Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss to Northwestern

  • 01/29/2017 11:38 pm in

EVANSTON, Ill. – Indiana finished the first half of the Big Ten season with a disappointing 68-55 loss to Northwestern at Welsh-Ryan Arena. It was the second straight loss for the Hoosiers and it dropped them below .500 in league play at 4-5.

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

· Offense, typically a strength, stalls: For the first time in Big Ten play, Indiana’s offense scored less than a point per possession. The Hoosiers scored a season-low .88 points per possession in Sunday’s loss and also had their second worst effective field goal percentage of the season at 39.6. Indiana also hit just 13-of-22 from the free throw line.

The Indiana players said postgame that the Hoosiers were just missing shots, but it’s clear this team missed James Blackmon Jr. badly. The guards – Robert Johnson, Devonte Green and Josh Newkirk – shot a combined 6-of-28 from the field.

And there was a stretch of turnovers in the first half that Indiana’s simply couldn’t afford to have. From the 11:54 mark to the 7:56 mark, Indiana had seven straight possessions with a turnover. The last of the mistakes led to a Nathan Taphorn layup that gave Northwestern a 21-12 lead and capped a 20-2 run by the Wildcats.

· Northwestern dominated the contest: The final margin was just 13, but Indiana never seriously threatened after Northwestern took control late in the first half.

Statistically speaking, nearly every category of note belonged to Northwestern.

The Wildcats outscored Indiana 28-18 in the paint. They scored 17 points off of turnovers. Indiana had just six. Northwestern had 11 second chance points to eight for the Hoosiers. And Northwestern had 10 fast break points to just two for Indiana.

· Indiana had its third best defensive game in Big Ten play: This speaks to how poorly the Hoosiers played offensively.

Indiana held Northwestern to 1.08 points per possession – its third best defensive effort in conference play – and still lost by 13.

There were some bright spots defensively, like holding Dererk Pardon scoreless and limiting Vic Law to just 2-of-12 from the field, but also some areas where Indiana struggled.

Sanjay Lumpkin, typically a role player offensively, scored a season-high 15 points. And Indiana native Bryant McIntosh had 21 points and eight assists in 37 minutes. Both players took advantage of Indiana off the dribble to get to the line and draw fouls, which has been a weakness all season. Lumpkin and McIntosh were a combined 11-of-13 from the free throw line.

· A strong night for Thomas Bryant: The lone individual bright spot for Indiana was the play of Thomas Bryant.

The sophomore forward tied a career-high 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in 36 minutes. Bryant was 7-of-13 from the field, 7-of-11 from the free throw line and also had two assists, two blocks and a steal.

Given the injury situation, Indiana is going to need Bryant to continue producing consistently offensively to have any hope of righting the ship in the second half of the Big Ten schedule.

· Indiana’s season is squarely in the balance: At 14-8 overall and 4-5 in the league with significant injury issues, Indiana is in serious jeopardy of missing the NCAA tournament.

Based on comments made over the weekend by James Blackmon Sr., it appears the Hoosiers will get James Blackmon Jr. back relatively soon.

But given the difficulty of its remaining conference games, Indiana’s back is against the wall. The Hoosiers have five more road games left and are just 2-6 this season away from Bloomington.

A season that once held so much promise is quickly slipping away.

(Photo credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports)

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  • SCHoosier

    With the injuries it was gonna end up like that anyway…altho I prefer the bigger line up of OG and JM in the front line with Thomas..

  • Arch Puddington

    Having made my points in a number of posts, I’m hesitant to do so again, but because I think you have missed some of my argument, I’ll go ahead.

    The point I have made for some time now is that while Crean most certainly had success with the top Indiana kids earlier in his time here, something has changed. Here is one way to look at it:

    From 2011-2014, we landed 5 top 100 players from Indiana, including 3 McDonald’s All-Americans and a Mr. Basketball (2 Mr. Basketballs if you include Hulls from just prior to that stretch).

    From 2015-2018, we will have landed zero, including having missed 10 or so top 100 players and 3 McDonald’s All-Americans (granted, that all assumes Romeo Langford does not commit to IU, but Duke is the overwhelming favorite).

    Again, I’m not ideologically committed to Indiana players, just making the point that we are no longer capitalizing on the biggest advantage in recruiting we have. It is both a reflection and a cause of diminished fortunes.

  • Arch Puddington

    “That’s not how most Indiana kids learn to play, which is why he tends to go outside of the state.”

    He has gone after just about every top 100 kid from Indiana since he got here. He just isn’t getting them anymore. Indiana had 4 players in the top 29 for 2017 alone, and Crean went after all of them. One year he had almost the entire starting lineup of the Indiana Senior all-stars; this year he will have none of them.

  • Fifer39

    Whether it’s in state kids or not, TC seems to value athleticism over sound fundamentals in recruiting in the belief that you can coach the latter but not the former. A team full of Vic and OGs could probably create chaos with TCs system but the problem is you’re lucky to get one of them every few years and in the meantime you end up trying to force players who are not ready into a system they don’t seem to be comfortable with.

