Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss to Northwestern

  • 02/26/2015 12:37 am in

EVANSTON, Ill. – Indiana lost its sixth Big Ten road game on Wednesday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena, falling to the Northwestern Wildcats, 72-65.

The loss dropped the Hoosiers to 19-10 overall and 9-7 in conference play. Here’s a look at five takeaways from the loss:

· Indiana played with a lack of urgency defensively for the first 36 minutes: It’s late February and Indiana’s defense, or lack thereof, remains a major issue. Northwestern entered Thursday’s contest with the Big Ten’s eighth best offense at 1.01 points per possession. The Wildcats finished their win over the Hoosiers at 1.24 points per trip, their best output yet in conference play.

Indiana’s defensive struggles were the primary reason that a hot shooting start in the first half went to waste. The Hoosiers hit 9-of-14 3s in the game’s first 20 minutes and had just three turnovers, but went into the locker room tied at 40. Had Indiana put up any resistance, it could have held a comfortable halftime cushion. The defensive issues were countless as the Wildcats shot an effective field goal percentage of 60.3 and grabbed 60 percent of their misses before intermission.

It wasn’t until late in the contest when Indiana picked up the defensive pressure that it was able to gain any traction and knock Northwestern off track offensively, but it was too little, too late.

· Indiana got into the bonus early in the second half and couldn’t capitalize: As one of the nation’s premier shooting teams, getting to the free throw line and converting is typically a strength for Indiana. On Thursday, the performance at the line was a nightmare. The Hoosiers got into the bonus with 12:27 left to play and proceeded to miss the front ends of two 1 and 1s.

The second missed front end by Yogi Ferrell with 10:58 to play was the eighth foul Indiana drew in the second half and it did not draw another one for more than 10 minutes when Troy Williams was fouled by Alex Olah with 31 seconds left to play.

In all, it was a horrible night from the foul line for Indiana as it knocked down just 7 of its 16 attempts to finish at 43.8 percent.

· Northwestern stuck with its 2-3 zone in the second half and Indiana never adjusted when its perimeter shots stopped falling: The Hoosiers rode their 3-point shooting to a 40-point first half performance and in those 20 minutes, it was fair to ask: “Is Chris Collins really going to stick with this zone?”

Indiana was splashing in shots from all over the court as Nick Zeisloft came off the bench to knock down four 3s in 12 minutes. Four different Hoosiers made a 3 in the first half.

But the second half was a different story as Indiana kept launching 3s with very little success. In fact, after Troy Williams hit a 3-pointer at the 15:35 mark of the second half, Indiana would not hit another until Yogi Ferrell knocked one down with 1:01 to play. In those 14 minutes and 34 seconds, the Hoosiers missed 12 shots from behind the arc.

With such a heavy reliance on the 3-point shot to generate offense, Indiana really had nowhere else to turn offensively for production and as a result, the missed shots resulted in a drought of over 10 minutes without a point.

· Tre Demps did whatever he wanted offensively: Northwestern junior guard Tre Demps is unlikely to land on the All-Big Ten teams that will be announced in a few weeks, but Indiana’s defense made him look worthy of such an honor.

Demps went for a game-high 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting and most of the looks he had were clean and poorly contested. He made all of his 2-point attempts as Indiana’s zone provided little resistance in terms of getting into the lane. Indiana’s attempts to change defensive looks mid-possession did little to confuse Demps, who may have had a tougher go if the Hoosiers just let Yogi Ferrell attempt to lock him down.

“I was proud of Tre. I thought he made some big-time shots and big-time decisions and reads,” Chris Collins said in his postgame press conference. “He was fantastic.”

· This loss will hurt Indiana’s NCAA tournament resume: Indiana has not won consecutive games in more than a month and after starting conference play 5-1, the Hoosiers are now just 4-6 over their last 10 games. Furthermore, the list of teams Indiana has beaten since knocking off Maryland is not impressive: Rutgers, Michigan, Minnesota and Rutgers again. Of those teams, only Minnesota is likely to play in the postseason and the Gophers are headed for the NIT.

The loss to Northwestern in itself isn’t going to keep Indiana out of the tournament, but it’s the worst loss of the season from a RPI perspective and will certainly loom larger if the Hoosiers aren’t able to take care of business at home next week in a pair of games with Iowa and Michigan State.

