Five takeaways from Indiana’s win over St. John’s

  • 11/25/2015 7:44 am in

After a surprising 82-78 loss to Wake Forest on Monday, Indiana turned back St. John’s on Tuesday in the 2015 Maui Jim Maui Invitational at the Lahaina Civic Center.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the 83-73 win over the Red Storm:

· Indiana’s defense played poorly again: After managing just 55 points in a 37-point beatdown at the hands of Vanderbilt on Monday, St. John’s scored 73 points against Indiana on Tuesday morning. And they did it in two less possessions than they had on Monday against the Commodores.

In fact, from an efficiency standpoint, that was the best offensive performance of the season for St. John’s. The other opponents for the Red Storm thus far besides Vanderbilt? Wagner, UMBC and Rutgers. That’s not good company for Indiana to trail.

The Hoosiers continue to struggle at defending both straight line drives and ball screens. The lack of resistance at the rim is also concerning as both Wake Forest and St. John’s have finished easily in the paint over the last two games. The last two games have been a regression for Indiana defensively.

· The benching of James Blackmon Jr. and Troy Williams was needed: If Indiana is going to reach its potential, it’s going to need James Blackmon Jr. to play better defensively. It will also need Troy Williams, who had five turnovers against Wake Forest, to make better decision making.

Given that Williams is now in his third season and Crean has been direct with Blackmon Jr. about the need to step it up defensively, the move to remove both from the starting lineup after Monday’s game was the right one.

Nick Zeisloft and Robert Johnson don’t give Indiana the upside that Williams and Blackmon Jr. provide, but Zeisloft takes care of the ball and Johnson has shown that he can play respectable defense at times. Until Williams and Blackmon Jr. get the message, they should continue to come off the bench.

· Ferrell rebounds after poor performance on Monday: Yogi Ferrell didn’t play well on Monday, but he bounced back on Tuesday with a strong effort offensively.

The senior point guard finished with 22 points, seven assists and four rebounds in 36 minutes. No one else on IU’s roster played more than 30 minutes in the win.

“We were upset with the loss yesterday, but we looked at this as another opportunity for us to go out and show everybody what we’re made of, and I felt like we did that today,” Ferrell said.

· Indiana made getting the ball to Bryant a point of emphasis: Crean is often criticized for how he utilizes his post players, but Indiana made it a point to find Thomas Bryant early and often on Tuesday.

The result was a 19-point performance for the freshman on 7-of-9 shooting from the field and a 5-of-7 mark from the foul line. St. John’s had no answer for Bryant inside and he took advantage.

“I just know if I just keep playing, keep running and posting up, that those guys will give me the ball, and they did,” he said. “Luckily, I made some moves and got some buckets in there and just took it from there.”

· The Hoosiers are about to have their biggest mental challenge of the three days: Three games in three days is not easy, particularly when you consider the time change, the distractions and how long of a day the Hoosiers had on Monday.

It’s not going to get any easier as IU prepares to take on an energetic UNLV team that won on Tuesday without Stephen Zimmerman (flu-like symptoms).

Will the Hoosiers step forward, fight the fatigue and deliver their best performance of the event? Or will Wednesday be more of what has transpired over the first two games in Maui? The answer will tell us plenty about where Indiana stands right now.

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  • sarge

    We are seeing some of the same flaws of the previous seasons. Too many turnovers, no defense and getting pushed around by bigger, more physical teams. Haven’t we learned that our offense isn’t going to overcome our bad defense? Our set pieces on offense, not just halfcourt offense, are also very concerning. We need to change our offensive and defensive mindsets. If we can’t run on offense we stagnate. We should have more offensive set plays for TB and our shooters to get clean looks instead of the same dribble drive offense. We never get good looks on baseline out of bounds pieces and let’s not get me started about our final attempt to score against Wake Forest. If we try to play halfcourt defense we give up easy drives and rebound opportunities. I see a little more effort, but why after we keep getting beat off the dribble do we not try something different – besides a lazy zone? Where is the press? It also doesn’t impress me that the same guys getting beat constantly aren’t picking up fouls in the process. I know we don’t need foul trouble, but it resonates a lack of defensive effort when you keep getting beat badly by underwhelming talent and nobody moves their feet to try and be in position. UNLV will destroy us if we played like we did in the first two games of this tournament.

