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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  • John D Murphy

    BTW, thanks to Jay Williams for saying it like it is.

  • Khoosier3

    What did he say? I didn’t hang around long enough to watch.

  • sarge

    I thought some of the body language during the Wake game can back that up. We should’ve been motivated out of the timeouts, especially when they were making a run at us at the end of the game. But who knows? I wasn’t in the huddle or on the team.

  • vicbert caladipo

    I believe you have to have the toughness coming in. I’m not sure a coach can teach that on a chalkboard or at practice, but he CAN teach that by being tough himself. CTC cares about the kids and is too nice a guy and doesn’t know how to be a hard$$. The best coaches combine the caring along with the harda$$. Tom Izzo…Coack K….they will get in a players face….grab him…discipline him and show they mean business. Crean won’t do that to his kids or the refs. He is a great guy but is not tough and that is our problem. Has he ever been ejected?

  • IULore

    selfish? I don’t see that at all. Will we be worse than last year? I don’t see that at all either.

  • IULore

    yep not improved at all. stats back that up, right? wait, they don’t

  • IULore

    A lot of good defense is played in the NBA.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    selfish in the case of TW and JBJ trying to posture for the next level instead of being a team first type of player. TW out of control, wanting that sportcenter dunk and JBJ giving no effort on 1 end of the floor instead of both ends.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    coaching first and effort second. but a good coach will find a way to get maximum effort you would think

  • vicbert caladipo

    I know what Indiana’s problem is. It’s in the numbers. Five games in here are Yogi’s stats,,,, 16.6ppg 6.6rpg 6.6apg and he has 6 steal this season….wayyyy too many 6’s


    I have done the same thing in past years, but refused to do that this year. I also stated that I would believe we would be even average on defense when I seen it happen, I was promptly told by many how wrong I was as well, sometimes in a not so subtle way. It still amazes me that so many fans believed that just because we had basically everyone coming back, that they would be a year older, coupled with a highly ranked, but still unproven at high level D1 bball big, would automatically make us a much more improved team defensively. The facts and prior history just wasn’t there to make that an automatic thing IMHO. A lot of fans still have it in their head that we are so good on offense that we can overcome a very subpar defense and it’s not that big of a deal. Last year should have been enough to show them that that is just simply not true. If we could become even an average, hell, maybe even slightly below average team defensively, we could maybe offset that with superior offense. Sadly we are not even close to being even slightly below average.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    TW’s mom is dreamin right now, as it stands today he may not even get picked


    Defense is what they “say” got the most attention and scrutiny any way. I hope for Crean’s sake that was just pc speak, cause if he truly had them working on it as much as the coaching staff and players say they did, it only highlights the fact that he is incapable of getting a team to play even average defense and strengthens, and yes, justifies more so, the case for those advocating for his dismissal.

    Seems I remember Fran Fraschilla (sp) saying he watched them practice for two solid days and that they spent way more time working on offense than anything else. Now, granted it was only two practices and shortly after practices started, but with as horrible as we were last year defensively, and with all the lip service being given to knowing how important it was to get a whole lot better defensively, would that not be the first and foremost thing that you would be working on ? ! smh


    If I’m not mistaken Crean recruited Crawford pretty hard, didn’t he ? If I’m remembering that correctly it would be nice to hear him honestly answer as to why he didn’t sign with us. Maybe I already know that answer. 🙁


    Sad fact: If we end up being ranked defensively at 150th, it is improvement over last year and an improvement of 64 spots at that. Sad, very sad.


    Glad to see that our keyboards continue to have a harmonious association.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    yes, that was my hope. maybe it’s just that these guys aren’t teachable. maybe ctc’s ineffective at teaching defense. who knows. but if he’s benching guys, at least he knows how serious this problem is. maybe it’ll be enough to spark some improvement.

  • CAK76

    Are Coach Ceean and Coach Wilson collaborating on defensive strategy?

