Hoosiers come up short defensively as season ends in 81-76 loss to Wichita State

  • 03/20/2015 7:55 pm in

OMAHA, Neb. — Indiana had come back from the brink.

After a 15-3 run late in the second half put No. 7 seed Wichita State up by as many as eight points on Friday in the NCAA tournament second round, the No. 10 seed Hoosiers had clawed their way back once more. They trailed by two with less than a minute to go, needing a stop to extend their season.

But in an aspect of their game they struggled with against the Shockers — and throughout much of this season — they could not get that stop they desperately needed.

And the Hoosiers could never get over that hump, their 2014-2015 campaign ending with an 81-76 loss to the Shockers.

“At the end of the day, we should have been playing better defense,” junior Yogi Ferrell said. “They scored so many points inside. If we could have got more stops in a row, which is what we wanted to do, and knocked down a couple of shots, we could have been right there.”

All season long, the Hoosiers’ lack of size in the post has attributed to plenty of defensive struggles in the paint. Their opponents scored 57.8 percent of their points on 2s, the 12th-worst mark in the NCAA.

On Friday, Indiana actually had an advantage over the Shockers in size. Yet, once again it faltered defensively.

This time, it was physicality that doomed the Hoosiers.

From the start, the Shockers forced the matter inside. They drove to the basket. They posted up. And they quickly got Indiana into foul trouble.

In the first half, starting center Collin Hartman was limited with two fouls. His backup, Emmitt Holt, picked up three. And Hanner Mosquera-Perea, who was still recovering from a dislocated right knee, was forced to play six minutes. In the second, Hartman picked up another two. Holt added a fourth. And Stanford Robinson, who helped with post defense, picked up four of his own.

It led to the Hoosiers playing tentative defense. They allowed Wichita State to score 44 points in the paint and another 29 from the free throw line.

“We had to be a lot more careful,” Ferrell said. “And it kind of led to a lot more easy drives, being too tentative on defense, not wanting to foul.”

One thing the Hoosiers did not struggle with for much of the season and again on Friday, though, was their fight.

After they held a slim lead at halftime, the Hoosiers fell behind after a 4-0 spurt from the Shockers to open the second half. Indiana responded with a 6-0 run of its own.

When it got down, 50-47, after coming up empty on five straight possessions, it went on a 7-0 run.

And again when the Shockers seemingly pulled away with their 15-3 run to take a 65-57 lead, the Hoosiers battled back. With 3-pointers from Hartman and Ferrell and two stops in between, they trimmed Wichita State’s lead to just one with 2:21 to go.

“No matter how large the deficit is, we always stay together, we always say anything can happen,” sophomore Troy Williams said. “We could easily go back and get two more threes or two more possessions, we get a bucket and we’re right there in the game. We never see each other as out of the game. Like you said, Yogi’s got us down 1 and we were right back in it after that.”

But the crux of the game came after a Williams layup with just 1:04 to go to bring the Hoosiers back within two.

Out of a timeout, if the Hoosiers made a stop against the Shockers, they could have had the chance to tie the game or take the lead in the closing seconds. That stop never came.

Wichita State’s Darius Carter found Tekele Cotton in the paint on that possession, and Cotton easily converted a layup to put the Shockers up by four points. Indiana would not get the chance to tie or take the lead again.

The Shockers, who were playing their ninth NCAA tournament game in the past four seasons, went 7-of-8 from the free throw line in the final 1:58 to seal their win over the Hoosiers.

And it left Indiana with an offseason to reflect, as those same defensive issues haunting them all season glared once again in its final game.

“Unfortunately for us the biggest difference was the points they were able to score inside of the paint,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “When we have been able to keep that under control this year, we have been better.

“And when we haven’t, that’s when we have struggled. … We gave up too many easy baskets.”

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  • Gregory Spera

    “We gave up too many easy baskets.”

    This season’s obituary.

  • David Macer

    I really like this team and these players. They have kept it together thru the preseason adversity, stormed thru the first 19 games, only to suffer disappointing finish. Add to that, our fan base that is never satisfied with nothing more than a W and a banner. We have way too many armchair coaches, some who are truly knowledgeable and close to the game, but many who don’t have a clue what it takes.

    I’m all for W’s and playing to one’s potential. Indiana will get back to the promised land. GO HOOSIERS !!

  • Miamihoosier

    Here’s Crean’s deal: He’s not a very good coach, but he can still win at Indiana if he can recruit players talented enough to overcome his coaching defficiencies. So, if he gets Thomas Bryant and or Maker, we can win the league on talent alone, and he keeps his job. He doesn’t get one of those guys, and i bet next yr will be his last at the helm

  • MarylandHoosier1986

    Maybe Crean can clap IU to another 20 win, on-the-bubble season next year….

