Five takeaways from Indiana’s win over UMass Lowell

  • 11/17/2016 9:05 am in

Indiana moved to 2-0 on Wednesday night with a comfortable 100-78 win over UMass Lowell at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the win over the River Hawks:

· Blackmon Jr. continues hot start offensively, but defense still a work in progress: After dropping 26 points on Kansas in the season opener, junior James Blackmon Jr. had another great offensive game on Wednesday against UMass Lowell.

Blackmon Jr. scored 18 of his 23 points in the the first half and hit five of his nine 3-point attempts. Through two games, the Marion product is 9 of 17 on 3s and has an effective field goal percentage of 70.7.

However, there’s plenty of work to be done for Blackmon Jr. defensively. He still gets lost or caught out of position, which can’t happen regularly against better competition. Blackmon Jr. is an elite shooter and can score in a variety of ways, but Indiana needs him to be more of a two-way player.

· This game was perfect for De’Ron Davis: It’s totally fair to criticize the volume and quality of Indiana’s guarantee games this season, but Wednesday served as a learning experience for freshman De’Ron Davis.

Davis has plenty of ground to make up after missing the summer in Bloomington. His conditioning isn’t where it needs to be to play major minutes. Indiana may not need him to play more than 15 or 20 minutes in a game this season, but they do need him to build confidence and get acclimated to the speed of the college game.

Against Lowell, Davis played 12 minutes and was productive. He finished with eight points, three rebounds and a blocked shot. When you look at individuals on the roster who have a chance to make major progress as the season goes on, Davis is right near the top of the list.

· Bryant showing patience: Just as he did last season, Thomas Bryant showed on Wednesday why he’s such an efficient offensive player. He’s patient and doesn’t force the issue.

Against Kansas, Bryant hoisted a few early 3-pointers that were a bit surprising, but he connected on two of them to help Indiana generate some offense. On Wednesday, Bryant made the most of the limited offensive opportunities that were available to him.

The 6-foot-10 sophomore took just five shots and finished with nine points in 22 minutes. Moving forward, Indiana needs to do a better job of playing inside-out and establishing Bryant to open things up even more on the perimeter.

“I think at one point in the first half, once we figured it out, we had 15 straight scores going through the paint,” Tom Crean said. “And with the uniqueness of guys that can drive it, handle it, pass it, post it, you know we can get there different ways. And that’s what we have to be, especially when we’re playing the sagging defenses that we see.”

· Green shows off his athleticism: Through two scrimmages, two exhibition games and two regular season games, we’ve seen a little bit of everything from freshman Devonte Green.

Green is a capable 3-point shooter, a fearless driver and can dig in defensively. On Wednesday, he showed what kind of athlete he is. On a breakaway play in transition, Green did this:

· McSwain appears to be pressing offensively: Through two games, junior Freddie McSwain has the highest usage rate on Indiana’s roster.

The 6-foot-6 forward is using 31.8 percent of possessions while on the floor and is just 1-of-10 from the field. Several of his shot attempts have been long 2s, which are not a part of Indiana’s typical offense. It’s also important to note that many of McSwain’s shots last night were after the game was already decided.

Like Davis, McSwain missed the summer and is getting his legs underneath him following minor surgery. His long term value to this Indiana team will be as a rebounder, defender and finisher at the rim. The fact that McSwain kept shooting on Wednesday shows that confidence isn’t an issue, but look for his role to become more defined in the coming weeks.

Filed to:

  • Fifer39

    Spot on. This fixation on JBJs defence is tiresome, cliched, and entirely disproportionate. If it was one of your top 5 take aways then I’d suggest you were looking too hard for it.

  • ForeverIU

    Man, you’re such a pain. I said I’ll keep discussing it until people stop discussing it. I wasn’t the one to bring up JBJ’s defense on this thread. Why are you so fixated on me?

  • Well, I would put it this way: we should be patient with JBJ’s development, as we should be patient with this team’s development generally. JBJ just returned to playing form a few weeks ago, and so expecting him to just flip a switch and become and awesome defender is a bit unreasonable.

    At the same time, he’s going to play tons of minutes, and he’s going to light it up offensively. And so commentators will make not of his “great offense but…” because that’s a storyline. Valid or not, fair or not, they’re going to talk about it because it’s what they do, period.

  • IdahoHoosier

    I agree! Just can’t live on potential forever. I’d like to see him get to “adequate” consistently is all. I know he is a benefit to the team and I’m super pumped about the possibilities for the team even if he doesn’t improve.

  • Kyl470

    Agreed. Either way we are going to see three guard line ups throughout the game with Hartman being down. If he starts Morgan over Newkirk that only leaves Davis and McSwain on the bench. I’m not sure at this point if McSwain will get many minutes vs. better competition. Right now I like our guard depth better.

