The Minute After: Michigan State

  • 02/16/2010 9:44 pm in

FINAL SCORE: 72-58 | Box score

We feeling better out there, guys?

Sure, IU got murdered this evening. But all the worries about this team in recent days, that they were lacking effort and hustle and heart and resolve wasn’t the case tonight. They took some charges. When absolutely everything was going Michigan State’s way, they found a way to stay in the game with an almost perfect night at the free-throw line. They trapped and defended their tails off in the final minutes of the game when a win was far out of reach.

They looked more like the scrappy, hard-working underdogs tonight than the team that wasn’t even showing up.

That being said, this evening was a rough one.

IU’s lack of size was exploited time and again. The Spartans pumped in the points inside — 40 of their 72 points came in the paint — and stymied the Hoosiers around the basket on the offensive end — IU only had eight points in the paint this evening, and that was a large reason why they shot so poorly — 34.9 percent — tonight; unless you are hot, hot, hot from the outside, it’s tough to shoot a high-percentage if you’re not also getting some bunnies in the paint. IU did win the rebounding battle tonight, as they snatched 30 (17 offensive) to the Spartans’  24 (11 offensive). But the Hoosiers are a solid offensive rebounding team to begin with, and when you miss so many shots, those offensive-rebounding opportunities present themselves more often.

And in the second half, the Hoosiers had a hard time defending in the pick-and-pop game, as Kalin Lucas seemed to score at will off of high-post screens. Michigan State simply has more talent and experience at every position on the floor and took care of business on the road. This is what good teams do. Steve Lavin talked about this potentially being a trap game for the Spartans tonight, but that wasn’t the case, as they shot a ridiculous 59.3 percent from the floor — a season high.

IU also had one of their typical scoring droughts tonight, but it was — I think — the most extreme of the season: they went the final 10:16 without a bucket in the first half, and it took until the 17:01 mark in the second half until they finally hit one — a layup by Christian Watford. Total that up and it’s 13:15 of not putting the ball in the hole. We talk about low margin for error all the time with this team, but it reared its ugly head again tonight: you just can’t have a lapse like that against a team as skilled and experienced as Michigan State is and expect to have much of a fighting chance. The Hoosiers also only had a measly five assists to 16 turnovers, turnovers that led to 23 points for the Spartans.

But you know what? IU wasn’t really out of this game until late in the second half, and it’s because they shot a terrific 89.3 percent from the foul line, knocking down 25-of-28 attempts. Remember when this team couldn’t hit a free throw to save its life? When they didn’t score those last 10 minutes of the first half, they hit 13 free throws during that time frame instead. For the game, they dominated on the line, as Michigan State only had 10 attempts.

It’s a bit of an outlier, because Michigan State is usually pretty good at defensive free-throw rate. They entered tonight’s contest holding opponents to 27.6 percent on FTA/FGA, good for 13th in the country. Yet,  IU is also 80th in the country at getting to the line with a free-throw rate of 41.8 percent, so they deserve some credit for winning the free-throw battle tonight.

It’s another loss — IU’s seven straight.

But it’s a loss we can all feel better about. And for this moment in IU’s slow and steady climb to relevancy, I’ll take it.


Maurice Creek got credited with a rebound tonight:

Thanks to reader VP for the e-mail on that.

Filed to:

  • Kreigh_Smiths_Short_Shorts

    YES! Does anyone actually think that Tom Crean is NOT recruiting bigs? IU is not missing out on 6'11″, 280 lb. post players because they offer a point guard a scholly. They're missing out on bigs because a) there aren't a lot of them out there, b) the program is rebuilding, and c) other programs have been recruiting those players longer. Add to that the fact that the types of programs IU is going up against are just as well-established and have had more success lately (i.e., in the last decade or so) and it becomes hard to get those skilled big guys in there. But if anyone thinks that Crean is not recruiting those types of players, they are sorely mistaken.

  • marsh21

    You got that right!

  • Daddy

    I reply here not in direct response, but to get my response at the very top.

    Here's the breakdown from a guy who truly grasps this situation.

    Crean plays a 3 guard offense. It has proven to be a successful formula for college basketball – good guards and defense. It will benefit us in the end as these guys continue to develop. Hulls and Verdell are 2 of out best players and are going to be huge for us next year. Watford will end up being better than DJ White.

    Elston is good but he doesn't get the minutes because he has been outworked by Capo in practice. Capo is one of the hardest workers and has made some of the most strides this year. Look for this to motivate Elston and for him to benefit a lot this summer. Once Watford makes huge strides this summer with more weightlifting and all that comes with it our big man play will improve. He will open things up for Pritchard and Capo to bang because he will be able to stretch the floor more. He showed how great he is on the offensive glass last night. This is a good fit for a team with great guards who like to run and play defense.

    We are fine. Poorly written because I am tired but if you know anything about IU or basketball, you will dissect and understand.


    I agree Daddio, but the one thing I can't get past is the fact the offense runs east and west instead of north and and south. This dribble and hand off offense doesn't allow anyone to square up and face the basket very much at all. We go for minutes without evn looking at the basket whether to pass or dribble drive. We wast a lot of clock bouncing off of one another. Capo, Elston, and Pritchard are every bit as big, as anyone that we have at Indiana setting screens. When they do occasionally they get out of position because the person they screen for is wiping their man off of them.(foul Trouble). I would like to see Tom try a little something different in the half court the rest of the year. I,'m sure these kids can adapt. They have had to do it at the High school level.

  • bluegrassHoosier

    I am frustrated yet optimisic. It's tough watchung these kids struggle. But every once in a while I catch that little glimpse of what coach is TRYING to do. These kids just aren't there yet.

    Two observations on other's comments…..

    1. I'm sorry spme people get upset about hearing it over and over, but you can't diminish the fact of inexperience, lack of physical development, and little or no upperclassment experience to “show the ropes”.

    As much as anything, it's physical immaturity. Realistically, how many freshman in the country are physically able to contend with upperclassmen. (except Cousins over at UK, he's just freaky big). But speaking of UK, look at Patrick Patterson. His physique and strength is amazing. But look back to his freshman year and he looked wire thin. There's few that are ready strength wise …..especially for bigs.

    2. You can't really say our “upperclassmen” are making mistakes, as a reason to claim our problems are not based on youth.

    Our upperclassmen are not typical upperclassmen. In a developed program, a senior or Junior are in year 3 or 4 of a system. That simply isn't the case for Rivers (first real year playing), Tijan or Dumes.

    Although they are juniors and seniros, you can't compare their experience to players like Lucas at MSU, Hummel at PU. This comparison will not be fair until our current freshman reach year 3 and 4.
    We're not comparing like to like here.

  • Daddy

    I agree, its not working and it is becoming a little predictable. But as these big guys develop that will turn into a good pick and roll. Also, as we get better shooters it becomes a pick and roll or hit a man for a 3. That's the offense, and with the right players it is tough to stop. 3 good guards who can either drive, hit the roll man, hit one of the other guards for a drive or a 3. I think Crean is thinking big picture and is trying to develop these kids for that system. It is painful, but I have faith. When we get our players we will try to be a transition heavy team that plays good D, and this style of halfcourt offense won't be as critical to our success… although it will be our top offense and it will be much more effective. We just don't have the talent right now.


    Perhaps so Daddio. Patience is a challenging thing isn't it. I hope the folks entering these comments aren't as scrutinized every day where they work. I doubt some would handle it as well as the coaches and players are at this time. Go Hoosiers!!!

  • BaseballBuc

    I wouldn't be so sure. This team lacks leadership. They lost a true center in Suton and the big 10 defensive player of the year in Travis Walton who was the captain and is now a graduate assistant coach under Izzo. I mean C'mon they went all the way last year, sure Lucas and Green are better but they still lack frontcourt talent that they will need to win in the Tournament this year. Plus they have lost to the likes of Florida and North Carolina earlier this year. We''ll just have to wait and see if they get back to a final 4 and if they do that I will consider them better this year.

  • MillaRed

    Great post I_K. Are you new in here I'm not sure I've seen you comment before?

    Anyway, if you are a bigger fan of Watford than I am I would be surprised. We are very fortunate to have him. He can learn a lot from Verdell Jones in terms of what the weight program can do. VIII still turns it over too much. Be his increased strength is obvious. When Verdell is on, he can shoot a pull-up jumper on anyone in the country. He actually makes it look easy doesn't he? When Verdell wants to score he can score.

    If I were in Crean's shoes, I would be thinking now (and I'm sure he is) about what VIII, Mo and Watford's roles will be next year and beyond because they have tremendous potential. It's enough to build around for sure. If they can find 5 other solid role players out of the rest of the bunch, we'll be pretty good.

    I also agree there are many very good teams that have the size of the Hoosiers. Between Elston, Bawa, Capo and Pritch I am very comfortable that two of them will be very solid in 2-3 years. But right now they ain't!

  • MillaRed

    OK I'm posting too much so I'll keep it short.

    Bluegrass, explain to me how a 4th year junior of an NBA championship coach throws the ball directly to a defender that results in a lay-up 75% of the time, 3 times a game.

    I'm not not being a smart-a. It's a legitmate question.

  • HoosierSmitty


    I've certainly considered the same question myself. I'm by no means a big fan of Rivers, and he leaves me scratching my head more often than not.

    I look at it the following way with all of our players, not just Rivers…

    Many of us play basketball or have played basketball, etc. in some form.

    If you're playing a pick up game at your local gym or a regular Sunday get together, you're going to make silly mistakes. You don't feel comfortable with your teammates all the time, you're playing with guys who might not be at your level or on the same page. Sometimes it feels like can't even dribble right. As a result, you're going to make mistakes that you wouldn't normally make. You might not play “your game” because you're not sure what your role should be. You'll defer to other guys or you'll try and take charge yourself. You can see how some of our own players fit into this role. Rivers, Jones, Dumes, Elston, hell even Capo try and take charge, sometimes with poor results. Pritchard, Watford, and even Hulls (unfortunately) defer to others. It doesn't excuse the mistakes, but it can't be ruled out as a factor.

    On the other hand, when you're playing in an organized league and with people that you know, there's a natural comfort level. Passes are easier because you've known your buddy for years and know he's capable of handling a tough pass or getting that offensive rebound.

    When you're the “new” guy in one of these situations, it's hard to just jump in and contribute positively. You'll look to the veterans and leaders of the team and slowly build your comfort level, be it over the course of the first few possessions of a pick up game or over the first few games in a league's season. Essentially every IU player is the “new” guy. No one is a veteran. Our “veterans” are guys that chose to transfer.

    We essentially have an entire team that is still trying to figure each other out and their various roles. It's one thing for a coach to tell you what your role is, but it's another thing to have to experience it. We don't have any guys who have established their roles through several years of experience on the team, so everything is up for grabs.

    It's hard enough in a typical high school to college transition situation when kids who were used to being the stud at their school come in and have to take a back seat to someone else.

    There's just no nucleus to this team, and you can't blame anyone on the team or the current coaching staff for that.

    I know that didn't really answer your question, but it's just where my head was when I read these past few posts.

  • Daddy

    Haha, I know I wouldn't handle it well if I was scrutinized like that everyday. These young guys have made me proud, and although the patience is challenging it is going to make it so much sweeter when we are back. If we get Teague (like his dad seems to want) we will be a national championship contender that year. Verdell and the boys seniors, our prize junior class…..

  • MillaRed

    Smitty, I won't disagree with any of that. The basic argument was this crutch we keep using in terms of our youth. My argument is there is more to it than that. Our upperclassmen are equally bad.

    Rivers father is, well, that's been said already. He went to a Final Four with Georgetown. He spent an entire off-season with IU last year (apparently not working on a jump shot), more time than the current freshmen.

    Still yet, this guy stares down a passing lane, throws the ball to the opponent, immediately hangs his head in shame as the fast break ensues. Inevitably resulting in an easy lay-up.

    My argument is, this has nothing to do with the youth of our program. It is something else that is going on.

    This is, of course, merely an opinion 😉

  • aceman07

    Tijan is a senior and there wasn't anyone else out there to take that spot anyway. Just wait on Bawa because he is going to be dynamite. He's not as good as Hasheem Thabeet from UConn a couple years ago but he's going to develop at the same rate. Thabeet was lost his freshman year and then dominated his sophomore year! I see Tijan taking two years to develop not one but he will develop. He WILL NOT be a wasted scholarship!