Don’t look now, but the Hoosiers are in the midst of a mini-run. Who knows where this team was during the doldrums of the Big Ten season. But for the here and now, with a solid win against Ohio State on Saturday on the road and a beatdown against Iowa this evening, Indiana’s looking very much like the team it should have been for most of the season — and then some.
The hot 3-point shooting carried over from Columbus. The Hoosiers hit a ridiculous 63.2 percent from distance (12-of-19) and it didn’t matter who was hoisting. Devonte Green (2-of-2), Curtis Jones (2-of-3), Robert Johnson (2-of-4), Josh Newkirk (2-of-5) and James Blackmon Jr. (4-of-5) all connected from distance. Blackmon Jr.’s performance — especially in the second half — was one to celebrate. Not only was he hot from the field (7-of-9, 23 points), but he grabbed eight boards, dished out four assists, had a steal and turned it over just once in 32 minutes of action. Blackmon Jr. was also great out in the open court making decisions with the ball in his hands on the break. It was one of his better all around performances in the cream and crimson.
De’Ron Davis got into the scoring mix early and kept it going all game, finishing a perfect 7-of-7 for 15 points. You know it’s your night offensively when you’re hitting buckets like these. Green entered the game early for Josh Newkirk after he picked up two early fouls, and he finished the game with an efficient 4-of-6 (10 points) performance, adding a nasty stepback 3-pointer in the second half.
Iowa’s full-court press flummoxed the Hoosiers in Iowa City, but Indiana had little trouble with it this evening. The Hoosiers were simply excellent in transition, making the right decisions for quick scores in a game they posted an effective field goal percentage of 70.7 and scored a healthy 1.25 points per possession. Indiana’s 95 points were just two shy of the Big Ten Tournament record (97).
During their huge run in the second half to put Iowa away for good, the Hoosiers also clamped down defensively. Peter Jok, who dropped 35 on Indiana’s head last month, had just nine points on 4-of-11 shooting and was pretty much a non-factor. Juwan Morgan tallied three blocks. Thomas Bryant had five. For the game, Indiana held Iowa to just .96 points per possession, its best mark against a Big Ten opponent this season, tying the .96 PPP it held Northwestern to in a win on Feb. 25.
So on a night the Hoosiers turned it over at about their average rate (22.4 TO%), blistering hot shooting and stout defense helped lead to a comfortable 22-point lead. It was Indiana’s first win over a higher-seeded opponent in the Big Ten Tournament for the first time in the Tom Crean era.
It’s a little too early to talk about Indiana making it all the way Sunday at this juncture. But if the Hoosiers can keep playing like this — and that’s a big if, especially with how well they shot it from 3-point range — there’s no reason they can’t give Wisconsin a serious run for its money tomorrow night.
At the Buzzer: Indiana 95, Iowa 73
WASHINGTON – Quick thoughts on Indiana’s 95-73 win over Iowa:
How it happened: Iowa kept things close for a half. And then Indiana ran the Hawkeyes out of the Verizon Center. After a Jordan Bohannon free throw drew Iowa to within three at 55-52 with 14:38 to play, the barrage began. De’Ron Davis layup. James Blackmon Jr. 3-pointer. Devonte Green jumper. Another Blackmon Jr. 3-pointer. Thomas Bryant dunk. The 12-0 spurt gave Indiana a comfortable 67-52 lead. After Fran McCaffery was called for a technical with 5:02 to play and Blackmon Jr. hit a pair of free throws, Indiana’s lead was 27. The Hoosiers finished with 1.25 points per possession with an effective field goal percentage of 70.7. Indiana has now won three of four and Thursday’s victory sets up a Friday quarterfinal matchup with Wisconsin.
Standout performer: Blackmon Jr. finished with a team-high 23 points. He also added eight rebounds, four assists, a steal and just one turnover in 32 minutes.
Statistics that stands out: After being outscored 39 to 16 at the free throw line in Iowa City, Indiana won the free throw battle on Thursday night. The Hoosiers were 13-of-19 from the line and Iowa was just 6-of-10. Indiana also won the points off of turnovers battle, 22-18. In Iowa City, it was a 25-18 advantage for the Hawkeyes.
