Five takeaways from Indiana’s win at Northwestern

IUJackITH0004Following Tuesday’s surprising loss to Wisconsin, Indiana bounced back on Sunday afternoon with a 67-59 win over Northwestern at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

The win moved Indiana, now 4-1 in the conference, into a three-way tie for second place in the Big Ten with the Badgers and Michigan.

· Cody Zeller is picking up the pace in Big Ten play: It’s not that Zeller wasn’t solid in the non-conference schedule — he was — but as IU’s bench has struggled to find its groove in league play, IU’s sophomore center is upping his production. In five Big Ten games, Zeller is averaging 19.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and is shooting 77 percent from the foul line. Still, the uptick in his numbers isn’t registering much, if at all, with Zeller. “I could care less,” Zeller told reporters yesterday. “A win’s a win.” With the Big Ten schedule backloaded with tough games, Indiana needs Zeller to continue to getting to the line (39 free throw attempts in five league games) and working his post game to open up perimeter opportunities.

· Indiana is winning on the road: The competition hasn’t been the stiffest, but the Hoosiers now own road wins over Iowa, Penn State and Northwestern. For some perspective on this, you can look at IU’s final Big Ten road record a season ago: 3-6. And we don’t even need to get into the record away from Assembly Hall the three years prior to that. The overriding point is that even though the wins haven’t been as dominant as some expected, these early wins should help build confidence heading into the remaining road schedule, which includes Purdue, Illinois, Ohio State, Michigan State, Minnesota and Michigan.

· The bench continues to struggle: Indiana’s bench again provided little in terms of offensive production. The group totaled just six points (all by Will Sheehey) and the Hoosiers currently lack an adequate and trusted backup when Zeller goes to the bench. One encouraging bit of news is that Derek Elston did play, albeit briefly, after practicing for the first time on Friday. Tom Crean said on Monday’s Big Ten coaches teleconference that he expects Elston and Maurice Creek to be available at some point this week and even noted that Creek could have played yesterday, but said that it wasn’t “the time nor place” to put him in the game. As the Big Ten season moves along, the Hoosiers must be able to count on a couple of their bench guys because situations will arise that will require them to do so.

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Vonleh takes on nation’s top player on ESPN showcase

012112It wasn’t quite the showing 2013 Indiana commit Noah Vonleh had hoped for against the nation’s top player in Andrew Wiggins, but even so, he showed plenty of signs of the player he can eventually be on Sunday evening.

Vonleh fouled out in only 16 minutes of action in New Hampton’s 56-47 loss to Huntington Prep (West Virginia) at the Spalding Hoop Hall Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The 6-foot-8 Vonleh finished with nine points on 3-of-9 shooting, five rebounds, one steal, one assist and one turnover in the contest.

Even though Vonleh’s minutes were limited due to several questionable early foul calls, it was evident from the outset that nerves were a bit of a factor for Vonleh. He forced a few shots early on, missing three consecutive field-goal attempts without hitting the rim in the first half. Vonleh even airballed a 3-pointer that never got anywhere near the rim.

But once Vonleh got comfortable, he did some positive things on the offensive end.

He got on the board with a 3-pointer from the right wing early in the second quarter and made a nice post move on Wiggins for an and-one just over a minute later. He pump faked, got Wiggins up in the air, and drew the foul.

Vonleh then picked up his third foul just before the half and was never able to be nearly as aggressive. He drilled a deep 3-pointer with 5:09 to go in the game to bring New Hampton within two points, but he missed his final shot attempt and fouled out shortly thereafter.

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Recruit roundup: Vonleh named to USA Junior National Select team

071212Throughout the season, Inside the Hall will keep you posted on how IU’s six 2013 signees and James Blackmon Jr. are performing at their respective schools. 

You can send us stats or results for this report at insidethehall@gmail.com

2013 SIGNEES

· Collin Hartman (Indianapolis Cathedral): Nine points in a 69-43 win over Indianapolis Howe on Jan. 15, five points and six rebounds in a 91-50 win over Shortridge on Jan. 17 and 3 points in a 76-54 win over Indianapolis Northwest on Jan. 19. All games were a part of the City Tournament. Cathedral plays in City Tournament championship at Indianapolis Tech tonight.

· Devin Davis Jr. (Warren Central): Eight points in a 53-45 win over Terre Haute South on Jan. 18.

· Luke Fischer (Germantown, WI): Team-high 27 points in a 73-60 win over Whitefish Bay on Jan. 18.

· Noah Vonleh (New Hampton Prep, NH): 13 points and 15 rebounds in a 55-54 loss to St. Thomas More on Jan. 14. Seven points and 16 rebounds in an 82-72 win over Brewster Academy on Jan. 15. No stats available in a 37-33 loss to Philip Exeter on Jan. 18. Eight points in an 61-59 loss to Notre Dame Prep in the BABC Basketball Showcase on Jan. 19. Nine points, five rebounds, one assist and one steal in a 55-47 loss to Huntington Prep on Jan. 20 in the Hoop Hall Classic. Vonleh was named to the USA Junior National Select team for the Nike Hoop Summit.

· Stanford Robinson (Findlay Prep, NV): Sixteen points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block in a 71-47 win over Thurgood Marshall (Oh.) on Jan. 18 at the 2013 Flyin’ to the Hoop Invitational in Kettering, Ohio. (Recap and Video)

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Notebook: Hoosiers hang on at Welsh-Ryan

EVANSTON, Ill. — After a 21-point, 13-rebound performance, Cody Zeller sat at the postgame podium inside Welsh-Ryan Arena and was asked by a member of the media to react to the big numbers he’s put up so far this Big Ten season.

