Notebook: Defense sparks win over Rutgers

  • 01/15/2017 4:06 pm in

IU’s performance wasn’t anything stellar on Sunday afternoon, but it was a move in the right direction. The Hoosiers’ defense was good enough to outbalance their below average offensive play to surpass Rutgers, 76-57.

After another slow start from IU (12-6, 2-3), Rutgers (11-8, 0-6) got off to an early nine-point lead. But IU fought back, responding to coach Crean’s demand for better defense. The Hoosiers forced 21 turnovers that led to 33 points and an anticipated, but much needed victory.

IU shot 4-of-22 for just 18.2 percent from behind the arc. Blackmon, a normal long-range contributor, was 0-of-8 from deep. IU found success in other ways through transition. The Hoosiers had 21 fast break points.

“That’s really what we focused on because that’s when we’re at our best,” James Blackmon Jr. said. “When we get stops and we’re able to run out because we have so many athletes on this team. That was our main focus and I thought we did that tonight.”

Leading scorers for IU were Blackmon with 16 points, OG Anunoby with 11 and Robert Johnson with 10. Off the bench, Anunoby finished with a game-high seven steals and a trio of breakaway dunks.

Curtis Jones, Devonte Green and De’Ron Davis also came in off the bench, adding the spark and energy IU needed to get back into its momentum.

“The hardest thing for any young player to really grasp is how important every possession is,” Crean said. “It takes time for that to be understood but I thought all three of those guys gave us a really good lift inside the game.”

Rutgers didn’t have much going for it offensively, which gave the Hoosiers the cushion it needed. The Scarlet Knights finished the game hitting just 46.2 percent from the free throw line and IU benefitted heavily from their 14 missed attempts.

Flashes of solid defense were refreshing to see, but it wasn’t that way the whole game. Even Anunoby was caught standing out of position. The Hoosiers were also outrebounded for the first time this season 38-29. One good thing to come from the victory was that IU only committed four first half turnovers.

The Hoosiers didn’t necessarily show a sense of urgency for a team looking to get back to .500 in conference play, but they eased back into things with a steady performance.

“Rutgers shot a better percentage at times today but we played a consistent game,” Crean said. “Not a great game, not a perfect game by any stretch. But a consistent game of being active defensively and not having too many game-plan errors.”

Moving forward, IU goes to Penn State on Wednesday night as the Hoosiers look to try and get their first road win this season in Big Ten play.

“The next game is the next challenge and that happens to be on the road,” Crean said. “We’ve been right there and we just need to get ourselves in position to learn how to win and make more winning basketball plays.”

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  • David Macer

    Lets run thru the next 5-6 games undefeated and gaining momentum.

  • Piker

    If we play D and limited TOs like today and make a couple more 3s I like our chances in the next 5.

  • vicbert caladipo

    This was one of the more enjoyable games to watch, but Of course I have to keep in perspective the opponent. If anything positive, it leaves me salivating for the next game.

  • TomJameson

    Hailey, without getting down to the nitty-gritty details, you’ve given the best characterization of the game yet – “….wasn’t anything stellar on Sunday afternoon, but it was a move in the right direction.” I think that sums it up quite well.

    Coming off the bench seems to be motivating OG, maybe that should continue to happen for another game or two.

    I understand CTC getting mad about the last second alley-oop play from DG. Those bad sportsmanship plays have been causing quite a stir this year. Even to the point of a coach ushering his players off the floor without the final hand-shake. Plus, I’m sure they were told to just dribble the time off. Still, hope that doesn’t keep CTC from continuing to give DG 15-20 minutes a game.

    It’s disappointing that TB’s post game seems to be getting worse, but then he doesn’t play the post much anymore either. I’d love to see him work on getting the ball a little closer to the rim, and getting the ball off a pick-and-rolls, but he (and CTC) seems to be just letting his college game go to the dogs, just to focus on what he’ll need in the NBA.

    Anybody else concerned about the foul discrepancy in the game? Seems that IU is getting called for a lot of fouls where the boys are playing pretty good defense (“vertically good, and good footwork). IU needs one of those players that can draw a foul just by touching the ball and looking at the rim.

