Settling in for the long haul

  • 11/23/2009 7:22 am in

MY COUCH – The Puerto Rico Tip-Off delivered just as promised.

But instead of a jump ball, the preseason tournament’s tip-off was more of the inside information variety.

The message was clear, whether you watched the games or the live blog. Despite the influx of talent, IU Basketball might not live up to the hopes some optimists placed on them before the season.

A double-digit win season now seems lofty. A .500 record would likely include a pair of glass slippers and a horse-drawn carriage made out of pumpkin.

Most Hoosier fans are currently mourning this weekend’s activities – and/or coming off a binge necessitated by the Old Oaken Bucket game – but I’m here to tell you that not all was lost in the gyms of San Juan.

My glass usually sits half-empty, but I can say without hesitation that the Hoosiers are a better team right now than they were at this point last season. As someone who had a courtside seat to Tom Crean and the greenest team in Cream and Crimson history all of last year, I can tell the Hoosiers have taken a step in the right direction.

Last season’s December losses to Northeastern and Lipscomb were gut wrenching; this year’s November defeats to Boston and George Mason are closer to stomach-able.

Although, certainly not enjoyable. After handing it to Howard and edging out USC Upstate to open the season, three consecutive losses reminds us just how far the men’s basketball program still has to go on its path to reclamation.

Around this time last year, I was in Hawaii covering the Hoosiers in the Maui Invitational (read: golfing). Before the tournament, IU registered wins over Northwestern State and IUPUI to open the season. No one was calling them world-beaters, but no one was quite anticipating the 38-point shellacking Notre Dame handed them to open the tournament either.

Expectations adjusted and reality hit harder than a Tijan Jobe screen. IU followed the loss with a 26-point defeat to Saint Josephs the next day before outlasting the Chaminade Silverswords in the seventh-place game.

This year, a tropical tournament seems to have weathered IU fans’ hopes once again. A banked 3-pointer and three straight losses will do that to you.

The difference this year is the Hoosiers have showed flashes of promise and talent that just weren’t there last season. Despite their struggles, IU has been competitive in every game this season. Even better, the IU men’s basketball team lost games it should have won this past weekend – when was the last time you could say that?

Crean might not be playing walk-ons and outfielders anymore, but he is still reliant on true freshmen adapting to the college level. In spurts, this year’s team has already displayed the type of offensive ability and defensive prowess that was missing from last year’s 6-25 team.

A difficult upcoming schedule could leave their record indicating otherwise, but the Hoosiers are getting better. They might not pull off the number of upsets some were hoping, but this year’s team will have its moments.

Hoosier fans should settle in for the long haul and be patient with this year’s bunch. There is a reason IU signed Crean to a 10-year contract. This year’s team would handily beat last year’s – it’s just hard to tell quite yet whom else they could beat.

What are your feelings post-Puerto Rico? Did you foresee these early struggles or were you caught off guard?

More to come next week.

Filed to:

  • stevealford

    I sure hope you are right, but how can we possibly beat Maryland? Have you seen us play this year?

  • IUDan

    This is one of the best and most even-keeled reflections on the tournament and where this team is collectively. I could not agree more – IU is not a tournament team, and I believe we lost to three tournament-quality teams this weekend. And we very easily could have won two of those games, despite not playing well. I get a sense (mostly from reading other boards) that people just don't have the proper perspective on this team . . . they will get better.

    Though disappointing, I think this tournament will pay dividends down the road.

    I've been lurking on this site for a few months now, and I have to say the overall level of discourse is so much higher than on other sites – keep up the good work, and thanks!

  • NMHoosier

    After sleeping it off last night and realizing my time in Puerto Rico ends this morning, I have officially come off the ledge. Yes, it would have been nice to beat either BU or GMU, but there were flashes of some pretty good offensive play. If Crean can correct the careless turnovers, get them playing tough D on most possessions and teach the guys how to hit a shot inside of 5 feet…we will be in good shape in a relatively quick amount of time.

    Go Hoosiers!

