The Minute After: Illinois

  • 01/26/2014 6:00 pm in

Thoughts on a 56-46 win over the Illini:

This one wins no awards. You don’t frame it and place on the mantle above the fireplace. Still, in a Big Ten season where wins are never a guarantee for these Hoosiers, it’s a much-needed victory in a game IU just couldn’t afford to lose.

Both of these offenses were atrocious in the first half — a collection of missed shots, bad turnovers and wrong decisions. Indiana scored just .75 points per possession by the break, the Illini just .69. The teams combined to shoot just 4-of-18 from distance. Yogi Ferrell, Noah Vonleh and Will Sheehey had just a total of four points between them. Austin Etherington saved the day. He scored in new ways — an up-and-under, free throws after rolling to the basket — and entered halftime with seven points during 10 minutes of action. Troy Williams added six of eight before the break and hit a nice turnaround jumper after posting up. Yet, Williams’s decision-making — going for the home run play and missing a tip dunk, dribbling the ball off the perimeter and turning it over — remains suspect at times.

Yogi Ferrell would heat up in the second half and score 15 of his 17 for the Hoosiers after the break. His penetration made Indiana’s offense go and it helped open up some things for his teammates. He was also a perfect 8-of-8 from the charity stripe including some late ones to seal it on an afternoon the Hoosiers missed the front of some one-and-ones and shot just 68 percent from the line.

Stanford Robinson (10 points on 5-of-12 shooting) continues to get into the lane and score at the basket. He missed all three of his free throws today, though, and probably would like to have that missed dunk at the end of the game back. Despite a better performance on offense and a few runs that gave the Hoosiers a sizable lead, the Illini would keep crawling back. An 11-point lead with 13 to go dwindled to three points. A nine-point lead with 5:55 to go wasn’t able to be pushed out any farther and the Illini were only two possessions away (six points) for much of the remainder of the game until IU was able to seal it late.

Indiana also kept the Illini out of full comeback territory by rebounding the ball with force. Vonleh had 14 during an afternoon he never got going offensively. Illinois rebounded just 10.8 percent of its misses and had zero second-chance points. It also shot just six free throws for the contest (11.1 free throw rate) and made just 5-of-23 (21.7 percent) from distance. It turned the ball over on 20.3 percent of its possessions (as did the Hoosiers), had an effective field goal percentage of just 37.9 and scored only .72 points per possession.

It was an awful offensive outing for a team that’s now lost six straight in league play and isn’t finding any answers.

It’s off to Nebraska on Thursday. Another winnable game for these Hoosiers. But on the road, the Hoosiers might need a little more than they showed today to get it done.

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  • David Macer

    Glad to have this game behind us. The next game will be just as tough…Nebraska at Nebraska. Lets hope we can do a better job protecting the ball and making layups. Again, we missed several close in shots. IT’S INDIANA !!!

  • Kenneth234

    There is some improvement being shown recently in many aspects. This team has come a long way in a short time. Not everything is perfect, but they are heading in the right direction.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    The Good:
    1) This team is a good defensive team.
    2) This team is a good rebounding team.
    3) This team is athletic and is starting to move more on offense.
    4) This team is having more players step up and contribute at key times.

    The Bad:

    There’s not much that can be done about that. I thought IU played hard. I thought they were aggressive offensively and defensively. They just miss SO many open shots and even semi-contested layups! Kudos for finding a way to win though. If this team ever just hits a small hot streak (average by others’ shooting standards) they could go on a run and be a dangerous team but SOMEBODY is going to have to start hitting shots. Still, this was a good win by ten over a team IU is obviously superior to. I hope they can do the same at Nebraska who has shown they can win but it still the weakest team in the B1G in my opinion.

    3-4 in the B1G right now isn’t bad when you have teams like OSU and PUke at 3-4 and teams like Wisc and Minny at 4-3. If IU can hold serve at home and steal some road wins they should win they can still finish in the top half of the B1G and possibly sneak in the tournament. I’d be happy with any postseason at all this year, though I would really love to rub it in to an obnoxious pUKe fan I know that IU made the tournament in a rebuilding year when pUKe couldn’t make it last year with the top-rated recruiting class in the country!

