‘Lack of awareness’ dooms Hoosiers in second half collapse at Nebraska

  • 01/31/2014 9:33 am in

At halftime of Thursday night’s game at Nebraska, Indiana had a 13-point lead coming off a dominant 20 minutes of basketball. The Hoosiers were getting what they wanted, offensively, and on defense, they forced Nebraska into shooting just 33.3 percent from the field and allowed just 0.56 points per possession.

Their game plan was to force the Cornhuskers into contested shots; to not allow them to pass the ball into the middle effectively. In the first 20 minutes, the Hoosiers executed perfectly.

And then, things went awry.

In a second half in which the Hoosiers (13-8, 3-5) simply collapsed, Nebraska (11-9, 3-5) came back to win at home, 60-55, in front of an announced 15,107 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

“We came out with great defensive energy, pretty good ball movement and very good awareness, and the bottom line is the second half, our awareness wasn’t where it needed to be, defensively,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “There’s a certain way that they want to play, and in the first half we did a pretty good job of defending that, taking that away. And in the second half, we allowed them to get too comfortable on the perimeter with their 3-point shooting. We took the bait a little bit.”

Coming out of halftime, Nebraska coach Tim Miles tweeted his team’s first five minutes would be critical. And in that first 5:30, Nebraska would not be stopped once, offensively. The Cornhuskers were getting offensive rebounds, getting to the free throw line. The middle of the court had opened up. Shooters were knocking down open shots — for whatever reason Indiana stopped closing out.

By the time Nebraska was stopped for the first time in the second half, Indiana’s lead had evaporated from a 13-point lead to a 40-36 edge.

“(Our zone) kind of takes away what they were trying to get,” sophomore Yogi Ferrell said. “And you know, I felt like we went away from that in the second half, worrying about different things we shouldn’t have been worrying about. And once they hit a couple shots, they got on a run and we got down.”

Despite how much Crean emphasized it — he talked about it days before the game and even reiterated it at halftime — his team wasn’t executing, defensively. And throughout the second half, Indiana was faced with that same issue. It didn’t get much better.

By the 8:55 mark, Nebraska had tied the game. Indiana’s 16 point lead it had built in the first half was gone. At the 6:57 mark, Nebraska would take the lead, its first since the 16:22 mark of the first half. The Cornhuskers wouldn’t lose it.

In that second half, Nebraska shot a whopping 66.7 effective field goal percentage behind six 3-pointers and scored 1.46 points per possession. It recorded 14 points off Indiana turnovers. It rebounded 50 percent of its misses.

And in the process of their 18-point second half swing, the Cornhuskers sent Indiana back to square one with its defense.

“It was more about our lack of awareness, defensively,” Crean said. “We were in control of the game in the first half, and obviously it’s a 40-minute game, we knew that, but we had a pretty good idea of what they were going to go to, and we kind of took the bait. That’s what we’ve got to outgrow.

“We lost this game on the defensive end more so than anything.”

Crean unhappy with Vonleh’s performance

After freshman Noah Vonleh posted a 7-point, 3-rebound performance against Nebraska following a 14-rebound effort against Illinois, Crean said he wasn’t necessarily pleased with his star freshman’s effort on Thursday.

“He had a tough night,” Crean said. “He was out there, he worked hard. He wasn’t as emphatic and decisive with the ball as he needed to be. He got the ball, but it was one of those nights. He’s 18.”

Vonleh only took five shots on the night and got to the free throw line only once, fouling three times in 27 minutes of play. He also recorded five turnovers, three of which came in the second half.

Put simply, Crean said on Indiana’s postgame radio show, “Noah wasn’t active enough, today.”

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  • Gregory J. Haggard

    This team goes 15-15 this year, but with a year of maturing, they will be very good.
    We should be better next year by default, most of the good B1G teams are going to lose a lot of good players.
    One quick word on the B1G officiating.
    I’m not saying the refs cheat, I’m saying they’re awful.
    They need to clean things up and call the games a little tighter, players are getting hurt.

  • Alford Bailey

    I love Stanford but no way should we just hand him the ball to drive into the meat of the defense as our only offensive option in the last minute of that game. Desperate for points and we risk putting one of our worst free throw shooters at the line. Right on q he misses two. FRUSTRATING!

  • Alford Bailey

    I agree on the officiating. Its way too rough in this conference and has been forever. I dont think you can teach old dogs new tricks, though. It won’t happen but I say fire all B1G officials and start over with young guys that can keep up and make calls based on the rule book.

