Hoosiers won ugly, and now they’re more dangerous than ever

  • 03/24/2013 8:05 pm in

IUTempleITH0037DAYTON, Ohio — This was the type of game Indiana rarely finds a way to win. The pace slow, the play physical, the score low, the game ugly.

We’ve seen it too many times before. Butler. Wisconsin. Minnesota. Wisconsin again.

Temple gave the top-seeded Hoosiers everything they could handle on Sunday afternoon in Dayton. They had them on the ropes, had them frazzled. Their dream season was quickly slipping away.

But this time, Indiana found a way — an ugly, low-scoring and physical one — and the Hoosiers are moving on. They won a game in a way they never can. Now, the Hoosiers are more dangerous than ever. Now, they have won in every imaginable way.

Indiana 58, Temple 52.

“It was just a matter of time, the way our guys approached it, that things would break for them,” said Indiana coach Tom Crean. “If we just continued to defend, if we continued to get good shots and good ball movement and get the ball inside out on offense … That’s exactly what happened.”

What made this one different? Well, it’s really quite simple: Leadership. This team’s seniors have been through it all. They’ve lost too many times to Wisconsin and Wisconsin-like teams to let it end their collegiate careers.

Jordan Hulls, who took a brutal hit to his shoulder in the first half only to come back and hit big shots later, made sure his teammates never quit. He took control in the team’s huddles during timeouts.

“He said, ‘We were down by five with 52 seconds to go at Michigan,'” associate head coach Tim Buckley said of Hulls. “He said that with two minutes to go in the game.”

“Jordan kept saying, ‘We’re not done, we’re not done,'” Yogi Ferrell said.

Hulls’ words were important, but his actions were even more so. He was clearly in pain — he constantly grimaced late in the first half — but he refused to remain on the bench in the biggest game of Indiana’s season. Hulls wanted to be on the floor.

“He said, ‘You’re gonna have to cut my legs off for me not to play in this game,'” Maurice Creek said.

Christian Watford may not be as vocal as Hulls, but his leadership was just as important. Watford’s blocked shot of Antony Lee and the rebound that followed was the biggest play of Indiana’s season to this point. It saved the game, it got them to D.C.

Lee thought he was all alone and figured he’d get an easy layup. Watford had other ideas.

“Christian wants to win, and his leadership showed through,” Buckley said. “He may not be the most vocal guy, but he has that fire that burns inside. He had to make a winning play, and that’s what he did.”

“Biggest play of the year. We’re moving on because of that,” Hulls added.

Watford’s 3-pointer to beat No. 1 Kentucky last year brought the Indiana program back into the national spotlight. And unbelievably, the play he made Sunday was even bigger.

For as much as Watford as been criticized over the years, the guy routinely steps up in the clutch. People remember Kentucky, but don’t forget about the round of 32 tournament game against VCU from last year. The Hoosiers were getting beat up, and Watford led them back.

And what about Victor Oladipo? Last season, he probably would have missed the ocean if he shot a basketball from 21 feet away. Against Temple, he didn’t hesitate when he caught the ball late in the game with the shot-clock winding down. He simply buried the dagger.

“I was open, and I just pretty much shot the ball,” Oladipo said. “It really didn’t have anything to do with the moment or the confidence to shoot it. I just caught it and shot it. I didn’t think about it.”

He didn’t think about the fact that he has struggled from behind the 3-point line in recent games. Or that there was still time on the shot clock. Or that a make would send him home for the Sweet 16. But now, he will get to.

Indiana’s dream season is alive, and despite the third-round scare, the Hoosiers are as scary as ever.

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  • Ole Man

    Jordy’s courage and determination will be something I always remember.

  • Eastwood88_2

    Everyone will taking Syracuse. Got’em right where we want them. They will once again find a way to suprise. I am just happy the party goes on for me!

  • We are a team. That’s why we’ll win it all. Simple as that. Temple was one man. Love each Hoosier!

