Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss to Maryland

  • 01/11/2017 9:59 am in

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Indiana battled, yet still came up short in its first Big Ten road game. The Hoosiers led for much of the second half, but couldn’t close the deal and fell 75-72 to Maryland on Tuesday night at the XFINITY Center.

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

· Indiana’s defense – again – comes up short: The Hoosiers are now four games into the conference schedule. The numbers are officially a trend: Indiana isn’t coming close to being an average defensive team.

Indiana has now given up 1.14 points per possession in every Big Ten game. The Hoosiers have the league’s 13th best defense through four games. The season turned around in 2015-2016 because Indiana developed an identity on defense. Indiana finished last season with the league’s third best defense.

This season is quickly going south because Indiana doesn’t have a defensive identity.

Tuesday night was just the latest example of Indiana’s defense being exposed. Four of Maryland’s five starters finished in double figures. Indiana couldn’t keep the Terrapins out of the lane. Despite Indiana committing only 16 fouls, Maryland shot 22 free throws. Most of the fouls were in the lane and at the rim. Maryland outscored Indiana by 10 points at the foul line. That, in a nutshell, was the game.

· Bryant, Anunoby both struggle: There were plenty of NBA scouts in attendance Tuesday night at the XFINITY Center. What they saw from both Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby wasn’t particularly impressive.

Bryant was 2-of-8 from the field and finished with just six points in 28 minutes. He did have seven rebounds, two assists and three blocks, but was repeatedly blocked at the rim by Damonte Dodd.

Anunoby had two athletic finishes at the rim in the second half, but missed his other seven attempts from the field. He finished with five points and only three rebounds in 24 minutes.

Whether the preseason accolades were warranted or not, both have underwhelmed when you look at the full body of work. Anunoby has been very good at finishing 2s, but is hitting just 33.3 percent on 3s. He’s also failed to take on the role of defensive stopper with any consistency.

Bryant, meanwhile, is making less than 55 percent of his 2s after shooting close to 71 percent last season. When two of your best players struggle, particularly on the road, it’s tough to win close games.

· The lack of a closer hurts in close games: Indiana is now 1-4 in games decided by five points or less. The Hoosiers beat Kansas in a narrow game to open the season and have now dropped four straight games decided by five or less.

This is where the loss of Yogi Ferrell, combined with Indiana’s point guard platoon, really stings. The Hoosiers built a five-point lead a couple of times in the second half on Tuesday. But they couldn’t extend the lead further. And with each failed opportunity to do so, the door was left open for Maryland.

“There were a couple of plays that could’ve gone either way,” James Blackmon Jr. said. “We need to find a way to make them come our way. We just have to bounce back next game and make those corrections.”

· Blackmon Jr. carries a huge offensive load: The bright spot for Indiana? The offensive play of Blackmon Jr.

The Marion product went 9-of-15 from the field, including 4-of-8 on 3s. Some of the shots, particularly in the second half, were deep, tough looks.

Blackmon Jr. finished with a game-high 22 points and also surpassed 1,000 career points in the loss.

“My teammates were finding me, and I was getting open,” he said. “There’s just a couple more things I wish I could’ve done.”

· Is Indiana’s back up against the wall? Blackmon Jr. said postgame that Indiana doesn’t feel like “our backs are against the wall.”

But the Hoosiers have reached a crucial point in the season. Any hopes for a favorable NCAA tournament seed? Likely gone. Hopes to contend for a Big Ten title? Slim. It’s been a stunning fall from the top 10 in the polls to the bottom half of the conference race.

So where do things go from here?

Assuming Indiana wins on Sunday at home against Rutgers, next Wednesday’s game at Penn State is looking like a must win. According to KenPom win probabilities, it’s Indiana’s second best remaining chance to win away from Assembly Hall. With two home conference losses already, the Hoosiers have to win two road games to finish with at least a .500 Big Ten record. And that assumes winning out at home, which is far from certain.

