The Minute After: Bellarmine

  • 11/09/2015 9:57 pm in

Thoughts on a 73-62 win over the Knights:

Who are these Hoosiers after two exhibition games?

Are they the team exhibiting more effort on defense — blocking shots, getting steals, forcing a shot clock violation? Or are they a group still prone to losing shooters on the perimeter, leaving them with room to hoist unobstructed 3-pointers?

Are they the best offense in the country — the run-and-gun squad with a McDonald’s All-American inside to balance their bevy of shooters? Or are they the one forgoing getting into the lane for kickouts to their shooters, opting to shoot off the dribble instead of open and in rhythm?

Through 80 minutes, they’ve shown a little bit of everything. A finished product right now, these Hoosiers are not.

But that’s okay. And maybe even to be expected, despite this season’s expectations.

Tonight’s game was an exhibition in November, not a conference matchup in February. And Tom Crean is still in the midst of sorting out a lineup and rotation he’s hoping to go two-deep with at every position. There’s new players in the mix.

Consider the frontline: Indiana is starting two guys that came to campus this summer in Max Bielfeldt and Thomas Bryant. Their first frontline player off the bench is Collin Hartman, who’s coming off a rib injury. Two other freshman, Juwan Morgan and O.G. Anunoby, are also seeing time up front.

On defense: There’s enough consistent effort — and none of that silly sinking back from man to zone from last season — that Indiana is trending upwards on that end of the court. It’s a work in progress to be sure. But during their 18-0 run in the first half, they showed some promise. With Robert Johnson and Collin Hartman checked into the game off the bench, Johnson went to work on the ball on the perimeter.

And Troy Williams — who has the staff and players after him to be locked in on D — was just that for a stretch. He chased down a block from behind, scrambled to the sidelines to recover the ball and whipped it ahead to James Blackmon Jr. for a breakaway score as he fell out of bounds. About a minute of game clock later, Williams recorded a steal — one of his three on the night. Despite some Troy being Troy moments (three turnovers, a couple head-scratching decisions), Williams had an efficient 20 points (7-of-14) and tied for the team lead in rebounding with eight boards.

As he showed tonight, the junior’s athleticism coupled with more effort can be a dangerous combination for the opponent and lead to scores for the Hoosiers. That, along with Bryant as the safety valve on the backline and everyone else communicating, switching and getting more up into the opponent on the perimeter is where Indiana’s defense needs to go.

The Hoosiers held the Knights to under a point per possession (.95) tonight, but were outscored  42-38 in the second half.

On offense: Indiana scored 1.1 points per possession, thanks to 17 points off turnovers and 13 second-chance points on a night it rebounded nearly half (47.1 percent) of its misses. But the Hoosiers still turned the ball over a little too much (19.9 percent). And they relied a bit much on just taking the 3-point shot tonight instead of driving and kicking or making the extra pass. For them, 32 percent (8-of-25 shooting) is below average.

However, as we’ve seen before, when Indiana’s offense needs a little spark or things aren’t working right, Yogi Ferrell can start taking semi-contested 3s and all of a sudden the lead jumps. Ferrell (team-high 21 points) hit back-to-back 3s in the middle of the second half to put Indiana up 17, seemingly saying “I got this”, before a sloppy finish saw the Knights close to just an 11-point loss.

Indiana has the week before Eastern Illinois comes to town for the season opener on Friday night. But with the Maui Invitational just two weeks away, the Hoosiers don’t have a ton of time before what’s likely to be their first taste of a high-level DI opponent.

Filed to:

  • straight no chaser

    But a coach makes some of those realities happen. A player should know that his plans might have to change for the good of the team. These are the types of players I want to attract. Ole Man keeps beating me to what I want to say. LOL.

  • TomJameson

    No argument from me there. I think JBJ and Troy can both “start” the offense at the top of the key (sometimes), but for point guard duties it should be Yogi, then RJ for relief.

    My opinion of Yogi is that he is probably one of the top 5 point guards in the entire NCAA right now. Maybe #1, maybe not, but there’s not another guard on our team that can compare.

  • BC Hoosier

    You didn’t see him play last year? Not even against IU? Next year will be his 4th year with a power 5 program. He has more “real game experience” than any freshman or sophomore currently on the team.

  • IUMIKE1

    Yea, it’s only one game, but at the same time it doesn’t exactly scream, ” hey NBA guys look at me and what I’ve improved on since you let me know what I needed to be better at “. It’s only one game and his lack of point production doesn’t bother me. It’s his defensive inabilities, up to this early point anyway, that have me the most concerned. Hopefully that is something that he can get into the film room to review and then use actual game time minutes to get it closer to where it needs to be.

  • IUMIKE1

    See nail, see hammer hit nail squarely on head !

    It’s not IU bball’s job to try and make him a better PG when it comes at the expense of the team.

  • IUMIKE1

    I’ve only seen the Ottawa game, but that’s pretty much my thinking as well. I do hate to put such an offensive threat on the bench, but at the same time if his shot isn’t falling on a given night he has a problem justifying his being on the floor for far more minutes than others. I say the following with the understanding that they have only played two exhibition games, IMHO when JBJ’s offensive is clicking it barely offsets his inabilities on defense and his propensity to drive into a multitude of defenders and forcing up a bad shot. I want him to succeed just as much as anybody else does, but trying to make sure it happens can’t come at the expense of what is in the best interest of the team overall.

  • IUMIKE1

    One would be hard pressed to get CTC, JBJ’s father or basically a lot of other coaches to publicly admit that there is isn’t, as you so astutely put it, a political aspect to the situation in relation to how many minutes JBJ gets and how he is used. The other interesting part of that scenario though is, this is kind of a make or break season for Crean as well, so I think Crean is trying really hard to walk a fine line on this one by, oddly enough, doing the political type thing of doing his best to make both parties happy and making them think that he is doing exactly what they want him to do. This will be a very interesting subplot type of thing to keep an eye on this season.

