Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss at Minnesota

  • 02/16/2017 8:38 am in

Indiana dropped its fourth straight on Wednesday night as the Hoosiers fell 75-74 to Minnesota at Williams Arena. The Hoosiers are now 15-12 overall and 5-9 in Big Ten play.

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

· Another close loss: Another close game, another close loss for Indiana. The Hoosiers are now 1-5 in Big Ten games decided by five points or less.

This loss, like many before it, came because of Indiana’s inability to make simple plays late. James Blackmon Jr. had a costly turnover with just over a minute to play that turned into two Jordan Murphy free throws and a Minnesota lead.

And in the game’s closing seconds, Indiana forced Akeem Springs into a tough shot from the corner. Indiana could have wrapped up the win with a defensive rebound. But the Hoosiers didn’t block out, Springs grabbed his missed shot and scored with 3.2 seconds left to lift the Gophers to a one-point win.

It’s a tough loss for Indiana to swallow given how well it played for much of the second half and how badly it needed a win.

· Indiana’s offense is cratering: Indiana’s offense was once a great strength. That is no longer the case. For the fifth time in six games, Indiana didn’t reach the one point per possession mark.

The Hoosiers finished at .98 points per trip and needed 45 second half points to get there.

Thursday’s performance, from an effective field goal percentage perspective, was Indiana’s worst since the December 31 loss to Louisville at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

So what’s wrong with the offense? Besides the turnovers, Indiana has stopped making 3s. Since hitting 11 3-pointers against Michigan State last month, the Hoosiers are just 47-of-145 from behind the arc for 32.4 percent. Indiana was just 7-of-27 on 3s (25.7 percent) on Thursday.

· No answer for Nate Mason: Minnesota junior guard Nate Mason has been terrific for most of this season and on Thursday, Indiana had no answer for his offensive barrage.

Mason’s 30 points were one shy of his career-high. He scored at the rim, from behind the 3-point line and was 11-of-12 from the free throw line. At one point, Mason even barked at the Indiana bench, which didn’t seem to be well received on the Hoosier sideline.

“Nate Mason was as good as it gets,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. “He was playing with unbelievable confidence. Especially in that first half, he was unstoppable. He saved us because our offense was not clicking.”

· Free throw differential, points off of turnovers: When you take a close examination of Indiana’s Big Ten losses, there are two significant themes.

The first is the points off of turnovers differential. In nine conference losses, Indiana has been outscored by 87 points off of turnovers. Thursday was just a four-point differential, but in a one possession game, it certainly mattered.

Being outscored at the free throw line is another major issue as IU has now been outscored by 53 points on free throws in nine league losses. Thursday’s differential was six points.

Through 14 Big Ten games, Indiana is 12th in the league in turnover percentage and last in opponent free throw rate.

· Indiana is now in danger of missing the postseason altogether: The NCAA tournament isn’t going to happen for Indiana unless it wins the Big Ten tournament, but could the Hoosiers miss the NIT, too?

If this slide continues, the Hoosiers could miss postseason play completely for the second time in four seasons.

Three of Indiana’s remaining games are on the road, where the Hoosiers are 1-6 this season. The remaining home game is against Northwestern, which has plenty to play for in terms of NCAA tournament seeding. And Indiana hasn’t been good at home recently with consecutive losses to Purdue and Michigan.

After a 10-2 start and wins over Kansas and North Carolina, it’s hard to fathom the Hoosiers not making the postseason at all, but as the losses build, it’s becoming a real possibility.

(Photo credit: Minnesota athletics)

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  • Outoftheloop

    I don’t “blame” James for the loss. But he did have two serious bad-plays in the last 1:30 of the game against MN. He also had 2 bad plays at the end of the Purdue game, the strip/TO of a 3 point shot and the no block out on the rebound. As IU’s best player and hopeful NBA draft participant, I expect greatness. In the B1G, James is .439 on FG, .373 on 3’s, .781 FT, 40 reb,, 21 A/20 TO, 16.2 pts in 31.8 min/game (11 games). Good numbers but NOT great, very close to Robert’s numbers. No one on the team is playing well! Only Grant (2/2) and Zach (2/5) are shooting over .400 on 3’s. But they are not “the guy” at the end of the game!

  • Koko

    moved on

  • IULore

    Where is all the transfer talk coming? Is there any evidence?

  • IULore

    “In the wind” any source or evidence? I’m genuinely curious.

  • Ole Man

    No, Tom. It wasn’t me who blamed him.
    Here is what I said: “Tom, I agree, but that isn’t how the game is played.”
    Then I said you couldn’t leave JBJ. And you and I may think it’s silly, but in the minds of many fans, it isn’t.
    That was my point. That was my original post.
    Go back and reread it.

  • I don’t have any. Really, I was just channeling some other folks here who have those concerns. Now, if I were to predict based on my gut, I’d say that things seem negative enough in the program right now that a transfer or two wouldn’t shock me.

  • Larry Brown

    no, all caps or all small caps just confirms i don’t have the time to be switching back and forth. And I certainly have the right to judge a total absence of a box out.
    “Pure judgment and emotion” is funny, actually a ridiculous statement. The tape does not lie.

  • Larry Brown

    it is ridiculous for a player to get to major D1 and not know how to box out or not to care about boxing out. Even you must admit that. Grade school kids might care only about scoring, but by the time you’re at the major college level, don’t you think they should care about boxing out? And equally ridiculous that a coach at that level doesn’t teach it to said player. But perhaps he just was not aware that there was enough time on the clock for the kid to go get the board …. which would be an equally grave problem.

