What to Expect: Chattanooga

  • 03/16/2016 9:45 am in

With six days off between games, Indiana will take the floor on Thursday night in the NCAA tournament as the No. 5 seed in the East Region. The Hoosiers (25-7) will face No. 12 seed Chattanooga, the champion of the Southern Conference, at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. 

The Mocs (29-5), winners of five straight games, won three close games in their conference tournament to punch their ticket to the tournament. Thursday’s tip time is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET on CBS with Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill and Tracy Wolfson on the call:

DES MOINES, Iowa – When the NCAA tournament bracket was announced on Sunday evening, a potential Indiana-Kentucky game in the round of 32 was one of the major takeaways from the bracket nationally.

But the Hoosiers can’t afford to look ahead to what could be on Saturday.

Placed in the dangerous 5-12 game after losing to Michigan in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals, Indiana enters the NCAA tournament with something to prove. Perhaps it will be a blessing in disguise for the Hoosiers, who have played their best basketball of the season when faced with doubt. Disrespected by the selection committee, the Hoosiers again have a chance to go out and prove the skeptics wrong with their play.


First-year head coach Matt McCall, a Florida grad and member of the Billy Donovan coaching tree, inherited a solid roster from Will Wade, who took over at VCU for Shaka Smart.

The Mocs are playing an eight-man rotation with two All-SoCon players and the league’s defensive player of the year. McCall lost his best backcourt player, Casey Jones, early in the season. Jones, the SoCon preseason player of the year, dislocated his ankle and is out for the season.

Just two Chattanooga players are averaging in double figures in scoring – junior forwards Tre’ McLean and Justin Tuoyo.

The 6-foot-5 McLean is the team’s leading scorer (12.3 ppg) and rebounder (6.4 rpg). McLean is a solid 53.1 percent on 2s, 36.9 percent on 3s and 78.3 percent from the free throw line.

According to Synergy Sports, the majority of McLean’s offensive possessions come in spot up or transition situations. 115 of his 401 offensive touches this year have been spot ups where he’s scoring .97 points per possession. That ranks in the 64th percentile nationally. He’s had 98 transition possessions, where he’s scoring 1.04 points per possession, which ranks in the 51st percentile in the country.

The 6-foot-10 Tuoyo, who played his first season at VCU before transferring, was the SoCon defensive player of the year. Tuoyo is an elite shot blocker with a block percentage of 10.3, which ranks 20th in the country. He’s also very good on the offensive glass (10.4 OR%) and finishes 53.9 percent of his 2s. One of Tuoyo’s major strengths is drawing fouls and getting to the line. He’s drawing 5.4 fouls per 40 minutes and has a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) that ranks in the top 100 nationally.

He is a solid, but not great, post up player. In 128 post-up possessions, he’s scored 106 points according to Synergy, which ranks in the 54th percentile nationally. He’s most effective off of cuts, where he’s scoring 1.59 points per possession in 70 possessions. That ranks in the 98th percentile nationally.

Another junior, 6-foot-7 Chuck Ester, starts in the frontcourt with McLean and Tuoyo. Ester is turnover prone (23.8 turnover percentage), but is solid on the defensive boards (18.5 DR%). He can also step out and hit the occasional 3 as he’s hit 14-of-34 from distance on the season. In late game situations, he’s a good candidate to foul as he’s hitting just 59.4 percent of his free throws. Ester averages 7.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.

Duke Ethridge, a 6-foot-6 senior, comes off the bench and hits 51 percent of his 2s and 33.3 percent of his 3s. He’s tied for sixth on the team in scoring at 7.3 point per game, which speaks to the balance of the Mocs offensively.

Junior point guard Greg Pryor is a decent distributor (22.2 assist rate), but is also turnover prone (19.9 turnover percentage). He’s attempted the second most 3s of any player on the team (123), but is hitting just 31.7 percent from distance. Pryor excels at getting to the foul line and converting. He’s taken a team-high 143 free throws and is making 78.3 percent.

