Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss to Iowa

  • 03/04/2015 12:01 pm in

Indiana fell 77-63 to Iowa on Tuesday night at Assembly Hall and the loss dropped the Hoosiers to 19-11 overall and 9-8 in Big Ten play.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the loss to the Hawkeyes:

· Indiana needed to play with urgency and it exhibited none: On a night where Indiana needed to raise its level of play from where it was for most of last Wednesday’s game in Evanston, the Hoosiers simply failed to respond to the challenge. A win would have likely put Indiana safely in the NCAA tournament and quieted talk, at least for a night, that this team was folding down the stretch.

Instead, Indiana was humbled against an Iowa team that, quite frankly, didn’t even need to play its best game to beat the Hoosiers handily in Assembly Hall. This was a significant departure from IU’s losses earlier in the season at home to Eastern Washington and Purdue. Once Iowa took control early in the second half, it never relented because Indiana never put up a fight.

In Sunday’s pregame press conference, both Tom Crean and Yogi Ferrell both said that Indiana had practiced well and appeared ready to meet the challenge. That may have been true at the time the words were spoken, but none of it carried over to the court and it left Indiana fans who were in attendance annoyed at what they were witnessing. That feeling was understandable.

· Indiana’s offense, once a strength, has gone stagnant: Through its first 13 conference games, Indiana’s offense only failed to reach one point per possession once – in a loss at Michigan State. Since then, the Hoosiers have put up back-to-back offensive clunkers at Assembly Hall. Indiana managed just .98 points per trip against Purdue and Tuesday was even worse as IU put up just .94 points per trip against the Big Ten’s 10th best defense.

In both instances, Indiana struggled to finish against length at the rim. The Hoosiers shot just 37.4 percent on 2s last night and without a way to generate easy baskets, the offense stalled out. Crean was asked about the team “standing around” on offense, but disputed that was the case.

“I don’t agree with that. We’re running actions to get movement, our chin action, and we’re trying to get the court spaced,” he said. “I think when you’re playing against big teams, you’ve got to play through those corners. And that’s a matter of getting movement, getting those guys going.”

Regardless of the intent, this is a group that needs to score efficiently to win and that didn’t happen against the Hawkeyes.

· For the second straight game, Assembly Hall lacked atmosphere: Filling every seat in Assembly Hall has been a challenge this season and Tuesday was no different. Here’s a couple of looks at the building from right before tip and then towards the close of the game:

This is significant for two reasons: 1. Indiana has enjoyed a huge home court advantage in Assembly Hall in recent seasons, particularly as a result of student support.

And 2. It shows that the support from a decent segment of fans is diminishing. At a program like Indiana, that’s a problem.

· In terms of who put up a solid effort, two guys stand out: Indiana brought six guys to the postgame press conference, an usually high number, and Crean said he wanted the five guys who were on the court at the end of the game, plus Hanner Mosquera-Perea, to “come in and deal with it together.”

Of those six players, only Nick Zeisloft and Troy Williams turned in solid performances.

Zeisloft, as challenged as he is athletically and defensively, competed hard and knocked in five of his seven attempts from behind the 3-point line. And Williams, who really struggled to finish at the rim, collected a game-high 13 rebounds, dished out four assists and didn’t have a turnover.

· Indiana’s NCAA tournament hopes are hanging in the balance: Neither the players nor Crean wanted to talk big picture or look further ahead than Saturday’s game against Michigan State, but Indiana’s chances to reach the NCAA tournament took another step back last night.

Most projections still have the Hoosiers in, but on the current trajectory, an appearance in the big dance would likely be short lived. Indiana hasn’t put together solid, back-to-back performance in over a month and it’s unrealistic to believe that will change.

Saturday’s game with Michigan State presents Indiana with a chance to stop the negative momentum and close out the regular season with a strong performance. Or it could be more of what happened against Iowa, which would signal that this team doesn’t have much fight left in it.

As I wrote on Twitter last night, it’s one thing to play well and get beat. The type of performance Indiana had against Iowa, however, is inexcusable.

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  • eville87

    Yes I knew about that when it happened. what I don’t understand is we needed shooters. Coach has always been the master of an over sign. Other coaches do it as well. Just seems like his are more noticed idk? Really loved how vonleh went pro and didn’t even notify coach. That’s a bad sign. Also look at his comments at the draft combine talking about locker room issues and that he didn’t want to get into it. how many recruits are left from 12? The movement? If we don’t get 1 and dones we need players to stay.. how many whiffs have we had lately? How many transfers? I wonder why?

  • KmanCRK

    ah yes, typo.

  • calbert40

    That’s a great point, 5. Many of us talk about how we want Crean to “send a message” when a player isn’t giving solid effort, but then we have guys like Milla and many others who are incensed when Burton gets PT.

    RMK sent messages with PT all the time. I remember some games where all of the starters would sit the entire 2H, but RMK was nearly canonized for that decision. Crean is demonized instead. Obviously, winning is a salve that cools people’s passions, but let’s at least try to be somewhat consistent in what we expect out of a coach.

