The Minute After Archive
Thoughts on an 82-73 win over the Bulldogs:
As IU’s lead stretched to 11 with just over three minutes remaining in the first half, it looked like its athletes were just too much for Butler. The Bulldogs couldn’t guard Troy Williams. And the disadvantage the Hoosiers were supposed to have on the boards simply wasn’t there as the gang rebounding was in full force.
But, as they do, the Bulldogs mounted a comeback. They ended the half on a 11-1 run with Kellen Dunham scoring nine of those. Indiana was unable to get the momentum it had built in the first half going in the second. The Hoosiers trailed by six with 13:48 to go and it felt like it might be slipping away.
Enter Yogi Ferrell.
The junior point guard didn’t score a point in the first half and sat due to two early fouls. But when his team needed him to crawl back into this one there he was. Ferrell’s first bucket of the game was a triple to cut that six-point Butler lead in half. He kept going, muscling his way to the bucket for scores at the rim and points at the line. He moved well off the ball for another 3-ball. He stopped on a dime on the break, launched a 3-pointer, hit it and placed his elbows at his side with the 3-salute going with both hands. Williams popped his jersey at the IU bench.
That one put the Hoosiers up 10 and just about sealed the deal, save for some late full-court press from the Bulldogs that made you hold your breath a bit.
Ferrell scored 20 second half points and willed his team to a comeback win. That’s what leaders do.
Thoughts on a 94-66 win over the Antelopes:
I. The first half was an atypical one for the Hoosiers. They didn’t shoot it particularly well (46.3 eFG%), relied too much on the 3-point shot — even for them — and didn’t share the ball as well as we’ve come to expect so far this season. Yet, going against a team that isn’t a strong rebounding squad, they excelled where they’ve had issues so far this season, rebounding 42.3 percent of their misses. While the Hoosiers still scored 1.17 points per possession despite not shooting it that well, Grand Canyon was within nine in the final minute of the first half before Indiana took an 11-point lead into the break.
But Indiana started getting more buckets at the rim to start the second half and a couple minutes into the half the rout was on, as Indiana cruised to a 28-point victory.
And get this: Despite a frantic pace in which it attempted 75 shots by game’s end, the Hoosiers didn’t turn the ball over once in the second half. It also ended the game turning the ball over on just 5.7 percent of its possessions, the lowest total ever in the Tom Crean era. That’s impressive, especially as this is the type of game where Indiana has tended to get sloppy with a quick pace against an inferior opponent. The Hoosiers entered this game with the 85th best turnover percentage in the country, per KenPom. The days of last season, where they were one of the worst teams in the country in this regard (330th), appear to be over as Big Ten play nears.
II. In 21 minutes of action, Troy Williams posted a nice line of 14 points, eight rebounds and two assists. His best play might have been his last of the contest. Williams grabbed a defensive rebound, took it up the court himself, put it behind the back to get past a defender and dished to Ryan Burton for the score. The sophomore still has his Troy-being-Troy moments, and his ball-handling skills aren’t on par with those of Yogi Ferrell, Robert Johnson or James Blackmon Jr. But like those three, he’s still getting the green light to grab the rebound and go. And his speed, athleticism and improved decision-making can make him devastating to the opponent in such a role if he keeps improving at it.
Thoughts on a 94-74 loss to the Cardinals:
Despite a valiant effort from the Hoosiers under the lights at Madison Square Garden, at one point leading by four in the second half, No. 4 Louisville was just too much to handle.
Indiana, as it did against Pittsburgh, tried to gang rebound as best it could, but its lack of size was exposed again against a strong offensive rebounding squad. The Cardinals flat out dominated the offensive glass, rebounding 52 percent of their misses leading to a ton of easy opportunities and 25 second-chance points. Its defense, as it does, also turned the Hoosiers over a lot (24.6 TO%) and that led to 19 points off turnovers.
With Yogi Ferrell off the floor in the first half, Indiana had a number of miscues in a row and Louisville made the Hoosiers pay. Stanford Robinson turned the ball over fives times in nine minutes of action tonight. Though some of IU’s mistakes were a bit self-inflicted, it was still a rough performance holding onto the ball any way you slice it.
Louisville hasn’t been a great shooting team this season, but that wasn’t quite the case tonight against Indiana’s defense. It hit a number of key shots in this one, poured in 1.22 points per possession, and bested its season average on 3-pointers (28%) by going 8-of-23 from distance (34.8%). Terry Rozier hit 5-of-8 from beyond the arc on his way to a career-high 26 points, while backcourt mate Chris Jones made a number of nice moves and worked over the Indiana defense for 24 of his own to go along with nine rebounds and five assists.
Thoughts on a 95-49 win against Savannah State:
I. Considering the sloppy start to this one, another opponent might have been able to push the Hoosiers a bit more in a game like this. But Savannah State entered the contest as the one of the worst offensive teams in the country and it showed tonight. The Tigers scored just .72 points per possession to go along with a 36.6 effective field goal percentage. They had just 17 points at half, made only 22.7 percent of their 3-pointers and hit only 53.3 percent from the line. They also turned the ball over on 22.1 percent of their possessions.
Simply put: The Tigers were no match for the Hoosiers and so they cruised to a 46-point victory.
