Ottawa Notebook: Big men, defense, and building leads

  • 11/04/2015 8:16 am in

Tuesday was the first time highly-touted freshman Thomas Bryant and transfer Max Bielfeldt were on the court in an Indiana uniform for game action. Neither disappointed.

Bryant recorded a double-double, with 12 points and 11 rebounds (six of them on the offensive glass), while Bielfeldt nabbed eight points to go along with eight rebounds.

Indiana coach Tom Crean chose to start both big men against an undersized Ottawa team, a move that paid off and impressed Ottawa Coach James Derouin.

“I think the first thing that jumps to mind is the size on the offensive glass,” Derouin said. “They were missing a big I think when they played us last year, and of course now they’ve added the freshman center this year, and I thought on the offensive glass especially they were outstanding. 18 offensive rebounds, those extra possessions were huge.”

Five of Bielfeldt’s rebounds were on the offensive side, and forward Troy Williams, who had nine boards, had two offensive rebounds.

Crean said after the game that he needs his guards getting to the glass better, and will be something the team works on as the season goes on.

“There were a couple times it looked really impressive with the effort we were showing on the offensive boards, especially with Thomas, Max and Troy,” Crean said. “We got to get more from others.”

He insisted he has not decided on a set lineup, and is more concerned with who finishes a game than who starts.

“I love playing with Thomas,” Bielfeldt said. “He’s such a physical presence down there. I kind of bring a physical presence in a different way. Me and him down there, it’s fun to be rebound buddies almost. He’s definitely an easy guy to play with.”

Improved defense?

Ottawa was the lone Canadian team to beat IU during last year’s five-game preseason trip. This year, the story was much different, something Derouin attributed to IU’s improved defense.

“I thought their defense was a lot tighter in their man-to-man,” Derouin said. “I thought their rotations defensively, baseline cutoffs, the crack-backs and the close-outs on our skips were much, much tighter than they were a year ago. Their close-outs on our shooters and their challenge, obviously something they focused on for us coming in. They know we shoot the ball well and that was the big difference.”

IU allowed just three points in the final 9:31 of the game. The Hoosiers held the Gee-Gees to just 19 percent from 3-point range — far below their season average of 45 percent.

Ottawa’s leading scorer Mike L’Africain was limited to nine points, and only one player reached double digits, Caleb Agada with 17 points.

“I think our guys came out a bit shaky,” Derouin said. “A little nervous, a little intimidated by everything. Made some mistakes that were pretty abnormal for our team.”

Derouin also said he likes playing talented teams like IU because they expose weaknesses, and thought the Hoosiers really took advantage on the glass.

Building on leads

During availability on Monday, Crean emphasized the need to improve on expanding leads to take the opposing team out of the game. IU did that on Tuesday, ending the game on a 25-3 run to complete a 28-point victory.

It was a sloppy game, as the two squads combined to commit 42 turnovers, 19 of which were by IU.

“There was a stretch there that went from a 6 or 7 (point deficit) to 14, 15, 16,” Derouin said. “Some calls and a couple loose balls went against us and then the body language changed. It was a downhill run from there.”

While saying he felt his team got a little nervous, Derouin also said the Assembly Hall crowd wasn’t too ferocious.

“I was expecting it to be a little more hostile to be honest,” he said.

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  • sarge

    There it is, a challenge to the Assembly Hall faithful! I think he is right too, as I have noticed that the fans need to be more engaged and need to attend more of the games they have tickets for. Old alumni and young students, we need your enthusiasm. We need to offer incentives for people who attend all of the games, like I do;-)

  • Hoosier89

    It was an exhibition game.

    If a student has something to study for they’re likely going to skip out on it.

    Also, I know my parents didn’t go because it’s such a pain driving from the north side of Indianapolis to Bloomington during rush hour. It’s become nearly a four hour round trip to go to games now.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    i haven’t seen the game yet, but sounds like there were some positive and negative takeaways. yesterday i thought it would be a great moral victory to keep them under 80 pts, and they didn’t have no prob with that!

    with all the lineup experimentation, i’m not surprised at the high number of TO’s, nor do i think it’s cause for worry. didn’t like hearing TW committing 6 of em, but i heard he was just trying to do a little too much, trying to force things a little too much. that will change once they start playing meaningful games, where YF will take control of the offense.

    i’m hoping these exhibition games help speed up the progression of OG and JM. would love it if they could provide meaningful minutes down the road. i think that’ll allow CTC to put TB and MB (aka rebound buddies) on the floor together more often.

    lastly, it’s encouraging that CH was healthy enough to play. hope that kid has a big season.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    37 looks like a friggin war zone in places! at least it did last time i was down there

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    i don’t think we gotta worry about attendance too much this season. we mighta seen more butts in the seats if it wasn’t so nice outside, eh?

  • LawguyNA

    Student section was 95% full. Not as loud as a big game, but the students showed up. The season ticket holders were a bit sparse. But again, not everyone gets UP for exhibition games. Going to be a fun season.

    Also guessing Coach Beilein regrets letting Max go before all is said and done.

