Five takeaways from Indiana’s win over Liberty

  • 11/20/2016 9:06 am in

Indiana moved to 3-0 on Saturday night with an 87-48 blowout victory over Liberty at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. It was the 19th consecutive home win for the Hoosiers.

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

· Solid 3-point shooting continues: It’s a small sample size, but through three games, Indiana’s perimeter shooting hasn’t fallen off from last season.

Six different players have made at least three 3-pointers with junior James Blackmon Jr. leading the way with 14 in three games. The Hoosiers currently sit 20th in the country in 3-point field goal percentage at 44.3.

Saturday was another solid performance from distance as Indiana hit 9-of-21 of its 3-point attempts. Five different Hoosiers made a 3 against Liberty.

“When you go eight deep, at least eight deep, and you can score on the interior like they can with (Thomas) Bryant, OG (Anunoby) and (Juwan) Morgan is a really tough matchup, and then they stretch you,” Liberty coach Ritchie McKay said. “All those guys can shoot, and (Josh) Newkirk’s ability to bounce gives them a whole new dynamic.”

· Johnson’s hot start: Robert Johnson is showing little rust from the time he missed in the offseason following ankle surgery. The junior guard from Richmond (Va.) has the highest offensive rating of any player on the roster through three games, according to Ken Pomeroy’s stats.

Johnson was strong again on Saturday night against Liberty as he finished with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 23 minutes. In three games, Johnson is 11-of-13 on 2s and is making 36.4 percent of his 3s.

Perhaps more importantly, though, his turnover percentage sits at just 14.9, which is the lowest on the roster. If that trend continues, bringing Newkirk off the bench and going big in the frontcourt with Morgan, Anunoby and Bryant could become a regular occurrence.

· Indiana locks up defensively: In previous seasons, Indiana probably wouldn’t have won a game in which it committed 26 turnovers that decisively.

The Hoosiers have allowed plenty of below average offensive teams come into Bloomington and put up points, but that wasn’t the case with Liberty. The Flames did miss some open looks, but the Hoosiers allowed just .62 points per possession.

Postgame, McKay, who was the associate head coach at Virginia for several years before returning to Liberty prior to last season, had high praise for the Hoosiers.

“Indiana is really impressive,” he said. “I just said to the radio guys, ‘I sat on an ACC bench for the last six years prior to last season, and saw a lot of quality teams. That is as good of a team as I have seen in years.  They have got everything – they’ve got size, depth, athleticism, strength, skill and unselfishness. That is a terrific team.”

· Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers: As we mentioned in the third takeaway, Indiana committed 26 turnovers on Saturday night for a turnover percentage of 33.7.

It’s early, but Indiana is currently 328th in the country in terms of taking care of the ball. Tom Crean said postgame that his team is a little too rushed right now offensively.

“We work on footwork all the time,” Crean said. “We’re hopping a little bit. And I think we’re just in a rush. I think we’re playing a little too fast at times. And we’re trying to make the move too fast.”

· Anunoby’s first double-double: Sophomore OG Anunoby had his first career double-double on Saturday night and nearly got it in the first half. Anunoby finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds and had seven points and nine rebounds before halftime.

In his second season, Anunoby seems to be much more aggressive on the defensive glass than he was as a freshman. His defensive rebounding percentage was below average last season at 11.7 percent, which was well below Thomas Bryant, Max Bielfeldt, Juwan Morgan and Troy Williams.

Through three games, he’s up a little more than five percent there, a trend that Indiana will need to continue as the competition level increases.

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  • sd chuck

    RJ is a stud, doesn’t get enough credit, JM same, team is at it’s best when he is on the floor, last 5 minutes of a big game I want these two on the floor at both ends with OG and TB. JBJ on offense, don’t think he is as bad as his rap on defense, but DG is probably better on D! any college game you watch guards are getting beat off the dribble!

  • ForeverIU

    The irony about turnovers is it’s never really about turnovers per se. A turnover simply means your possession ended without taking a shot. There are many ways a turnover can happen, as many ways as there are moves in the game of basketball. It’s not necessarily good to avoid turnovers if it means you play a very low risk game but one in which taking risks is important for your development as players and a team. I’m a teacher, and when students don’t take risks, they don’t learn. Taking risks is important, especially in games in which we have comfortable leads. I think CTC finds himself in a position where he is forced to have two narratives with respect to turnovers: one for the media, and one for the team. Our style of offense (which is well-tested and consistently in the top 5 in the nation) necessitates high risk while the team is learning, maturing, and developing an offensive rhythm in the preseason.

  • HuntinHoosier86

    Excellent point!

  • iugradmark

    I guess I don’t see it quite that way. John Wooden used to say that practice doesn’t make perfect but perfect practice makes perfect. He did not believe all of his teams were better or always more athletic but that they could play at a higher level for more minutes in the game than his opponents. It is hard to see how having 40% of your first half possessions be turnovers is what an elite team should be doing. I realize that Yogi is gone but we have a nucleus of players that have experience and I want them to hit their potential. I didn’t see the game but this level of turnovers regardless of the final score or the opponent isn’t something that we should accept. You don’t see these stats for other blue blood programs and I want us to starting thinking the same way.

