Offense stalls in Indiana’s 68-55 loss at Northwestern

  • 01/30/2017 8:08 am in

Instead of reversing course following Thursday’s embarrassment at Michigan, IU’s problems continued on Sunday night against Northwestern.

The Hoosiers had their worst offensive performance of the season and combined with a first half full of turnovers, a struggling Indiana team fell to Northwestern 68-55 at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Indiana’s strong start – a 10-1 lead – was short lived.

Northwestern came storming back to tie the game at 12. And once Indiana had seven straight possessions with a turnover, the Hoosiers were in a hole they couldn’t get out of. By the 7:49 mark of the first half, IU’s deficit was 21-12 and it never got closer than six points the rest of the way.

“We’ve lost a couple guys that are at the top of the scouting report, so it just ratchets it up for everybody else,” Tom Crean said postgame. “The key is that you don’t try to do too much yourself, that you take what the defense is giving you. With a young team like this I can’t even tell you what it’s going to be like the next day.”

Thomas Bryant led the way for IU tying his career-high with 23 points. Bryant also added team-high 12 rebounds. Bryant was effective in the post, but he didn’t get much help. The rest of Indiana’s roster was a combined 10-of-40 from the field.

Robert Johnson attempted to make up for the absence of James Blackmon Jr., but only managed 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting from the field. No other Hoosiers scored in double figures. IU also struggled from the free throw line, hitting just 13-of-22.

“I think our struggle comes from not making simple plays,” Johnson said. “When we get away from our plan and try to make home run plays, then the other team capitalizes. Going forward that’ll be something we will focus on.”

The Hoosiers beat themselves with turnovers, as has been the case often this season. They committed 13, which led to 17 points for Northwestern.

On the other end, IU’s defense was better than it has been for most of Big Ten play. The Hoosiers held Northwestern to 1.08 points per possession.

But IU fell short because it couldn’t get anything going offensively. Without Blackmon Jr., Indiana had its worst offensive efficiency number of the season.

With two straight losses, Indiana’s chances to make the NCAA tournament are beginning to slip away. The Hoosiers return home to play Penn State on Wednesday.

“At the end of the day, we have to look at every game like it’s a one-game season,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to try and stack some wins together.”

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  • IdahoHoosier

    “With a young team like this I can’t even tell you what it’s going to be like the next day.” I really hate to hear CTC say that. He is the coach, and he should set the tone for what each day is going to be like. With a young team they are still teachable and adaptable. As a coach it is time to adapt and put this team into learning and teamwork mode. This team can still win a few games if they solidify an identity based on working hard and making simple plays.

  • Kyl470

    With all the injuries I know our offense is going to struggle and our defense isn’t good enough to overcome that. I’ve been thinking back to the BTN coverage of IU basketball practice before the season started. Jon Crispin hosted an on air special of one hour inside a CTC practice. Now I know that practice probably tried to please a TV audience. The last 10 minutes on air showed the team in a scrimmage. However, through the rest of the television coverage there was not a single drill the team practiced involving defense. It was all passing, dribbling, cutting, and shooting. They spent 50 minutes doing offensive drills with just a couple team managers standing there pretending to be defenders. You would think you would do some sort of drill teaching the players how you want them to play defense.

  • IU_theoracle

    I realize the team is depleted from injuries, but the fact Crean refuses to adapt to the
    players and team he has is the biggest issue. We have good post players
    and basically no shooters now yet we are taking 21 three pointers and
    shooting 32% from the field while still pushing the issue of playing
    “downhill” and in transition. Northwestern is better in transition that
    we are right now and that is really why we lost. We have to start running an actual offense and slowing the tempo down to take advantage of what we do have on this team which is Bryant, Davis and Morgan with Johnson as a good open shooter.

  • iugradmark

    One of my biggest complaints about Crean has been his insistence of playing a certain way regardless of skills of the team and regardless of whether the system works. We are trying to play an NBA style of offense and we do not have the kids that can do that. The poor defense is just lack of emphasis.

    These kids are athletic and long enough to play good defense. It is clear that they do not practice on the right things. Our kids look lost most of the time and open shots and easy dribble penetration is the result. We often give up career highs to players and just look out of sorts. I don’t envy Glass’s situation. I am sure he would like to hang in there with Crean and probably thought after how they finished last year, he wouldn’t be dealing with coaching change so quickly but with our remaining schedule and insistence on this style of play, we are headed for a very bad season. No Yogi’s or Cody’s on the horizon to save things moving forward. I think the decision is pretty straight forward.