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  • KmanCRK

    Thanks, that was much needed.

  • KmanCRK

    Empty seats in AH should have Glass thinking twice.

    For what it’s worth a buddy sat right behind Glass at UM game and said he was watching social media game. It was crazy how little he watched the game vs staring at his phone.

    Let’s hope he’s catching on. Problem is, leaders hate admitting mistakes. And although Glass didn’t hire Crean, he did give him that ridiculous extension.

  • enickman

    I think I saw him clapping and pulling his pants up?

  • marcusgresham

    Communist? You’re obviously not sharp enough to discuss either topic.

  • marcusgresham

    That makes zero sense on both accounts, but for the sake of basketball, how does it help IU if Crean fails? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. If he succeeds it simply means the team is doing well, and as long as he isn’t taking advantage of violations to do so isn’t that what we all want?

  • Drew

    I should’ve been more specific in clarifying what I was saying about our offense. I was talking about the season as a whole. Even the 1st half last night, our offense looked to be rolling. 2nd half? Not so much. I thought ball movement was fine, we simply stopped hitting our shots and then panicked and continued shooting from places that wasn’t working for us. That falls on Crean and the players.

  • Snookafly

    It would be painful watching two of them sit on the bench.

  • KmanCRK

    I think his point that you should keep your political posts off ITH is spot on. Scurry over to Mother Jones or MSNBC if you are looking to make a political point.

  • pcantidote

    It is simple, really. What scenario would you rather see play out:

    2015: 22-12, NCAA first round
    2016: 21-13, NCAA first round
    2017: 19-15, NIT
    2018: 20-13, NIT
    2019: 22-11, NCAA first round


    2015: 20-14, NIT
    2016: 24-8, NCAA sweet 16
    2017: 26-6, NCAA sweet 16
    2018: 29-6, Elite 8
    2019: 31-4, Final 4

    A collapse this year and a Crean firing opens the door for us to bring a real coach with a real shot at making us an elite team. Under Crean we have ZERO chance. So we might as well get this over worth.

  • Will

    Crean has always behaved like those timeouts roll over to the next game.

  • calbert40

    And who is going to do those next four years for us? That is a TON of projecting. Seriously….ugh. If it was that easy to just grab a coach and succeed like that EVERY coach in America who failed to reach the Sweet 16 would get canned. It. Does. Not. Work. Like. That!


  • marcusgresham

    First off, I didn’t know you could see the future.
    Secondly, what guarantees IU finds a coach who comes in and does better? Who does your crystal ball tell you is taking the job?
    Third, you missed the point. I said “if Crean succeeds,” so why wouldn’t it be acceptable for him to succeed? Why does it have to be someone else?

  • calbert40

    I mentioned this on another thread, but it bears repeating here.

    Going into that game, IU ranked in the Top 5 nationally in offensive efficiency against zone defense.

  • marcusgresham

    I think it point is analogies help us to explain things in colorful and creative ways.

  • calbert40

    This is exactly right. Their spacing was good. They moved the ball well. They just didn’t do three things that they normally do with excellent efficiency against a zone D: 1) hit outside shots, 2) penetrate either with a pass to the middle or by dribbling, and 3) locate runners on the baseline.

    That’s what we didn’t do well.

  • pcantidote

    Nothing is guaranteed, but you have a simple choice. You either (a) accept mediocrity and allow your glorious past to fade further and further in the rear view mirror, or (b) recognize that this isn’t the long term solution, and TRY another option.

    At some point you have to acknowledge that the next four years that I laid out under Crean are directionally very likely. History says so. You have already admitted that you want IU to be elite again and that our current coach is not elite, so isn’t (b) the only option? Why is this so hard? Change is OK.

  • pcantidote

    See my response to Calbert above. Your point makes no sense. Crean has NEVER (at Marquette or IU) succeeded at an elite level. If it hasn’t happened in nearly 15 years of coaching, it AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN.

  • calbert40

    Nice post, Cream. I’m not surprised by it, because you always are very measured and rational in your posts. I do have a couple points I’d like to make with you, though.