  • Nathan

    They’re number four in the nation in rebounding. They’re better than a “good” rebounding team.

  • InTheMtns

    A win is a win and this one moves Indiana closer to .500. Loved seeing AE picking the Illini’s defense apart in the first half and loved seeing Yogi pour it on in the second half. Good win and a good send off for the trip to Nebraska. Go Hoosiers!!!

  • David Macer

    Aceman – Good analysis. I thought IU’s defense tonight was outstanding. Rayvonte Rice is going to get his point, just like Yogi. Lets hope we can start shooting the ball better !!!

  • Gregory Spera

    Well, that was “better.” Much more movement on offense. Dive cuts from the elbows. Working the baseline. I even saw a couple of pick and rolls. Of course, just because the offense generated layups and open threes, doesn’t mean these players can make any of them count. That bricked breakaway dunk to end the game just said it all. Once again, this team can actually look better on offense and still shoot 40%.

  • David Macer

    I thought he called for the ball quite a bit. The problem was Illinois collapsed all around him each and every time. When you put the ball down on the floor, all the “little people” tend to find a way to steal it.

  • SCHoosier

    They just don’t have the plays to get it to him. Noah averaging…I think about 7 shots per B-10 game..and that’s a crime. Hoosier passing for ball movement was much improved today..but NV had to come outside the lane to get the ball which allowed 3 players to converge on him. Kept trying to put the ball on the floor..had 3 TO’s He’s got one of the few good jump shots on the team..hope he just turns around a fires it up once in a while. trying to get fouled on a drive his has a 50% chance of turning it over.

  • SCHoosier

    Sure..when in your first 6 possessions you have a missed layup and 3 TO’s and still go one to win..that’s a hell of a deal. Congrats Hoosiers.

  • BMusic

    Really great game to watch. What’s promising is that we’re coming to terms with who we are, playing more and more to our strengths, and getting solid contributions from dependable cast of characters. Austin Etherington—yes, a sophomore in eligibility, but very much a junior, and it’s really starting to show. That’s a Big Ten ball player right there. Stanford Robinson—amid the appreciation for his penetration and defense, let’s not skim over what a savvy passer he is. Jeff Howard—doesn’t shoot threes or dribble the ball off his knee, plays solid ball, and occasionally comes up with a massive tip-in.

    On top of all that, I thought the offense looked crisp in the first half. The numbers aside, the ball and Hoosiers were moving with purpose and confidence. More and more, they look like a team that expects to win. Love it.

    GO IU

  • Mike

    One place to start is not just our program, but what the game of basketball means in the state of Indiana – it will help explain many of the posts you may read on here…..

  • NotTheRealSteveEyl

    Welcome to IU basketball! it can become a life long addition.

    Step 1: go to Cook Hall
    Step 2: read all the stuff on the walls.

    There are also lots of books and DVDs about the program.

  • NotTheRealSteveEyl

    Really pleased to see the defense improving. We are a terrible shooting team, but there is no reason we can’t be a great defensive squad. We already rebound well, which is a huge part of defense.

    And I never thought I would say this, but Jeff Howard is giving us quality minutes. Every team needs a guy who just works with no expectation of glory.

  • PDXHoosier

    I think the ball movement on offense is really starting to improve
    Jeff Howard has amazing hair

  • OhioHoosier

    Honestly I think they are looking to get it into him almost every possession and definitely missed him several times, but when he did get it today Egwu shut him down for the most part. Obviously Noah is a better player but his inability to consistently get the ball is a by-product of our lack of shooting prowess. Not the only reason, but it is not like we are not trying to get him the ball.

