The Minute After: Wisconsin

  • 01/05/2016 10:14 pm in

Thoughts on a 59-58 win against the Badgers:

Not every game flows. Not every one pretty. Sometimes you just have to hang on and gut out an ugly one. The Hoosiers did just that tonight en route to a 3-0 start in conference.

The James Blackmon Jr. injury is tough news. You feel for the kid. You do. But the reality is this: Indiana has been an improved defensive team in conference play without him in the lineup. This marks its third straight game holding a Big Ten opponent under a point per possession (.93). On a night the Hoosiers fell back into their silly ways with the ball (30 TO%) and had many shots rim out (.95 PPP), the defense was the difference.

They again forced shot clock violations. OG Anunoby and Juwan Morgan, the freshmen growing up fast, blocked Nigel Hayes’ shots (3-of-13). Yogi Ferrell bothered Bronson Koenig. Wisconsin’s offense, which came into the contest 73rd per KenPom, had huge scoring droughts in both the first and second half.

Offense is nice. But defensive stops are any basketball team’s foundation. It’s where you find pride in yourself and each other. If Indiana can keep this kind of defense going, it can re-write the narrative on the season because the offense without Blackmon Jr. is likely to still be just good enough.

It’s only three games into Big Ten season. You don’t want to get too high based on sample size. But man: OG. His play in conference has been an absolute revelation. With James Blackmon Jr. out and Collin Hartman in foul trouble, he stepped up in his career-high 17 minutes of action. Anunoby went a perfect 3-of-3 from distance on a night Ferrell, Robert Johnson and Nick Zeisloft shot just 3-of-13. He matched his career high of 11 points from Saturday’s Nebraska win. He’s using his length on defense well.

His teammates seem to be enjoying his play as much as the fans.

Ferrell started out rough in the first half (four turnovers, zero assists) and even airballed his patented pull-up 3-pointer in the second half. But he had 15 of his 19 after the break and did what a senior point guard leader needs to do: He put the game away late. Ferrell had an ill-advised drive with a minute to go. It resulted in a pass to Troy Williams in a bad spot under the hoop. Williams turned it over. But after crashing into a chair on the bench to try and save that turnover, Ferrell closed the door.

With a wrap on his arm from the crash, he hit a tough jumper off the right high post to put the Hoosiers up two with 38 seconds to go. After Johnson’s great steal, Ferrell then hit all four of his free throws down the stretch. Miss one or more of those, and Hayes’ desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer could have meant something different.

Just over a week ago, it was hard to see the Hoosiers winning a conference game scoring under 60 points. But they did just that tonight on the strength of an improving defense.

Eight straight now, including three in conference. Indiana’s on a roll.

Filed to:

  • calbert40

    You mentioned the team’s collective “tough-mindedness.” That was my biggest takeaway from last night. They all had that look of a team that KNEW they were walking out of AH with a W last night. I don’t think we’ve had that mindset the last couple years. It was exciting to see.

  • Koko

    I’m with you Calbert….I see a lot of positive. In fact last nights game reminded me of hard fought B1G battles of the past. Games like last night, from my point of view, are what gave the B1G a reputation of a hard nosed defensive in your face conference. It was fun the watch.

  • Koko

    Call me silly but what I saw of DeRon he looks a lot like Magic did in his college days.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I agree with pretty much everything you are saying and I certainly feel no need to try and compare Holt and Anunoby because it is completely irrelevant and pointless. That being said, you wrote that OG hasn’t played any good competition and I just don’t agree with that. He played against Shavon Shields and Nigel Hayes for large parts of the past two games and those two guys, while not All-Americans (and probably not even All B1G guys this season), are good competition in my opinion.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I agree and I am tired of it as well but perhaps we need to adjust to the way the game is being called. Unfortunately, it is getting called on our guys fairly consistently so I think we may want to reconsider how we are hedging ball screens. No massive adjustment is needed but we may need to tweak it to avoid getting Bryant into foul trouble (it appears Hartman is getting the Pritchard treatment, not sure what to do about that!).

  • CreamandCrimson

    I wondered where you were…hope all is well.