  • ForeverIU

    That’s John Wooden, not Tom Crean. We always start the season with high turnover rates, and always have a first rate offense.

  • David Macer

    And John Wooden hasn’t coached a game in 40+ years. God rest his soul.

  • sd chuck

    Would say you are both right! CTC could learn something from Wooden! enough said there.
    Last years team did not gel until second half of crossroads classic.
    JBJ and TB or OG didn’t play much together last year. Whenever they learn to all play together, I hope I’m watching! When JBJ and TB learn to play off of each other, look out! This team has FF potential!

  • Ms hoosier

    I don’t think we can win a B1G championship or a National championship with 20 turnovers a game!

  • Let’s not forget that last night was an anomaly. Yes, we’re prone to a little higher turnover rate than most teams because of the speed of our offense, and as you say, that’s not a bad thing when you score so efficiently. We had 26 (!) turnovers last night and still scored 87 points, and defensively held them to 48 points–and many of their points were scored against lesser/experimental combinations.

    I counted 5 weird travels called, enough so that I was wondering if there’s a new rule involving traveling. So, take those away because we don’t often travel and that’s 21 turnovers. Then, TB had 7 turnovers and JBJ had 5. That’s unusual, and I think a few of them were those two working together. I’ll take some turnovers while they work that out, because they will be a lethal combination. So, that’s 12 turnovers between those two, which is also highly unusual. Maybe it’s usually 5 between them, and so now we’re down to 14 on the night.

    You don’t have to look too deep before you realize that it was just a weird game offensively. Incredibly efficient, maybe turned up a notch too high, and easily fixed. We’ll have fewer turnovers on Tuesday, mark my words. I’m not concerned at all.

  • Yes, I made the point above that TB and JBJ had 12 turnovers between them, and I think more than a few were those two specifically working together on some plays. That will be a lethal combination, and normally those two don’t have 7 and 5 turnovers. Lots of teaching and experimenting in these guarantee games, and when you can do that and still win 87-48, you’re in pretty good shape.

  • RJ’s a rock, and you can’t discount his defensive contributions either (if he’d been available last year for perimeter defense against UNC…). I think our best lineup right now is RJ, JBJ, JM, OG, and TB. That group can score and defend at an elite level, and then the next 5 deep can slot in and out to, as CTC likes to say, bring fatigue to the game. Not a lot of teams will be able to match up.

  • HoosierDom

    I wholeheartedly agree – that lineup is killer. To my mind RJ, JBJ, OG and TB were clear starters heading into the season (assuming JBJ was healthy) and I was unsure where that 5th would come from and how he might disrupt things. But, thus far I think JM fits the bill perfectly. We have enough scoring in that lineup, so another glue guy that can get scrappy points is the perfect fit. Maybe a freshman will challenge for that spot at some point and JN off the bench seems like a nice spark of speed to push things if needed.

  • sd chuck

    Agree totally, when it all comes together I want to be watching! Even the Kansas game, TB and OG carried the first half, then JBJ and RJ, and the freshmen in the second half. When this all comes together, I hope it’s march!

  • Ole Man

    Having JM and RJ on the floor along with OG and TB makes JBJ a better D player.

  • Ole Man

    You don’t beat UNC with that many TOs. End of debate.

  • ForeverIU

    We beat Kansas with 18 turnovers. Not making the case for turnovers of course. But I agree, we won’t beat NC with 26 turnovers, but 26 is not our norm.

  • ForeverIU

    My point in all of this is that 1) I don’t think we’ve been in crisis mode when it comes to turnovers and 2) our turnovers are not as random and out of our control as they might seem (we allow turnovers in order to explore new territory with our offense, and we are more in control of when we allow it than we might otherwise think).

  • Sure, agreed.

  • Absolutely. The very essence of good team defense. 🙂

  • bleeding crimson

    Ole Man you have to agree with Mark C….CTC is experimenting with his team, lineups, new faces, etc….this is the perfect time to play different line ups regardless of the TO’s. I don’t really think he in concentrating on that aspect at the moment, he is trying to get his team to learn to play fast with different players playing with one another and out of position, that itself will create more TO’s now add in the speed of the game. He will pull them back together on the TO’s later like he did last year.

  • Alan H

    I commented in the RJ profile comments that I thought RJ was thr key to this season. I always believed that he would ultimately be the “point guard” for this team this season. He has the closest to Yogi’s skill set on the roster and he is a shutdown defender. With a lineup of RJ, Blackmon, OG, Bryant, and Morgan, I’m not sure anyone has a starting lineup as talented or as flexible from shooting, ball handling and rebounding.

  • BL4IU

    All five can rebound.

  • Piker

    I listened on the radio and thought we had a high rate of charges which would count as turnovers. Not sure if anyone has that count.

  • My thoughts exactly. Isn’t JBJ a leading rebounder?

    Oh, and DG is also pretty good off the bench as well.