  • bvillehoosier

    Most people seem to be on the same page here that Brad Stevens coming to IU would be a God-send, yet at the same time agree that it is highly unlikely. Some have poised the question…”why would Brad Stevens want to come to IU”? After all, he coaches one of the NBA’s most storied franchises and although they haven’t had success lately, everyone involved knew of the rebuilding project that is the Celtics, and Brad has little pressure on him at this point to put up numbers. In the coming years yes, but right now no. People speak of us Indiana fans having “unrealistic” expectations and how could ANYONE want to coach in that seemingly lose-lose atmosphere….I’ll tell you why…

    If Brad Stevens came to IU and within a few years helped us hang banner 6, he would be a HOOSIER LEGEND. He would be taking a team and a fanbase starved for success for the last 20+ years (sans 2002) and bringing us full circle, to the successes of the glory days at IU. He would be instantly jettisoned into Hoosier lore, he would be fabled, he would be untouchable. People would forget the name Robert Montgomery Knight. He would just be some old crazy guy that coached IU in a bygone era. A great era, certainly. But bygone nonetheless. There would be a new sheriff in town. His name would be Brad Stevens. Brad rooted for the Hoosiers growing up, as many if not most young Hoosiers do. He watched 1987 team win the NCAA championship as a young boy, dreamed of one day playing for the almighty Hoosiers.

    Here is his chance to live that dream. He can bring IU back to the blue-blood program it once was. We have been cursed ever since the firing of RMK. That ignited a fire within the program. Mike Davis allowed it to burn the program to the ground. Sampson pissed on the ashes. Tom Crean has tried to rebuild it, but he has just put a nice facade on a program with no real foundation. The pretty recruits, the deflection counts, the NBA draft pick list, the Godforsaken clapping, it’s all a facade. Brad Stevens would be one of the most firm, if not the firmest foundation IU basketball has ever been built upon. Upon this rock, we will build our house. Imagine what Stevens could do with the IU machine behind him. The fans, the players, the money. Look what he did with a small mid-major program that pales in comparison to IU’s. Butler is a fine school, but nowhere near the machine that IU can be when it comes to facilities, support, fans, and recruiting. The state is called Indiana, not Butler.

    He is the perfect fit. He now has NBA coaching experience. Have other college coaches left for the NBA only to return to the collegiate game and excel beyond measure? John Calipari ring a bell? More specifically, has a college coach who left for the Boston Celtics ever came back to college to great success? Rick-effing-Pitino. He will have a direct link to the next level that all these young-uns are after. He will be able to recruit, to coach, to inspire. His parents will be able to see their grandkids on the weekends for God’s sake. He and his family will be home. His contract at IU will see to it that he can stoke his fireplace with $100 bills on a regular basis and not have to worry about it.

    You say “why would Brad Stevens come to IU?”…

    I say “why WOULDN’T Brad Stevens come to IU?”

  • bvillehoosier

    wow I got a little carried away with that didn’t I

  • Sarasota Hoosier

    This game reminded me of Senior night a couple of years ago when IU could have clinched the Big 10 outright against Ohio State at home and played with no effort and lost 67-58. Of course they followed that up by going to Michigan and winning the last regular season game to finish first. A win against MSU will help lessen the pit in my stomach. Go Hoosiers!

  • beer30

    Kids that actually use the scholarship to earn a degree (which I believe was once the intent of them being issued to basketball players in the first place) deserve more respect/communication from their coach than that.


    Pretty sure Miller, just like Bennett, was contacted, if not outright offered, and both declined at that time.

  • zoldirtybird

    I really appreciate Inside the Hall’s content and enjoy reading everyone’s comments. As an Indiana fan I definitely share the frustration and passion.

    That said, the points in the article seem superficial to me. If you review the game the concepts and strategy are the problem. Once Iowa started using a high-low offense to exploit their size advantage, Indiana coaching did not respond defensively. Starting around the 13:10 mark in the first half we got to see 2 consecutive plays with Parea and Holt on the floor at the same time. Indiana got a nice interior layup by Holt. This was followed by one of the best defensive possessions of the year. With 13:03 to go in the first half Indiana played a straight man to man. Iowa was unable to establish any advantage on the interior and their wing was forced to try to Johnson 1 on 1. He took a difficult shot on the drive with Johnson playing good defense and missed. Holt was able to provide some help defense and great weak side rebounding with Parea in the middle for any long rebound. After this play, Blackmon attempted a coast to coast transition drive that and got tied up for a jump ball. Coach Crean proceeded to substitute Hoetzel for Holt. Hoetzel proceeded to play poor defense on subsequent Iowa pick and roll and then set an illegal screen on offense.

    While some might see this as a small detail. I firmly believe that this was a monumental coaching error. It allowed Iowa to resume using high-low and feel comfortable in their offense. Contrary to what is being suggested, Indiana does fine offensively when they have 2 post players in the game. Indiana has great guards and when they don’t have to waste all their effort playing defense out of position and rebounding they are able to make great one on one offensive plays.

    Ultimately, there has been a season long unwillingness to put 2 post defenders in the game at the same time. If Indiana coaching was willing to do this even 40-50% of the time, games against Michigan St., NW, and Purdue (all teams that play big) would have been far different.

    The only way we beat MSU on Saturday is by using Holt and Burton to play post defense at the 4 with Parea at the 5 for 30-50% of the game.


    Who cares about class ?? Any future coach that would be the right fit and one that would take us to where we want to be again, that’s who.


    You just typed my exact comment !! One of the biggest mysteries of Crean’s offensive philosophy, if not THE biggest one, is his steadfast refusal to play two of his bigger players at the same time. Crean seems to think that we couldn’t still play uptempo unless we are playing 3 guards and a shorter faster, and undersized, 4. I strongly disagree with that assumption, and as far as that goes if you’re not winning like you should be does it really matter if we are able to play uptempo as fast as he wants to. Last I checked doing what it takes to win the game is still the bottom line. If he was having major, or even good success by NOT doing that I could maybe understand it, but we have been getting absolutely killed by not having two on the court at the same time, and he simply refuses to even try it for any extended amount of time, regardless of the situation. I also don’t buy into the, ” we have to do it that way because of one of them MIGHT get into early foul trouble ” argument. Crap if we tried it, we just might find out that doing it in a way where one single, and undersized and playing out of position big, being left to try guard the other team’s big, be a rim protector, shot blocker, and rebounder might make it less likely that that one player didn’t foul as much or not as quickly. Maybe, maybe not, but we’ve never had a chance to find out. Hell, try it, and THEN if it happens deal with it and as far as that goes, worst case scenario is that what is taking place now happens.

  • ForeverIU

    Yeah, I’m tired of eccentric obstinate basketball. Hopefully we don’t have to put up with it much longer.

  • Yes, thank you. You’ve identified something I had a feeling about but not the knowledge or experience to clearly articulate. And that’s likely my biggest pet peeve about CTC–it seems like he’s so cerebral in his approach to the game that he misses what’s actually happening on the court. It’s sort of an Ivory Tower approach to coaching–he’s a very smart man, but he’s letting his love for _thinking_ about basketball get in the way of actually _playing_ it. At least, that’s an attempt at expressing what I feel about his coaching, after a long day that has my poor little brain exhausted.

  • mark

    A comment that “he’s a piece of s–t” doesn’t tell us much. I mean, Lawrence Funderburke might have said that about RMK for riding him so hard, but does that mean RMK was a lousy coach? Bu the culture thing … now that’s a totally different story. Etherington left for largely the same reason (as I predicted, he isn’t getting any more playing time at Butler than he got at IU, and he knew that going in, since Roosevelt Jones was returning at small forward; he said he was transferring for PT, but in fact insiders said it was due to the type of teammates).
    And that brings me to what what particularly bothers me: Butler or other schools are getting those “good, straight-laced kids” that we used to get, whereas we’re getting guys who get arrested, suspended or in accidents involving alcohol and drugs. And those same guys are very inconsistent, no wonder (look at Robinson’s regression this year; it’s remarkable).

  • Gdaddy

    Bull-en-tin whats??? You make a good point with those revenue numbers, I had no idea. Perhaps I’m just bitter that there was better attendance during Crean’s initial rebuilding of the program than there is now. By no means is that a knock on Crean. I guess the excitement of a new coach and hope for the future of the program is gone?

  • karen

    I think we all remember when there was a lottery to get a ticket to
    IU basketball, and season ticket holders never let theirs go. So
    to see these pictures makes me sick.

  • karen

    If Crean can’t coach defense, where are
    the assistant coaches????

  • SconsinHoosier

    One of the reasons I want IU to make the tourney is because I don’t want them to host a home NIT game. It would be so depressing to see AH nearly empty on national TV. I couldn’t believe those pictures of the student section 10 minutes prior to tip-off of what should have been a huge game. Sad.

  • zoldirtybird

    Absolutely. Coaching over the course of a season is an evolutionary process. You have to be willing to experiment. It’s baffling that Crean has not realized how important a player like Burton can be. The fact that he gave Fuchs more minutes than Burton during the Iowa game (and often at the 5 without another big on the floor) is astounding. Burton has been with the team all year and has played fantastic position defense with hustle and tenacity. That’s what you need for the big ten season and beyond. There’s a reason Izzo and Bo Ryan always have 2-3 bangers who can defend and pass from the high post. They’re not sexy recruits but they are the lifeblood of the efficient college game. Indiana actually has 2 players who fit the mold, Holt and Burton. When you actually give these guys minutes with Parea and combine that with talented guards you can beat any team on any night. Coach Crean has to realize that the team can’t be 2007 Villanova for the whole game. You can still run that offense even when you’ve got multiple bigs in the game (Holt is so much better at the high screen and roll than Parea).

    It’s painful to watch. Coach Crean keeps trying to bend the opposition with pure will but essentially it’s amounting to banging his head against a wall.

  • deebo

    My 5 takeaways 1. We quit. 2. We wont play defense. 3. We quit. 4. Fans are disgusted. 5. We quit.

  • eville87

    Nice. You left out where indiana kids would once again play defense with heart and play the game the way it is supposed to be played. You also left out the part where the crazy coach from a bygone Era comes home to the loudest standing ovation from the fans. Which is what he deserves