Nick Williams. That pretty much sums it up. On a day when the Hoosiers came out with far less fight than needed to win in a hostile environment, Williams was the guy who tried to keep it respectable early. He scored 10 points in the first 13 minutes before disappearing until the 7:00 mark in the second half.
IU won the rebounding battle 35-23, but Illinois hardly missed so there weren’t many boards to corral.
THE BAD AND UGLY:
The injury to Devan Dumes. The one player Indiana can ill-afford to lose didn’t start the game (reportedly after he missed the team bus to Assembly Hall) and played just two minutes before injuring his right ankle. Dumes had to be carried off the floor by Tijan Jobe and Steven Gambles and returned to the bench during the second half on crutches. For all of his faults, Dumes is the one Indiana player that can create his shot consistently, even if he is streaky. Not. Good.
The lack of intensity. In a start that looked eerily similar to the Kentucky game last month, Indiana fell behind 21-2 and never matched the energy of Illinois. Perhaps it was a hangover from the Michigan debacle or maybe Illinois is just that much better than the Hoosiers, but it was discouraging nonetheless.
The turnovers are back. After cutting down on the turnovers the previous three games against Lipscomb (13), Iowa (11) and Michigan (16), Indiana was once again sloppy with the ball, coughing it up 18 times.
Defending the 3-pointer. Illinois hit 13 from behind the arc including seven from Trent Meacham and three by Dominique Keller, who had only hit four all season going into the game. Most of the looks were of the “nobody within four feet of the shooter” variety.
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.”
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:
Ah, the Hoosiers. Just when I thought I was out … they pull me back in.
It’s not as though I had given up on the season in any sort of meaningful way. Actually, I’d given up on the season, in the way most people use the phrase (i.e. forgetting about any sort of end-term success prematurely) well before the season started. Whatever illusions I had about surprising a few people are long gone. Whatever hopes I had for a mid-Big Ten finish vanished somewhere in the Lipscomb box score.
Saturday’s game showed something. It showed that despite all of IU’s truly serious flaws, despite their disadvantages in talent, and despite their inexperience and sometimes strange behavior … they can compete. They can be competitive. Even if it’s against Iowa — a team that might feed on the bottom of the Big Ten this year too — it shows that if IU defends well, rebounds, and does all the very fundamental things that coaches try to instill before anything else, they can put in a respectable performance.
Someone else showed up on offense besides Tom Pritchard. Devan Dumes mirrored his scoring prowess from the beginning of the season, and dumped in 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-7 from three-point land. Verdell Jones seems to be rounding back into form as well, as he had 13 points and three assists. The Cream and Crimson raced out to a 35-14 lead and all looked good.
IU was also uncharacteristically low on the turnover end, as the Hoosiers only amassed 13 for the game.
Here’s how we lost this one: free throws, rebounding and points in the paint. For as well as the Hoosiers handled the ball in the second half — only three turnovers — they got out-rebounded by 15. IU also gave up a ridiculous 40 points in the paint for the game, including a good lot late in the match to Adnan Hodzic, who during that one timeout looked like he was about to rip his teammates’ heads off. A 13-0 run for Lipscomb to start the second half doomed IU as well.
But taking all that into account, the Hoosiers were still in this game to the bitter end. But, the free throws. Oh, the free throws. If IU shoots better than their 50 percent on 8-of-16 tonight, they might get the win here. The free throw woes were never more frustrating than when Dumes missed two in a row with IU down four with 46 seconds to go.
When it’s not one thing (the turnovers) it’s the other (free throws).
Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse for the 2008-2009 version of the Indiana Hoosiers — it just got worse.
Indiana (5-7) followed up a 55-42 home loss to Northeastern with a 74-69 loss to Lipscomb Sunday night at Assembly Hall.
The Bisons (5-6) entered the game with just three wins against Division I opponents and a RPI ranking of 335 by RealTimeRPI.com.
