Hoosiers lackluster in another loss in Madison

  • 01/03/2018 8:16 am in

MADISON, Wisc. – Big Ten play resumed on Tuesday evening with Indiana heading to Kohl Center to face the Wisconsin Badgers.

On the line for the Hoosiers was a chance to surge past the .500 mark early in conference play and end a streak of futility in Madison that stretched back to Jan. 1998.

On its face, it was the perfect opportunity to end the 20-year Kohl Center drought. Wisconsin had limped through non-conference play barely above .500 and had lost two key players, sophomore D’Mitrik Trice and freshman Kobe King, to long-term injuries. In addition, just hours before the game, it was announced that starting guard Brevin Pritzl wouldn’t play because of a head injury.

For one half, Indiana appeared motivated and ready to finally topple the Badgers on the road. The Hoosiers had fought through major foul trouble to take a three-point lead into the break, but it wouldn’t last.

Indiana’s defense, whether it was Freddie McSwain, Juwan Morgan or De’Ron Davis, simply couldn’t stop junior Ethan Happ, and it was beginning to take its toll.

“Happ was really able to, 90 percent of the time, be a guy that could get the catch and be able to make really good decisions,” Archie Miller said of Happ, who finished with 28 points, nine rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks. “Whether it be working off of double (teams) or crowds or whatever it may have been, he pretty much made the right play every time.”

By the media timeout at the 11:41 mark of the second half, the Hoosiers were down six. Wisconsin had already put up 21 points in the half, scoring on nine of their first 13 possessions.

“We have lulls. We can’t have those, especially on the road,” Collin Hartman said. “Road wins are hard to come by, especially in the Big Ten. We just have to come together, and when something bad happens, we can’t let that multiply. We have to stop that and rebound and get back.”

That’s when Indiana’s body language began to deteriorate.

In the huddles, players looked somber as they kept to themselves and listened to the instructions from the coaching staff. There was no spark, nobody providing a sense of belief, despite the game being far from over.

It only got worse from there. With each Badger bucket, the Hoosiers seemingly became less engaged, less willing to fight for that 50-50 ball that could turn the game around.

The end result? A comfortable 71-61 win for Wisconsin.

“I think every guy can raise their (energy) level a lot,” Miller said. “I think there’s a consistency level from some guys every day, and there’s really an up-and-down with some guys every day. You just don’t know what you’re going to get from game to game.”

This scene was common last year when the Hoosiers were failing to live up to expectations and the frustration was mounting after each successive defeat, culminating in an embarrassing first-round exit from the NIT.

This year? It’s a sight rarely seen, and the Hoosiers can’t afford for it to happen again.

“There’s a lack of toughness,” Miller explained. “There’s a lack of intensity defensively. Whether it’s guarding the ball, whether it’s discipline guarding the post, whether it’s rebounding the ball on the first miss, all those things come into play for 40 minutes at a time.”

Indiana will now have several days to ponder their abhorrent second-half showing before heading to Minneapolis to face a Golden Gopher squad that is vastly more talented than the Badgers. A repeat performance could mean an ugly Saturday afternoon at Williams Arena.

(Photo credit: Wisconsin Athletics)

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  • Oldman

    No effort, no enthusiasm, no fire, no pride, no win!!!!! This is the same team as we ended the year with last year….. Maybe a name or 2 has changed but the attitude is the same. These players did NOT improve under Crean and not sure Arch can bring any improvement either. Same mistakes as last year and same effort????

  • N71

    I had the full bipolar experience yesterday. Excited throughout the day that the BigTen was starting up again, hopeful we’d put in a Duke/Notre Dame effort, optimistic we could get a program energizing win…then came the game. Going to bed I was just hoping to fast forward to next season. At this point I’d look to invest time in a guy like Justin Smith that has a chance versus those that just don’t.

  • IU_theoracle

    Spot on, I felt the exact same way and do looking forward. I don’t understand the limited playing time for Justin Smith or Clifton Moore. If you aren’t going to red shirt them then play them because the other guys aren’t cutting it so build for the future.

  • IU_theoracle

    To me this is all about the group of players, not the coaches. I blame Crean for brining them to IU when very few belong. But I don’t think Jesus Christ himself could win with this group.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    I really thought CM would have a more dramatic effect on the players. Didn’t expect to see this team lay down and die repeatedly. Seriously, how the hell can you go to Wisconsin without a gigantic chip on your shoulders. Complete embarrassment of a performance that I hope they’re ashamed of.

