The Inside the Hall Mailbag: March 24

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The Inside the Hall Mailbag is a collection of questions tweeted to us via Twitter (@insidethehall), via email, submitted on our premium forum and sent to us via our Facebook page. Submit your questions and we’ll answer as many as we can.

hoosierfan1 on the premium forum writes: Clearly Indiana has a lot of work to do to improve its defensive effectiveness for next season. In your opinion, what are the key issues that need to be addressed in the offseason to improve defensive effectiveness?

Obviously a rim protector would go a long way in helping to shore up IU’s defense around the basket, but most of the issues begin on the perimeter. The Hoosiers struggled to contain dribble penetration all season and IU’s help defense was poor as well. Without much ball pressure, IU didn’t force many turnovers nor did it contest shots nearly enough.

From what I saw up close – and I watched this team all the way from the Montreal trip in August through the final game on Friday – basic things like positioning and communication just weren’t there with enough consistency. Perhaps some of it was a result of youth, but given that IU’s defense never really made much improvement over the course of the season, that’s obviously not the entire issue.

Ultimately, the level of improvement is going to come down to how much the coaching staff is able to teach and emphasize what it wants to accomplish on that end of the floor and the players embracing what they are taught and realizing that without a major improvement on defense, the ceiling is only so high. – Alex Bozich

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Video: Indiana’s NCAA tournament confidential series

Via MarchMadness on YouTube:

Film Session: Wichita State

In Indiana’s season-ending loss to the Wichita State Shockers, the Hoosiers were able to fight back in the closing minutes but ultimately came up short.

We’ll take a look at some key last-minute plays on both ends of the court in the latest edition of Film Session:

With the Hoosiers down seven, Stanford Robinson helps Yogi Ferrell break free and Collin Hartman inbounds the ball:

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The floor spreads for Ferrell. Hartman and Nick Zeisloft head to the corners. Robinson comes up to set a ball screen for Ferrell, but he simply makes a move left:

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Once into the lane, Darius Carter makes the decision to leave Hartman and try and stop Ferrell at the rim:

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Report: Steve McClain hired at Illinois-Chicago

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Indiana associate head coach Steve McClain will accept the head coaching position at Illinois-Chicago and will be announced as its new coach on Wednesday, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported on Saturday morning.

Update: UIC has confirmed the news:

McClain has been a part of Indiana’s coaching staff since April 2010, initially joining as an assistant coach before being promoted to associate head coach status in July 2012.

The 2014-2015 season was McClain’s 34th coaching college basketball, as he originally came to Bloomington from Colorado, where for three years he was a part of the staff and was the acting head coach during part of the 2009-2010 season.

Prior to his stop in Boulder, McClain served as the head coach at the University of Wyoming, From 1998-2007, he led the Cowboys to a 157-115 record, two Mountain West Conference regular season titles and four postseason appearances.

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Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss to Wichita State

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OMAHA, Neb. – Indiana’s season ended in the NCAA tournament round of 64 on Friday afternoon as the Hoosiers fell to Wichita State, 81-76, in the CenturyLink Center.

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

· Shockers win it at the foul line: For the second straight game, Indiana was outscored by a significant margin at the free throw line. In last Friday’s loss to Maryland in the Big Ten tournament, the Terrapins took 33 free throws. Wichita State got there 34 times against the Hoosiers and outscored them by 12 from the stripe.

Indiana allowed a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of higher than 50 percent on five occasions this season and it lost all five times. While there were calls on both ends that could have gone either way, Wichita State was ultimately rewarded for its aggressive play, particularly in the second half when the Shockers attempted just five 3-pointers.

The Hoosiers simply couldn’t keep Wichita State’s bevy of drivers out of the lane and it scored 16 points after halftime from the foul line. Ron Baker didn’t shoot it well but hit nine of his 10 free throw attempts. And when Fred VanVleet wasn’t shooting layups, he was getting to the line where he, too, made nine of 10 attempts.

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Hoosiers come up short defensively as season ends in 81-76 loss to Wichita State

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OMAHA, Neb. — Indiana had come back from the brink.

After a 15-3 run late in the second half put No. 7 seed Wichita State up by as many as eight points on Friday in the NCAA tournament second round, the No. 10 seed Hoosiers had clawed their way back once more. They trailed by two with less than a minute to go, needing a stop to extend their season.

But in an aspect of their game they struggled with against the Shockers — and throughout much of this season — they could not get that stop they desperately needed.

And the Hoosiers could never get over that hump, their 2014-2015 campaign ending with an 81-76 loss to the Shockers.

“At the end of the day, we should have been playing better defense,” junior Yogi Ferrell said. “They scored so many points inside. If we could have got more stops in a row, which is what we wanted to do, and knocked down a couple of shots, we could have been right there.”

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The Minute After: Wichita State

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Thoughts on a 81-76 loss to the Shockers:

Indiana brought the proper fight, played its game and hung in the best it could. But Wichita State’s experience got the best of the Hoosiers down the stretch, and Indiana’s shot at the upset went with it.

After a Darius Carter free throw at the 10:24 mark in the second half put the Shockers up one (55-54), they never relinquished the lead. Yet, the Hoosiers made sure a blowout wasn’t on the way. Down eight and on the ropes with 7:53 to go, James Blackmon Jr. (14 points, five turnovers) made a lay-up. Two free throws from Yogi Ferrell and a Troy Williams 3-pointer pulled them back within three points (67-64).

And down seven with 3:51 to go, Collin Hartman — who made his first 3-pointer in a game since Feb. 15 and finished 3-of-4 from distance — and Ferrell hit back-to-back trey balls to pull the Hoosiers within one point (72-71) with 2:21 to go.

Despite getting within two points twice in the final two minutes — including two free throws from Ferrell that had them there with as little as 32 seconds to go — the Shockers just played a little smarter and hit from the line to ensure the five-point win for the opportunity to make it to Sunday’s round of 32 against Kansas.

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