The Minute After: Maryland

  • 01/11/2017 12:21 am in

Thoughts on a 75-72 loss to Maryland:

The slow starting Hoosiers were at it again.

The silly turnovers raged. Damonte Dodd was blocking seemingly everything at the rim.

But this one didn’t play out with Indiana getting blown out in its first Big Ten road contest of the season. It didn’t prove to be another disappointing performance.

With Nick Zeisloft and Yogi Ferrell sitting a row behind the bench, the Hoosiers showed some veteran moxie. They calmed down. They hung their hat on their continued dominance of the offensive boards and it allowed for eight more shot attempts in the first half than Maryland and nine second-chance points. Off the bench, Curtis Jones knocked down two 3-pointers. Devonte Green banged in one of his own. On his way to a tremendous offensive night, James Blackmon Jr. was 4-of-7 for nine points in the first half. At half, Indiana trained by just one, 39-38.

At times in the second half, it felt like Indiana had this one in just enough control to close it out. The Hoosiers led for almost a 10-minute stretch in the middle of the half (17:09-7:15). During that stretch, Indiana’s guards came up big as they did all night. Robert Johnson, Blackmon Jr., Devonte Green and Josh Newkirk — along with some help from OG Anunoby and Juwan Morgan — led the scoring charge.

Newkirk has been criticized as much as any Hoosiers this season, but he was great tonight on his way to nine points on 4-of-6 shooting. Newkirk had just one turnover and was about the only Hoosier in the first half to not have trouble getting the ball to the rim around the Maryland defense. Blackmon Jr. hit some huge shots reminiscent of the Kansas game on his way to a game-high 22 points. The junior hit 4-of-8 from distance and 9-of-15 overall. Johnson made 3-of-7 and scored 13 points. Where Indiana’s 3-point shooting has failed them at times this season, it was a strength tonight as the Hoosiers connected on 10-of-23 (43.5 percent) from deep.

Down the stretch, Maryland did just enough to eek this one out. After two Morgan free throws put the Hoosiers up two, Kevin Huerter got free from Blackmon Jr. on a screen for a 3-pointer to put the Terps up one. A missed shot from Anunoby on the other end allowed Anthony Cowan to leak out and get free on the other end. Huerter found him with the pass and he scored to put Maryland up three (73-70) with 1:13 to go. Indiana’s next possession found Thomas Bryant trying to do too much. His drive off the baseline and around to the other side of the rim was blocked by — you guessed it — Dodd.

It was another troubling take from Bryant in a season filled with ones showing hesitation and little in terms of lift off the ground.

Still, a steal by the Hoosiers on the ensuing Terps possession and a ridiculous dunk by Anunoby had the Hoosiers down just one with 8.2 seconds to go. Melo Trimble was fouled on the inbounds and hit two at the line to put Maryland up three.

Indiana’s last possession of the game found Johnson with a really good look on the left wing to tie the contest. It didn’t fall and the buzzer sounded.

“We would take that shot again, no matter what,” Tom Crean said after the contest.

The problem with losing home games to Nebraska and Wisconsin to start the Big Ten season? Road games in a hostile environment against a talented squad like the Terrapins — who have been great in close games so far this season — are no longer chalked up as tough, tolerable road losses. Games you can live with losing.

They’ve essentially become must wins if Indiana wants to keep pace in the Big Ten race or atone for its early home losses.

The margin for error is smaller now, and with each loss, Indiana’s chances at a Big Ten title or a high tournament seed became less likely.

(Photo credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)

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  • inLinE6

    I’m not thinking of the B1G title or high seed any more. Just enjoy each game as we can. Loved OG’s energy but disappointed with his overall performance. He’ll be picked high enough to leave after this season, based on his potential only, but I’d rather see more success from him as an Indiana player. Thomas still can’t post. Not sure why we didn’t play Davis more down the stretch. Tough loss but I liked the effort (albeit silly turnovers). Onto next one.

  • RDD#76

    I agree OG must be more aggressive at one point deep in to the first half all our scoring was from the five guards until TB scored real late in first half.