  • Piker

    I agree. To me end of game is more important the starting lineup. If we have to play big then DD, TB, OG, RJ and JBJ. If smaller lineup then JM for DD. JM can guard 2 to 5. Can never give up JBJ experience and scoring to end game to DG. This could change later in the year and if stops are more important than scoring.

  • True. I think I remember three, a couple of which were questionable.

  • Greg M. Bailey

    And if we had 20 the Kansas game would have most likely been a loss.

  • IU_Nation

    CuJo off the bench can give us a couple good minutes, too

    Sorry I didn’t see you included Jones in your post. My bad.

  • Bruce Clark

    The depth at all positions of this team is a luxury few teams will have this year. We can throw completely different looks at teams, even going so far as having TM at the point at 6’7″.

    I believe our most common starting lineup will be JBJ, RJ, OG, JM & TB. Excellent scoring, rebounding and D. Follow that up with CuJo, JN, DD, Green and McSwain and we’re talking putting the screws to most teams as the fresh legs and speed of CuJo, Green and JN, coupled with the power of DD and McSwain is tough to counter when tired. Throw in GG as the bomber and we’re 11 deep.

    Like many on this forum, I am disappointed in not getting a 5-star player this year, but believe after this year, that won’t be an issue. (Also believe we might end up seeing some top players transfer if there is a coaching change.)

  • You could also argue that if we’d played at a slower pace in order to avoid a couple of turnovers, we’d have lost as well. I think it’s more apt to say that we’ll never be a low-turnover team, but that this level of turnovers also won’t continue as the team continues to develop. I’m like a broken record here, but this is still a team that’s very much being molded and that, barring the injuries and late arrivals, would have already been further along. As with defensive improvement, I’m waiting until we’re a little further along before making any pronouncements.

  • IU Cal 1809

    Has anyone heard anything on the timeline on CH?

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83


  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Michigan State barely hangs on against Florida Gulf Coast. Come on Man!!!!! Bad clock operator on top of it. Go IU!!!!

  • On another note, not that it matters, Iowa State beat The Citadel 130-63. Holy crap.

  • IUowns

    I really want Gelon to develop into a role like NZ last year. Obviously cant expect him to be as good as NZ was but maybe get 8 – 10 minutes a game against a solid opponent playing good D, and dropping few 3 bombs? 10 deep is pretty good right now but with JM likely to be starting hopefully for the entire season, DD and McSwain will need to bring in 30 – 35 mins (combined) of good play. I think these next few games (excluding UNC) should be a really good time to develop the freshmen and McSwain more so they can be consistent come February, March and (Oh god please?) April.

  • Alan H

    I am a little confused about why we haven’t seemed to have more success with recruiting this year. This isn’t to disparage the guys coming in. All three fill needs and look like great kids. However, we seem to be in on many elite prospects but always come up short. Why? We have a coaching staff that develops NBA talent and wins. We have great facilities, great fans, our kids graduate and great tradition.

  • Justin Beard

    Well, at this point, I’d estimate boldly if we can keep IPFW under say, 55, at their place..

    There’s no reason why we shouldn’t make a deep run in the tournament AND win the big ten outright. It’s going to depend on rebounding for us. No dumb turnovers and rebounding will be our keys.

  • Shaggy_C

    My hypothesis has to do with Crean’s “family” approach. He is the kind of coach that moms love. Nothing kills the “cool” factor of playing at a school than having your mommy push for it.

  • Southern Hoosier

    Wooden’s teams were better. Wooden was happy to take the credit but needs to share the credit with Sam Gilbert.

  • dwdkc

    I agree this is frustrating and something of a puzzle. Maybe it’s no more complicated than the fact that any given year is a small sample size and bad luck can have you end up as a close #2 on some great players. Since Cody we’ve pulled in our share of top players, until last year, but this makes two straight years with no top 30 players after getting one in 4 straight years. As good as Davis, CuJo and Green look, I’m not concerned about that class, but we really should be getting a top guy to mix in with the diamonds in the rough most years.

  • I’m waiting for the UNC game to make any bold predictions, at least officially. Unofficially, I’m giddy at this team’s prospects. It’s something special.

    I still expect some experimenting tomorrow night, and some players getting time, unless it ends up being relatively close–which I don’t expect. It’s therefore UNC where I think CTC will clamp down and focus on simply fielding the best team throughout. And if we win that game handily, I’ll be making some bold predictions indeed.

  • Outoftheloop

    That game is on 11/30 not on 11/19!

  • Outoftheloop

    Good point!

  • Outoftheloop

    And DeRon!

  • Outoftheloop

    No 5 Star wants to earn PT against that IU deep roster!


    Absolutely ! For those that don’t know that name….google it and learn about that man and his relation to Wooden.

  • Hoosierkamp

    the options CTC has is fun. I am shocked at how well constructed this roster is. It can do so many things and I am a little surprised at how good offensively this team is.

    Bottom line. Its going to be a fun season. Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoosiers!!!!

  • Hoosierkamp

    As long as they dont lead to transition run outs.

    As long as the defense can still get set… its not a impactful.