  • Outoftheloop

    Very poor showing in the second half when the game was there to be won. Juwan, Collin, and then nobody! Play Justin, Clifton, Devonte, and Al with Juwan, Collin and Zach. Reward effort and passion! Beat MN!

  • N71

    If we tried to strike a balance between playing guys that are giving us something and guys that could give us something next year we’d certainly go with Juwan and then add in Collin and Zach. From there Justin seems to have a significant upside, its a toss up between Al, Devonte, DeRon, and Clifton. In a perfect world Juwan would play the entire game, never get tired, and allowed 10 fouls.

  • GHG

    Pack line defense is not working w this team… How many times will we double the big man and leave wide open threes? it’s painful to watch TBH

  • N71

    I think we need to warm to the idea this will continue. Installing the system is the priority, winning is second…currently. At least it seems that way.

  • Jethro Jones

    Doubling Happ I thought was necessary, but they still couldnt stop him. They doubled him right when he put the ball on the floor.

  • cyberg8s

    I hope Coach Miller is as frustrated as we are. Big difference is he’s in a position to do something about it. Hope he finds a way to do so or this long season is going to get longer.

  • Jethro Jones

    I think his demeanor on the sidelines and post game conferences shows he’s frustrated. I hope he finds a way to get through too. My blood pressure can’t handle this.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    the worst part of the game was having to listen to you know who on ESPN. still at 5 for over/ under for wins in the BIG.

  • Arch Puddington

    Not that my opinion matters, but I have made this same point a number of times. This team is going nowhere. Not only would switching systems interrupt the long-term development of his program, there is not one reason to think it would change outcomes. The same team couldn’t defend last year, even when it had three NBA players and a system they had all been coached in for years. No, Archie has to — and no doubt will — stick to his plan until his system is fully in place and his players fill the roster. And I don’t look for next year to be much better, frankly. Nearly half the roster will be freshmen, and the highest ranked player on the roster will be DD, who is on his way to “bust” status. Even Romeo won’t by himself make us very good if he chooses to come here.

    To me, it will be at least 2019-20 before we can be truly competitive, and even then it will take a recruiting class that includes Brooks, Jackson-Davis, and/or other top players. Our cupboard is quite bare, and while I think things will improve over time, there is nothing on the horizon that suggests a big turnaround is imminent. I do think we will see a more coherent scheme on the court as the right players for the system get in the mix, but it would be kind of stunning if a group of freshmen ranked no higher than 73rd came in and immediately made us good. Sad, even sickening, but probably true.

  • HuntinHoosier86

    I would much rather watch a passionate starting 5 of our walk-ons lose by 50 and be proud of the effort than watch a 10 point loss by a group of lackadaisical starters. If we’re going to lose either way, I’d rather feel proud of our guys’ effort. Just my opinion, though.

  • HuntinHoosier86

    I completely agree.

  • mctravis2

    Tough to watch that second half. I’d definitely like to see more of the freshmen going forward.

  • GHG

    I just don’t understand why people believe it will work when it’s Archie’s recruits? I understand if we have the top athletes, but we won’t be able to get them until we start winning consistently. going inside out is a very simple concept that every coach is taking advantage of vs us.

  • IdahoHoosier

    Harkens us back to Crean’s early days. Didn’t have a lick of talent, but they played hard. I enjoyed watching those teams more than I do this team honestly.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    sad but true. as i mentioned earlier, i really thought CM would be able to change the players’ mentalities and infuse some of his toughness and discipline. i didn’t expect a drastic change, but i expected something, if nothing more than a little added spark! but if anything, the intensity and just plain pride is worse than last year. so it’s hard for me not to give CM a bad grade this year too, though i’m looking forward to him bringing in some toughness. because calling this team a ‘finesse’ team gives them too much credit

  • Don Kotouc

    We have good athletes who are just ordinary basketball players….

  • ImYourHuckleberry

    In the midst of yelling at the television last night I made my 5 month old daughter cry. I apologized and rocked her back to sleep while softly humming the Indiana fight song…

    This year is a let down but only because I set expectations too high. However, the future is bright. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not very bright but I see it. Archie is our man. Indiana is our team. We will be champions again.

  • Arch Puddington

    I would say two things;

    1. These players couldn’t defend last year, either, so it seems fair to put most of our defensive struggles on them.
    2. Archie’s defenses got better essentially every year he was at Dayton. His Kenpom rankings were, in order:

    160, 145, 72, 30, 43, 15.

    At least to me, that is pretty strong evidence that getting his players into his system does work, albeit over a longer period of time than we would prefer. If by the end of his third season we aren’t seeing something much, much better, we’ll have reason to be concerned. Until then, there is reason to imagine better things are on the way.

  • GHG

    thanks for the info. all makes sense

  • Ole Man

    Was glad to see Justin get a few minutes. He hustled some.
    DG and Clifton apparently aren’t giving the necessary effort and passion are they would be in there (judging by what little we’ve seen of Archie’s system.)

  • IU_theoracle

    I completely agree with pretty much everything from this entire thread of comments. I would say the main point from this is that it is a result of the personnel on this team and not the coaches. I was definitely an advocate to remove Tom Crean from his position because I did not like his style of coaching and his lack of a plan for year over year stability (which is clearly showing right now in this team). But I don’t believe there is any coach in the world that could make much of a difference with the current group of players. They didn’t play hard under Crean, they certainly aren’t playing hard under Miller, this is just the group we have and we can than Crean for recruiting and assembling this team. There is little talent, and little heart. I would gladly keep Juwan Morgan, Colin Hartman, Zach McRoberts and the three freshman and wave goodbye to the rest of the team if I had that option.

  • IU_theoracle

    Totally agree with you. At guard I’d prefer to see Newkirk’s minutes significantly cut and just roll with Green at PG and then rotate between Al and Rob at the 2 with Newkirk as the backup at the 1. We really need to start playing a bigger lineup because the 3 guard lineup is clearly not working.

  • Vernon Aldrich

    I’m not religious, but WOW.

  • HuntinHoosier86

    I agree. That’s sad and I don’t blame Archie one bit. It’s all on the players whether they’re going to give it their all when they’re out there.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    Slight change in wording I think, we have good athletes who are not B1G level competitors.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    And there are so many bad habits yet to be broken (used to switch on every possession, now no), never learned to shut off the baseline and turn defenders to the middle for help (I bet Ethan Happ had at least 10 points driving the baseline – fix JUST THAT and we are in the game at the end)….. Combine the bad habits with players that lack toughness, and you get a team that will be lucky to win 5 games in the B1G.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    I think it was you and I that debated early in the season as to whether DG would become a go-to player. And I argued that RJ would be our leader. Boy was I wrong, you were right.
    The problem with you being right on RJ and me being right on DG is now we literally have NO GOOD GUARD PLAY.
    We can never compete in the B1G without good guard play, period.

  • Arch Puddington

    Yes, some spirited debate as to who would step up. The fact that we were all wrong adds up to a really bad team. DG just has no flow right now. He is too hesitant at some moments, too aggressive at others, and his confidence seems shot. RJ is what he has always been — a generally solid role player who defends well, but turns the ball over too much and sometimes disappears on offense. Neither provides that center-of-gravity that we all knew we would need coming into the season, and we are paying for it every game.

  • Don Kotouc

    Agreed; a long season ahead?

  • Arch Puddington

    Dakich did good job of showing one of those plays where Happ was given the baseline instead of being forced into the double team. CH was the defender in question, and DG was in great position to challenge Happ if he had put the ball on the floor to move to the middle. Instead, CH cheated towards the middle, and Happ spun right around him for a layup. Granted, Happ is a mismatch for Hartman, but still. If you are guarding someone bigger than you, the last thing you want to do is give away your help. And CH is actually one of our savvier players. Something just isn’t right with this group.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    Absent a player stepping up, I’m afraid so….

  • IUBizmark

    Well, the closer we get to having zero chance to make the NCAA/NIT, the more you’re going to get your wish to see the underclassmen. Remember, if we had won the Indiana State and Ft. Wayne games, we’d be 10 and 5 right now with a decent chance to make the tournament (only due to SoS). Instead, we’re in full desperation mode, so Miller is playing the guys he thinks will keep us in the hunt. We’re about out of chances, so I’d expect to see the young blood very soon.

  • Jeffrey Nicholson

    Win the 1st half, lose the game.

    Standard IU gameplan.

  • MrNobody

    Took the words right out of my mouth. EXACTLY what I was going to say.

  • Kwang

    A reference to Moye’s quote before the Duke game?