work I have seen so far…that’s why free throws will be critical in my opinion as it is one of the positives with this team.

  • chiswede

    Ugh, Wisconsin.

  • mk

    ITH better be rockin tonight! Biggest home game since kentucky???

  • MisterSlippery

    Time to commit some heinous crimes.

  • And_One

    13 straight? This will not do.
    We need to get into the bonus early, hit the front-ends, get some of their starters to sit with fouls. Taking care of the ball, that goes without saying, but getting this very disciplined squad into foul trouble is the key to this game.
    Go Big Red.

  • Kyl470

    I hope our freshman packed their rape whistle because Wisconsin is going to literally have their hands all over them. I hope the officials call this game tight and don’t let Wisconsin get away with their typical mugging.

  • kbb247

    I am not expecting a huge shooting turnaround as well, but the sun does shine on a dogs butt every now and then. lol.

  • Trevor Howenstine

    I think we need to play 10 guys, smothering in your face full court press defense. keep guys rotating in and fresh and try to make it a faster paced game the entire 40 minutes(We have no chance in a half court game with these guys). Look for big games out of Stan, Yogi and Gordon. I think the emphasis will be to drive the lane. (Jeremy Hollowell could explode for a breakout performance)

  • Old timer

    I was just looking at the Sports Lines out of Vegas and the IU Wisconsin game opened at 2 points Wisky, now it’s up to 4 1/2 points! Do they happen to know something that we don’t?

  • Aiken_Hoosier

    I don’t disagree we will have trouble with them in the half court, but Wisconsin would SHRED our full-court pressure. Not being negative, just being a realist.
    I think we’ve got a shot to win, but just don’t believe full-court press is the way we do it.

  • Bled4IU

    a unranked team vs the #4 ranked, unbeaten team in the country a must-win game! Would it be a good win for IU? Yes. is it a must-win game? We need to have a little more realistic expectations for this game and season! go IU!

  • NotTheRealSteveEyl

    Thought the same thing. Scorecenter on my phone had it at -5 to Wisky. I’m not a betting man, but I would be all over Wisky at 5 points.

  • Mooks

    I swear to god, Cody got mauled by Jarred at least 15 times last year in the B1G tournament. And only 1 was called a foul. Noah better get ready

  • NotTheRealSteveEyl

    “He’ll play when he plays.” I like that quote a lot.

    I do not mind seeing a little chippiness from Crean and staff at all. They should be really pissed at (some of) these players.

    I wish I could say I expect a miracle, but I just don’t see it. They are better coached, they have a game plan, and, this year, they even have better talent. I’m thinking a double digit win for Wisky.

  • Bled4IU

    I hope Assembly Hall is rockin tonight, not sure how much ITH will be!

  • mk

    So then you don’t agree that this is the biggest home game since UK? Maybe the Michigan game last year or OSU to win the outright Big Ten Championship (a game we didn’t win) or maybe North Carolina – This one would go a long way to turn around our season…

    What do you think the biggest home game since UK has been?

  • mk

    addressing the downvoter

  • jackie

    we cough it up less than 10 times this game and we have a chance to be right there at the end of it.

    we have shooting difficulties, but getting to the line a bajillion times a game offset that some. we are playing pretty solid defense. we are a good rebounding team.

    everyone is sounding like a broken record talking about iu (with good reason.) turnovers turnovers turnovers.

  • Eastwood88_2

    Yes that line was way to low to start with just like the MSU game. It is the IU fan factor that bet on them regardless. Vegas just looking for even action.

  • PDXHoosier

    If we had a few guys that could get hot from 3 I would get my hopes up that we would have a chance. they just have too much firepower for us

  • PDXHoosier

    it will keep going up until gametime

  • Ole Man

    If IU wins, fantastic!
    Let’s not have a repeat on national TV of the MSU game.
    How’s that for realistic expectations? LOL.

  • PDXHoosier

    yeah if they break a press and have wide open 3s in transition, look out. I think it would be too easy for them

  • PDXHoosier

    Just think, someday we will beat Wisky (maybe tonight??) and it will be cause for celebration!

  • PDXHoosier

    seriously, even when they aren’t beating us 12 times in a row I hate watching them (although they have looked mildly entertaining this year)

  • mk

    whoops…i deserve 10 downvotes for that typo

  • Old timer

    I was thinking 10 before the lines were posted! I agree, the line will continue to move till game time.

  • NotTheRealSteveEyl

    Totally agree. Saturday was sort of a must win. Everyone knows we’re gonna lose tonight.

  • Bled4IU

    I agree, it is going to have to be one of those grind it out games. Hopefully, we can hang in there long enough to have a shot at the end. Man, i hate Wisc and want to beat them so bad!

  • And_One

    Ugh Wisconsin, ugh Wisconsin,
    Damn’d old Badger State…

  • Bleeding Crimson

    I agree but the Def is been a problem for most of the season…we’ve not be communicating enough and seemed to still trying to figure it out or just some players are not up to speed/lazy?
    This will be our toughest Home game. Not due to history but more that Wis is playing at a top level. Great ball movement, shooting 40% from downtown, and taken care of the ball. They pass extremely well and wait patiently for the best shot. But if we control the boards and get to the line like you say, we also have to take care of the ball and come out to defend the three. This may be the game where we play Hanner with NV due to Kamisky 7’0 and Dekker 6’8″ making most of their points. We need to play big and get them in foul trouble early and not get down by double digits.
    Good luck and Go IU.

  • JH Horne

    You’re right about the opening line. Vegas thought IU fans were nuts enough to take the Hoosiers and only 2 points. Crickets. Now, they’re giving 5 and it’ll probably go up to 6 or 7 by tip-off.

  • steve

    Maybe the team should watch Miracle on Ice before the game!!!

  • ForeverIU

    LOL!

  • Lobills

    Whether we stay in the game will be dependent on:

    1. Limiting the possession discrepancy. They don’t turn it over. We do. Which leads directly to…

    2. Offensive efficiency. They are ruthlessly efficient and we tend to languish against good teams. We’re 8th and 218th in the B1G/nationally in off. Eff. In conference games. We need to make the most of every possession because they most surely will. We need to do what we did at the outset of the Penn St game…relentlessly play through Vonleh. If we’re able to win it will likely be because the rest of the country finally realizes how good he is.

    3. Solid defensive (both individual and team). We’re 9th and 236th in def. eff in the B1G and nationally so far in our conference games. We cannot try to make the flashy play or those mistakes will be taken advantage of. Solid fundamentals on the ball and good positioning to help off it will be key. Wisky will patiently work to break our defense down. Will we be able to maintain our discipline through the whole 35 sec. clock? If not, they’ll pick us apart.

    4. Show some emotion and get the crowd involved. The fans will be ready tonight. Give them reason to cheer early and ride the AH wave.

    I still don’t think we win, but I think all of the above HAS to happen to have a chance.

  • Michael Crawley

    Chapter 13… Argh!

  • inadvertentelbows_stillhurt

    Might see a CTC ejection if it gets ugly tonight,,