POTB 164: Five game losing streak and what’s next

Podcast on the Brink is back for a new episode with host Jerod Morris of The Assembly Call. The show is available weekly during the season.

In this edition of the show, Morris and Inside the Hall editor Alex Bozich are joined by Zach Osterman of The Indianapolis Star, to discuss his recent piece on the state of IU basketball and much more. Among the topics discussed:

· Zach’s thoughts on why Indiana continues to fall off as the season moves along
· The different narratives out there on the state of the program
· How big of an impact the injuries have had on Indiana’s free fall
· Can anything happen from this point forward to change the tone around the program?
· The end of year discussions about the program and possible outcomes
· Zach’s piece titled: Long a blueblood, what’s IU basketball now?

Related content: Game Theory podcast with Sam Vecenie

And much, much more. As always, feel free to drop the show a note at jerod@assemblycall.com.

Listen in the audio player below, download the episode, subscribe via iTunes or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Film Session: Iowa

In Indiana’s loss to Iowa on Tuesday night, the Hoosiers often had trouble with the full-court pressure from the Hawkeyes.

Even when Indiana avoided the traps at halfcourt and looked to begin running some offense, the Hoosiers remained a little sped up by the pressure and still turned the ball over. They particularly got themselves into trouble on the baseline.

We’ll look at four turnovers due to the press in the latest edition of Film Session:

With Indiana up five nearing the midway point of the second half, Josh Newkirk inbounds the ball to Robert Johnson:

Johnson dribbles it up a bit as he’s met at halfcourt. He passes the ball ahead to Freddie McSwain:

McSwain quickly makes a move to the basket off the right corner on Cordell Pemsl:

But McSwain starts to get out of control and bodies Pemsl:

Pemsl falls to the ground as McSwain loses the ball. He’s whistled for an offensive foul. Iowa ball:

McSwain has shown some promise on offense as a putback rebounder as well as a cutter off the baseline. But he’s not a player that’s proven he can put the ball on the deck and make a move, which got him into trouble here.

Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss at Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa – In a game it led nearly throughout, Indiana couldn’t come up with a play when it mattered the most down the stretch on Tuesday night. As a result, the Hoosiers dropped their fifth straight game, falling 96-90 in overtime to Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

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

· Indiana has the second worst opponent free throw rate of any power five conference team: Indiana has had trouble keeping opponents off the free throw line all season, but the issue reached new heights on Tuesday night.

Iowa outscored Indiana by 23 at the line and posted a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 83.9 percent. Indiana’s opponent free throw rate in conference play is now 46.3 percent, the second highest of any power five team in league play. Only West Virginia, which plays a full court pressure defense with the objective of creating turnovers, has allowed a higher opponent free throw rate in conference play.

Postgame, Tom Crean didn’t want to discuss the officiating, but it’s clear Indiana’s inability to keep opponents off the line has played a significant factor in Indiana’s collapse. In 10 Big Ten losses, Indiana has been outscored by 76 points at the free throw line.

· The turnover problem continues: As Indiana built a 17-4 lead in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa looked like the rattled team. The Hawkeyes were turning it over and Indiana was capitalizing early on.

But as the contest moved along, a familiar script returned: Indiana couldn’t take care of the ball. The Hoosiers turned it over 22 times for a turnover percentage of 26.6. It was Indiana’s second worst turnover game from a percentage standpoint in conference play. It’s late February and Indiana’s turnover problem isn’t going away.

The 22 turnovers turned into 25 points for Iowa. In Big Ten losses, Indiana is being outscored by 94 in points off of turnovers. That’s a number too high to overcome, particularly in close games.

· No answer for Peter Jok: Iowa senior guard Peter Jok was benched, along with the rest of the Hawkeye starting lineup, just over two minutes into the game as Indiana sprinted out to a 9-0 lead.

But once Jok returned, Indiana couldn’t keep him off the foul line. Jok finished with a game-high 35 points and hit 22 of his 23 free throw attempts. The 22 made free throws broke an Iowa record set by Don Nelson against Indiana in 1962. And the 23 free throw attempts were a Carver-Hawkeye Arena record.

“He was really good, he was really strong,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “He mixed it up. He posted a little bit. He came up top. He was on the wing. He gave it up a few times. He was really, really special tonight.”

· Indiana’s slim at-large NCAA tournament hopes are now gone: Tuesday’s loss clinched Indiana’s second sub .500 record in Big Ten play in the last four seasons.

It also all but guaranteed that the Hoosiers won’t receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament for the second time in four seasons. Indiana’s chances to make the tournament now rest on winning the Big Ten tournament next month in Washington, D.C.

