The Minute After: Creighton

  • 11/19/2015 9:31 pm in

Thoughts on an 86-65 win over the Bluejays:

Cautious optimism ran through the minds of the IU faithful this summer.

Sure, Indiana was primed to have an elite offense once more, but could it incorporate a big man seamlessly into this group of shooters when the narrative has often suggested otherwise? And more importantly, after an abysmal defensive showing last year, could it improve enough to put the Hoosiers in elite territory?

A performance like tonight’s against Creighton helps to start remove the caution and let the optimism reign free. Indiana put it together on both ends in its drubbing of the Bluejays and the possibilities of what the Hoosiers can become are starting to take shape.

We need to start with Thomas Bryant. What a performance. As I noted on Twitter, Bryant is this team’s emotional leader for a squad sorely needing one. His emotion and passion have endeared him early to the fanbase. He gets the crowd and his teammates hyped.

Bryant was a little more in control with his body and he did huge things on offense and defense. The freshman was just about unstoppable in the post and got a bunch of buckets around the hoop with some terrific moves. He hit all six of his 2-pointers and added a 3-pointer to boot to finish with 17 points and seven boards. Bryant was equally impressive on defense, intimidating the Bluejays at the rim with four blocks. One of his two assists was a solid touch pass back to Yogi Ferrell for a 3-pointer early in the game.

When Bryant is this good on both ends and everyone is filling in the gaps around him, it makes this team a force to be reckoned with.

“The lion came out in me,” Bryant said after the game with a smile.

James Blackmon Jr. had perhaps an equally impressive performance. Tom Crean has asked for more playmaking from his sophomore and he provided that tonight. Blackmon Jr. got into the lane and found a streaking Troy Williams for scores out of the short corner on his way to four assists. He was also feeling it from distance, as he hit 4-of-6 from beyond the arc to lead Indiana in scoring with 19 points.

Couple Blackmon Jr.’s shooting with his playmaking and respectable defense, and it was a next-level performance from the sophomore.

The Hoosiers’ defense never really figured out how to stop Maurice Watson Jr. (game-high 21 points), but got it done regardless. It held the Bluejays to .84 points per possession after giving up .97 to Austin Peay. Creighton only mustered an effective field goal percentage of 48.

After Indiana’s burst to a double-digit lead in the first half, the Bluejays were never really in this one and the Hoosiers simply coasted for much of the second half before closing the door with Troy Williams’ emphatic putback jam off a Nick Zeisloft miss.

Indiana is up bright and early tomorrow morning to travel to Maui. This performance was a great confidence boost and lead-in to the tournament. Play like this next week and you put yourself in position to bring home the championship.

Filed to:

  • RDD#76

    Totally agree I hope Mr. Brown turned in to the game last night and saw what he could have been a big part of.

  • showjo

    He at times looks like a mini Russell Westbrook. His ability to play and finish around the rim (and even get a number of rebounds) is really one of his best strengths.

  • marcusgresham

    Haven’t looked, but I might guess Butler could be the new #1….

  • Speed

    It would appear that this team has a lot of potential. Down nights will happen but it’s going to be fun watching the year unfold.

  • cooper

    I’ve finally realized the only thing that matters with this team is whether it can shoot in big games going forward. That’s it. If they can they are in every game. If they can’t they can lose most games.

  • O.G.Ehman

    This team is just SO much fun to watch. Really looking forward to Maui and seeing how we (potentially) handle a very tough Vandy team.

  • Outoftheloop

    Great minds think alike…my initials are also “RDD”.

  • TomJameson

    I think you’re absolutely right about how we take Yogi for granted. We will find out next year how much he means to this team. Enjoy watching him play at IU this year, his best year ever at IU.

  • straight no chaser

    It was Duke when I checked last night. On game nights the numbers keep shifting as results come in. Did you mean Notre Dame? They were at #3.

  • IUJeff

    For a lot of the game yes but 20 TOs is not exactly smart ballin.