  • Wish

    In the next half dozen games we will know where Verdell Jones decides what he wants his IU career to be. He has the ability to put up 18-20 points per game and there isn't a PG that is strong enough to guard him and very few SG's that are quick enough to defend him. It's time for him to step up and start playing more efficiently (statistically) and become the leader of the IU program.

    For the other guys, make your FT's and take care of the ball. I'm not expecting banners to be hung after this season but i'd like to see a very solid foundation set.

  • James

    I sure feel much better about the weekend after the GM game yesterday morning. While Miss and GM are tournement quality teams I dont think you could put Boston in that category. They really gave that one away, and that is always tough to deal with. But the fact that they came out for their next game not just ready to play but ready to win says a lot. And yea they probably should/could have won both of those games but oh well thats college basketball…not the first time someone has banked in a 3 to win the game against us.
    Good article and I agree, still optimistic but my optimism was to the tune of about 10-12 wins to start with

  • JerryCT

    I echo kelins comments.

    I saw the games in PR up close. I am not a fan who likes to hype recruits or believe in freshmen so I thought my expectations were realistic. I expected 1 or 2 wins however. Our youth is an excuse that can only take us so far.Yes, we played 3 really good teams but they are not as good as most teams we will face in the B10 which is most of our schedule.

    I ran into Mike Santa who indicated the team is a bit down on itself. So I believe my best reaction as a fan is to help the team by my unconditional support. I will be traveling to the MD game , Section D row 25 if anyone wants to say hello. and then to MSG for the Pitt game.

    So “what did we learn and how fast can we grow” into a B10 schedule. My humble thoughts on what i learned :

    1. OFFENSIVE STYLE: Our up tempo game has been too easy to defend and will ALWAYS be defended if we cannot rebound better. With Jobe in the game we can forget it. We NEED a 1/2 court set that works. All you need to see is our point totals for an “up tempo” team

    2. HALF COURT: Our 1/2 court set could be built on Rivers who is the only player who can get his own shot. When not in the game I would move down low to Watford as #1 option. It is obvious that these guys can create problems which can leave open shots for Jones and Creek as 2nd choices

    3. LOW POST: We need to at least try and feed the low post to Watford and Pritchard. We donot do much of this at all. Pritchard must start shooting if for no other reason but to give the other team the sense they cannot sag off him and clog the lane or shade the perimeter

    4. IDENTITY: We have enough other pieces in Creek, Jones, Elston and Hulls to maintain a Rivers based offense most of the game. We desperatly need Roth, Dumes and Creek to create a 3pt option to the dribble drive

    5. DEFENSE: Rivers and Dumes are good but the younsters are having a tough time especially Creek. His feet were glued to the floor in the zone against Ole Miss. To me this is what we need to work on most. Pritchard is too often having to help which leaves easy baskets. Jobe is in the position but then he has no skills to accomplish anything but take up space

  • ace132

    I am not sure Boston University is a tournament quality team but i agree this tourney taught us alot about the team. And gave CTC some tape for his young players to look at.

  • Steve

    On a positive note the Big Ten isn't looking nearly as daunting this year as first expected. Northwestern is gonna be down a little with Coble out, Penn St. is struggling, Iowa is flat out bad, Wisky looks unathletic, and OSU got housed by a good, but not great, UNC team. I think IU should be able to win some home Big Ten games. We'll get to double digit victories. Although I'm not sure we get to 12 (doubling last season's win total) which is where I wanted to be at a minimum.

  • CO

    Until IU has a big man in the middle, who can take the pressure off of our outside game, we will continue to see what happened in PR. This team is out of control, because they can't get into an offensive set, due to the other team putting pressure on our outside guys, due to the fact that they don't have to concentrate on the inside. Pritchard and Jobe wouldn't be starting on a D-2 team! What we saw in PR is what we will see all of this year and years to come, until TC will concentrate on getting a true big man, with talent, who can take the pressure off the outside and IU can play the inside out game needed to win games. This recruiting class is no more than “fools gold”!

