Indiana prepares for new challenge in Syracuse zone

  • 03/27/2013 9:59 pm in

IUTempleITH0008WASHINGTON — Indiana saw just about everything imaginable in the Big Ten this season.

But not quite.

“We don’t see a lot of 2-3 zone like this,” guard Jordan Hulls said of Syracuse. “They’re very long, very athletic, they close out to balls a lot faster than what we’ve seen, even on film.”

The Hoosiers will finally get a look at the Syracuse zone that gets talked about so much when they play the Orange in a Sweet 16 game Thursday night at the Verizon Center.

What makes the Syracuse different and more challenging than other zones is the athletes Jim Boeheim recruits to play in it. Brandon Triche (6-foot-4) is the shortest player in the Orange’s starting lineup, and the other four are Michael Carter-Williams (6-foot-6), James Southerland (6-foot-8), C.J. Fair (6-foot-8) and Rakeem Christmas (6-foot-9).

“They’re athletic guys, long guys. They like to get up in your face,” said forward Will Sheehey. “They get out and challenge passing lanes, they don’t kinda pack it in. It’s almost like a pressure 2-3 zone.”

Added point guard Yogi Ferrell: “They have the best zone defense in the country. We’ve been practicing against it, watching a lot of film. It’s going to be a very tough test for us.”

Crean coached against Boeheim and Syracuse twice when he was at Marquette, so the zone won’t be completely new to him when he sees it Thursday night. Plus, Crean had almost four days to prepare for it, so the turnaround wasn’t all that short.

Even so, the Syracuse zone has proven to be one that can add new wrinkles and function in different ways depending on the opponent and the game. Plus, Crean is 0-2 in those two games.

“At Marquette we didn’t necessarily have the ability to score in the low post that maybe we have now,” Crean said Wednesday. “So it was a little bit different attack and we had good guards, people like Jerel McNeal, Wes Matthews, you know Dominic James, Lazar Hayward, so people like that that could make plays but we didn’t necessarily have the low post ability.

“I don’t think you can look at that zone and think you’re going to beat it any one way but I don’t think you can look at the zone and think you can stand around and pass the ball around the perimeter, either. That is a recipe for defeat.”

One thing that will be key to beating the zone is knocking down perimeter shots, especially early in the game. The Hoosiers didn’t shoot particularly well against Temple on Sunday, and that will have to change.

Hulls, who could be a big factor in Thursday’s game, looked good in practice on Wednesday and doesn’t seem to be in too much pain from the right shoulder injury he sustained against Temple. Hulls wasn’t wearing the compression vest he had on in the second half on Sunday, and his shot looked normal.

“It’s feeling good,” Hulls said. “Once it got loose, I was able to shoot well. The doctors are doing a great job of getting me back in shape, feeling well.”

IU winless versus Syracuse since 1987

When Indiana and Syracuse meet on Thursday night, the Hoosiers will be looking their first win over Syracuse since the 1987 national championship game. That was the year Indiana’s Keith Smart hit the famous baseline shot to beat the Orange and capture the school’s fifth title.

Sheehey said the Hoosiers are well aware of that game and shot because it is played on their video montage in the locker room before every game.

“It means a lot for any of those guys to be compared to any of us,” Sheehey said. “We always look up in Assembly Hall and see the banners, and we know the correlation between them.”


· An ugly review: When the Hoosiers reviewed the tape from Sunday’s 58-52 win over Temple, it wasn’t exactly an enjoyable experience. Indiana escaped, but it wasn’t pretty.

“We needed that, for coach to get on us,” Ferrell said, “because watching the tape, it wasn’t a pleasant sight.”

· Enjoying D.C.: The Hoosiers didn’t get to stay home and play in Indianapolis this weekend, but that has been just fine with them. When they’re not busy preparing, they are trying to take advantage of being in the nation’s capital.

“We had dinner, walked over to the White House [Tuesday night],” Sheehey said. “So that was good.”

· Sheehey ‘fine’: Sheehey wasn’t in the team’s locker room following Sunday’s win over Temple after taking a hard hit to the head late in the game. But he shook off a reporter’s question about the injury.

“I’m good, I’m fine,” Sheehey said.

Filed to:

  • Knight Rider

    This is not the first time we’ve played since the champioship game in ’87. We lost to Syracuse 102 – 78 in the 88-89 season in a preseason tournament. I remember that game because Shermin Douglass had a long snap type pass for a fast break dunk. Remember it like it was yesterday.

  • You’re correct. Thanks for the note.

  • “The Zone” and “The Streak” will go down on consecutive nights!

  • VerdellJonesIV

    What does everyone think the chances are of Mr. President taking Saturday afternoon off to watch the regional final? I know he does it if Georgetown has a big game on the weekend. It’d be cool to win the regional in front of the Commander in Chief after he said IU will win it all while doing his bracket on ESPN . Just a thought.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I am very glad Hulls is feeling well. He is a huge part of this team and it would have been a real shame for his career to end because of a shoulder injury. Thankfully, he refused to allow that to happen.

  • HoosierTrav

    I could care less to be honest with you. Maybe its just me, but I’d rather just watch my hoosiers. Hopefully he’s working.

  • SUNY_RIT_IU_Grad

    I am really hoping Will’s mid-range game is on tonight. I am a Hoosier fan who grew up in upstate NY. I will be watching the game in Illinois with my older brother who is a Cuse fan. I expect our Hoosiers to win, and I am looking forward to enjoying the victory. Go Hoosiers!

  • Benhyoung14

    Glad CTC showed them the video of the Temple game, and I hope they understand they shouldn’t have gotten out of that one alive. I’m sure they do. Physical games can get ugly, and I don’t think any of the teams left willl play that physical.