  • N71

    I had a dream last night that I was in charge of everything IU Basketball related and I was at my wits end so I went to see Larry. In my dream Larry Bird was some type of Indiana (the state) basketball godfather, which meant he was the de facto Don for the country and perhaps the world, he was the Don Corleone if you will. Larry didn’t say much but I could tell he had been watching everything, he even noticed smart little things that Collin Hartman did that NO ONE else was even aware of. He asked me to walk with him through a tunnel at Bankers Life that led over to the new Pacers practice facility that’s being built. In my dream everyone thinks its a practice facility but its more…much more. 3 stories below street level we enter a men’s club of sorts with the most amazing collection of basketball memorabilia you’ve ever seen. We round the corner and next to a giant fireplace there are 15 or so leather chairs, seated were Bob Knight along with John Wooden (he looked old), Kent Benson, Gene Keady, Rick Mount, Isiah, Tony Hinkle (looked old as well), Slick, Reggie, Oscar, Bill Patrick, Jack Keefer, etc. were all there having a spirited exchange. They all went quiet when I walked in with Larry and Bob Knights says, “you’re late”. I thought he was talking to Larry…he was talking to me. It was as though everything had already been figured out, predetermined, I just needed to recognize I was to let things happen so to speak. Very little discussion took place, they could tell I was broken. Wooden looked at me and then turned to Quinn and said, “tell Brad he’s here”.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    i just don’t get it. the very aspect of their game that got by far the most attention and scrutiny in the offseason is somehow even worse than last year. how is that possible??? and how is it going to get any better? because if teams didn’t have a blueprint before, they sure as heck will after this trip. and CTC is apparently incapable of making adjustments outside of benching starters. maybe he needs to bench himself instead. is that possible?

  • VAHoosier

    On cue, after one loss everyone on ITH is in various stages of writing-off the team and season. Even Alex seems to have taken a pessimistic tone (sorry, but I just don’t agree that Rob sometimes plays “respectable” defense–he is, at times, a very good defender. He just needs to be that player consistently.) Yes, we should have beaten Wake, but we will lose a few games we should win this year (and I expect we will win a couple we should lose). We will bounce back. The sky might fall, but it isn’t yet.

  • enickman

    Back away from the Hookah Pipe!

  • Benhyoung14

    It’s sad, but I just don’t care to watch Tom Crean coached teams. I
    think he’d be a good athletic director, but his cieling as a coach was
    Marquette. It’s just too aggravating. He can’t coach his teams to take
    care of the ball, and he can’t coach defense. That’s why he switches
    defenses, because none of his defenses are good enough to stand on their
    own. Maybe this is the wake up call that TW and JBJ need, but it’s
    going to be hard for them to just turn on a switch and want to play
    defense. Everybody see’s the writing on the wall if he doesn’t figure
    out how to get this team to play defense, the it’ll be a downward spiral
    of a season. Defense isn’t about having a player to clog the lanes,
    it’s about playing good man-to-man help defense. Too many disappointing
    seasons, and too many DUI’s and arrests. After Yogi, probably TW, and JBJ leave, next year will be really bad.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    it’s not that they lost, it’s how they lost. i could deal with a cold shooting night way more easily than watching two mediocre teams get to the rim over and over and over and…

  • IUJeff

    I think Wake will hold their own this year. Looks like a bad loss now but won’t be seen as that later.

  • IUJeff


  • SCHoosier

    By Crean’s own admission, had the Hoosiers played the last 5 minutes against WF with the “move the ball/pass” offense they used against StJ’s..the out come would likely been different. But they didn’t..just kept running up and down shooting air balls ..making bad plays and playing no D. My thought on that is..”that’s what time outs are for coach”. Hoosiers deserved to lose to WF..and the personnel changes resulting were warranted..IMO.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    watching them play against iu would certainly give one that impression, no doubt about it. but in reality, they lost to richmond and got their a$$es handed to em by vandy

  • whomikewho

    Troy’s mom though…his camp is talking NBA already. SMH. If she really posted that on social media, I can only imagine the bug in Troy’s ear.

    She wants that check!