  • weitrhino

    Take care of the damn ball! 14 turnovers tonight, 19 turnovers vs Nebraska, 14 against Louisville, 13 against Wisconsin and 12 against Illinois in a win but that’s dropping 4 of the last 5 games. TO’s must be in single digits. Kansas (IU had 18 TO’s) and NC (IU had 12 TO’s) must be asking themselves how they lost to this team. I foresee an 8 or a 9 seed coming.

  • dwdkc

    I didn’t like the fact we weren’t trying to set up a play for Blackmon in any of the last possessions. Bryant has not been effective going one on one down low and didn’t come close this time. He might have gotten fouled but it’s tough to expect the call there. We have not been good in crunch time since Kansas (even in that game we lost a lead in regulation) and not having a guy that can create his own shot has really hurt in that situation. Bryant is not the guy for that situation, unfortunately.

  • Ryan Pride

    A high seed in the NIT the way things are shaping up.

  • Shaggy_C

    Agreed – the last sentence of the article seemed a bit Pollyanna-ish to me. High seeds and B1G title winners don’t go on a 1-3 to start conference play. At this point, the realistic expectation should be a middle to low finish in the B1G and a fringe seed in the tourney (maybe even playing the first day). With an RPI nearing #100 in the nation, IU has some real work to do to even earn that spot in the dance.

  • MikeinNC

    No sense getting bent out of shape about this team. Their identity is that on any given night they can look like world beaters or a NYC street ball team. This is who they are, and it is unlikely to change without a strong leader on the floor. They are a collection of talented individuals with no clear vision of how to work together. Crean is what his record has shown him to be – a talented recruiter who cannot mold the pieces together into teams that can consistently compete at the elite level nationally. We will have flashes of greatness. We will win some B10 titles and occasionally make a decent tournament run. But we are not headed to the top of the mountain with Crean as our coach. That appears to be what we are all willing to accept, so we should just enjoy the moments of greatness when they come, and just smile and shake our heads when we see clueless defense, awful assist to turnover ratios, and lost big men because that is what we’ve signed up for with Crean. The record is clear at this point. Just love this team and program for what it is, and stop agonizing over what it will never be under Crean. You will be able to enjoy the games a lot more.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Thomas Bryant is the weakest big man in the league. What the hell is he trying to be? Goes up soft over and over and can’t guard the pick and roll to save his life. He is far worse this year than he was last year. If Bryant can’t be a dependable scoring option (or at least draw fouls) then this team will continue to struggle all year long.

  • Speed

    Either this team has gone backwards or everybody else got better. In any event the high hopes of a high tournament ranking and Big Ten Title gives way to just hoping that we make the tourney. Games against Purdue, Northwestern, etc. are looming large and not many easy ones in the Big Ten this year.

  • HuntinHoosier86

    I bet the Mastodons are pissed…..

  • Ben thorne

    To me, we really need that one special player on the court that always makes everyone else look good, whether through great passing, help defense, etc. We just don’t have that person.

  • Speed

    Bryant seems to make up his mind on whether or not to take a shot instead of taking what the opposition gives him. His shot late against Dodd was ill-advised as he should have kicked it out. But then he does his patented flop pleading with officials to call a foul.

  • N71

    You may be right, not sure but isn’t this just shocking? Unless a rabbit presents itself from Crean’s backside this will end up as a wildly humbling season. I’m not sure where to go from here, we’re loaded talent wise, beat Kansas/UNC, and are thinking NIT…wow. What’s there to be optimistic about, what is my new level set expectation? Championships as an expectation now at IU is a twisted form of torture. I need to recalibrate and look for deflections, draft position, and the next cool workout video as the new optimal.

  • PBzeer

    Double digit TO’s and single digit Assists is not a winning formula, but especially for a team that relies on ball movement.

  • Disco_Briscoe

    If Bryant can’t play the post, he shouldn’t be out there. I’ve never seen a big man get his shot blocked as much as he does. He has no post skills offensively or defensively and he isn’t skilled enough to the play the “3”, which it seems he is trying to play. Flat out soft! Davis should be playing more minutes than Bryant.

