The Inside the Hall Mailbag: January 2

  • 01/02/2015 2:42 pm in

The Inside the Hall Mailbag is a collection of questions tweeted to us via Twitter (@insidethehall), submitted on our premium forum and sent to us via our Facebook page. Submit your questions and we’ll answer as many as we can.

kmark22 in the premium forum writes: Alex, what do you think has really turned around Troy Williams game and has Stanford’s shooting right handed hurt him? He just doesn’t seem comfortable shooting the ball.

Williams was brilliant in Montreal over the summer, but I think the suspension to start the season set him back and there was definitely an adjustment period for him after returning to the lineup. I think his ball handling improved greatly in the offseason and while he still looks to be out of control sometimes when he gets going full steam ahead, his turnover percentage is down more than eight percent. I think his confidence has also grown from the fact that he’s getting the opportunity to act as the primary ball handler in some halfcourt sets.

As for Robinson, there are a couple of problems I see right now. First, he’s really struggling at the foul line, which just about makes it a certainty that he’s going to be on the bench in a close game late. His free throw rate (FTA/FGA) is 72.7 percent, which is excellent, but that’s negated by the fact that he’s hitting just 46.9 percent from the line. It’s tough to say how much of a factor the hand switch has been, but so far, it hasn’t helped the percentages at all. Second, his shot selection has been poor in many instances. He’s taken eight 3-point attempts (all misses), which isn’t his game at all, and he’s also shooting just 40 percent at the rim. On a team that is loaded with offensive options, his chance to see the floor is to play defense and finish at the rim. Unless he’s able to make a bigger impact defensively, he’s probably a fringe rotation guy. — Alex Bozich

@rbkl on Twitter writes: With B1G play full steam ahead, will we ever see Crean run sets with HMP and Holt on the floor together?

This is a question that comes up almost daily, but given that IU likes to deploy lineups that can space the floor, I don’t see playing two bigs simultaneously as something that helps in that regard. Nothing against Emmitt Holt or Hanner Mosquera-Perea, but neither player has a game outside of five to seven feet.

If you watch IU when things are clicking offensively, the ball is moving around the perimeter. IU’s goal is to create mismatches and when you’ve got four guys that can make perimeter shots on the floor, it’s almost impossible to guard. — Alex Bozich

OldeHoosier in the premium forum writes: I couldn’t believe Emmitt Holt didn’t play one minute in the second half at Nebraska. He was incredible in the first half! Why oh why isn’t he getting more playing time?

Holt was fantastic in the first half in Lincoln, so I agree that it was a bit surprising that he didn’t play in the second half. He did appear to land awkwardly on one of his first half layups, but I don’t think his absence was due to an injury. Although Mosquera-Perea started slow, I think Holt not playing in the second half had more to do with Hanner’s play late than anything else.

As Nebraska mounted its run, my guess is Tom Crean wanted to stay with as much experience as possible and then down the stretch, Mosquera-Perea was fantastic, so removing him from the game would have been the wrong move. Given that Mosquera-Perea only played four first half minutes, he was rested to the point where he could play major minutes in the second half (18).

Holt is very much still in the learning process with his development and I believe the staff has done a nice job in bringing him along slowly and putting him in positions where they feel he can succeed. Is there an argument to be made that he should play more? Absolutely. But it’s hard to argue Wednesday’s outcome. — Alex Bozich

Shknqk in the premium forum writes: What are the recent stat trends that might suggest we are an evolving, different team than looking at the overall seasonal trends? (Rebounding, AdjD, TOs, etc)

I think the rebounding is the main thing here, particularly the defensive glass. Here’s a look at the offensive rebounding percentage of IU’s top 150 KenPom opponents so far this season:

SMU: 33.3
Eastern Washington: 41.7
Pittsburgh: 52.1
Louisville: 52.0
Butler: 25.0
Georgetown: 30.0
Nebraska: 17.9

Those last three performances have been very good for Indiana and while the overall defensive rebounding numbers are a weakness (225th nationally), things seem to be trending in the right direction. — Alex Bozich 

Missouri Hoosier in the premium forum writes: A month ago, the team had two glaring weaknesses: rebounding and defense. Now that the rebounding has improved considerably over the last few games, defense, and specifically our perimeter defense, seems to be the biggest thing holding the team back. Obviously a primary focus is continuing to get individual improvement, but do you think there’s anything CTC can or will do schematically to enhance our ability to stay with shooters and limit penetration?

One thing that can help, if done correctly, is something we saw on Wednesday: pick up pressure defensively earlier in the possession. That can help shorten possessions and can also lead to the occasional turnover. It could also help IU speed teams up, which isn’t always easy to do in Big Ten play.