    Big Picture – this season
    If we all go back to August and look at the posts predicting IU’s record, the win totals ranged from 17 to 22 for most people. It appears as though we are going to be on the high end of the expectations of most people, and we have the ability to exceed that. I think if we win two more games before the NCAA (reg season and B1G tourney combined) we are in without any sweating it out on Selection Sunday. If we only win 1, we probably make it still, but we are sweating it out. If we lose out, we won’t make it nor would we deserve to make it. The bubble is incredibly soft this year, and our resume still looks very strong in comparison to most teams who are on the bubble.

    Big Picture – program strength
    Consistently in the top 4…maybe. In the last three years, UW, UM and MSU have finished in the top 4 each season. UM won’t this year, and the jury is out on MSU also. IU won it in 2013, and in 2012 they finished 5th, but they were ranked 15th in the nation at that time, so I’d say that was a really solid team. This year, that would put them up with Maryland. So, I’d say we are close, but not there. That’s not good enough for a lot of people, and I understand the need to win now.

    But I think the biggest issue is our ability to win games we probably shouldn’t win (think of all the Top 5 teams we’ve beaten in the last 3-4 years), but then drop some ugly losses sometimes in the same week! That is what spikes the vitriol, IMO. If we would lose those games we should lose, but win all the games we should win, I don’t think people would complain like they do. The problem is that when we beat a highly ranked opponent, and then follow it up with a stinker, most people pin that on the coach. Right or wrong (I’d say wrong, but that’s not the point), that’s the perception that Crean has been stuck with by most fans.

  • calbert40

    This is just not true. They looked unprepared? Did you watch that 1H? The team played poorly in the 2H. They owned it in their postgame interviews. Crean owned that he could have done somethings differently on D. I don’t see how that means they were unprepared and were running poorly designed plays.

  • KmanCRK

    unless you are in the 50% of the country that thinks its a very partisan statement.

  • INUnivHoosier

    They played approximately 1/4 of the game well. The offensive side of the ball in the 1st half.

    The 1st half defense was awful (hence NW scoring 40 points to match IU, while IU was shooting out of its mind from 3). The 2nd half defense was awful. The ball movement in the second half, save a few minutes, was also very bad.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Thanks for the kind words and civil discussion…right back at ya.

    Big picture: I guess I didn’t go a good enough job of this…I was trying to say that my expectations (I won’t speak for other people’s suggestions but your look back sounds accurate) would be met if we make the Tourney and that if we win both home games we would be safely in, split and we’d be very much on the bubble heading to Chicago (but in and needing to beat someone like Minnesota or NW…otherwise avoid a bad loss), lose both and we need a miracle in Chicago. I think we are definitely in agreement and my original point must have been lost in confusion…sorry about that.

    Program Strength: You are probably correct and I think your points are very valid. A month or two ago, I decided to stop attempting to “bridge the gap” between those who consistently rail against Tom Crean and those who consistently “defend” him. Many of us on ITH are in the middle ground where blame doesn’t have to get placed at one individual’s feet after every defeat and I’m happy to civilly converse with those who are in that space…otherwise, I’ve found that it’s best for me (maybe not best for anyone else but it works for me) to stay out of the rest of the muck. Too much anonymous vitriol and hand-wringing for me. I think most everyone is passionate and wants the same thing for IU, we just all have different ideas about what’s realistic at this point in time and how to get there.

    I don’t think Tom Crean is capable of getting IU to the place where I think we should be…however, I don’t have all the answers and I’m not 100% right. I also don’t know of a solution that would definitely work OR if the guys I have in mind would even be interested. This is a long way of saying that I wish we had a unified fan base but I don’t think that desire is at all realistic. So, I choose to root for the Hoosiers to succeed…that means I am rooting for Tom Crean because he’s the current coach. If IU chooses to make a move, I’ll have an opinion about who they should hire and then when they hire someone, I’ll support them 100%…doesn’t mean I “love” Tom Crean, “hate” Tom Crean or blindly agree or disagree with everything that occurs within the program. Anyway, I think you are correct, the big wins get us all justifiably excited and make losing somewhat consistently to the Penn States and Northwesterns of the world all the more head scratching and frustrating.

  • Hoosierkamp

    19 doesnt get us in tourney….. better win atleast 1 more and a big ten tourney game. Crean isnt the asnwer at Indiana University. We can do much better as a program

  • marcusgresham

    Again, who the hell do you think is taking the job?