  • Larry Brown

    It’s rather emotional for you to accuse me that way, but I understand, you’re disappointed and passionate and feel the need to lash out at someone who simply makes observations based on real data. I don’t even care honestly if they win or lose. I’m more a Butler fan now than IU, because Butler plays fundamental basketball. My OBSERVATION is that IU year after year does not play good fundamental basketball, and that was fully on display on the final play of the game just like it was on the final play of the Butler game or the final play of that Illinois game a few years ago or the final play of the Butler game a few years ago when Crean took Zeller out for some strange reason giving the Butler PG a clear path to he basket vs IU’s weakest defender .Say what you want about me, the FACT is that IU under Crean has never been a good fundamental basketball team except for half of last season and the the Zeller team.

  • Larry Brown

    and btw, I do not “manage to blame CTC for the thing…” It is clear the kid is not well-coached How does a major Div I player fail to box out on the final play of a contested game, giving his man a clear path to the board? You tell me please. I played college bball btw, and if I had done that, I would have been in the doghouse for awhile thereafter. Heck, I was tossed out of practice once for taking a bad shot — the type of shot IU guys take all the time.
    Bottom line is, IU lacks discipline. If you want to claim it does not start with the coach, go ahead, but I know otherwise.

  • b_side

    This McIntosh thing is one of the more overrated storylines in my opinion.

    Based on dates I’ve seen:
    1) McIntosh committed on 9/9/2013.

    2) RJ committed on 9/20/2013

    3) JBJ had decommited but was still considering us and UK.

    Crean recruited a monster class for 2013 that, presumably, was expected to carry into 2014-15.

    As you say, hindsight is 20/20, but the only reason we signed Hoetzel, Priller and April (let’s add Holt to the list) is because of the mass exodus from the Movement (Jeremy/Jurkin) and Disaster classes (Fisher, Vonleh, Stan). Etherington transferred too.

    Having said all that, the only way Crean lands McIntosh is by commiting a recruiting violation akin to Trey Lyles and UK (went unpunished that he visited unofficially despite his IU verbal).

    I’m as frustrated as anyone at Crean, but he made the right choice at the time.

  • Arch Puddington

    Excellent points. A couple in return:

    1. That JBJ was still considering us doesn’t matter much. He de-committed just a few weeks before McIntosh committed to NU, and at that point the smart money as on Kentucky. His buddy Lyles was clearly going there, and JBJ himself has said that he and Devin Booker had discussed committing together.

    From almost literally the day he de-committed, CTC went on an aggressive campaign to add someone else. Isiah Whitehead said that Crean told him explicitly that he wanted him to “replace” Blackmon, and CTC would clearly have taken him if he had committed. McIntosh is neither JBJ nor Whitehead, but the point is that he was available and the spot was open.

    2. I don’t view this issue as a major one. It dovetails too closely with the larger trend of trouble landing Indiana players, but that wasn’t such a problem then. CTC was on a different kind of roll at the time, and clearly thought — rightly, as it turns out — that he would end up with a 5 star player in that slot. The real cratering of the program began after that season, as you point out, so I suppose all in all it makes sense that McIntosh wasn’t high on his list. I suspect he would have been at the TOP of his list in May of 2014, but of course it was too late by then.

  • b_side

    Very good point on JBJ. Forgot about Whitehead and honestly, glad he passed.

    Some members on the paid forum also brought up McIntosh recently, so that’s partly why I’m on the soap box here. Obviously not one of us cared last season when we absolutely smoked Northwestern at home with McIntosh getting bottled up by Yogi and RJ. Now that he had a great game of his own in the friendly confines of Evanston (and a very solid season overall) mixed with our struggling PG play, suddenly we’re all playing the “what if” game.

    I’ll be rooting for him in the NCAA tournament though.

  • Piker

    I felt the same way, just a feeling. And it would of been more so if the refs did not blow the whistle ever time DD played D. He would of got a lot more minutes and the loss would not have happened. I think DG and DD will be getting a lot of minutes moving forward and be starters next.

  • Piker

    I think the student section end has the cheerleaders and extra local media outlets which create a human barrier at that end. Other end no one just dangerous.

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  • Larry Brown

    A player might be a lightning rod because he typifies why the team is losing. You have a player who is a great scorer and everyone knows they could be a better defender or could have boxed out on the last play of the game, but the player chose not to. Now you can certainly that IU would not have been in the game at all if not for that player and you are probably right. There is certainly plenty of blame to go around. But when you see that on the last play of the game you know there is a problem there. And that’s all I am saying. Credit is due to the kid for his scoring Acumen but he and the coach do deserve to be called out for a lack of fundamentals

  • AndyCapp

    I don’t think it really matters if *I* think he is an NBA prospect and I have no crystal ball prediction on that subject. I think most objective people feel that he is an elite shooter, albeit somewhat inconsistent, and that he (and others?) lack fundamental in-game bball IQ. This is not to say that they cannot learn HOW to play the game well, they just haven’t been taught or taught in a way to make them effective. I lay that on CTC. Does that necessarily mean that JBJ won’t get drafted by someone after college? No, I think he might. Because they draft on potential and, other than his injuries, has demonstrated enough potential to shoot lights out to mitigate some of his other weaknesses. I really think the only thing that might scare someone off of JBJ are his injuries.

  • kaponya44

    No I take that as we agree it’s about not being that position to begin with.