  • deedubbadoo

    This past weekend in the Commonwealth, has taught me that this team is definitely still very young, very green, and a little out of shape. I think all of these things can be treated via experience. We still have the same problems we had last year. My realistic goal for this season was 12 wins, double our total from last year, and I still have a good feeling about it. These kids and I say kids, as a 28 year old talking about 18,19,and 20 year olds, will continue to grow and get better throughout the season. I am sure they are down right now, after dropping three straight but like last year, it's baptism by fire and, it's the only option we have at the moment. I look for us to bounce back at home with a nice crowd cheering us back to .500. I also look for us to head into Big 10 play at 6-6, which will have already matched our wins from last year. We are getting better everyday and I think come early March, we are going to be a very respectable group of young men.

  • I've only seen the Mississippi game and read the comments on the other four, but I still think that the team will gel better as they become more familiar with one another. The influx of new faces over two years doesn't do well for team cohesiveness. You've got to know your team mates in order for everything to click together as one.

    I saw it in spurts during Mississippi. I would have hoped that Indiana could have beaten Boston U, but it seems like they played hard against a pretty good George Mason team. And maybe the banked three was just karma coming back after Eric Gordon's three to beat Illinois two years ago.

    Anyway, I still look for this team to do better than last year, especially in the Big Ten. Like Matt D. said up there, there might not be as many upsets as we had hoped, but I still think 10 wins is attainable.

  • Kelin Blab

    I will give you three things in our favor…..

    1. Playing at home with a young team goes along way and raises our competitive level with the crowd
    2. IU has had 5 games to see what they need to work on and correct and do better, and in those five games this team has been able to adjust and make some improvements.
    3. Maryland struggles to score outside of Vasquez thus far this year…..

  • I'll add a fourth: Maryland isn't strong inside.

  • stevealford

    I'll come back and eat some crow and be happy about it if you guys are correct, but I just don't see it happening. Maryland is 3-0 and their closest game has been 27 points. They are a well coached team.

  • benchwarmer32

    3 losses to 3 tournament quality teams (yes, Boston is a tournament quality team, they are picked to win the America East Conference). I liked some of the play but the proof is in the next several games. This was a great learning experience… if it proves to be a learning experience. The turnovers need to go down, the free throws need to be made, the defensive intensity must go up. If it does, I can stomach these losses as the “real-world classroom” for a young team to learn. If those things don't happen, uh-oh.

  • DavidC

    Vasquez, so far this year, is Maryland's 5th leading scorer – behind Landon Milbourne, Sean Mosley, Eric Hayes and Jordan Williams.

    Vasquez is a big personality and garners a lot of attention because of it. And he is usually the driver of Maryland's offense, but even if he is off his game I just can't see how Indiana could beat Maryland. I just think Maryland has too many weapons for IU to handle.

    But hey, stranger things have happened and the game is at home…

  • Steve Flack

    Jerry,

    It was great meeting you and your wife at PR and look forward to seeing you at more tournaments in the future. I'll make sure to bring some extra IU gear in case you need to wear some this time. HA!
    Thanks again for a great time!

  • RussMan

    I was in PR and saw the Ole Miss and BU games up close. Againest Ole Miss IU couldnt match their physical strenght inside or out. I saw GMU take Nova to the last shot. GMU is a good young physical team with good guards. Sounds like IU except the physical comment. My biggest gripe is against GMU we didnt make any adjustments to the back door lobs and cuts that resulted in GMU dunks. Havent these guys played against a zone before CMon! The other problem is no outside 3-ball option available for the kick-out from CW or TP. Once the help defense comes down that shot would be there…instead CW and TP try to force their offense to much. On the positive, yes much better than last year and a lot of upside if they can stay positive. There were a lot of heads hung low after the games, the kids were/are down. Maybe they had too high of opinons of themselves? With maturing (physically) the guys will get better. But more production is needed from DD, BW and TP. I will be in NYC for the Pitt game. Out

  • first off, its not as bad as it seems (at least not yet…). ole miss will be ranked at some point this season. a young team losing to a “ranked” team isn't bad and there were points during that game where you can envision what the team might look like near the end of the season.

    losing to boston wasn't good, but si has them as a tournament team and i'm sure other publications do as well. there is a big deal when it comes to early season games as to how much experience you have back and how many players you are working in. although i couldn't watch the game (who could?) losing by 3 to a potential tournament team is not the end of the world.

    losing to george mason was by a banked 3. luck plays a part in all sports and luck didn't go our way. sometimes in the future it won't again and sometimes it will.