Final individual stats:
Final tempo-free stats:
What to Expect: Iowa
Just 16 days removed from their lone meeting of the regular season in Iowa City, Indiana and Iowa will square off in the Big Ten tournament at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The Hawkeyes are 18-13 overall and finished with a 10-8 record in Big Ten play.
The game will be broadcast at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2 with Dave Flemming, Dan Dakich and Molly McGrath on the call:
WASHINGTON – The Big Ten tournament hasn’t been kind to Indiana.
The Hoosiers are just 11-19 all-time in the event and 3-8 under Tom Crean. None of the three wins have come against a higher seeded team. If Indiana is going to make a run this postseason, that will have to change.
The tenth seeded Hoosiers will play Iowa, arguably the league’s hottest team, on Thursday. The Hawkeyes have won four in a row and the streak includes a 96-90 overtime win over Indiana in Iowa City on Feb. 21. Peter Jok, Iowa’s first team All-Big Ten selection, scored 35 in that victory, including a 22-of-23 performance from the foul line.
What’s on the line for both teams?
A win for Iowa will put the Hawkeyes in position to solidify NCAA tournament hopes in a Friday matchup against Wisconsin. Win that and Iowa is probably in the tournament for the fourth straight season. Indiana, meanwhile, is probably destined for the NIT unless it can make a run to the title on Sunday.
MEET THE HAWKEYES
It’s been a rebuilding season for the Hawkeyes, but Fran McCaffery has his young team peaking at the right time. The primary holdover from last season’s NCAA tournament team is senior guard Peter Jok, who averages a team-high 20.2 points.
Jok used 28.6 percent of Iowa’s possessions in Big Ten play and shot 45.2 percent on 2s and 33.3 percent on 3s. He was also the best free throw shooter in the conference in league play at 91.7 percent.
Point guard Jordan Bohannon, an All-Big Ten freshman team selection, owns the seventh best assist rate in the league. Bohannon is third on the team in scoring at 9.8 points per game and hit 39.8 percent of his 3s in conference play.
Redshirt sophomore guard Brady Ellingson is a 3-point specialist who is hitting 50 percent from distance on the season. Freshman guard Isaiah Moss, a Chicago native, is sixth on the team in scoring at 6.2 points per game.
Sophomore Christian Williams logs the majority of his minutes as the backup point guard. Williams made just 38.3 percent of his 2s and didn’t make a 3-pointer in conference play. He also had a turnover rate of 22.4 percent.
Forward Tyler Cook joined Bohannon on the All-Freshman team. His 12 points per game are second on the team. The 6-foot-9 St. Louis native is excellent at drawing fouls and posted a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 51.6 percent in league games.
Another freshman, Cordell Pemsl, is 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds and has been productive off the bench. He finished conference play as the Big Ten’s 10th best offensive rebounder. Sophomore Ahmad Wagner starts at the four. Wagner made just over 49 percent of his 2s in Big Ten play, but is a poor free throw shooter (45.2 percent).
Sophomore Nicolas Baer, a former walk-on, is a solid defensive player who earned the Big Ten’s sixth man of the year award. The 6-foot-7 Baer finished conference play tenth in block percentage and fourth in steal percentage. Baer is fifth on the team in scoring at 7.6 points per game.
Junior Dom Uhl was expected to take on a much larger role this season, but has been a fringe rotation guy in many games. He’s averaging just 3.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.
Free throws were the story of the first matchup in Iowa City. Iowa took 47. Indiana took 19. The Hawkeyes outscored Indiana by 23 points at the free throw line. Opponent free throw differential has been a problem all season for Indiana and a strength for the Hawkeyes. The numbers should be much closer on Thursday, but the overall body of work suggests Iowa could still hold a decided advantage at the line.
Where Indiana can – and must – take advantage against Iowa is on the boards. Indiana had 16 offensive rebounds in the first meeting (43.2 OR%), but just 14 second chance points. The Hawkeyes are the worst defensive rebounding team in the Big Ten. If Indiana is able to avoid foul trouble and play its most effective guys major minutes, the Hoosiers should have a decided advantage on the glass.
WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO
Indiana is a two-point favorite, according to Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, and a four-point favorite in the Sagarin ratings. The Vegas line opened with Indiana as a one-point favorite.
It’s hard to predict which Indiana team will show up at the Verizon Center.
Will it be the Hoosier team that just went on the road and beat Ohio State with a record setting offensive performance in Value City Arena? Or will it be the group that is 2-8 in true road games and 3-10 overall away from Assembly Hall? Ready or not, tournament basketball is here. Is Indiana ready for the challenge?
In a press release sent out Wednesday morning, it was announced former Indiana standout Scott May will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday, Nov. 19.
May will be inducted alongside Tim Duncan (Wake Forest), Cleo Hill (Winston-Salem State), Rick Mount (Purdue), Paul Silas (Creighton), John Stockton (Gonzaga), Jay Williams (Duke) and coach Bo Ryan (Wisconsin, Milwaukee and Wisconsin-Platteville).
The leader of one of college basketball’s all-time great teams, Scott May was a standout at Indiana from 1972 to 1976 under fellow Hall of Famer Bob Knight. His 1975-76 national champion Hoosier squad finished the year 32-0, and remains the most recent Division I program to complete an undefeated season. He was the NABC, Naismith, AP, Helms Foundation, Rupp and Sporting News National Player of the Year in 1976, and a consensus All-American in 1975 and 1976. May ended his IU career with 1,593 points, and went on to play seven seasons in the NBA after being drafted second overall in 1976 by the Chicago Bulls.
May joins Branch McCracken (2006), Bob Knight (2006), Isiah Thomas (2006) and Quinn Buckner (2015) as former IU players or coaches that are in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Big Ten regular season has come and gone. 126 conference games were played, with Purdue being the last team standing when March came around, capturing their 23rd Big Ten regular season title. It was a wild ride full of upsets, buzzer-beaters and the most parity the conference has seen in a long time.
Now, it’s tournament time. 13 games over the next five days in Washington D.C. to determine who will punch an automatic ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
Before we get started, let’s take a look at the season that was by the numbers.
35 – most points scored by a player in a Big Ten game (Peter Jok vs. Indiana)
23 – most free throws attempted by a player in a Big Ten game (Peter Jok vs. Indiana), seven more than any other player.
22 – most rebounds in a Big Ten game (Caleb Swanigan vs. Minn & Derek Pardon vs. Neb)
16 – most assists in a Big Ten game (Derrick Walton Jr. vs. Nebraska)
11 – most blocks in a Big Ten game (Reggie Lynch vs. Penn State, also a Minnesota record)
7 – most steals in a Big Ten game (OG Anunoby vs. Rutgers)
12.6 – Caleb Swanigan’s rebounding average per game in Big Ten play. Swanigan was the only player in the conference to average over 10 boards per game.
+8.1 – Purdue’s scoring margin in Big Ten play, nearly three points better than any other team (Michigan came in second at +5.4)
2 – the number of buzzer beaters during the conference season (Blackmon Jr. vs. Penn State, Pardon vs. Michigan)
26.2 – the percentage of games decided by four points or fewer or in OT, the sixth highest percentage of any conference in Division I (per KenPom)
Here’s a look at where each team stands after the regular season:
Tai Webster, the lone senior on the Cornhusker roster, had a rough senior night on Sunday, scoring just eight points. As bad as it was for Webster, it was even worse for his squad. The Huskers head into the postseason on a four-game losing streak, with each loss coming by 15 or more points.
The Nittany Lions have lost four straight, the latest an 11-point defeat in Iowa City. They’ll face Nebraska in the opening round Wednesday, where inevitably, one of the two coldest teams in the Big Ten will pick up a win.
In a conference that had a penchant for close games this year, Ohio State found themselves in a battle in nearly every contest. Only two of the Buckeyes’ conference games were decided by more than 10 points.
The Hoosiers avoided a first-round game in the Big Ten Tournament by holding off Ohio State on Saturday and getting some help from Nebraska. Now comes the tough part, as the Hoosiers will almost certainly need to win four games in four days if they want to make the NCAA Tournament.