As a likely bottom four seed in the conference tournament, Indiana is likely to play on Wednesday of the event for the first time since the conference expanded to 14 teams.

· Indiana appears to be out of answers: The Hoosiers are now in a downward spiral and with seven losses in its last eight games, this season is beginning to look like Crean’s first three years in Bloomington when the team couldn’t win down the stretch.

Indiana is now 1-5 in February with two games remaining against a likely NCAA tournament team in Northwestern and a definite NCAA tournament team in Purdue. After that, the regular season wraps up in early March with a road game at Ohio State. The Hoosiers have won at Ohio State just once under Crean and that came during the 2012-2013 season.

The frustration on the face of Crean and the IU players in the postgame was evident. The same topics are coming after each game – turnovers, defense and free throws attempts by the opponent. Right now, Indiana has no answer for any of its issues.

(Photo credit: Iowa Hawkeyes)

Notebook: IU’s losing streak grows to five with loss at Iowa

Indiana led Iowa for nearly 38 minutes in regulation on Tuesday night.

All the Hoosiers had to do was hang on for the final two minutes to end a four-game losing streak and win just their second game on the road this season.

But after leading by eight with under five minutes to play, Indiana surrendered its lead for the first time with 2:13 remaining. It was the same story in a close game for IU as things fell apart down the stretch giving Indiana a 96-90 loss in overtime.

“It’s disheartening as hard as we play, we make our mistakes as do the other teams, to not have it go our way,” Tom Crean said postgame. “They’re working their tail off preparation-wise, practice-wise, we were fresh, and we were energetic.”

In the game’s final 20 seconds, it looked like the Hoosiers might not even force overtime. Iowa freshman Tyler Cook missed a point blank look at the end of regulation that would have given the Hawkeyes a win at the buzzer.

But Thomas Bryant wasn’t called for a foul on the play, giving IU another breath of life heading into overtime. But the Hoosiers couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity.

Indiana fell victim yet again to turnovers, foul trouble and poor defense in its fifth straight loss. The Hoosiers committed 22 turnovers, a Big Ten conference season-high.

The lack of awareness and poor decision-making from IU turned into 25 points off of turnovers for Iowa. Up until the overtime period, whenever Iowa scored, IU found a way to match it. But when things got down to the wire, the Hoosiers couldn’t overcome their own mistakes.

“Basketball is a game of runs and we made them run early,” Robert Johnson said. “Any good team is going to respond and that’s what they did. We tried to weather the storm and I think at the end of the game we did a good job doing that, we just fell a little short.”

Lack of discipline proves costly for Hoosiers in OT

IU went more than 11 minutes before it committed its first foul. By the final buzzer, the Hoosiers had collected 35 fouls. Iowa finished 39-of-47 from the free throw line.

Senior Peter Jok took control for the Hawkeyes in overtime, scoring 15 of his game-high 35 points in the final five minutes. Eleven of those points came from the free throw line.

Multiple Hoosiers were called for touch or reaching fouls and were caught out of place on defense.

In overtime, three of IU’s starters, Josh Newkirk, Robert Johnson and James Blackmon Jr. fouled out, along with Juwan Morgan. It seemed as though no one from IU’s starting lineup could defend without fouling in the tight situation.

“You think the rule is one way but you know different referees call it different,” Johnson said. “You just have to read the game and just adjust to how they’re calling it.”

Johnson breaks out of slump

After a scoreless night against Minnesota, Johnson scored in double-digits for the first time since February 5. He finished with 19 points, six rebounds and seven assists.

Johnson, with the help of Newkirk and Blackmon, carried much of the weight early by accounting for 24 of IU’s 33 first half points.

On Johnson’s game-high fifth steal, he found Newkirk on a breakaway that led to a pair of free throws to tie the game at 75.

Tuesday night’s loss guarantees that IU will finish below .500 in conference play for the first time since the 2013-14 season, when it finished 7-11 in Big Ten competition.

With just three games left before the conference tournament, IU returns home to face Northwestern for senior night on Saturday.

(Photo credit: Iowa Athletics)

Video: Tom Crean reacts to loss at Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 96-90 overtime loss to Iowa on Tuesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Watch his postgame comments below:

Video: IU players react to loss at Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Robert Johnson and James Blackmon Jr. met with the media following Indiana’s 96-90 overtime loss to Iowa on Tuesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Watch their postgame comments below:

Video: Fran McCaffery reacts to win over Indiana

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Fran McCaffery met with the media following Iowa’s 96-90 overtime win over Indiana on Tuesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Watch his postgame comments below:

The Minute After: Iowa

Thoughts on a 96-90 loss to the Hawkeyes:

Another game the Hoosiers seemingly had in control down the stretch on the road, and yet another one they threw away.

