Indiana loses critical game — without putting up a fight

  • 03/04/2015 9:03 am in

What was left of Indiana’s crowd booed. Most of it had left minutes earlier.

Indiana coach Tom Crean even hastily instructed his players: “Shake hands and get off the court.”

This was the humbling scene after the final buzzer sounded on Tuesday night, ending Indiana’s 77-63 loss to Iowa in Assembly Hall. It was the Hoosiers’ second straight loss at home — the first time that has happened since the 2010-2011 season.

Heading into this game, the Hoosiers had stressed how important it would be to win. They lost it without putting up a fight.

“A loss like this,” Yogi Ferrell said, “is pretty disappointing.”

The Hoosiers had six days to prepare for Tuesday’s game following last Wednesday’s seven-point loss at Northwestern. Ferrell on Sunday said they believed “we have the most energy we’ve had all season.”

They knew that to beat the Hawkeyes they would have to have a high tempo to counteract their zone. They knew they would have to keep them off the free throw line. They knew they would have to win the rebounding battle and also take care of the ball.

“I have got a plan and a strategy,” Crean said on Sunday night. “But if you’re not willing to adjust it and be flexible, that’s not any good. We’ve looked at exactly what we’ve needed to do. We’ve pinpointed what we could improve upon.”

And in Assembly Hall, in their arena, those requirements did not seem out of the question.

All season long the Hoosiers have stressed a one-game-at-a-time mentality. But there was no denying before Tuesday’s game that the players knew how significant it would be. Ferrell said “these last two games for us are big.” It especially helped that they would be played in front of a home crowd.

But from the start of Tuesday’s game, it was clear the Hoosiers were in for a struggle.

In the first half, they struggled to move the ball through the paint. The offense stagnated — to the tune of nine turnovers, a 36-percent shooting percentage and just two baskets in the final 10:15 of the half. Yet, they trailed by just four points at the half. They held the Hawkeyes to zero points in transition and led the critical rebounding battle.

Heading into the final 20 minutes, the Hoosiers had one of their biggest tasks of the season ahead of them. Win and they had their 20th win of the season and a potential NCAA tournament bid locked up. Lose, and who knows what the future holds.

Within the first 5:05 of the second half, it was clear what direction the Hoosiers were heading in. That is where the positives ended.

Outside of a James Blackmon Jr. 3-pointer, they turned the ball over twice. They had another four misses, meanwhile allowing four Iowa baskets — three of those in the paint. Iowa led, 40-31. The tone was set for the remainder of the game.

Indiana’s offense continued to stagnate in the second half. It did not move well against the Hawkeyes’ zone. It had little penetration and plenty of standing around and passing along the perimeter.

The Hoosiers shot 41 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes, with another five turnovers. The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, capitalized on seven offensive rebounds to the tune of 12 second-chance points. They shot 17 free throws to Indiana’s five.

By the under-4 timeout, the Hoosiers trailed 65-53. Fans streamed out of Assembly Hall. The booing began in full force. Indiana already was defeated.

“Unfortunately, they got too many easy baskets and got into the game and we had trouble getting back from that,” Crean said.

Indiana would go on to lose the rebounding battle. It would lose the free throw battle. It would lose the turnovers battle. It would lose the points off turnovers battle. It would lose the shooting battle.

In a second half that the Hoosiers needed to show up in, to produce their best basketball, they were dominated. And that might be sugar-coating it.

“Really we’re just going to have to watch the film and see what we did wrong and go to practice and get better from it,” freshman James Blackmon Jr. said. “I really have no reason right now.”

This is a loss that defies explanation — as Blackmon suggested. The Hoosiers needed a win. They should have won — they were playing inside Assembly Hall, a building in which they were 15-2 before Tuesday.

Now, with a 14-point loss, the Hoosiers find themselves 19-11 and just 9-8 in the Big Ten, after its 15-4 and 5-1 start to the season. They are now listed as one of Joe Lunardi’s “Last Four In” to the NCAA tournament.

It’s troubling that Indiana lost on its home court on Tuesday night — its fourth loss in its past six games.

Even more foreboding, though, is that they lost it without putting up a fight.

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  • INUnivHoosier

    How about you pay them all for their tickets, and none of them will show up?

  • INUnivHoosier

    For a coach that appears to have been deceased for several years, Pitino gets pretty good results.

  • Bk39

    I am not espousing they throw games intentionally, I am saying they have purposely quit. At least in the sense of full out effort. You can’t just quit with out it being purposeful. You decide to quit or you don’t quit not much leeway in that. That does not mean they want to lose, may be wore down and not enough in the tank, Maybe poor communication on game plans, maybe lost confidence in coaching with poor play calling, substitutions and guarding assignments.

