Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss to UNLV

  • 11/26/2015 8:19 am in

Indiana’s trip to the Maui Jim Maui Invitational ended in major disappointment as the Hoosiers dropped the fifth place game to UNLV on Wednesday, 72-69.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the loss to the Runnin’ Rebels:

· Indiana’s season is already at a crossroads: Late in Indiana’s loss to Wake Forest, I tweeted that it was only November, which insinuated that fans shouldn’t worry too much if the Hoosiers weren’t able to pull out a win.

However, it’s already time to worry.

Early in the season or not, there are major red flags with Indiana basketball right now. The defense showed no improvement in Maui. The turnover situation thus far is worse than what we saw with the 2013-2014 team, which completely missed the postseason. And Tom Crean is bringing up the fact that IU dismissed several players – something that happened months ago – in his postgame remarks.

This team has the talent to win with three McDonald’s All-Americans, multiple four-star recruits and experience. There is pressure to win and win big. Losing to middling teams like Wake Forest and UNLV was pretty much a worst case scenario for Indiana on this trip. Yes, it’s November, but Indiana is already at a crossroads and if the Hoosiers don’t change course soon, this season could get ugly fast.

· On the turnovers: Indiana totally negated any advantage it had offensively on Wednesday because it couldn’t take care of the ball. The Hoosiers finished the afternoon with a turnover percentage of 28.7 and now rank 336th nationally (out of 351 teams) in that statistic.

A team with a senior point guard and two other perimeter players on a preseason list for major national award should be taking care of the ball and getting quality shots.

Indiana was the 60th best team in the country in turnover percentage in 2014-2015, but the regression through six games is defining this season through six games.

· On the defense: In yesterday’s postgame press conference, Crean was asked about his team’s defense in the context of what the TV announcers said during the Maui broadcasts. His complete response follows:

“Well, you’re way ahead of me on the TV commentators. I’ve actually been preparing for games so I haven’t seen or listened to any of the broadcast, so I’ll make sure I do that. We have a lot of room for improvement defensively. No doubt about it. We’re playing with three freshmen on the front line. We don’t have the front line that we were projected to have. We don’t have the front line that we thought we were going to have. So we’ve got to get that down. They’ve got to deal with the different coverages that are there and all that different type of stuff. There is no question we can get better at every aspect of the game.”

Indiana may be playing with newcomers in its frontcourt, but it returns all of its perimeter pieces from last season’s team. And none of those players seem committed to stopping the ball or dribble penetration with any consistency. Defense begins on the perimeter and when that breaks down, the frontcourt gets exposed.

· Starters return to the lineup: After being demoted to the bench to start the St. John’s game, James Blackmon Jr. and Troy Williams returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday.

Blackmon Jr. scored 13 points, but had four turnovers and the worst plus/minus on the team at -9. Williams had nine points and six rebounds, but also had four turnovers. To make things worse, Yogi Ferrell also had four turnovers and missed three free throws.

It’s tough to win when one of your best players doesn’t perform well, but when multiple guys struggle, it only becomes more difficult. Indiana simply can’t have its three most talented offensive players turn it over 12 times and expect to win.

· Indiana’s non-conference resume will be lacking: Not only did the Hoosiers lose twice in Maui, landing in the consolation bracket cost them opportunities to build an NCAA tournament resume.

While it’s possible that UNLV or Wake could surprise this season, the only certain tournament teams on the non-conference schedule right now appear to be Duke and Notre Dame. And if Indiana doesn’t win one of those games, they’ll be putting a tremendous amount of pressure on winning conference games.

On paper, the non-conference schedule appeared to be upgraded this season. Right now, however, it sits at 322nd in the country (per KenPom) and the missed opportunities in Maui are the primary reason why.

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  • Young Hoosier

    Did JBJ score 18 in Maui? Nope. And we went 1-2.

  • Young Hoosier

    And? No idea how he’d recruit. It isn’t like he was great at IPFW. No alums need hired. Really the only alum we need back around the program is Calbert.

  • straight no chaser

    Why no alums? What kind of dumb rule is that?

  • straight no chaser

    So you are still arguing for JBJ over RJ. I get it.

  • Young Hoosier

    No. But the start still holds. We do need his scoring if he’s going to play.

  • Young Hoosier

    Wouldn’t work. Never does work. And Those who have played under Knight have not made good coaches.

  • SilentBob

    It’s so weird to me cause when I talk to my buddies who are either less obsessive, or fans of other teams than me, they all love James. Then I come on here and you’d think he played for Purdue with how much hate he gets lol.

