Five takeaways from Indiana’s win over Penn State

  • 01/14/2015 10:45 am in

Indiana improved to 13-4 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten on Tuesday night with a 79-76 win over Penn State that came down to the final possession.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the narrow victory over the Nittany Lions:

· Indiana is winning close games, even if it isn’t pretty: The Hoosiers now have three conference wins and all of them have come by five points or less. In the last two, IU’s opponent had a chance to tie the game on the final possession. It’s a dangerous way to live, but so far it’s a change from last season where IU simply didn’t pull out many close games.

The concerning part on Tuesday was that Indiana built a double-digit lead on two occasions and was unable to pull away both times. Penn State deserves credit for battling back, but Indiana also had some empty possessions and mindless turnovers that fueled the Nittany Lions during their runs.

“Fortunately for us, we’re learning how to win close games, which is something we didn’t do a very good job of last year,” Tom Crean said. “We’ve got three wins. They’ve come down to two possessions and the other ones have come down to one possession. Those three wins that we had a year ago was the opposite for us. So our guys are learning how to win those games. We were 2-6, I believe, in one-possession games last year.”

· Robert Johnson had his best offensive performance yet: One of the most encouraging things about Indiana’s offense this season is that different guys are showing the ability to rise up with a big game. On Tuesday, it was freshman Robert Johnson, who had a game-high 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field. Johnson hit four of his six 3-point attempts and didn’t have a turnover for just the second time this season.

Penn State had a couple of defensive breakdowns that allowed Johnson more time to get off a clear look and when he gets his feet set and stays underneath his shot, it typically goes in.

“My teammates had a lot of confidence in me, despite the shooting lulls me and a couple guys have been in,” Johnson said. “It was a matter of getting back in the gym and getting a couple extra shots up. Guys like Stan (Robinson) and Troy (Williams) had the confidence to kick me the ball when I was open, so I took my time and knocked it down.”

· Burton provides unlikely lift in key spot: Ryan Burton, who spent two seasons at one of the country’s top Division II programs at Bellarmine University, hasn’t been called upon to play much in first season at IU. But with Hanner Mosquera-Perea sidelined with a knee injury and freshman Emmitt Holt struggling to hold position on the glass, Crean looked down the bench and called Burton’s number.

Burton entered at the 12:03 mark and the game tied at 51. When he exited with 6:43 to play, the Hoosiers led 69-59. Burton didn’t score a point, but he grabbed three offensive rebounds and also had an assist in five key minutes.

“That’s what this program is all about,” Burton explained. “Like Stan said, you play on demand. So I came in and brought a lot of energy. We’re all happy. I’m happy for our teammates. Coach (Chuck) Martin did a great job on the scout this week, like Rob said. We bring it in practice really hard. I’m just really happy for everybody.”

· Newbill disappears in second half: Penn State senior guard D.J. Newbill came into the game as the conference’s leading scorer at 21.3 points per game and through the first 20 minutes, it appeared he may be on his way to another big night. In the first half, Newbill had 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting, but Indiana made it much more difficult on him after the intermission.

Credit Yogi Ferrell for once again making it difficult on the opposition’s best player as Newbill shot 1-of-6 in the second half. He did manage four assists, but Ferrell blanketed him, which forced other guys to step up and make plays.

“We gave up some other things, but we didn’t get beat by D.J., and that’s crucial,” Crean said. “So we’ve got a couple days to assess and look and add some things, tweak some things, move some things around, and that’s the fun of it.”

· Hoosiers find offensive balance: As important as Johnson was, equally important was the fact that Indiana had three others score in double figures and a fourth player with eight points. Yogi Ferrell’s seven points were just sixth best on the team on the night and the junior point guard against played the role of distributor with six assists.

Both Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson deserve mention for their effectiveness in attacking the bucket as does Collin Hartman for his clutch 3-pointer late that bumped the lead to seven with 2:03 to play.

In IU’s three Big Ten wins, Ferrell is averaging less than eight points, but his willingness to facilitate for teammates shows that he continues to adapt to the personnel around him.

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  • Ole Man

    Well said, Clyde.
    Wish others could see that as clearly as you do.

  • Ole Man

    Not everyone who posts something about the game that isn’t sunshine and roses is being negative; nor are they being a Crean hater.
    I read through all these and very, very few say anything about Crean.
    Also, your post is just as negative as any on here; only it’s about the opinions of fellow posters.

