Game Thread: Northwestern State @ Indiana

Opponent: Northwestern State Demons

Date: Saturday, November 28 | 3:30 pm EST

Arena: Assembly Hall (17,357) – Bloomington, Indiana

Line: N/A

All-time series: Indiana leads 1-0

TV: Big Ten Network (Tom Werme and John Laskowski)

Radio: IU Radio Network (Don Fischer, Todd Leary and Joe Smith)

Probable Starters:

  • Northwestern State (2-1): Mike McConathy, Dominic Knight, Damon Jones, Charles Clark, William Mosley
  • Indiana (2-3): Jeremiah Rivers, Verdell Jones, Maurice Creek, Christian Watford, Tom Pritchard

Game Notes:

As always, game predictions and thoughts are welcome in the comments leading up to tip-off and during the game. We’ll be tweeting live from Assembly Hall and will have postgame audio and a full recap early this evening. You can also join us below for a live blog:



Pick to Click: Northwestern State

Get in your picks before 3:15 pm ET on Saturday. Remember, please state your selection first thing in your comment. For anyone new to the game, overriding principles are here. Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving.

Five games in, a look at pace and efficiency

On Monday, Matt touched on where we are mentally with this team right now. It’s summed up quite nicely with this sentence: “Despite the influx of talent, IU basketball might not live up to the hopes some optimists placed on them before the season.” (For another great take on where the Hoosiers are right now, I recommend Jeff Goodman’s piece from Puerto Rico.)

Anyway, I’m looking mostly to stay away from expectations and results and take a peek at on-court numbers. With a nod to stats lord Ken Pomeroy, here’s where the Hoosiers stack up through five games, as opposed to their entire body of work last season.

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency:

  • 2008-09: 97.7 (228th in the country last year)
  • 2009-10: 92.7 (currently ranks IU 248th in the country)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency:

  • 2008-09: 101.8 (178th in the country last year)
  • 2009-10: 97.6 (currently ranks IU 150th in the country)

A quick refresher on how Pomery defines adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency:

Raw offensive efficiency is points scored per 100 offensive possessions. The adjusted version adjusts for the quality of opposing defenses, the site of each game, and when each game was played (recent games get more weight). Defensive efficiency is points allowed per 100 defensive possessions, adjusted for the same things.

So what we’ve seen so far from IU  is that it’s holding the opposition to less points per 100 possessions, but the offensive is currently outputting five less points per 100 possessions, which is a somewhat sizable difference. Of course, the sample size of data is pretty small, as the Hoosiers have only  had 366 possessions this year, according to StatSheet.

The Hoosiers’ defense has been a bit poor this season — especially against George Mason — but it’s interesting to see it’s not as woeful as we might think, as 150th out of 347 DI teams puts IU into the top 43 percent of the country. Not great. But not horrible either.

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Voting now open for Indiana student section

You’re probably familiar with this post from a couple of weeks ago where we passed along word that IU was seeking recommendations to name the student section. A considerable amount of discourse ensued in the comments, so it’s only appropriate that we pass along that the nominees have been selected and the voting process is underway. Here are the details:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - IU Athletics is now in the second phase of the design contest for the official 2009 Basketball Student Section t-shirt, as fans can now cast their online vote for the winning name that will go on the t-shirt. The names that you can choose from are:

  • Creaniacs
  • Crean Machine
  • Crimson Guard
  • Crean’s Crew
  • Candy Stripers
  • The Hall Monitors
  • Crean’s Army
  • Crean Nation
  • Branch’s Bleachers
  • McCracken Maniacs

Admittedly, I’m not particularly thrilled with any of these names, but if I voted (which I won’t), I’d go with The Hall Monitors or Candy Stripers. As well as the Izzone has worked out at Michigan State, I’m not sure it’s a great idea to name the student section after any coach. For instance, what if IU had named the student section after Kelvin Sampson? Of course there are no parallels between Tom Crean and Sampson and I’m sure it would work fine, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. (Of the Crean names, Creaniacs is the best. By a landslide.)

Crimson Guard should be thrown out because, well, it’s um, not creative or catchy. And if you’re going to name the student section, which I’m not sure is completely necessary, you might as well attempt to do it right. I know Indiana’s court is named after Branch McCracken, but would using his name resonate with anybody that’s not super familiar with IU hoops? You could probably do a poll of students in the lobby at Assembly Hall and a fair percentage would not be able to tell you who McCracken was.

That leaves us with The Hall Monitors and Candy Stripers. This is the point where I would flip a coin and … tails it is. Okay, The Hall Monitors it is.