Senior guard Eric Robertson starts alongside Pryor in the backcourt and owns the best offensive rating on the team. However, he’s only using 14.3 percent of Chattanooga’s offensive possessions while on the floor. Robertson is hitting 40.3 percent of his 3s and has taken 191 shots from distance compared to just 39 2s. He’s a player that must be accounted for on the perimeter.

Johnathan Burroughs-Cook, a 6-foot-2 junior and Dee Oldham, a 6-foot-4 senior, earn the majority of the reserve minutes in the backcourt.

Burroughs-Cook is a poor offensive player who shoots just 47.2 on 2s and 28.6 percent on 3s. Oldham is a capable 3-point shooter as he’s hitting 37.9 percent from distance. He’s also a strong defensive rebounder (22.1 DR%) and has a very good steal percentage (2.6).



Indiana’s primary concerns on Thursday are going to be taking care of the ball and keeping Chattanooga off of the foul line. The Hoosiers are at their best offensively when they’re not turning it over, but the Mocs thrive off of turning their opponents over.

Chattanooga opponents are turning it over on 20.3 percent of their possessions this season, which ranks 54th in the country. Indiana, however, has also been solid at turning teams over and Chattanooga has just been average at taking care of the ball.

Not only does Chattanooga rank in the top 60 in the country in terms of getting to the foul line, they’re also in the top 60 at keeping their opponents off the foul line. Indiana does an excellent job of keeping teams off the line (29.3 percent opponent free throw rate), but doesn’t get to the line particularly well. The Hoosiers can’t afford to let the Mocs outscore them by much from the line.

The big question for Chattanooga: Can they slow down one of the nation’s most potent offenses? The Mocs have played some good teams this season, but the only comparable offense they’ve faced is Iowa State. In November, the Cyclones beat Chattanooga by 20 and scored 1.15 points per possession. The best offense Chattanooga played in conference play was East Tennessee State, which scored over 1.05 points per possession in two of their three meetings this season.


KenPom projects Indiana to win by nine and gives the Hoosiers an 82 percent chance of advancing to the round of 32. Sagarin likes Indiana by 13 and the Vegas line currently sits at Indiana by 12.

In terms of a draw for a No. 5 seed, Indiana drew the weakest according to Pomeroy. The Mocs are ranked behind every other 12 seed, every 13 seed, two 14 seeds and a 15 seed in KenPom.

For Indiana to win and do so comfortably as expected, the Hoosiers need to be healthy and there are significant questions there with Robert Johnson, Collin Hartman and Juwan Morgan all banged up.

The six days off should help the Hoosiers in that regard and this group should be hungry to prove something once again after falling early in the Big Ten tournament and dropping to a No. 5 seed. March Madness is here. Indiana is dancing. Can the Hoosiers make some noise?

(Photo credit: GoMocs.com)

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  • I see what you’re saying, so I’ll rephrase: a long run in the tourney would mean that much more if it includes beating UK.

  • Fifer39

    Yep. Heck a short run in the tourney would mean much more if it includes beating UK.

  • Just beating UK would be enough. 🙂 Now, I was thinking: I do agree that it would be hilarious if Stony Brook did beat UK (assuming we beat Chattanooga). The humiliation factor can’t be discounted. As long as we then beat Stony Brook, of course.

  • Fifer39

    Can’t have Rob and Yogi in the stands for game 2. We’ll need at least one of them to guard Jameel Warney.

  • Ole Man

    We are, not counting this year yet, nothing special in the tourney.
    We have an opportunity.
    Instead of embracing it, fans are on here making excuses for when we’re going to lose.

  • Ole Man

    It’s called “settling”.
    Realistically, two weeks ago most on here were saying this was a final four team.
    Now they’re, “oh let’s beat the Choo, choos and not lose too bad to pUKe and that’s a good season.”

  • Ole Man

    You get it!!

  • Ole Man

    Yes! Anything less than a shot at UNC in the Sweet Sixteen is not a good year this year.
    And people are on here already making excuses!