  • Ole Man

    Loop, I’ve forgotten more about basketball than you’ll ever know.

  • Kendall Bombard

    Victor Oladipo. That is all.

  • EdgarAllenPoor

    IMO I am not sure that many top notch bigs will seriously consider playing for CTC. In spite of having players of the calibre of CZ and NV CTC continued to play a guard-oriented offense. During the CZ and NV years many knowledgable analysts, including Coach Izzo, said that IU’s offense should have been run through the post.
    Given CTC’s body of work prior to arriving at Bloomington it may well be that he does not have the skill set needed to coach and develop Bigs.
    He didn’t develop Fisher and he certainly hasn’t made any progress with April. More importantly he didn’t attract any top level bigs for this year’s team or for next year’s.
    Again MHO.

  • Chappy Dan

    Showing your age with your sexism Ole Man.

  • Chappy Dan

    I’ll high-five whenever I darn please thank you very much!

  • Chappy Dan

    Who else thinks Iowa is scary as eff?

  • Chappy Dan

    This is the best comment I’ve read on these boards. Part of the reason IU let Knight go was he wasn’t winning. His time had come. Other than a Mike Davis led surprise Final Four run in 2002, Indiana basketball hasn’t been relevant since Calbert Cheaney. Sure, we have better credentials (5 titles) than most D-1 schools, but our current program isn’t elite. Also, CTC’s plan was surely to have both Vonleh and Fisher for this year’s squad. Can you imagine? Unstoppable!

  • Ole Man

    Not sexism, Chappy. Don’t most cheerleaders wear skirts?
    If that is true, then it can’t be sexism.
    Showing your ignorance with your accusation, Chappy.

  • IUBizmark

    So your defense of our program’s lack of success is that others are cheating and not getting caught? Try bringing that discussion to a non-IU discussion board and see how well that holds up. I’m not going to bother debating what can’t be proven. If you have a link, please share.

    Where are the other programs that make the Elite 8 every three years? I’m glad you asked. I did a little research.
    Programs similar to IU in stature that AT LEAST make the Elite 8 every three years (or more):
    Exceptions to the 3 year rule noted with ellipsis (…)
    1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, (…) 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012
    1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, (…) 2003, 2005, (…) 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014
    1971, 1974, (…) 1986, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1996, (…) 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012
    1995, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2014
    1978, 1980, (…) 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, (…) 1998, 1999, 2001, 2004, (…) 2010, 2013
    2006, 2007, (…) 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
    1992, 1995, 1997, (…) 2006, 2007, 2008 (…)

    1973, 1975, 1976, (…) 1981, 1984, 1987, (…) 1992, 1993, (…) 2002

    Your probably thinking, hey Bizmark, there are gaps! Yea, that’s probably because those teams were busy going to Final Fours and/or winning National Championships. And if that were the case, I’m totally accepting of a gap.

    So, my argument isn’t based on facts in record? My expectations aren’t reasonable? It can happen. It is happening with other programs today.

    So I ask you all, please join me in raising your expectations for our college basketball program. We have been GREAT. We can be GREAT again.

  • IUBizmark

    See my post above about programs who go to the Elite 8.
    As a side note I’ll just say almost all the coaches you named get a pass because they’ve been to Final Fours or National Championship games recently. If Crean has that type of success, he would also earn a pass.

  • hardly

    I agree with you – just after Crean was hired a buddy of mine (from Wisconsin..watched Marquette a lot) said ‘I hope you like a 6’8″ guy and 4 guards, because that’s how he plays.’ CZ and NV now seem to be exceptions. Who knows about LF. But at this point the problem doesn’t look to be getting better for next year. I guess that’s what one has to do when they want to play at 1k mph to cover other deficiencies.

  • I don’t find eff very scary, but I do think Iowa will be. I said somewhere else here earlier today that they are a dangerous team. They will exceed expectations.

  • CTHoosiers

    You can’t always get what you want. But if try real hard, you get what need.

  • trailrunner

    Battling for the top of the Big Ten? Let’s see where we are 10 games in. We can barely beat Penn State at home. We are going to get spanked by many squads before the conference winds down. Hartman’s hustle won the Buckeye game for us. Very fortunate he is a Hoosier. Do you really think we will ever win a national title with Crean? This is a horrible year for the conference and we will be lucky to win half our games.Some folks love Crean and some love IU basketball. Just like some loved Davis for whatever their reasons were. And he got closer to the promised land than this coach. I see mediocrity for this program. Hoosiers deserve the best coach, arena, and team in college basketball. I remember squads that never lost a game; that played defense and team basketball. That intimidated opponents just by walking on the floor. I want that again!

