The Minute After: Michigan State

  • 02/14/2016 3:53 pm in

Thoughts on a 88-69 loss to the Spartans:

Out of the gate, Indiana went toe-to-toe with the Spartans as both offenses fired on all cylinders. The Max Bielfeldt (15 points, 10 rebounds) insertion into the starting lineup for matchup purposes looked like a stroke of genius. He hit in the paint and from distance and kept MSU off the glass as the Hoosiers got hot early.

OG Anunoby came in and did OG things. A drive and rim rattling dunk through the paint. A steal and score in transition. The 3-ball was falling for a number of Hoosiers (7-of-16) in the first half and it helped them jump out to a 10-point lead at the 7:58 mark. While they trailed by one at the break (41-40) after the Spartans closed the half on a run, there was no reason to think Indiana wasn’t going to be competitive in the second half and make the Spartans work for the W.

Or maybe even steal a victory in East Lansing if it got some breaks.

But the wheels completely fell off in the second half and Indiana will be licking its wounds as the wheels go up back to Bloomington today. The Hoosiers couldn’t buy a bucket after the break (10-of-31) and its offense went flat. Ferrell’s early pull-up transition 3 was a good omen at the top of the contest. But he missed the other five 3-pointers he attempted and his overall shooting was poor yet again today (3-of-10). Indiana survived his rough offensive performance on Thursday against Iowa because the supporting cast stepped up at home. But on the road against MSU, it was a whole different story.

As Indiana continued to miss shots, its energy sagged. There was less movement and passing. And it affected their resolve on the other end. As Alex noted in At The Buzzer, the Spartans scored 1.47 points per possession in the second half. Indiana lost shooters in transition. Its dominance on the boards in the first half was neutralized in the second as the Spartans got rebounds and putbacks.

And then here came Denzel Valentine and Matt Costello to deliver the knockout blow for the Spartans as Indiana just laid on the canvas until the final horn sounded. Valentine (30 points) was absolutely sensational this afternoon. When he wasn’t getting by Hoosiers or hitting 3s (5-of-8) in their faces, he was setting up teammates time and again (13 assists). Costello was a hyper-efficient 10-of-12 for 22 points. He added 11 boards and three blocks and a dagger 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock, celebrating like a mad man as he made his way back down the court.

Troy Williams was utterly forgettable in this one (0-of-5, zero points, two turnovers) in 20 minutes and he’s now averaging just 1.3 points on 2-of-11 shooting in his last three outings against the Spartans.

I’m not the first to bring it up, but it’s fair to ask at this point why the steady and defensive-ready Anunoby isn’t seeing more floor time than Williams as he’s unable to shake Bad Troy out of his system consistently. Williams has the athleticism to do great things. But he simply hasn’t proven he has the skills or basketball smarts to translate that into positives for the Hoosiers enough this year with the ball in his hands.

Other than the Iowa game on March 1 in Iowa City, this was on paper about the most difficult conference game for the Hoosiers. A win wasn’t expected. Still, neither was such a collapse in the second half. But Indiana showed an ability to rebound at home after a tough road loss this past week when it beat Iowa after the Penn State debacle.

The Hoosiers will need a similar rebound this week as the Cornhuskers and Boilermakers come to Bloomington.

(Photo credit: Mike Carter/USA Today Sports)

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  • Chi-Town Hoosier

    Sure. He can improve his form and make sure to be more balanced when he goes up, but I can’t imagine him making an improvement this season.

  • RealHoosierFanatic

    Yea it’s kind of sad. I think he’s a decent kid and probably works hard but it’s just not going to happen. He’s actually regressing statistically this year which is really unfortunate,

  • And you maybe right.. I’m not nearly as solidly in the ‘Crean corner’ as I once was. I think this loss was actually as bad as PSU. not that I didn’t think we’d most likely lose, it’s how poor we managed to play in doing so. This one probably ranks right up there with the debacle in Maui and Duke. Real bad loss.