  • PBzeer

    I would say we’ve already learned plenty, except what we’ve learned is nothing new with this team. But the worst part is, we’ve seen nothing over the past three season that leads to any expectation of improvement, team-wise.

    I think yesterday’s starting lineup was our best so far. If for no other reason than they got TB going, early and often. A bit better ball movement and defense, as well.

    During the end of the WF game, I kept having flashbacks to 2002 and Coverdale and Fife, and how you could just see the will to get the stop in their body language and in their eyes. We’ve shown neither the will, nor the toughness that goes with it, And it’s that lack of will and toughness that I think, many of us find so exasperating about Crean’s teams.

  • bvillehoosier

    No kiddin! It’s no wonder Troy has made virtually ZERO improvement over 3 years…his mom is in his ear telling him how good he is. She wants to cash out

  • bvillehoosier

    Good point. When I really want to get depressed I watch the last 5 minutes of the Duke game in ’02 that’s on youtube. What a team…a team that would put our current one to absolute shame

  • CreamandCrimson

    I played for Jack Keefer and I think it is hilarious you included him in that group. This was weird but thanks for sharing…it was better than another post saying, “I didn’t watch the game but here’s what we suck at”.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    My only takeaway from yesterday is that this team is selfish unorganized and spiritless. what a shame . NIT this year maybe.

  • Arch Puddington

    Where we disagree, VA, is that the concern so many are expressing isn’t in response to one loss. This is year two of basically the same group. Five games into last season we looked pretty shaky defensively, but that was a new group and there was still reason to be hopeful. Unfortunately, if anything that team got worse over time. It went 5-10 down over its last 15 games, and ended the year as arguably the worst defensive team in the history of the program (well, at least of the last 40 years, which I can account for personally).

    So when we can plainly see that even with the addition of a 5 star center we look pretty much the same as last year, there is much more than one game to be concerned about. None of our perimeter players are likely to wake up tomorrow and be significantly better defenders than they have been for the last 18 months, and our coach is unlikely to wake up tomorrow with new insights or teaching methods. They have all been (ostensibly) focused on this problem for months now, and as far as I’m concerned nothing has changed at all. We are currently ranked #85 in Kenpom defensive efficiency, and that number goes down every year once we hit conference play. We are more likely to end up the year ranked outside the top 150 than inside, and I just don’t see how we compete for anything of importance with that kind of play.

    I hope you’re right and I’m wrong. Feel free to taunt me if we win the B1G and/or get past the Sweet 16!

  • Senor

    Everybody on this team, at times, is a very good defender. They just don’t give the required effort on every possession to do so. Crean sets the culture, but the problem also is on the guys on the floor. There is an “accountability-to-one-another” deficit on this team from top to bottom. Simply putting it all on the coach is simply lazy thinking, and not forcing yourself to go beyond wrapping the problem up into a tidy soundbite. I still think the D is salvageable. The problem isn’t between the ears….its in the chest.

  • Arch Puddington

    “The problem isn’t between the ears….its in the chest.”

    I HATE this kind of argument. It is the height of sanctimony. Do you really believe that Nick Zeisloft has no heart? Do you really believe that Troy, JBJ, and Yogi, all of whom are playing for NBA contracts, don’t work hard?

    An NBA scout watched them in Maui and said, essentially. “they work hard at defense, they just aren’t very good at it.” I have no idea why some fans find it better to accuse players of lacking heart than of lacking skill, but it is nauseating.

  • sarge

    I am not writing the team off VA, but we need to improve greatly during the season. The encouraging thing is that we have the talent, the discouraging thing is that we have the talent and it doesn’t show on the court. I didn’t expect to go undefeated, but I did expect to be better after so much offseason hype. We just don’t look like we have improved much if any.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    i just can’t figure out if it’s a problem of effort, skillset, or coaching. but doesn’t it have to be one or all of the above? my personal observation is they look like they have no clue what they’re supposed to be doing out there, so i guess that would point more toward coaching?

  • IU1972

    I’ve been in Maui all week, sitting in front of loyal Kansas fans, seriously talking hoops throughout 4 games a day and getting bleacher butt. The Kansas folks find the way that IU plays and is ‘coached’ very interesting, needless to say. Let’s just say that there are a lot of raised eyebrows from them during a Hoosier game.