  • Ms hoosier

    Like your comments Dave after the game I was disappointed even though I knew that we could lose the game as well as win. I just want so bad for IU to compete for conference and national championships. That is what IU is sopposed to do. But I do like our players hope they all come back and we get a ligit big man and get IU back to winning. LOVE MY HOOSIERS!!

  • BobbyBeGoodKnight

    Zach Osterman wrote “IU’s three potential professional prospects Ferrell, Troy Williams and James Blackmon Jr. were all firmly non-committal.” Blackmon? Blackmon? Blackmon? With all due respect to his potential, James Blackmon Jr. is anything but ready for a professional basketball career.

  • Sarah McCauley Mancinelli

    I am honestly asking- could Troy Williams actually go pro?

  • pcantidote

    “All season long, the Hoosiers’ lack of size in the post has attributed to plenty of defensive struggles in the paint.”

    Complete nonsense. Lack of size has nothing to do with it. It is a lack of help defense. Wichita has a lack of size but we didn’t get easy drives to the basket now did we? CTC does not teach help defense and he should probably lose his job for it. It is a fundamental that even bad players can use effectively.

  • MDHoosier

    None of these guys are ready to make the jump to the NBA.

  • inLinE6

    I disagree. He gets some talents but he develops them too. Unlike Kentucky, none of Crean’s lottery-pick players were projected as lottery-pick coming into college. Does he have deficiencies? Yes and many coaches do. But is he a very good coach? Of course he is. Where were you when we were 5 points down in the final 52 seconds at Michigan and came back up on top and won the conference outright, two years ago?

  • inLinE6

    Before the season tipped off, I said JBJ will give us two solid seasons. And now I can safely say he’s with us for 4 years. Williams played one of his ugliest games on the big stage today so he’s nowhere to go. But he has the potential next year. Ferrell has the vertical challenge and he gotta be very solid on everything to make the jump. Unfortunately the late season slump, and some of the games that he could have won for us, didn’t come as expected. He has the chance to be drafted but no way in 1st round. Better come back for another fun year.

  • inLinE6

    Seriously, he’s been projected as 2nd rounder in the middle of the season, but may slip a bit due to the performance lately. So I don’t think he leaves this year. There’s no guarantee on the contract. And look at his decision making. He goes to D-league right after the draft.

  • enickman

    Too funny!

  • TomJameson

    No, that is not funny. Sounds like a sleazy politician looking for a sound byte to use on the 5 o’clock news.

    To criticize a coach because he claps on the sidelines … well … I say just get a life and look for something real and substantive.

  • Ryan Browne

    Where is this pie in the sky big man you all talk about? There is no draft, recruiting is near finished and our staff still can’t beg someone taller than 6’8″ to play with assembly hall behind them.. ??? Idk what to say. Hope this, should be that. We’re not dealing with sanctions. Butler outperforms us in the tournament every year! Their players are less reputable but the at least have a gameplan. Either recruit like Kentucky and let everyone superstar their stuff, or introduce some actual offense and defensI’ve sets. Our players look more confused than in their 8am psychology class! Playing to one’s potential?? We just accept that we played better than the 12th in the big 10 everyone expected??! This is not northwestern! Mike izzo has 6 final 4’s in 17 years, AND HE’S DOING IT WITH PLAYERS FROM INDIANA. What is with the fans that don’t want to hold this team to task? This is supposed to be a rebuilding year, fine, what’s been built? We’re still short a big man, even though he’d start immediately. Our freshman regressed since january (free throw and fg%, not to mention turnovers). Our only next level player might not return even if he stays in college! And who can blame him, get the kid a 5, it’s a freaking position on a basketball team! Satisfied with nothing more than a banner.. pshh. Try “beating purdue”, finishing better than half way in conference, a tournament win, a defensive stop or made free throws in the last 2 minutes! You sir are not being the voice of reason, you’re delusional and drinking the kool-aid

  • Ryan Browne

    Love when people make this argument, “he develops nothings into draft stock…”. Why the hell are we recruiting nothings? Is he playing dynasty on ncaa 2k15 n trying to see how high a level he can beat? Follow-up, why can’t he get past the sweet 16 (or make the tournament consistently) once his nothings are nba draft stock like Kentuckys “ready made” talents?? Sounds like coaching.. why can’t he keep players from transferring? He is at a tradition powerhouse, fan base powerhouse, with money, with relatively recent success, with a beautiful campus in the middle of the country home to beautiful women… What does he not have that Kentucky freaking has? Too rich? K, let’s start with butler then since they keep outperforming us in the tournament. Wow, he won a game against sub-500 michigan.. He can’t get some 6’11” meathead in gym shoes to walk in with no competition for playing time and stand there with his hands up while 15,000 scream his name.

  • Ryan Browne

    You asked troy instead of blackmon??! I’d be surprised if blackmon doesn’t transfer in 2 years after losing his starting spot. Is it just me or does he always look stoned? His lack of effort, intensity, at times interest, just makes me want to reach through my screen!

