The Minute After Archive
Thoughts on a 69-52 loss to the Orange:
This had the makings of a great one.
During their first true road game inside a rocking Carrier Dome, the Hoosiers withstood an early 10-0 deficit. They stopped settling for 3-pointers, started working into the teeth of the zone (or simply beat it back down the court before it could set up) and started scoring points. IU didn’t shoot it great over the first 20 minutes (9-of-28, 32.1 percent), but it did what it does best by rebounding 50 percent of its misses and getting some putbacks — Troy Williams, in particular, had a spectacular tip-in — and some trips to the line (8-of-9, 88.9 percent).
Indiana also didn’t let Syracuse have its way too much on offense. At half, the Hoosiers had scored a respectable 1.03 points per possession and trailed by just four (33-29). It was a man’s game at the rim with both teams’ back lines swatting shots — athletes all over the court on both sides of the ball.
Williams and Noah Vonleh (who lived at the line tonight and made 13-of-16) scored the first two buckets of the second half and this thing was all knotted up at 33 with 17:51 remaining. IU’s freshmen feared little and it looked like the Hoosiers, if nothing else, were going to keep it close enough to make things interesting.
Thoughts on a 77-46 win against the Purple Aces:
I. Jeff Howard? Jeff Howard. Some of the media at Assembly Hall this evening tweeted shortly before the contest that it must be some sort of typo to the starting lineup. But Howard not only started, he played a career-high in minutes (15). Howard also become a trending topic on Twitter tonight in the United States. (Big night for Jeff Howard.) The speculation surrounding the change to the starting lineup is Tom Crean wanting to send a message to his young squad that effort and hard work will be rewarded. Or maybe the fact that he started in place of Jeremy Hollowell meant this was more a message to his sophomore who has struggled at times the last few games. (Crean is sure to address his decision to start the senior walk-on in his post-game comments.) If that was the case, Hollowell responded. The sophomore scored 18 points (a career high) in 17 minutes to lead all Hoosier scorers and had just one turnover.
Whatever the reason, this wasn’t the only thing different in Crean’s rotation tonight. His first subs of the game was a four for four swap: Noah Vonleh, Howard, Troy Williams, Will Sheehey out, Hollowell, Evan Gordon, Hanner-Mosquera Perea, Devin Davis in.
II. Evansville came into this game with a high-powered offense (90.6 points per game, nation’s 22nd most efficient offense, nation’s top 3-point shooting team, fourth-best eFG% in the nation), but the Purple Aces simply hadn’t faced any team as good or as talented as the Hoosiers. It showed right away. Evansville didn’t get into double digits in the scoring department until just over five minutes to go in the half and scored only 19 over the first 20 minutes. The Hoosiers’ length and athleticism was tough for them to deal with at the rim.
Thoughts on a 59-58 loss to the Huskies:
We know this team is young and prone to mistakes. That nights like tonight were bound to happen, a game the Hoosiers could have had but let slip away because of turnovers and youth and inexperience.
Still, it makes it no less easy for fans to swallow.
The Hoosiers have had problems so far this season taking care of the ball (19.3 turnover percentage, 219th in the nation). And it was exposed in the first half — badly. They coughed the ball up on 34.1 percent of their possessions, UConn taking advantage of their uptempo style and penchant for driving into the lane in the halfcourt.
The angles closed faster, the quicker, more athletic defenders of the best team IU has played this season made the Hoosiers look sloppy when the wounds weren’t being self-inflicted. After posting 50 points on 1.37 points per possession in the first half against Washington last evening, Indiana entered the break scoring just .8 points per possession and 24 overall.
And then there’s the case of Noah Vonleh. After such a dominant first five games, Vonleh was a non-factor tonight (0 points, two boards, four turnovers). He picked up two fouls in under two minutes to start the game and had to sit. The 18-year-old didn’t see much playing time in the first half due to the fouls. Just a minute and 13 seconds in the second half, there was Vonleh picking up his third foul.
Thoughts on a 102-84 win over the Huskies:
All the spotlight on Noah Vonleh’s sensational start to the season, but under the lights at Madison Square Garden fellow freshman Troy Williams finally got his.
In Indiana’s first four games, Williams has had some near misses on home run plays, some steals where he’s stepped out of bounds on his way to a sure slam. But tonight at Madison Square Garden, he couldn’t miss. Williams finished an alley-oop from Stan Robinson on the break in the first half. He hit shots from the outside. He had some up and unders off the baseline in the second half that, like Will Sheehey, are becoming his trademark move. Williams did have another near miss, a dunk attempt where he was fouled in the first half that might have been his biggest “wow” play of the night. It was an electric 22-point (8-of-12, 6-of-7 from the line) performance. Williams was feeling it, he knew, we knew it, and it’s perhaps a sign of things to come.