  • Ole Man

    Rob; pUKe is not a better team than IU this year.
    Forget the NCAA seeding. They did a terrible job this year.
    The IU/KY match is nothing but a made-for-TV event and has nothing to do with the relative talents of either team.

  • Well, first, I think you’re overstating what some people are saying. I think everyone wants to beat UK, of course. I think it’s more that the season isn’t completely ruined if we don’t. Doesn’t seem like an unreasonable position to me.

    That said, I think the reason for some folks to take this attitude are mounting injuries. The UM game was a stinger, but that can be shaken off. CH, JM, and RJ all potentially being gimpy has to cast at least a little bit of a shadow.

  • That’s kind of a weird position to take, though. It’s not like we’re actually playing the games, so whether it’s an opportunity or not, we have nothing to do with the outcome. All people are doing is expressing attitudes about expectations.

    Since we’re talking about attitudes only, then, I think there are as many as there are people here. Everywhere from some expecting us to win banner #6, to some being fearful that we’ll get knocked out by Chattanooga. And then all shades of opinions in between. I think we have the history, both recent past and this season, to justify taking all sorts of positions on how this team might do.

    Short of the absolute most pessimistic and absolute most optimistic, I don’t think any are all that unreasonable.

  • BL

    Watched the live pressers this afternoon. Couldn’t locate video a video copy to re-watch so the following is off memory.

    1. INJURIES – RJ getting better every day but first full-court practice was today; couldn’t have gone all the way through the games last weekend (assuming that’s why he didn’t play vs. UM). I believe coach said he would be DEFINITELY PROBABLE. Obviously a confusing phrase. I came away feeling like Coach is trying to be positive but RJ just isn’t there yet. JM has been available all week. Appeared to be good news but don’t recall any mention of him practicing. I believe he said Colin practiced but has lingering effects from his injury. Purely speculation but I’d bet OG starts against Chatt; JM is the first wing off the bench followed by CH in an emergency; neither will play at 100%. Guessing RJ won’t play.
    2. CHATT – Coach commented that they’re really long on the perimeter which allows them to play a really effective zone. Hope they have a good zone breaker plan.
    3. PLAYERS – YF was asked if they’d had a chance to experience Des Moines. He said, no, they hadn’t gotten out much. This is a business trip. Good to see focus but a little worried they’re feeling the heat with the UM loss and the mounting injuries. Not a lot of smiles.

    We’re just not healthy going into battle. Feel bad for Yogi. We just need to get past Chatt without aggravating injuries (or God forbid, getting any new ones) and hope another couple days will help CH and RJ get closer to game ready.

  • Completely incidentally, though… If CTC really did think the team would eventually take control in the UM game, he wasn’t too far off the mark. We _did_ take control with about 2:30 to go when we went up by 5. Unfortunately, we got snake bit from then on out, with a whole host of bad dominoes falling. Two missed free throws, a horrible call against TB, unusually bad perimeter defense, an uncharacteristic turnover, then a wild shot off of a travel that went in. Take away any one of those, and we still pull out the win.

  • I know, I know, we could debate this all day long. Only thing I would love to hear. though: do you factor injuries into this discussion at all?

  • Gregory J. Haggard

    No, I wouldn’t, I would be just as irritated, but for different reasons!

  • Nice, thanks. Like I said in another comment: I don’t envy CTC for having to manage these injuries. Play the right guys the right amount of time to beat Chattanooga but reserve for UK and onward.

    I’m guessing RJ will play if only for a few minutes, to get him in the swing of things. Would hate for him to start cold against UK–he needs to see how he’s feeling against live competition, I think. If possible, of course.

  • TomJameson

    You are right, but at the same time I hope the coach isn’t practicing all the juice out of these kids. I would hope that RJ has been working on his shooting at least. It’s not like he’s lost a lot of time, and he should have been able to work on some things, so hopefully the rust will disappear pretty quick. We’ll find out soon enough if he even plays.