    0-3 in puerto rico sounds bad, but its not as bad as it sounds.

    keep this in mind as well: turdue's season two years ago included losses to a missouri team that finished 16-16, wofford, an iowa st team that finished 14-18, and close wins over lipscomb and missouri st. i'm not saying we are going to have a season like they did two years ago and end up surprising everyone and finishing second in the big ten (they are good at finishing 2nd aren't they?), but lets give the team a little time before everyone presses the panic button

  • cooper

    I agree with most of what you've put. Up tempo offense is a disaster for 2 main reasons, 1) there aren't enough players to handle the ball and get up the court, 2) Pritchard doesn't get up the court, Jobe does but you can't give him the ball

    I think VJ gets his own shot but besides him and Rivers no one else can. Rivers is the only person that can break down the D and he gets out of control.

    Pritchard looks lost on both ends of the court. I understand a bad game or games but if it continues give Capo some of his minutes.

    we are in a bad place defensively. The guards have trouble staying in front of their man and the zone has trouble keeping players from the middle of the lane or running the baseline wide open. I'm not real sure how to answer this one unless we go with a press. May result in getting blown out some games but it may keep us in others

  • JerryCT

    I agree mostly. I had really good seats for the PR games. I donot think TP is lost on both ends but I DO think he is avoiding his offense.

    What you may not have seen was that TP was the most vocal on D and for good reason. Everything was coming at him like a runaway train.

    Everybody went around our guards ( mostly Jones, Creek and Hulls but not Dumes and Rivers) and forced TP to decide who to defend, his man or the driver. Watford was not helpful to TP either, he basically was hung out to dry. TP handled it really well IMO .Fouls on Capo, Jobe and Elston show you that they suffered the same fate.

    On offense he is a moose of a screener which really sets up the driving games of Rivers, Creek and Jones .

  • aerialM

    good points and I'm in full agreement. we're still very young & still figuring out how to play, who to play and what it takes to win. but your points were spot-on. we're “in” these games and have shown flashes against elevated competition, which is much more than we could say last year…I think I fell victim not to overly-optimistic team goals (a .500 record, 7 B10 wins) but to the assumption the 2nd year guys would visibly progress from last year to this year. thus far, we've seen guys like Pritch and VJIII and Dumes make the same sort of mistakes they were making last year and that can't happen for much longer. I guess I just assumed progress would happen but Pritch has taken two steps back from where he was last year (really, how long until he's yanked from the starting 5 in favor of Elston or Capo?) while it seems to me that VJ and Dumes are over-competing with the new guys to score or develop their roles as players on the team…in any case, I think we can make it to 12/13 wins. as someone pointed out, the B10 has lost some luster with NW's injuries and surprising early-season losses to lower-level teams from Iowa and PState…

  • Kelin Blab

    Matt very well said. you are 100% and 0% wrong on this one. If someone can't see the difference in this team and last years, they need to update their basketball IQ card. Sure we wanted wins over the weekend and had a solid chance at two of them, but it didn't happen. Now we move on to this weekend in preparation for our upset win over Maryland next week! (Again…you heard it here first)

  • Kelin Blab

    Matt very well said. you are 100% and 0% wrong on this one. If someone can't see the difference in this team and last years, they need to update their basketball IQ card. Sure we wanted wins over the weekend and had a solid chance at two of them, but it didn't happen. Now we move on to this weekend in preparation for our upset win over Maryland next week! (Again…you heard it here first)

  • oubache

    I have watched every game so far. There have been some flashes of good offensive play and flashes of active hands on defense. We have not learned to rebound or play defense as a team yet. That only comes with time. From the sounds of it we may not have Roth much if any this season which would really help open things up. Our only choice this year is for this team to shorten the rotation and become a really good half court team. We need to learn to move without the ball and not just hang out and wait for something to happen. Our only good outside shooters we have (Creek, Hulls, Jones III, Dumas) are all set shooters which means……motion offense & half court sets. That is our only hope to make it to .500 and compete in the Big ten.