  • David Macer

    Ke – I can help fill in some holes. RMK had only an okay 90’s when compared to the 70’s and 80’s. Made the tournament every year and had maybe two sub 20 game win seasons. But the game was beginning to change. Things like the shot clock and 3 point shot came in the latter half of his career at IU. Coach stuck with what made him great and the game started getting much faster. In 2000, Coach was dismissed over another incident that seemed to find its way into his life all the time.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    Yep . . . no more complaining about Jeff Howard getting minutes. That young man is playing hard and giving us quality minutes and plays when other guys just are not.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    Hopefully in a year or two these guys are making the highlight reel plays instead of the Sportscenter “Not Top 10”!

    I remember VO missed his share of dunks as a freshman and these guys are trying to make the play on their own as well when there are trailers and other guys open!

  • Mike

    I just crunched all the numbers, and for the season we are only allowing the other team to score 67 points a game on average. That is for the whole season as well as conference by itself (this game helped bring our conference average down for sure). The most anyone has scored on us is 84. If we had some shooting (and less turnovers) this team would probably only have two losses.

  • David Macer

    Mike is right. Basketball is more than a game in Indiana. All you need to know is the 9 of the 10 largest HS basketball gyms can be found in the state of Indiana. My hometown, New Castle, has the largest at 9.325 seats. Basketball is something that every kid growing up dreamed of playing basketball iin high school and beyond.

  • ForeverIU

    That Stan and Troy are coming of age is huge. Stan needs to shoot free throws better. We allowed Illinois only 4 offensive rebounds. Maybe Noah’s 11 rebounds on defense had something to do with it. Will and Yogi committed some incredibly ugly turnovers. We criticize ourselves for missing open shots. But that’s better than missing contested shots. At least we are getting open; I’m guessing working on refining our shooting is the easier part. I want to reach the championship game this year; I haven’t given up. If Michigan could do it last year with all the freshmen they had, then we can do it too. Even though the game was close at times, we were clearly in control. Go Hoosiers!

  • SilverAtlanta

    Ugly wins still count! How they can miss so many lay ups kills me but a win over Illinois and on to Nebraska!

  • CreanFaithful

    This. Ball movement, not settling and making the extra pass…

  • ForeverIU

    Yikes, Minny is down 13 at Nebraska.

  • Hoosier Hall

    An ugly win is still a win. No need to over analyze it. Sometimes you just have to treat it like a dog, kick some grass over that sh#t and move on!

  • Ole Man

    You could tell that Will’s ankle was still sore today.
    But those nine rebounds! And his D. That’s going after it when everything else is not working. And that is leading by example.

  • HoosierFan76

    Great summary. I would also add that the players changed with the huge rise in significance of AAU basketball and all the middlemen and hangers-on associated with it, and also the 24/7 sports networks beginning to show high school games. With Knight’s reputation as a stern disciplinarian and the strained relationship he had with many media members, many recruits who may have otherwise been attracted to IU as a top program began buying into the negative hype surrounding Coach Knight and going elsewhere. It was a sad end to a great coaching tenure when he was dismissed in 2000.

  • Ole Man

    A down vote? ROFL!

  • MillaRed

    It’s a nice way of saying it. Fact is kids were not going to respond well to a coach like RMK. His my way/highway philosophy card expired.

  • Hoosierfan2335

    This was our second-best win of the year. We were playing sloppy and shots were not falling for us, but we pulled away from a close game at the end. That’s a sign of a team that is maturing. Very happy how hard they played. We still go through long streaks of awkward offensive possessions and poor shot selection, but I think we drove to the rim very well. It’s going to be exciting to see how we finish this year and even more exciting to see how we develop into next year.

  • HoosierFan76

    Maybe, but the fact is that if you don’t follow the framework of what a coach expects you to do, you’re going to sit at most places (well, maybe not at Kentucky, because Calipari maintains that his most important day is NBA draft day). There were some other issues at play that were pretty indefensible, and those were further accentuated by the media coverage and all the emphasis and controversy that went along with it.