“I could care less,” the normally docile 7-footer responded, feigning a smile. “A win’s a win.”

It was perhaps the theme of Indiana’s afternoon against the Wildcats, a 67-59 win in which the Hoosiers were outscored 42-36 in the second half and had trouble with the Wildcats’ halfcourt trap out of a 1-3-1 zone. Northwestern, behind some sharpshooting from distance (5-of-10) and little mistakes on offense (just one turnover) after halftime, were able to make things interesting after Indiana went up 16 at the 11:09 mark on a pair of Christian Watford free throws.

“They just kind of speed us up for a while, we kind of panicked for a while,” said Zeller. “That’s what their defense forces you to do. Once we started getting into the middle, the baseline, we started getting open shots.”

Those shots came on three straight possessions: A Jordan Hulls jumper was tipped in by Zeller. A Victor Oladipo 3-pointer followed by a Will Sheehey jumper also helped keep the Wildcats at bay, though a Jared Swopshire 3-pointer after IU’s mini-run pulled them to within five points with 2:31 to go. But that’s as close as it would get. The Wildcats could do little else but put the Hoosiers to the line late, where they converted (7-of-8 in the last 57 seconds).

“A very telling point for this game was when we scored three straight buckets when the game could have gone the other way for us,” said Tom Crean.

The Hoosiers have now won their first three road games of the Big Ten season and five of their last six dating back to last season.

“It’s kind of tough to explain, even in high school I didn’t believe in home-court advantage (being) such a big deal,” said Zeller. “But now that I’ve experienced it is — it’s worth quite a few points.”

Added Tom Crean: “It’s really hard as a freshman to go anywhere in the Big Ten, but especially to play Northwestern for your first time. Because you have no real idea just how hard they cut, how much movement they’re in … until you go through it, it’s hard, it’s really hard.”

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HD Video: Tom Crean reacts to win at Northwestern

EVANSTON, Ill. — Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 67-59 win over Northwestern on Sunday afternoon.

Watch and listen to his postgame comments in the embedded media player below:

Quotes after the jump.

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HD Video: IU players react to win at Northwestern

EVANSTON, Ill. — Cody Zeller (21 points, 13 rebounds), Christian Watford (14 points, six rebounds) and Jordan Hulls (15 points) met with the media following Indiana’s 67-59 win at Northwestern on Sunday afternoon.

Watch and listen to both press conferences in the embedded media players below:

HD Video: Carmody, Northwestern players react to IU loss

EVANSTON, Ill. — Bill Carmody, Dave Sobolewski and Reggie Hearn met with the media following Northwestern’s 67-59 loss to Indiana on Sunday afternoon.

Watch the press conference in the embedded media player below:

The Minute After: Northwestern

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Thoughts on a 67-59 win over the Wildcats:

First things first. Indiana is 3-0 on the road in the Big Ten. While it’s easy to pick apart the mistakes this team has made in second halves, particularly in Big Ten play, it’s important to recognize this team is 16-2 overall and 4-1 in the country’s toughest conference.

Early on, Indiana established control despite not playing its best offensively for the first 20 minutes. That’s because the Hoosiers held the Wildcats to 7-of-23 shooting from the field in the first half. Besides Reggie Hearn, Northwestern barely showed up in the first half on its way to 17 points.

Christian Watford was a big reason why Indiana was able to open up a lead of as many as nine points less than six minutes in the game. The senior from Birmingham was hot early on, scoring seven of IU’s first nine points. It seems Indiana has been looking to get Watford going early in games and today was no exception. He finished with 11 points and four boards in the first half.

Cody Zeller also picked back up the strong play he showed in the first half against Wisconsin as he pulled down eight first-half rebounds, three of the offensive variety. Victor Oladipo also had three offensive rebounds in the first half and the combined effort of Zeller and Oladipo led to the Hoosiers posting a 43.8 offensive rebounding percentage before intermission.

But with a 14-point at the half, the question looming in everybody’s mind was this: Would Indiana put Northwestern away or allow the Wildcats to claw their way back in?

It took a while to come to fruition as the Hoosiers led 45-29 with 11:09, but thanks to a 1-3-1 zone defense that Indiana couldn’t solve, Northwestern made a run. The lead dwindled all the way down to five at 47-42 at the 6:48 mark on a layup by Hearn and it became clear that Indiana would either answer the call or let this game go all the way down to the wire.

Fortunately for IU, Zeller was there to make a play, just as he did for most of the afternoon.

His layup with 6:20 to go stretched the lead back to seven and he followed that with an tip-in of a missed runner by Jordan Hulls to make the cushion nine points. Northwestern never got closer than five the rest of the way and Zeller finished with team-highs of 21 points and 13 rebounds.

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Live Discussion: Indiana at Northwestern

Pick to Click: Northwestern

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Rules are here, for those unfamiliar.

Cody Zeller was the pick to click winner for Iowa, Christian Watford was the winner for Penn State, Zeller was the winner for Minnesota and Zeller was again the winner for Northwestern. Full standings will be posted after five games.

Pool for Northwestern: All players are eligible to be picked.

Picks are due by 12:45 PM ET on Sunday.

A few reminders:

· State the name of the player (not a nickname) that you’re picking. If you use a nickname for a player, your pick will not be counted. Also, please state who you are picking as the first thing in your comment. We’re tracking hundreds of picks per game. It’s more difficult to keep track of everyone’s pick if it’s not the first thing in your comment.

· Please make sure you are using a valid e-mail address if you are not registered.

· Please make sure you are using the same name each time to pick if you are not registered. We are tracking wins by the name you use to submit your pick. If your name changes on a game-to-game basis, credit for your pick will be given to the name used to submit the pick.