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.
Cam Long’s three-pointer with 5.4 seconds remaining, a bank shot as the shot clock expired, lifted George Mason past Indiana 69-66 in the seventh place game of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Tip-Off Classic.
Long hit the game-winner with the teams tied at 65 and the hand of Jordan Hulls in his face.
“That’s a tough shot,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “It’s the one when Jones gave up the three because he didn’t rotate out fast enough that killed us. It’s never the last play. It never is.”
After Long’s shot, George Mason (3-2) fouled the Hoosiers before they could get a shot off and Jeremiah Rivers made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second.
Rashad Whack secured the rebound for George Mason, was fouled, and hit the second of two free throws. A desperation half court heave by Maurice Creek didn’t draw iron as time expired.
The loss was the third in four days for Indiana (2-3), which was led by 15 points from Maurice Creek and 13 from Verdell Jones. Bobby Capobianco came off the bench, scored his first points in an IU uniform and finished with seven points and 10 rebounds, five offensive, in 17 minutes.
Despite the tough trip, Crean was pleased with his team’s effort.
“The second half we played much better and finally started to look like a team,” Crean said. “We played our best half of basketball and grew up. That doesn’t mean we didn’t make mistakes and we didn’t miss shots and didn’t have turnovers, but we started to grow up. And that’s exactly what has to happen as we move forward with this team and we are going to continue to build on that.”
Long scored 18 to lead George Mason and Mike Morrison added career highs of 17 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocked shots, a tournament record. Luke Hancock, Creek’s teammate at Hargrave Military Academy chipped in nine points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
(The four factors are explained, here.)
Pick to Click: Creek
Crean on his rotation: “We’ve got a lot of determinations to make. How do we really want to play? I’m trying to play to many guys right now. But we want to run. Are we going to all out after it and press more? Are we going to shrink the bench? I don’t have a rotation.”
Crean pleased with Capobianco’s play: “We had a real heart-to-heart the other night about him taking the steps. And it was really at a crossroads. He’s got it in him. He’s been very, very serious since our first night. And he always practices hard, but he always doesn’t play with confidence. This is on the plus side, going home to have him step in and play like that. But at the same time, he’s gotta learn to play through the contact. He can’t throw the ball up.”
George Mason is young, but it’s different at Indiana: Crean: “Those guys, when they’re in there young, they’ve got people handing it down. They didn’t have to send off everybody because of drugs and because of academics. All of these programs have had people hand it down. It may not have been great players handing it down, but we don’t have that.”
Improved free throw shooting: Indiana hit 21 of 28 free throws, including 10 of 10 in the first half.
No production from Pritchard or Dumes: Pritchard went scoreless and grabbed just one rebound in 14 minutes and Dumes, Indiana’s leading scorer last season, also went scoreless and committed two turnovers in seven minutes.
Hoosiers win rebounding battle: Indiana out-rebounded George Mason 43-38, but were outscored 42-20 in the paint.
Watford struggles from the field: Christian Watford finished with 10 points, but shot just 3 of 13.
Up next: Northwestern State at 3:30 ET on Saturday at Assembly Hall. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
Opponent: George Mason Patriots
Date: Sunday, November 22 | 10:30 am EST
Arena: Coliseo de Puerto Rico – San Juan, Puerto Rico
Line: George Mason by 3.5
All-time series: Indiana leads 1-0
Radio: IU Radio Network (Jeremy Gray and Todd Leary)
Standing between Indiana and a win to snap a two-game skid in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Tip-Off Classic is a program that made a name for themselves by crashing the 2006 Final Four: George Mason.
The 2-2 Patriots nearly knocked off No. 5 Villanova on Thursday and played No. 19 Georgia Tech to a tough 70-62 loss on Friday.
Like the Hoosiers, George Mason are the youngest team in their conference and have just three upper classmen on their roster. Despite their youth, the Patriots were picked to finish fourth in the Colonial Athletic Association.
The top returning player for Jim Larranaga is 6-4 junior guard Cam Long, who averaged close to 12 points and five rebounds on his way to making third team All-CAA. If his name doesn’t ring a bell, you may remember this ridiculous dunk he threw down last season on VCU. This guy is an athlete.
Long primarily played the point last season and joining him in the starting lineup this season is 5-10 sophomore Andre Cornelius, who is second on the team in scoring at 10.2 per game.
Ryan Pearson, a 6-6, 230-pound sophomore forward, is leading the Patriots in scoring (12.5) and rebounds (6.8). The lefty made the CAA all-freshman team a season ago. Joining Pearson in the the starting lineup up front are 6-8 sophomore Mike Morrison and the team’s only senior, 6-7 Louis Birdsong.
While no freshman has cracked the starting lineup, the talent the group possesses is a big reason why Larranaga’s club could contend for the CAA title.
6-7 red-shirt forward Kevin Foster led George Mason with 15 points against Georgia Tech. 6-5 forward Luke Hancock is averaging 10 ppg. And 6-4 guard Sherrod Wright, a three-star recruit who had high major offers, is expected to become a big contributor once he adapts to the college game.
Teammates at Hargrave: Maurice Creek and Hancock played together at Hargrave Military Academy.
20 years ago: Indiana won the last meeting between the two schools — 99-85 on March 17, 1989 in the NCAA Tournament. It was the first tournament appearance for George Mason. Eric Anderson scored 15 points to lead the Hoosiers.
Get in your picks before 10:15 am ET on Sunday. Remember, please state your selection first thing in your comment. Good luck.
Scoring update: kmwinter stands alone at the top with three correct picks in four games. Here’s a link to the updated standings.