  • BluegrassHoosier

    CZ gets a lot of credit bringing us back as he should, but Jordy is very special as well. His leadership and his work ethic, which has resulted in others working much harder outside of team practice, doesn’t show up on the stat sheet but does have an impact on us winning games.

  • You are so awesome!!!!! So proud of all of you!

  • Still remember watching Keith Smart in New Orleans hit that shot! We had great seats thanks to my cousin Danny…Go IU beat Syracuse!!

  • Abellham Lincoln

    It seemed that soon as Jordy returned, the tone of the game began to change in our favor. Just his grit and determination became contagious. Also, the offense seemed to become a little more in sync when we really needed it to.

  • Ole Man

    Love that ITH has posted the “watblock”.

  • SCHoosier

    Really need Jordy leading this team..on the floor..in the huddle..in practice. With the ‘Cuse zone awaiting..need his shot or at least the threat of it. Trainers..do your thing.

  • IUeconAlum

    I’m really happy we are in the sweet 16, but I disagree. We had some luck go our way in this game. Horrible defense (besides the watshot), Cody was a turnover machine, the offense was non-existent. We won’t be celebrating if we play like this Thursday.

  • BKLock

    I think some of IU’s fans must have been weaned on a sour pickle. Negative comments horrible defense, no offense or we were lucky may be true but how about celebrating the win instead of complaining. Think about it – You win ugly you still win. You win by one point you still win. We can sit and nitpick or congratulate IU for gutting out a win.

    You can call it a lucky win if you want. But I would suggest that sometimes you have to make your own luck – Ola-three-po and the SWATford team were big time factors in this win. The heart of Hulls, shot blocking by CWat, a timely 3 by Vic, scoring the last ten points of the game,and shutting down Wyatt in the last couple of minutes all are signs of a team that made their own luck a into big time win and second.straight Sweet 16.

    CONGRATULATIONS HOOSIERS! Now let’s win the next one!

  • InTheMtns

    Well said!

  • jaywiz

    Knock on wood, please.

  • 5_Banners

    Great win !! IU really stepped their defense in the last three minutes. It was one of the most frustrating game to watch and it brought back bad flashbacks of Wisconsin games where it just seemed like they would never take the lead. They pulled it off though…on to the sweet 16.

    One quick point on the Syracuse game, IU is going to rebound better with Syracuse length. I hope they watch tape on how Louisville handled their zone.

  • PDXHoosier

    This team has guts in winning time. Even if they have a bad game, they will still make it close. let’s go get the Orange

  • I had great seats for the UNLV game…upper deck for the final-could barely see the ball go through the net.

  • sometimes luck is better than skill. Go Hoosiers, hang banner #6

  • PDXHoosier

    we played with more energy as soon as he came back in. changed the game

  • Hoosierlu

    Great article/commentary Justin.
    I am proud of our guys for figuring out they can get the W in these types of games.

  • MillaRed

    Translation = if you are allowed to hand check IU for 40 minutes, it increases your chance of winning.

  • When Jordan has his mean mug on there’s no looking back.

  • happy-hoosier

    I caught the game ball when Smart through it into the stands. It was one of the greatest moments in my life. I was 15. The securitimmediately but there is no

  • Oldguyy

    You’ll remember that Syracuse had a Triche in that game, too—the current Triche’s uncle.

  • Jordan is the ultimate Hoosier! And Christian will be the catalyst in leading us to #6! Going to need his rebounding and his and Jordan’s outside shot against the Cuse!

  • Ole Man

    Been hearing that. Hard to do in the tournament. Farther you go, the more defenses tighten up, as do the teams.

  • Ole Man

    Your name reminds me of a player who went to OSU…..LOL!

  • plane1972

    So true! You have to win ugly this time of year.