“We had some opportunities to win and we just couldn’t get it done and it’s disappointing,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said.
The Hoosiers led 37-16 in the first half and then watched the 21-point cushion evaporate after Lipscomb answered with a 31-7 run to take a 47-44 lead with 16:48 remaining.
Michael Teller and Adnan Hodzic scored 19 points each to lead Lipscomb. The Bisons shot 51 percent, hit 15 of 20 free throws, scored 40 points in the paint and out-rebounded Indiana 35-25.
“You’re not going to win games giving up 50 percent field goals and getting out-rebounded by 10,” Crean said. “Those are the kind of things that we’ve gotta continue to understand.”
Devan Dumes scored 18 points to lead Indiana and Verdell Jones III added 13. The Hoosiers shot 50 percent, but hit just 8 of 16 free throws and lost for the fifth time in their last six games.
Big Ten opener: Indiana will open its Big Ten season January 3 at Iowa at 4:30 EST.
Schutz injured: Kipp Schutz didn’t dress after being injured recently in practice and Crean told reporters that Schutz’s days on the team are likely numbered as workouts for IU baseball begin January 10.
For five minutes Monday night, it appeared that Indiana would have no problem shaking off the rust from a nine day layoff. Fueled by five early points from Daniel Moore, the Hoosiers jumped to an early 12-3 lead.
And then the wheels fell off.
Northeastern (6-4) went on a 25-6 run to grab a 10-point halftime lead and controlled the game the rest of the way. The result: IU’s first home loss, 55-42.
“I think it was a microcosm of our week,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “We did not have a great week (of practice) and we have to continue to learn. This is a hard lesson to learn.”
The loss was the first in school history to a Colonial Athletic Association opponent for Indiana and it was the first win for Northeastern against a Big Ten school since 1991.
Tom Pritchard posted another double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds, but didn’t get much help from his supporting cast. Besides 12 points from Devan Dumes, no one else topped six points for Indiana.
The Hoosiers (5-6) committed 21 turnovers, bringing their season total to 222.
Matt Janning led the winners with 17 points and Chaisson Allen added 13. Northeastern hit 14 of 20 free throws and committed just 11 turnovers.
Gambles in uniform: Walk-on Steven Gambles dressed for the first time this season, but did not play.
Up next: Indiana will wrap up non-conference play Sunday at home against Lipscomb.
The combination of Kentucky playing its best six minutes of basketball and Indiana playing perhaps its worst six minutes of basketball was too much for the Hoosiers to overcome Saturday afternoon in Rupp Arena.
The Wildcats (7-3) jumped to a 14-0 lead on their way to a 72-54 win, avenging a 70-51 loss last December in Assembly Hall.
“Obviously, everything that could have gone wrong for us in the first eight minutes did. Their pressure, intensity and enthusiasm level was as high as I have seen it this year,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said afterwards. “We contributed to it with turnovers and some quick shots. We got away from doing what we wanted to do, in keeping the game at a strong pace and that is a tribute to Kentucky and the way they played early on.”
Five players scored in double figures for Kentucky, led by a career-high 15 from junior Josh Harrellson. The Wildcats shot 50 percent and forced 20 Indiana turnovers, 15 of which came in the first half.
“We were delivering the ball to them,” Crean said. “Our youth showed up today, but Kentucky turned it up and had another gear and they used it today.”
After trailing 32-6 with 7:57 remaining in the first half, the Hoosiers (5-5) outscored Kentucky 48-40 the rest of the way.
Devan Dumes paced IU with 15 points and Matt Roth added 9.
Up next: IU is off until next Monday when they return to Assembly Hall for matchup with Northeastern. That game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
Jones returns: Verdell Jones returned after missing three games with concussion-like symptoms. Jones scored six points in 19 minutes and appeared to be 100%.
Cold shooting early: Indiana shot just 23 percent in the first half, but improved to 47 percent in the second half.