(Photo credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)

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  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    you’re referring to the same coack k and cal who annually have the top recruiting classes in the country? you’re pointing out the extremely rare exceptions that are able to recruit nationally and comparing CTC’s recruiting success to theirs? seriously?

    fact of the matter is, almost all schools rely on at the very least regional recruiting, and heavily on in state recruiting. you think amir coffey would have picked minnesota if that wasn’t his home state? would they be ranked without him? what about the 47th and 54th ranked players in the ’17 class who are both going to AK? what about #2, #42, and #55 going to washington? just coincidence they happen to be in-state? and the list goes on and on.

    c’mon bill, doing ‘just fine’ in a talent-rich state ain’t good enough. i didn’t list even half the recruits he’s whiffed on. not to mention the ones he actually did get who were complete busts to the point that they were actually harmful to the program. and you can bet he’s gonna whiff on romeo too. that ain’t even just fine to me

  • vicbert caladipo

    Why are we here? Cuz we’re here. Roll the bones. Why does it happen? Cuz it happens. Roll the bones.

  • vicbert caladipo

    I agree, but will hold off reservation that there aren’t any team{s) that will run away with the title. I would need to see a few more UW games and if they win I would put them in a category by themselves. Losing a hard fought game to the toiletmakers in W. LAf doesn’t stop me from thinking they’re the best. They dominated us most of the game here at AH and we supposedly have the best talent. I’m sure they will beat up on everyone remaining except maybe MSU if they play them at Breslin. They already have their 2 toughest road games done. Peeyoo always stubs their toe on at least one average team and we already have 3 losses and MSU lost to PS so I’d say if UW winsd their next 4-5 games they will be in the drivers seat.

  • John D Murphy

    There are half a dozen coaches in the NCAA who could be making more coin in the association (K, Cal, Izzo, Pitino, Self,…). He can only say no and since it would all be through agents, no one need ever know.

  • John D Murphy

    Wrong. Enis Kantor can’t guard a statue and he gets plenty of 2nd unit minutes. In Enis’ case because he can score. In TB’s case because his shooting opens the floor to everyone and fits the NBA scheme.

  • Koko

    Agreed on UW….they are in the drivers seat and their fate is in their hands. Maybe not so much for the rest of the group….we both know how things can change on a dime in conference play. I know I’m being optimistic but for some reason I think we are going to right the ship and finish in the top three….but hey that’s just me looking in a wishing well.
    However the B1G turns out it will be fun to watch.

  • thescoots

    there is a window of opportunity for IU to get Billy Donovan. That is a home run hire and worth the money.

  • IUBizmark

    This is when we always have it. Every year for the last 5 years.

  • thescoots

    so you are saying that Maryland is a good loss even though Nebraska went to Maryland and won?

  • Fifty-fifty ball

    8-10 points on top of the already mentioned soft defensive team. That’s even harder to overcome. It all adds up to a 1-3 conference start.

  • vicbert caladipo

    Beating the toiletmakers twice and not losing anymore games we should win should get us top 3. A lot of parody after Peeyoo and UW, any game is winnable and any we can lose except this Sunday. We couldn’t possibly lose Sunday. could we? Nahhhh. Don’t think ITH could handle that. Be a lot of accounts deleted.

  • Koko

    We lose Sunday and……well I don’t know what to say….LOL

  • millzy32

    No better time for an opponent like Rutgers. Maybe a gimme game will wake IU up from their funk.

  • millzy32

    Your last sentence is so sad but also so true. Ugh. Thanks for the reminder:)

  • millzy32

    This is an analysis that most Indiana fans have come to accept. Problem is that the only one it seems who is still snowed is one Mr. Fred Glass. He’s either blind or unwilling to correct things because he feels to blame. Either way he needs to wake up or he should also be shown the door.

  • millzy32

    Curious on your name. Is it because you feel IU basketball like Nebraska football is in a middling mediocre stage of its life cycle? If so it’s a pretty good analogy and you could probably also compare IU BB with Notre Dame FB too.

  • Bill Graham

    Its irrelevant though. Glass is not just going to fire the reigning BIG coach of the year halfway through the season. If we get rid of CTC then fine discussions are great…but I don’t see the point of throwing names into a hypothetical situation for a position that doesn’t exist right now.

  • Bill Graham

    The larger point is that its not just an Indiana issue. You can discredit CTC’s recruiting classes nationally thats fine. But my larger point is CTC is competitive with other coaches in terms of in-state recruiting. And for as many in-state examples (like Amir Coffey) I can list a dozen more for any state that went elsewhere.

  • Bill Graham

    Agree completely. If your going to say fire Crean then back it up with a statistical argument…If your going to throw names around then explain (statistically) why that candidate would be better.