Against Minnesota, some failed box outs from the Hoosiers — and some fortuitous movement from the Golden Gophers on their final possession — sunk Indiana in a game they led for nine of the final 10 minutes of the contest. Tonight, the Hoosiers sprinted out to a 17-4 lead as Josh Newkirk and James Blackmon Jr. banged home 3-pointers. Fran McCaffery was so angry with how his team started the contest that he pulled his five starters for five fresh Iowa bench players. The Hawkeyes were able to battle back and make a game of it, but Indiana continued to lead the entire way — and even had an eight-point lead with just under five minutes to go in the contest — until a Tyler Cook dunk and and-1 with 2:10 to go put the Hawkeyes up two at 73-71.

The Hoosiers were able to stick in there and get the game to overtime, as Josh Newkirk sunk two big free throws with 25 seconds to go to tie the game at 75. Thomas Bryant got away with a foul at the buzzer on Cook’s attempt and we went onwards to overtime.

But the final five minutes were a microcosm of all the plagued the Hoosiers in this one. Indiana simply had no answer for Peter Jok all game long. It was a masterful performance from the Iowa senior. When Jok wasn’t hitting shots when he was freed off the baseline to the perimeter (6-of-12), he was living at the line drawing fouls against the Hoosiers. Jok capped off his evening by scoring a ridiculous 15 points in the overtime frame — with 11 of those coming from the line. The senior ended the night 22-of-23 from the charity stripe, setting an Iowa record in the process. He finished with a game-high 35 points.

Late turnovers in the second half helped Iowa get it to overtime and Indiana continued with its carelessness in the overtime period, as it turned the ball over three times. McCaffery had his Hawkeyes pick up the Hoosiers in the backcourt and employ a trap at halfcourt for long stretches of the contest. The Hoosiers are already turnover prone and this defense made them even more so, as their turnover percentage of 25.9 was above their season average. And even when Indiana broke the trap line of the defense and got the ball deep into the frontcourt, the Hoosiers sometimes made bad decisions on the baseline for turnovers. And as Zach Osterman noted on Twitter, this defense also just completely wore down the Hoosiers by the extra frame as they limped to their fifth straight loss.

The numbers are now starting to look pretty ugly. Indiana is tied for 12th in conference with Ohio State, just one spot ahead of Rutgers in the Big Ten cellar. It’s now impossible to finish conference play with a winning record. And at just two games above .500 overall, there’s evidence to support the fact that an invite to the NIT is far from a guarantee.

Northwestern has struggled of late and the Hoosiers get the Wildcats at home on Saturday night. Can they stop the bleeding or is a sixth straight loss on the way?

(Photo credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports)

At the Buzzer: Iowa 96, Indiana 90

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Quick thoughts on a 96-90 overtime loss to Iowa:

How it happened: Another close game, another opportunity missed for Indiana. The Hoosiers led this game by as many as 13 in the first half and the Hawkeyes didn’t lead until the 2:13 mark of the second half. But as has been the case several times this season, Indiana couldn’t get over the hump when it mattered most. After the Hoosiers got a key defensive stop in the final 20 seconds to force overtime, it was all Iowa in the extra five minutes. So what was the difference in this one? Another poor defensive effort as the Hoosiers allowed the Hawkeyes to score 1.16 points per possession. Turnovers. Indiana had 22 for a turnover percentage of 26.6. And a huge differential at the free throw line. It was Indiana’s fifth straight loss and eighth in its last nine games. The Hoosiers, now 5-10 in the Big Ten, are tied with Ohio State at 12th in the conference standings heading into the home finale on Saturday against Northwestern.

Standout performer: Robert Johnson, mired in a slump coming into Tuesday, had a bounce back effort. The junior guard finished with a team-high 19 points and also had seven assists and six rebounds before fouling out.

Statistic that stands out: Indiana was once again outscored from the foul line and on points off of turnovers. Iowa outscored Indiana by 23 at the free throw line and by seven on points off of turnovers. In 10 Big Ten losses, the Hoosiers have now been outscored by 94 on points off of turnovers and by 76 at the free throw line.

Final IU individual stats:

Final tempo-free stats:

Video: IU players, Rob Judson preview Iowa

Josh Newkirk, De’Ron Davis and assistant coach Rob Judson met with the media on Monday afternoon to preview Indiana’s matchup on Tuesday against Iowa at Carver Hawkeye Arena.

Watch their comments below: (Video courtesy of IU athletics)