Beyond that, IU has to become much better with its help defense and also at simply stopping dribble penetration. Each team has a few matchups that must be contained closely on the perimeter and there are going to be times when help is needed if someone gets beat off the dribble. However, there’s also a scouting and knowing your opponent element to it that the players must be accountable for. If you’re guarding a player who isn’t a great shooter on the perimeter, there’s no reason to get beat on a straight drive with any regularity. — Alex Bozich

@scottbush8 on Twitter writes: Now that non-conference play is over, how many games do you feel IU needs to win in conference to get a tournament bid?

The baseline for the NCAA tournament bubble is probably a 9-9 conference mark and I think anything better than that should make fans feel pretty good about this group’s chances. Even in a down year for the conference, it would be hard to see the committee leaving out a Big Ten team with 20 wins that also had a trio of top 100 wins in the non-conference. — Alex Bozich

Oleman on the premium forum writes: We have seen the beginnings of a press. Do you think we’ll see more and more of that as the season progresses?

I talked about it a little bit above, but yes, I feel it can be useful in certain situations. Will it be something that’s utilized regularly? Probably not. But as we saw on Wednesday, it can provide an element of surprise as the first time IU threw it at Nebraska, the Cornhuskers committed a 10-second violation. I think using it as a tool to shorten possessions and also attempting to speed up opponents is where it’s most useful for this team as I don’t see the Hoosiers forcing a ton of turnovers out of it. — Alex Bozich

mcoghlan on the premium forum writes: Now that you have had the non-conference portion of the schedule and one big ten game, what would you say the ceiling and floor for this team is?

Ceiling? Hard to say how far this team could go if it made the NCAA tournament because so much comes down to matchups and how well you’re playing at the time, particularly for lower seeded teams. Record wise, I’d say 13-5 in the Big Ten which would be 23-8 going into the Big Ten tournament is probably the ceiling.

As for the floor, if the defense doesn’t improve some and IU doesn’t beat most, if not all of the inferior opponents remaining on its schedule, seven Big Ten wins and a 17-14 mark going to Chicago is probably the low point for this group. — Alex Bozich

@cvillestack on Twitter writes: What is the plan to replace Coach (Je’Ney) Jackson? IU has been impressive packing on size since his arrival.

On an interim basis, Chris Virtue, who has been at IU for eight years, will take over for Jackson. Virtue’s responsibilities, according to his bio, have been primarily with softball, volleyball, women’s golf and men’s tennis, but he’s also assisted with men’s basketball since the 2010-2011 season, so he’s familiar with the program.

I don’t know this for a fact, but my guess is that a permanent replacement for Jackson will be added in the offseason. — Alex Bozich

Filed to:

  • Bill

    Stan is a major key in how far we go this year in big 10. He gets back to the drive and dish that beat Wisky last year and we will beat slit of people. When Yogi needs a rest he needs to shut people down and facilitate.

    He stops pressing so hard and have fun driving and dishing and our second team is very tough.

  • Arch Puddington

    The sample size is small, but going strictly by the numbers, Holt is a better free throw shooter than either Perea, Hartman, or Zeisloft, and almost as good as RJ. At 65% he isn’t great, but there is more to the end of a game than free throws. First and foremost is getting stops and rebounding, so any time the matchups favor it, he and Perea should unquestionably be in together. There would be no point in playing them both against a small lineup, but if the other team went big and was feeding the low post looking for easy shots or fouls, letting them play together would be totally worth whatever the limits on their free throw shooting. I mean, if Yogi, JBJ, and Troy were all in the game as well, surely we could make sure one of them had the ball during foul time.

  • Agree. I saw that too. Either he tweaked something on the way up, or has only a 11-inch vertical leap…I’m guessing it’s the former. Another bright spot for the freshman: even after a gimpy take-off, Holt still managed to finish at the rim on the break-away. He’s going to be a legend at IU, by the time he’s through. If he keeps it up, that is.

  • I totally agree, even though I’ve been disappointed with him this year, expecting a lot from what I saw of him as a freshman. Maybe this last game will give him a bit more confidence and he gets back into the mix. We REALLY need someone to step in as the lock-down guy on D, and could use all the rebounds possible. I think he needs to start with the free throws. Get those to fall, play solid defense, and the rest will follow. No more 3’s, no more shots outside the paint, no out-of-control drives; every shot for him needs to be earned on the defensive end first. We have too many great offensive players and don’t need him to shoot, unless off a dish or a rebound or a good drive. I really really want to see Stan progress and make a comeback and a big contribution going forward, especially on defense. Why not do it in East Lansing?

  • good for him, I guess? I personally never liked his style of play, which was basically putting his head down and immediately making a bulldog drive straight to the basket, with no other option once that knee-jerk decision was made by him…almost as if he didn’t know how to do anything else. I wish him well, nevertheless.

  • Gecko

    If Crean wants to use the 3 guard offense he needs to set screens to get them open, (i:e knight/alford). The defenses are covering our guards, especially in the 2nd half. We need to set screens to get them good shots. And I do not mean Perea setting them in the 50 ft area.