    A few Kansas fans now know the origin or theory of what a Hoosier is and I now know where Jayhawk came from. I couldn’t make myself ask about Rock Chalk though. There are limits.

    Kansas put on a clinic in its complete dismantling of a decent and talented UCLA team last night. Spacing, smoothness, precision on both ends, ease of player and ball movement, DECISION MAKING. Plus, Perry Ellis was unstoppable from anywhere on the court. If things had gone differently and we were facing them later today, it would have been ugly. It may still be ugly against UNLV. Here’s hoping for a positive outcome from our lads….

  • Arch Puddington

    I watched most of their game with Vanderbilt, and they did not look good. Against us they had a stretch when they scored at the rim on 10 out of 11 possessions (or so I counted in real time). Against Vanderbilt they weren’t getting to the rim at all. I think Bryant Crawford is really good, and I won’t be surprised if they do better than last place in the ACC (as predicted by some), but like a lot of teams, they looked a lot better against IU than they really are.

  • sarge

    I understand both points made. I used to take it very personally when I got scored on, and I think we need to embrace that attitude. It should feel just as good to get a stop as a score and I think only some of our roster sees it this way. You can see the effort is there, but we allow them to get position because we are swiping at the ball instead of cutting off drivers and beating them to the spot. Don’t take the comment personally, we all want our team to succeed and not everyone can agree on the cause. It is a team game, and we as fans are united by our team. We can still be a very dangerous team in March, lets hope we can find our groove.

  • Arch Puddington

    Nice post. Thanks for the view from up close.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    first things first… LUCKY!!!

    secondly, it does make for an interesting contrast, doesn’t it? precision, smoothness, ease of play. compared to us: erratic, streaky, careless, etc…
    i think this team can get shaken quite easily. and if they’re not in their rhythm, things won’t go well. point being, i just don’t know if they’re capable of winning ugly.

  • Justin Goudy

    Because Crean.

  • Khoosier3

    My takeaway…
    Vandy- 92 — St. John’s- 55
    IU- 78 — Wake Forest- 82

    Vandy- 86 — Wake Forest- 64
    IU- 83 — St. John’s- 73

    It is upsetting that we are playing the way we are, but I do like to live a glass half full kind of style. Therefore, I am glad we didn’t allow ourselves to get schlacked by an SEC team.

  • N71

    I sense our guys questioning the system once things go bad because the system hasn’t proven to be successful at a high level like the motion offense once was. We have 3 McDonalds All Americans plus Troy and others yet we stink…its not for the lack of talent at the player level. I think the lack of talent issue resides elsewhere.

  • straight no chaser

    Very Dantean. LOL, I never imagined Larry as Virgil. I would have thought maybe Tom Izzo.

  • straight no chaser

    Yeah, Purgatory has a strange mix of people!

  • inLinE6

    Talented offensively, no defense – they sound like good NBA players to me. LOL.

  • iubase

    probably one of my favorite posts of this yr. thanks

  • inLinE6

    I was very very surprised to see the air ball from Max with no one closing on him. From that point I knew we were losing the game.

  • straight no chaser

    A glass is always full. Half is water, and the other half is air. I stole this from the Internet. LOL.

  • Senor

    Well, if you’re literal bout of nausea has subsided-did you excuse yourself from the room to lie down? ; ) allow me to first offer an admission that I could have crafted my words better. I do NOT think that everybody on the team lacks a work ethic. In fact I think everybody from top to bottom likely puts in more work than you, I, or anyone can imagine. Nor do I think they lack skill, which I’m guessing is your position, because your last sentence would seem to indicate its one or the other. What I do think is lacking, systematically, is a will to want to get better, and to eliminate repeated mistakes. Beyond Bryant, our rotation is pretty much fully baked, or at least have enough reps at this level to eliminate “lack of experience” as a reason for getting beaten to a spot, lunging into passing lanes, or not working through screens. I think the work is there an is continually being done, but sometimes work is done for work’s sake if its not combined in wanting to eliminate bad habits, thereby translating into improvement. I do a lot of sit-ups, but if I really want a flat stomach, I need to put down my beer. Just doing more and more sit-ups isn’t going to solve the problem….but I’d get to tell people how hard I’m working at it anyway. Finally, Arch, your contributions on this site are almost always insightful, well-thought-out, and typically provide a real positive contribution to the discourse on the season. But if you’re going to get the vapors everytime someone posts something that doesn’t align with what you’re thinking- to the point of insult (i.e.-sanctimonious), then it might be a long season for you. I think most folks on this site want to see us improve, you and I included, and everybody probably brings their own nuance to the discussion. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!!!! I’m breaking our my Steve Eyl jersey to watch us beat UNLV…..

