Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss to Nebraska

  • 12/29/2016 10:03 am in

Indiana’s 26-game home winning streak came to a stunning end on Wednesday night in an 87-83 loss to Nebraska at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The loss dropped the Hoosiers to 10-3 overall and 0-1 in the Big Ten.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the loss to the Huskers:

· Indiana was outplayed from the opening tip: There’s no way to look at this loss any differently: The Hoosiers got beat by Nebraska. The Huskers came into Bloomington and as Nebraska radio play-by-play man Kent Pavelka (who was sitting right next to me) said, “out-scrapped” Indiana.

Indiana is the more talented team and had plenty more to play for than Nebraska, yet the Hoosiers came out with a lackadaisical start. Once Nebraska gained confidence early and attacked the paint relentlessly, it was clear they weren’t going away.

“We didn’t come out with the right mindset, definitely” Robert Johnson said postgame. “We thought that maybe it was going to be a little easier than what it was going to be. We can’t come out like that, especially in the Big Ten.”

Nebraska led for more than 25 minutes and while Indiana led by seven early in the second half, the Hoosiers were never able to take control.

· Besides Johnson, starters underwhelm: Robert Johnson was once again very good offensively with 19 points in 21 minutes. But with Johnson on the bench with four fouls in the second half, Nebraska scored 30 points in 17 possessions, according to Andy Bottoms of the Assembly Call.

Comb through the numbers for the rest of IU’s starters, who all scored in double figures, and there are positives but far too many negatives.

Thomas Bryant had a double-double, but had a head scratching turnover in the second half where he attempted to dribble the length of the floor. OG Anunoby had five turnovers. Josh Newkirk was 5-of-10 from the field, but again struggled at times with decision making and finishing at the rim. And James Blackmon Jr. was just 4-of-14 from the floor.

Add it all up and it was the perfect storm for Nebraska to take advantage for the upset win.

· Indiana’s worst defensive effort of the season: Nebraska scored 54 points in the second half and 1.21 points per possession for the game. It was the best offensive performance of the season for the Huskers and Indiana’s worst defensive effort.

In the game’s opening minutes, it didn’t matter who was guarding Tai Webster. He took all of Indiana’s guards off the dribble and to the rim. The Hoosiers were so shaky defensively that Tom Crean moved to a 2-3 zone to stop the penetration.

The defense stabilized at the end of the first half as Indiana took a 3-point lead, but quickly went downhill in the second half. Allowing 54 points in 20 minutes to the Big Ten’s worst offensive team is a recipe for a loss. That’s exactly what happened on Wednesday night.

· Time to tighten the rotation? There have been times when Indiana’s bench has been a strength. Last night wasn’t one of them.

De’Ron Davis was really the only notable contributor off the bench and he finished with four points, three rebounds and two blocks in 11 minutes. Devonte Green hit a 3-pointer, but also made a costly turnover late in the second half on a crucial play. And Juwan Morgan, who went down in the second half with an apparent bruise, hasn’t been great on defense this year. All of these guys obviously figure into the rotation going forward, but the case of Zach McRoberts isn’t so clear cut.

McRoberts logged 14 minutes against Nebraska, didn’t score and once again passed up several open looks. Unless McRoberts begins to defend or rebound at a higher level, it’s tough to justify having him out there when he doesn’t look to score.

· This is a damaging loss from a Big Ten title, NCAA seeding perspective: Indiana already faced an uphill battle to repeat as Big Ten champion with Wisconsin and Purdue having more favorable schedules in conference play. Losing at home to one of the league’s worst team makes the road even tougher.

And from an NCAA tournament point of view, Indiana’s lackluster non-conference strength of schedule (currently No. 348 in KenPom) was already going to hurt its resume.

This loss, combined with the Fort Wayne loss and several wins over bottom 100 teams is likely going to hurt the Hoosiers with the selection committee come March.

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  • Jonny McClain

    I agree with this except about JBJ. I think the poor shot selection is a reflection of the offensive game plan / execution… when was the last time we saw a play ran for JBJ to get an open 3? Rarely, if ever, happens so when a kid is that talented – he is eventually going to have to find a way to get shots and that’s why you see him pull-up quickly for a 3 on the break, etc. Just my opinion but I love this kid and we need to get him good, open looks

  • John D Murphy

    I wanted to so badly. I thought it would taste so good.

  • ForeverIU

    I think our players and coach can use a couple of years in the Army! Do more and say less.

  • ForeverIU

    On what distant planet are you, and what are you smoking, that you can even imagine a championship on the horizon?

  • ForeverIU

    “It’s tough out there”.

    Why can’t it be tough IN HERE?

  • Bill Graham

    I don’t want our players playing scared…its not fair to take them out for any little thing…but lack of effort is something that shouldn’t be tolerated.

  • MarkHoltzHoosier

    And so IF his team does make a 6-0 run to end the year, are you saying you won’t enjoy it?!

    UConn won it all by going into beast mode through their conference tourney and the NCAAs a few years back. Nobody was talking about them as a contender then either, and I don’t think anyone thinks Kevin Ollie is the next Coach K.

  • IUBizmark

    One bad day at work? I could go into all the specifics, but I won’t because the Tom Crean debate has been had many times over. Suffice it to say, he has wildly mixed results. Two outright conference championships and three seasons 5th or worse in 5 years. Amazing wins vs. top 5 teams and head scratching losses against bottom dwellers (with more regularity than other top teams). Valid arguments can be made to love or hate him as a coach.
    Regardless, it’s not ONE bad day at work.

