Film Session: The smarts of Victor Oladipo

Victor Oladipo stands as one of the most efficient scorers in the country this season, as his 72.0 effective field goal percentage is currently second in all of Division I.

Oladipo’s improved perimeter shooting — and in particular, his 3-point stroke — coupled with a strong 82 percent on attempts at the rim are the biggest reasons for his high shooting marks. But there are also smaller, subtle things — the junior picking his spots and not forcing things, the technique he’s using around the rim — that are also a factor in just how he’s been so dang efficient.

A quick look at three such smart scores from Monday’s Penn State game in the latest edition of Film Session:

I. THREE BALL

Oladipo starts with the ball up top. Penn State’s defense is a little out of sorts here, as Jordan Hulls is open on the left wing. The Nittany Lion bench notices and points him out:

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Hulls gets the pass from Oladipo, but he quickly whips the ball to Will Sheehey:

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Sheehey dribbles to the middle and passes to Remy Abell on the weakside:

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Penn State’s D is still a little funky here. Sheehey gets the ball from Abell with Oladipo near, but Penn State only has two defenders around the three of them:

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The Inside the Hall Mailbag: January 9

IUBSUbbITH0012The Inside the Hall Mailbag is a collection of questions tweeted to us via Twitter (@insidethehall) and sent to us via our Facebook page. Submit your questions and we’ll answer as many as we can. 

Joe Weis writes: Besides limiting turnovers and hitting more foul shots, what is the one focus area to match up with (and beat) a Michigan team that has looked so dominating thus far?

This goes without saying, but the obvious difference maker in the Feb. 2 game is likely going to be the crowd in Assembly Hall. The Wolverines never play well in Bloomington and it’s fair to say the atmosphere could reach Kentucky levels.

There are a couple of other less obvious areas to hone in on. The first: How will Trey Burke respond to a bigger, more athletic defender like Victor Oladipo? Obviously putting Oladipo on Burke could put Indiana at some disadvantages in other matchups, but it’s hard to see anyone else drawing the assignment on a guy who is playing as well as anyone in the country.

You mention Michigan’s dominance, but defensively, I think Indiana will be able to score the ball. The Wolverines aren’t particularly great in their defense of 2-point field goal attempts (allowing 46.1 percent) and IU is great at finishing plays around the rim. This game, if both teams continue on their current paths, has a chance to be the best to-date in college hoops this season. — Alex Bozich

@steiny0626 writes: how much will IU non-conference sched. hurt them for seeding in tourney? wins vs gtown and nc seem less proving than thought?

It’s hard to imagine the non-conference schedule having a huge effect on IU’s NCAA Tournament seeding because their Big Ten schedule is truly a grind. IU has single-plays with three teams in the bottom half of the league (Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin) which means the Hoosiers are playing Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Minnesota all twice. That’s truly brutal. Right now the strength of schedule is a little lower than some Big Ten peers, but it’ll stack up just fine nationally once the league schedule plays out. — Alex Bozich

Jeff Bundy writes: How soon do we expect to see Mo Creek return?

Creek is looking at a return date of a week to two weeks after suffering a right foot injury. Crean said on Monday that he’s not expecting to play Creek on Saturday against Minnesota, but that it was a positive that he’s been on the floor recently without his boot. — Alex Bozich

@eastwood88_20 writes: Is iu turnover issues going to cost iu vs top end of the bigten or is simply the level of talent they are facing?

I think the turnover “issues” you mention are somewhat a product of the pace Indiana is trying to deploy. Tom Crean has talked about trying to push tempo and produce more possessions (and shots), so turnovers are naturally going to occur as a byproduct. Overall, Indiana is turning it over on 19.2 of its possessions this season and the Hoosiers finished 2011-2012 with that figure at 19.1. I think pointing to turnovers as an issue at this point is splitting hairs when you look at the fact that IU has the fourth most efficient offense in the country and its record is 14-1. — Alex Bozich

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March Watch: It’s never too early to talk seeding

IUJackITH0004Selection Sunday is a little more than nine weeks away and Indiana is roughly at the midway point of their schedule, so it’s time for our first 2013 edition of March Watch and a look at where the Hoosiers stand in terms of the NCAA Tournament.

