Hoosiers struggle, unable to break through in loss to Notre Dame

  • 12/14/2013 7:54 pm in

INDIANAPOLIS — With its best remaining non-conference opportunity to get a win that will help its case come Selection Sunday, Indiana dug itself too large of a hole to overcome on Saturday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

An experienced Notre Dame team, coming off of a disappointing loss at home to North Dakota State on Wednesday, did not allow an Indiana lead all game and beat the Hoosiers, 79-72.

The Hoosiers, looking for their second win over a major conference team, trailed by as many as 13 points before tying the game early in the second half. But each time Indiana mounted a surge, the Fighting Irish answered before pulling away in the final minute.

“We made a bunch of runs, we could just never get all the way over the hump,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “Whether it was a missed shot, a missed play defensively.”

The result was a loss that will put even more pressure on a young team to deliver a couple of signature wins in the Big Ten to solidify itself as a NCAA tournament contender.

But in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s loss, Crean and his players were more focused on the immediate future with just 17 days remaining until conference play tips off.

“We just got to make sure we compete and get better daily,” Will Sheehey, who tied his career-high with 22 points, said. “It’s a process. We’ve just got to continue chipping away. These guys, just getting them more comfortable playing on big stages and the road and what not will definitely help.”

When Indiana has been successful in its first 11 games, the Hoosiers have dominated the glass and the free throw line. On Saturday, the Hoosiers failed to assert themselves enough in either area.

Notre Dame won the free throw battle soundly with a 55.5 percent free throw rate compared to 25.3 for Indiana. And on the glass, the Fighting Irish only allowed the Hoosiers to rebound 33.3 percent of their misses, which is 10 percent below their season average.

“We’re not real successful when we’re not in the bonus early enough,” Crean said. “We’re not successful when we’re not dominating the free throw line. And frankly, the rebounding.”

Indiana now has five days off before it returns to Assembly Hall for a pair of games against Nicholls State and Kennesaw State next weekend. Between now and then, the Hoosiers must continue forming an identity that has yet to be solidified.

“I think our struggle right now is learning who we are versus who we want to be,” Crean said. We’re not a team that’s going to be real successful thinking that we’re going to shoot a lot of jump shots. We’ve got to get into the lane.”

Not enough post touches

Whether it was Notre Dame’s zone defense neutralizing the paint or Indiana simply settling too much from the perimeter, the Hoosiers took 20 3-point attempts.

And Noah Vonleh, who came into Saturday with six double-doubles in 10 games, finished with just eight points and six rebounds. Vonleh attempted just five shots in 21 minutes.

“We shot too many jumpers to begin the game,” Crean said. “Some of that’s we’re not demanding the ball inside the way we need to. We’re not demanding it verbally, we’re not demanding it physically the way that we need to. We just have to be better.”

When asked about getting Vonleh involved more, who has failed to record a double-double in any of IU’s three losses, Sheehey took a more direct approach for what needs to change.

“He’s got to demand the ball. And we’ve got to throw it to him,” he said. “It’s as simple as that.”

Youth struggles on both sides

Indiana starts two freshman and Notre Dame starts one, but the lack of production on the Hoosier side of things was more detrimental as Troy Williams went scoreless as did Luke Fischer in 10 minutes off the bench.

As a unit, IU’s five freshmen scored 14 points on 6-of-15 shooting. The group came into Saturday averaging 32.1 points per game.

“In a game like this, when you look at the stat sheet, the veteran players were the ones that really carried the load,” Crean said.”Their young guys didn’t get much done and we’ve got a lot of young guys and they didn’t get a lot done.”

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  • Alford Bailey

    The new definition of insanity. CTC going to a zone again thinking they wont immediately give up an in rhythm three. Mind boggling…

  • Ole Man

    Crean said. “Some of that’s we’re not demanding the ball inside the way we need to. We’re not demanding it verbally, we’re not demanding it physically the way that we need to. We just have to be better.”

    Was this quote simply cut and pasted from an interview last year?

  • Raynger

    Yes, demand the ball then throw it to him that is the solution. Your right it is what he said last year.