II. Stanford Robinson has flat out pressed for most of the season. He’s often tried to get to the hole with the defense swarming with nowhere for him to go. After doing just that when he entered in the first half, resulting in a charge call, Robinson finally started taking what was given. When the defense came on his drives, he found the open man over and over to the tune of five assists in 13 minutes of play. And when a lane to the rim was there for him off the top of the key, he took it and scored. He even scored in the post during the final two minutes of this one and finished the night with seven points. Robinson is now behind two freshmen in Robert Johnson and James Blackmon Jr. in the rotation. And guys like Collin Hartman and Max Hoetzel are squeezing minutes from him as well. But the sophomore is still one of the better penetrators on the team for an offense that thrives on it, and better decision-making like tonight could mean more minutes.
Thoughts on an 81-69 win over the Panthers:
They billed this one as a toss-up.
But the Hoosiers, save for a little lag at the end, put together a strong 40 minutes of basketball, leaving little doubt as the lead ballooned to 23 points in the second half that this was their game. While Pitt, one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the country, excelled in that category again tonight (52.1 OR%), Indiana still gave great effort on the defensive boards, gang rebounding as best it could. And it actually had a strong night cleaning up its own glass (42.4 OR%), leading to a 17-14 second-chance points advantage over the Panthers.
Couple that with adequate defense and a tremendous performance on offense, and you get a result like tonight for the Hoosiers. Indiana had one of those fun-to-watch games where it appeared Pitt — especially in the first half — just had no chance on the dribble-drive as Indiana’s ball-handlers either scored at the cup or dished it for corner 3-pointers or easy looks for teammates at the rim. The Hoosiers entered the half an efficient 5-of-7 from distance and simply didn’t need to launch any more from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes because of their work around the rim. By game’s end, the Hoosiers amassed 58 of their 81 points in the paint and scored a strong 1.27 points per possession.
It was a balanced attack. No Hoosier had more than 15 (Emmitt Holt), but seven players had six or more points. With Hanner Mosquera-Perea saddled with two fouls in the first half, Holt entered the contest and continued to show he belongs … and then some. In 19 minutes of play, Holt led the Hoosiers in scoring on a perfect 6-of-6 line. At one point in the second half, he poked a rebound loose from a Panther, sprinted up the court, received the pass on the break and scored. Holt was also active on D (two blocks) and the boards (five).
Beyond Holt, Ryan Burton also needed to put in first half minutes for the Hoosiers up front and gave some solid time on the backline of Indiana’s 2-3 zone, which did a decent job of keeping the Panthers at bay during that stretch.
Thoughts on a 87-79 win over the Spartans:
I. This one counts as a W. It’s a win.
But it failed to stifle concerns of Indiana’s defense and its inability to put away an inferior opponent on Branch McCracken Court. Leading 68-49 with 12:06 to play, the Hoosiers choked away the 19-point lead. They failed to step on the Spartans’ throats and put them to bed for the night, leading by only seven with just over three minutes to play. They hung on for the eventual eight-point win over the now 1-5 Spartans, a team ranking 302nd overall in the country, per KenPom.
Indiana was outscored 45-37 in the second half and gave up 1.13 points per possession to a team ranking 258th in offensive efficiency. The Spartans were white hot from 3-point range, hitting 14 of their 23 attempts (60.9 percent). Many of them came as good looks with Indiana failing to track down shooters beyond the arc. Nicholos Paulos (6-of-8) and Clay Byrd (6-of-11) did heavy damage. While Indiana allowed a much better 22 points in the paint after giving up 48 points there in back-to-back games coming into this one, it also allowed too many drives to the bucket for scores as the Spartans mounted a second half comeback.
It’s the same refrain from last TMA: All the shooting in the world won’t save a weak D over the long run. And Indiana has nowhere to hide on this with Pittsburgh coming to Bloomington on Tuesday.
Thoughts on an 88-86 loss to the Eagles:
This is what happens when your only rotational big man can’t defend the post. Indiana become helpless against the size of Venky Jois. He goes off for 20 points and 14 boards. Indiana’s lack of size allows Eastern Washington to gobble up 41 percent of its misses for 20 second-chance points and 48 points in the paint.
This is what happens when your guards can’t defend dribble penetration: Tyler Harvey and Drew Brandon combine for 52 points on 19-of-36 shooting and the Eagles score 1.18 points per possession.
This is what happens when James Blackmon Jr. leaves the Superman cape in the locker room, the Hoosiers shoot under 40 percent from 3-point range and Yogi Ferrell goes hero ball down the stretch: A 12-point second half lead disappears, and Big Sky comes to Big Ten country to take Indiana out.
The Eastern Washington Eagles aren’t a bad team. But they’re not a great team, either. However, they laid the path on how to expose Indiana: If you have a competent big man, feed him, feed him and feed him again. Indiana just doesn’t have anyone capable of defending him at an acceptable level at present. Tom Crean has so little faith in Hanner Mosquera-Perea right now that he sat him for large stretches as a host of smaller Hoosiers did what they could against Jois, which wasn’t much. Emmitt Holt doesn’t appear ready to be part of the solution right now. He didn’t even see the court. Heck: Just a few months ago, he thought he’d still be in high school. Jeremiah April and Tim Priller likely aren’t going to get it done against competent competition, either.