Thoughts on a 72-69 loss to the Runnin’ Rebels:
LAHAINA, Hawaii — Riding high off a strong performance against Creighton on Thursday, Indiana seemed primed to make some serious noise in Maui.
But the Hoosiers leave uttering but a whimper. Three games of evidence show this: Indiana did not play well at the Lahania Civic Center. A 1-2 record and sixth place. Both sides of the ball need serious work right now — confusion, chaos and calamity abound.
The same issues reared their ugly heads again this afternoon. For all the talk about Indiana having one of the best — if not the best — offenses in the country, the Hoosiers didn’t show it against UNLV. They mustered just .94 points per possession against the Runnin’ Rebels. There were moments where the ball movement went flat and Indiana’s uptempo attack looked stale.
Thoughts on an 83-73 win over St. John’s:
LAHAINA, Hawaii — On an overcast morning in the land of the cruel sun, Indiana’s fatigue from a never-ending Monday showed up in its win against St. John’s.
The disappointing, unexpected loss to Wake Forest was tough for this squad to stomach.
“We had some hurt feelings,” Tom Crean said of his team.
On Monday after the loss, Crean said Indiana spent longer than expected with their film session of the game. This led to missed scheduled evening gym time. They ended up having to do their walkthrough in their hotel ballroom instead.
“I gave us too much credit for having 16 good minutes (against Wake Forest),” Crean said. “We didn’t.”
Couple the long Monday in with a five hour time zone difference and a 9 a.m. start against a below average squad in a similar time-frazzled condition, and the quality of the performance starts to make some sense.
Thoughts on an 82-78 loss to the Demon Deacons:
LAHAINA, Hawaii — Indiana had finally found its stride.
After a first half it failed to defend at an acceptable level and Wake Forest had a lot of confidence, the Hoosiers made things more difficult for the Demon Deacons to start the second half. They contested better at the rim and off the perimeter.
On the back of a 9-0 run, Indiana entered the under-8 timeout at the 7:09 mark up 72-63. The heavy-IU crowd was rocking and the Hoosiers were on the verge of closing the door and facing Vanderbilt tomorrow.
But they fell apart down the stretch. The defensive issues crept back in hard. Senior Devin Thomas (game-high 21 points) scored at will on Indiana in the post. Freshman Thomas Bryant just had no chance against him. Welcome to college, kid.
“Still waiting for one of our guys to remember to take away his left hand,” Tom Crean said of Thomas after the game.
Bryant Crawford (13 points) came in off the perimeter for scores on several occasions
Thoughts on an 86-65 win over the Bluejays:
Cautious optimism ran through the minds of the IU faithful this summer.
Sure, Indiana was primed to have an elite offense once more, but could it incorporate a big man seamlessly into this group of shooters when the narrative has often suggested otherwise? And more importantly, after an abysmal defensive showing last year, could it improve enough to put the Hoosiers in elite territory?
A performance like tonight’s against Creighton helps to start remove the caution and let the optimism reign free. Indiana put it together on both ends in its drubbing of the Bluejays and the possibilities of what the Hoosiers can become are starting to take shape.
Thoughts on a 102-76 win against the Governors:
The Hoosiers played a near perfect offensive second half. Fifteen straight made shots, 18 for their last 20, a barrage of 3-pointers, ridiculous highlight reel plays from Troy Williams.
They finished the contest with an insane effective field goal percentage of 80, 16-of-27 (59.2 percent) from distance and scored 1.30 points per possession.
There’s perhaps no other team in America that can do what these guys do on offense. It’s a marvel. It’s a joy. But it’s old hat now. We know they can pump in points like no one else.
What Indiana needs to do is complement its high-powered offense with a respectable defense. (Or gasp, even a good to great defense.) Against Eastern Illinois it was there. The Hoosiers allowed just .716 points per possession to the Panthers, its best mark since November of 2013. But from the onset in this one, the defense was an after thought. Austin Peay scored 41 total points against Vanderbilt in their opener on Friday night. The Governors had 38 against Indiana at half and ended the contest with 76 points.
Thoughts on a 88-49 win over the Panthers:
After a closer, more challenging than usual exhibition finale Monday against Bellarmine, Indiana stepped on the gas and ran over Eastern Illinois in their season opener.
The Hoosiers entered the locker room at half up 49-17 on the strength of a 21-1 run and never really looked back, save for a bit of a sluggish and sloppy start in the second half. They dominated the boards, rebounding a comical 63.6 of their misses, which led to 26 second chance points. Eastern Illinois, meanwhile, rebounded just 14.3 percent of their missed shots and scored only one second chance point. IU’s athleticism and size was just too much for the Panthers all night.
Thoughts on a 73-62 win over the Knights:
Who are these Hoosiers after two exhibition games?
Are they the team exhibiting more effort on defense — blocking shots, getting steals, forcing a shot clock violation? Or are they a group still prone to losing shooters on the perimeter, leaving them with room to hoist unobstructed 3-pointers?
Are they the best offense in the country — the run-and-gun squad with a McDonald’s All-American inside to balance their bevy of shooters? Or are they the one forgoing getting into the lane for kickouts to their shooters, opting to shoot off the dribble instead of open and in rhythm?
Through 80 minutes, they’ve shown a little bit of everything. A finished product right now, these Hoosiers are not.