John Beilein Archive

Defense earns Indiana win over No. 1 Michigan

IUUMITH0004Like it did last year, Indiana took down No. 1 at Assembly Hall on Saturday night. Only this time, no court storming was necessary.

While it will go down as an upset by the rankings, these are the kinds of games the Hoosiers are expected to win these days. That’s a credit to Tom Crean, who has rebuilt this thing from nothing.

No. 3 Indiana 81, No. 1 Michigan 73.

“Indiana is a heck of a team,” star Michigan guard Trey Burke said. “I’m glad we got an opportunity to play them tonight.”

I’ve been critical of Crean in the past for his occasional failure to make adjustments (See: Wisconsin), but he came up with a masterful game plan against the Wolverines. He figured Burke would get his, but Crean devised a defensive game plan to keep any other player from going off.

The Hoosiers almost completely took freshmen Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III out of the game, holding them to a combined 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting.

“They were locking down on Glenn and Nik, not letting them get the ball, and then putting good pressure on us,” said Michigan coach John Beilein.

Added Burke: “They kind of made us win the game just from the point guard and the center position. Indiana did a good job of denying them. It was tough getting them the ball.”

This is not the same team that so often won games because of its ability to outscore teams. With Victor Oladipo and Yogi Ferrell leading the charge, this Indiana team now prides itself on its defense.

When shots stopped falling as they occasionally did Saturday night, the Hoosiers’ defense kept a Michigan team full of offensive firepower from claiming the lead.

“We felt that the Indiana defense they saw last year was what they remembered,” Crean said, “and we wanted to give them something different because we did not guard them as well as we should have a year ago. We really wanted to prove to ourselves tonight that we were a much better defensive team against a team that’s that good.”


For Hoosiers and Wolverines, defense will be key Saturday night

IUMinnITH0012Indiana and Michigan are two of the best offensive teams in the country. They can run as well as anybody, and each team has several reliable scoring options.

Both coaches are well aware of that fact. As Indiana coach Tom Crean and Michigan coach John Beilein addressed the media on Friday, each spent the majority of the time talking about the challenges their teams will face on the defensive end.

The consensus? Neither team is ranked in the top five because of only one guy.

When looking at the No. 3 Hoosiers, Cody Zeller’s name comes up most often. Beilein fielded numerous questions about the Indiana big man on Friday, but was quick to point to Zeller’s supporting cast.

“It’s not like you throw it in there and he’s got a bunch of stiffs running around him,” Beilein said. “He’s got a great team around him. … They are playing at a high level.”

And for No. 1 Michigan, the main man is point guard Trey Burke, one of the leading early candidates for the player of the year award. Burke is averaging 17.9 points and 7.1 assists per game.

“I’m sure they’ve thought this out,” Beilein said. “Last year, they put [Christian] Watford on Trey a little bit in that game, [Victor] Oladipo is an option. We have other options as well besides Trey Burke, as everyone knows.”

Yes, the Wolverines most certainly do. They have several other scoring options, including Tim Hardaway Jr., Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III. Crean put Oladipo on Hardaway Jr. for the majority of the time in last year’s two meetings, and the matchup favored Indiana. Hardaway Jr. shot just 11-of-33 from the field and 2-of-15 from the 3-point line in those games.

But Hardaway Jr. is a much-improved player this season, due in large part because of the Wolverines’ additional depth. He’s shooting 41 percent from beyond the arc and is hitting two per game after knocking down only 28 percent of his 3-pointers a year ago.

“He’s got an incredible first step. He can score off the dribble, he’s hitting 3s,” Crean said. “He’s one of the better players in the country. What makes him good, what makes Trey Burke good is the same thing that makes our better players good – everybody else on the court can play too.”

Oladipo will likely start the game against Hardaway Jr. again, leaving freshman Yogi Ferrell to guard Burke. Ferrell has had a terrific year on the defensive end, but he hasn’t yet faced a player as talented and as skilled as Burke.

While the Hoosiers will likely throw a number of players at Burke throughout the game and also play help defense, Crean said it’s especially important that they play good 1-on-1 defense.


Big Ten power rankings: Week 8

A delayed version of the Big Ten power rankings this week. We’ve waited long enough — and more importantly, we’ve made you wait long enough, so let’s just dive right in, shall we?

Inside the Hall Big Ten power rankings: Week 8

The CBI is On Line 11. Indiana – NR; 12-14, 3-10; 33 total points

Christian Watford is back, though he’s not going to be 100 percent through the rest of the season. Indiana needs his aggression to be all there, however, with an even chance at grabbing at least a spot in the CBI with a couple more wins.

The Because We Beat No. 11 No. 10: Iowa – NR; 10-15, 3-10; 30 total points

There’s really no other reason for Iowa to be here. Consider that if you take away the two wins against IU, the Hawkeyes are basically atrocious. But we won’t, because the Inside the Hall rankings are too nice. We also have a soft spot in the old heart-ski for Melsahn Basabe.

The We Weren’t Moving In This Direction Before No. 9. Northwestern – NR; 14-10, 4-9; 27 total points

Northwestern had better make the most of its next two games (home to Iowa, at Indiana). After that, the sledding to win another game could get tough. Bill Carmody has an NIT appearance reputation to protect, daggum!

The In Its Rightful Place No. 8. Penn State – NR; 13-11, 6-7; 22 total points

One of the lowest point totals we’ve ever had at No. 8. The Nittany Lions are an exercise in proving the theory that you can’t just sail through your non-conference. Chalk back a home loss to Maine and Penn State is feeling a lot better about its NIT chances than it does right now.

