For no reason in particular, there is an old Lincoln quote rolling around in my head today (Abraham, not continental). It comes from a message to Congress that was a precursor to the Emancipation Proclamation, when Lincoln penned the words “the dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.”
Now, I’m still not entirely sure what that means, but it’s been rolling around in my head for the last few hours, so I just thought I’d get it out there.
Like most (if not all) of you, I watched at least some portion of the sound beating IU took at Wisconsin on Saturday. I was unable to watch from stem to stern, but I got the gist — not enough offense, not enough defense, not enough points, not enough hustle, not enough of anything for anyone to really find positives in anything but the final buzzer and those brief moments when it slipped from your mind that there was a game yesterday at all.
Now, it’s been suggested, in this space and in others, that I, specifically, am too easy on Tom Crean, too forgiving of the Hoosiers’ plethora of shortcomings as this season slowly turns the way of last.
But the truth is, folks, I understand. I really do. I understand how hard it is to watch this team play, and struggle as it does. There’s a standard Indiana fans expect, and it’s not being met.
And I know that for many of you, that standard isn’t measured solely with banners or wins-per-season averages, but simply with hard work, teamwork and commitment. The majority of you have (at least, I think you have) bought into what Tom Crean is selling — the rebuilding, baby steps approach that celebrates every move forward this team makes, and forgives most of its regressions.
But water will always boil when succumbing to intense heat, and so fans will become displeased when they see performances like the last three IU has managed. I’ve seen part or all of Northwestern, Ohio State and Wisconsin, and this time, I’ll agree with you, Hoosier Nation, your complaints are valid.
Thanks to our friends @ChrisKorman and @DustinDopirak over at the H-T/Hoosier Scoop, you can listen to the postgame comments of Tom Crean, Christian Watford, Daniel Moore, Verdell Jones and Jordan Hulls following yesterday’s loss at Wisconsin.
Tom Crean talked about Saturday’s matchup with Wisconsin with the media earlier today. At the opening of his comments, Crean revealed that senior guard Devan Dumes will miss the trip to Madison due to the flu. Here’s the video, courtesy of Crean’s Twitter account:
The first meeting between Indiana and Ohio State produced a woefully one-sided contest, 79-54, back on January 6 at Value City Arena.
Fast forward the calendar five weeks and the rematch was the same old story.
Too much Will Buford, Dallas Lauderdale and Evan Turner. No offensive cohesion. And not nearly the defensive intensity needed to be competitive.
The result: A fifth straight loss for Indiana – 69-52 – dropping the Hoosiers to 9-14 overall and 3-8 in the Big Ten.
“It was pathetic in a lot of ways,” Tom Crean told Don Fisher on the postgame radio show. “It was pathetic defensively. It’s inexcusable, but I don’t have a lot of avenues to go right now in the sense of making different decisions. But we will and we’ll be able to correct it and fix it as we move along.”
Through the first 12-plus minutes, Indiana looked like it might make a game of it. With Turner on the bench with two fouls, the Hoosiers were within one at 18-17.
Ohio State responded with a 16-3 run the last 7:48 of the half to grab a 34-20 halftime lead. And the Hoosiers never got within 12 the rest of the way.
“The margin for error against teams like that are so poor for us, but we don’t have any chance when we don’t play harder than that,” Crean said.
Buford finished with a game-high 21 points, Lauderdale added 14 points and eight rebounds and Turner, the front runner for Big Ten Player of the Year, had 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 21 minutes.
It was the eighth straight Big Ten win for Ohio State, moving the Buckeyes into a tie for first place.
Indiana, which shot just 37 percent from the field, got 15 points and seven rebounds from Christian Watford and 13 points from Jordan Hulls.
You could call it hot shooting by Northwestern. Or you could call it poor defense by Indiana. Maybe it was a little bit of both on Super Bowl Sunday in Welsh-Ryan Arena.
But when the dust settled, Indiana looked nothing like the team that had just taken Illinois and Purdue to the wire in a pair of hard-fought losses.
And Northwestern, which inched closer to the .500 mark in conference play, looked like a team poised to work its way back into the NCAA Tournament conversation with a convincing 78-61 win over the Hoosiers.
“We just don’t have a toughness about us that’s there everyday,” Indiana coach Tom Crean told Don Fisher on the postgame radio show. “We didn’t come with a street fight mentality at the beginning of the game at all.”
The Wildcats (16-8, 5-6 Big Ten) jumped out to a 10-2 lead, hit 10 of 25 from behind the 3-point line, shot 52 percent from the field and were never really challenged by Indiana.
All five starters for Bill Carmody’s team, which had 21 assists and just 10 turnovers, scored in double figures, led by 16 from John Shurna. The 6-8 sophomore hit five 3-pointers and had six assists, five rebounds and three blocks. Luka Mirkovic added 14 points and Jeremy Nash had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
“We did not come out with the mentality that we were going to get into these guys,” Crean said. “The bottom line was that we had to defend the 3-point line. We had to pressure up, they’ve shot 100 more three’s than us. There’s a reason for that. We did not have the fight in us at the beginning that you need to get started and then you’re playing in an uphill battle the entire game.”
The one bright spot for Indiana (9-13, 3-7) was Verdell Jones. The sophomore guard turned in his best scoring effort yet as a Hoosier with 28 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Jones hit 12-of-13 free throws for his seventh game of 20+ points this season.
“He’s continued to get better. We’ve got to continue to find different ways to get him the ball,” Crean said. “Verdell is certainly getting a lot of things done.”
The Hoosiers had a season-low eight turnovers, but shot just 35 percent from the field and trailed by as many as 20 in the second half.
Up next: Ohio State at Assembly Hall on Wednesday. The 6:30 tip will be shown on the Big Ten Network.