Northwestern punched a ticket to their first NCAA Tournament in dramatic fashion, as Derek Pardon hit a layup at the buzzer off a full-court inbounds pass from Nate Taphorn to beat Michigan in Evanston. But the fact remains that the Wildcats have lost six of their last nine, and are going to be hard-pressed to make the second weekend of March Madness.
Michigan State dropped their final two games, both on the road, by a combined six points. A tough pill for Izzo’s crew to swallow, but one that may make them all the more dangerous now that it’s tournament time.
What got into the Hawkeyes? Iowa is suddenly the hottest team in the Big Ten after winning four straight, including road matchups with Wisconsin and Maryland. Senior Peter Jok continued dominating defenses and accumulating accolades, as he was named to the first team All-Big Ten. Jok reached double figures scoring in all but two games and was the only player in the conference to finish the season with a scoring average of more than 20.
After losing in Evanston, the Wolverines put up 1.43 PPP on lowly Nebraska last Sunday, shooting 74 percent from inside the arc and 52 percent behind it. Derrick Walton Jr., who was snubbed from the first team All-Big Ten, dished an astounding 16 assists to go along with 18 points of his own.
Going into the final week having lost three in a row, the Terrapins managed to right the ship, picking up wins in their last two regular season contests. Most importantly, Maryland secured a No. 3 seed and a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament, so they’ll have the chance to rest before they play Friday.
The regular season may have ended with a beatdown by the Badgers, but that doesn’t diminish the Golden Gophers incredible turnaround this season. Minnesota improved from an 8-23 record in 2015-16 to 23-8 in 2016-17, earning Richard Pitino Big Ten coach of the year honors.
Wisconsin ended the regular season in a familiar position, with a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament and an NCAA berth locked up. The Badgers still aren’t firing on all cylinders, but in a mediocre Big Ten, they’ve been just good enough to finish the regular season in second. The consistency of Wisconsin is remarkable, as they’ve now won 12 or more conference games for eight straight seasons.
The Boilermakers clinched the Big Ten title on Tuesday by dispatching Indiana and proceeded to knock off Northwestern on senior night in Evanston. They’ll enter the Big Ten Tournament with the top seed and a double-bye, but as Indiana learned last year, a No. 1 seed offers no guarantees.
Adidas unveils “create yours” uniforms for 2017 postseason play
Adidas on Monday morning announced its uniform line for 2017 postseason play, titled “Create Yours.”
The collection will be worn by Arizona State, Indiana, Kansas, Louisville, Miami (FL), Mississippi State, North Carolina State, Nebraska and Texas A&M.
According to adidas, the uniforms will be worn beginning with conference tournament play and will “feature design elements that honor each team’s unique identity and school history.”
Here’s a little more on the Indiana uniform design:
The Hoosiers will don uniforms inspired by the candy-striped warm-ups made famous in the early 70s by legendary head coach Bob Knight. The tonal Victory Red and white pattern along the waistband is reminiscent of the championship banners that hang in Assembly Hall. The back of the men’s shorts and the inside of the jerseys honor the team’s five national titles with five embroidered stars and a call out of the championship years respectively, while the inside of the women’s jersey reads “Hoosier Nation.”
In this edition of the show, Morris and Inside the Hall editor Alex Bozich preview the Big Ten tournament. Among the topics discussed:
· Looking back at IU’s win on Saturday at Ohio State
· IU’s draw in the Big Ten tournament
· How many more wins Indiana needed to remain in the NCAA tournament conversation
· What Indiana needs to do to make a run in D.C.
· The All-Big Ten teams announced on Monday
· Besides Purdue, which team is most likely to win the Big Ten tournament?
And much, much more. As always, feel free to drop the show a note at [email protected].
Inside IU basketball with Tom Crean was live on Monday evening from the Holiday Inn in Bloomington with player guest Thomas Bryant for the final show of the season.