  • straight no chaser

    Go F#($*(#$*(*$#)(*K yourself!

  • SilentBob

    It’s much more annoying when you try to access the site from your phone which I often do. Or at least from my iPhone. It doesn’t open in a new tab, just takes you there and often they’re adds that then open up your App Store. Sometimes it’ll go days or weeks without happening at all, then it’ll happen 5 consecutive times. Oh well when you get such a good site for free there are bound to be a few annoyances.

  • straight no chaser

    He gets criticized (I wouldn’t call it “hate”) because he’s being treated like a diva to appease his father and the local Indiana mythologists. He’s a good player, but he’s not great. He costs us more with his poor defense, turnovers and unpredictable shooting than he actually helps. He should regularly get the benching treatment until he develops a complete game.

  • SilentBob

    Oh I agree with ya, just saying its weird that he seems to be on two opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to casual IU fans and arguablely obsessive fans like me and you haha. But I do agree with Young Hoosier, that when James does really well we are a much better basketball team. And that’s half the reason he is so frustrating cause you see it in spurts.

  • Young Hoosier

    Just facts.

  • straight no chaser

    We’re not obsessive. We just follow IU Basketball closely and we have opinions. I would bet that if we give almost ANY of our players the consistent minutes that we give to JBJ, we get at least the “spurts” that we get from him. Plus, if we did so we would be developing a player that would eventually show improvement and development in his game. To me JBJ’s game looks exactly like it did from when he first started.

  • straight no chaser

    You got the “f” and “c” right, and that’s all! But good guess.

  • SilentBob

    If the head coaching job is vacant for 5 months rather than a few weeks there is much larger change that Curtis Jones and De’Ron Davis don’t end up at IU and that’s all I’m saying. I want these kids at IU. Maybe it would be better for them, or maybe they end up playing for coach who isn’t as good as the next one we may bring in. But it will be pretty much impossible for a new coach to come in in late April and be able to sign even an okay class if Curt and De’Ron are already gone.

  • straight no chaser

    There shouldn’t be a conflict, you are right. But sometimes there is. There is a conflict when kids on scholarship to play college basketball bypass their coach to consult with the NBA experts. There is also a conflict when a kid cares more about developing what he perceives as his NBA skills at the expense of the skills needed for him to be an effective team member.

  • SilentBob

    Well I think the problem we have is our coach embraces those things more than anyone. There is no doubt that if Troy and James can develop more PG skills they will be better players at any level. But would any NBA team make Troy a primary ball handler even if he improved as much as Crean wants him to? Heck no. Then why are we? I can understand them being used kind of like a change of pace back in football but not to the extent were doing now.

  • Young Hoosier

    You seem angry.

  • IU1972

    Goodluck now says he’s transferring.

  • SilentBob

    I’ve seen modest improvement in his defense and keeping his head up on his dribble. But still way too many questionable decisions and he is the worst at feeding Bryant. And it’s that poor decision making that’s killing this team more than anything, even the defense. He consistently reminds me of that scene in Coach Carter when Cruz, instead of taking the ball to the hoop on a fast break, steps back and shoots a three and coach Carter (Samuel L. Jackson) chews him out as he runs back even though he made it.

  • BMusic

    To disagree with your points of disagreement:

    1) I don’t think it’s being a “quitter” to be thrown off your game by a loss of momentum. I think it’s a lack of mental toughness.

    2) I thought it was clear that I was not allowing the coach a pass on either of these issues—but I understand that they are issues, and why.

    3) The “thuggish” association is yours, so I’ll let you sit with that one. It’s not like I called them car thieves. But to avoid the “hey, it’s only alcohol” or “hey, it’s only weed” discussions, I called it what it is—breaking the law. And I say that as someone who routinely broke the law in Bloomington 30 years ago.

    4) I want to grant you the semantic point regarding whether or not they’re a “team,” but I’m not sure it holds water. It seems there’s some unanimity that the issues relate to turnovers, individual defense, and coaching strategies, and I’m not convinced any of these strip them of their right to be called a team. There’s a player or two that could buy in more to the team concept, but I don’t get the sense that this is a broader problem.

  • Young Hoosier

    I’m not talking about it being good for us as a program. But for those 2 kids it is a fair thing for them. Gelon isn’t going anywhere.