Overview

Indiana’s lone blemish is an 88-86 overtime loss to Butler at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and their RPI and strength of schedule numbers should both begin to trend upward as Big Ten play rolls along. With a strong pool of favorable 2nd and 3rd round venues in terms of proximity, the Hoosiers will likely be able to take advantage of the pod system and land at a site like Dayton or Lexington.

IU currently sits at No. 6 on ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s s-curve, trailing Duke, Michigan, Arizona, Louisville and Kansas.

Nitty Gritty Profile

· Record: 14-1 (2-0 Big Ten)
· RPI: 16
· SOS: 43
· Home Record: 10-0
· Away Record: 2-0
· Neutral Court Record: 2-1
· vs. RPI Top 50: 3-1
· vs. RPI Top 51-100: 1-0

As Lunardi wrote Tuesday at ESPN Insider ($), IU’s non-conference schedule is currently working against the Hoosiers in seeding exercises. The overall strength of schedule is still respectable, but eight guarantee games could be viewed as a bit on the heavy side by the selection committee. Of course that nitpicking of the schedule will be totally irrelevant if Indiana wins the Big Ten, as a No. 1 seed would become a lock.

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Video: 2015 guard Bryant Crawford vs. Salesian

2015 point guard and IU recruiting target Bryant Crawford tallied four points, seven assists and one rebound (unofficially) in a 65-59 Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.) win over Salesian (Calif.) on Saturday evening in the Cancer Research Classic in Wheeling, West Virginia.

Watch two minutes of highlights below:

Five takeaways from Indiana’s win at Penn State

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Indiana started off 2013 with an impressive performance as the Hoosiers crushed Penn State 74-51 on Monday night at the Bryce Jordan Center. Here’s a look at five takeaways from IU’s fifth straight win:

· What road problems? Yes, Indiana finished 3-6 last year on the road in the Big Ten. But dating back to last season, the Hoosiers are now 4-1 over their last five true road games and comfortably dispatched of Penn State on Monday. The Nittany Lions might finish in the Big Ten’s cellar, but the win moved IU to 2-0 in the league and most impressive of all, the start to this game left little doubt on the eventual outcome. After trailing 3-2 following a 3-pointer from Brandon Taylor, IU reeled off a 13-0 run and maintained a comfortable margin the rest of the way. Two straight road wins to open the conference season will certainly build confidence from within that this group can continue to win away from Assembly Hall.

· An assertive Watford is a major plus: After IU’s win at Iowa, I wrote that Christian Watford wasn’t the difference in the win, but he was a critical factor. In State College, Watford was even more assertive offensively early than he was in Iowa City. In the game’s opening four minutes, Watford finished two plays at the rim (one of which resulted in a 3-point play) and also buried a 3-pointer. Watford has been criticized frequently for failing to finish plays around the basket, but his field goal percentage at the rim has increased from 54 percent last season to 58 percent so far this year. After failing to record a rebound in IU’s win over Florida Atlantic on Dec. 22, Watford now has 22 rebounds over his last three games.

· Indiana fills it up from the perimeter: It wasn’t nearly the performance put forth last January at Penn State, but IU used the 3-point line efficiently on Monday and it was a collective effort. In total, five different players connected from distance, including Jordan Hulls, who bounced back from an 0-for-10 performance from the field at Iowa. Victor Oladipo connected on his only 3-point attempt and is now at 47.8 percent on the season. Remy Abell continues to take the perimeter shot when it’s available and is now 12-of-20 from outside after shooting just 6-of-15 last season. In total, Indiana now has five players with eleven or more 3-pointers made and Will Sheehey owns the lowest percentage at 39.4.

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HD Video: Tom Crean reacts to win at Penn State

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 74-51 win over Penn State at the Bryce Jordan Center on Monday night. Watch and listen to the press conference in the embedded media player below:

Tim Gilbert is a sophomore at Penn State majoring in print journalism and is a Daily Collegian copy/wire editor.

Notebook: Watford’s start fuels IU in comfortable road win

IUJackITH0006STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Christian Watford set the tone with a 13-point first half Monday and the Hoosier defense took care of the rest as No. 5 Indiana set down an overmatched Penn State team, 74-51.

Thanks mostly to Watford, the Hoosiers (14-1, 2-0 Big Ten) were hot early against the Nittany Lions (8-6, 0-2).