Crean confirms Roth injury, surgery Wednesday

Tom Crean confirmed Monday evening on his weekly radio show with Don Fischer that Indiana sophomore guard Matt Roth broke the fifth metatarsal in his right foot during a practice in Puerto Rico and will have surgery on Wednesday. Here’s a transcript of Crean’s comments:

“It actually happened the first practice there. We started out with some two-hand rebounding and then we went to some one-on-one rebounding and that’s where he got hurt. He just got tangled and none of us knew it at the time. I don’t even remember him falling. But I remember him being in the drill and it was one those, we’re starting to get after it drills. And the way he described it is, he just got tangled up and his ankle didn’t move. Tim (Garl) was pretty sure and then Dr. Rink and Dr. Ahlfeld got there shortly after that to the practice and took him in to be x-rayed. It’s been confirmed that he’s got a fifth metatarsal break and he’s going to have surgery on Wednesday”

“And so, it hurts us. He’s made a ton of strides, he’s gained over 20 pounds and if you would have told me he’d had more two-point baskets in two games than three-point baskets I wouldn’t have believed it. You know, there’s no question that’s a guy that really, really spaces the floor and understands the angles and is a smart young man. What we’ll do is, he’ll have the surgery now, this got determined last night. And then we’ll just read it. He’ll rehab and try to come back in the sense of let’s see what happens this year. But if gets into that early February time or gets even into January and he doesn’t want to try I would never make him do that. I want him to do what’s best for his career. Now if its early January then I think there’s a decision to make and now maybe he’s right there back for the Big Ten. But if it gets into February, we don’t want him to burn his year.”

Settling in for the long haul

MY COUCH – The Puerto Rico Tip-Off delivered just as promised.

But instead of a jump ball, the preseason tournament’s tip-off was more of the inside information variety.

The message was clear, whether you watched the games or the live blog. Despite the influx of talent, IU Basketball might not live up to the hopes some optimists placed on them before the season.

A double-digit win season now seems lofty. A .500 record would likely include a pair of glass slippers and a horse-drawn carriage made out of pumpkin.

Most Hoosier fans are currently mourning this weekend’s activities – and/or coming off a binge necessitated by the Old Oaken Bucket game – but I’m here to tell you that not all was lost in the gyms of San Juan.

My glass usually sits half-empty, but I can say without hesitation that the Hoosiers are a better team right now than they were at this point last season. As someone who had a courtside seat to Tom Crean and the greenest team in Cream and Crimson history all of last year, I can tell the Hoosiers have taken a step in the right direction.

Last season’s December losses to Northeastern and Lipscomb were gut wrenching; this year’s November defeats to Boston and George Mason are closer to stomach-able.

Although, certainly not enjoyable. After handing it to Howard and edging out USC Upstate to open the season, three consecutive losses reminds us just how far the men’s basketball program still has to go on its path to reclamation.

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Good, Bad and Ugly: George Mason

GOOD: VAST IMPROVEMENT.

Yes, Indiana lost, and ended up 0-3 in Puerto Rico. But the Hoosiers looked much better against George Mason this morning than they did against Ole Miss and Boston University.

Guys like Bobby Capobianco — seven points, 10 boards (five offensive) and Jordan Hulls — eight points — played the best games of their young careers. Bobby C. might not have a ton of polish, but he did the dirty work on the boards and finished around the rim. It’s exactly the kind of play Tom Crean is looking for from him off the bench. Hulls played with poise, and I think did a better job of orchestrating the offense today than Rivers had done in the previous two games in this tourney. Crean recognized that, and when both Hulls and Rivers were in the ball game, it was Hulls bringing the ball up.The box score only reads 13 minutes for Hulls, but he played so well when he was in there, it seemed like much more.

Hulls lacks athleticism and when you couple that with his size, it can create some matchup problems. But he’s solid, doesn’t make many mistakes and has great basketball IQ. And he flashed some range today with two threes. If the Hoosiers would have gotten a chance to get a three off to tie the game instead of Mason fouling so they had no chance to pop, Hulls was the guy I wanted shooting the ball.

IU seemed more under control, and their 15 turnovers came less off trying to do too much or getting out of control on the break, and more off some passing problems. On the offensive end, they looked more mature, looked more confident. But they just weren’t knocking down shots (20-of-57 for 35 percent shooting), and missed a lot of bunnies around the rim. It proved quite costly.

Perhaps most important in this loss was the way IU closed out the game. It wasn’t an implosion like we saw against Boston University. They didn’t wilt. They scored when they needed to. And with the game tied and Mason looking for a go-ahead bucket, IU played terrific defense and forced Cam Long into a desperation three with the shot clock winding down and a few Hoosier hands in his face. He just happened to hit that desperation three. On a bank shot. A bank he most certainly didn’t call. Tough way to lose, especially for a young team looking for confidence.

The Hoosiers also hit 21-of-28 from the line, good for 75 percent. Lets hope those early free-throw woes are a thing of the past.

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