  • Sandra Wilson

    Crean won’t change, and I’m beginning to believe he doesn’t know how to coach any other way…..There does need to be a change, but it’s not the offense that I’m thinking about.

  • Sandra Wilson

    Johnson – junior —- Newkirk – 4 year junior —- Green – freshmen —- Morgan – very experienced sophomore —- Bryant – very experienced sophomore……How are we any less experienced than any other team out there ?….Look at the schedule and tell me which few games this team can win….I see 3 possibilities, and we probably won’t win all 3….PSU, UM, and IOWA…..I agree, with some changes, there are some winnable games, but experience tells me there won’t be any switches in our strategy……The one positive thing I can say about CTC is that his teams have always played hard…..Beyond that though……….

  • Steve wallsmaddee77

    Another Indiana kid that we could have had, just torched us last night. Bryant McIntosh, who is from my home town always wanted to go to IU, but never was recruited. Just another case of not getting the good players in Indiana that really know how to play the game. What a shame!!!!!!!

  • IdahoHoosier

    I can’t tell if this is debating my post or agreeing… but I agree that we are just as experienced as most teams. I was merely commenting on CTC’s quote and hoping he is dictating what each day is like for this team, regardless of experience. Either way, they are still young men and need guidance and coaching. And I agree, there aren’t many winnable games left on the schedule, but there is enough time and talent here to win a few if things go right.

  • IdahoHoosier

    You’re from Greensburg? Good old Decatur County. I’m from nearby, Hope.

  • IU_theoracle

    Complete agree, the change needs to be in the form of the Head Coach and if AD Fred Glass won’t fire him, then fire Glass then Crean!

  • IU_theoracle

    Well said. He won’t adapt to the players he has which is the biggest issue. Northwestern is better than IU in transition and that is why we lost. We don’t have the speed right now to defend in transition and playing fast only leads to teams out scoring us.

    I agree with you, we’re a season removed from a Big Ten Championship and a Crean Big Ten Coach of the Year award but that was mostly due to the fact that Yogi Ferrell refused to lose and willed the team to a championship, also injuries forced Crean to go away from the three guard lineup which then made the team much better defensively. These issues have been here for a while and honestly there were still major issues during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, we simply just had more talent than nearly everyone in the country and only lost to teams that outcoached us like Bo Ryan with Wisconsin.

  • David Macer

    The kid is actually from New Castle but transferred to Greensburg. Had to do with HS coach.

  • Steve wallsmaddee77

    No, I am from New Castle. This is where Bryant live until his Soph.year, then moved to Greensburg. Known family for years. A GREAT KID!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • EarlGreyTeaBag

    Ken Pomeroy measures both experience (age) and minutes continuity from one season to the next, so you can kind of tell how young a team is by that. IU averages 1.25 years experience and 37.3% minutes continuity from last year.

    Just for comparison, Wisconsin returned 87.2% of minutes from last year, the most in the nation. On the other hand, Maryland is both younger and has less continuity (1.17 and 34.8) MSU is similarly young.

    IU is objectively inexperienced, but there are teams even less experienced doing well, so I agree that that shouldn’t be anyone’s excuse.

  • Sandra Wilson

    Neither – just commenting on your topics…..I agree 100%, there is enough talent.

  • Sandra Wilson

    So how would you measure Newkirk on minutes continuity from last year ?….Not arguing, just curious.

  • EarlGreyTeaBag

    I think it would be 0 minutes, though he’d show up in the experience metric. I guess that metric more tracks the experience the team has playing as a team. Although it seems like the more experience they get, the worse this team plays :-/

  • IdahoHoosier

    Excellent! Always nice to hear a guy is a quality person as well as athlete.

  • Nimbi63

    The one thing Bobby Knight brought was the ability to analyze a team, find it’s strengths and weaknesses, and develop a game plan to take away the strengths and exploit the weaknesses. If he needed to change who was on the court each game, he would. I’m not sure TC and his staff do any of this.

  • John Manaugh

    Columbus here.

  • Freemason

    I had. The same issue when Davis was the coach when he run his “NBA sets”!

  • IULore

    He is averaging 37% shooting, 12 points a game, in 33 minutes and is a junior. Nothing to write home about.

  • Steve wallsmaddee77

    Ha ha. He is sooooooooooo much better PG than any guard we have. Oh, I forgot, we don’t have a PG.

  • Steve wallsmaddee77

    Oh, one more thing leads the league in assists and assists to TO ratio. Just saying!!!!!!!!