    A LOT to be excited about though. This opponent was no slouch.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Surprisingly, Butler is all the way down at #29 in AdjO. Duke, IU, ND, UNC and Gonzaga are the top 5.

  • Hoosier Hall

    That shocks me because Duke’s offense really sputtered against pUKe.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Beat Wake Forest first…

  • Alan

    This team could be just as exciting if not more than the Oladipo, Zeller team. And we’re ranked a tad low to start the season but that’s fine. Doesn’t matter til the bracket comes out. Some early observations:

    1. TB is a monster. That is all.
    2. Yogi reminds me of Kemba Walker… Maybe has some magic in him in the tourney?
    3. There’s good Troy and bad Troy. You’re either getting a highlight reel dunk or a bunch of sloppy turnovers in transition.
    4. James Blackmon is a great scorer but he has absolutely 0 interest in playing defense.

    It’s still early and we’ll know way ore about this team after the Maui tournament and Duke game but got to love what we’ve seen so far.

  • Elwood Hoosier

    I have a feeling if Crean would simply bench him when he commits these every freaking game he might realize he can’t do it. Every time he took off out of control last night I yelled “turnover” and he didn’t disappoint. You just see it coming. With that said, good win and I love our chances in Maui.

  • straight no chaser

    Yep, let’s enjoy him while we can. My favorite stat is only one foul while being very active under the hoop. But let’s see how he does against real teams.

  • straight no chaser

    They had a brief drop to #2 and we went up to #1.

  • so basically you haven’t watched any of the games this season?

    and/or just stuck in the past?

  • IU and Kansas are the teams to beat in Maui. The other teams are going to fear IU, starting this morning. Start watching the games.

  • He was amazing. He can post up. Snagged TWO rebounds down low in traffic, including the one where he had position on the 7-footer and took the ball away from him. Repeat, Yogi out-rebounded the 7-footer. 1 more rebound and a couple bad calls by the refs removed, and another assist or two…that’s a triple double. Best PG in all the land!

  • His strength is one of his best strengths

  • IU Cal 1809

    Vandy got taken to OT by Stony Brook last night! Ya they have size but if we meet up with them on Tuesday. I thank we will be to athletic for there size and that they we’ll have a hard time grading us.

  • Good point about TW’s no-chance shots. Those are as good as a turnover, since in many cases nobody’s under the basket to get the rebound. I like TW, but if he doesn’t learn to play with more control throughout a game, I think he starts to border on being a liability. Which is probably dead wrong, because how can such an athletically gifted player be a liability, really? And who would I rather see get his minutes? Okay, it’s a tough one: how about TW just start playing more under control? 🙂

  • Hardwood83

    Beat EVERYONE and party like it’s 1976!

  • Last team to go undefeated? IU 2015-2016! Woo hoo!

    This should be a goal for the team. Or do they plan on losing a game? If so, which one? I’d like to know. Aim high, dammit!

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    On to maui where i have no doubt the Hoosiers can win that thing. Can’t wait till monday!!

  • Hardwood83

    Absolutely- that may be the most exciting thing about this young season, IU has played well, but nowhere near potential. The dreaded ‘peaking early’ disease. I wonder if having a demonstrative, emotional leader like Bryant may help this team avoid wilting down the stretch.

    IU can improve it’s 3pt shooting, defense, TO’s….it’s amazing they’ve won anything so far! With steady improvement this team will be a handful for anyone, which is good, cuz the B1G looks nasty.

  • I don’t think we can overestimate the value of TB’s energy. To be the monster he is (and is going to be) in the post and at the same time be such an emotional leader simply cannot be overstated. And he’s such a _good_ kid–all the right kind of emotions. His mom did a great job of raising him, I have to say. He’s quickly becoming one of my favorites.

  • JetpackJunky

    His playing time this year has been the same as last year so far. His turnover rate dropped by 20% between his freshman year and sophomore with more PT.