    Still, though, Coach Knight did a lot of great things for IUBB and the university, and he ran a clean program and made sure his players went to class, graduated, and became productive members of society after that. I’m not overlooking all the bad things that were associated with him, but I think that sometimes all the good things do get overlooked. Not by you, per se, just in general.

  • BluegrassHoosier

    NV needs to learn how to pass out of those double and triple teams. Seems like he forced it too much when they collapsed on him.

  • OhioHoosier

    Maybe Stan was looking to help pad Will’s rebounding stats!

  • HoosierPat

    This game was really ugly. But hey, it’s a win. On to Nebraska.

  • HoosierFan76

    Nebraska holds on for the 4-point win. Bad loss for Minny.

  • HoosierFan76

    It was a bad loss for Ohio State, too. Any loss against Penn State or Nebraska is a bad loss, IMO. The loss to Northwestern was a bad loss, particularly because it was in Bloomington. Still think/hope IU should get some revenge in Evanston, though.

  • ForeverIU

    Let us heed Minny’s lesson at Nebraska and show the Cornhuskers some real corn-fed Hoosier love. LOL!

  • Geometry Hoosier

    Really glad to see Austin playing well. The kid has a ton of heart, I just wish he’d shoot more.

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    Yeah, game was ugly. And 13 turnovers is nothing to brag about… but at the same time that figure’s not as outlandish as a lot of prior games.

    And there’s one genuinely great stat. If Dustin Dopirak from the Herald Times is correct, IU’s rebounding was so dominant that Illinois had no second-chance points at all. Zero. It might be easy to write that off as Illinois ineptitude, but I think of it more as IU being good board-hawks today. Vonleh makes that much of a difference inside.

  • Brklynhoosier

    HF76, I don’t think it was just hype. Recruiting suffered because a) Knight was famously uninterested, assuming players would go to him based on reputation alone, taking summers off altogether. And b) as players leaving early for the pros became a more regular feature of the college game, more of the top players wanted to spend 1-2 years playing in a pro-style offense, as opposed to learning a system 3-4 years. We struggled to get good recruits, and even when we did get them, we struggled to hold them/develop them (Steve Hart, Collier, Recker, Neil Reed (I know, I know) in the “hold” category, Andrae Patterson and Charlie Miller in the “develop” category). We were constantly replacing the players we’d lost w/ junior college players, some of whom were killers (ask Aceman where his name comes from) and some of whom were total duds. If it weren’t for a 1st-team all-American named AJ Guyton (who had one of the most beautiful shots I’ve ever seen), we might have gone 2-3 years w/out making the tournament. As it was, we made early exit after early exit after early exit, often losing by 20 or more points — basically, we just didn’t have the horses…

  • iuoiu

    Looking at just his shot attempts is only telling part of the story. You can double that number when you count the number of times he gets it and either gets blocked or has to kick it back out because he’s instantly collapsed upon by 3 players. The other teams are getting away with that because we can’t shoot. Shooting is the number #1 thing making life with the ball hell for us. Yes even more so than turnovers.

  • NotTheRealSteveEyl

    I hear that. The shot fake under the basket is a lost art.

  • PDXHoosier

    Nebraska is no joke this year. Miles is a good coach.

  • MillaRed

    I’m not going to agree with maybe. Coach Knight was getting worse before he was getting better. There was a time where his style worked. And it wasn’t at the end of his tenure at IU. And it certainly wasn’t going to work if he stayed.

  • MillaRed

    It would not be well received.

  • Dave Carnes

    Based on the substituting pattern I am not sure he would understand the question.

  • Dagwoodsdave

    How about Howard setting screen after screen after screen?!!! He looked like Brian Sloan out there. Guys where moving and using his screens to get open. Haven’t seen that in years.

  • PDXHoosier

    actually he had a pretty good hold on Neil, may he RIP

  • PDXHoosier

    i can’t believe I want our freshman center shooting more long range jump shots than the other guys on the floor, but Vonleh is a special player who has only scratched the surface of his potential