The Minute After: Illinois

  • 01/07/2017 8:12 pm in

Thoughts on a 96-80 win over the Illini: 

The free fall is over.

As darkness fell on a sunny, chilly Bloomington Saturday, Indiana stepped onto Branch McCracken Court meaning business. There was no slow start. No silly turnovers. No wondering where the intensity or focus was. Indiana raced out to a 15-0 lead early in the first half and Illinois never seriously threatened the rest of the contest, as nine is as close as the Illini would get.

Did IU fail to defend at a high level in the second half? Most certainly. Despite a great defensive first half — particularly from a stingy, active OG Anunoby –where the Hoosiers allowed just .86 points per possession, it appears the defensive issues have not been fully resolved. The Illini and Hoosiers essentially went shot for shot over the final 20 minutes of the game. Malcolm Hill finished with 21 points (5-of-12) as did Jalen Coleman-Lands (7-of-13). Thanks to a wildly efficient second half (1.457 points per possession), the Illini scored 1.18 points per possession for the game. That said, this was still IU’s best performance in conference play so far defensively, thought not by much, as it allowed 1.20 and 1.23 against Nebraska and Wisconsin, respectively.

“We got to maintain and build on this game,” James Blackmon Jr. said after the contest.

Had the Hoosiers not been hot from distance (13-of-25, 52 percent) or gotten solid offensive performances from the likes of James Blackmon Jr. (25 points, 7-of-12), Thomas Bryant (20 points, 6-of-6) and Robert Johnson (18 points, 7-of-11) this one could have been much closer. But as it stands, the Hoosiers let up 80 points to an opponent and still won the game by 16 points.

Anunoby’s performance this evening reminds you why he’s a projected lottery pick. He did a little bit of everything on both ends. The sophomore flashed terrific on-ball defense and swatted two shots. He finished an alley-oop with authority and knocked down 1-of-2 from distance, finishing with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Bryant has struggled to make quick, decisive, strong moves in the post over his last few outings, but he was better with that tonight and it helped aid his 6-of-6 performance. Bryant also hit both of his shots from distance.

Coming off his injury, Devonte Green had a nice little stretch in the first half where he dished an assist to Johnson and then scored a bucket of his own. Green finished with five points, two assists, two rebounds and a steal in 13 minutes of action.

After four straight games with a turnover percentage over 20, Indiana calmed down with the ball in this one, turning it over on 17.7 percent of its possessions, its third best performance in that statistic this season.

“We never want to turn the ball over,” a blunt Anunoby said after the game.

On offense beyond the hot shooting, the Hoosiers were crisp with their passing and really moved the ball, racking up 22 assists on 29 made baskets. Their 1.42 points per possession was the team’s best against a major conference opponent this season.

“It’s a long, long season,” Tom Crean said post game.

While the defense wasn’t markedly better, Indiana was quite good in several other categories today. There’s reason for optimism again in Hoosier Nation, and for now, that’s good enough.

Filed to:

  • Officiating in the BIG is consistently inconsistant but it really steams me when the refs let Hill lower his shoulder and dirve into IU players time and time again, no whistle. OG and Juwan made the same move and got a whistle every time. I guess life is just not fair! It’s probably just me but it seems that particular inconsistency was worth a technical, if neceassary.

  • Not just the no-calls on Hill, but the phantom calls on IU defenders. Hill was channeling Nigel Hayes in this respect. The defense wasn’t stellar in the second half, but at least some of that was because of the way the officials were calling it. Hard to sustain defensive intensity when you get called for looking at a guy wrong.

  • JustInSports

    I will forever never understand why McRoberts gets any minutes. Same with McSwain.

  • pcantidote

    I understand why McRoberts gets minutes, although I don’t always agree with WHEN he gets his minutes. I think maybe in part, CTC is giving him minutes for his hustle to tell the stars “until you guys go all out like this you are going to lose minutes to McRoberts.”

    I haven’t seen anything from McSwain to support him being out there. The one thing I thought he could do got swatted tonight. I have to believe he is showing something more in practice.

  • JustInSports

    Hustle can be great. Playing 4 on 5 is not. He has no business being out there.

  • McRoberts had three assists to zero turnovers, played good defense, and had at least one hustle play that saved a possession and led directly to a score. He’s a good player who brings some good things to the floor.

    McSwain, I agree with. He’s not ready to play at this level yet.

  • pcantidote

    Sounds like you just don’t have a real good eye for the intricacies of the game.

  • JustInSports

    No I do. And Indiana won’t be hurt by only playing JBJ, RJ, OG, Morgan, Bryant, Davis and Jones. Maybe Green. Newkirk has no place on the court along with NonShooter McRoberts and McSwain.