  • trailrunner

    1975 & 1976?

  • CreamandCrimson

    I have to ask…what in the heck is an “old athlete mafia”? This is a legitimate question, I’m not criticizing or being sarcastic.

  • INUnivHoosier

    I’m just saying that Hanner isn’t/wasn’t a center. He’s a PF. We don’t have a center that starts (or plays with any regularity).

  • TomJameson

    It’s been debated to death here about whether CTC can develop players or not. My opinion is that he can, at least in his guard-oriented system. The problem is that the players need to work at it also or all the coaching in the world won’t help. Coaches are limited in how much time they can spend coaching, so the players have to practice on their own time to get significantly better. Of course perfect example is Vic. Pretty sure most of the freshmen are gym rats and are constantly working on their games or strength conditioning. IMO after this season, and an offseason of workouts and practices, ALL our returning players will be HUGE for us. Max and Emmitt will have a big jump I think. I also think Johnson and Blackmon will be amazing combined with Yogi! I hope for the best for this year, but if the cards come down okay in the recruiting and who’s staying world, next year could be awesome. No matter what, I’m excited about this team right now!

  • INUnivHoosier

    And to further clarify, I really wasn’t trying to get in a dig on Hanner. I like him, overall. He needs some improvement, but who doesn’t?

  • TomJameson

    Not to pick on you Toronto, but every time somebody starts with “I’m not a Crean hater …” means a lot of criticism is coming. LOL That’s like somebody starting a sentence with “I’ll tell you the truth …” Like, you mean you haven’t been telling the truth up to this point??? lol Seriously though, I don’t really agree with all that you said above. I don’t think they have a lack of intensity or a stagnant half court offense. They may get lazy at times, but the lower turnovers this year shows a much better focus and intensity. AND their ball movement on the offense is LOTS better than last year. Poor defensive communication .. well I agree with the caveat that it is improving. I think, like most of the IU world, the defense is where work is needed most, but I see it getting better as well. I think the substitutions are better also, I actually think they’ve won games for us this year (See Ryans work in the PSU game). Overall I’ve seen a big improvement in the coaching this year. IMO

  • INUnivHoosier

    I think one difference, and I’m basing this on my own opinions and observations, between Sheehey and Holt is what they were asked to do. Sheehey wasn’t just asked to become a starter; I think he would have been fine in that role. He was asked to become a team leader, and he had to spend a lot of time telling guys where to be on the floor (it looked like that to me – he was always moving people around and yelling out instructions). Holt just has to be a starter. He doesn’t have to worry about being a leader.

  • what a load of bs. Giving Hartman all the credit for the OSU win is shows you’re just a prejudiced hater of this team, first of all. You’re not really much of a fan, just a bitter old Knight lover who is destined to grumble unless some new savior of that era comes in and goes undefeated for the rest of your life. Outside that, you and the other haters will never stop complaining.

    Here’s what you basically are too dishonest to come out and say: you want this team to fail so you can get your said savior as a new coach. You literally want the team to lose to fulfill some asinine old man fantasy. You don’t
    want them to win, because therefore, you don’t get your way. Right? Just admit it. You don’t want the team to win.

    IU is now battling for a top spot in the conference, and you are disappointed. Should Wisconsin fire its coach, for losing to Rutgers? What about Maryland, who almost lost to them last night? OSU isn’t even ranked now, should they fire their coach? Duke just dropped 2 in a row. What about that? I think you will see that these are idiotic suggestions, but perfectly in line with your “ideas” about this team.

    You seriously want to torpedo this entire season, and probably the next 2 or 3, just because the coach isn’t Bobby Knight? Don’t you think that maybe such a discussion is better suited AFTER the season, especially when the team has a decent record and is finding ways to win, despite all its challenges? Your just trying to kick a dog that’s down, which absolutely sucks. It is horrible, stupid, counter-productive, and just plain wrong. Save it for after the season, not when they have a chance at finishing strong and building a better program going forward. Oh wait, that’s exactly what you don’t want to happen…improvement.