  • sam

    Bringing up some ones mom is BS… Especially if you want say it to their face. I’m not surprised however that no one else called you on it but I guess they are fine with it… So I will take it upon myself.

  • sam

    Why would ITH allow for it’s readers to bring some ones mom into this conversation is not cool at all… I again think its BS.. Key board strong I guess. I don’t give a dam but that’s not right and shouldn’t be allowed..

  • Khoosier3

    Now this is good! I really laughed at this one! Thank you CAK!

  • LennyFassbender

    It’s sad, but can anyone honestly say that when our team takes the floor right before tipoff that they exude any sense of toughness and intimidation? When you see Mich St take the floor, you think “damn, those guys are gonna bring it.” Some teams are tough AND coached to be tougher. IU under Crean seems to be soft, feathery types who other teams know will wilt under pressure. Toughness has to be recruited and then fueled, nurtured and reinforced. A few guys (Vic, Will, Jordan, Cody, Elston) had it. But, the last few years?? You really only find it in role players like Collin. I think Crean got lucky with the Vic, Will, Jordan, etc class. Those guys had a sense of toughness and competitiveness that actually drew them to the monumental challenge of trying to rebuild a decimated IUBB program. So, ironically, it was the program being so bad that probably attracted some of those guys. Now, based on their success, IU/Crean is attracting guys who think they can skate through on their talent and aspirations.

    Somehow, IU has to find the absolute right players. Which ain’t happening right now. And then we need a coach who can really coach them. I don’t believe Crean coached up Vic, Will, Derek, Cody and Jordan. Certainly he did somewhat. But, I believe more than anything, he simply harnessed and channeled some truly tough, talented competitors. Who were driven to succeed from WITHIN. Give him more talented players (like now and in the recent past), who are missing the character and toughness, and you see that his coaching just isn’t top tier.

  • John D Murphy

    He said from the internet that IU fans are frustrated with lack of defense, etc… He said if IU would give same effort and attention to defense as offense then team would be scary but that we will have difficulty against good teams. Same things many of us “negative” posters have been saying on ITH.

  • CAK76

    Thanks…stubbed my toe on the delivery.

  • BeatDuke

    I’m torn. Bo Ryan is such a good coach because he teaches defense and not turning the ball. So, IU’s problem in these areas seem to be coaching.

    On the other hand, James Blackmon really doesn’t seem to care about defense, and I remember watching Troy in Madison here clearly watching the ball, not the players chest, so he went for every ball fake/movement (Bo exploited this like crazy). So, maybe the issue is with the players and their core personalities and ability to learn?

    Regardless of who is at fault, perhaps run a zone with TB near the bucket to try to stop the lay up drill??

  • whomikewho

    Lol what are you talking about? Why are you so sensitive?

  • straight no chaser

    Because you have no idea what his mom is telling him, and it is none of your business anyway. You are also caricaturing economic need and the mother/parent.

  • John D Murphy

    When has our defense improved during the year under TC. I think we need to get the kickstarter going now for the buyout.

  • straight no chaser

    sam, just for the record, if not many people responded it does not mean we are “fine with it”. I have learned not to respond to most ridiculous things I hear; it’s a full-time job. But I appreciate your call to action, lol.

  • Benhyoung14

    The problem with this statement is that it’s been the problem for 3 years. At what point should’ve CTC learned how to fix this?

  • sam

    I’m just saying… its pretty low of people to go there. None of us know what’s going on and it shouldn’t be allowed… Its like bigots no one says anything and look at us now…

  • IUJeff

    In his defense. Yes he has had decent to good defensive teams in the past.

  • straight no chaser

    Lol, I think you mean “any more”, quite the opposite of what “anymore” means. I know because I had to look up the difference the other day!

  • justlikenebraskafootball

    and this, my IU friends, is the bottom line (11/25/15). This IU group is not a “team” – When asked how the Celtics intend to re-connect, Stevens responded, “We have to be a team; that’s first and foremost. I know this: When you’re defense is a sieve, you’re not a team.”

