The Minute After: Illinois

  • 03/13/2014 2:07 pm in

INDIANAPOLIS — Thoughts on a 64-54 loss to the Illini:

Less than four minutes into Indiana’s opening round meeting with Illinois on Thursday afternoon in the Big Ten tournament, it appeared as though the Hoosiers would offer up little resistance to a Fighting Illini club that had come in with wins in four of its last five games.

Just before Illinois took a 9-0 lead with 16:23 to play in the first half, Tom Crean turned to his bench and uttered one sentence that said it all: “There’s no attack to the game right now.”

Crean was right.

Illinois was the aggressor out of the gate and how Indiana would respond over the next 16 minutes would tell us plenty about how the afternoon would transpire.

The Hoosiers answered out of the timeout with an 8-0 run, thanks to five points from Will Sheehey, who finished the opening 20 minutes with 11 points. Yogi Ferrell, ever the reliable contributor all season for these Hoosiers, would step up as well, pouring in 10 points before intermission.

When halftime hit, the Hoosiers would enter the locker room trailing by just two at 30-28, thanks in large part to a 6-of-10 performance from behind the 3-point arc and despite a turnover percentage of 30.4.

The opening of the second half was a different story as the Hoosiers reversed a trend of starting slow after intermission. IU scored ten of the first 13 points after halftime to grab a 38-33 lead.

It was a major change from the game’s opening minutes as IU got into the lane, racked up fouls on the Illini and got to the free throw line. As the Hoosiers mounted their advantage, the question would quickly shift to whether they could sustain it.

The answer, which has pretty much defined IU’s season, was no.

After Illinois roared back with an 11-0 run, the Hoosiers would never regain the lead the rest of the way. That Illini run, which included 4:14 of scoreless play by IU, was the ultimate difference as the Hoosiers were the first team bounced from the Big Ten tournament.

Indiana would pull within one at 53-52 with just under three minutes to play, but Tracy Abrams, who finished with a season-high 25 points, answered with a huge 3-pointer to give Illinois a four-point cushion and seal the victory for the Illini.

The Hoosiers failed to hit a 3-pointer in the second half, turned it over on 25 percent of their possessions and a season after winning the Big Ten outright and claiming a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, will await word on their NIT fate come Sunday night.

Filed to:

  • 3AM Burrito

    Let’s be honest, anything short of Crean winning a National Championship will never be enough and for those that are in the camp that don’t like him even that may not be enough.

  • bpw97214

    Thanks for the welcome, Calbert.
    Your points are well taken. I would be interested in taking a look at our Offensive Efficiency sans cupcakes. In other words, what is our Offensive Efficiency in Big Ten games and non-conference opponents in say, the RPI Top 50? Maybe you’ve already done this analysis. If you haven’t, I will accept my own challenge and take a stab at it (though you may not hear from me in for a while on this one…that is some serious data digging).
    To prove my point that IU’s OE is diluted with outliers (i.e., cupcakes), I quickly looked at the difference between IU and Michigan State’s ‘Points For’ in overall and big ten conference play over the last three years. IU’s average fall off from Overall to Big Ten ‘Points For’ was nearly double that of MSU. This could mean a lot of things….like MSU plays a tougher non-conference schedule (duh). I also understand that PF and OE are two different things. That said, this could indicate IU’s OE ranking takes a greater hit against real competition.
    And sorry, I simply can’t include 2010-2011 as the ‘fourth year’ of improvement. 12-20 and 3 Big Ten wins is too low a bar. To me, 2011-2012 is the fair starting point for measuring Crean.
    Finally, moving away from the objective, I don’t think it is unfair for IU fans to expect to be nationally relevant every year. If you are satisfied with going to the NCAA tournament 66% of the time then you are more patient than me. So, I sit back and ask myself, ‘do I see Tom Crean keeping IU basketball nationally relevant every year with the ebb and flow of talent that any program goes through?’ The answer is No.
    IU deserves better.

  • 3AM Burrito

    I agree with this, do we really think they are coaching to run before dribbling? To throw the ball out of bounds? To dribble into traffic and jump? I mean come on, even if you think Crean knows no X and O’s, these are things players just should not be doing at any level above 5th grade, yet they did them tonight and many times this year.

  • bpw97214

    Oh and forgot to sign…
    Blake

  • 3AM Burrito

    Davis couldn’t guard pick and roll, Hollowell was better on D and was actually decent on the boards – leading rebounder I believe. But I do think Davis deserved more than 6 minutes, he could have taken all AE’s minutes and even Gordon’s minutes.

  • INUnivHoosier

    I guess to avoid confrontation? That is clearly not working. It’s kind of a cowardly thing to me. Frankly, if I disagree with you and care about it enough, I’ll express it. I understand up votes; when you agree, you don’t need to say, “Hey, guy. Great work out there; I agree.” If you disagree, you have an alternate position that you should share.

