Hoosiers enter final stretch in Madison tonight against streaking Badgers

  • 02/25/2014 9:06 am in

After playing 26 games over a three-and-a-half month span, Indiana’s 2013-2014 schedule has come to a fast-approaching conclusion with five games over the next 11 days. Four of those will be against ranked opponents.

And tonight, in Madison, Wis., the Hoosiers (15-11, 5-8) will begin that stretch against No. 14 Wisconsin (22-5, 9-5), a team that’s won five straight following its mid-season slump that started with a loss in Bloomington on Jan. 14. Later this week the Hoosiers will face No. 20 Iowa and No. 22 Ohio State, with another two games on slate for next week, as well.

“We are in full preparation for a big week with games on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “We are putting everything right now, focus-wise for our team, into Wisconsin.They’re playing with extreme confidence.”

In the days following the Hoosiers’ upset of the then-undefeated, 17-0 Badgers in January, Bo Ryan’s squad struggled to regain form. It lost five of six, including games at home to Michigan, Northwestern and Ohio State in a building in which the Badgers rarely lose.

Since then, though, the Badgers have returned to their winning ways, beating Michigan State, Michigan and Iowa all in the month of February. In their four of their five wins this month, the Wisconsin offense has scored at least 1.18 points per possession.

They’re now just two games back of the Big Ten lead with four games to go.

“Wisconsin has their system and it works for them, that’s why they can go on a 5-game winning streak,” sophomore Yogi Ferrell said. “It is going to be a challenge for us to go in there and try to take them out of what they do.”

One of the things that makes the Badgers so difficult to stop, Ferrell pointed out, was how, “no matter who is on the court for Wisconsin, they are a threat to score.” And over their past three games, no single Badgers scoring threat has been more effective than Frank Kaminsky.

The Badgers’ 7-foot center is averaging 21 points per game in that span, most recently scoring 25 and hitting the game-sealing jumper against Iowa last Saturday.

But in addition to trying to stop Kaminsky, who Crean pointed out has an uncanny ability to drive to the basket, the Hoosiers have to also deal with the likes of Sam Dekker, Ben Brust and Nigel Hayes, who have all had 15-point performances in that same span.  Traevon Jackson and Josh Gasser are also capable threats who have proven to be effective against the Hoosiers in the past.

“They’re obviously hot for a reason,” Crean said. “They’re playing both ends of the court with great confidence, and we have our work cut out for us. There is no doubt about it.”

But stopping Wisconsin will only be the first of many challenges ahead for the Hoosiers this week.

With the sheer amount of games ahead, Indiana got clearance to not take any mandated days off. It means they will be in constant game-preparation, straight through tonight’s game until after Sunday’s. Ferrell likened this week’s stretch to that of his AAU days.

And the Hoosiers are anxious to get it started in a building in which they have not won in since January 1998, against a team as hot as any in the Big Ten.

“We’re excited to play,” Crean said. “I’m looking forward to getting the week started.”

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  • CreamandCrimson

    The optimist says that we beat Wisconsin and Bo Ryan’s strange voodoo powers have no more hold over us. The pessimist says that we already beat Wisconsin this season and we aren’t due to beat them again for another 7 or 8 seasons. The optimist says Wisconsin is due for an off night and maybe we have finally dissipated our turnover woes. The pessimist says that Wisconsin is rolling and we are probably going to revert to giving the ball away on 20% of our possessions.

    My expectations are very, very low. I hope to see our Hoosiers to play hard (if it’s another effort like we saw in West Lafayette, I won’t make it to the end) and I’d be fairly satisfied if we can keep it somewhat close and keep our turnovers down (7 is not going to happen again but how about shoot for around 10-12). Do those things and I’ll feel fairly good going into our home games against the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes.

  • JerryCT

    We get another chance tonight to see if our team is progressing. I did not have win vs loss expectations this year anyway so “progress” is my yardstick.

    I have seen progress from NV since his HS all star games as well as SR . I have seen progress from YF from last year. But sadly I have not seen enough progress from WS, JH, TW, EG , HMP and the team as a whole to be satisfied.

    I would be happy tonight if we actually saw some offense run for TW on purpose.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I think Troy Williams is beginning to “get it”….he seems to be starting to value possession of the basketball (his turnover % appears to be way down) and he is really beginning to grasp how much damage he can do around the rim. I’m really excited to see how his game progresses.