  • Khoosier3

    NICE! 😉

  • inLinE6

    The sad thing is many mediocre teams looked a lot better when they played against us than they really were. And I kept hearing someone was having a career night against us.

  • IU1972

    I still am surprised that UCLA was able to recover from the shockwave full court pressure of UNLV in the first round. Yesterday against Chaminade, UNLV coasted through the first half, playing them about even, then midway thru the 2nd half, finally decided to eat the mouse it had been toying with and went up by 20 in what seemed like about a minute. Scary length, quickness and hops and quick 2nd and 3rd hops. Not muscular but they compensate.

  • Arch Puddington

    As it turns out, Vanderbilt has also played Austin-Peay, so we have a total of 3 common opponents. Vanderbilt has scored almost the same number of points as we have in those three games (258 vs. 266) — but has held the opponents to 71 fewer points (160 vs. 231). And after watching most of their game with Wake Forest, they just look like a more complete, fundamentally sound team. If they the #19 team in the country, we can hardly be in the top 50, at least for now.

  • straight no chaser

    Go to youtube and look up the few videos of Crean conducting practice sessions. Then watch Izzo coaching the zone, or anything else for that matter. Izzo is pure poetry. CTC is scattered, unfocused, and uncharismatic. Charisma is not fluff. It’s the ability to impress someone with your artistry, with something you love and feel in your bones, and that you are able to distill in simple acts of instruction. It’s called being a brilliant teacher, period. Some of us have that talent, and some don’t. It’s an ancient art. I think this is where our problems begin, in those individual teaching sessions on which everything else is built. We will never reach the Promised Land with Crean. The only teams under him that will do well are ones that tap into the magic themselves, as a team, which is rare. I’m beginning to think the Cody-Victor teams were an aberration. Discount them and we’re nothing.

  • Dooteetime

    Lets wait and see how this team is playing in January. If the defense is still a big issue then the season will probably be a long one. They still may make the NCAA tourney but I don’t see them making any kind of run if they are playing like this in a couple of months. Then we can have the Coach Crean discussions!

  • twarrior87

    People said the same thing last year after losing to Eastern Washington at home. The season did not get better in January. At this stage I have no reason to believe CTC can get the defense where it needs to be. He never has before.

  • JJ887512

    Can you coach toughness or do you have to recruit toughness? IMO toughness is the missing link. Toughness would equate to much more physical defense and rebounding tenacity. We love his team and want them to win so badly!!

  • Khoosier3

    Could not agree with your assessment anymore.

  • John D Murphy

    I got beat up pretty badly in the comments of the B1G prediction article because I assumed our defense would be poor. Until TC values taking care of the ball and defense, this is just who we are. I have never seen JBJ defensive slide. He always turns and runs. Intellectually, I knew who we were going to be but I get sucked in emotionally every year.

  • Khoosier3

    The Cody-Vic teams were the Outlier for this era of IUBB. They were a vastly talented team and achieved many great things. However, with them, we were only able to go to the Sweet 16 – 2 years in a row. In this era, we will never see a team as gritty, yet talented, again. 2 Top 5 NBA picks and a plethora of shooters and drivers, yet we were only able to achieve the Sweet 16. The time was then to move on, but we extended our stay in mediocrity until 2020.

  • sarge

    That’s because we are true fans of the game and team John. Our comments are only personal opinions, so don’t take what people say to heart. I wanted to see something before I could be critical, but who knows if what we are seeing now will be who we are later in the season. A lot of basketball to play still and I think we have some competitors on the squad, so hopefully we can make a big turn around by seasons end.

  • Khoosier3

    LOL! Seems like at least 1 player has a career night against us. It doesn’t matter if it’s Joe Schmo from Southwest Montana St or Jimmy Basketball from Kansas, someone’s gonna have a career game against us. #IGuaranteeIt