  • unclekerfuffle

    Ditto–We are planning on having a deja vu experience in Atlanta in two weeks.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    excellent point. bottom line, great teams find a way to win. iu made enough plays at crucial points in the game. and they overcame poor shooting by playing hard-nosed D, especially in the 2nd half.

    by the way, temple are no slouches. i checked out their record, they had some tough wins, including one @ syracuse, which is especially relevant considering who we’re playing next.

  • NotTheRealSteveEyl

    The problem is, it looks like that’s the way this is being called. If Louisville can hack, grab, and handcheck as much as they do and not get called, nobody’s beating them.

    I think officiating is a huge problem for college ball. Far too much contact.

  • Who voted you coach ??? If you look at Wyatt at the end of the game, he was sucking wind. IU players not so much. Thats because they get some rest in the first half Crean has done this all year long and the W-L record is what ??? That’s what I thought.

  • We all have to remember that referees call games differently due to different levels of play. The B1G lets everyone play most of the time. The other conferences not so much. The players have to figure out how far the referees will let things go and adapt during the game. Jawwing at the refs as a player will get you no where. BTW, I am a basketball referee in North Carolina.

  • Also at IU !!!

  • Ole Man

    No, you don’t.
    But as long as we win, and my heart holds out during those victories, I don’t care how we win.

  • Ole Man

    The Temple game was a game of “basket brawl” as the refs called it.
    No excuse for that.

  • Ole Man

    And luck was the roll of the last shot of the Mich game.

  • Ole Man

    Syracuse runs off of its defensive turnovers. Otherwise, they are an average half-court team.

  • Ole Man

    It’s not a question of substituting. It’s when the subs are made, who is subbed for, and how many are subbed at one time.

    Loosen up, because Goldie has a very valid point.

  • Ole Man

    Cuse is holding teams to under 25% 3-point shooting this year; so, no, they will not give very good looks.
    That said, they should be vunerable inside, which then opens up the outside game.

  • plane1972

    Win ugly or lose pretty. I know which one I take. Most teams have to gut out a game against a “lesser” opponent in the tournament. That’s what happened yesterday.

  • i dont agree. Creans subs are one of many reasons IU has got this far. i get it that it frustrates some, but it’s hard to argue with the success the Hoosiers are having. if he does coach differently, is their record better? i dont think so.

  • hoosier1158

    Right, i think subbing too early and you need to keep at least 3 starters on the floor.

    Now for Syracuse, start Vic at big guard, Jeremy at small forward, Bring Derek and Hanner in to sub for the 4 and 5 spots. Jordy can play get his minutes but not at the start. The Orange have big guards and we need to start off strong.

  • Scott Berryman

    Wyatt was not sucking wind. His coach pulled him out of the offense because Oladipo was guarding him. Dunphy wanted to play 4 on 4 with our best defender out of the mix with Wyatt standing opposite wing from the ball.

    A true fan of the game would see that strategy and know Wyatt wasn’t sucking wind. CTC’s sub patterns make little sense at times. Why VO or CZ are on the bench at the same time is mind numbing. We almost got beat yesterday in a low scoring game, our top 2 scores were on the bench at the same time. Would like to see VO get 35 min a game when not in foul trouble. Cody got plenty of rest in first half, play him all 20 min. There are at least 4 tv to’s not counting other to’s taken by coaches and free throws to rest.

  • Scott Berryman

    Hoosiers should be 31-4 with a better game plan vs Butler and Wisconsin at home. That would be better. I am waiting for CTC to try to have a game plan that fouls out the opposing C when they have 4 fouls and we have a 76% FT shooting all-American C. Hasn’t happened once this season.

  • I prognosticated this would be our toughest game, much like we were Kentucky’s. Temple is far better than Syracuse. The A10 is as good as the big ten. The bench won this game for us, so it was the best game of the year. Simple as that , the reason we lost to wisconstank,butstank, minnestanka, wisconstank, ohio stank is because our bench was a no show …not anymore. Holowell, big and strong frosh, can defend anyone ie reggie johnson. sheehey Ha! Sheehey. Yeah we are all in now.