Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss to Wisconsin

  • 01/04/2017 9:05 am in

Indiana’s free fall continued on Tuesday night as the Hoosiers fell 75-68 to Wisconsin at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The loss was Indiana’s third straight and fourth in six games.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the loss to the Badgers:

· A puzzling start: Coming off two straight losses to Nebraska and Louisville, this was a contest in which Indiana needed to set the tone early. A strong start to knock Wisconsin on its heels and engage the crowd, which was without students, was important for the Hoosiers to have.

Instead, Indiana came out lethargic. And Wisconsin, a veteran team with guys who have played for a national championship, executed flawlessly. By the time Indiana realized the game had begun, Wisconsin led 16-2.

Postgame, both Tom Crean and the IU players struggled to explain the slow start. Juwan Morgan said IU “didn’t come out ready” and Crean said “I don’t even know what to tell you about the start of the game.”

15 games into the season, the lack of answers is alarming.

· Defense falters again: For the third straight game, an opponent had its way with Indiana’s defense. After allowing Nebraska to hit 9-of-18 3s in Bloomington to open league play, Wisconsin marched into Bloomington and knocked down 10-of-20.

Indiana’s 2-point defense also faltered again as the Badgers shot 50 percent inside the arc. Saturday’s opponent, Louisville, shot 59.4 percent on 2s.

In two conference games, Indiana is allowing 1.22 points per possession. Last year’s team allowed a point per possession in conference games, which was third best and a major reason the Hoosiers won the league.

Indiana has now played six major conference teams and held just one of them (North Carolina) under a point per possession.

· Lineups late make little sense: With the game in the balance tied at 56 with 8:50 to play, Crean made the decision to remove De’Ron Davis and bring Freddie McSwain into the game.

Two other substitutions were made, too, as James Blackmon Jr. and Thomas Bryant replaced Robert Johnson and Juwan Morgan. Less than two minutes later, with 7:06 to play, Curtis Jones replaced Zach McRoberts. At that point, Indiana was up one.

That next stretch of 2:36 is where the game was lost. In the sequence, IU’s three offensive possessions were a McSwain turnover, an Anunoby dunk and a missed 3-pointer by Blackmon Jr. Wisconsin, meanwhile, scored on all of its possessions and built a seven-point lead at 66-59.

With Davis on the bench, Indiana went away from what made it successful offensively in the second half. And defensively, the Hoosiers couldn’t stop Wisconsin with a lineup that featured several below-average defenders. Momentum disappeared in that decisive stretch and as a result, so did Indiana’s chances to win.

· Davis again makes case for more minutes: While Bryant continues to struggle with taking care of the ball and finishing in the post, Davis is emerging as Indiana’s best post threat offensively.

Wisconsin had no answer for Davis when the Hoosiers were able to find him in the post. In 18 minutes, he finished with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 from the line.

Moving forward, will Indiana extend the minutes for Davis? After missing the summer while finishing up academic obligations in Colorado, Davis has yet to play 20 minutes in a game this season.

· Disappointing performances by several players: To beat the best teams in the country, your best players have to play well. That didn’t happen for Indiana on Tuesday night.

OG Anunoby made all four of his shots from the field, but had four turnovers. Anunoby’s turnover rate this season is at 20 percent.

Bryant continues to struggle in the post against length and only grabbed three rebounds in 21 minutes. Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ, meanwhile, went for 19 points and six rebounds.

James Blackmon Jr. didn’t have a single rebound and after scoring 10 points in the first half, only took two shots and went scoreless in the second half.

And Josh Newkirk, who again started and played 17 first half minutes, finished 1-of-7 from the field.

Filed to:

  • VegasHoosier

    I think Bryant’s “energy” is over-rated as the guy whines about foul he gets.

  • VegasHoosier

    The NCAA has made it extremely clear they will punish teams with cupcake schedules so, no, we “shouldn’t” have received a higher seed seeing as who Crean loves to fill the schedule with.

  • Veritas238

    The idea of having a higher seed came from the fact that we won the BIG outright, considering the strength of the BIG schedule, and not the strength or lack there of from our early season non-conference schedule.

  • Spooky

    Right??? There’s a fine line between playing with passion, and having juvenile mental breakdowns. It reminds me of Ronda Rousy, it only hurts your game.

  • John D Murphy

    It wasn’t overreaction. The fact that an aberation happened in the 2nd half of last year doesn’t change the fact that we were a terrible team at that point in the season last year. There is no excuse for that. Many of us hoped that TC had finally found his sweet spot. That hope is as useless as putting the in JN’s hands (just gets further from the basket).

  • John D Murphy

    JN must believe his role is to dribble the ball until it is flat.