  • TomJameson

    I’ll come out of my self-imposed timeout to say this. Sandra, you are way off base about Alex. He is one of the most fair and unbiased reporters I’ve ever seen in my 62 years of life, and 48 years of paying attention to those things. I’ve seen (more than once) where he has passed up reporting things that are unsubstantiated. Not many in the press do that.

    Not being sarcastic, not couching it in purple font, not being too reactive, just saying you are off base here. That is my opinion.

  • justlikenebraskafootball

    close. we are a fan base who believes our program should be among the elite every year. the sad truth, however, is that we are a middling program that can have minor break through years from time to time. my Nebraska friends still believe their football program should be among the nations’ best every year.

  • Bankshot

    Vic, that was verbal gold!

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    kris wilkes, trevon blueitt, paul scruggs, jaren jackson, trey lyles, demetrius jackson, bryson scott,…

  • Bankshot

    statistics are for losers! Creans coaching does not pass the eye test!

  • SeeingRed

    Not sure if that’s realistic if as a coach, you might be thinking you are coaching for your job if this disappointing season continues down this path. Scrounging out a bubble team tourney berth is probably Job 1 now.

  • SilverAtlanta

    I don’t get how at his size he is continually bumped off the box by guys not his size?

  • IUBizmark

    I agree that people, me included, tend to take the good for granted and focus on the bad. Crean is a good coach; approaching great. He’s elite in some aspects. My problem is that there has been almost zero improvement in the deficiencies of his teams. That’s not okay in any career.

    That being said, there are not many suitable replacements these days. We’ve already mentioned the obvious #1 choice and if I’m the AD, I go for that if the math works, which I don’t believe it does.

    Regarding your last comment about Crean’s resurrection of the program; he does get a good amount of credit for that…immediately followed by why people what to fire him. I do recall the pundits agreeing that process would take 3 seasons, not 4, however, I think they underestimated how competitive the league was during those years. I believe that a lot of teams, especially ones proximal to Indiana, have seen increased success due to that weak period of ours. Recruits went to UK, Butler or Purdue, etc. instead of to IU.

    In summary, the lack of improvement on defense and turnovers are deal breakers for me, but I don’t see many (any?) clear cut replacement coaches.

  • John D Murphy

    Fred Hoyberg is not long in the NBA either.

  • IUMIKE1

    Playing those two at the same time, and getting a high number of minutes for OG and JM would call for Crean to have to go away from the three guard offense that he worships at the feet of.

    Incidentally, and just like last year, going away from the 3 guard lineup and TO the 2 guard lineup would also give us our best chance to come, at least average, defensively.

  • John D Murphy

    Many don’t play in small towns anymore. The association realized the increased gate wasn’t worth having them away from the “big team”. Can coordinate practice, etc… The Jazz sent two players to play with the SLC Stars last night and they were back at Jazz practice this morning. Yogi plays for the Long Island Nets. The Warriors DL team is in No Cal.

  • IUMIKE1

    I’m becoming more and more convinced that it also plays a direct role in this team’s guards to consistently, hell forget consistently, let’s just say a decent amount of the time, have a decent amount of assists. We started more guards than we had assists from them in this game. Not going to win many games when you start and play a 3 guard lineup and only get 2 assists for the game from those 3.

  • vicbert caladipo

    Didn’t we have 9 gimme games already to get outta any funks?

  • IUMIKE1

    If we just cut the number of unforced TO’s down to an acceptable amount it would cover what you mention. Throw in a couple less of the other kind, and BOOM, we’re there. Way too many ” dumb ” TO’s in EVERY game.

  • vicbert caladipo

    Why thank you! You must be a fan of the boys from Willowdale!!

  • IUBizmark

    That’s a good one! Not sure culturally he’s a good fit, but if he can tack on some defense to his offense, that would be a great hire.

  • Outoftheloop

    Not sure what you are “agreeing” to. I said he is “a master at his craft”!

  • Brad

    That’s probably because the schedule is front loaded with cupcakes and when the serious games arrive……we start losing.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    This is completely correct. I think we can live with a few additional turnovers, compared to the norm, due to our pace of play. The problem is the “dumb” TOs, or the “unforced errors” that they mentioned during the telecast the other night. JBJ stepping on the sideline while running down the court, for example. How does he miss that?

  • IUMIKE1

    It sounds like you are very much in the same place as me when it comes to Crean, you continued to watch his strong points as well as his weak points and for a long enough period to feel like you were correct and that a fair evaluation was made. I truly believe that anything short of a utter and complete implosion this season, such as well under .500 overall, will buy Crean at least one more year if not two which factors into my thinking on the math below.