    You want IU to lose the next two games? Do you think sowing discontent and lowering the overall morale of the program supports the team? Seriously, what exactly do you think you are doing with this irrational and petty negativity? Anyone who will be disappointed that the team continues to win and finishes near the top of the conference this year is no fan at all. Anyone who wants the team to lose is sure as hell not a Hoosier.

  • TomJameson

    I agree Marcus. I personally don’t know what to expect over the next 4 or 5 games. But like you, I believe the adaptability of this team has been amazing! They’ve found ways to win with other ways of scoring, different players stepping up, change-ups in defensive schemes, and just good coaching and player efforts. Sure, sure, there’s been bumps and mistakes, but these players have been doing what is needed. My goodness, I can’t wait to see a game where our 3-point attempts go down at a 50% clip and we shoot 40 of them! lol

  • TomJameson

    I agree totally David, but your glass half empty remark made me think of something I read lately … something like glass half empty, glass half full, or glass has room for Vodka! lol Sorry, probably inappropriate, but may be worth a chuckle.

  • TorontoHoosierFan

    You are right, there was no need for that qualifier! I can buy much of what you’re saying, with the exception of the half court offense. I find they rarely get a really good look from running sets. They set poor screens, often are just standing around; albeit, much of this stems from the fact that there’s no low post option. What often ends up happening is Yogi, or Troy or another one of the guards having to take their man one on one. Would be nice to see some better movement, better screens, and just more poise overall in the half court.

  • David Macer

    As long as the other half is cranberry juice, we are good to go !!!

  • who’syourhoosier

    I agree, I don’t feel that losing NV or LF were TC’s fault, but what about next year? We still don’t have a big on the horizon, at least not confidently. I support this team no matter what. I am simply concerned that next year will be more of the same. This year will show us if TC’s system is effective. So far this year, it’s pretty good. I guess I’m neutral about TC at this point.

  • hullsfor3

    Good point there! I would love to see Luke Fischer still playing for us! I’ve had my doubts about Crean, but you made a really good point there! Crean is not at fault!

  • TomJameson

    Clyde, I was with you up to the point where you said “critiques”, if you said “criticism” instead I’d be with you 100%. Albeit some do a great job of critiquing, according to their opinions, other just criticize and call it a critique. You, I think, I would add to the critique crowd. I think everybody (me included) could do a lot better remembering some simple rules like … remembering the difference between critique and criticism (don’t let your hate show and try to find something positive maybe?), remembering that everyones opinions are valid, even if they don’t agree with your own, and leave out the name calling (for examples just read through these comments). Like I said, I’m no saint and I sometimes get ‘riled up’ and say something stupid, but I try to limit that as much as possible. LOL

  • TomJameson

    LOL … Gregory, I hope you meant that to be in “purple font” (sarcasm, or to be funny).

  • TomJameson

    I think the point is that ALL negative reinforcement is a very bad thing. A person can benefit greatly from folks pointing out things that could be done better, but there is also benefit from the positive reinforcement aspect of pointing out things that are done well. Both should be done in a respective and helpful manner (and probably together). In the case of this forum, IMO we need to be just a little bit more respectful of the others on this forum, even while not agreeing with them. The example you state about the defense is a great example of something that is very on the table for discussion (and really anything is open for discussion), and specifically one that I think really should be debated.

  • Jtime

    I have also dislocated a knee cap many times unfortunately. As you’ve mentioned, the ligament gets stretched and you become more prone to repeats of the same injury. That being said, it is not a month long injury as has been reported. Unless something was torn he should be able to play within the next couple of weeks with a knee brace.

  • Gecko

    I am not a Crean hater, I just do not think he can coach a big time program. When Pera gets hurt he starts Colin and now we have a 5 guard offense. Don’t get me wrong I think Colin is a very good player but he is not a replacement for a big man. As for not being able to get the ball inbounds, if they can’t dribble the ball they are lost. No body is used to moving without the ball. The coaches need seat belts on their chairs, having 3 coaches screaming at the players does nothing. Which coach should the player listen to ??? Troy moves without the ball but only when he wants a lob pass so he can dunk.. So much one on one talent, and no one to teach team basketball.

  • TomJameson

    Okay, we’re getting closer LOL. I think the screening could be better also. Specifically running around the screens a little tighter to ‘brush’ off the defender. I also would like to see a little more “pick-n-pop” off those screens. The actual screen setting is pretty good, but need to cut out the moving into the defender part (Hanner does this too much). As far as the ball movement, I think that’s pretty good. Most of the problem is as you stated, no true low-post presence. Better (tighter) screens, and better passing into the interior.