    All the OG praise in the off/preseason did something to him and/or Crean. He’s trying to be something he’s not. Get back to running the baseline, slashing and getting the occasional 3 (Troy Williams)

    The play of our “bigs” directly effects our guard play since the defense can over extend and help, which is causing a faster pace, no half court set (I don’t think Crean teaches anyway), more turnovers, and difficulty for Blackmon, Johnson, Newkirk, and others to get a good look and do something with the ball.

    Defense is a complete mess so I’m not going into detail…Why can’t they hedge a screen? Communication is terrible.

  • SCHoosier

    Re: OG’s slam. Was it a good decision to take a two point shot with 12 sec left when we needed a 3 to tie? Slam..sham..we got punked oon drives and low post play all night..gave up 8 blocks in the first half with soft to the bucket plays. IU just can’t stop Melo on the drives off the high screen. they had 18 FT’s to our 8..that will win most games. Hooseris showed some competitive Spirit second h alf..but can’t get a stop when they need it.

  • Kyl470

    A couple things to take away from this game from a rational view.

    1. This loss and the Louisville loss are understandable, but the other losses make this
    seem worse.
    2. This team has to play fast because our half court offense isn’t good enough to score
    consistently against a set defense. This will result in a lot of turnovers, but it’s the way
    we have to play to score.
    3. Thomas Bryant is just as bad on defense as Blackmon and I think people are noticing
    4. Thomas Bryant is a man without a position and it’s affecting him. His inside play is
    extremely soft and his handles are not good enough to play mostly on the perimeter.
    CTC needs to squash his dreams of being like Kevin Durant and make him a power
    5. Davis must be really out of shape and lack endurance. That is the only rational
    reason to not give him more minutes.
    6. Newkirk played much better this game, but still should come off the bench.
    7. We miss Good Troy, Bad Troy or any version of Troy. All off season and last
    season people wanted OG over Troy. Well the difference on offense between Troy
    and OG is that Troy was able to score on his own and OG can’t right now. When
    OG is given the chance to create he turns it over just as bad and maybe worse
    than Troy. OG gives us the occasional highlight reel dunk and a solid effort on D,
    but he is not someone you can count on to give you double digit points like we
    could with Troy.
    8. The Kansas game gave us false expectations for this team. The reality is that they
    are going to be middle of the pack in the Big 10 (on a down year) and fringe NCAA
    tournament team.
    9. As crazy as this team is, it will probably be the year we somehow pull off a miracle
    and win the Big 10 Tournament.

  • Disco_Briscoe

    Totally agree. Very similar points to my post above.

  • IU_theoracle

    All great points. The final point is the craziest but truest statement of all. I could totally see the same thing happening because it’s not like this team lacks talent, they just don’t play together, but have proven they can beat anyone so all it will take is the team getting hot for a week and they could win the tournament, then lose in the first round of the NCAA tournament after using all their energy. lol

  • Lobills

    Great PG’s don’t have just 1 assist in 22 minutes. As far as the B1G race…there is no race. This team isn’t competing for a conference title now. That is laughable. The rate things are going we’re going to limp into the tourney as an 9-10 seed or miss the dance altogether.

    How can you write that with a straight face?

  • FWHoosier

    Pollyanna wrote this.

  • Even that is optimistic talk, I’d be worried about making it to the tourney the way this team is playing. We’ve lost 4 of 5 and are 3rd from the bottom of the B10. The remainder of our schedule looks tough and not looking good at even finishing above 500 in the league. The Kan/NC games will help but our overall SOS is 73rd, if we are near the bottom of the league and under 500 I wouldn’t consider us a given to even get in.

  • inLinE6

    Under 0.500 will likely be a #1 seed in NIT. I don’t really watch NIT.

  • Brad

    Bryant has to get better. He is too big to be flopping around on the floor. He’s got to stay on his feet and play tougher and quit whining to the refs.