  • PA Hoosier

    No one should be too surprised by the way the team performs on offense. CTC philosophy of offense is ” pro-style ” and that is for the most part run and gun, and defense is mostly an after thought. What have we seen at IU over the past few years? Pick and roll ball was RMK basketball and while it is still sound fundamental ball for many winning coaches TC is not one of them. I do hope something changes here quickly for IU b/c I’m tired of watching poor basketball and sitting on the sidelines come March.

  • PA Hoosier

    Check out Mr. Buckley’s record at Ball State before you appoint him ?

  • straight no chaser

    I’m so angry I could fire a coach!

  • Benhyoung14

    IF TC doesn’t resign, the administration will wait until July 1 to fire him. That coincides with the end of the NBA year, and can then offer the position to Stevens. This is all assuming the team doesn’t make a massive turnaround.

  • Young Hoosier

    Well me too. But we’re not AD’s.

  • curtis south

    I have been saying for a few years now that Crean will NEVER bring a banner too Indiana. A once great coach said that “Defence and free throw shooting wins games”.Maybe we have a few games where free throws are ok but Indiana is nowhere close to being a great free throw shooing team!
    There have been certain players that have played good defence but as a team it just has never shown itself! I am sorry, when I see players moving to get out of the way I feel there is no defence being coached!

  • curtis south

    Same lack of defence! Same run and gun offence! Same going so fast we force ourselves into turnover after turn over! I am with ya Oz!

  • curtis south

    Yep I agree 100% Yogi takes too much blame! if the kid see’s his team doing poorly and takes over and we lose, he gets the blame! If he tries passing to players and not shooting as much he takes the blame! Could anyone even imagine where this team would have been without Yogi the past 3 years?

  • disqus_4UbWP6rS24

    I think that starting five would be interesting to see. Why not give it a shot at this point. I’m not saying Crean should bench the three players on preseason awards lists for the entire game, but having them all sit on the bench for awhile as the gritty players take a shot at the starting slots might be good motivation.

  • GaHoosier

    Plan for the worst…hope for the best.

  • Jeff Funk

    The trouble with IU is Crean. IU never seems prepared for games, players perform well below their potential, and TC’s game tactics are many times laughable…if not completely frustrating. He gives a lot of effort for sure, but as a successful mentor once told me…’don’t confuse efforts for results’, and TC has litle results these days. I’m very weary of mediocrity from from our once great program, and hope this is TC’s last season.

  • class of 75

    Keith Smart,
    IU Hero and NCAA Champion “the shot”
    Bob Knight player
    NBA head coach experience
    Currently assistant coach for The Heat
    Should be able to relate to todays players

  • Dave Carnes

    Many good coaches no great Coaches

  • Missing Moye

    I don’t really disagree with what you are saying, but I know I was a bit surprised that the Magic drafted Oladipo and used him as their PG his rookie year. Does Vic get drafted #2 if he doesn’t get a chance to handle the ball so much his junior year (when we already had basically two PGs on the floor with Yogi and Hulls)? Maybe, maybe not. Incidentally Vic led that IU team in turnovers that year. I’m not so sure it was the best thing for that team, but it was the best thing for Vic and his NBA stock. I think we’re seeing the same thing occur with JBJ and Troy this year, to SNC’s point. I don’t think anyone would draft Troy to be a primary ball handler… but I didn’t think that with Vic, either.

  • You think Yogi takes too much of the blame? I don’t agree. Most people tend to have their ‘Yogi blinders’ on.. When he passes up a chance to get the ball to Bruant and dribbles around to try to create for himself.. he should be blamed. AND, that has happened frequently over the past several games. What is a point guard for? Not to create for himself, to create for his teammates.. and that isn’t happening often enough.

  • BC

    I’ve been skeptical of TC since IU’s loss to Illinois- the baseline out of bounds play at the end of the game, Zeller was suppose to be protecting the rim but he ran to the player cutting to the corner 19 ft away from the rim, the result was a last second layup for Illinois. I gave TC the benefit of doubt up until that point.
    After that, poor defense, questionable substitution patterns, dribble, dribble, dribble offense, perimeter players not recognizing timing or how to pass the ball into the post, never executing a baseline out of bounds play- fundamental bball- all of this became noticeable. The Syracuse game didn’t bother didn’t bother me as much as the rest of the fan base. It was not being able to pass the ball into Zeller that told me it was coaching. Zeller not protecting the rim against Illinois told me that he wasn’t being properly instructed.
    Bo Ryan took over at Wiscy in 2001. RMK was fired in 2001. Wiscy became IU, Fundamental bball- hard nosed smart defense, make more ft’s than opponents attempt, and absurdly low turnover percentage, etc. The only difference-national titles, I attribute this to the state of Indiana having better HS bball players. If you want to watch sound bball, watch Wiscy and how Bo develops this years’ team( not as talented, but the enjoyment will be to see Bo develop these players into a winner).
    IU picked 2nd in preseason Big 10??? Lol, Purdue has the same team and they beat us by 18 both times last yr, it wasn’t even close with eye ball test who was the better team. I’ve been sayin all along we will finish 5th at best.
    Everyone’s throwing out names for the next coach, so I’ll throw one out too, besides Brad Stevens(I don’t think he’s coming)— Chris Holtman, the current Butler coach!!!

