Of the three opponents on the schedule between the Kentucky game and the start of the Big Ten slate on New Year’s Eve, the Pomeroy rankings suggest that Tuesday’s opponent, Loyola (MD), presents the biggest challenge. Let’s take a glance at the numbers (updated through Sunday’s games):
A couple of things stand out here: Loyola seems to be a respectable defensive team. They’re limiting opponents to a 42.9 effective field goal percentage, good for 27th best in the country. (Keep in mind that this number might be a bit deceiving due to a weak schedule. In their two games against top 100 Pomeroy opponents, Loyola was beaten 83-60 at West Virginia and 77-57 at Niagara.)
They’re also doing a decent job getting to the offensive glass. Their 35.9 offensive rebounding percentage is 79th in the country. Since defensive rebounding percentage has been a bit of an Achilles heel to this point for IU, this is definitely something to keep an eye on. (Tom Crean addressed the possibility of going to a bigger lineup as a solution for this problem on his radio show on Monday night.)
The good news for IU? Loyola turns it over at a high rate (23.1 percent), opponents are getting to the line at a good clip (44.2 percent opponent free throw rate) and their 46.5 percent effective field goal percentage is poor. Overall, Indiana holds an advantage in six of the ten categories referenced here and Pomeroy predicts a 72-66 win for the Hoosiers.
One of the questions that is most frequently posed in the comments early on this season is, “When is the handsome man in the tie going to play more?”
Well, today is your lucky day, friends. In today’s press conference (video of the presser here and here), Herald-Times reporter Dustin Dopirak asked the following question of Tom Crean:
“When will you know it’s time for him (Bawa Muniru) to get at least a few minutes here and there?
And here is the answer:
“Well, he did the other day. I don’t look at it like that. I think anytime you go into the game with a predetermined mindset of your bench, it’s usually not a 50-50 proposition. You’ve got to let the game play itself out. There’s different situations that call for different people inside of the game. But as he continues to progress and build his own confidence, then I think his teammates will continue to have more confidence in him. But he’s just not at a point yet where he’s laid it out on the line from what we need from him defensively. And it’ll come. You know, Tijan, he wasn’t anywhere close to it a year ago either. And I don’t use that as an example just because they’re both from a different country, but because of the learning process. The learning curve has always got to get adjusted for guys. And right now we’re not trying to inundate Bawa with too many things other than for him to really come out and be a presence for us defensively and get people open. But it’s not like we’re out there trying to teach him eight different moves right now or you do this as a counter to that. We’re not trying to do that. We’ll do that in our individual workouts. But we really want him to just get that confidence to where he can go in and apply some real effects defensively and on the backboards.”
To this point, I think Crean’s approach with Bawa has been spot-on. He’s clearly not aggressive nor polished enough to play at a high level just yet and not many situations thus far have warranted putting him in the game. I would expect that he could get a little clock here and there the rest of the season, but clearly, Bawa has a long road ahead to become a significant contributor.
Throughout the season, Inside the Hall will keep you posted on how 2010 signees Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey and 2011 commitments Austin Etherington and Matt Carlino, as well as other notable prospects being recruited by Indiana, are performing at their respective schools. Here’s our latest update:
+ Victor Oladipo: DeMatha moved to 7-0 with a 84-50 win over Bishop Ireton on Tuesday. Oladipo scored two points. The Stags are ranked No. 16 in the USA Today Super 25.
+ Will Sheehey: Sagemont lost 80-66 to St. Benedict’s Prep (No. 9 in USA Today Super 25) on Friday. Sheehey had 16 points and 13 rebounds.
+ Austin Etherington: Etherington poured in 34 points in a 81-68 Hamilton Heights win on Friday at Western. The Huskies fell to Noblesville at home on Saturday in overtime, 41-38.
+ Matt Carlino: Carlino scored 14 points in a 76-66 win home win over Lawrence Central on Friday and 13 points in a 86-55 rout on Saturday at Jeffersonville. The Panthers are No. 1 in Class 4A and No. 10 in the USA Today Super 25.
+ Cody Zeller (pictured): Washington, No. 2 in Class 3A, moved to 7-0 with a pair of wins — 67-51 on Friday over Evansville Bosse and 66-31 on Saturday at Sullivan. Zeller had 19 points and 15 points in the win over Bosse.