    I do think though we will see a bigger starting line up vs certain teams. For example when we play Purdue I could see us starting Morgan, OG and Bryant to match up with Edwards, Swanigan, and Frankenstein.

  • BL4IU

    Edited, obvious typo.

  • BL4IU

    Obvious typo; had DD on the brain.

  • IdahoHoosier

    I’ll never understand people who post then act like they didn’t want to discuss it. You made a post, I responded. No fixation. It just so happens that you posted something I felt was worth discussing. Take it as a compliment.

  • BL4IU

    Go with your best to start each half and to finish the game if possible. Let 3-guard be the back-up approach.

  • Kyl470

    I think once CTC is confident with RJ and JBJ bringing up the ball we will see Morgan replace Newkirk in the starting 5. Once UNC comes to town I think that starting line up in that game will tell us a lot.

  • ForeverIU

    You’re accusing me of wanting to end a discussion. Did I ever say that? I said as far as I’m concerned the issue of JBJ’s defense is a moot point, because the issues are known to him and his coach, and there is nothing we can do about it. Why are you trying to make me look like a hypocrite?

  • VAHoosier

    While I agree with you in principle, one of the issues is the extent to which IU switches ball screens. So it is not a matter of “hiding” JBJ on a weaker offensive player, because in a given possession he may guard 2 or 3 different players.

    Having said that, I agree that the comments about his defense are way overblown. He has been adequate defensively. Would we like him to be better? Sure. But what player would we not want to be better? His offensive abilities far, far outweigh any defensive liability.

  • I expect DD to get more minutes against Purdue. Won’t be a choice, they’re like a freaking forest.

    And good point about guard depth, that’s an unexpected strength this year. CuJo and DV bring more than I was expecting, and so there’s some luxury at that position.

  • TorontoHoosierFan

    I am loving what Juwan Morgan is bringing to this team. The most versatile player on the floor who does a bit of everything. He needs more minutes.

  • IUowns

    I agree with you to a certain extent. Juwan has certainly earned a starting spot on this team already and JN seems to be the only one that can be brought from the bench. With this lineup though our dept in the front court is extremely limited with only DD and McFly the only ones who can contribute “real” minutes and right now neither is ready yet to contribute 20 solid minutes every game. Not saying they won’t be able to do it in the near future but currently neither is perfectly ready.

  • IdahoHoosier

    As usual, you’ve taken it too far from the topic. You make yourself look like a hypocrite (and worse). Keep on discussing whatever it is you’re trying to prove.

  • IUowns

    I really think the best way for two players to improve their skills is JN going against JBJ in practice where Newkirk keeps driving to the rim and JBJ has to try and stay in front of him. Its obvious JBJ still has to work on his defense and JN would improve a lot if he develops a consistent offensive game.

  • BMusic

    I think the frustration is one of mentality, mindset. He’s got to be a better athlete than NZ and Jordy, so why isn’t he a better stopper? I remember one play against Kansas where he closed out on his man and then landed, flat-footed, like a sumo wrestler. And his man drove right around him, and he had to foul.

  • Again, I think it’s important to remember that he’s only a few weeks after getting the green light to go full speed. He lost almost a year of development, and wasn’t on the floor when the team defense improved last year. If we’re having this discussion in December, then we can start getting concerned for him.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    i’m with you, huge JM fan.

  • ForeverIU

    I’m not interested in arguing

  • IdahoHoosier

    Haha.

  • I think there’s some value in mentioning that we’re still a developing team. JBJ, JM, RJ, and McFly are all just a few weeks away from being cleared to play full-time. Even DD had some injury down time if I’m not mistaken, and he along with McFly started late.

    I know this is obvious and everyone knows it, but as we talk about JBJ in particular I think it’s good to keep in mind. Although he watched the team defense improve last year and he’s well aware of the need for his own improvement, he hasn’t had much time to get out on the court, full speed, and work on it. He’s a natural scorer, so that part has come easy, but maybe we can have a little patience as he continues to improve defensively.

    If we’re still having this discussion at the beginning of the B1G schedule, then let’s all be concerned. In the meantime, I think it’s baby steps, maybe.

  • Lance76

    Couldn’t see the T for JM in game. I watched three times and just could not grasp the hang time issue.

  • ForeverIU

    I don’t know. They are two different people. I’m not sure what the basis for comparison is other than that they both might have the same deficiency.

  • You do realize he’s only been back at full speed for a couple of weeks, right?

  • I mean, team defense was good last year even with NZ on the floor. I suspect it will be just as good with JBJ, even if he’s “only” as good a defender as NZ was. And of course, JBJ brings offense that NZ didn’t, and so the net gain will be huge.

  • I suppose I just think “your best” varies based on the opponent.

  • Agreed — way deeper than I anticipated

  • ForeverIU

    I wonder if there’s a measure of defense that is not just a measure of how many points are scored against it, but also the points gained from the defensive stop that results in a quick transition basket. I think this is an important distinction in our case, because I would guess that we are good at converting defensive stops into quick baskets, or at least are good at exploiting the momentum gained from a defensive stop in order to create more opportunities on offense.