  • dwdkc

    I would like to know more about defensive win shares. This is where the stat breaks down. He is nowhere near our best defensive player. Crean has had to hide him on the other team’s 3rd best perimeter player the last several games, which has tired out Yogi who has had to play big minutes on bigger players. He is a good rebounder, but part of the reason is he is too quick to leave his man to get them. And some of this may be grading on a curve given his athleticism, but watching him time and again he loses track of his guy when everyone else is locking down, and it gives the other team a bailout. Stats can lie, this one certainly is.

  • RealHoosierFanatic

    It’s a manner of opinion. Personally I think his role has been expanded a bit too much this year. Statistically his numbers have regressed and I wouldn’t call him a good defender at all. He has one of the lowest rebounding % on the team, fouls like crazy, seems to be attacking on drives a little more offensively than I would prefer and has a pretty high turnover ratio as well.

    I love the little things he does as well. His work rate is awesome but I think I liked it when he was a grinder and spot shooter.

  • I’d say it needs to continue, and don’t agree about CH. While CH doesn’t have Good Troy’s updside, he also doesn’t have bad Troy’s downside. IMO, anyways, for whatever it’s worth.

  • Peter Parker’s (aka Spider-Man’s) uncle.

  • RealHoosierFanatic

    Troy’s downside if you will is on offense. He doesn’t have a downside on defense whereas CH can be a liability. He’s foul prone, under sized and has a low RB%. Troy has the highest rebound % on the team and has the quickness to guard better on the ball. Given the choice between the two I think our offense has more to sacrifice than our defense. Troy gets teams in foul trouble and is always on the line. CH has shot less free throw than games played.

  • Missing Moye

    Agree fully. I’m unfamiliar with the defensive win shares statistic and am admittedly relying on the “eye test” for my analysis of his defense. I see him caught in no-man’s land a lot, not in a solid position to help, but too far to close out on his man under control. He’s also got to be one of worst players at fighting through screens off the ball. He just seems to lack focus and tenacity on that end of the floor.

    Also agree with your thoughts on his rebounding. Nearly every time I see him get a rebound, he’s flying in to grab it. It’s rarely because he has great position and has successfully blocked out his man.

  • ArghSonOfOhCrap

    It kills me when we bash true Hoosiers. He does far more then he is given credit for.

  • RealHoosierFanatic

    The formula is way over my head but it’s heavily dependent on rebounding, steals, and blocks. I agree with you both that this stat might be one of the most subjective ones to the eye test. I definitely agree that he’s prone to lapses but you can’t overlook the fact that Colin fouls people like crazy and never gets fouled. You guys know how important winning the FT battle is. They are both going to end up getting close to the same amount of minutes anyway.

    Analytically Troy absolutely kills Hartman. I can see the argument against winshares but almost all the advanced analytics I trust in heavily. PER is about as legitimate as it gets. If you asked any hardcore fan of any team to rank the players 4/5 will match up with the PER. Collins PER isn’t good. At all.

  • Hmm, I’m not sure I agree that TW plays better defense than CH. And CH shoots much better from the outside. I still lean toward CH over TW unless it’s Good TW who’s playing–in which case, I’d lean toward TW over just about anyone.

  • PacoTaco

    Yup, we’re gonna have to grow one. My watchlist is anyone in their 30’s or lower 40’s who has had proven success at the mid-major level. Especially success against top tier teams. From my point of view, if a coach can win without the superstars, they can definitely win with them.

  • I replied once to this but must not have saved it. Grrr… Anyways, I’m not sure I agree that TW is better on defense than CH. IMO, it’s the opposite. Just because TW has more quickness doesn’t mean he actually utilizes it defensively. And CH has a much more consistent outside shot, and he can drive without regularly turning it over. I think that Good Troy can be a serious weapon, but he’s too unpredictable and Bad Troy can hurt the team more than anyone.