  • I do not agree with that. They work on defense continually at practice… the players know their jobs, they just aren’t doing them.. You can teach them and having them do it at practice.. but getting them to do it at games is a different story.. What I wonder is, what happened to, “If you don’t play defense, you don’t play”? I don’t think Crean has done a good enough job of enforcing that rule.

  • Bill Graham

    I’m not going to join the pitchfork crowd yet; however… CTC’s coaching has been extremely poor this year. I’m not mad that we lost to Wake and UNLV….I know I know that sounds strange but hear me out… Every good team has scares (usually they aren’t practically back to back). The important thing is how those teams handle those scares. For instance, If CTC would have called timeouts drawn up plays (such as a play to get a 3pt against UNLV or thrown the ball to half court and then called a timeout vs Wake) then that at least is okay in terms of final game management. But we are panicking right now. He is not adjusting our tempo based on turnovers, he is not switching defenses, our supposedly superior guards are getting eaten alive by guys like Bryant Crawford (who chose Wake over us….). The point is…change has to occur in some form.
    And there is not a single player on our team that is NBA ready right now. Bryant is as slow as molasses, James and Rob couldn’t guard a 4th grade girls team. Troy is more out of control than the Tazmanian Devil from Looney Toons. And our leader (Yogi) is getting chewed out by a freshman for lack of leadership.

    Sometimes you have to hit the bottom to bounce back up. I just hope this is the bottom for us. I hate writing posts full of criticism but there is very little to praise right now.

  • Bill Graham

    You’ve lost interest in watching them? So your support is based on success?

  • Bill Graham

    I dont really see what being an alum has to do with coaching ability. Basically by saying that Alums don’t make good coaches you are basically stating that they are poorly educated/coached. Which means that you are basically saying that Knight was a bad coach and therefore you are criticizing the very players and program that you support. Therefore your argument is self defeating. Plus you included zero support for your argument. Here is what I mean. My point is that you’re wrong and alums do in fact make good coaches. I will now back that argument up with support in order to avoid being criticized for a generalization.

    Here are some examples of great coach alums:

    Jim Boeheim, Fred Hoiberg, Kevin Ollie, Roy Williams, Pat Fitzgerald, and Jim Harbaugh to name a few.

  • vicbert caladipo

    I think the one major problem CTC has is he thinks he’s smarter than everyone else and smarter than he really is. One example is his minute management. He thinks we play an 82 game schedule like the NBA and that he is Popovich and has to manage minutes for the long haul. Have any of you noticed the minutes in the box score for our players as opposed to our opponent. If a player on the opposing team is playing well or is one of their top guys, he will log anywhere from 35-40mins. A good team usually has 3-4 guys playing 34-40mins. Contrast that to us and CTC. Our box score always reads Yogi 32-36mins and everyone else under 30. It seems every player has a set amount of minutes whether they are playing good or bad. And the reasoning for doing this is to not burn your guys out so they can get better down the stretch. But we don’t get better down the stretch. This may sound dumb and I’m reaching but it is something I notice. Would love to see our major contributors play 35mins a game.Maybe all that rest on the bench is making them lose focus and get complacent??

  • Bill Graham

    How about slowing down the tempo and running a half court offense with some screens. Anything really, flex, wheel, motion, triangle, princeton, i dont care. How about switching to a zone on defense sometime? 2-3, 1-3-1, 3-2, i dont care. Its like this: suppose you are in a race and you’re driving the car. The faster you go the better your chances of winning the race right??? Wrong. Eventually you will reach a point where you lack control. This can prove disastrous and after many handling issues you may end up wrecking your entire chance at winning the race. Let’s slow down work the ball in and out and get our guys good shots. Its hard to keep up with a team that slows you down and knocks down 3s.

    Its like Wisc last year. They had to speed up and switch it up from their normal plan, because it fit their players better. Sometimes you need to let the offense fit the players rather than forcing the players to fit the offense.