  • 3AM Burrito

    Milla you lost any credibility regarding Crean when you brought up 10 year old message board posts and discussions at a Wisconsin football tailgate to support your assessments. Like the passion though.

  • PBzeer

    I quit commenting, because there was nothing new to say. Now, at the end of the season (and yes, our season should be over), there’s still nothing new to say. Despite any individual improvement, the problems that were evident at the start of the season, are still present at the end. Nor is there any reason to believe they won’t be present next season.

    5 guys wearing the same uniform, doesn’t make a team. Until the IU coaching staff understands that concept and puts a team on the floor, this is as good as it’s going to get.

  • Smilinjayd

    There is NO WAY that is going to happen. He still has more youth coming in and they have to learn to play collegiate level competition every night in the B1G.

    “The Recipe” for grabbing the most McD All-Americans and having a top recruiting class will yield few champions now. Not unless you get lightning in a bottle, ala Carmello and Anthony Davis. 1 and done kills chemistry, many get discouraged competing for spots, and very difficult to manage the ego’s of those players as well as their parents.

    Need to recruit shooters and players who can and do buy into a team concept and want to get a degree (at least to play 4 yrs).

  • Smilinjayd

    In 6 years, it’s a short list of his teams that played better in March than November. Even with his bad teams, did they get better? I think not.

  • Smilinjayd

    Exactly, Mr Holmes!

  • IUmrm

    You forgot one other key item in the equation … ball handler, something which was suspect in the 2 thru 5 positions all year

  • Smilinjayd

    YOU ARE WHAT YOUR RECORD SAYS YOU ARE.

  • jeremiah_fd

    I actually didn’t see this game, but throughout the season there have been many..
    – getting Noah twice as many shots per game (even if it’s trailing 3-pointers!)
    – using our length/athleticism to create more turnovers
    – at least TRY Noah and Hanner for a few minutes together (talk about an intimidating rim presence..)
    – DON”T take out guys when they are hot.. this whole idea of “building confidence small pieces at a time” makes no sense in terms of actual in-game flow of how basketball games are won and lost.. you know what builds confidence? WINNING

    I could type for days, but the gist is that Crean is a good guy and decent head coach, but some of his in-game decisions are just bizarre to folks who have followed/played the game for a while..

  • MillaRed

    Done. On both counts.

  • CreanFaithful

    If you say so…

  • mailman42

    Well said!!!

  • hoosier1158

    I believe that could be part of the issue. Why did IU make a long term commitment to an average coach?

  • MillaRed

    I highly doubt that. In your eyes? Fine. Grab yourself a slice of coconut Crean pie. You will feel better.

    By the way, I didn’t do that research. Someone else did. Good try though.

  • INUnivHoosier

    I would not be upset if Marlin, Howard, Calomeris, Wayer, and Jurkin started in the NIT game. Fagan is first off the bench!

  • CreanFaithful

    Wow

  • MillaRed

    CTC and national championship. That’s funny.

  • Smilinjayd

    Please allow me to also chime in on your retorts. 1. It happened more than any other team in the B1G this year. 2. It is a problem if you are doing this at the end of the season and not part of your regular game plan. Look at the results. He was searching, but had NO answer. He’s the head coach. 3. Agreed 4. Slightly better, he’s not leaving them on the table now. Thank the fans for that one I believe. 5. I think if you look at his history, you see the same pattern, and very different than most coaches substitute. 6. Cody? Who else improved? Not Tom Pritchard? 7. Do you think NW and PS and Nebraska had more talent than we did? Could CTC have coached those teams and gotten as good of record as they ended with? 8. Weakness here, far beyond CTC’s tenure here. 9. He picked these kids, either they can’t be coached, or can’t be coached by him? 10. Just very strange outcome? 11. Handling zone defense does not appear to be any better. If he was learning, we would not have the same weaknesses repeatedly with different teams. I.E. timing of turnovers, dribble weave, failing to force feed NV throughout most of the season. Long droughts of no scoring. 12. Agree, but again how much was magic of Cody and his presence that opened up oppty for others? 13. Planning is inconsistent at best. How many times did we blow big leads in 2H? How many big adjustments did you see where we reversed a trend after the 1H? Feed the hot hand? Do not leave Shooters w/wide open looks on the wings? Seems on offense, his back up plan was let Yogi jack up 3’s.

  • Smilinjayd

    Having Cody changed everything because of his size and skills. It opened up other opptys for other players. Where is he going to get that again? Still w/ last years team, got killed by 2/3 zone from Syracuse.

  • John

    Not sure why Collin Hartman didn’t get more playing time. He could have been given opportunities when other players weren’t doing so well.