  • Piker

    A puzzling start: Pretty sure it was TOS turning into open 3s
    Defense: Yep
    Lineups late make little sense: If players needed a blow then TB, JBJ for JM and RJ is a substitution I could live with. We got hurt by the other two FM for DD, both sides of the ball, and CJ for ZM, defense for hopefully offense that did not materialize.
    Davis makes case for more minutes: DD should start at the 5.
    Disappointing play by several players: Yep. All 3 need to step it up or we do not have a chance. They are good players that are needed in the rotation.

    Postings: Not much to add besides some good ones and bad ones. I will still watch and cheer on the players and coaches and hope for a turn around. I have gotten use to the forum and everyone has a say which makes for a good time for all.

    How would I fix it: Limit TOS, play good D and make some shots.

  • Ole Man

    That would be my starting five.

  • Steve wallsmaddee77

    Starting 5: OG, JM, DD, RJ, CJ.

  • stillstoned2016

    This team is a year away. Young. Inexperienced. Inconsistent. No Leadership. No point guard. No go-to guy in crunch time. A nice guy, religious, coach that seems afraid of becoming a RMK. The future is bright if everyone comes back next year. They would be the most experienced team of the TC era and a legitimate final four threat. The team was overhyped from the beginning. Losing YF, NZ, MB and TW left too many holes to fill. They have skill (Kansas and NC found out) but it is unpolished with little discipline. Don’t blame the coach or the players or the AD. Just give this group time to jell and reach their potential.

  • SeeingRed

    Maybe it was just a fragile house of cards waiting to disintegrate — and with no player/leader around to stem that tide, it just went fully into the tank.

    It’s all hard to figure out. The head coach doesn’t even seem to know what the heck is happening and he’s with these guys all the time.

  • IULore

    *irony. Don’t think I didn’t see this before the edit! LOL

  • pcantidote

    No, I meant CTC’s coaching, not your post 🙂

  • Right. Your post is the tl:dr version of my post. Made perfect sense to me. 🙂

  • everettdean

    My takeaways on a season that appears to be slipping away.

    A dribble drive offense requires a player with quickness and above average ball handling to really click. Yogi had both qualities and we now have no players with that combined skill set. I see no answer to this problem on our roster which is worrisome given that Crean has historically not shown much flexibility with his offensive sets. This is why we are seeing so much east-west dribbling this season versus north-south penetration. Even Bad Troy had the ability to take his man off the dribble and morph into Good Troy at times….OG might have that ability long term but he does not even handle the ball as well as Troy did.

    Crean over coaches….his worst moments at Indiana always seem to come back to this principle…he absolutely must shorten the rotation and simplify everything for this team to get better. No more hockey rotations, position less basketball or switching defense in the same possession.

    Focus on what we do well…it’s not a long list so play big and hit the offensive boards. Bryant, Davis, OG, Morgan, Blackmon (a good rebounder) and RJ seems like a good place to start. That lineup would also help to cover up the defensive deficiencies of Blackmon and TB.

    Searching for answers….hope CTC is as well.

  • I think that absolutely if everyone returned next year then we’d be a strong team. Of course, that would mean some serious adjustments in the roster given who’s signed for next year already.

  • E Foy McNaughton

    Agreed on playing DD & TB at the same time. They ran a nice high-low post in the Nebraska game and went on a run to make the game close.

    Given JBJ & JN recent struggles, and I know this will raise eyebrows, I’d give serious consideration to the following starting lineup:

    RJ -1
    CJ -2
    OG -3
    TB -4
    DD -5

  • Ole Man

    Love that lineup! Use JBJ as instant firepower off the bench.

  • MrNobody

    Sooo… Butler does it again. How over the last decade have they continued to do it? They don’t have ” future lottery picks” and McDondald’s all Americans. They don’t have seven footers or big point gaurds. According to some on here there is no way they should be in top 25 let alone top ten. Should definitely not be able to beat another top team with that talent (Arizona). It all balls down to playing fundamental well coached basketball. Take car of ball and hit free throws (perfect from line last night). And play team basketball. They run back cuts for lay-ups. All their shots aren’t contested threes. We have superior talent and are not using it. With the athletes we have we never see any back-cuts or ally-oops. Louisville got slipped screens and back-cuts for easy shots while we played one on one street ball. Positionless basketball puts the wrong people in spots to fail as far as I see it. We need a system with smart play and a coach that can motivate a team. Going down 13-0 at the start of a game- calling time-out and then putting same 5 back on court is not motivation. Bring back Fife or Lewis (he spent few years at Butler). Know they would motivate a team.

  • Koko

    Not that I disagree on all your points but #7 is really a great point.

  • Okay, now this is getting silly. Yes, the team is struggling, and this isn’t CTC’s best coaching effort by a long shot. But come on–you can’t boost Butler for beating #1 and in the same breath refuse to give CTC’s coaching some credit for when his team beat #1 Kentucky. And this season, in spite of the recent issues, this team did beat two #3 teams and was beaten by two Top 20 teams–one of which was Butler, for god’s sake. And Butler was beaten by iSU, which is equivalent to the IPFW loss.