  • JetpackJunky

    I mean, he led the team in turnovers sure, but he only had 1 more than Yogi. JBJ and ROJO who are excellent ball handlers each had two.

    Unless you don’t yell “turnover” very much, maybe it’s just that his are more visible and you’re looking for them?

  • I have to say: I don’t want us to ever fall behind someone, but when it does happen, I’m looking forward to seeing TB’s reaction. When he said one of the big reasons he came to IU was how hard the players fought against MSU last season in the game he attended, I didn’t realize how much that said about his own attitude. I have a feeling he won’t let the team go out quietly.

  • JetpackJunky

    I can’t imagine anyone would have said anything. Honestly, saying that kind of thing is the same thing my racist grandpa says to pretend he isn’t racist. If no one one thought you did something wrong, but you immediately start defending yourself, that’s like the definition of “doth protest too much”.

  • IULore

    I feel Troy’s turnovers are just missed shots. When pulls off his moves there is a good result.

  • twarrior87

    dude has some pythons. props to Lyonel and Je’Ney for getting these kids into shape!

  • Great question. This is the best comment on the thread.

  • I think he’ll settle down. Everyone is adjusting to a new season and a new team (with the addition of one of the nation’s best big men down low), Troy included. I think he’ll find that his mastery of the game increases as he simply lets the game come to him. I hope it happens sooner, than later.

  • INUnivHoosier

    He got better visually and statistically from Fr. to So. year.

    This year, that remains to be seen. He hasn’t started out quite as well as I had hoped, but I think he’s going to improve as he gets used to playing w/ TB.

  • JetpackJunky

    I think he’s playing a different game right now too and getting used to it. His assists are way up from this point last year as are blocks and steals.

    The early games are tough. On the one hand, you finally get to see your team play and want to really put a lot of stock in what you see. And what you see may, for the most part, be what you’ll get later in the season. On the other, maybe some of the things you see are just growing pains and trying to gel against real competition for the first time. It’s hard to know how predictive these games were until it’s too late. Oh well, still fun to talk about either way!

  • Man, you and your “real teams” thing. 🙂 Come on, Creighton’s a real team.

  • So far, TB seems to have great presence of mind for a freshman. Equally impressive was the bad pass from (can’t remember who) that TB tossed into TW for a layup just as TB was falling out of bounds. That was a real heads-up play that with many freshman would have been a turnover.

  • straight no chaser

    I’m already thinking like a CHAMP!

  • dwdkc

    I’ve thought that sometimes about JBJ, but he seemed to stay pretty focused last night on D. Sometimes I think we think that because he just doesn’t have lateral quickness, so he doesn’t have the tools to be an individual lockdown defender. I expect he is working hard on this because the NBA guys told him to. He can partially make up for lack of quicks with savvy and positioning so I expect he will improve overall.

  • dwdkc

    People are talking about his strength as they should. However I think he is getting screwed by the refs partially because of it, as it amazes me how few foul calls he is getting when down low.

  • dwdkc

    Overanalysis. Really, imaginary slights seem everywhere these days, but ITH should be a “safe space” from that cra* where normal people can say normal things. (liked working in “safe space” ha)

  • I don’t think JBJ has to be a lock-down defender. He just needs to be competent. When the need arises, put Yogi or RJ on the best opposing guard.

  • Yogi had six assists to go with his three turnovers, and handled the ball considerably more. So that’s not really an apt comparison.

  • Ole Man

    Er; try to stay on topic.

  • Rushman

    Agreed

  • Swishmac IU

    Every time Troy touches the ball I feel a nervous twitch begin – not knowing if the possession will result in a Sportscenter Top 10 or a stupid turnover. Do you think he is more athletic/plays faster than Victor? I don’t recall Victor playing that out of control in his 3rd year. It is almost like Troy could play at 75% of the speed he currently plays at and be in more control and still quicker than 95% of the players on the court.

  • point taken. we’re all still learning