  • Koko

    I don’t think Wisky should have been blown out last night. It appears to me Gard has duplicated and carried on Bo’s program quite well. They played last night like they have in the past. Slow and good defense.
    I think it’s funny how the term “ugly win” gets bantered around here. It is almost like an invalidation of a win. I’d like to know what is a good win as opposed to an ugly win? Is it that a good win is pretty or perfect in the stat lines? Yes I know part of the definition of a good win is probably under 10 TO’s per game. But you know good defense creates TO’s just as much as bonehead plays. I think Wisky played good D last night.
    My question is where do you factor in grit, guts and determination with a good win/ugly win? I saw grit, guts and determination from our guys last night. I saw two freshmen become men last night. I saw our team wore out at the end of the game because they played their asses off. I didn’t see an ugly win, I saw a damn good win.

  • ForeverIU

    Thanks C&C glad you’re still on here.

  • Fivelefts

    I totally agree! The relative silence from the crowd, is a result of apathy toward the coach and team. You are correct! It is uncalled for!

  • ForeverIU

    Thanks, Tom. Good to “see” you too. LOL.

    I want so much for JBJ to “fit” again, so I am going to shelve that conversation, because he’s out for the season anyway, and I’m not going to worry about his role until next year.

    Go Hoosiers!

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    not saying he ain’t crucial to this team’s success, but he’s got to be utilized to accentuate his strengths. no question we’re a much better team when TW’s locked in.

  • twarrior87

    IU is 3-0 in the B1G with 2 road wins and that’s great, but we also need to look at who they’ve played. The defense looking better is a positive, but let’s face it Wiscy isn’t that good this year and neither are the other two teams we’ve played. The team is not going to beat PU, MSU, Maryland, etc turning the ball over at this rate. I’d really like to see them put a complete game together – good D, good O, and minimize turnovers. This is something we’re not seeing yet.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    Great effort by the team last night with 2 freshman leading the way on D. OG doing it all again,he s been great!!

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    i absolutely like that they’ve learned how to win ugly. you couldn’t say that so much the previous two years. still, the senseless turnovers have got to stop. teams in the top half of the b1g would have whooped us last night. so while it’s always a blast to beat wiscy, the bad stuff is just too tough to ignore.

  • BC Hoosier

    You’re joking right? You haven’t seen a single backdoor layup all year. I’m guessing you choose not to watch Troy operate on the baseline.

  • Maybe his wingspan is much more than Hayes, but this picture is deceiving because Hayes isn’t fully extended toward his lead arm. For example, square your body to a wall and extend your arms and reach as high as you can with both shoulders at the same level (as Hayes is in the pic). Then turn your body 90 degrees to the same wall, and reach with one arm while dipping your other shoulder (as OG is doing in the pic). Someone 6’7″ish will have almost a 12″ difference in reach between the two methods.

  • Well OSU scares me as well. They beat a very good Kentucky team..
    But did you see Kentucky last big at LSU last night. think they trailed by 10 most of the way and lost by about 20.. So they are beatable. But still I’ve watched the Buckeyes and they do impress. We’re fortunate the game is at our house.

  • Really? I did not see where Tom said that. Are you talkin’ Jameson? as in Tom? I did not know Tom as in Crean said that either…
    I think you are making a pretty big ‘leap’ with that statement and that is somewhere I do not want to go. That would mean that anyone who has had knee surgery won’t play defense in basketball ever again? I know it will be harder, and if the surgery was both tendons, the recovery period is not easy.. But I don’t think that is the case. Although look at D Rose of the Bulls.. while he has flashes of being pretty good, he’ll never be the old D Rose hew as at one time.

  • b_side

    Ironic that we now have a deep front court, a supposed weakness entering this season after the departures of Hanner, Devin and Holt.

  • ForeverIU

    You are right. Tom Jameson didn’t say that. I was just referring to what he said about James’s lateral movement. I apologize. And Tom has already pointed that out.

  • dwdkc

    Yes, the front line looks really promising. And will still be very young. However the team will miss Yogi in a big way. RJ’s development is huge for the team next year, and someone else will have to step up big too.