    So, come on. Knocking CTC for his boneheaded substitutions and poor defensive coaching is one thing, but this kind of double standard is ridiculous.

  • Jeff Linback

    I looked at the stats from the 76 championship game. Benson, Buckner and Woodson all played 39 minutes. No wonder they were undefeated.

  • DB

    Naturally, I want IU to win games, but athletics is a “spectator sport,” and even when we don’t win I simply want to watch a hard-fought matchup. That is ENJOYABLE, regardless of outcome. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen that much from the Hoosiers. That’s the most frustrating thing for me.


    That would require Crean to go away from his beloved 3 guard offense, which he seems to resist with great force. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, last year’s turnaround might have something to do with JBJ being out of the lineup, or it may not, but one thing I know for sure is it is also basically when we starting going with a 2 guard lineup, and that, IMHO, is the biggest reason we turned things around. If we had different guards with different types of strengths I could ” maybe ” see going with that or at least trying it to see what happened, but we don’t have that.


    You couldn’t be more right !


    I see nothing to disagree with you about, and I read it through twice. lol

  • MrNobody

    With all due respect Mark I read all your comments. The point I was trying to make was that McD’s and lottery guys don’t make wins. During recruiting season all we hear about is highest ranked players and big guards and seven footers. Well I am sorry that doesn’t earn national championships. TEAMS and coaches with there systems does. Kansas gets as high recruits as anyone and has been bounced recently in tournament. My point was offense looks just as bad as defense when threes aren’t falling and has for most of CTC’s time here. Louisville offense and defense looked so much better Sat. that it was pathetic. By most peoples standards Snider would be to small a point for us to recruit. Lewis I believe his name is from Butler is a small SMART point who is not flashy but gets it done and is not big. People on here would have gone crazy if we went after him. Like I said normally just read. But anyone can see gaping holes in where this team is headed. Too many called timeouts and we get nothing but turnovers or shot clock violations afterward.


    I think he feels like college ball is only holding him back and that his game is more conducive to the play at the next level. There may very well be some truth to that, only thing is, is that there isn’t enough truth to it to get him drafted.

  • I hear you, and sorry if I came across the wrong way. Or, if I came across as I felt when I wrote it, as intensely frustrated. I get what you’re saying, and I’m not saying there’s not a point about Butler and other such teams. It’s just there’s _so much_ negativity, and comparisons to other programs, with (IMO) too little attention paid to some of the positives. I get that we want IU to be _better_ than Butler, but really, they’re accomplishing similar things to IU right now.

    I wrote elsewhere that I’m going back to my previous “respect CTC but think he’s probably not the right coach for IU” perspective. And so I get everyone’s concern about where the team is at right now and where it’s headed. But we can’t forget that CTC has also accomplished some things at IU’s coach, including two huge wins this season. It would just be nice if those positives were recognized more often along with the intense negativity.

  • Woodson? You mean Wilkerson?

    Interestingly, Wilkerson, Buckner, May, and Abernathy were all seniors. Benson was a junior. That’s the essential reason why that team went undefeated.

    The ’76 team was the quintessential RMK team with a nucleus that spent four years drilling his philosophy into their brains. Show me a team today with a starting lineup of four seniors and a junior with their talent, and I’d predict they’d go undefeated as well. You’ll never see a team like that again, though. No way a team holds onto that much talent for four years.

    As an aside, that entire team was also all from either Indiana, Illinois, or Ohio, except for Roberson who was from New York–which will also never happen again no matter who’s IU’s coach.

  • Steve wallsmaddee77

    Replace TB with JM

  • Jonny McClain

    I will rant a little because it makes me feel better… many may not agree but that’s fine as you’re entitled to your opinion. I didn’t go look at all the stats, etc – just my opinion from watching and then trying to forget the last few games…

    -What’s up with OG? He looks kind of slow to me, settling for way too many 3’s, not the elite defender I imagined and the 20% TO rate speaks for itself.
    -Bryant needs to work with DD on how to play in the post – be decisive and quit bumbling around out there like a Neanderthal.
    -Need more from JBJ – this team is not very good offensively and we absolutely need this kid to score the ball. 10 points in the first half against Wiscy and then 0 in the 2nd isn’t going to cut it. Is he an elite defender, no, but who is on this team?
    –McSwain shouldn’t see the floor the rest of the year
    -CuJo can’t run the point
    -Juwan Morgan can’t run the point (but I want 30+ minutes from this kid every game as I love what he is doing out there when he is NOT at the point)
    -Newkirk is maddening but he is the only one who can break his man down and get to the rim consistently – and yet I still don’t think he should be playing…

    It has to get better from here, no?