  • BL4IU

    Both teams’ high PPP, particularly in the second half, was primarily attributable to the whistle happy refs.

  • BL4IU

    I thought McSwain did a nice job on D and 2 boards in 5 minutes ain’t bad. Feel like he’s giving us just what we need; and he’ll get better.

  • BL4IU

    Agree on McRoberts disagree on Freddie. Matchups are key to using both. Neither should play more than 5-7 minutes per game.

  • At least we didn’t see them both on the floor at the same time. That lesson was learned, apparently.

  • pcantidote

    I mean sure, the kid can play, but I think the real question here is do we really need to be using a 10 man rotation, or should we tighten it up? I think we need to tighten it up, and McSwain would be the first to lose minutes in my book.

  • mharv2631

    I only yelled a couple times during the game and once was when Z McRob was passed the ball. There was NOBODY within 15 ft of him in any direction and he immediately passed the ball back out. It was like the ball was 300 degrees. Damn kid shoot the ball if you are that open, or drive it and get fouled.

  • mharv2631

    64 fouls called and JM fouled out with 9 min left. Jeeez

  • INUnivHoosier2

    Game would have been more enjoyable with fewer whistles.

  • ForeverIU

    Happy Birthday!

  • mharv2631

    Thanks brother

  • pcantidote

    John Groce might be the first coach in history to be in the double bonus before the 10 minute mark of both halves, on the road, and yet still get a T for not getting a call. I guess he wanted to eat his cake.

  • mharv2631

    Hahaha

  • 3AM Burrito

    Great to see TB have a strong game, looked better on defense. Also liked OG, active and zero turnovers in 30+ minutes is great for him. 1st half defense was encouraging that the team has it in them to play sounder d, though 2nd half day was disappointing. Overall pretty good performance they can hopefully build on.

  • RDD#76

    Mark couldn’t agree more with you if only Josh could score a little he might get even more minutes smart player and and always hustles.

  • hoosierjtf

    The reason IU is a joke are you “fans”, why watch this team while Crean is still there. People need to stop caring or IU is destined to be garbage forever.

  • RDD#76

    OG just seems to play better off the bench he can watch the flow of the game and when he comes in the other team is a little winded and he seems more confident and lets the game come to him instead of forcing to much.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Keep drinking.

  • David Macer

    Go root for a different team.

  • I think I know the play you’re talking about, and I hear you. But if I remember correctly that possession was a score, and so really it was a wash. I’m not sure why he’s so reluctant to shoot, but he moves the ball well and knows how to get it to others who can score. I can’t imagine not giving the kid minutes.

  • [email protected]

    Shoot the darn ball Zach ! It is what WE do !!

  • beppecolo

    Liked JM. Smart, heady play except, EXCEPT!, for the silly, ticky-tack fouls. He was the worst example of this team’s biggest problem on D – they play it with their hands instead of their feet.

  • Ole Man

    Read my mind–something to build upon.

  • Ole Man

    Tighten up.

  • 3AM Burrito

    McRoberts is D2 athleticism but is D1 smarts. So on a team where many fans clamor for more fundamentals and sound play, that is McRoberts. He will not do anything flashy ever and he will be somewhat of liability on both sides in certain regards, but he is an absolute role player, he will have limited mistakes and I don’t mind him getting spot minutes.

  • BL4IU

    Hard to tighten up when you have OG and JM in foul trouble. When JM fouled out I would have brought FM back in for another 2-3 minutes hoping we could hold the double digit lead. Having OG play the final nine minutes with 4 fouls was a big risk we got away with.

    I like having a really deep bench. Only times I’ve questioned Coach going too deep is in crunch time and he’s acknowledged making mistakes there.

  • BL4IU

    Yes, that’s why his minutes should be managed very carefully.

  • Um, er… I’m SO tempted to get snarky, but I won’t.

    Okay, so, in THIS game going deep was necessary because of all the fouls being called. CTC limits the rotation to just your suggestion, we don’t have enough players to put on the court. And I honestly don’t get why anyone sees the need for name calling — “NonShooter McRoberts”? Come on, if nothing else, you have to respect the kid for his obvious hard work.

  • JustInSports

    No I don’t. He is out there playing in game about winning and money. What do you think the scouting report says on him? “You can blow by him on defense if you’re quick and leave him open because he never even looks at the rim.”

  • A walk-on is “playing in game about winning and money”? But, anyhoo, not worth the debate.

  • JustInSports

    I guess I can add for a team that had Big Ten title, Final Four and national title expectations. But then we started playing a walk on in crunch minutes over bigger, faster and better freshmen.

  • vicbert caladipo

    Get the hoosier off your name jtf