Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss at Illinois

  • 01/01/2014 3:27 pm in

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Indiana opened Big Ten play with a narrow 83-80 overtime loss to Illinois on Tuesday afternoon at the State Farm Center.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the fourth loss of the season for the Hoosiers:

· Indiana played well enough to win, despite the turnovers: Not many teams, if any, will win a Big Ten road game this season while committing 20 or more turnovers, but Indiana almost accomplished the feat against Illinois. The Hoosiers actually posted a season-high in turnover percentage (29.0), but had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation. While the poor perimeter shooting from Illinois helped keep Indiana in the game, you can also point to several things the Hoosiers did very well.

Among them: Indiana got to the foul line 30 times against an Illinois team that had been keeping opponents off the line. Indiana performed well on the offensive glass, rebounding 42.4 percent of its misses. And the Hoosiers also hit 3-pointers at efficient clip (10-of-22). Despite the loss, there has to be some encouragement drawn from Indiana nearly beating a fringe top 25 team on the road despite all of the unforced mistakes.

· A little more on the turnover problem: The turnover problem is clearly a team-wide issue as each of IU’s starters currently has a turnover rate of 20 percent or more. Yogi Ferrell, Noah Vonleh and Will Sheehey are all right around the 20 percent mark, which is too high, but given their level of production, a bit easier to swallow.

Troy Williams (25.6) and Jeremy Hollowell (25.1), however, desperately need to begin cutting down the errors given their levels of production elsewhere. Williams, for instance, is still taking an average of one 3-pointer a game despite shooting just 14.3 percent. And Hollowell’s effective field goal percentage of 38.4 suggests that rebounding and defense must become consistent components of his game to justify keeping him in the lineup.

· Ferrell’s rise continues: With each game that goes by, Yogi Ferrell continues to prove that he’s made a jump into the upper echelon of point guards in the country. Through 14 games, the sophomore is averaging 17.7 points with an effective field goal percentage of 56.9. His shooting numbers are up across the board and he’s no longer passing up opportunities to score like he did as a freshman. In a lot of ways, Indiana has become Ferrell’s team and as he goes, the Hoosiers may go in a lot of games. Against Illinois, his career-high 30 points were almost enough to escape with a win.

“I thought he played excellent and I think he is one of the best guards in the country,” Tom Crean said of Ferrell. “I have for a long time and I think he’s got a lot of growth and I think he will continue to get that growth.”

· A little bit more definition in the rotation: Indiana played eleven guys against Illinois, but the rotation was a lot tighter than usual with several key guys getting the majority of the minutes. Ferrell logged 43 minutes, Sheehey played 33, Vonleh 30 and Evan Gordon 29.

On the other side of the spectrum was Devin Davis with seven, Austin Etherington with three and Jeff Howard with two. None of the three had any significant impact on the game, so the Hoosiers essentially went with eight guys. As the season progresses, expect to see similar patterns in playing time with the Hoosiers going with a consistent eight or nine guys. Ideally, Indiana would probably like to see Vonleh over 30 minutes every game if he can avoid foul trouble and fatigue and both Ferrell and Sheehey in the 33 to 35 range. The additional spots for heavy minutes appear up for grabs on a game-to-game basis with Gordon, Hollowell, Williams, Stanford Robinson and Hanner Mosquera-Perea all in the mix.

· Vonleh’s Big Ten debut a success: Indiana’s star freshman had a few fouls and a few miscues with the ball he’d love to have back, but all in all, Noah Vonleh’s first conference game was a major success.

He got to the line 12 times and hit 10 of those attempts and also pulled down a team-high nine rebounds to go along with his 16 points. What was most interesting was that Vonleh stepped out on the floor and knocked down a couple of 3-pointers and he mentioned specifically that Nnanna Egwu unwillingness to play him out on the floor as the reason for that. If that’s a shot Vonleh can knock down with any consistency, it should open some driving lanes for his teammates with defenders unable to sag off of him.

(Photo credit: Ben Woloszyn-USA TODAY Sports)

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  • JethroTroll

    Criticizing’s one thing. But that threshold has definitely been crossed on this board in the last month.
    I’d also like to point out that the ones that do the most criticizing tend to also be the same ones less tolerant of other’s opinions.