  • Young Hoosier

    The starting lineup was the best lineup we had. No reason not to keep it.

  • A true definition of ‘fair weather’ fans, eh?

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    boom! nice one ken!

  • Senor

    The Rebound Buddies!!!! HA! My wife is going to get sick of me saying that all year.

  • Hoosierkamp

    I am shocked to see Max in there with TB. It will be great to have lineups like that against Purdue and MSU for sure. I think our best offensive team will probably involve Troy at the 4….. but If our Defense is great with the 2 big men…. I am all for it. Lots of options this year.

    As far as the crowd, sorry Ottawa, but this isn’t going to draw a normal crowd. Exhibition game against a Canadian team.

  • Trevor Howenstine

    Max made a Beilein into a starting line up! He’s perfect for this team, what we needed!

  • MM

    If a season ticket holder can’t go, they should at least give away their tickets to someone who can/will.

  • Hardwood83

    Yeah, I prefer it to a 3 guard too. My only concern is who comes in for Bryant?

  • CreamandCrimson

    Lots of commenters thought we would “never” see anything other than IU starting three guards. While I know nothing is set in stone (nor should it be), it’s interesting and possibly encouraging that the lineup that started and played the most minutes together included two “bigs” with one true wing and two guards.

    I’m certainly not going to draw any conclusions from one game (particularly one I only listened to thus far) but I think there’s more to be pleased with than there is to be concerned by. Numbers don’t lie and holding a good offense to .80 points per possession is very solid. It doesn’t mean we are suddenly good at defense but I think it’s safe to say we are better at defense now than we were one year ago. Glad that both JBJ and Hartman were able to play and appear healthy and on track to be 100% for the season opener.

  • Young Hoosier

    No need to worry about that. Either Max or Bryant will be going out first. So if Hartman comes in for Max then Max can get some rest and come in for Bryant. Or you have Juwan.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    definitely think he experimented with the two guard lineup for a reason. we’re gonna have to play three bigs against teams like PUke. so i’m absolutely encouraged by the chemistry MB and TB seem to have already. i mean, they’re already rebound buddies. perhaps their relationship will go even further. 😉

  • Lance76

    Really like Max Bielfeldt, but it still must feel strange for him to be in an IU uniform. Very well spoken and cerebral in his approach to basketball. Just for curiosity, can anyone remember a Big Ten player going to another Big Ten school?

  • Oldguyy

    Does the name Luke Recker ring a bell?

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0


  • Nimbi63

    More like a dull thud sound..

  • dwdkc

    Actually I think our best offensive team might have Collin at the 4 and Troy at the 3. Collin as a stretch 4 will be a nightmare for a bigger slower PF. I’ve suspected that the TB/CH/TW/JBJ/YF combo is the one with the most minutes, although Rob will have something to say about that.

  • Ole Man

    What better incentive than an IU basketball game?

  • Devon DelVecchio

    Sherif Chambliss (psu to Wisconsin)

  • dssnyder1

    ouch man

  • marcusgresham

    My best bet is when Hartman is deemed 100% healthy by the coaching staff he’s in the starting line-up and Max comes off the bench.

  • marcusgresham

    We’re gonna have to play three bigs against most teams since we only have four guards.

  • marcusgresham

    Brad Sellers left Wisconsin for Ohio State. Recker’s move was indirect, as he went to Arizona but left for Iowa before playing after the accident.
    It doesn’t happen much because there is a B1G rule stating a player transferring within the conference can’t accept a scholarship. Bielfeldt is exempt from that rule because of the graduate transfer rule, I believe.

  • marcusgresham

    There is also the “Curious Case of Evan Smotrycz” who left Michigan for Maryland, only to see Maryland leave the ACC for the B1G.

  • marcusgresham

    That was like Lyle Lovett landing Julia Roberts—you just knew damn good & well it wasn’t going to last.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    so true. oil and water, those two (CBK and LF)

  • VAHoosier

    I agree, but who was in during our dominant stretch to close the game. Were we running two or three guards then? (sorry, I didn’t watch the game). Great to have started a couple of bigs together (something many of us have been screaming for), but was it effective?

  • CreamandCrimson

    No need to apologize…you are forgiven for not watching an exhibition game haha :). I’m not sure which lineup(s) closed the game but we started 17-4 with Bryant, Max and Troy on the floor with JBJ and Yogi. Did we start that way simply because of the “big” lineup? No, that wasn’t the sole factor but it is hard to argue that it wasn’t a factor and I think it was at least somewhat effective.

    One thing that can’t be ignored is starting only two guards means we have some depth at guard beyond just Zeisloft. I don’t know who will be starting but I think we will see more “two bigs” lineups than many assumed we would.

  • Chappy Dan

    Yeah, it wouldn’t be too hard to ask season ticket holders to indicate online when they aren’t going to be attending a game, which would allow the box office to offer up the seats. Give the ticket holders a kickback as incentive to communicate.

  • vanpastorman

    I asked an old lady who is a huge IU fan if she watched the game on tv. She said she did and was really impressed with Max’s body. I said, “You were looking at his body?” She said, “YES I WAS!!!