Tale of two halves this evening in Bloomington. After a lack of defensive presence coupled with some lackadaisical play in the first half, IU came storming out of the gate in the second half, and never looked back. Blame the first half on finals, or a week off, or whatever you want, but Tom Crean must have lit a fire under his team in the locker room, because they took it to another level after the intermission. NC Central shot 40 percent in the first half, and only 28.1 percent in the second half.
IU was able to get points in transition, nail some threes (though, they were only 6-of-18 in the second half), push the pace and dictate the game — something they should do against an opponent like this. IU’s point guards combined for 16 assists — Jeremiah Rivers had eight (seven in the first half) and Jordan Hulls had eight — and what else can you say about Maurice Creek? He went off for 29 points on 12-of-17 shooting (5-of-10 from three) and even chipped in seven rebounds. The kid just has a knack for putting the basketball into the hoop. I think early on this season, Hoosier fans thought Christian Watford was going to be IU’s go-to scorer and super freshman, but at this point, it’s all Creek all the time.
Tom Pritchard also deserves some recognition here. After many of you thought Elston should get the start in front of him — and rightfully so — Crean did just that, as the freshman started this evening. Pritchard has struggled with foul trouble in several games this year, and has looked sluggish. But he was able to play 21 minutes tonight, hit 4-of-5 from the floor for eight points, and snatch six rebounds. An amazing line? No. But the non-start seems to have lit a bit of a fire under him, and he was in the conversation tonight — something that’s important to this squad heading into Big Ten season.
THE BAD AND UGLY: CONSISTENCY.
Even though IU shot 56 percent in the first half, their defense — a mix of man and zone — just wasn’t there, and they let a team they eventually beat by 23 hang around. Against a better team, the Hoosiers might have found themselves in a hole at half instead of up three.Sixteen turnovers is a little concerning, though it could have been worse. IU shot 14-of-21 from the line for 66.7 percent, which isn’t going to cut it.
But bottom line: IU brought it in the second half, won big, got the scrubs in — Kory Barnett, anyone? — are .500 on the year at 5-5 and a win away from matching last year’s win total.
After one of its best halves of basketball last week against Kentucky and a week of final exams, it was tough to imagine Indiana would come out with the same type of intensity for North Carolina Central.
In front of a crowd of 11,010 at Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers (5-5) got 29 points from Maurice Creek and limited NC Central to 28 percent shooting in the second half for a comfortable 81-58 win.
“We realized that we weren’t back in world history class or calculus, ” Indiana coach Tom Crean said of his team’s effort in the second half. “In the first half, our heads were somewhere else. We did not have a defensive mindset. You’ve got to make defense your calling card and in the second half we did that.”
Creek continued to make the case that he’s the Big Ten’s best freshman – the Oxon Hill (MD) native hit 12 of 17 field goals, including 5 of 10 three’s and grabbed seven rebounds. And 20 of his points came in the second half.
Indiana led just 36-33 at halftime, but quickly took control after intermission with a 22-9 run to push its lead to 58-42 with 13:29 remaining. The Eagles (2-9) never got closer than 13 the rest of the way.
Christian Watford was the only other Hoosier to score in double figures with 11 points. Jordan Hulls had arguably his best all-around game to-date, totaling five points, seven rebounds, eight assists and just one turnover in 22 minutes. Jeremiah Rivers also had eight assists.
Indiana shot 51 percent and won the rebounding battle, 46-28, and points in the paint, 38-20.
C.J. Wilkerson had 22 points to lead North Carolina Central.
Pick to click: Creek
Creek just misses 30: The freshman guard nearly pulled off a second straight 30-point game and would have been the first Hoosier freshman since Eric Gordon to do so back in 2007. Gordon scored 30 points on November 20, 2007 against UNC Wilmington and 31 points on November 23, 2007 against Illinois State.
Elston replaces Pritchard in starting lineup: The 6-9 freshman got the first start of his career and scored seven points in 15 minutes. Pritchard had eight points and six rebounds in 21 minutes.
Postgame player interviews, courtesy of IU Athletics on YouTube: