The Minute After: Illinois

  • 02/09/2012 11:09 pm in

Thoughts on a 84-71 win against the Illini:

Back and forth, back and forth she went.

Indiana surged. D.J. Richardson responded and drained threes. Meyers Leonard shouldered Cody Zeller to the ground in the first half;  Zeller countered with an elbow to Leonard’s mouth en route to a bucket in the second half. Matt Roth and Myke Henry mixed it up. If Saturday’s tilt with Purdue was rivalry, this was more like a heavily-officiated fight.

But after the under-8:00 media timeout in the second half, it was pretty much all Hoosiers.  Leonard — who certainly didn’t win over any Indiana fans with his immaturity this evening — came back into the game with four fouls, and thus didn’t defend quite as intimidating as he had in the game’s first 30 minutes. And the Illini, who had been shooting rather well, went cold. So Indiana capitalized. After a Christian Watford 3-pointer with 5:49 to go extended Indiana’s lead to 12, the Hoosiers kept a double-digit lead all the way to the final horn.

Besides the final stretch, Indiana’s big advantage in this one came at the line. The Hoosiers were a perfect 16-of-16 at half; the Illini only shot 12-of-15 all game. Indiana went on to finish the night an impressive 35-0f-42 (83.3 percent) from the charity stripe. And get this: The Hoosiers’ free throw rate (FTA/FGA) was a ridiculous 100.0 — 42 trips to the line, 42 field goals attempts. Victor Oladipo went 10-of-12 on free throws and scored 18 points. In his second straight game with more ballhandling duties due to Verdell Jones’ shoulder injury, he continued to impress. The flow of Indiana’s offense with him slashing to the hoop and making decisions has been strong in their last two wins, and you wonder where it fits in when Jones is healthy enough to play again.

And then there was The Big Handsome. Leonard outplayed him in the first half. He was the agressor. He wanted the ball in the post, got it and scored at will. Fifteen points at the break. But Zeller is not one to get excited, to try desperately to counter at expense of the team game, at expense of his maturity and air-tight demeanor. So it was in the second half where the more polished big man would make his mark. Leonard struggled with fouls; he picked up his fourth on pure emotion, trying to mix it up when he re-entered the game fresh off his third foul, a play featuring the aforementioned Zeller elbow. And so Indiana’s freshman just kept grinding and scoring and doing as he always does, as he always will — eventually winning this bout which was a joy to watch unfold. He finished the night with a game-high 22 points (5-of-8 from the field, 12-of-14 from the line). Leonard ended it sulking on the bench and fouled out, just like teammates Brandon Paul and Nnanna Egwu.

Another impressive W for Indiana. Their three-game rough patch now but a distant memory. The schedule continues to be favorable. The Hoosiers are one win away from a 20-win season.

And yes, it’s reality: March beckons.

SOME NUMBERS

+ Christian Watford (18 points on 6-of-11 shooting, 2-0f-4 from three, 4-of-4 from the line) had a nice effort after a rough shooting night at Mackey Arena on Saturday night. Jordan Hulls also had a strong offensive showing this evening and scored 15 points. (4-of-8 from the field, 3-of-4 from three, 4-of-6 from the line).

+ Indiana scored 1.34 points per possession in this one; the Illini scored 1.08.

Filed to:

  • ldiu

     2-0 with Elston in the lineup cannot be just luck.  He is playing well (as is Will, etc).  We just look tougher mentally right now.  19-6 and I don’t think any of us predicted that.  I certainly did not….and I am so happy to be wrong.  Things will continue to get better and better if we play with the mental toughness displayed in the last 2 1/2 games.

  • Plane1972

    Not to be picky, but he was one of the best “spot-up” shooters college basketball had seen in some time. Jordy is good, but he’s not JJ Reddick good.

    Jordy strikes me as the guy who could kill you in a pick-up soccer game. He and Daniel Moore would be fantastic forwards on a rec. soccer team in the offseason.

  • ldiu

     If 2-0 is sputtering against really tough teams, then let us sputter!!

  • CreamandCrimson

    We had a little dialogue in one of the previews of this game about both the stagger screens and our defensive scheme.  I was very encouraged with the continued development of both of them.  You’re right, driving off of those screens is becoming unstoppable.  We are scoring off of it and drawing fouls off of it.

    The increased ball denial and improved help defense is nice to see as well.  I don’t think we are getting beat near as much by helping off deep (on the guy who is two passes away).  I see no reason why this won’t continue.

  • Plane1972

    Coverdale was very athletic. The guy could shoot deep, but he was also extremely well-built to take it to the rim and absorb contact.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I did see that and so did the refs.  They knew a foul was coming.  Really dumb and immature move that cost his team big time.  

  • Plane1972

    I made the Steve Nash comparison last year and see a lot of Nash in his game. Not nearly as talented, but you can see (to a lessor degree) the shooting prowess, the dribble continuation in traffic that turns broken plays into scoring opportunities, use of both hands fairly well. No, Jordy Hulls is not Steve Nash, but it is the best comparison to an NBA talent that I can see to Jordy’s game.

  • Plane1972

    I made the Steve Nash comparison last year and see a lot of Nash in his game. Not nearly as talented, but you can see (to a lessor degree) the shooting prowess, the dribble continuation in traffic that turns broken plays into scoring opportunities, use of both hands fairly well. No, Jordy Hulls is not Steve Nash, but it is the best comparison to an NBA talent that I can see to Jordy’s game.

  • smartybucket

    Well, not to defend Leonard, but he is only a sophomore.  Actually all these guys are basically kids.  I think a lot of teams would be happy to have him.  He’ll mature, and you can’t teach someone to be 7ft+.  If he stays around there will be some good battles between him an CZ.  And as he went so did Illinois.  If they would have kept getting him the ball it might have been closer.

  • Plane1972

    Boo!

  • smartybucket

    I think that tough stretch really helped this team improve.  I would have been OK with the same improvement not losing to Minn and Nebraska, but I like the way the team is playing now – more intensity and toughness.  I also like the speed of ball movement and style without Verdell.  We just seem to play faster/crisper.  It will be interesting to see what happens when he returns.

  • smartybucket

    Yeah, Jordy has really improved on that high pick and roll.  I’m sure some of it was the UI defense, but they couldn’t stop that – sometime he went over the creen sometimes under, sometimes split…and made great passes/shots regardless of the path he chose.  He actually looked like a pro running that last night.

  • Plane1972

    I agree, fakeEyl, I thought the officiating was actually pretty good. The Leonard shove was missed, but probably didn’t warrant a call anyway. Cody is really crafty and took a convincing dive sideways. I thought the refs did well to let them play early on without too many cheap calls. They may have over-officiated in the second half, but things got chippy.

    The Sheehey call was a difficult one, and with the benefit of replay, probably should have been a no-call even though he went to the floor. Both players had a right to the ball at that point.

    I’ll take a game called like that rather than some others we’ve been involved in this year.

  • smartybucket

    Yeah, I felt a little like Wisconsin.  They did screw the Hoosiers a little, but UI more.

  • IUzeller40

    I love our starting lineup right now!!  We are playing with more energy, a sense of urgency,  just a great Big Ten Game to watch and win!!

  • IUMIKE1

    Heck, I was just happy to see CW dunk it period…over anybody. The fact that Leonard was involved just made it that much better.

    Yep, as soon as that happened I turned to my friend and told him that CW should have went up strong like he did before and just crammed it but he didn’t and he seen where it got him. Oh well hopefully he will see the difference and take it to heart.

    One way for him to compensate for a lack of great hops is for him to do what I have been screaming for him to do all year. USE A SHOT FAKE. Please CW, just try it a few times and see if it works for you and if it doesn’t I’ll shut up about it The fans I watch with will appreciate it as much as anybody I’m sure. lol
     
    CW had a smaller man guarding him for a lot of this game and he took advantage of it like he should have. I know the UM is in the past but he had pretty much the same advantage for a lot of that game but rarely exploited it like he did against UI.

    The game that he had just proves how important it is, and how good we can be and how often we win, when he brings it like he is capable of.

  • IUMIKE1

     Second that.

    And I’m a pretty big Jordy Hulls fan. Has the heart but not enough of the things that you just can’t learn or be taught.

  • Webersucks

    Cody is a beast! Great to see Leonard woozy

  • Dandy Don

    Hitting the free throws was big, Zeller keeping his cool big, I for one don’t think Zeller’s elboy to Leonard was intentional it was a power move and just happened, Leonard’s shove in the first half WAS INTENTIONAL and how 3 refs did not see it – amazes me – why not look at the film like everything else – that was an intentional foul and should have been penalized, Hulls 3 to send it to a five point lead was BIG, CW on the board at times was big, VO taking to the hoop was big (most of the time) – it was a BIG win but let’s NOT overlook NW they usually give us fits with the backdoors and patience!  Go HOOSIERS!

  • HoosierTrav

    I’m extremely excited about this group tonight being paired with next years class. We are already capable of beating anyone in the nation. Imagine next season. Everyone is pumped about yogi but I’m stating it right now that Jeremy hollowell will be one of the most prolific scorers in iu history.

  • IUMIKE1

    I just don’t see it either and I as I said above I am a big JH fan (and we may not win last night without him) but the good Lord just didn’t bless him with enough of the intangibles that it takes to even sit at the very end of the bench at the next level let alone make it onto the court.

  • MillaRed

     I’m sure he knows as well as we do and it’s a priority in the off-season. His FT shooting right now doesn’t even look like the same player a few months ago.

  • MillaRed

     It’s not a criticism dude. There is a reason Derek didn’t get a ton of minutes. We pulled away with other lineups on the floor. It’s only 2 games. When Verdell is healthy he will be back in there trust me.

  • IUMIKE1

    He will have to get a whole lot better on D than he is now cause other players, that are not going to make it to the NBA, are burning him when he has to guard them.

     With that said I would like nothing better than to be dead wrong about JH making it to the next level cause he works probably just as hard or harder at getting better than anybody on this team. 

  • Outoftheloop

     Are you willing to go $10 on 100 to 1 odds? I could use a $1000.

  • Outoftheloop

     Jordy Hulls is a very good PG and a great shooter. Defense will always be his issue. It was with Price, Alford, Les, etc. But a lot of guys in the NBA do not play defense-Danny Granger is one.

  • Outoftheloop

     Too much nostalgia. Jordy is now better than Steve on creating his shot off of the dribble, and he has one more year to get even better.

  • IUMIKE1

    For anyone that has the game taped or can watch it on a BTN replay.

    At one of the timeouts right before they cut away to the commercial they show the guys on the IU bench coming out to greet the guys that were on the floor and it sure looked like VJ3 was not moving his right arm at all and was high fiving and everything with his left arm only. We backed it up and looked at it again and that’s sure what it looked like to us. If that is the case then he may be out for another game or two even with basically a week before our next game. Not trying to stir the VJ3 vs Anyone pot just thinking that if he misses two more games, and with one of those being on the road in a place where we have not had much success the last few times, and both are wins, what difference, if any, will it make in how minutes are given out when he is healthy again. Should be interesting to say the least.

  • IUSTL

    I fear you might be right about Webber. Here in STL there are a number of Uof I people and they have had their fill of him. It is only a matter of time before someone at the university wakes up to his lack of abilites. That is bad for the rest of the BiG. If the right coach gets in there he can turn Uof I into a Ohio State type situation fairly quickly. Alot of  HS talent in Chicago.

  • IUMIKE1

    Love the Borg comparison. Resistance is futile just ask Leonard !

  • IUMIKE1

    The silent assassin.

    Actions speak louder than words.

    Results are what matter the most.

    Pick any of these phrases or any one of many more they all pretty much apply.

