Jordan Hulls Archive

Indiana prepares for new challenge in Syracuse zone

IUTempleITH0008WASHINGTON — Indiana saw just about everything imaginable in the Big Ten this season.

But not quite.

“We don’t see a lot of 2-3 zone like this,” guard Jordan Hulls said of Syracuse. “They’re very long, very athletic, they close out to balls a lot faster than what we’ve seen, even on film.”

The Hoosiers will finally get a look at the Syracuse zone that gets talked about so much when they play the Orange in a Sweet 16 game Thursday night at the Verizon Center.

What makes the Syracuse different and more challenging than other zones is the athletes Jim Boeheim recruits to play in it. Brandon Triche (6-foot-4) is the shortest player in the Orange’s starting lineup, and the other four are Michael Carter-Williams (6-foot-6), James Southerland (6-foot-8), C.J. Fair (6-foot-8) and Rakeem Christmas (6-foot-9).

“They’re athletic guys, long guys. They like to get up in your face,” said forward Will Sheehey. “They get out and challenge passing lanes, they don’t kinda pack it in. It’s almost like a pressure 2-3 zone.”

Added point guard Yogi Ferrell: “They have the best zone defense in the country. We’ve been practicing against it, watching a lot of film. It’s going to be a very tough test for us.”

Crean coached against Boeheim and Syracuse twice when he was at Marquette, so the zone won’t be completely new to him when he sees it Thursday night. Plus, Crean had almost four days to prepare for it, so the turnaround wasn’t all that short.

Even so, the Syracuse zone has proven to be one that can add new wrinkles and function in different ways depending on the opponent and the game. Plus, Crean is 0-2 in those two games.

“At Marquette we didn’t necessarily have the ability to score in the low post that maybe we have now,” Crean said Wednesday. “So it was a little bit different attack and we had good guards, people like Jerel McNeal, Wes Matthews, you know Dominic James, Lazar Hayward, so people like that that could make plays but we didn’t necessarily have the low post ability.

“I don’t think you can look at that zone and think you’re going to beat it any one way but I don’t think you can look at the zone and think you can stand around and pass the ball around the perimeter, either. That is a recipe for defeat.”

One thing that will be key to beating the zone is knocking down perimeter shots, especially early in the game. The Hoosiers didn’t shoot particularly well against Temple on Sunday, and that will have to change.

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HD Video: Indiana players preview Syracuse

WASHINGTON — Watch and listen to what the IU players had to say inside their locker room of the Verizon Center as they prepared for Thursday’s NCAA Tournament game with Syracuse.

High-definition quality video is available in the embedded media players below:

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Video: Crean, players preview Syracuse

Tom Crean, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, Cody Zeller and Jordan Hulls addressed the media Wednesday afternoon at the Verizon Center before Thursday night’s Sweet Sixteen matchup with the Syracuse Orange.

Tom Crean:

Oladipo, Watford, Zeller and Hulls:

You can read a full transcript here.

A second look at Indiana-Temple

IUTempleITH0012Sunday afternoon’s game had so much to it, it was difficult to digest it all immediately after the game. Especially when a late March snowstorm was staring right at the greater Dayton area.

So, after more than 24 hours to think about and analyze the Hoosiers’ 58-52 win over Temple, and how they got there, I took a look at the game in a much more complete way.

First, when I said in my column from Sunday night that the Hoosier won ugly, I wasn’t kidding. It was UGLY in every possible way, and Indiana undoubtedly caught some breaks (like the fact that every Temple player not named Wyatt seemed to forget how to score), but to advance in the NCAA Tournament, you sometimes need an element of luck. Ask Marquette. Or Ohio State. Or Miami.

The fact of the matter is, in a game they had no business winning, the Hoosiers found a way to advance to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year. And ultimately, that’s all that matters. I remember sitting on my couch watching the 2008 team play in the Tournament. There was no fight, no will, no desire. The Hoosiers faced adversity, and they quit.

When Tom Crean took control of the program, he vowed to change the culture. So give him credit because he has done that. Even when the Hoosiers trailed and couldn’t seem to do anything right against Temple, they kept believing. They played hurt. They made winning plays.

That, more than anything, is what I take from Indiana’s third-round win. Sure, it was ugly and there are many things that need to be corrected before it sees Syracuse on Thursday night, but we now know that this team has no quit in it (if we didn’t already).

Who’d Wyatt score on?

Not everything about the Hoosiers’ win over Temple, of course, was pretty. There was this guy, Khalif Wyatt, who went off in the first half and poured in 31 points. Wyatt’s done it many times before, but his production against Indiana was a bit surprising because the Hoosiers knew how dangerous he was. And they had the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in Victor Oladipo to check him.

But nevertheless, Wyatt went off in a losing effort. So how much does it mean? How troubled is Indiana’s defense going forward?

Answer: Not very.

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Hoosiers won ugly, and now they’re more dangerous than ever

IUTempleITH0037DAYTON, Ohio — This was the type of game Indiana rarely finds a way to win. The pace slow, the play physical, the score low, the game ugly.

We’ve seen it too many times before. Butler. Wisconsin. Minnesota. Wisconsin again.

Temple gave the top-seeded Hoosiers everything they could handle on Sunday afternoon in Dayton. They had them on the ropes, had them frazzled. Their dream season was quickly slipping away.

But this time, Indiana found a way — an ugly, low-scoring and physical one — and the Hoosiers are moving on. They won a game in a way they never can. Now, the Hoosiers are more dangerous than ever. Now, they have won in every imaginable way.

Indiana 58, Temple 52.

“It was just a matter of time, the way our guys approached it, that things would break for them,” said Indiana coach Tom Crean. “If we just continued to defend, if we continued to get good shots and good ball movement and get the ball inside out on offense … That’s exactly what happened.”

What made this one different? Well, it’s really quite simple: Leadership. This team’s seniors have been through it all. They’ve lost too many times to Wisconsin and Wisconsin-like teams to let it end their collegiate careers.

Jordan Hulls, who took a brutal hit to his shoulder in the first half only to come back and hit big shots later, made sure his teammates never quit. He took control in the team’s huddles during timeouts.

“He said, ‘We were down by five with 52 seconds to go at Michigan,'” associate head coach Tim Buckley said of Hulls. “He said that with two minutes to go in the game.”

“Jordan kept saying, ‘We’re not done, we’re not done,'” Yogi Ferrell said.

Hulls’ words were important, but his actions were even more so. He was clearly in pain — he constantly grimaced late in the first half — but he refused to remain on the bench in the biggest game of Indiana’s season. Hulls wanted to be on the floor.

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HD Video: Indiana players react to win over Temple

DAYTON, Ohio — Watch and listen to what the IU players had to say inside their locker room of the University of Dayton Arena following the Hoosiers’ 58-52 win over Temple in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

High-definition quality video is available in the embedded media players below:

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Video, Transcript: Crean, IU players discuss Temple

Tom Crean, as well as Christian Watford, Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and Jordan Hulls, addressed the media on Saturday in anticipation of Sunday’s bout with the Temple Owls.

Watch the players:

And Crean:

Complete transcript after the jump.

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