  • marcusgresham

    Partisan or not, it’s an accurate, factual statement that makes it an accurate analogy. McConnell stated that his job was to “make Obama a one-term president,” not to do his job for the betterment of the country. That coincides with the statements being made here hoping Crean fails.

  • pcantidote

    Seriously? At any point in time there are a handful of great coaching options. IU didn’t wait for Knight to drop from the sky, they saw the potential in a young coach and took a chance. Same for Coach K, Bill Self, etc. You identify who you think the best option is and take a chance. What do you have to lose, years and years of mediocrity???

  • calbert40

    Okay. I’ll give you that. I just think there is a big difference between executing poorly and being unprepared. I thought they suffered from the former instead of the latter. JMO.

  • calbert40

    I agree…mostly. I definitely agree about the Tom Crean “lovers” and “haters.”

    Some act like any time you say anything other than we should fire Crean and he is the worst coach of all time, that you are a Crean lover. Similarly, some (though a much smaller number) think he should never be criticized. Neither are true. Always good discussing things with you, Cream.

  • INUnivHoosier

    I think that’s fair. We just disagree on this one.

    The reason I say unprepared is because they looked confused on defense, and my original post was not clear on that (and maybe even made it seem like I was complaining about offense). It just looked like they weren’t sure what they were running, where they should be, where the ball was. That could be poor execution and poor communication. In my opinion, it looked like poor preparedness, like they didn’t know how to run that defense.

    I think on the offensive side of the ball they suffered from NW adjusting (in the 2nd half). Northwestern moved their zone toward the 3 point line, and IU couldn’t make the same quick passes on the perimeter they could in the first half. So, they just dribbled it around.

    I think if they would have gone to playing through the interior and pressing NW somewhere around the 15 – 13 minute mark, the game would have turned out completely different. That’s just an opinion, though. IU had/has the superior athleticism, and I believe they could have forced NW into some deflating turnovers (I believe NW has one of the bottom 5 turnover rates in the B1G if I remember the “What to Expect” stats.)

    Also, I really despise the lineup with Stan on the 7 footer. I give Stan credit, because I think he does a really good job in the situation for a guy his size. I think the team is better off with an average or slightly below-average defensive performance from a guy closer to 7′ tall than an above-average performance from a guy closer to 6’4″ tall, though.

  • calbert40

    How do you describe “elite?”

    Tourney success? Has a FF on his resume.
    Conference titles? Won titles in two different conferences
    Getting players in the NBA? Has this is spades

    Winning percentage?

    If you look at Crean’s career winning percentage minus those three years where he was building the program from the studs up, his winning percentage is .675. RMK’s is .709.

    If Crean would have averaged about 1.1 more wins per season, he’d have the same winning percentage.

    Again, I am not suggesting Crean is elite. I am simply suggesting that Crean isn’t nearly as bad as many suggest he is.

  • calbert40

    The choice is anything but simple, and it certainly isn’t solely between those two options. That’s an either or fallacy. There are numerous other options available to us.

    The likelihood of those four years happening under Crean are about as high as them happening under a new coach who would be trying to build a program also. They are also about as likely to happen as us having four years that look similar to the two years preceding last season.

    Again, you are projecting. You aren’t a fan of Crean (which is fine), so you are inclined to assume we are more likely not to succeed than succeed. However, your opinion doesn’t matter when it comes to the product on the floor. Neither does mine.

    Look, if Crean gets canned at the end of the year, the main reason I’d be upset is that it would mean we didn’t have a good year. I think we can win with a number of coaches here. I don’t share your opinion that there are a ton of great coaching options available.

  • calbert40

    Whether the analogy worked or not, I think the point is that it is best to stay away from politics on ITH. I’ve actually run campaigns for people at the state level, so I’m pretty political myself. But I keep it out of here. It is just for the best. JMO.

  • aksinya sangat keren….

  • beppecolo

    Those guys are lucky they’re not around anymore. Crean hasn’t got a clue as to how to, or doesn’t have any interest in, developing bigs. Two years ago it was painful watching Cody Zeller practically begging for the ball inside and being ignored, and last year the only way Vonleh could get a shot was to get a rebound or go out and take a 3. Crean can recruit but he apparently can’t teach and he’s one of the worst game coaches I’ve watched.