Poor preparation carries over as IU falls to Northwestern

  • 01/18/2014 10:31 pm in

As Indiana prepared for Saturday’s game with Northwestern, Tom Crean was not pleased with what he saw.

Coming off an impressive 75-72 win over No. 3 Wisconsin on Tuesday, the Hoosiers had a chance to move above the .500 mark in conference play against a rebuilding Northwestern team that had been clubbed in its first two Big Ten road games.

Instead, Indiana took a step back on Saturday afternoon, falling 54-47 to the Wildcats in a loss that was stunning to perhaps everybody but Crean.

In his postgame comments, IU’s coach described his team’s preparation leading up to the game as lacking in both focus and consistency.

“It’s not the first time, it won’t be the last time, but it was there, and it was addressed, and it was addressed frequently, and it was addressed last night,” he explained. “We tried to shake it out of it this morning, and it just didn’t fall that way.”

The loss capped a whirlwind of a week for Indiana that started with an improbable win over the then-unbeaten Badgers and ended with a misstep that could be extremely costly as the Hoosiers attempt to claw back into NCAA tournament consideration.

Indiana didn’t have what could be considered a bad loss before Saturday. It does now.

“It’s a very big disappointment because, I mean, just to get it moving, we actually took a step back now, and so we have to take a couple steps forward just to catch up to where we were,” freshman Stanford Robinson said.

The Hoosiers shot just 25 percent in the loss, which included a 4-of-18 performance from behind the 3-point line.

Northwestern, mindful of Indiana’s success in getting to the rim and putting 52 points in the paint on Wisconsin, packed the lane and dared the Hoosiers to hit jump shots, which didn’t happen.

Yogi Ferrell, Evan Gordon and Will Sheehey combined for just 18 points on 6-of-33 shooting. Freshman Noah Vonleh was the only IU player in double figures with 17 points and it took him 15 shots to get there.

“We try to take layups away from a team, whether it be in transition or in the halfcourt,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. “We try to make them make contested jump shots. Some nights they are going to make them and if they do, we have to tip our cap. Tonight we were fortunate. Indiana didn’t make their shots.”

Despite the woeful shooting, Indiana had its chances to grind out a win.

After scoring just 19 first half points and trailing by eight early in the second half, the Hoosiers tied the game at 40 with 3:40 remaining on a pair of free throws from Ferrell.

But Northwestern quickly responded with seven straight points from Tre Demps, who finished with 15 off the bench.

One play in the sequence in particular that irked Crean was when Demps, guarded by Ferrell, took a ball screen from Alex Olah and drove all the way to the basket for an uncontested layup to push the Northwestern lead to 45-40 with 2:24 remaining.

“What happened at that point is when guys aren’t making shots offensively it affects the defense,” Crean said. “And it was not a good enough screen for us to be getting hung on that pick. We called a time out to switch and we still got scored on.”

The Hoosiers would never get closer than three the rest of the way. A questionable 3-pointer taken by Gordon with 22 seconds left and IU down by four sealed the win for Northwestern, its first on the road since Nov. 20 at Illinois-Chicago.

“Terrible shot. There’s no question about it,” Crean said. “You can’t take a jump shot there, and that did not make sense. Our whole thing was to attack the rim. Our whole thing was not to take a step back three in that situation with anybody, and we practiced this numerous times.”

The road doesn’t get easier from here as Indiana travels to East Lansing on Tuesday for a meeting with Michigan State, which is 5-0 in the league and likely to be ranked No. 3 when the new polls are released on Monday.

“I don’t think it would have mattered who we played coming off the win the other day,” Crean said. “We weren’t mature enough to handle a great win and come in here and play the way that we needed to play, and it started yesterday.

“I’m disappointed in that. And if it was legal to practice at midnight, we would. It’s not, so we’ll start when it’s legal, tomorrow morning. But we’re not going to sit back and look at any part of this as being acceptable and the way that we played.”

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  • Michael

    The team wasn’t prepared because Crean sucks as a coach! It’s his job to have them prepared, so instead of blaming his players maybe be a man and take the blame for the loss! Their is a reason that Maurice Creek left but is now averaging 15 ppg elsewhere, Remy Abel was a good kid but left, Fisher was a good kid but left, Cody left a year earlier than he should have for the NBA why because they all realized that Crean can’t coach and IU will never will a National Championship under him! We had the best team in America last year but lost in the sweet 16 and this year we won’t even make the tournament after today’s loss. Oh and don’t give me well we lost out of guys other schools lose a lot of guys but still make the tournament the next year because they have a good coach that can do the job right! Crean can recruit but he can’t coach them once they get there!

  • doodle777

    We just need to be patient, we are a young team and Kelvin Sampson left the program in shambles about 10 years ago. lol hahahaha Great job Crean, what ever you do don’t start Stanford. We had more turnovers then points the first 8 minutes of the game and Stan set the bench. Hey glad to see Marlin and Howard bringing all they bring to the court. Chris Collins would be a good replacement in a couple years, He certainly gave Crean a thrashing today

  • Eastwood88_2

    I thought this was creans best post game news conference in his 6 years. He did not call northwestern a great team. He called will and yogi out in a big way. Talked about the adjustments that were not followed. Mistakes plentiful. This team ia total wreck. Fact is yogi, will and Gordon have to hit outside shots for this team to compete. 6-33 is terminal

  • InTheMtns

    I’m not sure I understand your points. A redshirt still counts as a scholarship so that means you’d have a scholarship taken by a player you couldn’t put on the floor for a year and you’d ask a student athlete to put in another year of college. What talent are you suggesting that Crean should have saved and do you know if that player wanted to sit out a year? Which year are you suggesting would have been OK with just 12 scholarship players playing – last year or this year? I don’t think I understand the advantage that you’re suggesting is there.