  • KmanCRK

    Glass did say today (albeit in defending Crean) that the contract isn’t the reason they are keeping Crean. Anything they owe him would be paid out over 5 years, and anything he got paid coaching elsewhere would also be offset. So that $11M could easily be much less and easier to deal with spread out over 5 years.

  • KmanCRK

    I actually believe this is more likely than Yogi leaving because he goes pro.

  • KmanCRK

    a coach is never going to publicly comment on a job that isn’t vacant. Don’t believe a word Stevens says unless he says it while there is a job opening.

  • KmanCRK

    crickets…

  • JacksonCounty

    I think if Indiana loses the next two games it is likely that Crean will have to walk away and take a reduced settlement on the remaining three years. Coming back next year would be a huge mistake as that would likely be a fourth poor season in a row and would hurt future employment opportunities. I think they will work a deal so he can get maybe half his remaining contract. I honestly don’t see a turn around possible in the next week so we are looking at a coaching change in the next month or so.

  • bvillehoosier

    I can’t root against IU, even for one game. Just can’t do it. But honestly, win or lose against MSU…Crean is not getting it done. Plain and simple. We could beat MSU, make the tourney, and I’d be just as adamant for a coaching change.

    I don’t think this MSU game makes or breaks it. But win or lose I think we’re stuck with Tommy C another year….or at least the beginning of next year. He will be like Knight was right before he got canned…zero tolerance. Any off-court issues, play like we’ve seen the last two games, he’s canned. Or maybe that’s wishful thinking.. My $.02

  • eville87

    I can’t stand where we are either guys. And as much as I want to go in a different direction I just can’t root for them to lose. Now that being said he could stay in his office during the game and select a fan from the stands each ten minutes and you probably would get better results.

  • enickman

    No. We can’t.

  • jfelten

    If CTC is gone after this season, I don’t see Stevens coming this year. Perhaps a coach by the name of Michael White or Billy Donlon. $12Milli is a fairly good size amount. Even if CTC misses the NCAA and NIT I don’t see Glass pulling the plug.

  • Born&Bred2BleedHoosierCrimson

    Know something we don’t?

  • Lance76

    You are spot on with your comments, especially the one about Hartman. He does so many little things and plays tough.

  • bvillehoosier

    My thoughts exactly. No matter how bad it gets I always root for IU. One game shouldn’t ever decide whether or not a coach is worthy. Win or lose Saturday or the rest of the season…Crean is NOT our answer

  • IUMIKE1

    I’ve went from a prolific commenter, to very much a just read and contemplate fan for some time now, but I can’t stay off the keyboard without saying that that is one of the best, if not THE best comment(s) I’ve read out of the last six or seven hundred. I can guarantee you that that is exactly what other recruiters would do, and if it wasn’t the first thing they did, it would for sure be one of the first things they would do. Don’t think for a second that prospective new hires won’t factor that kind of thing into their decision if approached as well, cause whether we like it or not the head coaching job at IU is no longer a, ” all I have to do is offer it, and who ever we are offering it to, will take it ” type thing. The last two times we have made a change has proven that, and putting up with those type of ” captains ” for damn sure doesn’t fall onto the pro side if a coach is compiling a pros and cons list.

  • kaponya44

    I said it after the Maryland game and now that the issue has become more glaring (due to the manner of the latest losses)I will re-iterate….

    We are in the portion of the schedule where the match ups are not kind although the names of the opponents led many(myself somewhat included) to put higher hopes in our chances.. People were largely misled by the team’s success against teams trying to beat us at our own game.. or ignoring a better way than they chose to go with…

    The 2nd half effort was just missing against Northwestern & Iowa who are two of the hotter teams right now ..The writing on the wall about the type of match ups and styles more likely to be too much for us has not changed ..If we dont give a full 40 minute effort or at least make shots all night games against teams willing to be stubborn about sticking to their inside game will likely not go well for us ..

  • kaponya44

    If this were Football “this team would most resemble the Colts ..LOL It is apples to oranges comparing FB to BB but prolific scoring teams which rely on rhythm and pace generally have trouble when the “other guy” punches you right in the mouth and gets down right physical and unorthodox .. ..Seeing these Centers go off on us is like watching a rugged running back get 9 YPC on our guys in blue ..

  • deebo

    Start yogi, zeisloft, troy, hartman (if healthy), and holt. Live and die as much with that lineup. Not enough effort or defense from the other players.

  • Ben thorne

    Agree, and let Yogi run the show. Let him call the plays, the defenses, the press, timeouts, etc. That would be a blast to watch