  • Fifer39

    I kind of know what you’re saying about Anderson, but you’re going to need a bit more than you not being a fan of his to make a case for him being replaced, LOL!

  • domtakis

    For sure and I would not be surprised if Butler makes a deep run in this year’s tournament after having a say in the Big East race. We should get in on some of that recruitment action.


    Yep, I have been one of the biggest, if not the biggest, complainers about his freaking 3 guard lineups. Seeing if he did the same thing this year when JBJ got hurt, as he did last year when he got hurt, i.e. switching to a two guard lineup, was the number one thing I was anxious to see. When he stayed with the 3 guard lineup I knew it was not going to go well. I don’t see it really getting any better unless he does. We may have another game or two where the 3’s are dropping and we win another game here and there, but for the most part, and IMHO, it will be a slow and painful backwards slide into a NIT bid at best. At this point he should be able to look back at last season and be able to understand that that was one of the biggest reasons that things turned around. SAD !

  • HoosierFanatic

    I agree totally. How do we know we won’t get any top recruits in 2017 2018 class?! That’s obviously a huge concern with our recruiting if that is indeed the case! I guess I am committed to signing Indiana players be it ideological or straight homer, but we consistently have great basketball players in this state. Period. Look at Purdue big man. If Langford goes to Duke in stead of staying home and helping IU get back to the Final 4, it’s on him. You know our recruiting staff gave him max effort. We did win the Big 10 last year and beat Kentucky in Tournament. I don’t see how ANY Hoosier kid wouldn’t want to stay home and be part of something special. IU in the Final 4.

  • HoosierFanatic

    I love Collin btw, think he’s all around excellent player offensively and defensively.


    He just signed a contract extension with the Celtics, but I say pull out the checkbook and tell him to let us know when there are enough zeros on it. I say at least send out some back door feelers and see if there is any scenario where he would come. When I was reading about his new contract he stated that they got the contract done in a very short amount of time because he didn’t feel the need to try and be the highest paid coach in the NBA or even one of the highest paid ones. Now that could be good for IU in that it means we wouldn’t have to mortgage the farm to get him to come or it could also be bad for IU and mean that he likes where he is so much that he doesn’t have to be compensated monetarily with every penny he could wring out of them.


    Totally agree, see my response to IdahoHoosier above.


    And it hasn’t been just this year either.

  • HoosierFanatic

    Well if he has been recruiting them as strong as possible, and are High School players decide on Duke Kentucky and Michigan St, despite are recent success, then apparently the love for Indiana University Basketball has escaped some of these kids growing up. And the ESPN covered NBA Scouts practice both Kentucky and Duke have every year and fast track you to NBA in a year is another huge draw for hs players. Everyone has there opinion of CTC, there’s definitely some validity to the complaints. There also has to be some acknowledgment to the fact with all the off court issues and the dismissal of 2 players that would have been HUGE additions in Tournament, esp UNC, he had last year’s team playing at their ceiling at the end of the year. And starting with Hartman, the injuries and missed games this year have been devestating. Until Michigan, every game, including Louisville we had chance to win comming down the stretch. I remain optomistic and hopeful for Big 10 part 2. And that a healthy JBJ could average 27 a game down the stretch.

  • BigBoi

    Pretty sure we could lure Mike Davis away from Texas Southern right now. What is Kelvin Sampson up to these days? Point being, we couldn’t do much worse than CTC from an Xs and Os standpoint. Leave him on the staff to recruit if he wants it, because I don’t see any big conference team offering him anything.

  • Fort Steve

    At this point, I see no reason to make a change until the season ends. Hopefully, Fred Glass makes the decision quickly and finds someone who can coach first and recruit second. Crean has proven himself a good recruiter, but IU has seen far too many blue chip recruits not get us a national championship due to coaching.

  • kaponya44

    Lol I was mostly venting with some more rational feelings behind it.. .Something is amiss ..I can;t put my finger on it since I’m not a physician ..There have been times where we appeared to lack strength and conditioning but we see the videos of them in the sand pits all summer…Hard to focus on that facet until watching replays since the groups lacking discipline stands out so much more. I had noticed them appear gassed a few times prior to OG getting hurt…That aside of the unfortunate injuries which were not basis for my comment..I feel for those kids more than the team;s record ..It just sucks all around..Kids get hurt ,but it feels unusually high occurrence at IU..Maybe I;m wrong.

  • Guyton25

    Yeah that’s exactly what I am saying. Our talent/ability has now shifted heavily toward the frontcourt and when Crean says “who we are” he definitely means the offensive and defensive schemes he believes in. Not the characteristics that make our players unique. We need to be running more pick n’ rolls with Bryant and feeding Davis in the post while not shooting as much threes as a whole. Definitely not shooting 3s with Newkirk. Devonte Green and Johnson should be or perimeter role players with Bryant shooting them whenever he feels the time is right, like he always does.

    Crean just has to realize that when your team changes, the scheme has to change to reflect who your CURRENT team is, not who you wish they were. Our talent is down low now; no excuses, we must play big.