  • The big question is whether or not they can replicate the defense. I agree that it was a fun game, but so was the Maryland game. I just wonder what will happen if they don’t get as many fast-break opportunities (due largely to steals and knock-aways, thanks OG) and can’t hit shots. PSU, at home, can probably take care of the ball better than Rutgers, and also have somebody go off for another “career night.” If so, and IU can’t buy a basket (again), it could be another rough one. This is a critical stretch and IU should win its next half dozen, and they really need to win all of them. That makes the next game virtually a must-win, at this point. I’m confident, but a little apprehensive, for the above-stated reasons.

  • Next games starting line-up, based on what I saw last game, should be the following:
    RJ, JBJ, Green, OG, and Davis. This was the most electric and successful lineup from last game (1st half, I believe). Why not replicate what works?

  • I agree with a lot of this, and will add a potentially explosive point to this, channeling your observation on OG coming off the bench. Unless something great happens in practice this week, the same should be done with TB. He’s been underperforming and something needs to be done, especially with his inside play. Get back to basics and focus only on the post. Enough with this stretch-4 pro-ball crap. He can work on that later. If he can’t be a dominant post player for IU, NOW, then give Davis a shot at it. TB can compete for the 4 spot with the others, if that’s what they want. As of right now, I’d take Morgan at the starting 4 spot over Bryant. Davis should be given a shot, if TB (and Crean perhaps) aren’t taking TB’s post play seriously by this point. Maybe some bench time will do him some good, as it seems to have done for OG?

  • I’m still in favor of OG coming off the bench, so my only change would be swapping him for JM. Huge agreement on DG for JN.

  • Just had a thought: perhaps part of CTC’s reaction to DG’s play at the end (in addition, I’m sure, to DG simply ignoring CTC’s direction) is that 1) it was the last play of the game, and it’s not like he could have simpy been benched for it and 2) it sucked McFly into a bad play. I think McFly as much as anyone needs to be following directions very closely if he’s going to continue to develop. Simply a quick thought…

  • About TB, I think maybe we should shift our entire perspective on where/how he should be playing. I think he’s simply not a post player. I mean, which is more likely this season–that TB becomes the post player we want him to be, or DD continues to develop and becomes that player? If right now TB is more effective moving around the court (and I know he’s not defensively, but he seems to be more effective offensively when he’s not just playing with his back to the basket), then how likely is it that he’ll develop otherwise before moving on to the NBA? DD is already stronger in the post, and so maybe he’s our center and TB is simply another forward. Round peg and square hole, maybe?

  • I think if we can’t hit from outside or get transition points, then we lose. I can’t imagine we suddenly morph into a team with a strong grind-it-out halfcourt game. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I think this team simply keys off of OG. If he’s playing strong defense, then everything else follows. If he’s not, then we lose to good opponents. I’m not sure I see that changing.

  • If the season is going to turn around, I think that’s exactly what needs to happen.

  • Well that’s just it, TB hasn’t been particularly effective offensively, inside or outside. He’s been average. There’s no way of really knowing, but I wonder how much time he spends on working on post moves as opposed to “other aspects” of the game. I do love the fact that he has an outside shot and can handle the ball in a pinch, etc., but has all of that overshadowed “the basics” for a big guy? I recall from a while ago that some were saying TB should work on a hook shot, and I think that was spot-on. If he is sufficiently athletic to shoot threes, run the floor (very well), and all the rest, than a hook should be a piece of cake. (“should” be) He’s established himself as an outside threat. The whole point of all that (which I agree with) was to make defenders play him tightly, to open up the paint, etc…not so that he would become an outside player. This is of course just my reading of the situation and I probably have a few things wrong. But I think it’s now time for “back to the basics.” Recenter on the inside game, and maybe the 3’s will begin falling for everyone again. IU was supposed to have one of the best inside threats in the country, and remains a very large (and talented) team. Time to capitalize!

  • True on the OG. When he plays great, IU hasn’t lost. Others’ games come and go, but that hasn’t been a decisive factor, unlike OG. I absolutely agree with that. As for the half-court game, I personally prefer the style IU plays now. It’s great to see when working and a lot of fun. But lately it hasn’t been working. Great teams find ways to win. So if the shots aren’t falling and the defense isn’t creating run-outs and a fast-paced game, then they need to find another way to get baskets. Davis showed he can do it. JBJ last game (and a few others before) has shown he can get points when 3’s aren’t going down; arguably RJ has done the same of late. Bryant MUST become another big weapon here. He did last year and was incredibly effective (70+%!). It seems to me to be the obvious next step.