    Several of our current players were above average shooters in high school and were projected to be good shooters in college – Jeff, Austin, Yogi, Jeremy, Noah and Collin. We’ve seen the team’s shooting improve over the last few game except for this game when it was terrible. I agree that the dribble drive style offense needs some offense from shooters but I’m not ready to declare that our players aren’t good enough shooters to make the offense work. Tonight would have been a whole other thing if the team would have had better spacing, reversed the ball more and had movement.

  • Scooter

    Fact is Yogi, Evan and Will cannot take 33 shots when they aren’t hitting. Find ways to get AE, JM, Stan some shots. Then they might shoot better than 18%. Yogi, Will and Evan could then ice down their arms and learn how to share the basketball.

    I think Yogi has had too much freedom. It is time for Crean to make him run an unselfish offense. Yogi’s asst/game needs to improve. He averages 1 assist every 8 min played on the season.

  • Scooter

    My bad, Yogi has played 175 min in 5 conference games. He has 18 assists so that is an assist every 10 minutes in conference play. He is avg 3.6 assists per game but he is also averaging 15.2 shots a game in conference play. If he would give up the 4 shots he forces each night he would average 5 asst per game and the same amount of points.
    Yogi needs to be more disciplined.

  • Eastwood88_2

    Wow That Is Bad, Couldn’t Agree More. That Is The Leadership We Are missing

  • Gregory Spera

    So now it’s not just Hollowed? The entire TEAM is lacking “focus?” Great. They can’t all ride the pine.

  • Gregory Spera

    What next years class is missing is a big.

  • 3AM Burrito

    I would love to see someone step up and be a reliable perimeter scorer but until that happens Yogi has to be a primary scorer, just a fact. Who is he going to assist to if no one else can score outside?

  • Scooter

    Says who? If it werent for AE we would have lost at PSU.

    I think Yogi took 9 3’s against Wisc, AE has shot 10 all year.

    Yogi should be a primary scorer and I would never refute that. He just needs to get others involved.

  • SoCal Hoosier

    I agree that Crean’s offense can be a head-scratcher sometimes, but there are times when it’s designed and run well and still nothing. Case in point, we run a set out of a baseline timeout yesterday and get SR a wide-open elbow jumper off a curl…clang. I can promise you that he has shot that particular shot probably 5000 times before – it’s a standard basketball warmup drill. I don’t lay the on-floor decision-making on CTC all the time either….EG’s step-back three was ridiculous, WS’s failure to rotate on Demps’s layup was a cardinal sin. There’s only so much a coach can control sometimes. It’s not that they weren’t coached, they didn’t execute what they’d been taught.

    What he can control is his combinations, and I have to admit that a lineup of JM, JH, HMP, AE and EG on the floor late in the second half of a close game is, shall we say, one that absolutely nobody on this forum would have ever predicted…

  • David Macer

    Except for the fact that rotation actually cut NW’s lead….

  • 3AM Burrito

    And if it weren’t for Yogi, do you care to venture how many games we would have lost? Great, AE hit one 3 against PSU, awesome clutch shot no doubt. But that is one 3, he has been a passive offensive player. If AE – or anyone for that matter – is consistently passing up open shots, what is supposed to happen? I love the idea of others getting involved, but no other perimeter players have shown the appetite or skill level to consistently do so.

  • 3AM Burrito

    Yeah, even if it is true that the players didn’t perform to me a coach seldom wins doing that. He is better to just go to the media and accept all the blame and credit the other team and then tear into his team behind closed doors.

  • 3AM Burrito

    I think that lineup you mentioned is where we took our biggest lead of 3 in that game, could be mistaken but much like the weird lineup that got us back in the Wisconsin game it didn’t produce that bad of a result.

  • 3AM Burrito

    Crean could put only Howard and Marlin on the floor and pull a Norman Dale.

  • HoosierPat

    That lineup was the best one of the day. They were very objective with their offensive possessions and played smart defense.

  • Gregory Spera


  • SCHoosier

    Howard was the only one of three different defenders who did a decent job on Crawford.

  • SCHoosier

    I must say Yogi does what he wants, when he wants as much as he wants or so it seems. TC did bench him again a couple times yesterday..but if not Yogi who’s gonna make a shot? Looking ahead to next year..I hope Mr. Ferrell realizes he will not be IU’s number one scoring option (or shouldn’t be..especially from the three)

  • 3AM Burrito

    I agree I noticed he was able to shut him down in 2nd half. I was not knocking either guy, actually Howard is probably the most focused and in right spot of anyone on the team when he plays.

  • 3AM Burrito

    Yes this team will live and die with Yogi unless another perimeter player steps up. And I think Yogi would absolutely love to distribute more than score, he was more an assist machine in high school than a scorer.His scoring this year is a necessity cause as you mentioned, who else is gonna make shots? Hopefully JBJ and RJ are as advertised but unfortunately aren’t here till next year.

  • Snookafly

    “My team is on the floor.”