    I don’t really understand why Evan Gordon is getting the minutes he is getting. In conference: 21 minutes a game/4 ppg/1.8 rebounds/31.6% from the field/13 turnovers and 13 assists. I think (and really, really hope) the guard spots after Yogi Ferrell are going to be much, much improved next season. An improving Stan Robinson and the additions of Robert Johnson and James Blackmon Jr. should be infinitely better than what we have there this season.

  • ForeverIU

    I’m still holding on to Bo’s voodoo doll. Let’s see if it works again. We gave them only four foul shots in our last meeting. Let’s hope this happens again. I don’t want to see Noah in foul trouble; that could doom us. But being conservative with fouling might also make us shy with rebounding. Let’s see. Northwestern beat them at Kohl; we can too.

  • Steve Fischer

    Wisconsin is hot and they are at home. They would like revenge. I reluctantly understand we could be improved and still lose. I’d prefer to know that we lost many games we shouldn’t have and the basketball gods owe us- we now are forced to win less winnable games and we might as well start tonight.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Grip that doll tightly! You bring up a really good point with the foul shots. I didn’t realize we held them to four FTA (we only had 10 FTAs so it wasn’t a huge advantage for us)…the likelihood of doing that in Madison seems rather low but it’d be great if we kept that number somewhat low.

    I looked back at the box score from that game and found some interesting things. Yogi was awesome (25 points with 4 assists and 0 turnovers) but was only 1-8 from deep. Troy Williams only played 8 minutes. Both Sheehey and Robinson had 13 points. Traevon Jackson was 9-11 for 21 points (he was the only reason the Badgers were in it). I’m certainly not expecting a win (or a close game really) but you are right, if NW can do it, so can we.

  • BMusic

    Enjoy the game, friends. Enjoy the fight. A baby has to stand before it can walk, and walk before it can run. Don’t get too frustrated by the sound of that adorable diapered butt hitting the floor.

  • ForeverIU

    In our first game we were able (especially Yogi) to penetrate the driving lanes and attack the rim, something that baffled even the Warlock (to the extent that he was blaming officials for this and that). I think early in the game we will know if we can still drive down the lanes the way we did before, or if Wisky would have found the answer.

  • ForeverIU

    LOL, I like the imagery of pampered babies and dandies running around, but I’m thinking of it more as The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    love having tw on the floor, not sure why he’s not getting more minutes at this point. even last game he barely played more than a half, yet still amassed 12 pts and 4 rebs (not to mention the energy and other intangibles he brings to the floor).

  • E Foy McNaughton

    I agree with the progression as a measuring stick and I think the downfall of this years team has been ball handling/protection skills at the 2 & 3 positions. SR has progressed and will likely continue to get better. JBJ & RJ will be an instant upgrade and I expect we will see a lot of 3 guard lineups next year. The 2 players that really have been a disappointment for me have been JH & HMP. Such talent, no significant progress. Imagine if JH had become a consistent outside threat (similar to CW), imagine if AE were the sharpshooter as advertised???

  • Michael McColly

    This team has progressed, no doubt about that. The mental toughness took a beating and they responded at NW. They were moving forward before the collapse, which was triggered by panic and lack of leadership. TW and WS are keys to this game with Wisky. They have to find their focus in their defense (as does the rest of the team) so that they can ride with the ups and downs of what will be an intense and emotionally charged game. One thing I admire about Bo Ryan’s teams is their coolness and focus and discipline. We would do well to emulate this. I’d be happy if we could just play through the adversity with a sense of confidence generated by trust in team play, defense, communication, pride.

  • Alford Bailey

    Totally agree. IMO JBJ is the perfect player for CTC system . Everybody knows he shoots the three but he can also get to the rim and is automatic at the line if fouled. I think RJ can do the same.

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    If I had that voodoo doll, I woulda strangled it by now. And it’d have so many pins in it it’d look like a porcupine.

    Anyway, yeah, lets see if Noah can get an inside game going. If so, there’s a chance. A faint one, but one nonetheless.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    Bo is the flip side of McCaffery on working the Zebra’s. CTC needs to get a T every so often to keep them honest…I can’t remember through the entire CTC era that we get more calls. I watch the Ark/PukE game and they were getting calls at Ark. that I couldn’t believe, I even found myself yelling at the Zebra’s for PukE just to call the game right, to the point I wished we had SEC Zebra’s.
    IU won’t get that tonight nor at home.