  • SCHoosier

    Milla I favored a slightly tougher schedule..but understand what we ended up with. My gripe is that the kids are making the same mistakes (except maybe Troy) in March that they made in Nov.

    Two top players often led us in To’s..and as you pointed out..the team hit a wall and actually regressed with the exception of a great half here and there late in the season. Totally befuddles me given this programs commitment, talent and yes coaches.

  • Ole Man

    And I sure wish Cheney would have stayed around.

  • mailman42

    Yea I agree, thought Ctc recruited him as a shooter which IU sure could of used..

  • IUmrm

    NV Shots: need guards and wings who know how and when to feed the post .. team lacks ability in both … NV and HP together: If playing an extended period of time in a zone. HP lacks foot speed and coordination in man on man… More turnovers; lost track of how many times our athletes left their jocks on the floor thinking the could reach a pass to intercept only to place themselves and rest of the team out of position on defense and leading to easy buckets. Active hands and feet and keeping your man in front of you for a contested shot is as good as a turnover when defensive rebound happens … When your hot, your hot keep the hot player in the game (agree with you on this one)

  • mailman42

    No he is a terrible coach, choked last year, didn’t show up this year

  • Ole Man

    Should be up as “Featured post”, but you know it won’t be.

  • Ole Man

    Why as fans are we so angry, frustrated and upset?
    Because it’s Indiana!

  • IUmrm

    Oh soooo true. Tough defense, mental toughness, killer instinct in competing on every possession, BB IQ, and players who can shoot the lights out. A good portion of which this year’s team lacks/lacked

  • CreanFaithful

    Is there a “featured post” section? I’ve never see it.

    That being said, the upvotes make the post rise to the top, which gets the post more attention and in it’s own way “features” it. That’s enough for me. This isn’t a popularity contest. It’s a forum for conversation.

  • CreanFaithful

    This is pure speculation, but It might be due to has lack of versatility defensively. CTC likes players that can switch and guard multiple positions. From what I have observed, CH probably doesn’t have the foot speed to guard the 1-2 guard and is not tough enough to guard the 4-5 spot. Not saying that is an accurate assessment or CTC’s reasoning… just speculation.

  • Jonny McClain

    for anyone at the game today – what was all the unrest coming from the IU section behind the IU bench today – I was in uppers across the stadium but once the game was out of reach and we took a couple timeouts and came out and Austin and other guys looked lost on offense – there seemed to be some booing or unrest from the fans? was I mistaken? I was pretty much tuned out because it was over at that point but I did take notice of some type of unrest.

  • JetpackJunky

    Personally, I think it helps your credibility. How could the argument of “he has these issues and hasn’t improved upon them in his tenure” be made worse with existing evidence of these issues with prior teams?

  • hoosier1158

    If CTC couldn’t get last years pre-season #1 and how many weeks #1 to the final 4, it just won’t ever happen.

  • MillaRed

    Yes sometimes when a post gets 50 likes and 60 responses it can be a featured post. Because people liked reading it.

  • IUmrm

    I listened to the player interviews. When your floor general shrugs off the question about the number of TOs with a response that TOs are part of the game. That tells me the leadership is not there on this team. Especially if we are to believe that CTC has been preaching how each possession is so important. It was even more telling when he says next year he will need to hold everyone accountable as if to imply that because the team was so young (Freshman) they deserved a pass. Do not get me wrong, I like our floor general (except when he is giving the ball a headache with no purpose), but this is telling. Also, of the players interviewed and recordings published, only one player held himself accountable for his play and that was NV. I tip my hat to NV .. a non-native Hoosier, but a true Hoosier!

  • jeremiah_fd

    Fair points. But even with poor entry passes, etc. you’ve got to find ways to get your best scorer shots (eg. trailing 3s require no post-up/entry pass and NV has proven he can hit them)

  • HoosierFan76

    “Typing in all caps makes your point so much more compelling.”

    –said no one ever.

  • HoosierFan76

    Thank you, Watson. 🙂

  • CreanFaithful

    Huh. Not sure how I’ve managed to miss that… I’m sure I’ve had several featured posts without knowing it. Lol

  • IUmrm

    I agree, but today’s game his shot was not on (0-3 from 3), not to say it would not have been on in other games. My point in away agrees with you .. he needs more shot opportunities period whether down low or from the outside

  • CreanFaithful

    I’m not sure how much I would try to read into player comments. The questions thrown at these kids are often loaded too. That being said, I don’t think players should focus on TO’s. They ARE part of the game. What they should focus on is tightening up the areas that minimize turnovers (ball handling, crisp passes, decision making). A turnover is just the result of something else done in error, which can be a variety of things.

  • 3AM Burrito

    yeah that was a bad look with the white t.

  • Alford Bailey

    Agreed

  • Alford Bailey

    I hope that happens this off season.

  • Alford Bailey

    I think that’s right.