    GO IU!!!

  • BL

    I deleted the post because I was going off memory from watching the live feed at 4:45 eastern and then noticed that the videos were posted on ITH. Did you watch the pressers and the locker room videos?

    RJ still experiencing pain, first full practice today, Coach calling him DEFINITELY PROBABLE whatever that means. Not what I wanted to hear. I was hoping he was full go this week.

    JM seems to be in good spirits but he’s being coy about the injury. Guess he’ll play some and see what he’s got. About what I expected.

    CH hasn’t shot. That’s enough for me. I see OG starting and CH being saved for KY if at all possible.

  • Ole Man

    “Crean got panicky in Michigan game.” Great post! He did indeed.
    And before someone runs the tired canard about injuries in that game again, the only one hurting was Hartman. Here’s what Morgan had to say: “Morgan, meanwhile, played just six minutes in IU’s Big Ten tournament loss to Michigan, but said that his lack of minutes in that game weren’t due to his injury.”
    RJ was already missing in action from regular season play.

  • Ole Man

    See below about Morgan’s injury. He said it wasn’t why he didn’t play more in the Mich. game.

  • BL

    I agreed with Michael that Coach got a little nervous in the Michigan game late in the second half; right at the point we went on a mini-run but it didn’t balloon like I’m sure he expected based on recent performances. It was no big deal to me (hell, I got nervous watching on TV) and I didn’t see any impact on the game. He very quickly went back to coaching aggressively. Also, some have questioned not calling a timeout late. Every game is different and as you know, coach’s generally have a feel for whether to get a shot in the flow or call a timeout. Both strategies work but if one doesn’t you’re going to get second guessed. RMK was notorious for letting them play. Most times it drove me nuts. Same thing for attempting to get a two-for-one. If it works, great. If the first shot isn’t a good one and you don’t get a second look, you’re an idiot.

    Regarding the “tired canard about injuries”, I’ve been loudly ringing that bell. It was definitely good to hear JM say he wasn’t in pain but he played all of eight minutes against Michigan. The prior three games he went for 17, 14 and 19 minutes and in two of those games he left the floor after dislocating his shoulder (i.e. he would have played longer). Coach was clearly not wanting to risk another dislocation before the NCAA tourney. Reality is, we played the Michigan game without RJ and got very limited contributions from CH and JM. In my view, injuries definitely affected the outcome. More importantly, from what I saw in today’s pressers and locker room videos, we may get some help from JM against Chattanooga but I’d be very surprised if we get anything from RJ or CH.

  • BL

    Yeah, good to hear. Coach obviously didn’t play him per usual not wanting to risk another dislocation before the NCAA tourney.

  • Ole Man

    You have three timeouts with a minute to go, you call one to set up a two for one exchange of shots.
    You don’t let them play it out in that situation.
    Coaching 101.
    Injuries did not cost us that game. Isn’t IU suppose to be deep?
    Yogi said the team just didn’t come out and play hard enough.
    It had more than enough talent to take down an average Mich team.

  • Ole Man

    IU supposedly has good depth.
    We have seen non-scholly players contribute good minutes to rest key players this season.
    Duke won a championship last year with basically a six man rotation.

  • BL

    We clearly could have played better and won with what we had healthy. At 100%, confident we would have blown them out again.

    As I said, trying to get a two for one can backfire. By the time we would have inbounded after a time out and gotten the ball across the timeline there would have been maybe 5-6 seconds left to get a shot up. Easy to rush and take a bad shot, and then not get another good look because Michigan rebounds a miss on their end or they use nearly all their clock before shooting. Much less risky to attempt a two for one at the end of a first half.

    Anyway, end of game strategy can always be second guessed. I think Coach passed class 101 some time ago.

  • Ole Man

    Coach’s problem isn’t that he isn’t bright. It’s that at times he’s too bright for his and the team’s own good.
    That’s the other side of Coaching 101.
    The simple is sometimes the solution.