  • notfargj

    while i’ve been critical of this years team, i support coach crean and am willing to suffer through a down year. his diligent work ethic, willingness to embrace and suffer through colossal program reform, seeing that a positive basketball culture be sustained, are just a few reasons i propose – despite some questionable coaching decisions – he be supported. admittedly, it is painful to endure what we are witnessing this season. and, in his defense, conference play has been incalculable at best.

  • DrLuke

    I don’t see how Crean can blame Vonleh. The defense was geared to collapse on him and cheat inside. Crean made no adjustments. No one can be very “active” with a constant triple team.

  • John Temple

    Awareness is not the only problem. Still can’t break a zone with any consistency and our second half rotations were awful, contributing significantly to the 10 minute drought.

  • SCHoosier

    N-W showed everybody how to beat this poor shooting, TO prone IU team.. Pack it in…surround NV..and make IU shoot from outside. Twice Hoosiers ran a four pass play where they reversed the ball and got it to Noah where defensive help couldn’t get there and both times he scored. NV always look to score (at times he shouldn’t) cause he doesn’t get many opportunities..besides..who is there to kick it out too with a good chance of making a three with the exception of maybe Yogi.

  • MillaRed

    I did a lot of whining the last few days. Sit there and watch games like last night and I really think we could have coached them to a W. I think we got outcoached in the 2nd half.

    Anyway, you guys all make great points. Calbert and C&C, no hard feelings. Just frustrated.

  • SCHoosier

    As much as I love Stan’s “emergence” this season..he can not be in there at crunch time when every possession counts until he can hit some ^&%*(%$ FT’s…

  • Gregory J. Haggard

    Yeah, as much as I tend to complain, I agree.
    The next couple of years are really going to tell the tale.

  • MillaRed

    I am not really down on any particular player because I think the officials completely screwed IU to begin the 2nd half.

    These guys called 9 fouls in the 1st half and it was brutal out there to say the least. Then they called 9 fouls in the first 5 minutes of the 2nd half!!!!

    Who does that? Only in the Big Ten. 5 minutes in and Nebraska is shooting 1-1. Terrible.

  • SCHoosier

    Ya think??!! Maybe the 19 TO.’s..had some impact. Many of them reflect this teams lack of fundamentals and b-ball IQ (Troy throwing a 4 foot CHEST pass to NV for example) By the way kudos to Troy for his work on the glass light night. He really went after it

  • MillaRed

    Coach isn’t going anywhere so I don’t think it matters what we are willing to “tolerate.” I just wish he would continue to grow and get better like any other coach at this level. Right now he looks like he has plateaued.

  • Hoosier Hall

    I understand where you’re coming from but 15-15? I don’t think so.

  • Hoosier Hall

    We really needed this one but it didn’t look like we wanted it bad enough in the second half. Noah played scared, Robinson got sloppy and guys were just standing around.

  • Alford Bailey

    A frustrating team(coaches included) for sure. Luckily for me JBJ and the Marion Giants are in town tonite for a big NCC game. I am going to zone out this current Hoosier team for the rest of the day, enjoy watching our future stud play tonite and dream about the future.

  • deebo


  • deebo

    Amen to that too

  • Eastwood88_2

    Stayed away for the most part on TMA. The Morning After allows me a better train of thought. Crean Blaming Vonleh for his offense is misguided. He was attack constantly and Nebraska was not going to allow him to beat them. If he had any issues, I would like him to be a better passer like Cody was. This would allow him better positon on the offensive boards as the defense is looking to recover from the triple team. His defense was terrible last night. -13 with him on the floor. Hp was actually better than him on the defensive end for once.
    Thought To CTC – I have been huge supporter of you thru out this entire year. Guys are young, we lost 4 1000 point scorers, we can’t shoot…etc. But you have gotten to the point where my support is starting to slip. You might have grander plans to teach this team, but we are INDIANA. I want the NCAA tourney. Never miss! Don’t care if we lose in the first round. YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME. Last night wasn’t the case. Your best players play, period.

    Final Thought, offensively what do you guys suggest. No matter what offense you play, they will pack the paint against this team regardless. We have to shoot better. Sign me up for the old chuck and duck.

  • IUbriz

    Noah needs to learn to be Patient when he receives a pass, let the defense start to collapse and dish, too many times he catches and turns to the middle of the lane which results in the D collapsing and the ball being stolen. Let the D make the mistake, hit a cutter or an open man, make the D play fast. Our freshmen tend to try to make things happen too many times where patience is needed.

  • IUbriz

    They were ticy tack fouls as well, at least in comparison to how the rest of the conference schedule has been called.

