Hey, so that was fun, right?
Haha, just kidding! That wasn’t fun at all! That was precisely as much fun as a rusty ballpeen hammer to the eye socket, only less violent, so long as you don’t count “throwing an empty can of whatever stupid health drink I’m swilling these days across the f–king room” as violence. The only thing that could have made last night’s second half less fun was if Tom Hamilton and Shon Morris were screaming and rattling off stupid one-liners, respectively, throughout the entire godforsaken telecast. Oh, wait. They were.
I mean, really, where to start? With IU’s brilliant, peerless, unbelievable and unlikely first half? With Michigan’s inversely horrible one? With the Hoosiers’ slow descent in the second half? With the way Michigan gradually edged their way back in the game — not at all once, but with the methodical surety of a team absolutely confident of their superiority?
Instead I’ll start (this is sort of a start I guess; the actual start, as you likely noticed, was the angry diatribe at the top of the post) with halftime. Right in the middle, before the flood. IU was winning by a margin I’d honestly rather not recount. A few seconds after the buzzer sounded for halftime, I found myself doing something peculiar: clapping. To myself. This isn’t exactly rare; it happens every time I get even marginally excited about beating some snotty Brit in FIFA 09. But I did catch myself, and stop for a second, and pay attention to my computer again, and think, and that’s when it hit me:
We played very good for very long against a borderline Top 25 team, who has beaten the likes Duke and UCLA. The first half was so promising, so full of life, it was a feeling we haven’t felt all year. Good times. Good, yet fleeting times.
IU showed great resilience in their defense all night. Michigan just happened to start hitting in the second half.
Matt Roth. Roth is slowly becoming quite the fan favorite. His game certainly doesn’t jump out at you, but outside of a guy that can dribble drive and slam down a rim-roaring dunk, the deep three that hits nothing but nylon is one of this game of basketball’s pretty plays. He made 3-of-7 attempts from three-point land on the night, for a total of nine points.
Devan Dumes. He’s hot, he’s cold. He’s under control and looking good, he’s wild and taking boneheaded shots. But hey, tonight, he hit some key buckets, and you just need to take the good and bad with Dumes. He shot nine threes tonight, hitting four of them. For the evening, he had 17 points.
Indiana head coach Tom Crean couldn’t have drawn it up any better.
After a head scratching home loss to Lipscomb to close out 2008 and a road loss to Iowa in the Big Ten opener, the Hoosiers returned to Assembly Hall for a meeting with Michigan, who hadn’t won in Bloomington since 1995.
And with a 44-24 lead with 18:26 remaining, it appeared Indiana was on its way to a win over a team that was ranked in the top 25 as recently as last week with wins over UCLA and Duke.
But in this season of rebuilding, the upset wasn’t in the cards. Michigan closed the second half by outscoring the Hoosiers 35-15 to send the game into overtime and won 72-66 in front of 11,044 fans.
“There are no moral victories,” Indiana freshman guard Verdell Jones said. “We are all competitors and a loss is a loss whether you lose by 30 or you lose by one. We don’t want to feel like this again.”
Peering at Ken Pomeroy’s ratings, you will see very high numbers next to Indiana’s stats. This is because they rank near the bottom of Division I basketball in a lot of categories. Here’s a quick run through as of yesterday, keeping in mind there are 344 Division-I basketball teams.
Some select offensive stats:
- Effective FG percentage: 46.9 percent (240th in the nation)
- Turnover percentage: 28.2 percent (341st in the nation)
- Offensive rebounding percentage: 32.9 percent (191st in the nation)
- Adjusted offensive efficiency: 91.6 points per 100 possessions (290th in the nation)
And onwards to defense:
- Effective field goal percentage: 51.6 percent (263rd in the nation)
- Turnover percentage: 24.5 percent (33rd in the nation)
- Offensive rebounding percentage: 35.0 percent (228th in the nation)
Notice anything that sticks out? (Hint: It’s in the title of this post and I’ve bolded it.) Yes, that’s right, you get the gold star: IU opponents are turning the ball over on 24.5 percent of their possessions, good for 33rd best in the nation. Out of all the Hoosiers’ stats, this is their outlier. (If you are unsure of what some of these stats are and would like them explained, peep this and this.)
After six seasons under Tommy Amaker with no NCAA Tournament appearances, the early results this season suggest the John Beilein era is progressing well in Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines finished just 10-22 a year ago, but are 11-3 this season and own wins over a pair of top ten teams in UCLA and Duke.
The key to the turnaround: a balanced attack with 10 guys playing over 14 minutes per game and the play of sophomore guard Manny Harris and junior forward DeShawn Sims.
Harris is leading the Big Ten in scoring at 18.8 ppg and is making a living from the foul line. He’s connected on 83 of 95 free throw attempts (87%). The key to stopping Harris may be letting him shoot the three as he’s hitting just 30 percent.
Sims ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring with 16.6 ppg and is the conference leader with 8.8 rebounds per game.
In preparation for Wednesday’s home Big Ten opener with Michigan, Indiana coach Tom Crean and guards Devan Dumes and Nick Williams addressed the media earlier today. You can hear the complete audio at the following links: