The Minute After: Illinois

  • 01/19/2016 10:05 pm in

Thoughts on a 103-69 win over the Illini:

It was one of those special nights under the Assembly Hall lights.

We’ve been here before with a second half where Indiana’s offense seemingly could do no wrong. But it’ll be one to remember for some time when you add in Yogi Ferrell becoming Indiana’s all-time assists leader and a program record 19 3-pointers.

Illinois took a page from Minnesota’s gameplan and packed the paint on Indiana early. But the Hoosiers, as they do often at home, got hot from the outside. It helped fuel the record-setting performance. They rested on it for a bit too long early, however. They weren’t getting into the paint and working inside out. It in part helped Illinois crawl back into the contest at 22-21. But once Indiana stopped settling and starting passing, cutting, driving, moving and shaking, the Illini just couldn’t hang.

A 17-point halftime lead (42-25) ballooned to as much as 38 in the second half before Indiana cruised to a 34-point victory.

The second half numbers are gaudy: The Hoosiers scored 61 points and hit 10-of-15 from distance. Nine different Hoosiers scored. Max Bielfeldt (16 points) scored 10 straight for Indiana, including two 3-pointers. His performance tonight (and really all season) has mostly made you forget about the losses of Emmitt Holt and Hanner Mosquera-Perea. Troy Williams (21 points) worked on and off the ball to great effect and went a perfect 4-of-4 from the field with no turnovers. OG Anunoby shot a perfect 3-of-3 for seven points. Ferrell hit 3-of-4 from distance. Indiana got pretty much whatever it wanted on the Illini. It was near comical.

Things got so bad that John Groce reportedly yelled “no pride!” at his team during the under-8 timeout in the second half.

By the time the dust settled, Indiana posted its best mark of the conference season in terms of points per possession (1.46). And the defense — though a tiny bit shaky at times when Illinois showed some semblance of an offense, which wasn’t often — also made it six straight conference games of holding the opponent under a point per possession (.98). The Hoosiers also valued the ball extremely well (16 TO%.) Tonight’s beatdown also marks two straight games where a conference opponent has come into Assembly Hall and gotten destroyed.

Sure, Indiana’s been favored in each game in its 6-0 Big Ten start. But inside the wins, the Hoosiers have shown resolve. They’ve shown toughness and togetherness. They’ve made up for slow starts on the road with convincing finishes. They’ve crushed two opponents at home while grinding a win out against another. They’ve displayed a much improved and committed defense. Their offense has gotten it done without James Blackmon Jr. Turnovers have only proved to be an intermittent issue. And with a senior point guard leading the way and playing the best basketball of his career, this Indiana team is starting to turn heads.

We know the harder tests are on the way and there is plenty of league play left. But with Michigan State and Purdue picking up unexpected losses, the Hoosiers are suddenly looking more and more like serious contenders for the conference crown.

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  • sarge

    We are all Kenpom nerds at heart.

  • TomJameson

    Re the playing time for OG and JM … they are doing pretty good right now, but next year they’ll get plenty. I think they are happy with where they are team wise, and playing time wise.

  • sarge

    Upvote, Upvote, give this comment some Upvote!!

  • Koko

    Illinois beat PU with no big man…..run, run, run and make threes can beat PU.

  • Koko

    MB understands playing in the B1G….he is sneaky physical.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Agreed…he ended up with 10 minutes and I think he was very solid. He gets after it on D and moves laterally pretty well, takes care of the ball and nailed it when he finally pulled the trigger. We knew he had some skill and I think he could be a useful piece in the future if called upon.

  • Koko

    In an interview TC did with BTN after the game he commented on his subbing of TB. He wants him to have fresh legs at the end of the season….that aside from him sitting because of fouls.

  • MK

    I would rather see him show emotion then none at all

  • It is possible that it was the players who finally made the change, or “bought in.” I know the coach has a lot to do with this, but I think there was something wrong with the team chemistry or something, and that it needed to work itself out. Which it now has. It’s possible that Crean hasn’t really made all that many major adjustments, but the team has.

  • Koko

    One point during the game that TB was not happy. TC pulled him over as he was going to the bench and had a talk. He let TB be upset but still talked till it appeared TB calmed down. I don’t see anyone getting upset with TB. He has a lot of support from his coaches and teammates. I think TB will be just fine.