  • CreamandCrimson

    No hard feelings at all…if you aren’t frustrated by some of the stuff we’ve watched this season then you just don’t care and thankfully, that’s one thing our fan base can never be accused of. Here’s to hoping the rest of the season and especially next season isn’t quite so full of frustration.

  • notfargj

    millared, when i watch and listen to crean, i see a coach that is passionately working through – fervently wrestling with – his approach to the game, while balancing youth and an array of personalities. a blessing and curse, the guy has a bullheaded nature. but, I give him credit for sticking to his guns and forging ahead. to sit back and expect the lightbulb to go off on our timetable is absurd.

    but, unless you’ve navigated the reigns of a D-I program and the farce of juggling the obligatory hats, I encourage you to reconsider your frequent coaching yarns and commentary. surely, you haven’t reached the zenith of the college basketball coaching world because you wouldn’t be spending your time here advising a yielding audience. you might know a thing-or-two about x’s and o’s but until you compete against the big boys, a majority of your comments come off as pomp. the big ten race is bewildering. there’s a fraternity of seasoned coaches struggling around the country. i don’t expect perfection from crean but I am willing to “tolerate” his humanity in the hope that he reaps a sturdy harvest. if the guy succeeds, my guess is that you’ll proudly extol the virtues of his improvement.

    look, our culture breeds some sort of sick, gotta-have-it-now mentality that is at times completely unreasonable. in his case, i for one want crean to have a season or two to revise his plan. you’re right, he is indeed going to be around for a while and, quite frankly, i firmly believe he’s earned his place for the time being.

  • MikeinNC

    Serious question: now that we have seen Crean for several years, how far do you think he can take the program? When I look at the coaching talent in the conference, I find myself wondering where he consistently perform relative to Izzo, Matta, Beilein, Groce, McCafferty, and Ryan….if I look at the major success factors (subject to debate, but I will identify them as: recruiting, developing individual players, in game coaching ability, overall program management/development, and team development during the year) I feel like Crean is as good as they come in recruiting and overall program management – he seems to have a boundless amount of enthusiasm and energy. But I really wonder where he can rank in developing players, in game coaching, and team development. I kinda see him as middle of the pack in those areas….so I worry that our ceiling with Crean may be a semi-regular trips to the sweet 16, with some frustrating years sprinkled in there….and only a rare trip to the elite 8 or maybe the final 4. And that may just be the new reality for Indiana hoops in this era, but I just don’t seem him improving in his weak areas enough to consistently be a top dog in the Big Ten and making regular deep runs into the tourney….thoughts?

  • SCHoosier

    More importantly…even though his game is developing…how can IU count on Stan in a tight game at crunch time when his forte is getting to the hole and fouled..when he shoots 51 from the line ?
    With Evan not showing much the last three games..I guess IU doesn’t have many choices. Both NEB and Stan missed some important FT’s late in the game.

  • SplackThemHams

    I’m not sure you can find many better than Crean in player development, I think Oladipo is the ultimate example of that. In game coaching is where we are clearly seeing his weakness. I’m not sure how many unsuccessful trips where guys are standing around and running the hand off/weave offense it takes to realize that it’s time to take a new approach. Secondly, his substitutions have long been suspect but really shined through against Nebraska. Robinson was one of the few guys getting to the basket yet he was on the bench most of the second half. I’m not sure what the value is in plugging guys in for 1-5 minutes in the case of Marlin, Howard, and Hartman in this one.

  • jacobdetroy

    I think I can see where you’re coming from and appreciate the point being made, but CTC has a responsibility to coach which may mean disciplining, or proving a point to the “best” players. I get it. Not giving Vonleh and Robinson minutes is puzzling but I would lay money down that CTC was making a calculated coaching move. Listen, the dude is smarter than he will get credit for.

  • oldiugymnast

    I have seen a lot of this over the last 12 hours – and a lot of it from the very same people that complain that Coach Crean doesn’t pull a Coach Knight (or worse – “My team is on the floor”) and bench someone who doesn’t do what they are supposed to. In fact, some of the anti-coach folks here have complained vocally that he doesn’t do enough in game disciplining and that it would be okay to lose if he sent the right message to his players by benching them.

  • MillaRed

    Well written and I respect that. But not without a retort.

    If you think I am pomp, you don’t know me. Well who are we kidding, you don’t know me at all. I’ve been in here from day one and you do get a certain confidence because the people that have been here with me understand I am fair. If it comes off as cocky that is not my intention. This is a basketball blog not a TV show. I’m not looking for anything.