  • IUDan

    This is one of the best and most even-keeled reflections on the tournament and where this team is collectively. I could not agree more – IU is not a tournament team, and I believe we lost to three tournament-quality teams this weekend. And we very easily could have won two of those games, despite not playing well. I get a sense (mostly from reading other boards) that people just don't have the proper perspective on this team . . . they will get better.

    Though disappointing, I think this tournament will pay dividends down the road.

    I've been lurking on this site for a few months now, and I have to say the overall level of discourse is so much higher than on other sites – keep up the good work, and thanks!

  • NMHoosier

    After sleeping it off last night and realizing my time in Puerto Rico ends this morning, I have officially come off the ledge. Yes, it would have been nice to beat either BU or GMU, but there were flashes of some pretty good offensive play. If Crean can correct the careless turnovers, get them playing tough D on most possessions and teach the guys how to hit a shot inside of 5 feet…we will be in good shape in a relatively quick amount of time.

    Go Hoosiers!

  • Wish

    In the next half dozen games we will know where Verdell Jones decides what he wants his IU career to be. He has the ability to put up 18-20 points per game and there isn't a PG that is strong enough to guard him and very few SG's that are quick enough to defend him. It's time for him to step up and start playing more efficiently (statistically) and become the leader of the IU program.

    For the other guys, make your FT's and take care of the ball. I'm not expecting banners to be hung after this season but i'd like to see a very solid foundation set.

  • Pappy

    The problem is not talent or the “ranking” of the incoming class. The largest problem is unreasonble expectations on the part of a fan base that on average, thinks scouting services mean something and that Sport Center bears some relationship to college basketball reality.

    Yes, this team is better than last year's. Last year's was much worse than folks admit. It was also stupid to the core. Yes this recruiting class is highly ranked. But IU is not the only team in the Big Ten that tried to get better. In fact, IU may be the only team in the Big Ten (maybe Iowa and an injured riddled Northwestern) that is not relatively much better than last year's season ending team simply because all the other teams had solid squads that are agumented by new recruits and improvement of seasoned veterans. IU has no seasoned veterans.

    But, the Hoosier Nation thought only IU would recruit and only IU would get better. Surely they cannot rationally believe the rest of D1 basketball was just waiting for them to arrive. IU is a D1 whipping boy and will be until they have good “basketball players” who are smart and who are juniors and seniors instead of a bunch of “athletes” heralded by a bunch of “recruitung gurus” working out of their mother's basement who never played or coached the game in any meaningful way.

    Reality – a BIG DOSE of reality – is what Hoosier fans need along with an abundance of patience.

  • Finally something we agree on SteveAlford, not that I'm happy we agree on a probably IU loss. I will be shocked if IU beats Maryland. A lot of fans have felt like we should beat them, but they're a tournament team with mostly everyone returning, including Vasquez, their best player.

    I'm not trying to be negative, but beating Maryland would be a huge upset IMO.

  • James

    I sure feel much better about the weekend after the GM game yesterday morning. While Miss and GM are tournement quality teams I dont think you could put Boston in that category. They really gave that one away, and that is always tough to deal with. But the fact that they came out for their next game not just ready to play but ready to win says a lot. And yea they probably should/could have won both of those games but oh well thats college basketball…not the first time someone has banked in a 3 to win the game against us.
    Good article and I agree, still optimistic but my optimism was to the tune of about 10-12 wins to start with

  • JerryCT

    I echo kelins comments.

    I saw the games in PR up close. I am not a fan who likes to hype recruits or believe in freshmen so I thought my expectations were realistic. I expected 1 or 2 wins however. Our youth is an excuse that can only take us so far.Yes, we played 3 really good teams but they are not as good as most teams we will face in the B10 which is most of our schedule.