  • BL

    Positioning definitely not apples to apples but don’t you agree that if the top of OG’s head were as high as Hayes (with level shoulders) OG’s reach would be much higher? Also, change the camera angle and it would be more obvious that Hayes’ left shoulder is actually higher than his right (i.e. he’s reaching with his left arm vs. both arms).

  • IU Coop

    While I am glad to see a 3-0 start to conference play, I am surprised at how excited everyone on this site seems to be about squeaking by arguably the three worst teams in the Big Ten. Am I the only one disappointed that we didn’t blow all three of them out? Failing to get too excited about this team as I suspect they will come crashing back down when they face real competition.

  • calbert40

    Why can’t they beat the better teams in the conference? Have those teams looked invincible? PU blew a 17 point 2H lead…AT HOME to an unranked opponent. Maryland has barely beaten PSU at home, NW on the road, and has RU at home tonight. Their only decent Ws in the non-conference were GTown and UCONN…both unranked. Whom have they beaten? MSU has looked very pedestrian without Valentine.

    I have never understood why some magnify our team’s weaknesses, but minimizes everyone else’s. They all have their warts too. Yes, we need to play better, but so do all of those teams too. We do need to cut down on our TOs, and play consistently solid D, but we are as capable of improving in our weak areas as those other teams are in theirs. We are 3-0, and 2 of those were road games. I don’t care whom we played. This is an excellent start.

  • Yes, we will. I just hope we don’t have to settle for some transfer.. We do have Jones coming in, as a 4 Star. Not sure we can rely on that either. Wish we had a really promising 5 Star coming in.

  • calbert40

    I’m not suggesting we should ignore the problem areas. I’m suggesting many are focusing too much on the negative. We must take better care of the ball, no doubt, but other teams have issues they need to work on too. We are as capable of improving as they are.

  • calbert40

    Question: if we had beaten each of them by 35, what would our B1G record be today?

    I don’t understand why some insist that we should beat all inferior B1G opponents on the road by 20 points. No one does that. Also, while Wisky is down this year, that is still a quality opponent, and there is no chance they are one of the three worst teams in the B1G. We played to our opponent’s pace last night, shot poorly, turned the ball over, yet still found a way to win…because we played excellent D. I think we have a lot about which to be excited, personally. The team isn’t perfect, and we have things to work on still, but the past couple of seasons, we would have found a way to lose last night and one of our two road games too.

  • wmsitz

    Coach TC has out coached himself in most of IU’s game because of his absolute rhythm destroying substitutions. In the game against Wisconsin IU was building a lead early on and then he substituted his first line players with second line players and their lead disappears and turns into a nine point deficit. Regarding substitutions why wasn’t Bryant in in the last two minutes when we knew Wisconsin was going to cash the boards for a put back to try to cut the score? On a positive note their defense was better against Wisconsin but still has a long way to go. Yogy seems to buy into the fact that he needs to play defense which was better last night. Now if we keep improving on defense and keep Williams under the basket where he belongs we may develop into a top ten team. Under no circumstance should Williams be above the free throw line and handle the ball. Most of the time when he try’s to drive on the basket it turns into a TO. Coach TC can keep improving the D and reduce the TOs by keeping the ball out of players hands who should not handling it we will have a real winner. May even win some games in the big dance.

  • wmsitz

    Why would anyone agree to let Valentine even into the building let alone allow him to officiate an IU game? The Athletic Director should notify the Big Ten that they don’t even want him in their building.

  • INUnivHoosier

    He asked one of the referee’s wives if she was pregnant, and she wasn’t. She popped him in the eye, and now all the referees are treating him like Pritchard.

  • Their body positions are completely different, which is why you can’t compare based on that picture. OG’s wingspan is 7’2″. That’s enormous. Hayes’ however, is 7’3.5″, even bigger. That’s why your pic is only an optical illusion.

  • Nope, hayes has longer arms. Optical illusion

  • BL

    Wow. Facts are facts. Draft Express has Hayes at 7’2. Either way, you were correct.