  • Miamihoosier

    I was marveling at how good Cody and Vic were. We won that game on 2 incredible one on three moves by Zeller

  • AtariHero

    None of these players will be drafted this year in the first round. But they will want to hear that from the scouts, etc – first. Maybe if IU had made the final 4, these guys would have the chance to jump. But losing in the first round to Wichita st? not so much. I’m not worried about the NBA taking anyone from this team…

  • enickman

    No, I’m sure of it, that’s funny!

  • Jamal shall inherit

    This is an oft-repeated fallacy — that we can tell how hard a player is trying by the way their faces look. We heard it with Watford, Hollowell, now Blackmon. Having furrowed brows like Ferrell or Hulls does not equal effort, just like having sleepy eyes or a calm demeanor does not equal lack of effort. Kevin Durant’s face doesn’t show effort. Hall-of-famers like George Gervin and Alex English didn’t wince or scowl, but they produced. Blackmon certainly has parts of his game to work on (defense), but so does every other non-Wildcat frosh (not named D’Angelo Russell).

    If you want evidence of effort, look at the one stat that nearly everyone agrees is related to effort and desire–rebounding. Blackmon was 2nd on the team and 20th in the conference in rebounding at 5.3 per game. Guess how many players 6’4″ or less outrebounded him in the conference? Only Rayvonte Rice. That’s effort, even if his eyebrows don’t show it.

  • dssnyder1

    “safely say he’s with us for 4 years” seriously? JBJ’s defense is lousy, but his 15 points a game average will only get better. Based on offensive stats alone, he’s one of the top ten freshman in the country. IMO he’s not ready for the NBA, but he won’t be around for much longer

  • dssnyder1

    excellent post

  • Jeremy

    Tom Crean cannot coach defense. Wait Tom Crean cannot coach. better

  • Jeremy

    I hope their is nooooooooooo next year.

  • Jeremy

    Has anyone heard the rumor of Crean to Alabama??

  • RB11

    Know what else indicates effort? Defense. It’s not a pretty stat in the box score but it wins championships. And every pundit from Maryland to iowa is pretty loud about blackmons lack of it. It also pads the rebound stats to grab his own long clangers 16 feet out on his 4 of 14 nights (half of them), or when he’s completely out of position on D under the basket (the opponent will miss some of their wide open shots. Even if blackmon turned in the same offense all year as he did in January, he’s not the type of player I’d build a team around, 10 out of 10 times. He’s never the one to call a huddle or take control of the ball movement late. Yea he’ll jack up a shot with the best of 4-star high school all stars but his talk is non-existent. Most all of us should be able to admit, blackmon thought he was in and out of here in 1 year in late january, now he’s gotta stick around. Zero investment in the team from what I could tell, watching everything, even if he had shaved his eyebrows.

  • Ben thorne

    If he scores 15 avg and his man scores 30 avg, you don’t win that battle

  • Hoosier_DC

    Who is Mike Izzo and WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT US??

  • RB11

    Haha he is Indiana next coach, hopefully the coaching runs in the family. Sorry for the typo, it was hard to see through the frustration and anger I feel when I see some of these dips post “we will be back to the promised land” whill noting zero changes or trends to suggest it. And shaming people that call a spade a spade. This is not winning basketball, thank god we play 8 cupcakes every year to break .500. I passionately support IU all year but to keep going to the well expecting a different result…

  • MDHoosier

    I heard that rumor a couple of days ago…and then read that multiple sources shot it down.

  • RDS

    Keep in mind you’re not going to get all Indiana kids, and those that live in N. Indiana are closer to UM and Michigan State than IU.

  • RDS

    I would take being competitive and in the conversation for league and national titles… they dont have to win it every year.

  • Dooteetime

    Is JBJ really 6’4″?

  • Dooteetime

    Is JBJ really 6’4″? I ask because he looks shorter on tv. If he is shorter then he will have a tough time making it in the pros. What position would he play? Probably to short for an off guard and no point guard ability.

  • SCHoosier

    IU will proceed with the NBA’s review and analysis of these three young men. None will be projected in the “guaranteed money” picks..and all three will return to IU for another year. Yogi’s parents are professionals..Troy and James come from b-ball families..so those family “advisers” GOTTA KNOW that they are not ready for the NBA. (overseas somewhere for a quick buck..maybe)

  • Sam McManus

    IMO, you will never make it the the “promised land” without a couch that can teach fundamentals and defense. Which has never been CTC philosophy throughout his career. Just like they say JBJ hit a freshman wall (which I believe he’d be much better if he had a good defensive coach), CTC has hit the wall with his style of coaching.

  • IUMIKE1

    Or when Captain Obvious said, ” when we have been able to keep that (how many points the other team scores in the paint) under control this year, we have been better. Is that anything like, ” when we’ve been able to score more points than the other team we almost always win “. His post game pressers are not his one of his strong suits, that’s for sure.