The Minute After: Northwestern

  • 01/29/2017 9:39 pm in

Thoughts on a 68-55 loss to Northwestern:

EVANSTON, Ill. — After its embarrassing loss to Michigan earlier in the week, Indiana started this one much better. The Hoosiers locked in on both ends and jumped out to a 10-1 advantage.

But the lead was short lived.

The Hoosiers fell into its old traps that have limited them in this once promising season — at one point turning the ball over on six straight possessions, at other points allowing straight line drives and open shots — and a nine-point lead turned into a 12-point deficit at half.

“We weren’t making enough shots,” Tom Crean said of the first half stretch where Indiana lost the lead. ” … The key was we let them get a couple of runouts and some confidence.”

But it wasn’t just the defense and turnovers (20.7 TO%) that limited the Hoosiers tonight. The offense had its worst performance of the season as it mustered just .88 points per possession, shooting an effective field goal percentage of only 39.6 percent. Thomas Bryant scored 23 points (7-of-13) to tie a career high and added 12 rebounds. Indiana worked it inside to him a lot and he often fought through a number of Northwestern bodies to get a shot up. Bryant also added two blocks on the defensive end.

He was about the lone bright spot offensively in the absence of James Blackmon Jr., though Robert Johnson’s 4-of-6 mark from distance helped. Josh Newkirk, Josh McRoberts, Devonte Green and a hobbled Juwan Morgan shot just a combined 4-of-22. The Hoosiers also shot just 13-of-22 (59.1 percent) from the free throw line.

Had Indiana had just an average offensive outing at Welsh-Ryan Arena, it could have been a fight to the finish, as Northwestern’s offense wasn’t otherworldly (1.09 points per possession, 45.5 eFG%). But Indiana could never break through in the second half, as it trailed by double-digits the entire final 20 minutes of the contest. So it goes down as a second straight loss in a rough week for the cream and crimson.

Bryant McIntosh put on a show for the Wildcats and ended the contest with a team-high 21 points (7-of-13), eight assists, four rebounds and a steal in 37 minutes of action.

“I thought he controlled the game,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said after the game.

Scottie Lindsey added 12 points, at one point putting Bryant on roller skates. Vic Law had a rough shooting night (2-of-12) but chipped in with 12 boards — all defensive.

Indiana now sits at 4-5 in conference with the next three contests against Penn State (home), Wisconsin (road) and Purdue (home). Will Blackmon Jr. be back for any of them?

Maybe.

His father told the Marion Chronicle-Tribune before the contest that his son will “be ready to go in the next couple games.”

With the way Indiana’s offense sputtered in this one, the sooner Blackmon Jr. can get the back in the lineup, the better shot Indiana will have the rest of the way in conference play. But he alone won’t be Indiana’s savior.

This season’s slowly slipping away, and unless Indiana figures things out collectively as a team, the NIT may be their fate.

(Photo credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports)

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  • Bud Jenkins

    At this point iu doesn’t really have a reputation to ruin

  • Bud Jenkins

    That is the AD’s job, and honestly i don’t have a ton of faith in him

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    They are this year’s stats. But based on your comments, I don’t think it’s worth spending the time to discuss this with you further. Anyone who thinks Crean should be coaching middle school basketball isn’t worth discussing the issue with. It’s cool that you don’t like him, but be a little reasonable.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    I don’t know that he is the guy to get us to the next level or not. What I do know is that he has already made a FF. For us to upgrade, we need to get a guy with a better track record, and I’m not convinced that there are too many of those guys who will be available either due to contractual obstacles and/or willingness to leave a good job already.

    I think IU is a great program and one of the top 10 jobs in the nation. But if people would take the time to actually look and see who might be available, they might be underwhelmed by the options. That said, if we *KNEW* we could get a Jay Wright from Nova…sign me up right now.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    I really didn’t know that, but I was not really concerned with “fan comments” as much as the negative effect of having a coach on “the hot seat.” I don’t think our comments on this blog have much effect either.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    One of the best comments I’ve read all season. I agree on all points. Well stated.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    I’ll do my best to watch from here on out. I’ve just been reading box scores all season. I’ll try to do better…

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    Neither of us have suggested that it is. It isn’t like we are comparing the IU basketball program to the formation of a public employees union. They are both college sports at two institutions with similar traditions. Of course it isn’t an exact comparison, but there are a lot of similarities. I’m struggling to understand how you don’t see that.

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    Don’t have a ton of faith in which aspect? Judging competence and character? You may be right, but if that’s the case, then I’m worried about the hiring that’ll follow the firing.

    Let’s be honest, it’s not that hard to fire. You thank a person for their time, be diplomatic about the reasons for it, be firmer if the situation calls for it, and in a case like this you make certain the lawyers weigh in on what it means contract-wise.