  • Gecko

    If Crean wants to use the 3 guard offense he needs to set screens to get them open, (i:e knight/alford). The defenses are covering our guards, especially in the 2nd half. We need to set screens to get them good shots. And I do not mean Perea setting them in the 50 ft area.

  • enickman

    But would that have changed with both of them on Smith at the same time when needed? Never know if we don’t try?

  • Outoftheloop

    The key to becoming a top 16 team is to string 4-5 wins in a row and/or an 8-2, 9-3 stretch of games. IU has a great opportunity to start one of those runs at MSU on Monday! I hope to see a very aggressive, very focused team on Monday. Go IU!

  • Outoftheloop

    Stan just needs to relax, have fun, play his game, but always focus on the team and not himself. Easy to say, hard to do. Indiana needs him this season.

  • Bill

    Watching Purdue/Michigan and providence/ Marquette….. I see why we are the best team to watch in the nation.

    Boring and brutal to watch.

  • Gecko

    I have been watching the Big 10 network. Outside of Maryland & Wisky the teams are very week. This should tell how good a Crean coached team is. Hopefully just behind the aforementioned teams. We have done well so far in the first half. But the other team seems to solve our offense at half time , and our defense is very weak. I believe this shows that Crean is being OUTCOACHED !!!!!!

  • Outoftheloop

    So often our “instincts” feel right but are wrong. Thank goodness for statistics to refute your claim that “Its a fact that Stan struggles running the team because of sloppy passing and TO issues.” Facts: Yogi 70/31 A/TO, 2.26; Nick 13/8, 1.625; Stan 20/15, 1.33; Robert 39/31, 1.26; Collin 6/5, 1.2; Troy 24/22, 1.09. I think that most of us feel pretty good when Robert is running the team, but Stan is better than Robert at A/TO! Nick is solid, but I think that most of us feel that Stan is a more solid defender, rebounder, and athlete over Nick. IU needs for Stan to play better, especially hitting his FT’s! But he must play for IU to make the NCAA Tourney!

  • Outoftheloop

    And he still comes to Bloomington to get his game together! Kids, you can’t figure them out.

  • Outoftheloop

    Like MN, IA, WI, MD, Purdue! Use your full roster Coach Crean for situational basketball, not just “your” system!

  • Outoftheloop

    Exactly! And it is not a reason against the merit of the idea to say “but Crean won’t do it”.

  • Outoftheloop

    In the second half, Big Smith did whatever he wanted to do against any IU defense against him!

  • Outoftheloop

    WI, MD, OSU, IA, IU now, but there is no reason IU can’t jump over OSU and IA. MD looks pretty darn good right now!

  • Outoftheloop

    I don’t care when Crean is at his best! I care when his Indiana team is at it’s best!

  • Outoftheloop

    But the X Files approach to rumor and conspiracy is so much more fun!

  • bojak

    Your last statement should read, “But he must play better or not play at all for IU to make the NCAA Tourney!.”

  • marcusgresham

    Michigan can’t do what Gardner-Webb and North Florida can? Ouch.

  • Remember when we gave up on bj Anya to get vonleh? Hard to fault crean for bringing in NV, but damn, we could really use BJ’S size on this year’s team.

  • dwdkc

    When they are executing the dribble drive as it was designed–and they do so for stretches–they look terrific on offense. It seems they can get a decent shot every time down if they stay focused. They’ve had some of their best offensive runs in the 2nd half. I don’t see the problem there, I think some of the weak second half play has been more immaturity where they relax after building a lead.

  • Gecko

    If we have ok in the second half, how did we blow 2 big leads after half time. Do you not remember the Georgetown game. Total collapse. Out coached again.
    Bob Morgan

  • ForeverIU

    Interesting that he made a left-handed shot. I remember something about CTC getting on his case early in the season for attempting a left-handed shot. I’m conflicted in how I feel about his switch to the right hand. On the one hand, I want to believe that it’s the switch that has at least in part contributed to his current woes (because maybe if that’s the case he could consider switching back). On the other hand, I want to believe that the right-handed shot will actually help him in the long-run and perhaps make him a better shooter.

  • IUJeff

    Defenses are not covering our guards so much Gecko. We are shooting 50 percent from the field as a team and are scoring more than EVERY team in the country except for 6.

  • marcusgresham

    Glad to see that Coach McClain was at the New Albany/Castle game to see Romeo Langford. He’s a freshman and already put 33 on somebody this year (may have been Bloomington South.)
    I told you guys when he was a 6th grader that he was going to be great.