  • Purdue won in Bloomington by four points (67-63) last season in a much more closely contested game than in West Lafayette. And Purdue doesn’t have the same team, really, particularly in the back court, IIRC. That’s not to say I think we’ll beat them, the way things are looking right now. Just wanted to be accurate.

  • Right, I don’t disagree. Really, we’re saying the same thing: that our NBA hopefuls _should_ be playing differently if the NBA is their goal, and that can be a great motivator that makes a team better via improved individual play. However, the problem here is that it’s just not happening. The NBA hopefuls are playing as if they have no clue what the NBA is looking for. We can blame the players or the coaches, or some combination of both. But the bottom line is that it’s not the NBA that’s the problem in this case, it’s how these particular players are responding (apparently) to their NBA prospects.

  • mark

    What prompted that comment? I don’t see the word “creationist/ism” mentioned above. Is your mind so small that you can only imagine that anyone who points out the obvious gaping holes in the very unscientific theory of evolution (not to mention the unending “missing link” hoaxes “discovered” by “scientists” who just happen to have their entire livelihood depending on just such a “discovery”) must therefore be a “creationist” according to your narrow-minded and shallow understanding of Genesis? Have you read Augusitine’s treatise of Genesis? Have you read the many other treatises by the Church Fathers, and others by Sufis as well, explaining the real meaning of the creation accounts offered in Genesis and in the Qur’an? Have you read Schuon’s treatise on the 5 levels of being, and therefore understand that the physical level is “almost nothing” as Bonaventure points out? Are you claiming that your immaterial consciousness arose by mere chance over millions of years from a rock? — that would be most UN-SCIENTIFIC, since the mathematical odds of such would be about a zillion to one, as mathematician/physicist Wolfgang Smith points out in his works so eloquently, and since, after all, no definitive missing links have ever been found, as more than one paleontologist has lamented. Hmmmm, sounds like those who believe in the dogma of evolution are far more superstitious and naive than “creationists” , as Martin Lings points out in his excellent book Ancient Beliefs and Modern Superstitions …. ah, but you know better than everyone who lived before you, even than Plato, Christ, Muhammad, Moses …. yes, you, preoccupied with the ever important matter of Indiana basketball and how to dye one’s hair blue.

  • But can we really compare Vic with TW at this point? I don’t think we can. I don’t remember worrying about losing the ball every time it was in Vic’s hands, and I’m fairly certain that Vic was an excellent defender who could disrupt a game. He was also a good outside shooter, and his energy was frenetic but never, as I remember, out of control–at least, not his final season. I just can’t bring myself to think of Vic and TW as similar players in just about any way so far.

  • mark

    PLEASE OFFER SOME FACTS:
    1. Name one proof of “evolution”. Just one. I can offer you dozens of FACTS, coming from the areas of mathematics, paleontology, physics, and history, which disprove this theory which was also rejected by all the most venerated human beings throughout history, as well as 99.999999999% of the human race. Seems like you are quite the oddball, historically-speaking, and very much full of yourself.
    2. Please offer one proof that every civilization preceding the modern Western one was based on delusion and error, including all religion, every prophet, all science (you know, the science such as that of the medieval Muslims, without which all the vaunted modern scientific achievements could not have occurred) was based on delusion. You obviously cannot, because you would have to prove that the next world does not exist, and you cannot do that. You are simply a child of your time and place, imprisoned like a little fish in a bowl and unable to imagine anything outside of it. with all the biases you have been fed since birth.
    3.. Tell me, do YOU “have a body”? Do you “have a brain”? Then just WHO is doing the thinking, and who “has” the body? You don’t even know who you are, you do not even realize that you are an essentially immaterial being, yet you want to lecture other people about reality (“facts”). Rather amusing.

  • mark

    Let’s see … in ancient Greece, Plato would have called you one of the cave-dwellers who mistake the shadows on the wall for reality (but you know better). In India, Shankara would say you are one of those who mistake the rope for a snake (but you know better). According to Christ, this saying would apply to you as it does to modern civilization as such: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and lose your own soul?” (but you know better). In Islam, you would have been called one of those who commit “shirk”, confusing the contingent with the Absolute, with all the dire consequences thereof as listed in the book (but you know better). In ancient China, Confucius would have said you were one of those living in disorder (but you know better). One would think that in light of all these esteemed beings standing against your thinking, you would at least adopt Pascal’s wager! But you are proud of being such, and as defense, cite your own superstitions, instilled in you since birth, labeling them “facts” when in reality they have nothing factual about them whatsoever.