  • sarge

    Over the line Smokey! But seriously, he is right, it isn’t really a meaningful conversation to have. You wouldn’t want someone to talk about your mother in a negative way. As one of my good friends tells people when they talk of his mom, “Get off of my mother and I will get off yours!” Out of respect for our team, you just shouldn’t go there.

  • John D Murphy

    I would not call any of his IU teams good. The Cody/Vic team was fair (not bad). His first teams at IU were terrible defensively, but we gave him a break. The past two years teams have been terrible defensively. JBJ is the worst defender I have ever seen in an IU uniform.

  • Hoosier Hall

    We can’t use the excuse of fatigue and playing 3 games in 3 days… UNLV has played the same total number of minutes as we have. I’d like to think our conditioning is better than theirs too so if anything it should be an advantage. Buckle down on defense and get in front of your man. Stop worrying about forcing left or right and stay directly in front of them. Heck, force them backwards if anything. The shots will fall for us but we’ve got to take away their space to operate. My prediction: Hoosiers – 87, Runnin Rebels – 74

  • sam

    By the way straight I get what you are saying but why don’t people speak up when they see, hear, or read something that they know is wrong? We as people should hold others accountable we are holding the team accountable. What if Troy or any other team member, recruit, or parent happen to see this crap… They claim they love IUBB but then turn around and wright that crap…. I respect your response and appreciate your insight…

  • John D Murphy

    Perhaps get a coach worthy of IU. If Yogi played for Pitino, he’d be defensive player of the year.

  • straight no chaser

    I agree, but some of these issues are so systemic and widespread, that taking people on one-on-one is draining and time-consuming, especially when you are in the minority. I appreciate you speaking up, though.

  • sam

    I understand Sir… Thank You n Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family…

  • VAHoosier

    As usual, Arch, I appreciate your reasoned response. My point was, as much as anything else, a criticism of the tendency to knee-jerk reactions—overly morose about losses and overly joyful and optimistic after wins (even meaningless ones, like exhibition games). This was one loss. Eight, ten, or twelve losses into the season, I won’t begrudge anyone being depressed and pessimistic about this team. Some will accuse me of being too optimistic, or having “rose-colored glasses,” (a phrase that several posters here use regularly), but don’t see it that way. I understand this team has limitations and weaknesses, some of which may be significant. But there is a middle ground, I think, where one can be disappointed and frustrated about a loss without giving up on the season (and I’m not saying that’s you, but that might be an apt description of much of the posts after the loss).

    Also, I think I view the team’s failings against Wake a bit
    differently than most. I probably should rewatch the game, but I thought our guards played decent defense. Not great, but good enough. But our frontcourt was atrocious defensively. You mentioned the addition of a 5-star center not helping, but Bryant was absolutely awful against Wake. He was beat like rented mule over and over again. D-1 guards will get penetration sometimes—doesn’t matter who is guarding them. Last year that was problematic because we had no defensive presence behind our guards. This year we hoped Bryant would change that, but against Wake we were reminded that he is just a freshman. And it wasn’t just his help defense. Devin Thomas beat Bryant almost
    every way imaginable: facing up, jumpshooting, driving, posting. Bryant was exploited. And Max B. wasn’t much better.

    I thought our other big problem was rebounding (which is not ordinarily a weakness of Crean coached teams).
    We were beaten on the boards by a wide margin by a less athletic team. Same goes for 50/50 balls—Wake got
    almost all of them.

    I didn’t get to see the St. Johns game, so this applies only to Wake. But in a nutshell, I didn’t think our perimeter defense was the primary culprit for the loss (or even the top 2 or 3 reasons for the loss). So, I’m not ready to call us pushovers, yet. Yet.

  • straight no chaser

    And to you and yours!

  • VAHoosier

    Oops. Meant to reply to this comment. See my thoughts above.

  • Arch Puddington

    Got it.

  • Arch Puddington

    To your point, Crawford gave Vanderbilt problems as well. I’m not sold WF as good team overall, but we will not be the only team he cuts up.