    I ran into Mike Santa who indicated the team is a bit down on itself. So I believe my best reaction as a fan is to help the team by my unconditional support. I will be traveling to the MD game , Section D row 25 if anyone wants to say hello. and then to MSG for the Pitt game.

    So “what did we learn and how fast can we grow” into a B10 schedule. My humble thoughts on what i learned :

    1. OFFENSIVE STYLE: Our up tempo game has been too easy to defend and will ALWAYS be defended if we cannot rebound better. With Jobe in the game we can forget it. We NEED a 1/2 court set that works. All you need to see is our point totals for an “up tempo” team

    2. HALF COURT: Our 1/2 court set could be built on Rivers who is the only player who can get his own shot. When not in the game I would move down low to Watford as #1 option. It is obvious that these guys can create problems which can leave open shots for Jones and Creek as 2nd choices

    3. LOW POST: We need to at least try and feed the low post to Watford and Pritchard. We donot do much of this at all. Pritchard must start shooting if for no other reason but to give the other team the sense they cannot sag off him and clog the lane or shade the perimeter

    4. IDENTITY: We have enough other pieces in Creek, Jones, Elston and Hulls to maintain a Rivers based offense most of the game. We desperatly need Roth, Dumes and Creek to create a 3pt option to the dribble drive

    5. DEFENSE: Rivers and Dumes are good but the younsters are having a tough time especially Creek. His feet were glued to the floor in the zone against Ole Miss. To me this is what we need to work on most. Pritchard is too often having to help which leaves easy baskets. Jobe is in the position but then he has no skills to accomplish anything but take up space

  • ace132

    I am not sure Boston University is a tournament quality team but i agree this tourney taught us alot about the team. And gave CTC some tape for his young players to look at.

  • Steve

    On a positive note the Big Ten isn't looking nearly as daunting this year as first expected. Northwestern is gonna be down a little with Coble out, Penn St. is struggling, Iowa is flat out bad, Wisky looks unathletic, and OSU got housed by a good, but not great, UNC team. I think IU should be able to win some home Big Ten games. We'll get to double digit victories. Although I'm not sure we get to 12 (doubling last season's win total) which is where I wanted to be at a minimum.

  • BFowler

    I like your column, Matt. It is a very good way to put the current situation of our beloved Hoosiers. I think this team is a very good foundation for the future. There are some very GOOD players on this team. I like these kids as none of them seem too cocky or think they are above the team. I will forever root for my team. However, I think what separates this team from the others in the field is explosiveness (I've already ranted about this, so I'll leave it there).

    I was trying to think about the things that separate the GOOD from the GREAT. There are several ways to be a great team. I tried to think about the teams I thought were very good to great Indiana teams in the past and the thing that stood out the most was defense. The 2002 Hoosiers had the “erasers” in the frontcourt of Newton, Jeffries, and Leach and an outside stopper in Fife. The 1992-93 team had Reynolds and Meeks out front and Graham, Cheaney, and Henderson defending the wings and post. The 1987 mostly won with offense, but Smart, Calloway, and Garrett were very athletic players and Thomas was a very good rebounder for his size. In 1981, Thomas, Tolbert, and Turner were a fantastic defensive trio. The 1976 team, it goes without saying.

    The point is, this team does not defend well, yet. I think though, there is some huge potential, because Creek has the physical tools, Watford is extremely long, Rivers has the ability to be an outstanding defender, Bawa has shot blocking potential, and Dumes is very quick and athletic. They need to learn to play together, keep their heads up, and COMMUNICATE. I think the turnovers will reduce and become less of an obstacle as time goes on, I think the half court offense will come along, and I think as they get their feet under them, they will improve and pull some upsets. I do not think it will come against Kentucky, Pitt, or Maryland, but possibly a late season match-up against Wisconsin or Illinois.