The Some Sweet Day We’ll Be in the Tourney No. 7. Michigan State – Still NR anymore; 14-11, 6-7; 21 total points

Everyone kept waiting for the Spartans to right their own ship. After losing two of their last three (at Wisconsin, at Ohio State) to the conference elite of which they were supposed to be one, perhaps it’s time to recognize that this just isn’t Tom Izzo’s best crew. As it is, everything is a must-win from here on.

The John Beilein Memorial No. 6. Michigan – NR; 16-10, 6-7; 17 total points

Instead of me writing something insightful (unlikely) or hilariously funny (even more unlikely), I would simply ask you to read this incredible story by Mike Rothstein from Thanks.

The Bruce Weber Memorial No. 5. Illinois (tie) – NR; 16-9, 6-6; 15 total points

Does Illinois deserve to be No. 5? Probably not. Does anybody else? Oh no. The Illini won their first three Big Ten games this season. They promptly lost six of their next nine. Never did a team need to beat Michigan, Iowa and Indiana at home in a worse way. And we’re not even sure that’s enough to impress the committee.

The How Far Has the Big Ten Fallen No. 5 Minnesota (tie) – Receiving votes in both polls; 17-8, 6-7; 15 total points

The weekly Big Ten press release is kind to point out that the Big Ten has as many teams (3) in the country’s top 11 as any conference in the country. What it neglects to mention is that those three teams, which coincidentally make up Nos. 1-3 in this poll, are the ONLY three teams left in the Top 25. Minnesota ain’t one of ’em, just like Illinois or Michigan State. Oof.


Communication key against Michigan’s transition offense

BLOOMINGTON — Transition defense was the hot topic Friday afternoon during media availability at Assembly Hall. Tom Crean called Michigan “the best transition basketball team in the Big Ten,” and Jeremiah Rivers said he and his teammates have spent a large portion of the week working to improve in defending against points on the break.

Defending in transition has been a problem for Indiana this season, in large part due to Indiana’s struggles with talking and on-court communication. That, in turn, has created problems when shooters come free on the break and aren’t picked up, John Shurna’s ability to shake loose for open shots Sunday in the Hoosiers’ 93-81 loss at Northwestern being a recent example.

Rivers was particularly adamant about the importance of communication against a team that has shot more 3-pointers than any other in the Big Ten:

“Being quiet out there doesn’t help at all. I think being quiet out there gives us inconsistency because you don’t know if your man has your back, you don’t know, if you get beat off the dribble – which will happen in games – if the next player’s gonna step out and help you. So I think all week, that’s all we’ve been doing, or one of the main things we’ve been doing on defense is helping each other on defense. So I think it’s been real good.”

Michigan will provide an excellent case study into how productive Indiana’s week has been. The Wolverines are trigger happy, as are most John Beilein-coached teams, but they’ve got several pieces that cause problems, foremost among them Darius Morris.

The sophomore is enjoying a breakout season, averaging 15.4 points, 7.3 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. He has been the conduit through which much of the Wolverines’ offense has run, both in scoring and in creating for others.

“Well he’s the new Manny Harris in the sense that he attacks, creates for others, he can get to the rim really well and the ball is gonna be in his hands when it’s winning time,” Crean said. “He does a good job of finding shooters if they’re open, like Zach Novak, Stu Douglass, Tim Hardaway Jr., and he’s playing like a floor leader for them.”

The others for which Morris likes to create include sharpshooters Zach Novak and Stu Douglass, who both shoot north of 38 percent from 3-point range and average 9.2 and 7.4 points per game, respectively. Novak in particular was a player Rivers termed the Wolverines’ “x-factor” in terms of scoring, and keeping both him and Morris from finding an early rhythm could go a long way for Indiana.


2010-2011 Season Preview: Michigan Wolverines

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 12: Head coach John Beilein of the Michigan Wolverines watches action during the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 12, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)It’s time for Inside the Hall’s team-by-team breakdown of the Big Ten Conference. Today: The Michigan Wolverines.

The trajectory of the Michigan basketball program is far less defined entering the 2010-2011 campaign compared to a season ago.

Last fall, the Wolverines were a consensus preseason top 15 team that returned two of the league’s top players — guard Manny Harris and forward DeShawn Sims. But when the smoke cleared, Michigan finished with a disappointing 15-17 record and failed to reach a postseason tournament.

It was a significant step back for a program that reached the second round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament and seemed to be headed in the right direction.

So what are we to expect of this year’s version of the Michigan Wolverines? Another season of struggle in what will be John Beilein’s fourth season in Ann Arbor.

Three of Beilein’s top five scorers from last season — Harris (NBA), Sims (graduation) and Laval Lucas-Perry (violation of team rules) — are gone. Juniors Zack Novak and Stu Douglass, who would both be considered solid role guys under different circumstances, are Beilein’s top two returning pieces.

This means Michigan will rely, mostly out of necessity, on newcomers Evan Smotrycz and Tim Hardaway Jr. for immediate contributions. Smotrycz, a top 60 recruit according to Rivals, is a 6-9 forward that loves to shoot from the perimeter but also possesses the ability to put the ball on the floor. Hardaway Jr, son of the former NBA great Tim Hardaway (UTEP Two-Step!), can reportedly fill it up from the perimeter and also knock down pull-up jump shots. Sophomore point guard Darius Morris, who started 19 games as a freshman, will also be relied on heavily.