    But even allowing for that, WF and even St. John’s both ran through our perimeter defense like we were standing still. Yes, it could have been mitigated with better interior help, but I just don’t see how we can succeed when not one of our perimeter defenders is capable of staying in front of his man. Every one of them struggles, and one or another gets beaten on almost every possession. Even if TB gets better, which I expect he will, there is only so much one player can do to stop a tsunami of dribble penetration. I liken it unto a football team with a bad defensive line that allows 7 yards every time the offense runs the ball. No amount of scheming or support from the linebackers will help if the front guys are getting pushed back on every play.

    All we can do is hope for progress, and lots of it. There are much, much better teams waiting for us than we have seen so far.

  • I’ll pass on watching any CTC coaching videos. I can just watch the games. And after finding myself really apathetic after yesterday’s game, I’m really fearful that this is going to be a long and disastrous season ending with a coaching dismissal, transfers, and an ugly rebuilding process. And I don’t know how much longer the Colts can win without (or with, this year) a healthy Andrew luck. So, sports sucks this year, after I spent all that money re-enlisting with DirecTV. Should have cut the cord.

    Seriously, my path from reluctant supporter (or maybe neutral, non-opposer) of CTC is becoming really short. That’s an uninspired and uninspiring group of players, and while I can’t blame CTC for TW’s mom’s tweet, that didn’t bode well for any hard work on at least his part to improve the team. So, I’ll watch today’s game half-heartedly, like I watched yesterday’s game, and expect more of the same.

  • I wouldn’t have believed it, but I see TW, JBJ, and Yogi as very selfish this year. Yogi’s ill-advised three late in the WF game seemed very much a gambit to keep his streak alive, and missing it was costly. TW seems intent on generating as many ESPN highlight videos as he can. And JBJ doesn’t seem to want to break a sweat–unless it’s scoring, and he hasn’t even done much of that lately. And the sad thing is they’re not helping themselves at all–the pros would be much more impressed with each of them improving their defense and team play, and demonstrating a drive to win.

  • straight no chaser

    I watch the games, and sometimes parts of them, and sometimes none at all, or only check out real-time stats … only because my better angels ask me how can you not follow kids dressed as Hoosiers and playing ball. But like you I’m feeling increasingly apathetic, even about that. But I am doubly sad, because I don’t think a coaching change is enough, and let’s not even go there right now. LOL. Oh, and I love you guys and gals, and what would I do without the collective shoulder to cry on?

  • SilentBob

    I said at the beginning of the season this team was going to have to be hyper efficient to get where it wants to be. I knew it wasn’t going to go from terrible defense to lockdown. The best teams don’t beat themselves. They win the turnover margin, don’t allow second chance oppurtunitoes, get to the free throw line, and once they get there they convert at a high level. So through 5 games let’s check in on that.

    We’re a minus three in the overall turnover battle. We have forced 81, which is actually 22nd best in the nation, but have turned it over 84 times. That’s 337 best in the nation. Or to make it easier, the 14th worst. That’s also an average of 17 a game! Two more than that ugly team two years ago averaged on the season.

    Then second chance oppurtunities. We’re getting beat bad enough on first chance oppurtunities, and now we’re allowing opponents to rebound 32% of their missed shots? For contrast Michigan State is only allowing their opponents to rebound 19% of their missed shots thus far. Some of that has to due with Thomas only playing 23 minutes per game thus far. A lot of it has to die with our other “bigs” just not being effective on the defensive glass. This is an area where we will sorely miss the long arms and first class instincts of Emmitt Holt.

    Finally we’ve only attempted the 206th most free throws. And if that wasn’t inexcusable enough, were only converting 64% of them thus far. That’s the 268th best free throw shooting percentage in Division one. With the amount of shooters we have that is just puzzling to me. These are three areas we absolutely need to get MUCH better in to go along with this awful defense. A very very long climb that needs to be made.