Below are news and notes from Crean and Bryant (all quotes are from Crean unless noted otherwise):
· On the win over Ohio State, “It’s obvious we’re going to play pretty good when the shots are going in. The shots are going to go in even better when we’re defensively creating more stops. (We had) very good team speed, very good quickness on both ends, but it got started on the defensive end. We made open shots, but we got stops. As the game got going, we weren’t quite as good defensively, but we were still good enough to hang in there.”
· On how the team responded after the lead was cut to one early in the second half, “It’s a product of how much we’ve been through and how many close games they’ve been in and the way they’ve been able to respond when we didn’t win. You go through those situations – it goes all the way back to game one, that OT win over Kansas – so over a period of time, and the other part of it is we’re getting healthier, and there’s no question about that. Hopefully, we can stay that way. The other part is there’s not panic because they’ve been in so many tight situations, so they know they can come back. We’ve also had some games where we didn’t hold the lead as well. But the score of the game, the tightness of the game, none of that means anything to them. I think that’s what’s really good.”
· On the health of the team, “Juwan (Morgan) looked closer to his old self than he has in a long time, and James (Blackmon Jr.) even looked better, health-wise. It’s real easy to get centered in on the injuries that we’ve had that have knocked people like Collin (Hartman) and OG (Anunoby) out, but it’s when guys come back from those injuries, it takes time.”
· On if the team will be able to carry momentum from the win over Ohio State into the Big Ten Tournament, “It’s important to have momentum, to have energy, to have confidence, to have health. All those things manifest in each other, and I think that’s the most important thing. We had a great practice today, we didn’t practice yesterday, but we had a great practice today. We got a lot done in the half-court, we got a lot done drill-wise, we had some great competitiveness in terms of our full-court scrimmaging and things of that nature. They’re really in a very good spot and they have been. They’ve got great attitudes. I don’t think you could win the games that they’ve won – I don’t even think we could have been in some of the games that we’ve been in and we didn’t get – if we didn’t have that type of attitude and resiliency. Obviously, we’d like to have more wins, we’d like to have some of the closer game wins, but to keep coming back, time and time again – I’m not sure most people have any idea how hard that is on a young person. You put your own self in an 18-22-year-old’s body, that’s competing at a high level with all kinds of eyes on them, to keep coming back time and time again says a lot about them.”
· On the character of the players, “Some of the best emails and letters (I receive) are the ones that come from people that have an interaction with one of (the players) after a game, or at a mall, or they saw them here or there. And those things kind of go back and solidify that that’s who they are. They’re young people, doesn’t mean they are not going to make mistakes. Here they are certainly held to a different standard than almost anybody would be held to at their age. The same thing with (other) college athletics. They handle that and do a good job of that. I’m proud of those guys.”
· On how the injured players are still a part of the team, “OG is there every day, doing his rehab and in there and a part of (the team). He can’t travel with us right now, but we’ve always done, with the guys that were injured, because we’ve got a lot of experience at it, especially this summer, always worked very hard to make sure that those guys feel that they are getting better, too. No matter what. No matter what we have to do there. I think that helps them stay positive. You would never walk in (to practice) and think that Collin Hartman is not a member of the team or the coaching staff because he wears both hats.”
· On Thomas Bryant and James Blackmon being named to the third team All-Big Ten, “Those are nice, but the whole thing is about what they mean to the team. At the end of the day, when they are off onto the next level, the awards and the honors, just like the rankings when they’re coming out of high school, mean absolutely nothing. To me, I think it’s nice, I think it’s fun. We have to vote. We do all that. I think it’s good. But I still have trouble coming to grips with the fact that Thomas Bryant is 15th in this league in free throw attempts. I don’t have a clear-cut answer as to why. I quit asking why. I think his numbers would have even been greater, in a sense (if he drew more fouls). Obviously, we’ve committed some fouls, but at the same time, I’d like to think a guy like him has earned them. But it is what it is, and he’s had a tremendous impact on the team, as has James (Blackmon), especially coming off the injury. And I never love awards, I hate them at camp and I hate them at the end of the season because people are always going to be left out, but you tip your hat to the people that won them. They win them for a reason, just like when we had them last year, we get them for a reason. You just move on to the next thing, and that’s what these guys are doing this week.”