  • mckillio

    I don’t mind them nearly as much when we have tough games book-ending them, i.e. KU and UNC.

  • Courtney Graber

    He needs to play, make mistakes, and then learn from coaches what to do better.

  • If you score 26 a game, but give up 30pts of easy baskets a game, you’re hurting your team even if you hit a lot of clutch 3s. Those clutch 3s wouldn’t be necessary if you stop the other team from scoring in the first place.

  • Please re-watch the Kansas game. I can attribute at least 10 easy field goals to JBJ inability to defend

  • can’t say. I only noticed it last night. If/when I rewatch the Kansas game, I’ll look into it.

  • Ok, evidently I need to see that one again, ha ha. I’d be surprised if these were all on him. I didn’t notice any major patterns of bad d in that game, though.

  • JBJ certainly did not give up 30 points in any game this season. I have no problem accepting a few lapses here and there, but he was hardly that bad at any point this season, including last night.

  • Morgan made a few bad plays on defense against Kansas, too. Where’s the discussion of that?

  • I think part of the issue is working through screens though, and communicating to the rest of the team.

  • ha, Frankenstein! I watched the game against Villanova and used the same name!

    That said, I thought Poo U looked pretty decent. It very well could be a race between them and IU for the conference championship.

  • I think we mostly agree here. I’m actually going to try to watch the last (first?) two games and pay closer attention to this recurring “issue.” I noticed little in the first game and was only mildy peeved last night, and even then only in a few situations.

    I’m really just curious if it’s really a legitimate concern (that I missed) or that others are just keyed into it and have their microscopes out and noted every single mistake (of only one player, unfairly), so as to maintain an old narrative. I’m personally not concerned and think it will be fine. But I also want to know if I’m wrong. And if not, then I want to do justice to our players and defend them against unjust criticisms.

  • Funny thing: I just went back to see people’s initial reactions to the game, posted last night. (which was why I replied to one of your comments there, ha ha) Nobody mentioned JBJ and his defense. If it was soooo bad, it would have been mentioned. I think it’s just an old stand by for people who don’t have much else to say and single him out.

  • I agree, and he was not so great in stretches but also improved in stretches. It’s a meme for sure now, one I’d love to see go away. I mean, seriously, the kid is averaging almost 25 points and 6 rebounds a game so far…

  • HooshWin

    JBJ clearly spent time strengthening his upper body while his post-op knee healed this year. The Kansas game was the first look I got at this year’s squad and the transformation of his upper body was immediately apparent. That alone will help him on the defensive end. I think it will be Coach’s responsibility to ensure that he stays at least engaged on that end. Let’s be honest: playing D for JBJ is a requirement, not a passion. But it need not be a team liability anymore – and I don’t think it will be.

  • IdahoHoosier

    Sounds fair Clyde. Putting the microscope on anyone will reveal flaws. If you scrutinize JBJ I promise you there will be evidence of bad defense. But there would be examples of bad defense for probably every player we put out there. I’m not saying watching JBJ so closely is fair. But it stands out more for a guy who is such a good scorer, who IU needs for success this year, and who has NBA hopes. It sucks that everyone is paying so much attention to him for one facet of his game, but it also is pretty important, to a lot of people and for his basketball future, to improve! I’ll stop adding to the noise about it. I just enjoy discussing this stuff with fellow fans. Crazy excited about what I am seeing from IU hoops!

  • unclekerfuffle

    That would probably good enough to get the team well past the sweet 16. I saw somewhere the offensive and defensive rankings of Final Four teams for the last few years and a top 10 offense and Mid-top 50 defense will get it done.

  • marcusgresham

    I’m glad he’s playing because he’s going to be needed in conference but he should wear a shock collar at this point that zaps him any time he shoots from outside of 12 feet.

  • ForeverIU

    Mid-top 50? Is that 25? LOL.

  • kennygeorge

    I noticed a few times when JBJR got beat, but it didn’t seem to happen anymore to him than others. Overall, I was very happy with his play as compared to last year. I think he’s made progress and will continue to do so as he gets further into the season. I’m very excited about this years team and their potential. Greens 2 steals happened so fast, I thought it was a replay at first. Just so much to be happy with from both games. I believe we all realize, there is still room for improvement, but isn’t that the case with everything in life, except for a few on this board that are already there and trying to help others, especially me to get there too.!!!! I admire this group and am always excited to read your thoughts and ideas. Go HOOSIERLAND!!!!!

  • Fifer39

    So you’re actually saying JBJ getting any minutes at all is hurting the team? In a game we won by 22 where JBJ was top scorer he actually contributed a net deficit of 4 points and we would have been better concentrating on defense and leaving JB on the bench. Is that really your view of his contribution to this team?