The Minute After: UMass Lowell

  • 11/16/2016 10:00 pm in

Thoughts on a 100-78 win over the River Hawks:

After an epic, emotional win in Honolulu over Kansas, the Hoosiers returned to Bloomington for their first home game inside the newly renovated Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall to a sparse crowd. They turned ina lackadaisical performance from the start. The defense was passive and its communication wasn’t great. UMass Lowell hung around and had the game tied at the halfway mark in the first half, but as one of the better teams in the country, Indiana was eventually going to break away.

And the Hoosiers did just that.

A better defensive stretch the final 10 minutes of the half saw them up 17 at the break (53-36) and that lead got all the way up to 29 points before the Hoosiers settled back down to a comfortable 22-point win over the River Hawks — with fan favorite Tim Priller’s putback pushing the Hoosiers to 100 points with just over a minute to go.

James Blackmon Jr. continued his impressive offensive tear to start the season. The junior had 20 points at half on 7-of-9 shooting from the field, which included a 4-of-6 mark from distance. Blackmon Jr. cooled off a little after half, but still ended the night with a game-high 23 points. The Marion graduate has flashed an elite shooting stroke since he arrived on campus, but through Indiana’s first two regular season contests it’s also clear he’s better around the basket.

Blackmon Jr. is a stronger, more aggressive finisher and is finding his way to get free off the ball and getting there via the drive as well. “He’s a lot more explosive,” Tom Crean said after the game.

The effort seems to be better on defense, but there’s still work to be done on that side of the floor and Thomas Bryant let him know it at one point after a missed assignment.

OG Anunoby was also highly efficient in this one — 7-of-11, 15 points — though he hit just 1-of-4 from 3-point range. Despite the 25 percent mark from distance tonight, it’s easy to see Anunoby has an improved shot, one he’s working on constantly. And his skills are better all over the place on offense. That said, there’s still a bit of rawness, a bit of hesitation, a bit of indecisiveness from the emerging sophomore on the offensive end — something that seemed like it was bound to happen with such an increased role, though all the national praise may have clouded that a bit as the season started.

Robert Johnson had a lot of nice takes to the hoop tonight and joined Anunoby in the 7-of-11 club, though he notched one more point (16). Freddie McSwain got 14 minutes of run and got up nine shots. He made just one, missing on a pair of 3-pointers and a couple of long 2s, among others. McSwain’s mechanics look improved, but it remains to be seen if he’s going to be a consistent shooter in IU’s offense or if he’s going to get the green light against better competition. De’Ron Davis had some nice moves in the post (eight points) and continues to show good instincts and footwork as he works his way into shape.

Indiana started the game off well in the turnover department with just a 13.9 turnover percentage at half. But the Hoosiers were sloppy after halftime and finished with a turnover percentage of 21.3. The defense against a team like the River Hawks wasn’t anything to write home against either, as the Hoosiers let up 1.04 points per possession.

Still, they scored 100 points in back-to-back games to open up a season for the first time since 1992-1993 and there was nothing to suggest this team isn’t still oozing with potential.

Filed to:

  • inLinE6

    Well, it’s a win. Onto next one!

  • BeneathTheBanners

    Hard to fault the kids on this one. It wasn’t perfect and there’s plenty more room to grow. My biggest thing that I’m watching for during these cupcake games is what the future holds after this year. If we’re being pessimistic and assuming that OG, TB, and JBJ are all gone, I feel like the future is in good hands with DD, CJ, JM, and DG. McFly could be strong as well, he looked really strong defensively. This is the year though if we’re going to do anything. On to the next one.

  • pcantidote

    I can’t stop thinking about the moment when TB got an “and one” and rather than celebrating he grabbed JBJ and called him out for a mistake he had just made on defense. This is the same JBJ that was lighting up the joint — he had like 23 at the time. Are you kidding me? How freaking great is that? How much does that tell you about TB’s priorities, his work ethic, his leadership, his selflessness? Love. This. Guy.

  • Oops. Accidentally used a minor swear word, so I don’t know if my other comment will make it through. So, I’ll just summarize with: yes, TB is not only the team’s emotional motor, he’s also an on-court leader. I expected it, frankly. He’s something special, for sure.

  • Lots of rough edges that should work themselves out over the next few games. By UNC, we’ll be much improved. By the B1G, we’ll be a handful for anyone, anywhere.

  • Missing Moye

    Really impressed with Robert Johnson. His on-ball defense was really good tonight, but his off-ball defense was even better. He rotated really well and covered up some lapses underneath. On offense, his decision making was about perfect and all of his points were in the flow of the offense. He and Morgan continue to be my favorites to watch. They do so many little things to help this team.

    OG, JBJ, and TB all looked good as usual. It was nice to see a couple shots drop for Newkirk and he had a few nice passes as well. Davis and McSwain look a little flatfooted and raw, but I think that’s to be expected at this stage of the year with as little practice as they have gotten. CuJo didn’t light up the scoreboard this game, but he still looks solid out there.

  • Lance76

    Great observations. DD is a space eater with post moves that exceed his years. Best thing going is learning as you win too. We need to keep building on the base of this wins and effort.

  • MarkHoltzHoosier

    DD’s last (maybe wasn’t very last) was so good, he almost looked surprised that he was THAT open, and then he laid it in! Love it!

  • Great point about RJ, he was looking like he did last season right before he got hurt. He’s our best perimeter defender (next to OG, of course, but OG defends well just about everywhere). He’s going to be huge this year.

    Agreed with everything else, but I’ll add that I though DG played some nice defense. Two steals for slams, and then another steal for what I thought was a mature layup–he _could_ have showboated and slammed it again, but took a more diplomatic route.

    I’ll probably say it a thousand times this year, but this is such a great group of kids. I did like seeing a little fire from TB when that guy got in his face after his foul (which, of course, wasn’t remotely dirty)–we need some attitude on this team.

  • iugradmark

    Good comments. I am going to worry until I see the defense and turnovers improve.

  • Lt. John McClane

    Freddie was just heaving it up from everywhere, lol. Coach mentioned he had some good practices lately so he must of gave him the Green light. In the future, we probably don’t want Freddie shooting beyond 12 feet.

  • SCHoosier

    Improved communication will help the defense. would like to have been plugged in to what TB was scolding James about when he missed two D switches.

  • Fivelefts

    DD does have some Nice post moves! However, I think he needs to finish stronger.. I’ve noticed at times, he’ll do a sweet post move, but is short on the finish.. I think he’s trying to finish with too much finesse.. He needs to be grittier! Perhaps that will come, when he’s more comfortable and is in better shape..?

  • mharv2631

    Brick layer. All his points should be put-backs. Rebound and defend.

  • IULore

    And SLAMMIN MCFLY DUNKS!!!

  • IUBizmark

    So can we now all agree that 1) If we have roster stability it’s easier to perfect the offense earlier in the season. 2) If we have scored 100 points in each of the first two games, we need to focus on the defense.

  • Kwang

    TB was thinking long term, not just that game. It was awesome to see.

  • I don’t think IU’s defense had anything to do with IU scoring 100 points in each of the first two games. But I could be wrong.
    {Joking about the wording. 🙂 }