· On playing Iowa Thursday, “We’re playing against a team that’s shooting the ball at an incredible rate, that has a bonafide star in Peter Jok, and they’re extremely well coached by Fran McCaffery. It’s going to be a tremendous – it’s a challenge and it’s an opportunity – we’ve gotta use it as both.”
· More on Iowa, “We’ve got to take care of the basketball against their press. Whether we’re attacking or whether we’re breaking it. The next big thing is to not slow down – if we’ve attacked (the press) we’ve attacked it – but to not slow down and come back into the set. The more you don’t allow them to set up their zone, the better it is. The other big thing is the rebounding. Without question, you go back to it, I think Peter Jok has shot 12 free throws since he shot the 22 against us. We’ve got to do a great job of keeping them off the foul line a lot better than what we did (in Iowa City).”
· The most memorable moment of the night came during Crean’s last segment, when he made it a point to have a patron named Hugh be able to ask a question.
Crean: It’s our last show of the year, right?
Fischer: It is.
Crean: Hugh has got to ask us a question on the microphone this year. All year long… he’s not listening to us…
Fischer: He’s not listening right now.
Crean: Hugh has got to ask a question. We can’t end the season without a question.
Fischer: Well if he paid attention then he’d know you were talking to him.
Crean: We lost all our people on the radio, we’ve gotta have Hugh (ask a question)
Fischer: He didn’t even have to ask a question here tonight at some point, so think up something decent.
(seven minutes later)
Fischer: Coach, we’re going to wrap things up here…
Crean: No, Hugh. You’ve gotta have Hugh.
Fischer: Hugh, do you have a question?
Crean: He obviously doesn’t because he’s not moving from his spot.
Fischer: He’s moving, coach. He’s moving.
Crean: He’s going to have to move a lot faster than that because we’re going to be off the air by the time he comes up here.
Fischer: He’s sprinting right now. This is a sprint for him.
Crean: He’s a little hard to get, isn’t he Don? He’s playing hard to get. We’re (giving) him an honorary question.
Fischer: He’s got the microphone.
Hugh: Coach, I’ve noticed during the season that Tom Izzo has developed a certain sneer. How about you?
Crean: …I don’t even know how to answer that right now. Whatever I say will be used against me now and down the road. This is what I’ve done with most of Hugh’s questions that went right over my head. I’ll sneer at that one and not answer it.
· Crean ended his portion of the show by quoting Atlanta pastor Charles Stanley, “Disappointment is inevitable, but discouragement is a choice,” Crean said, quoting Stanley. “I’ve never forgotten that. It’s part of his life principles, but I think that applies to everything. I think it certainly applies to a team. No question we’ve had some disappointment, but I’ve never seen discouragement enter me, the coaches, the staff, and most importantly, by far, the players. Hopefully, we can keep going somewhere with that right now.”
· Thomas Bryant, on where he has improved the most this season, “I think I’ve improved in a lot of helping with my teammates on and off the court. Just the right things to do, whether they have an open shot or just defensive keys, because defense wins games. We have to take a lot of pride on the defensive end because we know our shots will start falling and if it’s like that last game against Ohio State, we know our shots will continue to start falling.”
· Thomas Bryant, on if the team has players that ‘struggle to believe in themselves at times,’ as Fischer phrased it, “Of course. That happens with any team. When you’re not knocking down shots and when you start to lose a few games, you start to overthink a little bit. I try to be that guy to just tell them ‘Hey. Don’t worry about it.’ We’re watching film, just continuing to improve from it. Coach Crean is going to help us to continue to improve each and every day. So we have nothing to worry about.”
· Bryant, on having taken on more of a leadership role this season, “I’m comfortable with it…to be that spark of ignition out there on the court, whether it’s defense or offense. I’m, trying to put it upon myself to take on more of a leadership role towards the way I help my teammates.”
· Bryant, on adjusting to being the focus of opposing defenses, “This year I’m really adjusting to (facing double-teams) because they see me as the main guy out on the court. So when I pass it back out of the double-team, I have to look for ways to cut and score the basketball in a fast way, or to pass it out to the guys that are open for them to make shots.”