  • Jeff Munsey

    I watched the game last night. I thought it was poorly officiated. I would like to know how the officials could miss an obvious flagrant foul on Leonard in the first half,the big Z was lucky he  didn’t get injured when he got knocked down @ halfcourt and tripped over Chris Paul.

  • cpmichae

    My hatred is equal for pUKe, PUke, UI and OSU. And we’ve won against all four this season. Life is good.

  • IUSTL

    A lot of talk about VJ3 and his role upon his return. At this point I think we can all see that this team has outgrown VJ3. This team now simply works better, faster and more effective with the current rotations. I have to believe that the coaches see this and will adjust his role into a 6 or 7th man position. I hope when we are hanging banners in the future that people will remember him for his contribution in rebuiding the foundation and attribute a bit of that banner to him. He was the “main man” for a time when we had no other.

  • cpmichae

    Yeah, VJ3 had such an awful night last night!!! I couldn’t believe how many shots he passed up on. Unreal.

  • Outoftheloop

     I agree on your point about Danny Moore. He made a contribution and played within his limits. Coach Crean can coach and get his players to maximize their potential. Every player improves every year!

  • Outoftheloop

     Illinois played as well as they are capable of playing in the first half and IU still led by 2. IL has the talent, they beat both OH St and MSU! Our defense was good all night.

  • Drewp1

    I think its the classic got em with the body crap. Looked good to me

  • It’s WINdiana!

    He’s 6’4″ and can get his own shot.  He’s definitely B1G caliber.  He’s just been miscast as a PG and know he has some bad habits he’s having hard time unlearning. 

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    I don’t make enough money in my line of work to gamble.  But we could do a “name change” bet.  If I win, you change your name to whatever I say for a month and vice versa.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    That is the main reason I dislike Bruce and Illinois.  Knowing we started from scratch, rebuilding and to say a classless mouthful like that.  My hate list:
    #1 pUKe due to fans and cheating ways
    #2 Illinois for said reasons.

    I always pull for B1G teams outside of our conference except for Illinois…it’s great for a strong conference and good for IU.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    That was due to the adjustments made at the break by our Great Coach.  He does deserves the credit.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    This is one kid I can’t figure out…CW. 
    I heard that there was NBA scouts at the game…so does he pour it on for that?
    I honestly think he is a little lazy and needs a fire lit under his @$$ every game.  Why can’t he play with that energy every night?  It frustates the hell out of me of what he could be all year.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    Also, keep in mind that VJ not playing has exposed all of this.  I love Jones and his assist may be high but I honestly think VO/Abell distribute the ball better with less TO.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    I used to think the same…I love VJ3 but look at the last two games, not just stats but the flow, distribution, drive w/o TO’s ,etc.  I think VJ3 needs 15 min a game and come off the bench.

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    Yes, folks, I fully agree that Leonard was playing the thug in the post last night. Just look at the live chat for me going off on it.

    But really, was he any different than Wisconsin’s Bruesewitz? That guy does a lot of the same stuff, but doesn’t get the whistles. They’re both cut of the same mold.

    Maybe this is controversial to say, but as bad as I thought Leonard was in the post yesterday, I didn’t think he was any worse than Bruesewitz, save for actually getting called on it.

  • Tom S

    And he didn’t guard ANYBODY!!

  • John H.

    Funny you mentioned his free throw shooting.  I mentioned the same thing to my wife last night while VO was at the line.  Early in the season it seemed as if he was always falling backwards as he would follow through resulting in a very inconsistent shot.  Last night he was straight up, borderline leaning forward during his follow through….really makes a difference!

  • robhoosier

    I love the direction we are going. Great move by crean to put victor in more top of the key pick and roles. Jordy is looking for his shot more now than he has all season. Watford bounced back nicely, and cody is cody. I hope we can keep this momentum going. Go hoosiers!

  • dtfreed

    At first glance IU was the receiver of the refs favor, but they were bad both ways! IU just forced the action going to the basket. Getting away from the 3-shot is a good thing, I like the change. When VJIII is able to play again I hope TC makes him earn his playing time instead of giving it to him as before. The team is playing fine without him.