The Huskies tried throwing a zone at the Hoosiers in the first half, and though there were some possessions early where IU floundered around and had to jack something up late in the shot clock, they rarely settled for long twos or 3-pointers. It was shots at the cup with clean up, a 50-point first half performance where the Hoosiers shot 16-of-18 from the line and rebounded 71 percent of their misses for 19 second-chance points (1.37 points per possession).
Vonleh was all over the boards for easy put-back dunks again tonight when he wasn’t making his own moves for scores in the post otherwise. His double-double streak ends (17 points, nine boards) tonight, but he continues to be hyper-efficient and forceful around the rim. Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge was in the building tonight. Vonleh and Williams certainly gave him something to think about.
Thoughts on a 90-74 win over the Seawolves:
On paper, Stony Brook looked like another sneaky early test for the Hoosiers, a veteran team with some strong individual talent. But the Hoosiers had a lead coast-to-coast in this one, and aside for a few runs here and there where the Seawolves threatened, Indiana pretty much controlled the game en route to its fourth straight victory to open the season.
It was a brand of ball we’ve come to expect from this Tom Crean squad: Get to the foul line again and again and again, score in transition, utilize all the athleticism to overwhelm the opponent. The Hoosiers wasted no time attacking the hoop and visiting the charity stripe. The fouls really piled up by the final buzzer. 55 in total. Two Seawolves fouled out, another three had four fouls. Will Sheehey fouled out late. Hanner Mosquera-Perea had four. (The new rules continue to make these early Indiana games free throw fests.)
At half, the Hoosiers had amassed a whooping 140.0 free throw rate (FTA/FGA). But they hit on just 15-of-28 (53.6 percent). For the game, the Hoosiers made just 30-of-49 (61.2 percent). Had they been more efficient from the line, this could have been a bigger blowout, the Hoosiers flirting with and perhaps surpassing the century mark once again.
Thoughts on a 105-59 win over Samford:
The Hoosiers were on point from the get-go tonight.
They established Noah Vonleh early and played downhill for pretty much the whole first half. Eight blocks — including three from freshman Luke Fischer, who had his best game so far this season — led to several quick scores on the other end. They kept coming and coming and Samford simply had no answers. Hanner Mosquera-Perea threw a couple down with serious authority. Troy Williams had a tip-in slam and some other nice scores at the cup. Yogi Ferrell threw a few impressive passes to his teammates and finished the half with five assists.
Collin Hartman even got in on the action, faking a 3-pointer, pulling up inside the arc and hitting. He would dive on the floor for a loose ball not much long after, much to the delight of coach Tom Crean and IU fans. The Hoosiers’ defense was strong and limited opportunities.The only way the Bulldogs were able to slow them down was to foul. By half, IU was 16-of-21 from the line and up 54-25.
The second half brought similar returns.
Instead of blocks being the catalyst for the break, it was steals (10 steals and 10 blocks in total tonight for IU). And Ferrell really began to shine, hitting 3-pointer after 3-pointer (5-of-7 for the contest). He would end the game with a career-high 26 points. Ferrell’s ability to hit the 3-ball, drive to the rim for scores and find his teammates all over the halfcourt tonight (six assists) made him that complete point guard he’s working so hard to be. Vonleh posted another double double (13 points, 10 rebounds) and became the first Hoosier freshman ever to start his career with three straight double-doubles. Williams was close to one of his own (10 points, eight rebounds).
Thoughts on a 73-72 win over the Blackbirds:
Outside shooting is no longer an advantage for this team. At least not at this point in the season. So the Blackbirds, a smart, disciplined team — one that’s gone dancing the last three seasons — had a good gameplan. Pack the paint. Dare the Hoosiers to shoot. (And don’t let them get out on the break for easy buckets, either.) The Hoosiers took the bait. They fired from distance all first half, 16 in all. Many came early in the shot clock, some off just a pass or two. But they weren’t bad looks per se; Indiana was taking what the defense was giving. They just couldn’t buy a bucket. There were some long, bad bricks.
Only one would find the bottom of the net — IU’s first attempt from Yogi Ferrell early in the half. LIU Brooklyn’s interior defense also fared much better than Chicago’s State on Friday. The Blackbirds held their ground around the bucket and Indiana often found itself in the air with nowhere to go. (The Hoosiers turned the ball over on 19 percent of their 73 possession tonight.) The visitors would enter half with a 36-33 lead, and the late-arriving Assembly Hall faithful wasn’t expecting this.