  • JethroTroll

    I agree to a point, but when nothing is happening offensively, call a timeout and set up a play. However, Crean decides to play it is fine, as long as that possession isnt wasted. It was, and that’s why Crean deserves some criticism. They had a chance to steal one on the road, and Crean didnt capitalize on it.
    That possession was on him.

  • Eric Sir

    Great point in the IDS about the Illinois game. IU built a lead then starting walking the ball up (Illinois plays slow) and then we started losing and no longer scored easy baskets.
    Crean is not a good in game coach as we have seen time and time again. When something works, he changes it almost every time. When a lineup is rollin’, he changes it. I am lost….

  • Raynger

    I appreciate your point but hope they change their approach or master the style of cream’s offense. Unfortunately, I watched as the team last year managed to play this style because of their talent yet did not achieve their potential. It seems to me that we should have a solid half court offense if the running game does not work.

  • Dr Dave

    So basically, jacking a shot at the rim whenever you touch the ball can make you king of TO% !! Conversely, the guy setting all the screens and averaging 0.2 pts/gm picks up a couple of offensive fouls and is the goat of TO%. Maybe Jeff Howard is not the answer, after all.
    Gotta love math, sometimes:
    Lies, damn lies, and stats – Mark Twain

  • BMusic

    As both a musician and a basketball coach (admittedly, for 8-year-olds), I find this analogy very thought-provoking indeed. I hated basketball in high school because of all coach’s sets. I love playing pick-up ball because it’s all read and react. You get into a flow with your teammates, and once you learn everyone’s tendencies and abilities, magic happens.

    Eric Clapton has said that he keeps his playing very simple so that he can bypass his brain and play from his heart. A good blues player can blow you away with very few notes, if they’re well-placed and well-played.

    We’ve seen the system work well at times this season. Some of Hollowell’s drive-and-dish moments were Magic-esque. Now, against tougher competition, the cuts need to be sharper, the vision clearer, the passes crisper, and the communication better. Are our boys ready to take that step up the ladder to maturity? Or do we put the training wheels on and let coach take the wheel in big moments?

  • Robert J Morgan

    230 turn overs in 14 games, avg of 16 per game. This is not a div 1 stat. If we cut the to’s in half and scored on half of that, what would our record be?? I think we have seen the last top big man recruit coming to IU. Crean does not develop big men, much less use them.??

  • ForeverIU

    Wow, thanks BMusic. We need more musicians on the forum 🙂 Love these discussions.


    Here, here, excellent point and not just because I agree with you.


    Baffled as to why that decision was made as well, but as far as NV maybe being able to catch one of those passes, well, maybe I’ll win the lottery too.

  • Raynger

    Im all for improvisation in basketball. I’ve seen NBA teams do it and some college teams. But how well would Jazz or any musicians do if they were substituted in groups of 3 for no apparent reason other than a clock? That seems to kill their ability to develop a free-flow style.

  • BMusic

    Hard to argue with that.

  • MillaRed

    Guess I should have added my 5th graders were setting screens and moving without the ball to gain an advantage instead of standing around staring into the abyss.

    Some things are what they are.

  • calbert40

    This team sets screens too, Milla. They are typically on ball instead of off ball, but they are screens nonetheless.

    We’ve discussed this point quite a bit lately on a different thread, but IU’s issues are not offensive efficiency. I don’t believe a Crean coached squad is ever going to be mistaken for halfcourt “poetry in motion” offensive sets. But they run the floor well, do a good job of getting to the rim, rebounding misses and getting to the line, where they are pretty solid as a team. And they score a good amount of points. So far as I am concerned, I don’t care how the ball goes through the hoop, I just care that it does with regularity.

    I’m with you. I like off the ball screening and movement. I like to see the bigs screening for one another to create mismatches underneath. I like to see the ball swing from side to side more than dribbled. I played PG all through school, and that’s the system that was drilled into my head from 5th grade on. It is comfortable and fun to watch. I’m not a huge fan of the dribble drive, on ball screening that produces one on one matchups in the lane. It is uncomfortable and goes against what I learned and played. But for this team and this system, it works pretty well. I’d LOVE to see us improve in the halfcourt sets too, but just because we don’t excel in running them already doesn’t mean we don’t run any offense or are inefficient on that end.

  • Marc

    Big ten tournament loses NCAA tournament loses show otherwise other than a lucky win a Michigan last year I don’t recal any meaning full wins ( its time to let the Kentucky win go)