    The other thing that separates those teams is that they had a truly GREAT player. 1976 had Scott May and Kent Benson, 1981 had Isiah Thomas and Randy Whittman, 1987 had Steve Alford, 1992-93 had Calbert Cheaney and Alan Henderson, and 2002 had Jared Jeffries. Could one of these players become an Indiana legend? I think a few have that potential, and with the early exits that usually accompany a highly touted recruit, staying a while will vault one of these players into that realm.

    Again, I really like this team, but this will not be the year to return to post-season play. I thought they should have won one of these games, so I was naturally disappointed, but I still like this team and I will keep rooting for them as long as they represent themselves, the school, and the fans who root for them as well as is expected.

  • CO

    Until IU has a big man in the middle, who can take the pressure off of our outside game, we will continue to see what happened in PR. This team is out of control, because they can't get into an offensive set, due to the other team putting pressure on our outside guys, due to the fact that they don't have to concentrate on the inside. Pritchard and Jobe wouldn't be starting on a D-2 team! What we saw in PR is what we will see all of this year and years to come, until TC will concentrate on getting a true big man, with talent, who can take the pressure off the outside and IU can play the inside out game needed to win games. This recruiting class is no more than “fools gold”!

  • deedubbadoo

    This past weekend in the Commonwealth, has taught me that this team is definitely still very young, very green, and a little out of shape. I think all of these things can be treated via experience. We still have the same problems we had last year. My realistic goal for this season was 12 wins, double our total from last year, and I still have a good feeling about it. These kids and I say kids, as a 28 year old talking about 18,19,and 20 year olds, will continue to grow and get better throughout the season. I am sure they are down right now, after dropping three straight but like last year, it's baptism by fire and, it's the only option we have at the moment. I look for us to bounce back at home with a nice crowd cheering us back to .500. I also look for us to head into Big 10 play at 6-6, which will have already matched our wins from last year. We are getting better everyday and I think come early March, we are going to be a very respectable group of young men.

  • I've only seen the Mississippi game and read the comments on the other four, but I still think that the team will gel better as they become more familiar with one another. The influx of new faces over two years doesn't do well for team cohesiveness. You've got to know your team mates in order for everything to click together as one.

    I saw it in spurts during Mississippi. I would have hoped that Indiana could have beaten Boston U, but it seems like they played hard against a pretty good George Mason team. And maybe the banked three was just karma coming back after Eric Gordon's three to beat Illinois two years ago.

    Anyway, I still look for this team to do better than last year, especially in the Big Ten. Like Matt D. said up there, there might not be as many upsets as we had hoped, but I still think 10 wins is attainable.

  • Kelin Blab

    I will give you three things in our favor…..

    1. Playing at home with a young team goes along way and raises our competitive level with the crowd
    2. IU has had 5 games to see what they need to work on and correct and do better, and in those five games this team has been able to adjust and make some improvements.
    3. Maryland struggles to score outside of Vasquez thus far this year…..

  • I'll add a fourth: Maryland isn't strong inside.

  • JerryCT

    Steve:

    likewise it was a pleasure meeting you and your wife. Come out to MSG for Pitt. If you are going to MD game let me know I am there with MD fans I am bringing to see some real fans

  • Jrob38

    Wasn't strong inside until they played us!!

  • benchwarmer32

    3 losses to 3 tournament quality teams (yes, Boston is a tournament quality team, they are picked to win the America East Conference). I liked some of the play but the proof is in the next several games. This was a great learning experience… if it proves to be a learning experience. The turnovers need to go down, the free throws need to be made, the defensive intensity must go up. If it does, I can stomach these losses as the “real-world classroom” for a young team to learn. If those things don't happen, uh-oh.

  • Everybody needs to just chill out. We took a groung of kids that played to D1 games and sent them out of the country to play some pretty decent teams. Look if we would of shot better from the line we would of come out of there with 2 or 3 wins….but we didn't. This team has potential. It will take a while. We need to support this team and coach Tom Crean through thick and thin. We will get better. We will be back. We are IU remember.

  • DavidC

    Vasquez, so far this year, is Maryland's 5th leading scorer – behind Landon Milbourne, Sean Mosley, Eric Hayes and Jordan Williams.