  • marcusgresham

    I believe it shows he’s dependent on a bunch of freshmen who never really had to guard anyone with effort because they were always the best ones on the floor. Defense is effort and if you’re the most talented you tend to get by on that until you finally meet up with equal talent–then you have to learn effort.
    Honestly, although the results have been mixed due to poor execution at times, this is the best defensive coaching job Crean has done since he’s been at IU. They’re using multiple defenses to mix things up with some success (when do you ever recall a 1-3-1 before?) they’ve been much better with the zone than previous years, and they’ve shown the beginnings of a press. If there was another big guy to serve as a rim protector things would probably look even better but you have to live with what you have.

  • KmanCRK

    Nobody on this team is in any way comparable to Jeffries. Jeffries could do it all. We also had Odle making Jeffries more of a 3 on that team. So we didn’t just have two guys, we had 3 guys over 6-8 starting.

  • KmanCRK

    I’m not a fan of it in most cases. It would be one thing if they were both very productive on offense but they aren’t, unless someone creates for them.

  • SCHoosier

    It’s the Big10..Pitino’s MN team had a great pre-season..then lost their first two conference games. Guess he can’t coach either? People laughed at PU in the pre-season..they are 2-0 in the conference. One.half, one game, one of anything doesn’t define a season..a team or its coach.

  • SCHoosier

    Like the way PU is developing..boring or not. The Pukies have a much better point guard than last year..two great shooters and 14 ft/10 fouls worth of centers. They will be a handful at Mackey..boring or not.

  • sludgemonkey

    I can’t believe I am reading discussion about you not getting into the NCAA tournament. Even Crean will have to labor to mess this up. He has recruited well. But Crean has a habit of doing stupid stuff and his time in Bloomington has got to be near its end. An embarrassing loss to Wisconsin will probably be his swan song.

  • sludgemonkey

    Crean was loved at Marquette. LOL.

  • a loss to a top 5 team will end Crean’s tenure at IU? How exactly does that work? What are you even talking about? On what basis are you even basing this absurd comment? Have you even watched any of the games? More mindless coach-bashing from the ignorant haters….nothing more, nothing less.

  • you “believe” a lot of things, no doubt.

  • totally agree. I made this comment yesterday, while watching a few games. We are lucky to have such a fun team to watch. Most tv commenters have said similar things, about IU being one of the most exciting and fun teams to watch, during the broadcasts. It is a regular comment they all tend to make now, about IU. Seth Greenburg at ESPN has recently been converted, too. People who actually watch the games and know a thing or two about basketball all love watching this team. Most others are indeed boring to watch, with a few exceptions.

  • yes, but you must understand that these facts don’t matter to haters, who of course are going to hate. It’s what they do.

  • They were not “out-coached,” rather their (very) big guy returned and played well, and IU had nobody to stop him, and Rivera played out of his mind. But of course, this won’t stop you from blaming everything on coaching. Almost like you are looking for excuses to complain about coaching. Whining about IU’s offense is a real stretch in this regard, pretty transparent.

  • I think Stan gets that rap because: a.) he seems to turn the ball over in spurts, including one of the last games where he had something like 6! turnovers; b.) he doesn’t play that many minutes to have so many turnovers, and c.) a lot of his drives and wild shots looked a lot like turnovers, but were likely not counted as such, and probably inflated that stat for him.

    I’m still cheering for him, though, and hope he keeps improving on his last performance. We need him.

  • ForeverIU

    Well he’s addressing as “you”, so what should “we” expect from “him”?

  • ForeverIU

    Coach is being out-coached? What do you call a statement that cannot be proven or unproven? DOGMA.

  • Bill

    Yeah. 14 feet of dude to throw at us will be ugly. Maybe 30 pts there. They have talent for sure.

  • IULore

    Can we get a ban on this troll, finally?

  • IULore

    You are suggesting a fundamental change to something that is working very well… You do know that the screen is not in any way innovative, and as much as the casual fan loves to see them, there are very simple ways to defend them. It would only slow us down, the rub and go and weaves that we run work much better for our personnel.

  • IUMIKE1

    Agree, with the limitations that this team has, and where it is that they exist, I’d have to say that there are scenarios where the two of them playing at the same time are to our benefit.

  • IUMIKE1

    Agree with your comment….. except for the last sentence.

  • IUMIKE1

    Yea,I noticed that, and it’s exactly why the, ” troll ” label fits.

  • Guyton25

    Kinda immature that my post got deleted.. we Hoosier fans are not powder-puff basketball fans. We have the highest basketball IQ of any fans in the country.. we criticize because we want excellence, we are immensely passionate about IUBB, and we don’t think being a real fan means always saying nice, comforting things because sometimes that’s delusional. I see a problem in Stan, maybe not personality-wise anymore, but I’ve watched EVERY game of IUBB since I was 4 years old (long line of Hooisers) and I know when I see the rare seed that doesn’t provide a talent boon or a hustle boon.

    Since when did honesty and fair criticism become something unbecoming of a Hoosier?