  • BL

    Know I’m in the minority but I didn’t feel TC was deserving of the heavy criticism early on. As I noted in a post above, we should always look to the players first. TC was trying like hell to get his more experienced players (TW, RJ, JBJ) to take care of the ball and/or play D including using the bench as reinforcement. At the same time, he was teaching a freshman big man (and two other awesome recruits) and working a new big man into the rotation that had spent four years playing in a different system. Totally understandable this team would take time to gel. Also, let’s face it, losing JBJ was a blessing in disguise, at least for the short term, and I can’t imagine many coaches would have known it would be best to sit him down or severely limit his role. Certainly not early in the year.

  • TomJameson

    That was the record setting three. Remember, Niego broke NZs three point records in high school.

  • BL

    Agree, NU is for real. Reminder, ND looking more and more like a big win.

  • Koko

    I did not know about him breaking NZ’s three point record in HS. I hope he starts getting the minutes he got last night more often.

  • TomJameson

    There were quite a few people that said that much of a jump in effective defense numbers was either impossible, or very highly unlikely. Glad to see them wrong.

  • Koko

    Yes I like him. I don’t get that “hope he doesn’t mess up” feeling when he is in. As you said…he is a good solid player.

  • Koko

    I watched the second half of the Maryland game….I started getting worried about our next game with NW. But I have seen them play not so great games as well. Yes if Olah is playing it will make a difference but what bothers me is which NW team will show up on Saturday. Could be a physical game much like the MN game. My worry aside it should be a great game if the good NW shows up.

  • IUBizmark

    Me too. That’s what Crean recruits have always lacked. There is a middle ground.

  • I think TW is really working into a better role. He’s not trying to force things, like he was earlier in the season. But I wonder: is that because the team around him is performing better? Maybe he doesn’t feel the same need to force things?

  • Everybody’s beating everybody else up in the B1G, except IU and Iowa. Other top teams are losing games they’re supposed to win, this team isn’t, and that bodes extremely well. I’m more looking forward to this team playing the best in the league, albeit with the normal nervousness. Playing good defense makes all the difference in the world, doesn’t it?

  • BL

    Agree. Just want them to be as experienced as possible when we begin going up against the top tier teams.

  • And ND is notable because, if I’m not mistaken, the second half is when things finally started clicking for this team. I was wondering if that 2nd half performance was a fluke or would continue, and the team has answered that question leaving no doubt so far.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    i stated my opinion of Max VS. Hanner when he was released from the program and took a little flack for it but i just had a feeling Beilfelt would be a big part of this team and so far BINGO!!

  • BTW, just a quick thought: is TW playing more under control because the rest of the team is performing better? Maybe he doesn’t feel the need to force things as he was earlier in the season?

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    The Wildcats are 4 real

  • bleeding crimson

    I would also like to interject that CTC has made some good sub patterns as of late and in bounds plays. Hope this is actually a pattern on his part and will continue…now if we can just get the Zebra’s to give us a little more respect, or just call the games consistantly.

  • bleeding crimson

    Yeah I have to agree with his level of emotion, int he beginning it seems like he was just playing with pure emotion but lately including last night he did still seem to be complaining more often.

  • bleeding crimson

    They have been picking on everyone but more importantly not picking on the opp team IU plays.

  • bleeding crimson

    And a couple of three’s to boot. The guy is solid.

  • I also notice, his substitution patterns seem also to make much more sense. Other years I just attributed it to the fact that he knows the players better than we do.. but still.. This year, it’s been harder to find fault with his jerking a guy unexpectedly and sending someone in when you’re thinking, ‘why the he** did he do that’?

  • yep, for better or for worse. I thought they were pretty good last year, too. Just dropped too many close games. They were on the verge of being a dangerous team last year but couldn’t flip it on. I think they have a shot at being possibly being a Sweet16-type team, if everything goes their way. They should make the tournament, at least. Hopefully all of that begins AFTER Saturday.

  • I think his reliable shooting and having a nose for the ball (loose balls, steals, big rebounds, etc.) are the difference makers. Plus his leadership and experience are obvious benefits, too. Great fit for the team, all really good teams need players like that, if they are to make any sort of tournament run, in my opinion.

  • Koko

    And JBJ was playing in that second half. What if he wasn’t hurt and we were still doing what we are doing now? Using OG, JM and Niego to spell JBJ as he still got his point average. We would be nasty good.

  • Koko

    Totally agree with you.

  • bleeding crimson

    I almost wish Bruce was still there…if was fun to make fun of his reactions.