Indiana led 44-27 at halftime and despite a sloppy second half that included 13 turnovers, the Hoosiers prevailed easily in front of 9,386 at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Eight of the Hoosiers’ first ten points in the game came from Watford.

“We wanted to get him going. We went to him right off the bat,” Tom Crean said. “That was a big part of our gameplan. And he responded.”

Penn State only led once, 3-2 at the 18:20 mark of the first half, but Indiana would quickly get the best of the Lions, reeling off a 13-0 run from there.

“I just wanted to be aggressive, wanted to get in the paint and get some easy buckets to start off,” Watford said. “My teammates did a great job of finding me and we executed some plays and took it from there.”

Though the second half produced a more balanced score (30-24) and Watford only scored three more points, Indiana had an answer every time Penn State scored. The longest run of unanswered points the Lions could muster was six, and the rest of their runs were no greater than 3-0.

“I’m really proud of our team’s effort defensively, on the road, to come in and hold a team to under 32 percent shooting,” Crean said.

When it was all said and done, the Hoosiers outshot the Nittany Lions 52.4 percent to 31.7 percent, with four starters finishing in double figures.

Hulls bounces back

It’s not like senior guard Jordan Hulls to endure an 0-for-10 shooting night, which he did on Dec. 31 in the Hoosiers’ 69-65 win at Iowa.

As such, the senior bounced back in a big way against Penn State, knocking down four of six field goals, including two of three 3-pointers, and finished with 14 points.

“I was in [the gym] quite a bit, yeah,” Hulls said with a laugh, “but nothing really changed. Those games happen and we were able to get a win – that’s all I really care about.”

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HD Video: Hulls, Watford react to win at Penn State

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Christian Watford (16 points, eight rebounds) and Jordan Hulls (14 points) met with the media following Indiana’s 74-51 win over Penn State on Monday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Watch and listen to reaction from both IU seniors in the embedded media players below:

Tim Gilbert is a sophomore at Penn State majoring in print journalism and is a Daily Collegian copy/wire editor.

The Minute After: Penn State

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Thoughts on a 74-51 win against the Nittany Lions:

I. Slow starts have befallen the Hoosiers on occasion this season, but save for an early 3-2 deficit, they established themselves as the dominant team from the onset in this one. They were aggressive on both ends of the floor — their patented mix of turning defense into offense in transition and ball movement and making the extra pass in the halfcourt. And the sometimes-energy-deficient Christian Watford was anything but during Indiana’s early stretch which pushed the lead out to double digits — where it remained for much of the night. Watford had eight of Indiana’s first 10 points thanks to a 3-pointer and two scores at the bucket, the second of which he converted into a three-point play after getting fouled.

By half, Watford had 13 points and five boards. By the time he left the floor late in the second half, he had 16 points and eight rebounds on 5-of-8 shooting. When he’s got it going — and specifically when he’s finding the balance between his 3-point shot and looking for opportunities at the bucket — it’s just another thing the opposition is going to have to worry about.

Indiana scored 44 points in the first 20 minutes, had 14 field goals on eight assists, scored 1.28 points per possession and shot 51.9 percent from the floor (6-of-11, 54.5 percent from 3-point range). They also got to the line and shot it well — 10-of-13 for 76.9 percent. Penn State shot just 34.4 percent, scored just .78 points per possession and were clearly giving up some in the talent department.

II. And there was the start of the second half — a sloppy, messy, gross affair. It put this game into quicksand. Indiana only had five turnovers at half; it had eight in just the first 6:47 in the second half. Penn State wasn’t able to gain much of an advantage in this frame of time, however, because it had some issues with the ball of its own (six in that same 6:47 timeframe). (The full tale of the tape on this: Indiana’s 17 turnovers were only converted into nine points on the evening by the Nittany Lions.) This stretch — one in which Indiana scored just six points — was a factor in the Hoosiers not pushing this one up into the 80s for their final tally. The other? the Hoosiers left a decent amount of points at the line, as they shot just 57.1 percent (12-of-21) after halftime. This all meant Indiana scored just .88 points per posession after half, and Penn State a paltry .69.

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Pick to Click: Penn State

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Rules are here, for those unfamiliar.

Cody Zeller was the pick to click winner for Iowa. Full standings will be posted after five games.

Pool for Penn State: All players are eligible to be picked.

Picks are due by 6:45 PM ET on Monday.

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.