  • Koko

    I sometimes wonder (to myself till now) if there are others talking to Troy on how he should play outside the coach and coaching staff. It appears he is playing with the idea sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but that is what some people want to see. To me he sometimes plays in confusion. He is his own worst enemy on some decisions he makes on the court but are those his decisions or someone else’s idea of how he should play? Does he have bad bball IQ? Maybe…..maybe not. I guess we will find that out once he gets to the next level. If he is in some confusion as to how to perform then it is up to him to decide which is better for the team….good Troy or bad Troy. Good Troy bringing it every night in some form or another, will make this group a more consistent team and help us have a good run in the tournament.

  • RealHoosierFanatic

    Great insight here. I think he’s definitely playing in confusion. Without a doubt. If I had to take a guess why. I’d like my guess, even though it’s a longshot is that his heart and his head are conflicted. I think he might have a hero complex.

    His heart is saying we need to score and we have to hurry and I know I can do this. His head is aware of those instincts and has to control it before he can decide what he want’s to do.

    Fractions of a second can change everything.

  • RealHoosierFanatic

    I can’t prove you’re wrong because it’s an art and a science both when analyzing or even strongly disagree but the analytic’s are overwhelmingly in Troy’s favor. They are playing together most of the time so it’s a debate in theory anyway 😛

  • Yeah, and I’m just a layman in all this stuff anyways. Just a fan giving an opinion and enjoying the discussion. Not always the games, of course, but… 🙂

  • RealHoosierFanatic

    I put some thought into this and couldn’t come up with anything at all other than to say that confusion remark. makes sense to me. I think there is things going on in his head while the game is going on that he shouldn’t be thinking about. Over coaching? Low IQ? Generally dumb? Confidence issues? Stress? Frustration? Probably a plethora of stuff.

  • Koko

    It is obvious at times he just doesn’t seem to be in present time or in the flow of the game. More so than not. Confusion certainly can create that phenomenona. As fans we can only speculate based on what we see. I sometimes feel the coach is doing Troy a disservice by letting him continue his erratic play. Or maybe TC is frustrated because he can’t help him change his wayward play. Hence my thoughts on outside influences. I will say a large amount of Troy’s talent is being wasted and the reason for that we may never know.

  • RealHoosierFanatic

    Definitely. I’m not even a big Troy fan honestly. I’m just trying to get a discussion going and get idea floating around. Tryin somehow to figure out the mind of this enigma TC.

  • jayrig5

    I don’t get this line of thinking at all. He’s the team’s best and most consistent scorer. His assist numbers are fine. He’s also being asked to defend the opponent’s top perimeter player for extended minutes.

  • Yes, it is sad.. he just doesn’t make good decisions with the basketball.. You would think after 3 years experience would kick in and he’d start to get it. But, it looks like it’s not going to happen. Now, I’d, say it’s ‘on Crean’ to figure out how he’s going to handle it.

  • Ole Man

    I think Yogi is over looked by the national press.
    True IU fans know that they have been watching a special player.

  • Ole Man

    I thought your post was excellent.
    Observant; to the point; no ranting.
    You should post more.

  • Ole Man

    Don’t think I’ve thrown anyone under any bus.
    That’s silly. Especially when you look at the amount of negativity Troy receives.
    It’s over and above what is deserved.

  • Ole Man

    Oh, I’m sure I’m in the minority! LOL!

  • Koko

    Okay my bad on the under the bus comment….I took your comment the wrong way. There are a few in here who go after Troy in a mean way. That is not deserved. I think most who comment on Troy do so out of frustration. They know he is a good kid and know what he is capable of. I think your idea of simplifying his role is spot on. A gradient approach on his role could totally change his view of things and turn him into the consistent dominant player we all see he could be. Either TC is asking too much of Troy or Troy is asking too much of himself at times. Yogi should play a role in this as well. Yogi knows how to get the ball to Troy. Yogi knows how to bring out the best in Troy. Sometimes he neglects or refuses to do so at times when the explosive Troy could ignite the rest of team. I hope we beat Neb by 30 🙂

  • Ole Man

    Totally with you on being frustrated with Troy; whatever the reasons are.

  • cooper

    Iowa didn’t play hard D, they played up and down.