In recent years, the Indiana men’s basketball program has built a connection with the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia area.
The current pipeline between the “DMV” and Bloomington formed back in May 2008, when Oxon Hill, Md., native Maurice Creek committed to the Hoosiers. It solidified just over a year later in September 2009 with the commitment of Hyattsville, Md., native Victor Oladipo. Those two had a chance to play near home in the 2013 NCAA tournament Sweet Sixteen at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
The pipeline still remains strong. Current Hoosiers Robert Johnson and Troy Williams are from Virginia, and Stanford Robinson is from Maryland. And tonight presents their first opportunity to play close to home, as the Hoosiers (17-7, 7-4) take on No. 19 Maryland (19-5, 7-4) in College Park at 9 p.m.
“It’s always good when you’re away from home and you get to play in front of your friends and family,” Johnson said on Tuesday. “I’m definitely excited to see them.”
Indiana’s connection to the Washington area stems far beyond the basketball court.
Indiana bounced back from a loss at Wisconsin with a narrow 70-67 win over Michigan on Sunday afternoon at Assembly Hall. The win moved the Hoosiers to 17-7 overall and 7-4 in the Big Ten.
Here’s a look at five takeaways from the win over the Wolverines:
· Indiana continues to find ways to win close games: A season ago, Indiana struggled to close out games for a variety of reasons. Turnovers was chief among them as was a lack of capable shot makers to turn to. The script has been flipped through eleven league games as Indiana now has seven conference wins and six of them have been decided by six points or less.
Sunday was another example of Indiana not playing its best game, but still figuring out a way to claim a win. The Hoosiers built an 11-point lead against the Wolverines with 14 minutes to play, but Michigan never folded and ultimately had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer. Still, Indiana never let go of control of the game, which is a sign of growth over last season.
“I’d say the difference has been mindset, our mental mindset going into a close game like that is just to get a stop and whatever is necessary to get it, we’re going to get it,” Yogi Ferrell explained. “We go out there, we fight for each other and we fight for the team and we come out with the outcome we want.”
Troy Williams (20 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals), James Blackmon Jr. (13 points, eight rebounds and two assists) and Yogi Ferrell (18 points, six assists and four rebounds) met with the media following Indiana’s 70-67 win over Michigan on Sunday afternoon at Assembly Hall.
Morris is joined by SI.com NBA editor and former Podcast on the Brink host Matt Dollinger to discuss a variety of topics, including:
· Dollinger’s perspective on how IU has performed so far this season
· His November column for SI on the IU program, Tom Crean and Mike Davis
· NBA potential for Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr. and Troy Williams
· The development of Cody Zeller this year in Charlotte
· Noah Vonleh’s decision to go pro and if it was the correct one
· Victor Oladipo’s sophomore season in Orlando and his chances in the dunk contest at All-Star weekend
We’re just past the midway point of the Big Ten conference schedule and the Hoosiers are 6-4 in league play heading into Sunday’s matchup with Michigan at Assembly Hall.
Here’s a player-by-player look at how each Hoosier has performed with ten league games in the books (Note: stats, charts are conference games only):
Yogi Ferrell – 14.4 ppg, 4.6 apg, 2.6 rpg, 50.8 effective field goal percentage in 37 minutes per game
Ferrell currently ranks 2nd in percentage of minutes played in Big Ten games behind Myles Mack of Rutgers and his turnover percentage is just 12, which is 4.7 percent lower than where he finished last season in league games. He’s taken a team-high 67 3s in 10 league games and has hit 37.3 percent, but he’s been hot recently from deep (51.4 percent over his last five).
Beyond taking care of the ball better, Ferrell is also 11th in assist rate in the conference, has the 12th best offensive rating and seems to be on track for All-Big Ten honors as the best player on a team that has been one of the league’s surprises.
James Blackmon Jr. – 14.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 45.2 effective field goal percentage in 30.4 minutes per game
Blackmon Jr. and Ferrell are tied for the team lead in scoring in Big Ten play, but the freshman’s efficiency has taken a major dip. After posting an effective field goal percentage of 57.1 in non-conference play, Blackmon Jr. is down nearly 12 percent in that statistic in conference play. After making 44.3 percent of his 3s in non-conference games, he’s only hit at a 34 percent clip in conference. He shot 53 percent on left wing 3s in non-conference play and 59 percent on right wing 3s, but both numbers are down through 10 league games, per Shot Analytics:
On Saturday afternoon, Rutgers chose to slow the game down against Indiana.
The Scarlet Knights took their time with their possessions. They got back in transition defense. They made the Hoosiers play to their game.
But after closely contested 40 minutes, the Hoosiers managed to pull out a 72-64 win. And they find themselves now 16-6 and 6-3 in the Big Ten thus far.
“We had to grind it out,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “I hate the word grind, but we had to be really tough today to figure out a way to win it.”
Saturday’s game was the slowest the Hoosiers had played in this season in terms of possessions — but Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan said it wasn’t the plan to slow the Hoosiers down — although it played right into the Scarlet Knights’ hands.