  • Oldguyy

    No doubt ol` Barry will be golfing or hobnobbing with some airhead entertainer.

  • HoosierDawg

    Interesting tweet from Yogi’s mom that I hadn’t thought of-Yogi played almost exclusively zone in HS, so our point guard is very familiar with it.

    This will be a tough challenge, but I have no doubt our guys can handle it. As in most games, it will come down to shooting.


  • copernicus462

    We will be in trouble if Syracuse forces us to a mid-range game. Just my two cents.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    A key for us to win that everyone is forgetting is our defense. If we play better defense, pressure them, force them into bad shots WE will win the game.

  • The way Louisville destroyed the 3-2 zone in the second half of their game was from the inside out with deft passing from the post.

  • MillaRed

    Pretty amazing the +/- that was going on with Jordy on the floor versus Temple.

  • MillaRed

    ITH trivia for the day. MillaRed was a paramedic at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for two years in Washington D.C.

    Somehow, in another dimension, this is favorable for The Hoosiers.

    Sorry it’s the best I can do. I’m stressed out over this game.

  • And_One

    Not only that: The game is tonight. Tonight there is a full moon. The drummer for The Who was Keith Moon. Keith Smart was the hero against ‘Cuse in 1987. So there you go, favorable.
    Yeah, I know. Me too. I’m totally distracted, useless at work today.

  • jmoney

    I think that if our shooters are hitting tonight, this may be a comfortable win. With Yogi and Vic penetrating or feeding it to Cody for the kick-out, open looks from the perimeter could be abundant. Jordy and CWat could have HUGE games. I could see Cody having 6 or 7 assists tonight if the shots are falling.

  • Ole Man

    Take it elsewhere.

  • Ole Man

    Is it just me, or does Will “stiff-arm” a lot of shots? Those seem to be the ones he misses.

  • Ole Man

    They’ve all watched the tapes. They will make it a point to play physical against the Hoosiers. What it really depends on is how the refs call the game inside. If they allow body blows along with blocks by Syc, then we could be in for a long night.


    Former paramedic…..self medicate ?

  • Ole Man

    Press and run and press some more. Don’t give them time to set up or get comfortable in the zone.
    Louis did a lot of that to them in their zone.
    And MCW has shown he can get rattled under pressure.
    If we continue the trend of “walking” the ball up court and attempting to set up in some type of half-court, then we might be in trouble.


    Agree, unless you feel like you can just simply impose your will on the other team with your athletes you check the tape to see what has been successful against a team and everyone knows what that is against us. You then employ, at the very least, a portion of that and emphasize it even more if you are gradually falling behind and the refs have swallowed their whistles.

  • notfargj

    who’s to say we’ll be playing on saturday? every fiber of my being wants us to play on saturday but we must win this evening. we have a challenge ahead.

  • BluegrassHoosier

    On TV last night they showed IU practicing and they commented that CTC was focusing on Wat and CZ taking quick shots from around the free throw line, where the weakness is in a 2-3. So maybe we are going to see CZ beak out his mid range game tonight.

  • Benhyoung14

    I don’t think Syracuse is going to able to be physical. Their bench is deep enough, but IMO they’re a finess team. Now if the refs allow their players to jump in the air make contact with an IU player with their chest, and then block it….then we are SOL. For the love of god, I hope the refs watch the hand checks.

  • HoosierFromCT

    It’s 2:30, i’m at work and this has been one of the most unproductive days. is it 9:45 yet!?

  • pcantidote

    You could care less, but you just choose not too?

  • PDXHoosier

    I think we’ve lost to them 2 or 3 times since ’87

  • MillaRed

    I always used the “one for you, one for me” philosophy. I’m sure there wasn’t any long-term damage as a result………..I see elephants.

  • Brklynhoosier

    I saw Michael Cera on the train today if that means anything. You see stars a lot in NYC, but it always kind of feels like seeing a leprechaun…

  • Kelin Blab

    Not in the least bit stressed about this one….

  • Kelin Blab

    I don’t think this will come down to IU playing against the zone but moreso, how they defend Syracuse. When IU plays well defensively their offense feeds off that. Keep the Cuse off the boards on both ends and make shots. Simple…

  • BlakeD1223

    We struggle to get inside against big teams. If we are not hitting our three ball then this game could get ugly. There will be a lot of pressure on our defense to keep this game close if we are not hitting. I’m really freaking nervous for this game!

  • notfargj

    he might feel like he has something to prove to boeheim since syracuse recruited fab melo and not will.

  • Brklynhoosier

    And his dad never got off Boeheim’s bench…


    LOOOOLLL, you may very well have gotten your training at the same place as my ” doctor “. He always told me that there was nothing to worry about as long as they weren’t “pink” elephants with wings.


    Noticed that myself as well, One of them was probably me. I was sporting the Hoosier hat, shirt, jacket, IU plate on front bumper, license frame and IU sticker on the window. Just in case anybody had any doubts who my team was.

  • Remy Willing and Abell

    ooh – rah !

  • Remy Willing and Abell

    He takes a lot of days off

  • Remy Willing and Abell

    R . Smith and P . Siva were slashing in the lane a lot as well .

  • Remy Willing and Abell

    Living in Louisville … All I’ve heard is how we are soft , and when we get pushed around we kinda cower and lose . And you can see where it’s coming from . I just hope that we come out with and play with an edge , a pissed off mentality . Cody really needs to play like a man today .

  • AtariHero

    too bad he played like a middle schooler.

  • Ole Man

    It wasn’t.

  • Ole Man

    Great Season, Hoosiers.
    Thank You!