    But the hiring… if there’s doubt about the AD’s ability, then even if a termination is necessary, a program is still setting itself up for failure. That too is a factor to consider. Like I said above, getting rid of a coach is not even half the equation.

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    Aha! An actual supporting argument! I knew you had to have one somewhere in there. 😀

    Yeah, one and done basketball players are a definite continuity issue for basketball coaches, but at the same time it’s not like you don’t see football players leave early. You do. Besides, I don’t see it being such an issue that it would justify playing the coaching carousel in basketball but not in football. Again, the point is that firing isn’t an automatic upgrade, and that stands regardless of whether your roster is composed of 1, 3, or 4 year players. IU’s own history proves that coaching upgrades can be hard to get; Notre Dame football’s and UCLA’s basketball program just epitomize it further. Cases like North Carolina’s with Roy Williams aren’t the norm.

    And yes, Harrick. And Lavin. The point was that the UCLA HC treadmill wasn’t exactly returning that program to the holy land (and the highpoint NCAA title with Harrick came at a cost to their reputation, not to mention a firing of that same coach for the transgressions). Sure, Knight improved Texas Tech. And Williams rescued the Tar Heels. But ask Iowa how it fared with Alford. There so many cases of failures out there, and just talking about boldness and bravery doesn’t prevent that from happening.

    Again, if the need for a new coach comes – or, if as you assert is already here – it has to be handled properly. You don’t seem to want to acknowledge the possibility of failure, yet there are so many examples you want to find reasons to ignore. Ignoring them doesn’t change the lesson they teach: You can go downhill just as easily as you can improve. Ignoring that is ignoring what’s happened in the real world.

    I’m enjoying this conversation – really, I am – and I respect the hell out of you as a longtime forum member and someone with firm, unshakable stances. But the problem is, I don’t see too much beyond your argument besides wishful thinking and handwaving. Is the charge of “fear” really a good, thoughtful refutation? Or is it an attempt to get a rise? And even if what you want happens and Crean is gone, what next? Who takes his place? My goal here is less to see if any coaches are real improvements and more to demonstrate that so many advocating for Crean’s termination can’t elucidate much if anything beyond “Fire Crean”. Yet, the firing is supposed to pave way for a new coach. So, what’s the plan? And hand in hand with that is, how does IU hire right and make sure the program doesn’t go downhill? It’s fine if you haven’t thought past that – anger is like that, and it’s something I myself struggle with in so many things – but if you don’t have a well thought out answer, then blaming the question on “fear” is not a good response. It doesn’t hide the fact you don’t have an answer (or for some odd reason don’t see fit to give one). And it does what I said to Calbert40 above: It turns what could be a very enlightening conversation with people who know so much about basketball into a bitching match. And because of the many thoughtful, knowledgeable fans Indiana has and I’ve personally met, I expect more. Much more. “We’re Indiana” extends to the fandom, and I believe Hoosier basketball fans are better informed than the standard hoi polloi that litter the comments sections of Bleacher Report and ESPN. I just wish I would see that manifest more.

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    Maybe. My own argument would be that there’s a difference between “dormant” and “dead” reputation-wise, and I don’t even think IU is close to “dormant”. But yeah, the point is that it’s not like it was in Knight’s time, and I definitely agree with that.

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    Yeah, it is. And I know you do too. Everything downthread is posted with respect towards you and that love for IU.

    Granted, it’s also posted with a little bit of ornery spirit that comes naturally when talking about sports… but hey, that’s part of the fun. Hope you understand that anything I post in reply to you isn’t done with spite, anger, or any malicious thoughts towards you. Although obviously I’m in whole-hog with the disagreement part.

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    After a day, I confess, I’ve been having fun with it… yay, old photo editing skills. And an actual legitimate copy of Photoshop! 😀

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c191c4a0349fa71709840f6f56d1b1fcda9aae936484ca20210125f597b68c41.jpg

  • Ole Man

    It ain’t personal 😉

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    That amongst many other reasons. Basic Defense, and basic offense shouldn’t have to be yelled at the players during the game. That is what practice is for. Crean has mad a habit of being on the floor the entire game, instructing the guys like it’s a video game. Teach them the right way to play and sit back and let them play. I’d argue his coaching during games is more a distraction than a benefit

  • bandyindy

    Why does everyone assume we need a national championship coach? Yes, Stevens would be nice to get but that’s not likely – what is wrong with a young up and coming coach? Look at what Chris Collins has accomplished at Northwestern, what do you think he could do with the resources available to him at IU? What about Dane Fife at Michigan State, and yes I don’t think Tubby or Fisher are the answer either. We don’t necessarily need an older coach with a national championship on his resume, but we do need a change. CTC has been given more than enough time to show us what he doesn’t have to take us to the next level – it’s time to pull the plug!