    Vasquez is a big personality and garners a lot of attention because of it. And he is usually the driver of Maryland's offense, but even if he is off his game I just can't see how Indiana could beat Maryland. I just think Maryland has too many weapons for IU to handle.

    But hey, stranger things have happened and the game is at home…

  • first off, its not as bad as it seems (at least not yet…). ole miss will be ranked at some point this season. a young team losing to a “ranked” team isn't bad and there were points during that game where you can envision what the team might look like near the end of the season.

    losing to boston wasn't good, but si has them as a tournament team and i'm sure other publications do as well. there is a big deal when it comes to early season games as to how much experience you have back and how many players you are working in. although i couldn't watch the game (who could?) losing by 3 to a potential tournament team is not the end of the world.

    losing to george mason was by a banked 3. luck plays a part in all sports and luck didn't go our way. sometimes in the future it won't again and sometimes it will.

    0-3 in puerto rico sounds bad, but its not as bad as it sounds.

    keep this in mind as well: turdue's season two years ago included losses to a missouri team that finished 16-16, wofford, an iowa st team that finished 14-18, and close wins over lipscomb and missouri st. i'm not saying we are going to have a season like they did two years ago and end up surprising everyone and finishing second in the big ten (they are good at finishing 2nd aren't they?), but lets give the team a little time before everyone presses the panic button

  • Andrew

    Brendan Plavich…AJ Graves…Brian Butch…the shot yesterday…that's one 70-footer and 3 lucky bank shots–if you're scoring at home–versus our ONE, which by the way did not beat Illinois, it only sent it into overtime. Our good “karma” from the EJ shot lasted all of 6 days until Butch hit his. I'd like to know of another program who's had 4 shots like that go against them in the last 5 seasons, so don't act like we were due for something like that to happen yesterday.

  • cooper

    I agree with most of what you've put. Up tempo offense is a disaster for 2 main reasons, 1) there aren't enough players to handle the ball and get up the court, 2) Pritchard doesn't get up the court, Jobe does but you can't give him the ball

    I think VJ gets his own shot but besides him and Rivers no one else can. Rivers is the only person that can break down the D and he gets out of control.

    Pritchard looks lost on both ends of the court. I understand a bad game or games but if it continues give Capo some of his minutes.

    we are in a bad place defensively. The guards have trouble staying in front of their man and the zone has trouble keeping players from the middle of the lane or running the baseline wide open. I'm not real sure how to answer this one unless we go with a press. May result in getting blown out some games but it may keep us in others

  • JerryCT

    I agree mostly. I had really good seats for the PR games. I donot think TP is lost on both ends but I DO think he is avoiding his offense.

    What you may not have seen was that TP was the most vocal on D and for good reason. Everything was coming at him like a runaway train.

    Everybody went around our guards ( mostly Jones, Creek and Hulls but not Dumes and Rivers) and forced TP to decide who to defend, his man or the driver. Watford was not helpful to TP either, he basically was hung out to dry. TP handled it really well IMO .Fouls on Capo, Jobe and Elston show you that they suffered the same fate.

    On offense he is a moose of a screener which really sets up the driving games of Rivers, Creek and Jones .

  • aerialM

    good points and I'm in full agreement. we're still very young & still figuring out how to play, who to play and what it takes to win. but your points were spot-on. we're “in” these games and have shown flashes against elevated competition, which is much more than we could say last year…I think I fell victim not to overly-optimistic team goals (a .500 record, 7 B10 wins) but to the assumption the 2nd year guys would visibly progress from last year to this year. thus far, we've seen guys like Pritch and VJIII and Dumes make the same sort of mistakes they were making last year and that can't happen for much longer. I guess I just assumed progress would happen but Pritch has taken two steps back from where he was last year (really, how long until he's yanked from the starting 5 in favor of Elston or Capo?) while it seems to me that VJ and Dumes are over-competing with the new guys to score or develop their roles as players on the team…in any case, I think we can make it to 12/13 wins. as someone pointed out, the B10 has lost some luster with NW's injuries and surprising early-season losses lower-level teams from Iowa and PState…