  • PDXHoosier

    20 3’s and only 5 shots for vonleh is the opposite of what this team needs to do

  • John Temple

    Coach Crean still has no idea how to beat a zone. 20 three point shots for a team that is not a shooting team. No penetration and too much 1 against 3 street ball plays. Not gonna work! We have no post players except Vonleh and when he’s out for rest or fouls, we have 50% less rebounding. Perrea and Fischer may have a bigger upside, but we’re still not seeing it. If this is the best we can do against an unranked team that just lost to North Dakota State, what does that suggest about our B1G season? Don’t answer, that’s rhetorical.

  • Ronald H

    If the players don’t get the ball into the post, pull them and put someone in that will. If the post player doesn’t demand the ball, put someone in that will. Then, LEAVE THEM IN. How is Fischer, for example, going to be productive playing 2 or 3 minutes at a time ? Crean’s substitution has more to do with non production than any other single issue, and there are many. For the next two weak opponents, take 5 minute segments and tell them the only way they score is if the ball goes through the post. If they shoot without the ball entering the post, you sit. It teaches self control and makes a point. For now, Crean needs to be the leader. Execution and discipline are the problems, not player leadership or youth.

  • HoosierGrampy

    On more than one occasion, Noah flashed into the post and got NADA. He set screens and Yogi dribbled the other way. Guards need to LOOK AND PASS the rock to Noah. He may only be 18, but I think he could carry this team, but CTC needs to get him more touches in positions where he can impact the offense. Keeping Hanner on the bench is doing nothing for his confidence level either. Austin should study game film of one of my all-time favorites, Mike Woodson. He’ll quickly see that Mike NEVER took a shot that he didn’t like.

  • HoosierGrampy

    Hanner could probably show how much he’s improved, but it’s tough to have an impact on the flow of the game when you only see 4 minutes/game. How Hollowell continues to log big time minutes is mind boggling…Troy or Devin could be at least as productive AND provide some energy to a team which desperately needs to find some enthusiasm.

  • HoosierGrampy

    Fully agree w/your comments. I remember on more than 1 occasion that RMK would put players on the bench because they “forgot” to execute his game plan. Real ballers don’t like to log too much pine time, but they all have the choice to follow the plans or get real comfortable on the bench. Playing Luke and Hanner more than 3-4 minutes a game will only help this team AND their development.

  • mark

    EXACTLY. The problem since day 1 this year is that Yogi seems to think he’s Isaiah Thomas, and CTC seems to agree. But Yogi is yucking up some terrible shots even while IU has a big guy who is basically going to score or e fouled 75% of the time he tries to score. I figured CTC would counsel Yogi about this after a few games and s his shooting % moved downward towards 40%, but apparently he’s not done so And why Troy (absent foul trouble) gets the same minutes as Etherington is beyond me. Good grief, Troy was the one guy, besides Noah, who could really spark a comeback.

  • mark

    Productivity-wise, Hanner is putting up really good numbers. He does foul too much and tends to have defensive lapses, but really, he should be logging more minutes given his length and atheleticism and numbers. I personally have a bad feeling that Hanner might transfer after this season. I mean, he’s used to a lot of PT and wasranked 50th best player or something like that. He wants to go to the pros. No way he’ll ever get there playing 5-8 mins a game

  • Rantool

    I put a lot of this loss on Coach Crean. We were getting schooled on the inside with size, and he counters with a small line up? His substitution patterns are totally wacko! He needs to tell Yogi to either get the ball inside to Noah, or have a seat on the bench. He has hurt us in a lot of games this year, with this game being the worst? There is nothing wrong with having 3 bigs in at once? We got a 7 footer who never see’s any playing time, now I ask you, if he got the time some of these other guys get, do you think he could be a contributer? I say put him in there and let him bang when we are getting it handed to us inside? What do you have to loose? Our guard play has been killing us. We have talent we just have no discipline, and no real game plan that I see. If I am playing I.U., I play a zone and we are dumb enough to jack up outside shots and lose! That seems to be our M.O., tell me I am wrong. I say sit some of these guys, Yogi, Hollowell, Williams, either start improving and working or sit, and give Hanner, Jurkin, Davis, Fisher, Robinson, Gordan, or whoever a chance! The bench can be a great motivator! And one more thing Coach, maybe work the ref’s now and then? I have never seen a great coach that doesn’t work the refs now and then? Name one? Right now I feel we are digressing not improving? I could be a long conference if we don’t figure out something soon!