  • Arch Puddington

    I’m encouraged that you are encouraged, but from my perspective it’s too early to say anything one way or the other. A DII school just scored .95 points per possession against us; across a whole season of D1 opponents, that would have translated to the 62nd ranked defense last year. That would be an improvement, but will it stand up to top D1 teams? For multiple years in a row our defense has slowly slid down the rankings from the beginning of they year to the end, so we won’t really know what we have until conference play begins.

    Not saying there is no reason for hope, but with two of our four primary perimeter players obvious defensive liabilities, there are still legitimate questions. At minimum we need to see where we stand after the Maui tournament and the ACC/B1G challenge before any real proclamations can be made.

  • b_side

    I would be thrilled with a Top 10 offense and Top 60ish defense. That would be an unprecedented improvement year over year.

  • straight no chaser

    I have to admit that I wasn’t considering his prior experience. And of course that counts for something. But in my mind as a transfer he has to go through two resets: one because he has to sit out for a year, and the other because he is playing in a new system.

  • Indeed. He’s going to be very good this year. As a sophomore. Imagine him as a senior. Possible All-Big 10.

  • I understand. But the fact that Troy is getting into the steal game, diving all over the floor, and RJ looks so solid on the ball, and they don’t look like a complete mess against a good passing team…this to me is praise-worthy. Not exactly pointing to the overall performance, but to the effort. They seem to get it. I felt the same a few times in the game against Ottawa, too. I needed to see more intensity, and they are beginning to deliver. Same with the offense. It is only going to get better, at this point.

    To your final point, if they are going to make a solid stand in Maui, they would need to have proven by now that they have been working on it, that the intensity level is rising. I think it has. For early November, that’s really all I care about.

    Now if only JBJ would start playing D like his hair is on fire…then…OH MY!

  • It would also basically mirror Wiscy last year. Not bad, not bad at all.

  • we saw his game when he put up 16 on IU in Assembly last year as a freshman. His high school highlights look pretty good, too. Very explosive. I expect good things between he and RJ.

  • He also is cool and has great poise. His fakes are effortless and killer. He’s going to kickass.

  • If he’s a Mouse he’s awful Mighty. Let’s hope he stays Modest.

  • straight no chaser

    Good points!

  • Arch Puddington

    I would take it as well. But as I mentioned above, our defense consistently falls in defensive efficiency as the season progresses. Obviously the competition gets tougher, but in as much as our offense stays consistently highly ranked, it is more than just the competition. Something about our approach to defense does not stand up over time, and I will need to be convinced that it isn’t fundamentally flawed before I am comfortable. As Alex noted in his “5 Takeaways” piece, Bellarmine actually outscored us 53-41 over the last 30 minutes or so of that game, and while a win is a win, that is a long enough stretch of shaky defense to take note of. Are we better than last year? Bryant by himself makes us better. But good defense starts with good perimeter defense, and Bryant by himself cannot make up for all sins.

    I have my doubts, but I am more than open to evidence of improvement. It will just take more than I have seen so far to count as good evidence.

  • straight no chaser

    I love Troy, He can’t help but be modest; it’s in his character.

  • straight no chaser

    I still have no idea why a powerhouse program like IU should settle for anything less than a top 25 defense.

  • going to make other teams say Eek!

  • straight no chaser

    I got that you were referring to Mighty Mouse. LOL.

    By the way, Bukowski once called Mickey Mouse a three-fingered sob with no soul. LOL.

  • Outoftheloop

    These are exhibitions! Save your “concern…and fear” for when it matters. Troy must play like a top 10 NBA Draft pick this year for IU to reach the Final Four (which will be Crean’s first since his arrival!). Troy CAN do it…but WILL he do it?

  • Outoftheloop

    James must score about 20/game for IU to have a great season. James must be on the floor over 25 minutes/game for that to happen. James must play defense. He wants to have an NBA career. He must make a big leap forward on his defense this year!

  • Outoftheloop

    Robert will be the Indiana team leader next season! He has all of the talent and all of the intangibles!

  • Outoftheloop

    All of that also held for Max at MI. But he is approaching “Power Ranger” status at the PF position already.

  • Ole Man

    I’m not seeing that. He isn’t great yet with his back to the basket. He struggles to stay with quicker forwards outside.
    He’s big and can probably provide some relief off the bench as a backup center. Basically, he should not be a starting PF for IU. He just doesn’t have the game.

  • straight no chaser

    And what must Robert do, dear sir?

  • straight no chaser

    He should have done even better in an exhibition!

  • straight no chaser

    In Crean’s substitution system it doesn’t really matter who starts. He seems to have good fundamentals, and is grabbing rebounds. I’m just happy that he can contribute 10-15 minutes a game to relieve Thomas, without huge drop-off. He might also be a good mentor for Juwan and O.G., being as articulate as he is and with a conceptual understanding of the game, and having Beilein-quality fundamentals.

  • IUMIKE1

    That’s an awful lot musts. lol What is your thoughts on how it should go when he has games where his shot is just not falling in either half ? And if it becomes obvious that his defense is not markedly improved over last year and, RJ’s is, and RJ has proven that he has made a major improvement in the TO department, does RJ get more minutes than JBJ ? Here’s another must, we both must wait till the games start counting to make that kind of evaluation and I must say, I can’t wait.

  • Jim

    i know who he is, and he definitely isnt a point guard. He is a combo guard at best, less of a pg than RJ

  • Jim

    those qualities are great, but ball handling, vision, and distribution?