    One thing is for sure, if “pomp” means someone ITH tells the truth when something doesn’t make any sense, I am Captain Pomp all day long. I don’t care if John Wooden reincarnated coaches the Indiana Hoosiers. If it isn’t right I (and everyone else in here) will have my say. We’ve earned it. My devotion is to The Indiana Hoosier basketball program. Not one player past or present, not one coach past or present, or to any fan.

    No, I have not coached a D1 basketball program. Yes, Coach Crean does things no other D1 coach in the country does pretty regularly. So please, do not point the finger at anyone in here. We are basketball smart. That’s all. And when you have been around it as much as I have, and you see the ball flying 15 feet out of bounds every 10 minutes, you are not impressed.

    I support Coach Crean. I supported RMK, Davis and Sampson as long as I possibly could. But at some point if I do not see Coach make in-game adjustments that put our team in a better position to win on a regular basis, I will be “pomp.”

  • DrLuke

    I say that he needs to take Vonleh off the block more. Sure, he is the best post player on the team, but the defense knows that and cheats inside. They kept him on the block all night and he managed only 7 points. If he comes outside more (more, not all the time), he can still flash in the post. In addition, he is probably one of the best perimeter shooters on the team – which isn’t saying much (10-18 3pt fg on the year). Bringing him outside will certainly loosen up the defense inside which will give other players more frequent opportunities.

  • Ole Man

    Totally disagree with Crean in his blame of Vonleh.
    The kid is 18; worked his butt off last night; and deserves better than having his head handed over publicly.
    Crean keeps this up, he will drive him away after one year.

  • InTheMtns

    Top Dog in the Big Ten. Hmmm . . . not that Indiana won the Big Ten Championship last year or anything. Oh, but wait – that was way last year, right, so it doesn’t count.

  • MikeinNC

    I am not saying or implying that last year “doesn’t count” and I am posing a legitimate question, so there’s really no need for sarcasm…my fear is that what we saw last year was his “once every 5 or 6 year” team where a unique blend of talent came together (not unlike with D-Wade at Marquette) or can he consistently mold a Big Ten leading team? Maybe that is never going to happen again due to the competitive intensity of the conference regardless of the coach?

  • Scooter

    The guys always stand around. That is the CTC offense in crunch time. Sad.

  • Scooter

    Noah needs to play a PF, not a C. Crean constantly puts an 18 year old out of position. I am getting exhausted of the fingerpointing by Crean towards the players. Noah was bad last night but the kid got 5 shots. Bring him out Crean and play the floor. This kid is the 8th best amateur in the world , get out of your stubborn ways and find this kid more than 5 shots!

  • Scooter

    Crean needs to be more accountable. When The team struggles offensively there is never a plan B. Just like the Sweet 16 game against Syracuse last year at halftime CTC said we are going to do more of the same. Coach had no logical answer or adjustment against that zone. Syracuse was one of the better teams in the country last year. But coach does not have a plan B for the Nebraska’s and Northwestern’s of the world. That is problematic and a sign of the future. Fans that believe coach is going to get us to a final four or national championship might be reaching a little too far

  • Scooter

    I stopped reading when I sensed your sarcasm

  • Mattcolliu

    Here, here! Hitting the nail on the head Splack.

  • Mattcolliu

    Generally I agree with your thoughts, but I would suggest that Jeff Howard brings maybe the highest b-ball IQ we have n the team to the floor. I wish he was more gifted, but you rarely see him out of position or losing sight of the ball. I’d say we need that on this team, so I’d work him in and let Hollowell sit- I see know b-ball sense in him and a lot of bad decisions and playing out of position / losing track of the ball on D, etc.

  • Mattcolliu

    Not to get down on a guy, but Colin H could hardly stay on his feet last night- overmatched even against low division NEB. Sorry- we don’t need to play everyone just to for coach to try to look savvy- it’s not savvy with this group to rotate rotate rotate- go deep into bench – go deep into bench—-play the best players you have until they tire to the point it hurts the play of team (I know they need some normal “blows- OK?) or until they are in foul trouble.

  • thrawnjan

    Holy crap that was an amazing post, I want to print it and put it up all over the internet and Bloomington’s streets.

  • notfargj

    fair enough. i sincerely appreciate your candor.

  • Bruce

    Lack of awareness starts at the top. Can’t believe he calls out vonleh! He is playing out of position ( he is really a 4) and since he is the only offensive threat in the paint he is constantly being swarmed. He is a hard working and talented kid. Try moving him out and putting hp in the center. If he is ever going to improve he needs court time

  • creamdelacrimson

    Amen brother.