  • MarkHoltzHoosier

    I understand the passion an frustration of our fellow fans. CTC has a very set style that he coaches on both O and D and the styles are unlikely to change. That is unsatisfactory to a (growing) number because they are concluding it will never lead to another national title or sustained greatness.

    While I think it’s entirely possible a CTC-led Hoosier team could get hot enough to win 6 games in March and April, I wouldn’t bet my life savings on it. It’s a puncher’s chance–more of a long-shot than a favorite’s shot. And many think IU has the tradition, prestige, facilities and attraction to be one of the blue-bloods that are the favorite every so often.

    If the decision eventually comes for us to part ways, I’ll understand, but I am willing to see this season out to the end by riding the roller coaster with the high highs and the low lows.

  • MarkHoltzHoosier

    I’m not expert, but I think a lot of the current RPI ranking has a lot to do with all the bottom-feeder programs IU has played. As they start playing more B1G teams, their RPI will rise almost certainly. (obviously not if they don’t WIN any of the games…)

  • John D Murphy

    1. I’m not watching any more games live. DVR only. I won’t subject myself to another game like this.
    2. At this point we’re more likely to not make the NCAA tournament than we are to get a top 5 seed. My current projection is a 10/11 seed and out the first game.
    3. There isn’t a team in the B1G that doesn’t (rightly) believe they can beat IU.
    4. The playbook on how a to beat a TC coached IU team remains clear. Muck up the inside. Play hard nosed, grabby, fouling D. Run the best IU shooters off the line and live with the rest. Challenge IU’s toughness inside.
    5. Last year’s 2nd half team was not a trend, it was a aberration.
    6. This is the last week IU will be ranked this season.

    “For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, ‘It might have been’.” – John Greanleaf Whittier

  • I am Baby Cakes

    Crean is bad at adjusting to rosters. Really this team should play inside out on offense, defense first, with a very short rotation and a much much slower pace. Starters SHOULD be RJ, JBJ, OG, DD and TB. JBJ should strictly be used as a spot up shooter. RJ should be limited on dribbling. Post Bryant and DD. OG can slash and spot up shoot. It would be incredibly simple but with RJ and JBJ outside, the defense couldn’t sink in too much. Bryant and Davis aren’t bad passers so doubling from the other side of the post would be a bad idea as well. But Crean will continue to run a perimeter weave offense, no defense and continue playing players who are playing poorly.

  • Stevie Samuels

    Have faith you fools… I bet the same people tweaking now were tweaking after the non-con schedule last year. WE BEAT UNC AND KANSAS. WE ARE GOOD. CTC WILL FIGURE IT OUT. Sit back and watch us find that high ceiling and stay there.

  • Clem

    Yeah, I get that — but they have played UNC, Kansas, and Butler. Their non-conference schedule actually seems tougher than most years, yet their SOS is so low (I get a lot of the teams they played were real bad). Their RPI will undoubtedly be higher at the end of the year even if their conference season is only mediocre. I am just saying it doesn’t seem like good wins help as much as I thought they would at all. It seems like bad losses hurt way more than good wins and that is troubling to me. It seems like the way to go is to schedule only mediocre mid-majors who aren’t bottom feeders, no actual good teams so you don’t fall into trap game scenarios, and then make sure you beat the middle teams. Seeing teams like Rutgers being higher in the RPI than Indiana right now, who have played NO ONE good at all is insane to me. Even with the bad losses I would expect IU to be somewhere in the 30’s for RPI with the Kansas and UNC wins…not 130’s. I think they are destined for another very low seed in the tournament (assuming they make it at all).

  • IUMIKE1

    If Crean believes he should be starting JBJ (and for the record I believe he should, just not along two other true guards) it should be a no brainer that we run multiple sets designed to get him open looks. I think even JBJ understands that he needs to score an abundant amount of points to offset his liabilities on defense at times, so if plays aren’t being run to try and get him shots, he is going to hunt shots if for no other reason than that.

  • Fifer39

    Steady now, you’re going to get people agreeing with you 🙂

  • IUMIKE1

    I have thought about this angle as well and there may very well be some legitimacy to it, but here’s what gets me, if that is so why does he not play DD and TB more at the same time. Hopefully it’s not that way, or not to any great extent, and if it is then the news is bad two-fold, in that it shouldn’t be that way and if it is he isn’t even doing that in the way that would most benefit that train of thought. Soooo……..

  • Fifer39

    Well I think it might be because he knows TB isn’t our best 4 – he wouldn’t start there for me, particularly if we’re going with 3 guards. And I don’t think TC will start him on the bench for a number of reasons, not least his loyalty to TB and the message that might send to future elite recruits.

  • Fifer39

    Well it’ll be interesting to see how DD develops because he provides the perfect opportunity to play a more traditional big man O.

  • IUMIKE1

    JBJ is gone after this year barring a significant injury, even if it means going over seas to play. I really don’t blame him, as another injury before being able to make a dime off of all the hard work he has put in has to be a factor for him and legitimately so IMHO. I’m not saying it will be so, but time will tell if it turns out to be a win win thing for everyone.

  • Fifty-fifty ball

    I would just jump in say we should have won (as we did) the regular season conference championship due to our schedule .