  • TomJameson

    Wow, sounds like a Crean hater to me!

  • ForeverIU

    “I’m just a soul whose intentions are good,
    Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.”

  • oldiugymnast

    Davis got to the championship game with a team Bob Knight recruited and with all his scholarships. This is Coach Crean’s 3rd year with all his scholarships. Please. This is simply unreasonable. And while the score was close, the Penn State game wasn’t really. They made some contested shots at the end and we missed a couple, but never got anything close to an open look in that last 14 seconds.

  • oldiugymnast

    And anytime Teddy Valentine is on the floor, he is going to try to even the score by either not calling fouls and travels on one side or by calling ticky-tack fouls on the other. Or both.

  • oldiugymnast

    You probably noticed the 13 year gap that IU has – right? And you probably can note the 9 year UCLA gap followed by 7 years and counting. I know there are some teams that have been elites recently, but your post sort of proves my point. UNC has been caught not sending their kids to class – that is cheating. Outside of KY, Cal doesn’t have a final four or a banner because the ALL have been vacated because he got caught cheating. If you don’t think that a team with 8 McD’s all-americans didn’t happen with some cheating you are more gullible than I am. Cal will get caught and KY will have a long period without final 4s in retrospect. I mean, why would a freshman that is virtually assured a lottery pick within 2 years want to split their time with similarly skilled guys, when they can make a run at a championship with any of about 30 teams, including IU? The simple answer is that KY pays better – kinda like LSU when Shaq was there.

  • oldiugymnast

    I just picked some years where we were good and when there wasn’t as much parity among the top 50 or so teams.

  • oldiugymnast

    Thank you Chappy! I think that when you look at Bismarks post above, we can see that of the teams he mentions, 3 had very long (more than 8 year gaps) between elite 8 runs, and the two that didn’t are comprised of UNC, which already got caught cheating this year on academics and Cal’s UK – which anyone who has watched Cal’s career knows will eventually get caught. So out of 50 or so programs that have been in and out of the top 10 over the past 30 years, there are two that meet his metric of “elite” and both are programs with some baggage – either because Cal has had what like 3 national championships and final 4s vacated? and UNC which already got caught this year. The world changed. We can have regular deep runs and I believe that this coach can do it – whether you like what he does or not.

    And just out of curiosity – how many of the haters hate coach because he runs dribble drive offenses? I get it – I have my own problems with it – but it does happen to be the offense that most successful NCAA programs run.

  • oldiugymnast

    There is really only one answer to this – and it is a question. How many truly ready for prime time and injury free bigs exist either as potential transfers or as recruits? I think you can count them on one hand.

  • oldiugymnast

    I still have friends that work in various ways at IU’s athletic department that were there when I was an athlete. Albeit in a barely considered a sport sport – in fact now no longer a sport – and we talk sometimes. The mafia part was just a joke. We would be the lamest mafia in the history of mafias.

    Also important to note – this is mostly 3rd or 4th hand, so take it for what its worth. Which is not much. Prolly shouldn’t have mentioned it.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Thanks for the response…I figured it was something like that but wanted to make sure it wasn’t something else entirely. I was kind of hoping there was some type of “old athlete mafia” roaming around in Bloomington haha. Anyway, it’s cool that you stay in touch with people in the department…good people are worth staying in touch with!

    Gymnastics isn’t a “sport” in IU athletics but it’s a “sport” in my eyes, I have a lot of respect for the strength, balance and mental fortitude required in a lot of the events or disciplines (or whatever the proper term is).

  • IUBizmark

    Cheating doesn’t necessarily equal winning. Teams can cheat and still be terrible losers. Cheating can also certainly enhance already great teams, so I yield to your point.

    That being said, your point doesn’t disprove all the success pointed out above by these schools. If you’re insinuating they are cheating and have always been cheaters, that’s just not true.

    The point still remains that IU has fallen below our lofty traditions. At this point I expected things to be rolling steady. Consistent, high-level winning. For whatever reason, that isn’t the case. More concerning is that it doesn’t look to turn around given the recruiting class next season and our current player development. I could be wrong, but being a bubble team half way through this season and not even making the NIT last season isn’t my idea of the success Hoosier basketball should be having.

  • Hoosier1158

    You’re welcome Ole Man, i like to read your comments.