  • SCHoosier

    Yep..but also needs more consistency on defense.Has to be able to guard somebody. Good test tonight for Troy et al.

  • kaponya44

    Never having played in Kohl is far from an ideal scenario for going there needing wins ,but this has been one Straaaaaaange season ,and never having played (nor lost ) there might be a blessing in disguise. I sure got tired of the recently departed core of players never solving the place .

    If we can withstand their early flurry this one could get interesting because they couldn’t stop IU off the dribble in Bloomington.If they(Wiscy) use a team oriented approach to containing the dribble a few outside shots are going to have to fall for IU to have a chance.

    I know keeping it close will require also a better job of guarding them on the drive and the blocks than we did at home.Having Hanner would have been huge ,but this is an opportunity for Jeremy to assert himself since he will likely be called upon to play big when he is in .

    Troy’s recent play makes me feel much better about our chances .Troy and Stan CANNOT disappear tonight.

  • kaponya44

    5 Games with a chance at 5 quality wins (4 ranked and yes Nebraska will likely be a 5th quality win by that time since they have home cooked cake left mostly.) Nebraska’s success does one other thing .It removes a “bad loss” at their place if they hit 19-20 wins .This(The overall thought of what it would take to get back into tournament consideration again) is what I was starting to discuss with Ole Man the other day.Thoughts anyone ? What do you all think it would take with 6 guaranteed games left(including BTT opener)?

    Dont forget to consider Nebraska and Minnesota remaining games too ,as they would likely be who were judged against if we get back on the bubble.It looks daunting ,but it can be done.

    In my opinion IU must go either a.) At least 4-1 and 1 BTT win. or – The loss could only be tonight or at Michigan ,but it would require winning the other road game .Outside of winning the BTT the only other way I can imagine IU getting in at 8-10 is only losing the road games and going to the BTT final and losing a close game .I can’t imagine anything else being solid enough as it would mean another home loss or swept by Nebraska . I guess a home loss to Nebraska could be forgiven if they win the other 4 and kill it in the BTT ..Lol 4-1 is key for that reason along with finishing .500

  • calbert40

    Keep the turnovers under control and shoot 45 percent, and I think we can win a lot of games regardless of whether it is on the road or not. If we take care of the ball, we are a tough out.

  • oldiugymnast

    Not for nothing but I watched AE hit 24 3’s in a row at warm ups in December. His problem isn’t that he can’t shoot – its that 1. he doesn’t get many looks and 2. he lacks the confidence right now to pull the trigger when he does. If he makes a couple and gets over being afraid to shoot he could blossom.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    Then CTC needs to tell AE he will pull him if he doesn’t shoot! He’s grown more than I expected in other areas – now we need a sharp shooter …

  • Dave Carnes

    We are over talented and under coached.Although Wisky has seen us they haven’t seen this version of Troy Williams.That is our hope.
    That and maybe the refs will cheat for us.Because heaven knows that can’t just ref a game they seem to need to dictate them.

  • Dave Carnes

    CTC should have said that in December.Now the ship has sailed.24 straight NO KIDDING!

  • Dave Carnes

    Coolness focus discipline you are describing Bo Ryan the Man.Erratic unfocused energetic,That’s us

  • kaponya44

    Wow Dakich truly hates IU ..He criticizes the good with the bad .

  • HoosierGrampy

    The only things JH picked up from having CW mentor him last year was how to play without ANY emotion and how to take plays off while failing to contribute on either end of the court for long stretches of his playing time.

  • HoosierGrampy

    I listened to all but 3 min of the 1st half and thought he was more than complimentary of IU’s efforts on defense AND offense. What game were you listening to w/your comment???

  • DLeeFan

    “…they haven’t seen this version of Troy Williams.” 0 pts and 5 fouls. He shouldn’t be starting. He should be getting Colin Hartman minutes…

  • DLeeFan

    “not sure why he’s not getting more minutes.” 0 pts, 5 fouls, 1 turnover, and a huge defensive liability– that’s why

  • E Foy McNaughton

    And after tonight, the ship that had sailed now is sunk.