  • bleeding crimson

    I don’t know if or when he changed his mind…maybe he knew it was there all along to work on but maybe he wanted to work on the fundementals of his fast off and not concentrate on D until he felt comfortable with his team? I don’t think we’ll really know? I was even questioning why he wasn’t preaching D, even to the point I thought he wasn’t keeping track of deflections. So just maybe it was his plan all along?

  • bleeding crimson

    And they always play their A-game and usually someone has a record game.

  • IUMIKE1

    Self was the exception to that IMHO, but you’re right the vast majority of them have whiney a$$es.

  • IUMIKE1

    I don’t know that I was the first, or ” original ” poster of that data, but three years or so ago I posted a stat that I came across while reading an article somewhere that included where we ranked on that stat. Think it was a stat compiled by Syenergy (sp) or something like that. It was an article about a game we could have won had we hit the last shot of the game and it was after we had called a timeout to set it up. Don’t remember who it was against (marcusgresham can probably tell us in about 2 seconds with the his ability to remember every small fact lol) but Verdell Jones took the shot from the right elbow area and missed it. At the time a lot of people, including me, were talking about how bad IU was at running a play after a timeout and saying they probably didn’t run the play he drew up and/or VJ shouldn’t have taken the shot. I was one of those that thought that, overall, we didn’t seem to do very well in those type of situations and was kinda stunned when I read that and enough so that I transferred that stat onto ITH. Don’t remember exactly where we ranked on that particular stat, but seems like we were in the top ten nationally.

  • IUMIKE1

    lol

  • IUMIKE1

    Go ahead and call me out by name Tom, I’m a big boy. lol I know we are where I strongly doubted we could get to, but we have compiled that ” current ” defensive ranking with, what most agree, has been a favorable schedule to date. We will see where we rank after playing the tougher portion of our schedule. Regardless of the schedule, they have gotten noticeably better on D. I said that I hoped I ended up being wrong and still hope to be wrong later on this season.

    I will offer this up for a little bit of defense on my preseason thoughts on where we were capable of getting to on team D. I’m not trying to hate on JBJ, but I was of the train of thought that he would stick with the 3 guard offense and that if he went with the more traditional 2 guards and played TW at the three that our chances of reaching that kind of ranking would be greatly increased. I seemed to have maybe been right about us being able to be a better team defensively utilizing the 2 guard approach. Here’s to hoping that I’m wrong about the other. lol Regardless of what defensive ranking they end up with, I’ll own those comments, and continue to hope that I’m still wrong towards the stretch of tougher games. I think when it’s all said and done we’ll end up with a ranking somewhere between their current ranking and where I said I thought they would get to playing the 3 guard lineup.

  • IUMIKE1

    Yep

  • I agree. I’m not in the “we’re so much better because JBJ isn’t playing” camp. Now that you mention it, I can’t remember how JBJ was playing against ND, but I do seem to remember that he was sitting the bench more often–perhaps because more defense-minded players were getting some of his time. It’s been a long week, however, and so I can’t remember the specifics at the moment.

  • I took a couple of seconds to review the post-ND stories and came across this bit. I think this is what I was remembering from that game: “I was critical of Crean for not yanking Blackmon Jr. for some defensive miscues in the second half, but I spoke a little soon. The sophomore saw limited run down the stretch as Indiana’s defense pulled it out.” That’s from The Minute after.

  • TomJameson

    Hahahaha … You know Mike I really wouldn’t have been able to name names unless I went back and looked. You were most definitely not the only one saying the same thing. But I will say you are the most logical in stating WHY you believe that.

    I also like the lineups as they are now. Having a center and 2 wings (TW being called a wing) with 2 more traditional guards, has been paying dividends for sure.

    And you are right to note that the upper echelon of talent has yet to be addressed, but I’m thinking those adjusted defensive numbers are adjusted to account for the weaker teams. I could be wrong though, it is not a rare occurrence. LOL

    Hopefully they will continue to improve their defense (as they state they want to do) and they can improve their rating as well. At least it’s fun to watch IU BB again… for now.

  • Koko

    He did sit more but did come up with a couple key 3’s.

  • Right, exactly. He might very well have been in the process of transitioning to a player utilized during key offensive stretches and then sat when defense was key. Meaning he didn’t need to get injured for the team’s recent defensive improvement to occur, contrary to what some people seem to be arguing.