    On the subject of if the math works as far as being able to hire Stevens, I think the math is more doable than it first appears. It’s my understanding that Crean is making 3.1 per year. Hypothetically, if Crean was given an extension it is safe to say that he would make at least that per year, if not more. Now I know that BS was making 3.6 and just recently signed a new extension, but was quoted as saying that he didn’t feel the need to be among the highest paid and that, in a nutshell, I would take to mean, it’s not so much about the money. While BS doesn’t seem to be someone that is all about the money, which is a good thing if we want to try and lure him away from Boston, it is still an undeniable factor in this situation, and very possibly the biggest one, well that and what his undisclosed buyout would be a couple of years from now. I don’t expect to see BS on our bench next year and probably not the year after next, but IMHO that only makes it more doable. If the tendencies that you have done such a good job of laying out ( and that I agree with) don’t change, I think it becomes much easier to do as well as acceptable to most. Crean’s buyout becomes less and less each year and I would assume BS’s is as well, thus those become less of a factor in the overall scheme. If IU is going to make a change in head coaching, it is going to have to up their offering just like they did when the last change was made. If IU is as serious as it needs to be if a coaching search is needed, and wants the kind of coach that has a proven track record and thus a much better chance to put our program where we all want it to be, it is going to have to pay what the market demands. I think we could put an offer on the table that would be enough to make him come to IU….if that is what he and his family want and still be paying less than what the other bluebloods are currently paying and still get very similar results. All this could be moot points if he and his family are happy with their current lives, but I think Glass would be remiss if he didn’t at least explore what the possibilities are through some kind of back channel.

  • IUMIKE1

    With the end of the first half being a textbook example of not getting a stop. You could put the number of people that didn’t know who was going to be making the on court decisions on that MD possession in an Indy car, but yet he drove right through 4/5 of our team for an easy bucket.

  • IUMIKE1

    After the Neb game I made the point that they were A) going right at him thus requiring him to play defense against someone driving to the rim after others had pulled our bigs far enough away from the basket to be able to help efficiently, B) ran plays that caused him to have to switch off on someone trying to score, or C) posted him up. I was told by some (not saying you) that I was being unfair and biased in my opinion. In this game it was blatantly obvious that that was what the other team was doing when he was in the game. Both announcers, not just DD, said that when they spoke with the MD coaches during practice the day before they made no bones about it and come right out and said they were going to attack JBJ with whoever he was guarding. I dare say that is what we will see in just about every game we have left and in bigger doses with some of the more talented teams. Now, having said that I don’t think we can afford to just sit him or even play him sparingly as this team is not good enough offensively to be able to do that. So if we_ don’t_ do that what is the answer ? The only answer I can see is be good enough defensively to be able to offset that liability with good helpside D and just overall good team D….unfortunately I don’t see that happening this year. Here’s to hoping I’m wrong.

  • IUMIKE1

    I would also like to believe that we know what to do at the end of a first half when there are only a few seconds left. One would think that everyone would understand that Melo was going to be the one to try and make something happen and making him give the ball up even if it meant double teaming him and leaving someone else not tightly guarded. Yet he took the ball and drove straight through 4/5 of our team for a layup.

  • To me, the key is OG: when he plays to his ability, he’s enough of a difference on defense that he can make up somewhat for a JBJ (or an NZ last season) who’s particularly weak. I remember games last season when the defense would start out spotty, then OG would come in and the entire tenor of the game changed.

    Unfortunately, ever since he was injured, OG hasn’t been the same player. In fact, ever since he was sick the day of the IPFW game, he hasn’t been the same player. He was the heart of the defense last season, in addition to better overall team defense, and we’re not seeing it with this team.

    So, I have no idea what the answer is. There may not be one, as you say, and this season might end up just as disappointing as it’s been so far.

  • IUBizmark

    Great post! I agree with everything you said. And it sounds like my math is higher than reality, which is a good thing! I think you’re right. Ultimately it comes down, not to money, but to what Brad Stevens really wants to do for a living. Until recently, I always found it curious that his family didn’t move to Boston with him. That has to count for something in our favor.
    I’ll close by saying this, IU fans shouldn’t go floating this idea all over the web because people will laugh at you and claim you’re crazy. But obviously we’re all hopeful the team gets turned around, one way or another.